2809) Media Scanner 19 Apr 2009 ( 106 Items )

  1. Interruption Of The Search Function At Our Site
  2. Armenian Genocide Resolution's Real-World Impact
  3. Turkish Anger At Holocaust Remark
  4. Australian Senator Apologizes To Armenians For Questioning Genocide
  5. Sargsyan: Genocide Happened And No Armenian Doubts It
  6. Halacoglu Reacted Discussions On Opening Of Armenia Border
  7. Interviewee: Professor Of Utah University Hakan Yavuz
  8. Turkish Website Blames Ra President And FM
  9. "We Must Make Use Of The Diversity Of Diaspora: Minister Of Diaspora
  10. Why U.S. President Obama Must Be ‘Cautious Realist’
  11. Erdogan Rejects Immediate Agreement With Armenia
  12. Turkey / Armenian Culture: Tribute Or Plunder?
  13. Mr. Obama And Turkey
  14. White House Press Secretary Questioned On Armenian Genocide
  15. If Obama Recognizes Genocide, Turkey Will Follow His Example
  16. Armenian Citizen At Crossroads
  17. Leave Turkey’s Bid To Join Eu To Us, Sarkozy Warns Obama
  18. Obama's Trip To Ankara Promises To Be A Genuine Meeting Of Minds
  19. Fisk: Will Obama Honour Pledge On Genocide?
  20. Prof Ataöv Speaks To Full Houses In Toronto And Montreal
  21. What You Need To Know About Turkey Mr President
  22. Don’t Trust Every Promise Obama Makes
  23. New Regional Parameters: Possible Outcomes Of Armenian-Turkish Border Opening
  24. Us Congress Should Not Debate Genocide Resolution
  25. Akcam: Obama's Speech To Turkish Parliament Positive And Smart
  26. Obama And Armenian Question
  27. Harshness And Sharpness Of Obama's Speech Was Unexpected
  28. Taner Akçam’s Salary Is Paid By Armenian Organizations
  29. "History Down"
  30. Obama Met With Archbishop Atesyan
  31. Nalbandian Accuses Ankara To Thwart The Normalization Of Relations Between Ankara And Yerevan
  32. You Said Diaspora?
  33. Turkish Intellectuals Reflect On Obama's Visit
  34. More Than 300 European Organizations Urge Obama To Recognize Genocide
  35. Hayk Demoyan: Turkey Has Calculated All Its Steps In Advance
  36. Why Is Obama Paying So Much Attention To Turkey?
  37. How Did Turkish Newspapers Receive Obama?
  38. President Of Turkey: World Needed Obama's Message
  39. Waiting For The Word: What Did Or Didnt President Obama Say In Ankara?
  40. How Obama Became A Smash Hit In The Country That Gives The US Its Lowest Approval Rating
  41. Inventory Of Obama Visit
  42. To Get Turkey Right, Hear What Obama Said
  43. He’s Bright, He’s Charming, He’s Cool, But...
  44. Time For Historic Decision
  45. American Public Did Not Understand This Visit
  46. Us, Turkish, Azeri Leaders Engage In Phone Talks Over Nagorno-Karabakh
  47. Obama Portrays Another Side of U.S.
  48. Obama, Turkey and History
  49. Russia Demands Turkey To Normalize Ties With Armenia
  50. Obama Mesmerizes Turks With Pledges, But Experts Caution On Delivery
  51. Turks Open Homes To Armenian Fans
  52. Laciner: Obama Should Not Neglect Turkish Approach
  53. What Would You Tell Obama?
  54. Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples
  55. Baku Sets Own Rules For 3-Way Play
  56. Right Intentions But Wrong Dialect
  57. Will Turkey Miss Its Third Opportunity?
  58. Et Tu Barack? Pravda
  59. Saudi Arabia Not To Establish Diplomatic Relations With Armenia, Until Azerbaijan's Territorial Integrity. .
  60. Taylor: How Obama did in Turkey
  61. Obama's Turkish Successes
  62. Good Education
  63. Terror May Become Idea To Unite World Armenians Again
  64. Obama's Strategy and Summits
  65. " Armenians Under Turks: From Seljuks To `Sahmanatroutyoun'"
  66. Insight: Beyond Obama Magic
  67. We Mustn't Practice Self-Deception In Negotiations With Turkey
  68. Only 20% Of Armenians Favor To Establishment Of Armenia-Turkey Relations
  69. Hemshin Armenians On Big Screen:Interview With Hemshin Armenian Ozcan Alper
  70. Sevres Treaty As Armenian Precondition To Talks With Turkey?
  71. Cost Of Matter: Activization Of Russian Diplomacy In Relations With Azerbaijan & Armenia
  72. Turkey’s Agenda, Condensed
  73. Is Turkey Neglecting Azerbaijan’s Concerns?
  74. U.S. Ambassador To Turkey Answers Questions In Internet Chat
  75. Armenian Assembly Ensures That Searing Eyewitness Account Of Genocide Reaches Congress
  76. Thoughts Near Ararat: Geopolitics As Seen By Borderline Village Residents
  77. Time For Truth: Turkey Reneged But President Obama Must Not
  78. Openings Closed One After Another?
  79. Obama Discredited Neocons' Campaign Against Turkey
  80. World Children To Join Izmir Youth Fest: Armenia Not Attending
  81. Zones Of Resistance Toward Turkish-Armanian Rapprochement I-II
  82. Obama Visit To Turkey:Broader Context
  83. Egoyan'S New Film On April 24
  84. Crisis Group Issues Blueprint For Further Crisis
  85. Soccer Diplomacy And Road Not Taken
  86. Turkish-American Romance
  87. 61% Of Armenians Opposed To Establishing Closer Relations With Turkey
  88. Anca Endowment Fund Responds To Crew Allegations
  89. Armenian Question: Snapshot
  90. Armenia Gives Assurances On Border Recognition
  91. ARF :Obama Will Keep His April 24th Promise
  92. Controversy In Greece After Obama's Visit To Turkey
  93. Kamer Kasim: U.S. Should Put Pressure On Armenia
  94. War, Oil & Gas Pipelines: Turkey Is Washington’s Geopolitical Pivot
  95. Sargsyan-Year of Deception
  96. Turkey's Ambassador To Australia Trying To Prevent Recognition Of Armenian Genocide
  97. Obama: World President
  98. Facing History: Denial & Turkish National Security Concept Taner Akcam
  99. ‘Dinner With President’: Oral Calislar
  100. TurkishPAC Takes Position on Armenian-Turkish Relations
  101. Pitfalls & Possibilities: Armenian-Turkish Relations Explored
  102. Ethic Cleansing
  103. Arf Vows To Prevent Disrespect Of Turkish Flag On April 24
  104. "Turkey/Armenia: Choices for Obama"
  105. Turkey & Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders
  106. ‘Genocide’ Is Matter Of Opinion

Interruption Of The Search Function At Our Site
Dear Friends,

Yesterday there was a major series of fiber-cuts in AT&T's Silicon Valley network. These ten cuts affected search services throughout the day. Search service was restored late yesterday.

The fiber-cuts appear to have been malicious. AT&T is now offering a $100,000 reward.

News coverage, if you're interested, can be found here:


We apologize for any problems this service outage may have caused.

Best regards,
Alan & Jim
FreeFind (Search Provider For Our Site)

The Armenian Genocide Resolution's Real-World Impact Emil Sanamyan, www.worldpoliticsreview.com April 8 2009
Recurring efforts by Armenian-Americans to secure official U.S. condemnation of the Armenian genocide have often been portrayed by opponents as "counterproductive" to U.S.-Turkey, as well as Turkey-Armenia, relations. But the campaign to pass a non-binding congressional resolution has actually helped focus these relations by catalyzing Armenian-Turkish dialogue, advancing democratic debate inside Turkey and, perhaps most counterintuitively, helping navigate the U.S.-Turkish partnership through a troubled stretch.

An Ancient Relationship

Separated by religion and language, for almost a thousand years Armenians and Turks shared one homeland -- a large area known alternately as Eastern Turkey and Western Armenia. It was never a harmonious arrangement. Rather, Ottoman Turks, as overlords, merely tolerated Armenians as a lower caste, so long as they did not threaten the prevailing order.

When Armenians began to demand more equal rights, Ottomans responded with increasingly bloody crackdowns. In 1915, that process culminated in a complete removal of Armenians from their homeland and more than a million deaths.

It is that legacy that lies at the core of today's acrimony.

Armenians seek condemnation of how their ancestors were treated. Many Turks view any such remorse as a concession that could lead to demands of financial and even territorial restitution.

But lobbying campaigns in the U.S. and elsewhere are merely one aspect of this tug-of-war. The other is Turkey's policy towards present-day Armenia: For the past two decades, Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic ties or to open the land border with Armenia.

That policy, born out of efforts to support Azerbaijan in its territorial dispute with Armenia over the breakaway province of Karabakh, has long become a liability for Ankara. Not only has the embargo failed to achieve Armenian compromises, it has emerged as an irritant in relations with the European Union and U.S. Still, owing more to policy inertia more than anything else, it remains in place.

Enter the Armenian genocide resolution.

Every time that recognition efforts in U.S. have intensified, Turkey has launched a fresh round of diplomacy with Armenia. This was the case in 2000 and again in 2004. Most strikingly, it has been the case since the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has been more vocal on the Armenian genocide than any of his predecessors.

While Turkey's diplomatic initiatives are intended primarily to stall the embarrassing resolution by painting it as "counterproductive to fruitful negotiations," they also have a secondary effect of rekindling Armenian-Turkish dialogue. That helps smooth tensions and should help to eventually normalize relations.

A Rekindled Debate

The proposed resolutions have had an even more striking impact inside Turkey itself.

A Turkish parliamentarian told a Washington audience in 2007 that, if adopted, a genocide resolution would be headline news for every Turk throughout the country, including shepherds in the remotest mountain pastures.

To understand how a non-binding congressional resolution might have such an exaggerated importance, look no further than the Turkish government. For decades, Ankara has made the issue a foreign policy fetish. The determination to oppose the resolution at any cost has helped publicize what otherwise might have remained an obscure chapter of history, both abroad and in Turkey.

Until relatively recently, many Turks were simply unaware of the Armenian massacres. The issue was left out of school books and largely forgotten.

Enter the Armenian genocide resolution.

The battle over the non-binding resolution brought history back to life in a contemporary Turkey torn between its nationalist, fundamentalist and progressive urges.

Over the last decade, the issue of the Armenian genocide has become a focal point of public debate. Clumsy attempts by the nationalist establishment to ban public discussion of the Armenian genocide have led to a series of lawsuits against journalists and writers, leading to even more publicity.

When a Turkish-Armenian editor who spoke openly about the genocide was killed by nationalists, the outpouring of outrage -- tens of thousands of Turks chanting in the funeral procession, "We are all Armenians" -- was unprecedented and revealed a strong, if often invisible, desire for change.

These days, Turkish television programs regularly host intellectuals arguing about details of 90-year-old history: how many Armenians died, and why, and what should be done about it today.

The genocide resolutions and Turkish government's determination to fight them has rescued this history from obscurity.

A Flailing Alliance

Following Turkey's opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S.-Turkish alliance had become dysfunctional, with the two NATO allies' forces coming close to a direct confrontation in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Among the issues exacerbating relations was Turkey's ongoing battle against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in Northern Iraq. While the U.S. had designated the PKK a terrorist group, it had done little to support Turkey in its campaign against the guerilla movement.

Enter the Armenian genocide resolution.

In 2007, the Bush administration worked closely with Turkey and associated interest groups to prevent the genocide resolution from being voted on in the House of Representatives, with President George W. Bush going so far as to personally lobby members of Congress.

The "war on the non-binding resolution" restored a level of trust between Washington and Ankara in ways that the "war on terror" could not.

The Turks began to coordinate their operations in northern Iraq with the U.S., which furnished actionable intelligence on PKK camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. And the Turkish military resumed its orders of U.S.-made weaponry.

History with a Future

On his visit to Turkey this week, President Obama did not use the term genocide. But with a non-binding resolution on Armenian genocide just re-introduced in the House of Representatives, he also confronted the question of Turkish-Armenian relations head on.

At a press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, he implicitly leveraged his position on genocide, which "has not changed," to a positive outcome of Armenia-Turkey talks, "very quickly, very soon."

Significantly, in the same speech to the Turkish parliament in which he outlined a broad blueprint for future U.S.-Turkish engagement, Obama spoke of the need for "each nation to work through its past" and for Turkey to address its Armenian legacy.

Emil Sanamyan is Washington editor and bureau chief for the Armenian Reporter.

Turkish Anger At Holocaust Remark Jamie Walker | April 11, 2009 The Australian
TURKEY has officially complained to Canberra that a state Labor minister tried to lever one of the most sensitive episodes in that country's modern history into votes for the ALP.

What began as a seemingly unremarkable speech by South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to 40 people at a Greek community function has so angered Ankara that its ambassador to Australia, Murat Ersavci, protested to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith about the "defamation" of his country.

"I feel our relations are too important to be used in these self-serving, petty local politics," Mr Ersavci told The Weekend Australian. The Turks are seething over remarks Mr Atkinson made about the role of one of the country's towering figures, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in the tragedy that engulfed its Pontian or Black Sea Greek minority between 1915 and 1922.

Kemal was the commander who broke the hearts of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and then held out a hand to Australia by declaring its fallen soldiers would forever be sons of Turkey. He is revered in his homeland as the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

After doing the honours at the launch of a plaque commemorating what he called the "genocide" of Pontian Greeks by Turkish nationalists led by Kemal's forces -- a contention flatly rejected by Ankara -- Mr Atkinson poured petrol on the flames by declaring that anyone who disputed this version of history was practising a form of "holocaust denial".

When his account was challenged in federal parliament last month by the Deputy President of the Senate, Alan Ferguson, it was the expatriate Greek community's turn to be outraged. The veteran Liberal senator has since apologised for any offence he might have caused.

Mr Atkinson, seizing on this, had Senator Ferguson's speech to parliament translated into Greek and mailed out to thousands of voters from Greek, Assyrian, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian backgrounds in eight state seats in Adelaide.

Other state Labor MPs followed up with letters urging them to remember Senator Ferguson's speech "supporting the Turkish version of history" at next year's state election.

Mr Atkinson denied that he had used the issue as a political wedge against the state Liberals.

"I have an intellectual interest in this ... if there were no Greeks in my electorate, only Armenians and Turks, I would take the same position," he said.

For the record, Mr Atkinson said he knew of 12 ethnically Turkish constituents in his inner Adelaide seat of Croydon, against some 900 of Greek extraction. There were two Armenians.

The 2006 census found that 365,200 Australians described themselves as being of Greek descent, and 59,400 as Turkish.

Mr Ersavci said he had received "thousands of letters" from Turkish Australians concerned that they could face discrimination because of the "defamation situation" in South Australia.

Referring to Mr Atkinson's speech to the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia last December, the ambassador said: "He seemed to be completely unaware of what is going on in the world. Politicians should not rewrite history, especially when talking about the Black Sea Greeks."

Mr Ersavci, who will attend Anzac Day commemorations with Mr Smith at Gallipoli in a fortnight, said he had asked the Foreign Minister to look into the Turkish Government's concerns. "He said he would do it," Mr Ersavci said.

Mr Smith's office said he had written to South Australian Premier Mike Rann outlining the federal Government's position "on these historical events" in Turkey at the time the remnants of the once mighty Ottoman Empire gave way to the new republic.

Australia believed "dialogue between the governments and communities of the countries concerned" was best and would not seek to intervene in the historical dispute.

Mr Atkinson said he backed independent research findings, contested by Turkey, that 1.5million ethnic Armenians and 350,000 Pontian Greeks were massacred during and after World War I.

Mr Ersavci said Turkey acknowledged that a "war within a war" had taken place, but not on the scale purported. The toll among Pontian Greeks cited by Mr Atkinson was "simply preposterous".

Sticking to his guns, Mr Atkinson said: "To say that is a non-existent event is equivalent to holocaust denial."

Australian Senator Apologizes To Armenians For Questioning Genocide asbarez.com April 9, 2009
ADELAIDE, Australia--Senator Alan Ferguson has apologized for calling the Armenian and Pontian-Greek Genocides "debatable." In a speech made to the Federal Parliament's upper house two weeks ago, Senator Ferguson brought into question the historical truth of the Armenian and Greek Genocides by stating they "cannot be accurately depicted" today.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) and leaders of the Greek and Assyrian communities immediately presented objective academic material regarding the Armenian Genocide and demanded that Senator Ferguson apologize for casting doubt over the accuracy of these crimes against humanity, which have been condemned by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Senator Ferguson subsequently reviewed his position and in his letter of apology, stated that he was "deeply sorry" as his speech was never intended to cause "distress".

It continued: "I accept the findings of the International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples in relation to the atrocities that were committed against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian Greeks..."

ANC Australia President, Varant Meguerditchian said the community accepts Senator Ferguson's apology and looks forward to establishing a strong working relationship with him.

"We accept the Senator's remorse as genuine and believe that the Senator now realizes the great impact this crime against humanity has played in the lives of so many descendants of the Armenian and Pontian-Greek Genocides who now consider Australia their home.," said Mr. Meguerditchian.

Serzh Sargsyan: Genocide Happened And No Armenian Doubts It, Panorama.am 10/04/2009
The President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan says it is quite possible that the closed Armenian-Turkish border will be opened. In his interview given to Russian "Vesti", the President answered to the reporter's question regarding the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border: "I think it is possible.

As you know historic facts ties us with the Turkish people. Every Armenian in the world has no doubts regarding the Genocide. Everybody is sure. But the Turkish people and the Turkish authorities reject that fact.

Irrespective of that fact we have taken the initiative and offered them to set diplomatic relations without any conditions, to open the border, and after, to create an inter-state committee to discuss various question. As you know I have invited the President of Turkey Mr. Gul to Yerevan and he has accepted my invitation. We have passed a difficult but much learning path of negotiations and we are getting closer to the finish. I hope that when I leave for Turkey to watch the football match of Armenia-Turkey national teams the border will be also open or it will be the eve of that. If I am not mistaken the football match is dated on 7 October."

Halacoglu Reacted Discussions On Opening Of Armenia Border
"As the reopening of the borders with Armenia is not only Turkey's problem, Azerbaijan can not stand aside.

Diplomatic attempts should be accepted normally," one of the leaders of the struggle against Armenian genocide claims, former chief of Turkish Historical Society, Professor Yusuf Halacoglu told APA's Turkey bureau. He said it was very important to solve the problem through discussions.

"Of course, nobody should expect Turkey to reopen the borders, while Azerbaijani territories are under occupation. It will cause severe reaction of Turkish public. I do not think that the government will do it. Tats why, there is no ground to worry. Azerbaijan should hold discussions on this issue with Turkey. Apart from Azerbaijan and Turkey, the United States is also interested in this issue. In order to establish stability in the region the US wants Armenia to be involved in the agreements signed up to now and has some demands from Turkey. The main thing is – no agreement can be signed, unless the occupied Azerbaijani territories are released and Nagorno Karabakh obtains its previous status," he said.

Yusuf Halacoglu repeated the words he said in Gars a few days ago.

"I repeated there that our borders are our honor. There will be no peace in the region, until Armenia releases the occupied Azerbaijani territories, because in this case everybody will occupy the territory of another country. Basing on this logic, Turkey may also occupy Armenia. So, everybody should respect borders. If we do not admit the so-called genocide, Armenia may slander as much as it wishes. Armenia may not accept our borders, either. Armenia has no power to change out borders. What will happen, if Armenia does not accept our borders, while the whole world accepts? Therefore, Armenia should release the occupied territories. The discussions following it are mush easier," he said.

Interviewee: Professor Of Utah University Hakan Yavuz
-The relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey are tense as never before since Azerbaijan gained its independence. President Aliyev refused to visit Turkey, even after the phone conversation with Hillary Clinton. Does it mean that we are witnessing the new geopolitical shift in the region?

-For Turkey to become an important country in the Caucasus, Turkey must work together with Azerbaijan. Armenia has only 2.5 million people, Azerbaijan has 8 million people, plus incredible energy resources and economy. It is more important the ethnicity the Turks and Azerbaijanis. They speak in the same language, they belong to the same ethnic roots, there is no way under any condition that Turkey would turn against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a closest country to Turkey in terms of support, culture. These are the well known facts. But Turkey is under pressure by the USA now. Even Obama during his speech in the Parliament, even during his press conference with Abdullah Gul, he made very clear that he would like to see the border to be opened between Turkey and Armenia. Not only Turkey is under pressure of the U.S., but Turkey is under pressure of the European countries as well. They all want this border be opened. I think that Turkey didn't do a good job and Azerbaijan also didn't do a good job in terms of explaining the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the international community that this war was created by Armenia and large numbers of Azerbaijanis are refuges, thousands of them were killed by Armenians. In other words, we didn't do a good job both Azeris and Turks to explain the suffering of people in Karabakh issue. That's why somewhat the world's public opinion and specially the European leaders and the American leadership are not fully aware or informed about this conflict.

- How will the reopening of borders influence the image of Turkey in Azerbaijan and other Turkish-speaking countries?

-Turkey did so bad and so wrong that tomorrow no country of the region, including Turkish republics, will accept Turkey seriously. Turkey does all this things because of European and American pressure. It is mean that Turkey is not independent country. It is nothing but puppet of either the USA or EU. In other words, if Turkey will pursue the current foreign policy that would create the problems in the Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey is led by wrong people, and the recent elections proved it. You also should take into account that there is a very powerful Armenia lobby inside of Turkey and specially within AKP. But I really think that the public opinion in Turkey very much against this. This will ruin the Turkey image. They already ruined the image of Turkey in the Turkish world.

- What is your judgment of Caucasus Peace and Cooperation Initiative?

-It was a rash decision. It wasn't very well thought. I am very critical of the Turkish foreign policy during the Georgian crisis and I am very critical of current Turkish foreign policy right now that they don't consult and work together with Azerbaijan. You also need to know that not only me, but most of the opposition parties in Turkey also disagree with the policy of Justice and Development Party of Racab Tayyib Ardogan. Their policies in Caucasus are bankrupt. It doesn't work. The relations with Georgia are not good because Turkey didn't support Georgia properly and Turkey had supported Russia, and the same with their policy toward Azerbaijan now. Turkey is shooting itself at the foot. That's why the countries of Caucasus don't trust Turkey as they used to. Turkey have lost Georgia, Turkey is losing Azerbaijan. Having said that, I believe that the border will not be reopened. I think that empty talks before the 24 April.

- What is the attitude of the Turkish society and politicians towards the border reopening issue?

- I have heard that there is a major reaction from the military. That's the military is not very happy with the policy of the government, specially on the border reopening issue and other issues as well. Again, in my understanding the border will not be open. On the border issue the military very and very unhappy. Turkey is getting screwed. Turkey showed that it can't be a reliable country. I am a Turk but unfortunately they are following such stupid path that we have lost the closest state Azerbaijan. What we have in return? What Armenia has to offer to Turkey? 2.5 million hungry people in Armenia where no money and no job. It is not in the national interest of Turkey to reopen the border.
APA / http://www.historyoftruth.com/

Turkish Website Blames Ra President And Foreign Minister By Hakob Chaqrian, AZG DAILY 11-04-2009
The website of Turkish Forum, acting in the USA, wrote yesterday, "After the threats of the Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who said, 'We will stop the dialogue with Turkey, if the latter continues to put forward preconditions to normalize relations', similar words were uttered by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsian. He spoke with gratification about Barack Obama's support and mentioned that they were waiting for opening of Armenian-Turkish border, but they were not going to accept any precondition. Serzh Sargsian re-affirmed Armenia's inflexibility not to renounce its insistence on the Armenian Genocide. At the same time, Sargsian said that they would not move off Karabakh. Before it, the Armenian President expressed readiness to wage war for Karabakh in case of need".

"We Must Make Use Of The Diversity Of Diaspora, Tells Armenia's Minister Of Diaspora At The Meeting With Leaders Of Armenian Organizations Of France Noyan Tapan, Apr 10, 2009

Marseilles, April 10, Noyan Tapan, "The Armenians Today". The minister of Diaspora of Armenia met with the leadership of Armenian organizations on April 7 in Lyon. Issues related to the mission, principles, activities and tasks of the ministry of Diaspora were discussed at the meeting. As the Information and public relation department of the ministry of Diaspora reported, H.Hakobian informed, that the concept of developing the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation was elaborated aftercareful examination of the archive of the Diaspora Committee, all activities of Diaspora related departments at all the ministries, all speeches and other materials. A number of individuals, institutions, university chairs, centers and editors of well-known newspapers operating in the Armenian Diaspora were familiarized with the concept. Only after taking into consideration suggestions and remarks, will the concept be submitted for approval to the Government of Armenia. The next question of the discussion was related to the issue of emigration from Armenia. According to the minister H.Hakobian, labor migration is more topical problem in Armenia at the moment rather than the issue of abandoning the motherland. At the same time, Ms. Hakobian stressed, that Armenia can't stand raising a question of gathering Armenians back to the motherland, since two-third of the Armenian people lives out of the Motherland. According to the minister, the problem should be approached from two perspectives: first, millions of Armenians live in the countries bordering Armenia (Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Georgia, etc), where the risk of collision is high and the situation is not stable. Thus, as the minister mentioned, Armenia should be ready to accept and provide with jobs her counterparts in the case of clashes. Second, as the minister characterized, there is an utter necessity to unite around all-national tasks: "We all, together with you, must build such Armenia, that everybody would dream to come and live in. It is impossible to build such Armenia in 17 years. 17 years in the course of history is only an instant. We ask you to invest into Armenia not your resources, but your experience, abilities, knowledge and skills to help her to flourish. Therefore we declare the Diaspora to be our comparative advantage. If it is oil for some, 'Spyurk' is for Armenia. Every Armenian has rights and responsibilities in relation to the motherland," says the minister. According to her, the Armenian nation should unite around all-national goals and move forward. The Diaspora is diverse, 'multilayerad' and with diverse needs: We must make use from that diversity. We don't want all become the same. Remaining different, let's be together", - declared the minister.

Why U.S. President Obama Must Be A ‘Cautious Realist’ Guner Ozkan JTW Columnist Friday, 10 April 2009
Obama was met like a pop star anywhere he went in Europe and Turkey in last several days. There are many credible reasons for this: young, dynamic, kind, black, inspirational, non-unilateralist, and so on. These credentials and characteristics he has and displays are very different from those of his predecessor, G.W. Bush. During his more than two-day visit to Turkey, he said a lot and not much at the same time, just like he did in London, Strasbourg, and Prague, about the challenges the world is confronted with. Someone who was listening to Obama during his visits, and even before during his election campaign, can easily describe him as an idealist. But Obama himself says he is not. He expresses that he is well aware of the difficulties and challenges ahead to resolve piles of problems from Afghanistan, global terrorism, Iraq, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to environmental issues in a short period of time. He is right, nobody should expect that all these issues can be and will be resolved soon, and also nobody should ask the U.S. to resolve them on its own. He also says that when toughness is required, the U.S. under his leadership will be tough. So, while impacts of Bush’s policies, and most importantly the long term legacy of U.S. foreign policy around the world, are still being vividly felt, Obama cannot be a pure idealist. He has to be a ‘cautious realist’ at best. Mammoth challenges in and about Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the South Caucasus explain why Obama is and has to follow a policy of ‘cautious realism’.


Just take a look at the enormous challenges Afghanistan has faced for decades: war lords, clan rules, ethnic divisions, religious extremism, opium cultivation, poverty, illiteracy, displaced persons, and external influences. The sheer size and diversity of the problems in Afghanistan are so great that the U.S. has not been and will not be able to resolve them all on its own. In fact, most Americans know this fact, and that is why they elected someone like Obama as their President, an advocate of cooperation and multilateralism for common challenges. But will Obama get that much needed help from those states he and previous U.S. governments called as their allies. Hardly likely so. Everyone knows that Afghanistan needs two things at the same time: a huge economic, social, and educational development programme and a well trained military force. It is because the development programme is needed for long term salvation of the country, and the second is necessary for the protection of accomplished improvements. These two necessities must be applied for at least a generation-long period of time if success is really wanted. The U.S. allies have committed neither enough financial assistance nor essential military force to Afghanistan during either the G20 Meeting in London or in the NATO Summit in Strasbourg. The G20 gathering dealt more with how to resolve the global financial crisis and the NATO Summit produced just five thousand more troops from various allies of the U.S. only for providing security for the upcoming elections in Afghanistan. An Afghanistan without a substantial development strategy cannot be stable no matter how many soldiers are deployed in the country and how many times suspected Al Qaeda houses and members are bombed by the U.S. in northern Pakistan.

So, the new U.S. government has to increase pressure on its rich allies to devote more capital, manpower, and energy to the development and security of Afghanistan. For sure this must include Pakistan, too, as it has now become a major safe haven for Al Qaeda and its sympathisers. Other immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, namely China, Iran, and the Central Asian Republics, have to be convinced that the U.S. is in Afghanistan just for security and stability there, not for any other objectives. Just like the U.S. has, they have seen Al-Qaeda and instability in Afghanistan as one of the most important threats against their security. Yet, convincing those states to help the U.S., at least with the logistic supply or joint operations in development and security issues, still requires diplomatic and practical, honest policy applications and changes on the ground in their relationships with Washington. Without accomplishing any ease of tension between Washington, Moscow, and Tehran on other bilateral issues, such as Missile defence systems in Eastern Europe and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the U.S. cannot get any genuine support for Afghanistan from Iran and the Central Asian states, which are still in Russia’s orbit. Obama has indeed been trying to realise the abovementioned policies. He is trying to open up a new chapter with Russia by sorting out the issue of missile defence shield in Czech Republic and Poland, and calling for a further reduction in nuclear weapons. In the case of Iran, apparently the most difficult one, he has again called for cooperation over Afghanistan. While in an international arena where mistrust is still rampant, mainly thanks to G.W. Bush, there is no room for idealism at least for now. Being aware of this, though in the initial period Obama’s appeal to the world on Afghanistan appears idealistic, it will soon turn into a ‘cautious realism’ and perhaps farther on into a pure realism.

Middle East

The Middle East impasse, particularly the Arab-Israel conflict, though this is, one way or another, connected with Afghanistan, has remained ‘the mother of all conflicts’ in front of the world and Obama. The motto of ‘unclench your fist’ and his visit to Turkey were positive steps taken in the right direction by Obama. But, these words and visits should not be left just as mere rhetoric, and so have to be supported by concrete policy actions on the ground. These steps should be taken first by the U.S. as it is occupying the strongest and most influential positions in the developments in the Middle East. Turkey can and should continue to be an intermediary between Syria and Israel and Iran and the U.S., but its being an interlocutor cannot produce any success if the U.S. government continues to remain indifferent to the plight of Palestinian people. So long as the U.S. policy towards Israel continues as ‘business as usual’, and while Palestinians are still being killed, it is highly unlikely that people in the Middle East will unclench their fist. Nor will Iran, especially on the nuclear issue, ever be convinced of the honesty and idealism that the new U.S. administration has put on display.

Obama’s conviction is true that a nuclear Iran will likely lead a number of Middle Eastern states to rush to obtain nuclear weapons for their security urge. From Obama’s viewpoint such a development is unacceptable, as it carries the likely danger of using those devices in a highly unstable Middle East. So, there are not too many options really. As the sanctions did not work, the option of bombing Iran was considered by Bush and is still on the table for Israel. The other and the last and best option is the honest engagement of the U.S. in the peace process between Israel and the Arab states. This has to include the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in the pre-1967 war borders. A Palestinian state falling short of this requirement will neither provide viability nor appease people in the Middle East nor end conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan nor root out cells of Al-Qaeda around the world. The appointment of George Mitchell, the peace-broker in the Northern Ireland conflict, as the special envoy for the Middle East may be considered a good start. But one should not forget the fact that the Northern Ireland issue is different from the Arab-Israeli conflict, for while it is a more balanced dispute between Catholic and Protestant Irish people only on religious and territorial grounds, the latter conflict concerns the continuous territorial expansion of Israel at the expense of Arabs and Palestinians on an ethnic ground and non-stop humiliation of the Muslim World on the religious ground. It is now much more difficult to obtain peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, since Israel is governed by an unbending and robust new government led by Netanyahu. Thus, Obama’s appeal to the Muslim World during his visit to Turkey is a kind gesture and was surely warmly welcomed by many in Turkey and the rest of the Muslim World. Obama’s wish to see a peaceful Middle East and his ideas to bring the conflicting sides together seem to have a chance of success only if he gets equal warmth from a similar appeal to be made to the Israeli people and pro-Israeli lobbies in the U.S.

South Caucasus

Regarding the South Caucasus, Obama appears to have mainly urged the Turkish side to open its border with Armenia. Armenian isolation and its economic and military dependency on Russia have been partly contributed to by the Turkish embargo of closing the border and denying the establishment of diplomatic relations with Yerevan. But it was Armenia’s own choice from the very beginning, in the early 1990s, and even before the dissolution of the USSR, that leaning on Russia was the most secure policy in the region against not just Turkey but Azerbaijan, too. Regarding Turkey’s regional greatness in terms of its size, economy, and military power, it may be thought that Ankara can accommodate unilateral compromises to be made towards Armenia on the border, diplomatic, and so-called ‘Armenian Genocide’ issues. Doing so without any compromise on the Nagorno Karabakh dispute by the Armenian side will cause huge disappointment in Azerbaijan with a possible consequence of delaying, if not totally abrogating, the NABUCCO project. It is also hugely difficult for the Turkish government to have the Turkish public opinion absorb any compromise to be given to Armenian side without getting any progress or guarantees on Armenia’s resistance to recognise Turkish borders, Diaspora Armenians’ insistence on the recognition of the so-called ‘Armenian Genocide’ and the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

The U.S. policy in the South Caucasus, as Obama implied during his visit, will likely be similar to that of the Clinton Administration, which was based on including Russia and expecting intra-regional disputes to be resolved among themselves with some external encouragements when and if necessary. After Georgia lost the August 2008 war against Russia and during the still ongoing war of words between Saakashvili and Russian leaders, new energy pipelines via Tbilisi have become harder to work on. Against the odds, Russia-Turkey relations have become even stronger following the Georgian crisis. A solution to the NK problem would then boost the restart of the energy cooperation in the region, but again, on the condition of satisfaction of the Azerbaijani side. The participation of Georgia in this new cooperative effort will possibly be delayed until after the replacement of Saakashvili with another, but much more balanced and cautious, pro-Western government. The upcoming demonstration of the united opposition against Saakashvili will likely decide whether Georgia’s return to regional cooperation is going to be sooner or later.

In the end, challenges of the world are so many and too much complicated and bigger that even the U.S. cannot sort them out alone. The Obama government has, in fact, had no such claim of resolving things on its own as being either a financial and political supplier or world cop. Obama as the leader of the most powerful state can, as he himself often stresses, encourages the hesitant ones and opens the way for others to facilitate further cooperation among themselves. Obama is and has to be an optimist and obviously appears to be an idealist for many. But, the legacy of Bush has left such a world that being an idealist for the U.S. in these days cannot bring any good for peace, security and prosperity in the world. There are areas in which the U.S. will have to follow realist policies and other areas in which it will seem to be pursuing an idealist approach. Overall, Obama will be a ‘cautious realist’, and his foreign policy will sooner or later reflect that. In either case Obama, during his visit, asked Turkey to be part of it as the U.S.’s ‘model partner’. Can Turkey and the U.S. manage to develop and enrich this new relationship as a real ‘model’ for the rest of the Middle East and the world? Yes, they can, so long as the U.S. pursues a bit of constructive foreign policy beginning first as an honest peace broker in the Middle East.

* Guner Ozkan is a lecturer at Muğla University and an expert on the Caucasus at the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (USAK). 10 April 2009

Erdogan Rejects An Immediate Agreement With Armenia 4 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
Before the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, the Turkish Prime Minister said Friday that his country had taken steps to improve relations with Armenia.

Invited to speak at Chatham House in London on the theme of "the global economic crisis and Turkey," Prime Minister Erdogan said that his country through the global financial crisis in a better position than most European countries through its banking and financial policy strictly. He also reflected on the recent elections in Turkey. Concerning regional policy of Turkey he said "peace, reconciliation and dialogue" is the important part of the policy of Turkey.

During the session of questions and answers that a member of the audience (in Iraq) has long posed a question on "the relations of Turkey with its neighbors: Iraq, Iran and Syria and its perspectives on a independent Kurdistan in the north ", the moderator said laughing" You could also add Armenia to question this long. " About eight questions were asked and then the Prime Minister has responded to his liking.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was then started by the relations between Turkey and Armenia. He began by saying: "We do not accuse a nation or another country of having committed genocide" and continued "the Armenian diaspora accuses us of genocide. This is not something we can accept. For Turkey, it is impossible to accept something that does not exist. I wrote to President Kocharian to establish a commission and let the historians consider the alleged genocide and prepare a report .... But he never responded to my call. Now there is a positive process. "

He then referred to the diplomacy of football and he met Armenian President in Davos.

He added that "until the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh is not resolved, it is not possible for us to reach a healthy solution for Armenia, we can not advance a comprehensive". He added "we're talking to Azerbaijan, Armenia and the countries co-chair of the Minsk Group to expedite the process." He said that without resolving the issue of Karabakh would not be possible to reach the Turkish proposal of a Platform for Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus.

Turkey / Armenian Culture: Tribute Or Plunder? 3 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
www.collectifvan.org - Lao Zart, the singing of Armenian partisans fighting against the oppression of the Turkish sultan in the nineteenth century, is listed as song of the resistance group of Turkish musicians Yorum. Yorum The group was formed in Turkey to be the voice of the earth and the peoples of Anatolia, where the group was born. It is therefore very likely that the musicians Yorum know the origin and meaning of Lao Zart and its importance to the Armenian people, dispersed around the world since the 1915 genocide. So, the recovery of this song symbolism can be seen as a tribute to Armenian people removed from their ancestral lands, or the shameless looting - one more - a cultural heritage left by force of circumstance?

When Yorum gives LA, it's not IF IF FA understand ...

Zart Lao is the singing of Armenian partisans fighting against the oppression of the Turkish sultan in the nineteenth century. It means "Wake up my child!" In the dialect of the inhabitants of flies and calls for resistance against the Sultan (Abdul Hamid likely in the years 1894/96) as follows "The Sultan wants to exterminate us, wake up my child! I die for you ".

This song is taken Armenian - having been 'stripped' of its original lyrics - like songs of resistance by Turkish musicians Yorum group, who is said to close the revolutionary circles in Turkey. Yorum sing the victory of the people and the revolt against oppression.

Zart Lao Turkish by the group Yorum

Translation of the Turkish song:
"We hammer the anvil iron is hot for the fight We come in waves Behind the barricade: the motherland
There are arms to fight, there is momentum to spend, there are fronts to fight The victory is coming soon
There are lives to give brothers are standing sacrificing our lives for our people's victory is coming soon "

To read it, it seems more nationalistic than revolutionary ...

Yet Yorum was created in 1985 in Istanbul by university students in order to react to the military coup of 1980 and measures to depoliticize and oppression that have been imposed 'Peoples' of Turkey.

Several members of the group Yorum were tortured on numerous occasions and sentenced to many years imprisonment.

Le chant des partisans Armenian, Lao Zart, was in the 19th century, the term of the Armenian people's revolt against the oppression of the Sultan. Nothing has changed except the people oppressed ... A century ago, it was the Armenians, now it is the Kurds: the movement in which bathes the group Yorum is very close to the struggle of the Kurds.

Yorum was formed to be the voice of the earth and the peoples of Anatolia, where the group was born.

It is therefore very likely that the musicians Yorum know the origin and meaning of Lao Zart. And its symbolic importance for the Armenian people, dispersed around the world since the genocide that has pulled its ancestral lands.

So Zart Lao Turkish, is it a tribute to the Armenian people, wiped out two-thirds in 1915, and thus diverted from a redo sing Armenian resistance robbed on his land? Or the simple recovery of a popular heritage left fallow?

Can you remember the first case by reading the profession of faith group Yorum online on its site? "Yorum is the voice of Turks, Kurds, Cherkes, Georgians, Lazes, Arabs ... ie of all the peoples living on the lands of Anatolia. "

All? It is hard to understand that a leftist group that participates in the struggle for the right to practice the language banned in Turkey, forgetting in his accounts, the grim reality: 1 500 000 Armenians, 500 000 Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac and 350 000 Greeks were methodically exterminated in 1915 ...

Hrant Dink, a man of the left if any, said: "The Turks have become revolutionary class [missed their shift] on the Armenian question."

Unfortunately, even the most leftist of them convey racist stereotypes and discriminatory: "The Armenian is friqué, bourgeois imperialism, artisan, merchant. The Armenian can be neither peasant nor proletarian" (which proves total ignorance of the history of Anatolia). And these 'leftists' are, in most cases, openly negationist.

It trusts that the veil of amnesia was lifted for musicians Yorum since this video was posted on YouTube (October 26 2007: less than one year after the assassination of Hrant Dink) and that this Armenian song has since regained its original colors. It is hoped that this' wave of compassion 'to the' sufferings of the Armenians', wave, waving Turkish certain intellectual circles, they have achieved.

If so far Zart Lao continues to be plagiarized, we should like to ask our friends Yorum - first group convicted for courageously sung on stage and the first Kurdish group to sing in Arabic and Cherkessia -- to revive the Armenian Anatolia: Lao Zart they sing in Armenian. They put their obvious talent in the service of a just cause, they make it to the Armenian people some of its identity destroyed.

Yorum that pushes its revolutionary spirit to say no to looting and cultural genocide.

Zart Lao!

When Yorum gives LA, it's not IF IF FA understand ...

The site of the group Yorum: http://www.grupyorum.net/fr/extended.php? H_article_id = 3 & = & h_tarih

Words of Lao Zart (Khoujan asker) in Armenian

Khoujan asker zork é hanel Yeguas mecho tachdné badel Soultan Gouzé tchentchèl mezi Zart Lao mèrnim kézi
Inch anidzem Tourki askérin Vor esbanets tchoch Apoyin Wednesday togheter ororotsin Zart Houy Lao mernim kézi
Khekhdj mechetsin Merav lalov ODARA yerguirnèr man galov Merav Tourki hargu dalov Zart Lao mèrnim kézi
Turkish Lyrics: Orse çekici vuruyoruz kyzgyn demir tavyndadyr dalga dalga geliyoruz barikatyn Ardy vatandyr
Bilek vuru?maya Soluk var var var harcanmaya Cephie sava?maya Zafer yakynda
var verilecek can karde? var ayakta halkymyza can FEDA Zafer yakynda

Mr. Obama And Turkey New York Times April 4 2009
President Obama has wisely decided to visit Turkey during his first official trip to Europe. The United States needs Turkey's cooperation -- in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as with Iran and efforts to broker Middle East peace. But there are also very worrying trends in Turkey's relationship with Europe and its internal politics.

Mr. Obama must do all he can to help reverse those trends and anchor Turkey more firmly in the West.

The Justice and Development Party scored an impressive re-election in 2007 after pursuing market-oriented policies that brought economic growth and more trade ties with the European Union. That conservative Muslim party also expanded human rights and brought Turkish law closer to European standards.

Those reforms have since stalled -- partly because of opposition from civilian nationalists and generals who still wield too much clout. (The trial of 86 people accused of plotting a military coup is a reminder of the dark side of Turkish politics.) But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also seems to have lost enthusiasm for the European Union bid and the reforms that are the price of admission. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has been especially unhelpful, making clear that he will do all he can to keep Turkey out of the European Union. Mr. Obama must persuade Mr. Sarkozy and others that admitting Turkey -- a Muslim democracy -- is in everyone's interest. And he must persuade Ankara that the required reforms will strengthen Turkey's democracy and provide more stability and growth.

We are concerned about Mr. Erdogan's increasingly autocratic tendencies. His government's decision to slap the media mogul Aydin Dogan with a $500 million tax bill smacks of retaliation against an independent press that has successfully exposed government corruption. Ankara's willingness to help rebuild schools in Afghanistan is welcome. But the situation there is dire, and NATO also needs more troops and needs access to Turkish military bases to facilitate the transport of American soldiers and equipment into Afghanistan and out of Iraq.

Ankara has played a positive role, mediating indirect talks between Israel and Syria. With Washington's encouragement, Mr. Erdogan could also use his relationships with Iran, Sudan and Hamas to encourage improved behavior.

Turkey's cooperation with Iraqi Kurds has vastly improved. There are also reports that Turkey and Armenia may soon normalize relations.

We have long criticized Turkey for its self-destructive denial of the World War I era mass killing of Armenians. But while Congress is again contemplating a resolution denouncing the genocide, it would do a lot more good for both Armenia and Turkey if it held back. Mr. Obama, who vowed in the presidential campaign to recognize the event as genocide, should also forbear.

The Bush administration's disastrous war in Iraq fanned a destructive anti-Americanism in Turkey. Mr. Obama's visit is likely to soothe hostile feelings. But he must go beyond that to secure a relationship with an important ally and an important democracy in danger of backsliding.

White House Press Secretary Questioned On Armenian Genocide hairenik.com April 3, 2009
WASHINGTON (A.W.)-On April 3, during a news briefing aboard Air Force One on route to France, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was questioned on President Obama's position regarding the Armenian Genocide by the White House press pool.

Asked whether the President still believes that "the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians," Gibbs said, "We'll get into that I think later on." He was then asked, "During this trip?" And he replied, "I'll leave that for-I can't give away everything in one gaggle, for goodness sakes."

On April 5, U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive in Turkey, making it the first Muslim country he visits after taking office. Analysts say his trip will aim at strengthening ties with Ankara, and point to the issue of the Armenian Genocide as possibly the most challenging for the president to deal with during his talks with Turkish officials.

The Armenian Weekly with provide in-depth coverage of Obama's visit to Turkey.

If Obama Recognizes The Armenian Genocide, Turkey Will Follow His Example 03.04.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ "US hasn't yet recognized the Genocide, but 35 other states have already done that," world known chansonnier Charles Aznavour stated.

"Now we are waiting that maybe Mr. Obama will have the good idea to recognize the Genocide and after that Turkey, I think, will follow his example. About the Israel, well, they usually want to be known as the only country who suffered the massacres," HAYINFO cited Aznavour as saying.

During his election campaign the 44th President of The United States Barak Obama pledged that, as president, he will recognize Turkey's slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915 as the Armenian Genocide.

House Resolution 252 affirming the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide is currently co-sponsored by 88 congressmen.

Armenian Citizen At The Crossroads
ISTANBUL - The emotional dilemmas of an Armenian citizen living in Istanbul have become the subject of a book by Bercuhi Berberyan. The character is not regarded as a citizen in the place where she lives, Turkey, and doesn’t feel herself in Armenia, which is said to be her country

Bercuhi Berberyan's story is the story of an Armenian citizen living in Istanbul, who felt "lost" in Armenia. Her novel expresses her experiences in Armenia and the exclusion she has felt in Turkey and as a visitor to Armenia.

In addition to a novelist, Berberyan is a painter, theater actress and a writer working for daily Agos.

She was born in Istanbul but her roots are in Anatolia. Despite her good economic conditions, she has never thought of leaving Turkey for another country as a tourist. "Whenever the idea of travel occurs, I suffered pains in my stomach," she said. Despite those feelings, one day she had to go to Armenia. "I was dragging my feet," she said. She visited Armenia first in 2006 with a group of 16 people from high school.

’I am not a citizen in my homeland’

Berberyan’s visit took 10 days. She expressed her feelings in a book, saying, "Turkey’s Armenians are foreigners in Armenia. I am not regarded as a citizen in my own homeland Turkey, and I don’t feel myself in my homeland in Armenia, which is told to be my country."

Berberyan’s book titled "A Turk in Armenia" was recently released by Metis publishing house. Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Berberyan talked about Istanbul’s Armenians and diaspora.

"My family experienced the incidents of 1915 but we have never been hateful. As different from diaspora, we continue living on this land. Everyone asks me why I came here; they ask if my country is Armenia or not. These questions hurt me," she said.

Berberyan said the situation was not much different from Turkey, and that people had prejudices against Istanbul’s Armenians. "The people of Armenia do not accept us as Armenians. According to some, we are ’sold’ because we are living together with Turks. And according to some, we are either ’heroes’ or ’victims.’ An eastern Armenian language is spoken in Armenia. Western Armenian is mainly spoken in Istanbul. There is dialectical difference between the eastern and the western Armenian, that’s why there might be difficulties in communication," said Berberyan.

Berberyan said she had difficulty in understanding the language in Armenia. "They did not even put forth an effort to understand us. I felt myself lost in a place that I did not know. Also, an unidentified smell was following me and driving me crazy," she said.

Berberyan said the smell annoyed her until she left Armenia. "The smell stopped following me only when I returned to Istanbul."

Letting the dove fly away

Berberyan said she was not planning to write a book on her Armenia impressions. "I was in front of an historical church and a beggar with a dove in his hand came by me and said ’give me some money and I will let the dove fly for your luck.’ As I handed the money to him he threw it like his hand burned and shouted saying ’you are a Turk,’ because I unwittingly gave him Turkish money. There was much hatred in his eyes," she said.

Berberyan said she angrily walked to the entrance of the church and, changing her mind, she held the beggar’s arm and told him to give the dove to her. "He was confused. I loved and kissed the dove for a few minutes and gave it back to him saying ’take it and let it fly if you want.’ Her eyes were full of tears and said ’whoever or whatever you are, I will let this dove fly for your beautiful heart.’"
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Leave Turkey’s Bid To Join Eu To Us, Nicolas Sarkozy Warns Barack Obama
Turkish protestors shout slogans and hold banners reading "Obama go home" during a demonstration against upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama in Turkey on April 5, 2009, David Charter in Prague

The love-in between Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama proved short-lived after the French President warned his US counterpart yesterday to keep his nose out of the issue of Turkey’s membership of the European Union.

President Obama used his first EU-US summit, on the eve of his visit to Turkey, to encourage European leaders to embrace the Muslim country and “anchor it in Europe”. However, Mr Sarkozy, a long-standing opponent of full membership for Turkey, rebuffed the US leader in language that seemed to sour the revival of Franco-US relations.

Support for Turkey in joining the EU, a process that it began formally in 2005 and hopes to complete before 2020, has long been an American foreign policy goal.

Mr Obama, who flew to Turkey last night, clearly wanted to leave on a positive note. He told EU leaders: “The United States and Europe must approach Muslims as our friends, neighbours and partners in fighting injustice, intolerance and violence.

“Moving forward towards Turkish membership in the EU would be an important signal of your commitment to this agenda and ensure that we continue to anchor Turkey firmly in Europe.”

Mr Sarkozy, who has talked of offering Turkey a privileged partnership rather than membership, did not wait to hit back. “I have been working hand in hand with President Obama but when it comes to the European Union it is up to member states of the European Union to decide [on membership],” Mr Sarkozy said in an interview on French television. “I have always been opposed to this entry and I remain opposed,” he added.

His comments laid bare the continuing EU split over Turkish membership, with France and Austria openly opposed and deep reservations in Germany and the Netherlands. Turkey would become the most populous EU country and Germany in particular is said to have concerns about the shift in power that this would cause, with the largest number of MEPs coming from Turkey, along with strong voting rights in European Council decisions.

José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, sought to paper over the cracks as he welcomed Mr Obama’s comments. “We have started a process of negotiations with Turkey for membership of the European Union and that was a unanimous decision of the European Union, all 27 member states,” Mr Barroso said.

“Of course we have to go on with the negotiations and at the end, we have to see if Turkey is ready to join and if the European Union is ready to integrate Turkey.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, reiterated his country’s desire to join the EU when he visited Brussels this year.

Olli Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner, called last week on Turkey to renew its focus on reforms to meet Union entry criteria for democracy and workers’ rights. “The pace of negotiations depends on the pace and intensity of the reforms in your country,” he said.

The Turkish press said yesterday that the country had secured concessions for dropping its objections to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, becoming the next Nato Secretary-General.

Ankara had argued that Mr Rasmussen was not suitable because he did not offer an apology for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper in 2005, which led to violent demonstations across the Muslim world. Turkey expects to secure several key Nato posts, including that of assistant secretary-general.

Mr Rasmussen insisted in the Danish media yesterday that he had not sacrificed his defence of freedom of expression in order to secure Turkey’s support of his nomination.

Turkey also objected to the hosting by a Danish satellite of a Kurdish television channel that is regarded by Ankara as a mouthpiece of the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Speaking to the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Mr Rasmussen added: “If it can be proven that Roj TV is participating in terrorist activities, then we will do what we can to close the television station . . . within the framework of what Danish legislation allows.”

Obama's Trip To Ankara Promises To Be A Genuine Meeting Of Minds By Grenville Byford | Newsweek Apr 4, 2009
The Bush administration spent years trying to isolate people the Turkish government thought should be engaged—Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, to name a few. The Obama administration broadly endorses engagement. Turkish-American relations are therefore about to change from being good despite fundamental disagreement to being a genuine meeting of minds. Some people in Washington have been screaming that Turkey's increasingly good relations with the countries in its neighborhood means it is "turning away from the West." Apparently they view international relations as a form of monogamy in which it's evidently dangerous to go out on a date. In fact, international relations are like business partnerships. An extensive Rolodex greatly increases a partner's value.

President Obama's visit this week to Turkey will also be unusual because, for once, America wants more from Turkey than Turkey wants from America. Turkey will respond generously because Barack Obama is likely to be around for a long time, and he will certainly remember anyone who helped make his first major foreign trip a success.

From Turkey's perspective, the most important item on the agenda is what it does not want: official U.S. recognition that what happened to the Armenians was genocide. I doubt Obama would have accepted an invitation to visit Turkey now if he was not planning to oppose a congressional resolution on the subject, or if he intended to use the G word on April 24, when he will make a statement commemorating the Armenian massacres of 1915. What this Turkish government will also ask for is unambiguous American backing for its plans to amend its present military-dictated Constitution along more democratic lines. They will not want to hear, once again, the Bush "we don't take sides" approach.

Heading up America's agenda are two items on which there is much common ground. First, Iran. Obama has indicated he wants to open wide-ranging negotiations, but he will not rush into them without first testing the waters. Similarly, Obama is serious about making progress on Mideast peace. Like Tony Blair and Tayyip Erdogan, Obama is thought to recognize that Hamas can no longer be ignored, though he cannot possibly say so publicly. Turkey's leaders (and their advisers) can provide Obama with valuable insights, and help start the ball rolling. This would allow Obama to avoid political exposure in Washington for "talking to terrorists" until he has a sense of the other side's position. Before setting anything in motion, though, he likely wants to take the measure of Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül personally. Both should remember that the role of matchmaker is transitory, and the principals must soon talk alone. In the long term, there is also the potential for friction because America is probably less willing to compromise than Turkey and may terminate discussions that Turkey would choose to keep going. Turkey, after all, will suffer much more than the United States if sanctions against Iran are ratcheted up.

Obama would also like to get more help on Afghanistan, principally more Turkish soldiers. This is a potential source of friction. Since Obama managed during his NATO meeting to pry commitments from France and Britain for a few hundred additional personnel, it will be hard for Turkey to do nothing.

Another item is Iraq. What needs to be agreed upon is already in place (except Turkey's relatively uncontroversial agreement that it will act as a corridor for U.S. withdrawal). Turkey will want intelligence sharing about the Kuridstan Worker's Party, or PKK, to continue, but there is no indication it will not. America will want Turkey's discussions with the Iraqi Kurds to continue. After Gül's successful Iraq visit, why wouldn't they? Both sides are hoping that Iraq will remain stable as the United States withdraws, but there are no major items either might agree to that it is not already doing.

Then there is Cyprus, but the real problem here is between Turkey and the European Union. Europe wants Turkey to open its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots. Turkey wants Europe to ease the commercial isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in exchange, but the Greek Cypriots veto this. The United States can offer its support and its good offices, but it does not have much leverage over either the European Union or the Greek Cypriots. This is also broadly true of Turkey's EU entry negotiations.

A final item is the Nabucco pipeline bringing Central Asian gas to Europe via Turkey. Both America and Turkey would like to see it built. The question, however, is who will pay for it? Neither America nor Turkey has much spare cash right now.

And will Obama choose his Turkey visit to give a much anticipated speech of reconciliation to the world's Muslims? Of course not. Obama has to speak from the center of the Muslim World. Egypt must be the favorite, but a speech in Saudi Arabia would carry enormous symbolism, though I doubt the Saudis would go along. A good outside bet is Jordan. King Abdullah, remember, is a descendent of the Prophet—and a U.S. ally.
© 2009

Robert Fisk: Will Obama Honour Pledge On Genocide Of Armenians? 6 April 2009
It's all supposed to be about campaign promises. Didn't Barack Obama promise to deliver an address from a "Muslim capital" in his first 100 days? It's got to be in a safe, moderate country, of course, but where better than Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's secular/Islamist nation of Turkey, whose rulers talk to Syria as well as Israel, Iran as well as Iraq? But when the Obama cavalcade turned up in the heart of the old Ottoman Empire last night, he and all his panjandrums were praying that he did not have to use the "G" word.

The "G" word? Well, if it doesn't trip him up in Turkey today, Mr Obama is going to have to walk into a far worse minefield on 24 April when he has to honour another campaign promise: to call the 1915 massacre of 1,500,000 Armenian Christians by Ottoman Turkey a "genocide". Presidents Clinton and Bush jnr made the same pledge in return for Armenian votes, then broke their solemn promise when Turkish generals threatened to cut access to their airbases and major US-Turkish business deals after they were in office.

This is no mere academic backwater into which Mr Obama must step but a dangerous confrontation with the truth of history, an explosive swamp of bones and old photographs along with a few still-living survivors through which he must either walk with dignity or retreat with shame; and the entire Middle East will be watching the results. For the Palestinians most of whom, ironically, are Sunni Muslims, the same religion as the Ottoman Turkish murderers it is a crucial issue. For if Mr Obama cannot risk offending America's Turkish allies about a 94-year-old persecution, what chance is there that he will risk offending America's even more powerful ally, Israel, by condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the ever-growing illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the constant destruction by Israel of Palestinian homes that prevent the creation of a Palestinian state?

Starting on 24 April 1915, Enver Pasha's Turkish army and militias rounded up almost the entire Armenian community, massacred hundreds of thousands of men and sent vast death marches of women and children into the deserts of Anatolia and what is now northern Syria. Expert historians, including Israel's own top genocide academic, insist that the shooting-pits, the organised throat-cutting, the mass rapes and kidnappings even the use of primitive suffocation chambers all constituted a systematic genocide.

And it is important to record exactly what Mr Obama said on his campaign website in January 2008. "The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that president." Which pretty much locks up any attempt to wriggle out of the promise. Or so you would think.

But already the administration's soft shoes have been trying to finesse away the pledge. "At this moment," Mike Hammer, a White House National Security Council spokesman, said last month, "our focus is on how, moving forward, the US can help Turkey and Armenia work together to come to terms with the past". That Mr Obama should allow such a statement to be made, along with the usual weasel clichés about "moving forward" and "coming to terms", speaks volumes.

Neither the Palestinians nor the Arabs in general have tried to or should compare the 1915 slaughter with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, but there are some faint historical mirrors which rightly worry them. The Turks allege that they began killing Armenians in the city of Van because Armenian insurgents, backed by a regional superpower, in this case, Tsarist Russia, attacked the Turks of eastern Anatolia. Israel claims it bombarded Gaza last December and January because Palestinian "terrorists", backed by a regional superpower Iran fired rockets at Israelis.

The political parallels are not exact, of course, but Israel can in any case scarcely debate them when it officially refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in the first place.

But for Mr Obama, there are more pressing points. US and Turkish officials are already discussing how Ankara can help in a US military withdrawal from Iraq, and Mr Obama desperately wants Turkey to help open up the Muslim world to his government to staunch the massive wounds the Bush administration inflicted.

Professor Türkkaya Ataöv Speaks To Full Houses In Toronto And Montreal

Turkish historian and political scientist Professor Türkkaya Ataöv's much anticipated seminars in Toronto and Montreal attracted a lot of attention from Turkish and Armenian communities. Prof. Ataöv came to Canada as part of a North American conference series that are ongoing until March 28, 2009, in over 20 cities including Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Many Turkish organizations across United States and Canada collaborated in organizing the seminars titled "How to Come to Terms with One's Past: A Probe into History Including Armenian-Turkish Relations."

Türkkaya Ataöv, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Ankara University, spoke in Toronto, at the Ryerson University on February 18, 2009, and in Montreal, at the McGill University on February 20, 2009. Toronto event was organized by the Federation of Canadian Turkish Associations and the Montreal event was organized by Bizim Anadolu and the Turkish Students Society of McGill University.

Both universities were under tremendous pressure from the Armenian community to cancel the seminars. However, at the end, academic independence and freedom of speech prevailed. Ryerson and McGill university officials stood up to the pressure and refused to cancel the lectures. Dr. Mustafa Koç, who teaches as an associate professor at the Department of Sociology at the Ryerson University, said that Ryerson always tried to provide a space for open discussion. Dr. Koç who moderated the seminar in Toronto, said that, unlike many jurisdictions where different viewpoints were ignored, not provided, censored or banned, universities such as Ryerson aimed to create an open environment of teaching and learning. "We make room for debate and offer a platform for expression of differing viewpoints." he said. In his opening remarks, Dr. Koç emphasized the desire for dialogue and peaceful debate: "I am hopeful that Turkish and Armenian communities will find ways of dealing with the past tragedies in open and honest ways by listening to each other, not by trying to silence the other. This is true for all other disputes where there are competing historical narratives. I cannot imagine peace without dialogue."

Under the threat of cancellation of the seminar they helped organize, Turkish Students Society of McGill University (TSSMU) issued a statement which reiterated their belief in "healthy dialog, reconciliation, mutual respect and peace." TSSMU statement also referred to Turkey's proposal of a Joint History Commission, consisting of Armenian, Turkish and independent scholars, to examine all the historic evidence to come up with a final conclusion which both parties would abide with. This proposal supported by the Government of Canada has been refused by Armenia.

Professor Türkkaya Ataöv, recipient of numerous international awards, medals and honorary doctorates, has been elected to central executive positions of UN-related international organizations that deal with racial discrimination, human rights, terrorism, nuclear war and exchange of war prisoners. Professor Ataöv has published over 80 books on the Armenian issue and was invited, by the French court, to the 1984 and 1985 Paris trials of Armenian terrorists, as a witness of authority.

In Toronto, at the end of Professor Ataöv's speech, moderator Dr. Koç opened the floor up for questions, indicating that there was only half an hour of time left until the room had to be vacated. Dr. Koç asked the guests to limit the time of their questions to two minutes so that as many people as possible could get a chance to ask. First request came from the Armenian National Committee of Canada's (ANCC) Executive Director Aris Babikian. Mr Babikian was offered the podium and the microphone so that he could be heard better by the audience. Babikian first said that he wished to speak for half an hour, in other words, the entire time that was left for the reserved room. This drew reactions from the crowd and the moderator reminded that he was giving two minutes for each question. Regardless of the warnings, Babikian spoke for over 20 minutes, while Prof. Ataöv sat at the side of the stage and listened patiently. Finally, after increasing pressure from the audience and the moderator, Babikian managed to form a few questions. Once presented by the questions, Prof. Ataöv held the hand of Mr. Babikian and said "Don't go anywhere, stay here by my side while I answer all your questions." As Prof. Ataöv answered Mr. Babikian's questions, they remained hand-in-hand for minutes on end, occasionally sharing a laugh together.


Montreal portion of Prof. Ataöv's visit was organized by Bizim Anadolu and the Turkish Students Society of McGill. The moderator Dr. Aydin Yurtcu, 1964 graduate of McGill, welcomed the Turkish and Armenian students that filled the room, by saying "It is good to be back home." Dr. Yurtcu, before leaving the podium to the guest speaker, promised the Armenian students that they would be allowed to read a statement after the lecture.

Soon after Prof. Ataöv started his speech, it became evident that the Armenian students were not there to listen but to create a distraction. Addressing the students who were disturbing the seminar, Prof. Ataöv said "I only ask you to listen. You may not agree, but you should listen." Prof. Ataöv added that he had listened to many opposing views including Mr. Babikian in Toronto. Prof. Ataöv also urged the students to sometimes read the Turkish sources just as he himself reads the Armenian sources.

When Prof. Ataöv's speech ended, Dr. Yurtcu, before opening the floor for Q&A, invited an Armenian student who had asked for Dr. Yurtcu's permission to read a long statement. This statement which was written beforehand to prevent Prof. Ataöv from speaking at McGill, did not contain any references to any of the topics Prof. Ataöv had discussed during his speech. After the statement ended, other students, both Turkish and Armenian were able to ask questions. Prof. Ataöv made extra efforts to speak one-on-one with all the Armenian students who had questions.

Türkkaya Ataöv has two M.A. degrees and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University in New York. His books have been translated into 20 languages and have appeared in 35 countries across 5 continents. Professor Ataöv has lectured in several American, British, Russian, German, Dutch, Indian, Chinese, Middle eastern, African and Australian universities in four decades.


After the Ryerson and McGill seminars, Prof. Ataöv kindly accepted to speak in Turkish in yet another event supported by Bizim Anadolu, Turkish-Canadian Action Committee, Azerbaijani Community of Ottawa, Quebec Azerbaijanis Association and Council of Turkish Canadians. At this last gathering in Canada, Prof. Ataöv told the story of how he, as a young man studying in United States, one day came across a book written by William Saroyan, an Armenian author, and he liked it so much that he decided to translate this book into Turkish ("Aram Derler Adima") and promote it in Turkey. Türkkaya Ataöv who charmed all who came to listen to him, ended his Canadian tour on the note that he was, as all Turks were, only after truth, peace and reconciliation.

What You Need To Know About Turkey Mr President
ISTANBUL - Turkey is not just misunderstood. The country is also misunderstood incorrectly. Or so goes a word game popular among Turks from all walks of life when the topic turns to how the country is perceived internationally.

If the topic is history, Turks lament the fact few foreigners know of Piri Reis, the Ottoman cartographer who produced a map of South America before the Spanish conquistadors did. If the issue is contemporary rights for women, the fact they were voting here before most of continental Europe is something we are inclined to share with visitors. Or how about the detail of the airplane factory that was exporting to Germany back in the 1930s.

So in light of a presidential visit, the Daily News decided that it would be interesting to ask a number of prominent Turks their opinion of Obama’s visit and what they think the U.S. president might not have known before his arrival Sunday night Ğ but might be helpful now that he is an old Turkish hand.

Five people were chosen from various segments of society: İshak Alaton, Ömer Bolat, Zeynel Abidin Erdem, Salim Uslu and İlter Turan. Their opinions are as follows.

İSHAK ALATON - Board Chairman, Alarko Holding

Mr. President,
You probably don't know that:

1-Women at the time of Atatürk in the Turkish Republic obtained the right to vote in Parliament in 1936, much earlier than in many Western European countries.

2-Security in Turkish society is far better than in all U.S. cities. Aggression on the streets of Istanbul or İzmir or any other Turkish city is a small fraction of the criminal cases in Washington or New York or any other U.S. city.

3-There are over 50,000 migrant Armenian workers from Armenia, mainly in Istanbul, who are working illegally, while the police willingly turn a blind eye. That Fethiye Çetin's recent book ''My Grand Mother'' may have done more for enhancing empathy among Turks and Armenians than any other political act.

4-Iranians can travel to Turkey without a visa, and hundreds of thousands of Iranians take their summer vacation in Turkish resorts.

5-The oldest American institution of higher education outside the United States is in Istanbul, and has seen several thousands of liberal Turks graduate from there in over a century.

6-Mary Magdalene, Jesus' mother, is buried in Turkey on a hill close to the port of İzmir. Santa Claus, patron of Christmas festivities, was born in southern Turkey.

7-Alexander the Great broke the Gordion's knot in Gordion, which is now Ankara. There was a prophecy that the leader who would break Gordion's knot would conquer Asia. Maybe President Obama should bring a good solid sword.

SALİM USLU - HAK-İŞ (Labor) Confederation General President

In terms of Turkey-U.S. relations it is very important that U.S. President Barack Obama has included Turkey in his first extensive foreign policy tour after he was elected. The reason is that Turkey is a model country carrying out successfully the reconciliation and political dialogue process in undertaking and fulfilling its responsibility within the international scope. Turkey, in its region, on the contrary to the experiences in the Middle East, Balkans and the Caucasus, is a source of peace and stability. Turkey, from energy to security, is the most significant actor in the region. It is a country undertaking its responsibility in the international scope up to Herzegovina and alliance of civilizations. Due to his visit, what should Barack Obama know about Turkey can be listed as follows:

1-Turkey is a country of tolerance: Turkey is a country that has experience of multiculturalism coming from history, connections with a very wide geography and hosted various civilizations on its lands. Turkey is aware that communication between different cultures is possible, necessary, useful and enriching. For this reason conflicts between cultures have not been experienced in Turkey from past to present, different civilizations lived together in peace. Turkey’s contemporary, secular and democratic identity creates a suitable base on which different cultures can live.

2-Turkey is a junction of immigration: Turkey is located at the junction point of Europe and Asia. It is a country that receives immigration from all of its neighbors primarily Iran and Iraq due to its geographic location and tolerant environment and democratic climate. Turkey is a country that has accepted everyone who ran away, due to economic and political reasons, from the authoritarian administrations that existed in their countries. Because Turkey is a tolerant country that has been a cradle for many civilizations through many ages and which can open its arms to all differences.

3-Turkey is a country attempting to resolve its problems by itself: Turkey is a country trying to solve its economic, social and cultural problems on its own and it has achieved stability. In recent years it has been a country designing by itself the conversion projects that it has been carrying out primarily in urbanization, energy and transportation (ground, air and railways) and vitalizing them, as well as planning what to do, how and when.

4-Turkey has been developing its own social model: Even Turkey does not have a determined strategy. Changes and conversions in the economic structure shall create such a model. As a matter of fact, Turkey’s EU project is a change and conversion project. It is a project to upgrade Turkey into the first league towards democracy and rule of law. EU Project is a project giving the chance to be a contemporary society for Turkey. It has been implementing this project successfully.

5-Turkey is a significant center of attraction with its young population. Turkey is a significant country with its young and dynamic population structure and labor potential. In Turkey the non-institutional civil population is 70.5 million people as of December 2008. The non-institutional working age population is 50.3 million people. Of the total labor market 22.3 percent consist of young people between 15 and 24 years old. Turkey has been involved in work that includes proactive employment measures toward the young population, vocational training reform, incentives, to encourage entrepreneurship, providing new training and labor harmonization services to the young people who have completed their education and widening vocational knowledge, guidance and consultancy services.

Dr. ÖMER BOLAT - Former President, Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD)

First of all, I would like to welcome the newly elected president of the United States, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama. We, the Turkish people, like to host visitors, with particular attention given to foreign guests. This visit bears significant meanings. Before anything else, Obama is a historic figure as he is the first black president of the United States in its relatively short history of 230 years.

As the first black president, Obama is the descendent of people who were denied basic human rights and treated as slaves up until 40 years ago. It is even more exciting that his father was an African Muslim. After the devastating legacy of George W. Bush, who was probably the worst president in U.S. history, inflicting distress and damage on the Islamic world and causing, with his economic policies, the greatest crisis in 70 years in his own country and the entire world, Obama's election was celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. If other nations of the world were to vote, Mr. Obama would win a sweeping victory.

In light of these facts, Obama's mission is both easy and difficult. It is easy because the legacy he inherited is so awful that the improvements and progress he will achieve in the economy, in foreign policy and in relations with the Islamic world will yield very positive results. But expectations are high for President Obama to correct all these mistakes. If the improvements come slowly and late, the hope and enthusiasm around Obama may quickly deteriorate.

Obama's visit to Turkey is very significant and meaningful. First, Obama's inclusion of Turkey in his first European tour on the occasions of the G20 summit in London and the NATO summit in Strasbourg is an indication that he recognizes the rising potential and importance of Turkey on the international stage.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Turkey within the first two and a half months of his presidency. He is also paying his first visit to a Muslim country after beginning his term. Hence, the talks he is holding in Turkey and the messages he is giving have been awaited with great interest throughout the world, particularly in Islamic countries.

President Obama and his team should be aware of one thing: The Turkish people are not biased against any country. Our national character is that we respond to friendship from countries and nations with even more friendship, and respond to hostility with even more.

During the Cold War era, Turkey and the United States were in the same axis, as they are members of NATO, and the U.S. had a relatively positive image in Turkey. However, as NATO and the Western alliance identified Islamic countries and the rise of Islamic values as the new threat after the end of the Cold War, the image of the U.S. in particular, and Western nations in general, was tarnished terribly in Turkey and other Islamic countries.

Both Turkish people and the Islamic world may soften against the U.S. if they get the following messages from President Obama during his visit to Turkey:

1-Obama and the new U.S. administration should declare that they will adopt an approach in the Palestine-Israel conflict that will put an end to the cruel economic and military assaults of Israel on Palestinians. No one expects the U.S. to terminate its relationship with Israel as an ally. But the U.S. can pursue a new and more balanced policy that recognizes and supports an independent Palestinian state.

2-In both its discourse and its practices, the Obama administration must convince the Islamic world that it does not target its nations and values.

3-Given that the U.S. is alleged to have encouraged and incited past coups in Turkey, Obama should declare that the U.S. will now prefer and support a libertarian, democratic and pluralist administration and respect the will of the Turkish people at the ballot box. This will prevent new coup attempts in Turkey. In this regard, as the best example of Islamic values expressed in a pluralist democratic administration, Turkey can play a positive and important role between West and the Islamic world and be a guarantee of peace in the whole Eurasian region.

4-The Turkish people expect President Obama to say that he will oppose the resolution in the U.S. Congress about the so-called Armenian issue and that the issue is best left for historians to discuss.

5-The Turkish people expect Obama to demonstrate that he has the leadership, strong capacity, applicable solutions and instruments to take the U.S. and the world out of the economic crisis, the worst seen in 70 years.

6-The Turkish people expect President Obama to openly reject the quest for a New World Order with a single superpower or a bipolar world order, and that he will work for his term to be a peaceful, blissful, libertarian, equalitarian one based on mutual respect and welfare for everyone.

Only then will Turkey, and Islamic countries and peoples of oppressed countries, believe that Obama's election as the new U.S. president is a real revolution. Otherwise, it will be understood that the Obama revolution is empty substance-wise, although it was exciting at the beginning. I believe that Obama is aware of this fact, and of expectations on him and the challenges that await him.

Prof.Dr. İLTER TURAN - Professor of Political Science, Bilgi University

Obama may not appreciate the following:

1-The strong sense of injustice that Turks feel over Israel’s stand on the Palestine issue.

2-Turkey has been at peace with Iran for some 400 years and wants that to continue.

9-The historical baggage that Turkish foreign policy carries such as the issue of minorities and how Western powers dismembered the Ottoman Empire through mobilizing client groups by promising them autonomy, independence, etc. in return for their cooperation in paralyzing the Ottoman State.

4-The Turkish side of Armenian claims of genocide and rival accounts of the "massacre."

5-How strongly the Turks feel about Cyprus or how the Turkish position has been influenced by Greek Cypriot policies of extermination against the Turks before and during the earlier years of independence

6-Turkey has failed to develop competency in dealing with situations outside of governments, for example with contingencies that involve other political actors in addition to formal agencies of government, lobbies being the prime example.

7-The sensitivity toward secularism in Turkish political elites.

Dr. ZEYNEL ABİDİN ERDEM - President, Erdem Holdings

Things Obama doesn’t know about Turkey:

1-The history of Turkish-American relations is longer than 60 to 70 years. It began in the 19th century and continues to this day.

2-The first Ottoman-English dictionary, Redhouse, was printed in 1861.

3-The American Hospital began operating in Istanbul in 1920.

4-In 1863, Robert College, the first American college established outside the country, was opened. After that, Uskudar American, Tarsus and İzmir colleges were all established.

5-Istanbul was the capital of three separate historical empires: the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

6-Istanbul is a mosaic of beliefs: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Assyrians, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, mosques, churches, synagogues, mausoleums, graves, sacred springs, saints’ tombs, elders, saints, lodges, Alevi community centers, Koran courses... Sacrifices are cut, spells cast out and charms written; the cross is thrown into the Bosphorus. While church bells are rung, the call to prayer is sounded. At the same moment, in the holy places, the Torah, the Bible and the Holy Koran are read. The Bible is read in the churches in Greek, Latin, Armenian, Arabic and Turkish.

7-In Turkey, there is a city in which the representatives of seven separate languages and religions live in peace Ğ the city of Mardin.

8-The Ottoman Empire ruled on three continents for 622 years. Turkey is a secular and democratic state that the grandchildren of the Ottomans would feel proud of.

9-At the time of the Gulf War, Turkey opened its embrace to 500,000 Iraqi Kurdish citizens who took refuge here and were provided with food, shelter and health services for one year.

Don’t Trust Every Promise Obama Makes
Barack Obama has become the first American president to openly show the importance he places on Turkey in a concrete way. The details of speeches or negotiations are not important. What is important is the visit itself.

We all watched how the anti-American feelings in Turkey were suddenly diminished after Obama won the election. Bush was so bad, and so severely hurt the image of the United States, that even if Obama does nothing to try and change it, the man himself is enough to change this perception.

Upon his arrival Sunday evening, the Turkish people embraced Obama. Not even his Kenyan origin or his sympathy for Islam is important. His attitude alone was enough to gain our regard.

In only one day, he fixed the U.S. image that Bush destroyed over eight years. Of course, we must not forget that there are things Obama can and cannot do.

The United States is a super power and such nations only pay attention to their own interests. So there is just one thing I would like to draw to your attention: Do not to believe in everything.

Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was announced secretary-general of NATO during the alliance’s summit only after some promises were made to Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül stated that they received promises that Roj TV would be shut and Turkey would assume some posts in NATO.

In my article yesterday, I stated that the reaction to Rasmussen was correct, not an over-reaction, but taken only so far and left at that, and that the Turkish attitude was correct. In this article, I would like to warn my readers.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that one should not trust promises too much. Obama might promise as much as he likes, but if conditions change, then promises cannot be kept. Let’s keep that in mind. International relations are like that and no one can do anything about it.

Don’t forget Gen. Rogers agreement

I was on duty in Brussels during the negotiations over Greece’s departure and return to the NATO military wing after the Cyprus movement in 1974. I know each detail very well. The U.S. Gen. Rogers from the NATO forces signed an agreement with President Kenan Evren, the head of state and commander of the military coup on Sept. 12.

According to this agreement, one of the commands of NATO in the Aegean region was to be given to Turkey. But the most delicate part of this matter was that the Greeks did not want to sign such a document. The Americans were in a hurry to return Athens to NATO, so they put pressure on Ankara and said, "No document needed."

It was the era of the Sept. 12 military coup. The matter was resolved on a military basis. NATO military force commander Gen. Rogers promised Evren, "I give you my word as a soldier. The Greeks will accept your wish." And Evren as a soldier accepted his promise. What could be more valuable than a soldier’s promiseÉ?

I’ll never forget, a few weeks after this agreement, I joined another meeting in Brussels. During a meeting with Turkish parliamentarians, the U.S. Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, said, "Trust me. I will have the Rogers-Evren agreement implemented." Do you know what happened later?

The Greeks did not keep their promise. Maybe they never made such a promise and Gen. Rogers thought he would have the Greeks implement his promise to the Turks. It was too late when he noticed that he was mistaken. It was all over when he apologized to Evren later on. Greece went back to the NATO military wing in an inexpensive way. It did not pay anything in return.

In the same manner, Obama might forget his promise made in Strasbourg. To tell the truth, I think he will easily forget it. So has Turkey behaved foolishly by believing Obama and accepting Rasmussen’s candidacy? No.

Even if our exercise of power over Obama is not very strong, we have Rasmussen in our hands. We can put the NATO secretary-general through the wringer.

As far as Obama is concernedÉ I don’t think that after making such a promise the U.S. head of state will turn his back on us and look in a different direction.

Even if he forgets, Turkey will remind him quite often. Ankara is not as it used to be. It is no longer a capital that accepts every word spoken by Washington.

New Regional Parameters: Possible Outcomes Of Armenian-Turkish Border Opening 2009/04/06 HETQ Anahit Shirinyan
Regional and international were abuzz last week regarding potential developments in negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey. Public opinion was not only focused on the possible opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey, closed for the past fifteen years, an event that would herald a new era in relations between the neigh boring states, but also what such an eventuality would mean for regional politics in general.

Such developments could lead to a shift in the existing regional power balance. These developments are quite contradictory and proceeding with such speed that they can lead to unforeseen consequences.

Regardless of whether the border is opened within the predicted timeframe, sometime in April, or not, the issue is on today’s political agenda. Thus, let us attempt to make some predictions on the matter.

1. The opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will expand Armenia’s political role in the region. By imparting a number of theoretical benefits to Armenia, it will afford greater manoeuvrability to Armenia in its foreign affairs. The border opening will strike a blow to the number one trump card held by Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict settlement process – to keep Armenia in a blockade since it still hasn’t agreed to make concessions regarding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to reports circulating in the press, Ankara is attempting to include a point regarding the Karabakh conflict in the Armenian-Turkish agreement it is planning but Yerevan is stubbornly showing its resistance on the issue. Due to a correct exercise of politics Yerevan truly possesses the possibility to neutralize Baku’s only effective and essential trump card when it comes to the Karabakh conflict.

2. The opening of the border will spur the further deepening of the strategic partnership between Tbilisi and Baku. Baku isn’t concealing its negative reaction to the thaw between Armenia and Turkey and has recently seen fit to even make direct threats to Ankara. Last week, for example, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, during a conversation with a third party, threatened to cut off gas supplies to Turkey if Ankara went ahead and signed a separate agreement with Armenia and opened the border without coming to some prearranged understanding regarding he Nagorno-Karabakh issue. It already has been widely publicized that President Aliyev will not participate in the “Civilizations Alliance” forum to be held in Istanbul on April 6-7. This refusal to participate is yet another sign intended to show Baku’s displeasure regarding unfolding developments.

“If the border is opened before the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, it would run counter to Azerbaijan’s national interests,” stated Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

Georgia is the second country whose interests are opposed to the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. After the Georgian-Russian conflict of August, 2008, analysts have openly started to talk about the uncertainty surrounding Georgia as a transit country for projects with a strategic importance directed towards the West. Now too, western analysts don’t conceal the new possibilities that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border might have regarding the implementing of energy-related projects towards the West.

In addition to the huge economic and political dividends reaped by Georgia due to the energy supply routes that transverse its territory, the lion’s share of Armenia’s foreign trade, even that with Turkey, passes through Georgia. Thus, as stated by Jemal Inaishvili, President of Georgia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “The restoration of a direct route will definitely impact on Georgia’s economy.” Despite the fact that Inaishvili welcomes the wish of the two nations to establish normal relations, nevertheless, he believes that, “The restoration of direct links between Armenia and Turkey will lead to specific economic losses for Georgia”. This will include a visible drop in cargo flows that will in turn negatively impact on the ports of Batumi and Poti.

Naturally, all this will impel Baku and Tbilisi to seek out alternative routes of cooperation. Last week in Tbilisi the foreign ministers of the two nations signed a document regarding joint political programs. It’s not by chance that reports have recently surfaced in the Azerbaijani press signalling the continuation of Georgian-Azerbaijani collaboration. As stated by Fridon Todua, deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament and chairman of The Parliamentary Group of Friendship with the Republic of Azerbaijan, in an interview with Day.Az, “despite the resistance of Armenia, it is impossible to stop implementation of the project (Baku, Tbilisi, Kars railway), since it has already started.”

3. The opening of the border will spur the deepening of cooperation between Baku and Moscow. Baku, in its relations with its strategic partner, will try to compensate for the “crisis” through new arrangements with Moscow. Russia has been trying to woo Baku for a long time, forcing Azerbaijan to give up on new projects aimed at Western energy independence. And on March 27, a mutual understanding agreement was signed between Azprom and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company that calls for the long-term supply of gas at market prices.

At the same time a telephone conversation took place between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Azerbaijani President Aliyev on April 3. According to official reports, the two leaders discussed the G-20 Summit, the global economic crisis and other issues of mutual concern. Azerbaijani news outlets, however, report that issues related to the Karabakh conflict was also touched on in the conversation.

4. The opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will also strengthen Washington’s position in the South Caucasus. In particular, Washington’s active role of late in the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations has laid the groundwork for this. While it is a fact that Washington has long abandoned implementing its political agenda in the post-Soviet arena via Ankara, preferring to do so directly, new developments can restore this erstwhile significance of Turkey in the eyes of Washington.

In the words of Matthew Bryza, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia would “create a new and positive dynamic” in relations across the region, “as well as in developing the economic and transport links we have been pursuing ever since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

The United Sates is pretty limited when it comes to exerting direct influence over Armenia. What prevents it from doing so is the Russian political, military and economic presence in Armenia. In the event that the border is opened, Washington will be given the possibility to expand its influence in Armenia to a certain degree via Ankara. Moreover, by coming forth as the primary mediator in the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, the United States automatically gets to hold a more active playing card in the Karabakh conflict settlement, the next logical step in the progression of these relations.

To this must be added the fact that Turkish-American cooperation in the South Caucasus will also assist in the rebuilding of mutual confidence between the two nations, yielding possibilities of cooperation in other matters as well, i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan.

5. At the same time, the border opening will assist the development of Russian-Turkish relations. Turkey, which has traditionally competed with Russia for dominance in the region, is still buoyed by the same tradition but has taken into account the Russian factor in the post-Soviet territories. Thus, future cooperation between Ankara and Moscow is inevitable, particularly in terms of Armenia. In reality, the possibilities of Russian-Turkish cooperation are even greater when the “Armenian link” comes into the picture. Glaring testimony of this was the agreement reached last year that called for the sale of Armenian electricity to Turkey. It’s another question as to what extent the interests of the “link” will be taken into account.

6. The opening of the border will lead to the necessity of greater scope and specificity of the Armenian-Iranian partnership. There has been no official reaction from Tehran regarding recent Armenian-Turkish developments. It is clear nonetheless that Tehran has remained on the sideline of regional processes ever since the developments subsequent to last year’s war between Georgia and Russia. As strange as it may seem, Armenian-Iranian cooperation will assume greater significance after the border is opened between Armenia and Turkey. Armenia has traditionally viewed Iran as a counterweight to Turkey and in this matter it can even play a more effective role than Russia.

While true that the Iran-Armenia railway agreement reached on April 4 can’t be viewed in this context as a long-range step, nevertheless, regardless of the suspicions as to its economic viability, the project can assume important political significance in the near future. Thus, Yerevan will obtain greater flexibility in terms of foreign policy with the deepening of cooperation with Iran. What remains is to ensure the actual implementation of Armenian-Iranian joint projects.

The opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey can thus lead to genuine changes for the region as a whole. A situation can be created in which everyone is cooperating with everyone else and where each player is doing so with the aim of protecting its national interests. Armenia can emerge as the main “hero” in all these developments and, as a result, it can be confronted with new challenges as well as possibilities. The greatest benefit from this new situation will only be culled due to a specifically well-crafted political policy that is flexible at the same time.

[Opinion] Us Congress Should Not Debate The Armenian Genocide Resolution Today's Zaman
Once again a few important members of the US Congress are trying to pass a resolution condemning a country that did not exist for a hundred-year-old atrocity that occurred during a war. Surely, given the state of the global economic crisis, there is a better use of the time of the Congress.

Few, if any, of us were around when the war was waged. To quote a great US general, “War is hell.” But war is war and genocide is genocide.

Webster’s defines genocide as the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. In fact, the term was not even created until 1944.

Scholars of history have come down on both sides of the issue over what happened and what we should call it. My own views add very little to an age-old debate. But I do feel strongly that all of our energies would be much better applied to the future.

Turkey is a great friend of the United States and a leader in Europe. Turkey’s contribution to spreading peace throughout the world is remarkable. All of her citizens should be very proud of the role Turkey is playing in the global effort for peace.

Yet some congressmen wish us to ignore present-day Turkey and instead slap the Ottoman Empire for an event nearly 100 years ago. I and a growing number of my colleagues simply refuse to go along with the attempts to embarrass Turkey.

I value my country’s friendship with Turkey. I prefer to look forward to the future of relations between our two countries. I refuse to allow the deaths of hundreds of thousands on both sides to be used as a modern-day political football.

I regret that World War I occurred. I regret that all war has occurred. I pray for the ethnic Armenians who lost their lives as I pray for the Azerbaijani victims in Khojaly.

As a Christian, I oppose the persecution of any religion and those that practice that religion.

As a member of the US Congress, I do not have the luxury of time to settle old scores. We live in a world where evil lurks in many dark corners across our planet. My country needs the help of those that are willing to stand with us to counter this evil. I am proud to stand with Turkey in bringing peace to the many troubled areas of our earth.

There are countless activities we can take together to make our world a better one. Until the day where peace has encompassed every corner of our planet, I will prefer to work to make our future safer for all of our children and grandchildren. The Congress can devote its time to settling political scores when our work is complete.

What happened in 1915 must never be forgotten. To quote the great poet Maya Angelou, “History cannot be unlived, despite its wrenching pain, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

*Congresswoman Jean Schmidt is a member of the US House of Representatives from Ohio.

Akcam: Obama's Speech To Turkish Parliament Positive And Smart 07.04.2009 PanARMENIAN.Net
A prominent Turkish scholar says President Obama gave a tactful but powerful push to the Turkish government to confront the question of whether the killings of Armenians in 1915 were the first genocide of the 20th century, Boston Globe reports.

Taner Akcam is a longtime advocate for human rights for minorities in his native Turkey, as well as an academic authority on Turkey's handling of the genocide issue. He is a professor in genocide studies at Clark University in Worcester, and author of the 2006 book, "Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and The Question of Turkish Responsibility."

Akcam said of Obama's speech to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara: "I think he really pushed the borders, in a very positive and very smart way."

Obama stopped short of using the word genocide, but applauded the Turkish government for its willingness to improve relations with neighboring Armenia, which necessarily requires dealing with the sensitive genocide issue.

Akcam said Obama went as far as any president could go in addressing a foreign country's legislature. During the presidential campaign in 2008, Obama said that the killings of the Armenians amounted to genocide. Before addressing the Turkish Parliament, Obama said that he had not changed his views, which were "on the record."

But Akcam had been jailed in several times in the 1970s. He escaped from prison in 1977 after serving one year of a nine-year sentence, and received asylum in Germany. He taught in Minnesota before moving to Clark.

President Obama And The Armenian Question Commentary: Ömer Engin LÜTEM AVIM
President Obama, who had verbally and in written promised to recognize the “Armenian genocide” many times during his election campaign, refrained, as expected, from pronouncing the word ‘genocide’ during his visit to Turkey. The President used the term “tragic history” during the press conference held with President Gül and used the expression, “terrible events” while addressing the Turkish Parliament.

Yet this does not necessarily mean that President Obama has changed his mind regarding the 1915 events. In fact, in response to a question addressed to him during the press conference, Obama has stated that he has not changed his views on this issue that are already on record.. He has further added that as negotiations are taking place between Turkey and Armenia, one has to act in a constructive manner and the US has no desire to preempt any possible arrangements or announcements that might be made in the near future. On various occasions in the recent past, Turkish officials had made it clear that the President’s recognition of genocide allegations or the adoption of a resolution by Congress regarding these allegations would negatively influence the negotiations taking place between Turkey and Armenia.

Obama’s above cited can be explained as he believes in the “Armenian genocide”, yet he has refrained from voicing his thoughts on this issue for the time being for the good of the negotiations taking place between Turkey and Armenia. Moving within this perspective, it can be concluded that President Obama will not use the word genocide in his upcoming 24th of April message. Yet these statements of his may also be interpreted to mean that he will feel free to pronounce the term “genocide” or will not exert any efforts to prevent the Congress from adopting a resolution endorsing genocide allegations in case a reconciliation is not reached between Turkey and Armenia.

President Obama’s statements in his speech at the Grand Assembly stressing that each country must work through its past and that reckoning with the past can help it seize a better future, following his words which point out that the issue of how to deal with the past is a problem confronting all democracies, and that the United states is still working through some of her own darker periods in her history, are all related with the Armenian allegations and they give the impression that he intends, in a disguised manner, to inculcate Turkey with the acknowledgement of these allegations.

However, it is possible that these words are directed towards the Armenians in the US rather than towards Turkey in order to satisfy the former regarding the genocide allegations. Since Turkey has proposed to set up a Joint Historians Commission in order to verify the historical attributes of the events and has clearly iterated that she will accept the conclusions to be reached by this Commission, it would be rather meaningless to demand from Turkey to recognize genocide allegations before such a study is carried out. In this context, it can be seen that Turkey’s Joint Historians Commission proposal is the best formula in response to President Obama’s request to deal with the past.

During his speech, President Obama has attributed special importance to the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border and has thus stated that the US strongly supports the full normalization of relations between the two countries. If one recalls that the primary, in fact the only, reason for Armenia's longing to construct normal relations with Turkey is to ensure the opening of the borders, then it is clear that these words of Obama will be well received in Armenia.

In conclusion, it is possible to say that the new US President, who wants to accord an important role to Turkey in the implementation in his Middle East and Afghanistan policy and to construct close relations with Turkey, tries to push to the backstage the Armenian allegations presented as an obstacle in this regard by the Diaspora, with some formulations not too disputable neither by the Turks nor the Armenians, and that, with the help of his charismatic personality, he has been successful in this, at least as regards the Turkey part of the equation.

The Harshness And Sharpness Of Obama's Speech Was Unexpected Anna Nazaryan, "Radiolur" , 07.04.2009
Yesterday's speech of President Obama on the Armenian Issue was harsh and sharp, and it was unexpected, Suren Manukyan, Deputy Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute, told a pres conference today.

Suren Manukyan considers that the hints Turkey drops about the signing of an agreement on the establishment of Armenian-Turkish relations, opening of the border and creation of a joint commission come to substitute Barack Obama's pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

"I think we will gain nothing from that agreement, while it will give much to Turkey, because in 15 years those in Turkey will probably understand the ineffectiveness of today's policy, i.e. they will understand that the closed border has not solved the issue it was supposed to solve: Armenia has not been destroyed."

Turkologist Ruben Safrastyan considers that the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide yields to the processes of opening of the border and establishment of Armenian Turkish relations.

"Recently Turks have been pushing forward the question of opening of the border and, thereby solving a very important issue, i.e. the official refusal from territorial claims. If we recognize the Kars Agreement, we thus refuse from any territorial claims, while in case of recognition of the Armenian Genocide some threat will still continue bothering the Turkish state and authorities," Safrastyan said.

Taner Akçam’s Salary Is Paid By The Armenian Organizations
Saying: “It was my dream to follow post-graduate studies in Europe or America while I was working as an assistant in a university in 1976” Taner Akçam is currently realizing his dream with the support of the Armenian organizations. Akçam’s salary, who is working at University of Minnesota in America, is paid by Armenian Zoryan Institute and Kafesciyan family.

The work that is presented by Akçam as an academic study is the repetition of the studies that is done by Vahak Dadrian. And Dadrian is the person known as the defender of the genocide lie among the academic circles. Dadrian was condemned by the academicians for taking sides and not acting within the limits of scientific ethic on the Armenian issue.

It was revealed that the salary of Taner Akçam, who is working as an Assistant Professor in America, is paid by Armenian organizations. The person, who revealed the fact that Akçam, who is one of the most passionate defenders of the Armenian genocide lie, is being nourished by the Armenians, is Ergun Kırlıkova, who lives in California. Kırlıkova inquired if Akçam is directly or indirectly supported by an Armenian institution by sending a letter to Robert Bruininks, the rector of the university following Taner Akçam started working at the University of Minnesota. Kırlıkova’s question was answered by Brent P. Benrud, in the name of the law office of the University of Minnesota in January 2008. It came out from Brent Bernud`s answer to Kırlıkova that a huge part of Akçam’s salary was paid by Armenian Zoryan Institute and Kafesciyan family.

Akçam does not Make Any Scientific Studies
In the letter that was sent to the administration of the university by Ergun Kırlıkova, it is stated that Taner Akçam, is repeating his claims on Armenians under the disguise of an academic study. Kırlıkova has also noted important information on the matter: The work presented as an academic study by Akçam, is in fact, the repetition of the studies that is done by Vahak Dadrian. And Dadrian is the person who is known as the defender of the genocide lie among the academic circles. Dadrian was condemned by the academicians for taking sides and not acting within the limits of scientific ethic on the Armenian issue.

Taner Akçam is also studying on “Armenian Genocide” in the name of Clark University in America. While we were preparing our magazine for publication, Akçam has attended to a conference entitled “New Perspectives on the Armenian Genocide” in California University during 26-28 March. Taner Akçam has acted as the defender of the Armenian genocide thesis here. Also Sara Nur Yıldız and Ohannes Kılıçdağı from Bilgi University have also attended the conference as lecturers.
Source: Aydınlık–29.03.2009 genocidereality.com

"History Down" by Ara Toranian 8 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
We had experienced genocide Canada Dry with a series of accurately describing the act, but failing to appoint him by name (this has long been one of the faithful allies of Turkey as the United States, before Obama or Germany).

It was now with the last article on the Armenian question by the magazine "History", a situation totally reversed. If the concept of genocide is displayed - there is the logo on the label - its content is sanitized, however, revised downward. So from reading this new forgery, genocide is no longer one in the sense of three or four major crimes against humanity of the twentieth century, but ethnic cleansing becomes more ordinary. There was no one and a half million dead, but "six hundred thousand." There was no massacre by two to three million Ottoman Armenians, but "one million five hundred miles." There was no intention to liquidate the population, but an unfortunate combination of circumstances which led to a catastrophic outcome. All this is horrible, certainly. Wrong, of course. But reduced in small steps, in impressionist style. And the whole landscape to see changed.

This new process is emerging as even more insidious is that it develops under the banner of the word genocide, which is in this case act as moral support to the presentation of this adulterated version of the event. It does not deny the more significant, but it dilutes the meaning. And hence, we regard the same opinion ...

This is the second time in thirty years of existence the journal History, now in its 378th issue, devoted his "one" in 1915. The first time, there are more than ten years was to make very beautiful to negationist theories, particularly that of Gilles Veinstein. And this on the grounds of objectivity is performed on the "5 minutes for the Jews, 5 minutes for the Nazis, such as brocade Jean-Luc Godard.

Today is the United States that month went for a "leading expert" to answer this interview river 13 pages. A Fuat Dundar what capacity should the honor of being selected? According to history, writing 3 books published in Turkey on the Young Turks. But none is specifically dedicated to the extermination of Armenians. We could have such appeal in France Yves Ternon specialist problem or Kévorkian Raymond, who has published on the subject last year an exceptional editions Odile Jacob. But it would be too simple. Our unknown is indeed our two French on the great advantage of being Turkish, which is now clearly a warranty claim to speak impartially of the matter ... The evidence: not once does the gentleman, he The concept of genocide to define the crime ... Only the titles of the journal makes mention.

And we learned which questions? Another "scientific", although to us this one: François Gorgeon who is a biography rather complacent about the Sultan Abdul Hamid, which tends to restore the reality that Europe called the "great Saigneur. A book that minimizes the importance of the anti-Armenian massacres of 1894-95. Too.

And we said Fuat Dündar to "help us understand what was decided and organized the deportation in 1915? Well in two words, it is the fault not of chance. That "until the eve of World War (...) Young Turks had not developed hostility against them (ie Armenians), the author forgot to switch the massacre in Adana ( approximately 30 000 deaths) of which we celebrate the hundredth anniversary this year. Only "the same period the Young Turkish power has shifted and dispersed to other non-Turkish (Kurds, Albanians, Bosnians, Circassians) (...), but for these people the decision did not have the same consequences loopholes for the Armenians. " Our historian failing to specify that this "movement" of refugees from the Balkan war (mostly) designed to install in homes left warm by Armenians "parties", for the death. Fuat even says that in February 1915 Djemal Pasha's decision to deport the Armenians of Zeytoun Dörtyol and after "some armed clashes", taking the view that Turkish official at the time. Which implies that the Armenians were "rebels" to quote the term used by the author. But never the population of these cities has "rebelled" at that time. This is neither more nor less than a false pretext at the time by the Turkish authorities. They intended to play on the reputation of resistance Zeitoun under the Sultans for these first steps of deportations, with, like the others that followed, unspeakable atrocities on women, children and the elderly (torture, rape , etc.)..

We do not eventually go through all aspects of this biased interview with the obvious purpose is to provide an under-valued version of the facts. But the conclusion of the article, in the form of final bouquet, is enough in itself to clarify the intention of the author: "I believe that the massacre was the product of circumstances, the consequence of a gradual evolution of events (...). If there had been no deportation in February 1915 to Zeytoun there have been no reactions from the Armenians of Van and Istanbul (sic) (...) if Van was not fell to the Russians because of this rebellion, the mass killings would not have occurred ".

This reading of history as seen by the small end of the telescope, with "if" in fact aiming to lower its threshold responsibility of the Turkish authorities, the clear determination of any criminal. Then comes the absolute enormity: "I do not think the government ordered the killings, but he helped the executioners: somehow, he was tasked to provide logistical support." Does it mean that Talaat, Djemal, Enver, respectively interior ministers of the navy and defense, three key members of government, that would assist the police, the organization and to the special army, which would have acted on their own? Fit for genocide Guignols de l'info, which would be conducted without the knowledge of free will of the Turkish government ...

And finally, pearl beads, always in the mouth of Fuat: "To the Young Turks was the danger but not arménité demographic imbalances. That is why I advocate that policy Turkification was - above all - a statistical and mathematical. The developed arménophobie not before but after the massacre. " Well! What would it have been if arménophobie had put the party! Thus the elimination of the Armenians would have simply responded to the need to restore a balanced population? Well, there was really no mortmain Turkish family planning at the time! And the annihilation of an entire people has been a "statistical and mathematical operation? But then, how the author says it a surprising side effect of this calculation, management mathematical killings and the fact that according to him a few lines above, the crime was not planned but caused by an unfortunate chain of circumstances (if there had been no Zeitoun "ect.)

It is a very, very far from what is shown and proven long all true experts in the field, such as Yves Ternon, the Vahakan Dadrian, through Taner Akçam and Raymond Kékorkian: that the genocide of Armenians has resulted from a political decision, that its establishment, according to a scenario identical in all places where the Armenians lived actually obey central planning, and this is undoubtedly one of the most "great crimes of the twentieth century." Qualifications used by the major allies of Turkey that the United States (before Obama) and Germany that they, unlike Mr. Dündar, at least have the intellectual honesty not to falsify the facts and figures even if for reasons of realpolitik with the Turkish state, they hypocritically circumventing the word genocide.

But when will deign History magazine does offer its readers a thesis consistent with the truth? Will it take 2015, the hundredth anniversary of the genocide, to be eligible?

Finally, always obedient to the will of misinformation that characterizes this interview, our specialist after a demonstration at the least far-fetched - believes, based on particular books secrets Talaat Pasha made public recently, that the number of deaths caused by the genocide would not be a million and a half, but six hundred miles. A figure which, as just like the rest of these pages, minimize the facts. Most studies evaluating effect of at least 1 300 000 the number of Armenians killed in 1915-16, an estimate that does not include the 1994-95 massacres hamidiens (two to three hundred miles dead), massacres Adana, genocidal atrocities committed in Iranian Azerbaijan in 1915 and the spring-summer 1918, the massacres at the same time by the Ottoman army in the regions of Kars and Alexandropol and Baku, the "military operations "Kemalists of the Caucasus. This figure of 600 000 deaths given by Mr. Dundar reviews even to lower the source to which it refers, the black book of Talaat, including the very moderate historian Ara Sarafian deducted for his part that the number of deaths in 1915 was 800 to 900 000. A document that more does not take into account the whole process. But we will understand the purpose is not to enlighten the reader as exonerate Turkey, dramatize things, and explain why from the first genocide of the twentieth century has been so obscured. These little arrangements with the truth involved in a magazine for the general public to some months of the Turkish season in France after all agree to a lot of interest, except of course those of victims. But those are for others. So why deprive ourselves?

To end on a lighter note, the box of the magazine story about the number of Armenians in the world has no shortage of salt either. This magazine has definitely a big problem with numbers and assesses the number of Armenians in the diaspora. "They are 2.7 million in diaspora. They are present in Russia (1.5 million), the United States and Canada (1.2 million), Syria and Lebanon (900 000), Africa (900 000) in the European Union (700 000 , especially in France), Iran (500 000) and Latin America (200 000). "Or, if you make the addition, 5 900 000. Find the error. So if the monthly tangle so brushes in current data and easily verifiable, what credibility can claim it when he bites to make revelations about the numbers more difficult to demonstrate. If the past is definitely not Turkish his thing, this Armenian either. Clearly, this magazine calculates wrong. Whether dead or alive.

Barack Obama Met With The Archbishop Aram Atesyan 8 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
The U.S. president Barack Obama went Tuesday in contact with the Turkish company in Istanbul and visited two mosques, illustration of a speech the previous day in Ankara, where he expressed his desire to strengthen ties with Turkey and the Muslim world .

Monday, Mr. Obama, who made his first visit to a Muslim country, has assured that the United States "are not and will never be at war against Islam", showing its willingness to establish a partnership with the Muslim world "with concrete actions notably in the field of education.

After the lesson lecture, practical work: the president continued his visit in Istanbul two days in Turkey, the last leg of his European tour, visiting two places symbolic of Islam and its relations with the Christian world.

Accompanied by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Obama had a long walk down Sainte-Sophie, listening with a studious attention to the history of this basilica built in the sixth century, and then converted into a mosque in 1453, after the conquest of Constantinople (the now Istanbul) by the Ottomans.

Last transformation: the building was in 1935 by decree of the secular Turkish Republic, a museum where President Obama could admire the original Christian mosaics, preserved during the Ottoman period under a layer of plaster on the orders of the sultan, and the Muslim calligraphy.

From there, Mr. Obama visited the Blue Mosque, built in the seventeenth century on the orders of Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, which, in socks, he enjoyed under the leadership of the mufti of Istanbul turquoise earthenware which mosque owes its name.

Practicing Christian, Mr. Obama smiled and learn from the mouth of the Mufti that his middle name, Hussein, was inscribed on the dome of the mosque. Hussein was the surname of one of the grand-son of the prophet Muhammad.

The U.S. president had previously talked with the leaders of various religious groups - Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Syriac, Jewish, Armenian and in particular the Archbishop Aram Atesyan, President of the Religious and representative of the Patriarchate.

He completed his visit to Turkey by a discussion with students from different universities in Turkey, during which he turned into a professor to explain the policy of his country in fields as varied as nuclear weapons or climate change .

During this exercise, Mr. Obama reiterated his message to Muslims, saying: "I believe we can forge a partnership with Turkey and throughout the Muslim world, to new opportunities."

He also launched a special appeal to youth, said: "In simple exchanges can bring down the walls between us. I want to tell you that the world is what you make ..."

"You can decide to build new bridges, rather than building new walls. You can choose to put aside old divisions, and move towards lasting peace," he said.

He used this year to renew its support for Turkey's accession to the European Union.

The hand of U.S. President to the Muslim world has been unanimously hailed Tuesday by the Turkish press, and his insistence on the strategic nature of relations between the United States and Turkey, endangered by the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003.

"Obama has captured the hearts" in the headline "A" the popular daily Vatan.

The President has outlined a vision of a world that no longer relies solely on military power but also on peace, dialogue and compromise, "wrote columnist Fikret Bila in the liberal daily Milliyet.

"In the new world order, the United States are again on the side of Turkey," commented columnist Mehmet Barlas in the mass circulation newspaper Sabah.

Edouard Nalbandian Accuses Ankara To Thwart The Normalization Of Relations Between Ankara And Yerevan 7 April 2009, Gari / armenews
Just before departing on Monday, April 6 to Istanbul, the Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, has accused Ankara of the process of standardization over the Armenian-Turkish relations which his visit to Turkey was supposed to give a decisive impetus. The head of the Armenian diplomacy should indeed take advantage of its two-day visit to Turkey within the framework of a summit on the Alliance of Civilizations under the auspices of the UN to meet with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan and d ' Other Turkish officials and discuss with them the prospects for the normalization of bilateral relations. Different signals have indeed suggested that the two countries are about to accomplish a major step towards a rapprochement, which would inter alia by re-establishing diplomatic relations and the reopening of land border, closed since Ankara in 1993 by imposing a blockade on Armenia in solidarity with Azerbaijan.

Some Turkish newspapers have even suggested that an agreement to that effect would be concluded during the visit of Mr. Nalbandian in Istanbul. However, the Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan had cast a cold April 3, saying at a press conference in London that it would not be possible until the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh has not found solution meets the requirements of Yerevan. Meanwhile, Turkey had received the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, who spoke April 5 before the Turkish parliament the "massacres of 1915, leaving in suspense as to the classification of these genocidal massacres, another subject of litigation major between Armenia and Turkey, which has posed as a condition for normalization with Yerevan abandonment of the Armenian claim to international recognition of the genocide. The American president had encouraged Turkey to take a look peaceful on its history and to normalize its relations with its neighbor Armenia, including reopening the border.

In a release issued April 5, Mr. Nalbandian replied to Turkish Prime Minister pointing out that the Nagorno Karabakh was not on the agenda of ongoing negotiations between Armenians and Turks, who left Ankara to designate settlement as a precondition was hired when the unprecedented dialogue with Yerevan in 2008. In an obvious allusion to Mr. Erdogan, he said that "statements posing preconditions for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations can be regarded as an attempt to thwart the progress achieved in the negotiations." Statements made after the Turkish warnings of Azerbaijan addressed to his brother Turk "for it does not normalizing relations with Armenia until the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh will not be resolved. The Azeri President Ilham Aliyev would have canceled his participation at the Istanbul summit to mark its disapproval of the process announced between Yerevan and Ankara. In his statement, Mr. Nalbandian also said that Ankara should not use its rapprochement with Yerevan in order to prevent the advance of the process of international recognition of the Armenian genocide. "It has been said many times, and I want to emphasize again, the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations can not call into question the reality of the Armenian genocide," including Mr. Nalbandian said. The Turkish newspaper in English "Hurriyet Daily News indicates that Mr. Nalbandian was expected in Istanbul on 5 April to Sunday evening. The delay of the head of the Armenian diplomacy should be interpreted as a sign of his displeasure after Mr Erdogan, according to the Turkish daily.

You Said Diaspora? 6 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
She had a taste this old-fashioned lecture in honor of the visit to France by the Minister of Diaspora Heranoush Hagopian * on Friday April 3 at Alex Manoogian Cultural Center (AGBU). Admittedly, a rather pleasant taste, but the flowers perfume the era of the former Soviet Union when the swarms Minister, on a paternalistic action in the Armenia-Diaspora unification, while a member of the delegation, suddenly become numbing, sleep indefinitely ...

She herself expected better. At a reception that would have met hundreds of people, as in his previous trips abroad. It did not happen, since only a great thirties, picked, not journalists, came to meet our Minister of guardianship.

Flanked at its Alexis Govcyian left and right of Mourad Papazian (circonspects. ..), Ms. Hagopian spoke to not abandon a fifteen plus hours later, after having brushed the table ideal that should guide the future relations "diasporarméniennes.

In preparation for his river, it will discuss the great suffering of the people of Armenia, while noting that 80% of the diaspora are not involved in the Armenian. Then she came to the menu of the statements of intent. A package of measures including:

Priority to the fight against terrorism and corruption. Democratization of Armenia. Addressing issues related to ecology.

Take into account the demands, suggestions and criticisms of the diaspora by organizing round tables.

Develop language learning Armenian diaspora, where the priority is to help strengthen and make each of its arménité and its national identity. To this end, the ministry will provide books and technical assistance to Armenian schools abroad.

Willingness to develop relations between the Diaspora with Armenia, from the planning of meetings with youth, athletes, artists and intellectuals. And encouraging the diaspora to visit their historical homeland.

Mission scientists to come and teach in Armenia. Scholars to teach the history and the diaspora, a way to take advantage of the enormous intellectual potential of the diaspora to address the glaring needs of Armenia.

Political investment in the development of Armenia.

Armenians call the peripheral countries with a high concentration of Armenia, or elsewhere, to gain or regain the Motherland, physically or mentally.

For each position discussed, 80 Ministry officials will listen and try to facilitate initiatives or personal issues and associations.

When donations from the diaspora have declined by about 30%, the tone is given: gathering flock astray, motivation and awareness of the Armenian identity, repopulation of Armenia, more investment of Diaspora in Armenia, and so on.

For example, Hagopian Heranoush include the model of success that the State of Israel.

And to conclude it will announce the creation of a diaspora of the Journal Online, available in several languages, without being cited french.

As Kant, philosopher, thinker of the Enlightenment: "what is that good will is such, it is not his work or his success, not her ability to achieve a particular purpose proposed is [...] just want to. "

Jean Eckian

* Heranoush Hagopian was born on 12 April 1954 in the village of Kamo.

A graduate of the Department of Applied Mathematics State University of Yerevan in 1975 and the Faculty of Law in 1994, it is also a graduate of the Academy of Social Sciences under the Central Committee SUCP. Professor at the State University Gavar, author of 2 monographs and 26 scientific articles. From 1975 to 1983 she worked as an assistant professor at State University of Yerevan. From 1978 to 1983, First Assistant Secretary and, later, secretary of the State University of Yerevan (LCYU). From 1983 to 1990, First Secretary of the Central Committee of LCYU, deputy of the Supreme Council of Armenia SSR (1986-1990), member Presidium of the Supreme Council. From 1995-1997, Heranoush Hagopian was vice-president of the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS. It is also a member of a faction of the Republican Party, and Minister of Social Security of the Republic of Armenia from 1996 to 1998.

On 25 May 2003 she was elected to the National Assembly and Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth.

She was also co-chair of the Board of the Armenian-American Health Center and member of the Coordinating Committee on the Status of Women.

Since 2004, she is the head of the delegation of the Interparliamentary Union, President of the Armenian International Women's Association and co-chair of the Women's Health Protection Association.

Turkish Intellectuals Reflect On Obama's Visit, Armenian Issue Khatchig Mouradian, www.hairenik.com/ April 8, 2009
Turkish intellectuals-from progressives to hardliners-I interviewed on the eve of President Obama's visit to Turkey believe that the U.S. administration will firmly support the dialogue between Turkey-Armenia, but will not recognize the Armenian Genocide. Many progressives, however, expect Obama to pressure Turkey to allow free discussion of the Armenian issue.

According to The Economist Turkey correspondent Amberin Zaman, "The Obama visit will reset the parameters of Turkey-U.S. relations that were reduced-under eight years of the Bush administration-to a cynical focus on the security relationship driven by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Turkey's strategic role as a the main hub for logistical supplies flowing to US troops based there." She adds, "This policy came at the expense of human rights. With its own record blemished by atrocities committed in Iraq, U.S. criticism of Turkey's human rights record carries no moral weight. This will and must change with Obama. This means closer scrutiny of Turkey's treatment of its ethnic and religious minorities and scrapping laws that, among others, criminalize free discussion of the horrors inflicted on a once vibrant community of Ottoman Armenians who lived across Turkey."

In turn, historian Halil Berktay expects from the Obama administration "positive, affirmative support for steps oriented to a Turkey-Armenia reconciliation; approval of and rewards for a unilateral opening of the Turkish-Armenian border; as well as any other trust-building measures." He also expects that Obama will not say "anything explicit on U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide," but will, instead, "advise that this is best solved by Turks and Armenians; advise that total freedom of speech and scholarship inside Turkey (and Armenia) is crucial in that regard; also advise, as gently as possible, that at the end of the day, countries are better off recognizing and admitting bad things in their past rather than burying or denying them (but that such recognition should not be forced on them from the outside)."

Journalist and scholar Ayse Hur thinks that Obama will refrain from acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. "For the sake of the great strategic goals of the U.S., he will not use the word 'genocide.' Instead, he will insist on opening the Armenian-Turkish border and establishing good neighborly relations."

Human rights activist and journalist Baskin Oran believes that "Armenia-Turkey relations will be normalized (embassies and borders opened) [even] without Obama's visit." It is possible, however, that Obama's visit will strengthen the Turkish government's hand "against the nationalist opposition," he adds.

Kemal Cicek from the Turkish Historical Society-the guardian of Turkey's official thesis on the fate of the Armenians in 1915-says, "The U.S. policy will not be different at all. The U.S. administration will keep the balance between the two countries [Armenia and Turkey], but will not please the Armenian diaspora by using the 'g' word in his presidential statement on April 24. Moreover, we are expecting that the U.S. President will support Turkey's proposal to establish a joint historical commission for studying the events of 1915-1916."

According to human rights activist and journalist Ayse Gunaysu, Obama should not encourage Turkey "to continue its policies of denying the Armenian Genocide and injuring the memories of the victims and their grandchildren all over the world." She added, "The Turkish authorities and also business organizations and other private or public institutions are making calls to President Obama not to pressure Turkey for the recognition of Armenian Genocide. They don't represent me and they don't represent many people who think like me. I am a Turk and I do believe that Turkey should officially recognize the Genocide."

Gunaysu concludes, "We often hear from such official and semi-official entities that accusation of Genocide is an insult and an injury to the Turkish people. I am a Turk and I feel insulted and injured by the denial of the Genocide.

More Than 300 European Organizations Urge Obama To Recognize Genocide www.asbarez.com , April 7, 2009
BRUSSELS--A letter signed by more than 340 European organizations is urging US President Barack Obama to stand firm against Turkish pressure and honor his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide, reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy.

The letter, sent to the White House while the President was in London for the G20 summit Friday, stresses that a failure to recognize the Armenian genocide "would be interpreted by genocide-perpetrating governments as a full license to continue their bloody acts." It highlights Turkey's growing support for the Sudanese government as a contemporary example of how the genocide in Darfur continues because states like Turkey have gone unpunished for committing the same crime.

"Recognizing the Armenian Genocide means moving toward a durable peace; it means more stability, more justice and more democracy in the region," said Hilda Tchoboian, the chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. "These are European values. The European Armenian Federation shares these values with President Obama and we hope these values can once again become the bulwark of US policy."

A proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States, the petition says, "will unleash the momentum of true change and democratization inside Turkey" and "provide unprecedented momentum to the process of dialogue between Turkey and Armenia."

A principled stand by the United States would "definitely require of Turkey a fundamental commitment to a just peace," the letter adds.

The letter states that European Armenians along with other European mainstream democratic forces would never accept Turkey's membership in the EU as long as "the Turkish state denies the Armenian Genocide, promotes racism and pursues a policy of discrimination towards its minorities."

According To Hayk Demoyan, Turkey Has Calculated All Its Steps In Advance Noyan Tapan, Apr 6, 2009
YEREVAN, APRIL 6, NOYAN TAPAN. According to Hayk Demoyan, the Director of the Museum-Institute of Armenian Genocide, today the West wishes to see the Armenian-Turkish border opened, which causes inconveniences for Turkey. As H. Demoyan reported at the April 6 press conference, the probability of border's opening causes problems in Turkish-Azeri relations. Besides, according to the speaker, the Turkish authorities have to somehow show to their own society that they do not yield to United States' pressure in the issue of opening the border. "In one word, the possibility of Turkey's manoeuvre in the issue of opening the border has become limited," H. Demoyan said. He added that European media criticized the statement of a Turkish official that the border cannot be opened until there is the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

According to H. Demoyan, by saying "opening of the border" Armenian society imagines a near campaign or attack by the Turks. While, in his words, only opening of two barriers is spoken about. H. Demoyan added that cargo transportations will be done and a contact with the outer world will be established thanks to opening of the two barriers. "The advantages of opening the border are huge for Armenia," he said meanwhile adding that the Armenians should be cautious. "Let us not be naive: Turkey has calculated all its steps in advance. We should not forget that Turkey is the ally of the country, with which we are at a non-announced war," H. Demoyan said.

Why Is Obama Paying So Much Attention To Turkey? States News Service, April 5, 2009
The following information was released by Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty:

U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Turkey for the start of a two-day tour, the first predominantly Muslim country he is visiting since taking office.

During his first day in Ankara, April 6, he will address the Turkish parliament and hold talks on Turkey's role in the Caucasus and the Mideast.

Then, on April 7 he attends a major international conference in Istanbul to promote East-West dialogue.

So far, Obama has spent most of his first presidential trip abroad dealing with alliances.

Those include the G20 for confronting the global economic downturn, NATO for reinforcing efforts in Afghanistan, and the EU for strengthening trans-Atlantic ties.

Turkey is his only visit focused on a single state, and his only stop in a predominantly Muslim country before he heads home on April 8.

Why is he giving so much attention to Turkey?

In Turkey, Obama has a venue for addressing a number of problems at once -- from Iraq, to the Caucasus, to Iran. And he can highlight the apparent readiness of Ankara -- a major regional power -- to endorse his drive to explore diplomatic solutions to ease regional tensions.

If Obama makes common cause with Erdogan, there is a danger that in Turkey he may be seen as showing too much confidence in a leader whose populist Islamist party is heavily criticized by Turkey's secular establishment

For Iraq, Washington wants Ankara and other neighborhood states to help create a stable political environment as the United States looks to withdraw troops.

In the Caucasus, Washington wants to counter Russian moves to cow Georgia and bring it back into Moscow's orbit. The White House welcomes signs that Turkey may reopen its border with Armenia and play a larger role overall in the Caucasus, where the United States and Turkey, as well as Russia, have major energy interests.

And Washington may want to explore more direct cooperation with Turkey's own efforts to use its economic and political clout to become a broker for talks between such varied players as Syria and Israel, or Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Turkish Regional Ambitions

Turkish analysts say the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is keen to make Turkey a major regional diplomatic power and is ready to work with Obama.

Mustafa Akyol, the deputy editor of the "Hurriyet Daily News," an English-language publication in Istanbul, said the Turkish government hopes "that we can be the party that can really build soft power in the region."

"They have tried it with Syria and Israel, they tried to talk with Hamas and give advice on restraint to Hamas and to stop their terrorist methods and enter into the peace process with Israel. But they haven't been fully able to do this because of two reasons," Akyol said.

"One reason was that the government felt the Bush administration was not very open to dialogue in the first place with these actors in the Middle East. So, when Obama came to power with a more reconciliatory tone, with a message that says 'I will talk and we [the United States] will listen,' and when Obama said he wants to engage in a process with Iran, Turkey said, 'Yes, this is what we have been waiting for.'"

Akyol and other analysts say Ankara's interest in using soft power also extends to the Iranian nuclear crisis, one of Obama's toughest challenges.

If Obama makes common cause with Erdogan, there is a danger that in Turkey he may be seen as showing too much confidence in a leader whose populist Islamist party is heavily criticized by Turkey's secular establishment.

That could be why the U.S. president is taking some highly visible steps during his visit to show he stands outside the Turkish Islamist-secular political divide.

In Ankara, Obama will meet with the leaders of Turkey's main opposition parties.

And, in an unprecedented move, he will also meet with the leader of Turkey's Kurdish party. That will endorse Ankara's extending greater cultural rights to the Kurdish minority as the government seeks to isolate the armed PKK, which both Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist organization.

Obama will also address the Turkish parliament in Ankara. The White House has indicated the president will use the speech to discuss the progress of Turkey's democratic reforms and to reaffirm U.S. support for Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Speech To Muslim World?

There has been much speculation whether Obama will also use this trip for a major speech to the Muslim world. If such an opportunity arises, it would come in Istanbul on April 7, when he attends a UN-backed forum aimed at fostering dialogue between the West and the Muslim world. The forum is the Alliance of Civilizations, cochaired by Turkey and Spain.

Obama has said previously he would make an address to the Muslim world during his first 100 days in office. And Turkey, where opinion polls showed favorable views of the United States dropping from 52 percent in 2000 to just 9 percent in 2007 -- before moving up slightly to 12 percent last year -- might seem a convenient location.

But many analysts say Obama will not make Istanbul his platform for a formal policy address to Muslims. Instead, he is likely to speak at the conference in general terms.

The reason is -- again -- Turkey's own split identity between secularism and Islam.

Lale Sariibrahimoglu, an Ankara-based columnist for the daily "Today's Zaman," says Turkey's strongest defender of secularism, the army, resents Washington's past efforts to portray the country as a Muslim role model.

That includes the Bush administration's involving Turkey in its Greater Middle East Initiative to encourage democratic change in the Muslim world.

"The Bush administration's policy of seeing Turkey as the leader of moderate Islam in the world, as [an Islamic] role model, annoyed the Turkish establishment, led by the Turkish military," Sariibrahimoglu said.

"But when [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton was here, she was asked on a talk show whether this is how Americans perceive Turkey, as a role model for moderate Islam, because the Turkish establishment doesn't like this terminology since we have a secular constitution. And she ruled out any such policy under the Obama administration."

Another analyst, Bulent Aliriza of the Washington-based think-tank CSIS, agrees. He says Obama, while in Turkey, is not likely in to go much beyond what he has already said from the White House.

"Although the White House is stressing that this is not going to be the location for his big, publicized message to the Islamic world that he promised to deliver in the first 100 days, it is a good opportunity to add it onto a European trip and underline the messages that he has already given through his interview with Al-Arabiya and the Norouz message to Iran to the Islamic world," Aliriza said.

In those messages, Obama encouraged Muslims angry at the United States to unclench their fists and grasp America's hand, extended to them in friendship, instead.

However, Aliriza said that while Obama may want to avoid any impression he is giving his promised "big speech" to Muslims in Istanbul, for the world audience it may be a distinction without a difference.

"In fact," said Aliriza, "the entire Islamic world will be listening to the message that Obama will give in Turkey to see whether he intends to follow through on his promise to establish a new, less confrontational relationship with the Islamic world."

How Did Turkish Newspapers Receive Obama? BIA, Turkey April 7 2009
The Evrensel, Birgun and Gunluk newspapers criticised Obama's messages as insincere. Hurriyet, Milliyet and Radikal quoted his message of a new phase in Turkish-American relations. Star and Taraf published his message to the Muslim world.

Bia news centre - Istanbul 07-04-2009 Emine OZCAN

US President Barack Obama's visit to Turkey was on the front pages of Turkey's daily newspapers today.

The Hurriyet newspaper referred to Obama's slogan of "change" and said "We Must All Change". The first page was devoted to Obama's comments on the importance of Turkey and praise for the country.

The Zaman newspaper announce Obama's visit under the heading "Historical and Warm Messages." The newspaper acknowledged Obama's gesture of visiting Prime Minister Erdogan at the Prime Ministerial Office and further discussed four messages of the US President:

"The USA is not at war with Islam, nor will it be. We support EU membership for Turkey. We will form a model partnership with Turkey. PKK and Al Qaida are common enemies. Many American families have Muslim members. I am one of them."

The Sabah newspaper's headline ran "Obama's Ankara Manifesto." The newspaper reported that Obama supported an opening of the border with Armenia, a discussion of the events of 1915 in parliament, and a re-opening of a priests' seminary on Heybeliada in Istanbul.

The Radikal newspaper read "Let Our Partnership Be a Model", with another heading saying "Two laicist democratic countries must form a model partnership."

The Birgun newspaper was more critical, saying "Obama's Bargain for Cheap Soldiers." Referring to the Ataturk quote "Peace in the country, peace in the world," which Obama wrote into the visitor's book at Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara, the newspaper said, "He might write [that], but he has visited in order to place more Turkish soldiers in the region, especially Afghanistan."

The Evrensel newspaper said "Trying to Please Everyone", saying that he was trying to win over everyone with different messages.

The Milliyet newspaper covered Obama's visit with the headline "Setting off with Turkey," reporting that Obama's speech in Turkish Parliament on Monday showed the path ahead.

The Haberturk newspaper's headline read "He Didn't Budge," adding below, "On his first visit to a foreign country, US President Barack Obama spoke candidly, emphasing a laicist democracy. He sent the world important messages."

With its heading "You Change, Too", the Vatan newspaper said that Obama was calling on Turkey to change. The newspaper also covered the president's comments on the 1915 events and priests' seminaries.

The Star and Taraf newspapers had nearly the same headline, the Taraf writing "We Will Not Fight with Islam", and Star saying "We Will Never Fight with Islam."

The Gunluk newspaper said, "Obama Came, Bush Talked," arguing that Obama was following Bush's policy and supporting Turkey against the PKK.

The Yenisafak newspaper put Obama's sentence "There are Muslims in My Family" on the front page and emphasised that Obama would try to make good Bush's mistakes. (EZO/AG)

President Of Turkey: World Needed Obama's Message
"Without Security And Stability There Will Not Be Any Welfare, Economic Welfare", April 08, 2009, By Spero News

In a CNN Market Place Middle East interview with Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey talks about his recent visit with U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as such varied Middle East topics as Iran, Iraq and the Palestinian situation.

Following is a transcript of that interview, conducted by CNN's John Defterios.

Abdullah Gul: Well it's an opportunity for both of us, because Obama, he is saying that there is a need for change and his message is so clear. He is saying that we are going first to listen, we are not going to enforce and he is saying that we are not going to act unilaterally. So this is a good message, in fact the world has needed this message. And of course for us also, it's a good opportunity to convey all our messages to him. In the Middle East, in the Far East, in the problematic areas, all the leaders they should not miss this opportunity because President Obama is saying that 'we are going to listen to you.

John Defterios (CNN): You had a mid march meeting with the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamanei. Public gestures aside, is Iran willing to accept the olive branch that President Obama is putting forward?

Abdullah Gul: The problems are not easy problems. I am sure that they are listening, they are deliberating and I am sure that at the end when they are convinced that all these messages are sincere, and then we can see the action. So I am very much optimistic.

John Defterios: Does it take the elections to pass in June, the elections in Iran to have the next stage of response from Iran? Is it important?

Abdullah Gul: Election is always important, in any country you see, even in Iran, in all societies. And the politicians before the election, they have to be populists. So therefore after the election maybe these serious issues can be handled better.

John Defterios: You had a visit to Iraq. They are trying to rebuild the economy; they are trying to expand the energy sector as you know. But you say they have fears of the future. Are they worried that the US is going to pull out before the economic rebuilding and political stability is there.

Abdullah Gul: I spent two days there. I think I was the first leader to spend the day there. Definitely the security is still a big problem there. But when you compare it to previous days, years, I think its getting better. Turkey is helping them a lot and I think my visit was very much very useful for the both sides. We are in good co-operation with them. Territorial integrity and political unity of Iraqis is essential so therefore all of us we have to support them, we have to help them and I am sure that they will succeed in the end.

John Defterios: One final point, you can't have stability in the region without a solution to Gaza. And the rebuilding effort is not moving forward because you have a divided government between Hamas and Fatah. Can they come together so you can get economic development rekindled in the Palestinian territories?

Abdullah Gul: Of course without security and stability there will not be any welfare, economic welfare. As far as Palestinians are concerned, first they should not be divided between them, they should unite. We should all support them. Later on of course, Palestinian and Israelis. Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon it's a comprehensive Middle East peace process. Sometimes we are on the scene, sometimes we are not. But we are doing very good things there. I hope that the others also they realize this and they appreciate what Turkey is doing.

Waiting For The Word: What Did Or Didnt President Obama Say In Ankara? By John Hughes, ArmeniaNow editor
Published: 07 April, 2009 Article tools printable version email to friend comments (5) share the article Now that US President Barack Obama has returned to Washington, D.C. after his highly-scrutinized visit to Turkey, what he said/what he didnt say is the substance for analysis, for second-guessing, for between-the-lines interpretation that may or may not reflect whether Turkish-Armenian relations will changed as a result of the trip.

Obama who as a senator supported US legislation that favors recognition of the Armenian Genocide and who has stated his intentions to support recognition during his administration proved his diplomatic skills when the issue was broached in an Ankara press conference Monday.

"I want to focus not on my views right now, but on the views of the Turkish and Armenian people. If they can move forward... the entire world should encourage them," the president said.

It appears that some see two words as critical in that comment: right now.

The Washington-based Armenian Assembly of America (www.aaainc.org) the largest Armenian-American advocacy organization took Obamas answer as a positive signal of his continued commitment to acknowledgement of the 1915-18 massacres and deportations as something other than tragic events as officially characterized by his predecessors.

"For the first time, a U.S. President has delivered a direct message to Turkish officials in their own country that he stands behind his steadfast support and strong record of affirmation of the Armenian Genocide," said the Assemblys Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

And in continuing, the Assembly leader in effect laid down the gauntlet by adding: "On April 24, the Assembly looks forward to President Obama's statement reaffirming the Armenian Genocide."

Reaction by the Armenian National Committee of America (www.anca.org) was less reserved, saying that Obama had missed a valuable opportunity in Ankara, but also looked to April 24 as a chance for him to do what no other US president has done.

A statement by ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian says that while Obamas comments were a step in the right direction they were nonetheless far short of the clear promise he made as a candidate that he would, as President, fully and unequivocally recognize this crime against humanity. We expect that the President will, during Genocide Prevention Month this April, stand by his word . . .

But if sentiment expressed on todays AC 360 CNN feature http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/06/obamas-turkish-dilemma/) prevails in the White House, recognition is and should be lower on the presidents agenda than other Turkish-American priorities.

Referring to HR252 a congressional resolution supported by the Assembly and ANCA -- F. Stephen Larrabee, Corporate Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, writes:

Instead of passing the Genocide resolution Congress should encourage the process of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, particularly the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border (closed since 1993), which would have an important economic impact on Armenia and decrease Armenias economic isolation.

In return for heading off the resolution, Turkey should pursue reconciliation with Yerevan and continue the effort to promote greater internal openness in addressing the Armenian issue that has been evident in recent years.

This would represent a win-win situation for all sides and avoid a crisis that could do untold damage to U.S.-Turkish relations and broader U.S. interests in the Middle East and Caucasus.

In Yerevan, Obama received mostly passing grades for his handling of the genocide question, as local analysts understand the complexities of events that include the US need for close relations with Turkey in the fallout of generally-ruined Islamic relations Obama inherited from George W. Bush.

Public and political response from Turkey showed that Obama made considerable progress in improving US-Turkey relations. By saying genocide on April 24 he would risk losing whatever gains were made on Monday.

Ruben Safrastyan, head of the Oriental Studies Institute at the RA National Academy of Sciences says that Obama played a double game.

Saying that his position has not changed, he, at the same time, did not pronounce the word genocide, setting the ground for making compromises to improve Armenian-Turkish relations by means of negotiations, Safrastyan said. But he also made it clear for Turkey that history has to be revised and compromises have to be made. Other than that, his position has not changed and he may pronounce the word genocide one day.

According to another analyst, that day wont be soon.

I was not expecting the US President to use the word genocide during his visit to Turkey, said Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Media Institute. Yesterdays statement showed once again that Obama will not use the word on April 24 either.

How Obama Became A Smash Hit In The Country That Gives The United States Its Lowest Approval Rating. By Yigal Schleifer April 2009
After charming his way through summits in Britain, France, and the Czech Republic, U.S. President Barack Obama ended his European tour in Turkey, where he needed every last ounce of his charisma (and had to do without the backup of his wife Michelle, who returned to Washington to be with their daughters).

The last eight years have been brutal on the U.S.-Turkey relationship. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 exposed a deep rift between the two countries, with Ankara opposing the war and Turkey's parliament refusing to pass a motion that would have allowed U.S. troops to use the country as a launching pad for attacking the Saddam regime. Things have been even more dismal on the public opinion front. In a 2007 Pew Research Center public opinion survey, only 9 percent of Turks surveyed held favorable views of the United States, meaning that Turkey was the country with the least favorable view of the United States among the 47 countries and territories surveyed. (If it's any consolation for the United States, other surveys found that Turks seem to be a grumpy lot, holding generally unfavorable views of many other countries.)

America's fall from grace was reflected in Turkish popular culture. A 2005 Turkish bestseller, Metal Firtina (Metal Storm), envisioned Turks and Americans engaging in all-out war, the story ending with a nuclear device detonating in Washington. Kurtlar Vadisi -- Irak (Valley of the Wolves -- Iraq), a crassly anti-American and anti-Semitic 2006 film that became one of Turkey's best-grossing movies ever, saw a team of Turkish agents battling evil Americans in northern Iraq and a devious doctor (played by Gary Busey) who runs an organ-harvesting operation that relies on Iraqi corpses.

Yet Turkish public opinion might now be turning a corner. Obama's election and visit seemed to bring out a healthy dose of goodwill and excitement in Turkey. On the day of his arrival, Hurriyet, one of Turkey's largest newspapers, ran a large headline that said in English: "Welcome, Mr. President" (though adding in Turkish below the fold, "But we have been offended for the last eight years"). Two competing Istanbul pastry makers both came up with a flaky phyllo dough dessert called Baracklava. And for the last few weeks, a face that looks strikingly like that of Obama's has been staring from billboards across the country, part of an ad campaign for a low-interest account at one of Turkey's largest banks. Meanwhile, in a speech he gave in late March at Princeton University, Ahmet Davutoglu, the chief foreign-policy advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggested that we might soon witness the dawning of a "golden age" in U.S.-Turkey relations. "Our approach and principles are almost the same, very similar [to the United States'] on issues such as the Middle East, Caucasus, the Balkans, and energy security," he said.

The Obama administration also appears to have realized that a new approach is needed for Turkey, especially in terms of public diplomacy and reconnecting with the Turkish public. During the Bush years, U.S. officials only seemed to show up in times of crisis, their arrival usually creating a sense of dread that only increased tension, rather than easing it. This has already changed. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Turkey last month mostly to just say hello and, as she explained, listen to what Turks had to say. In a radical -- and well-received -- departure from the way things had been done previously, Clinton appeared on a popular television chat show, Haydi Gel Bizimle Ol (Come and Join Us), similar to the popular American talk show The View. On the program, Clinton opened up to the four hosts about her family life and her challenged sense of fashion.

The contrast between Clinton's first trip as secretary of state to Turkey and the several frosty visits that her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, made in recent years, was striking.

Following in Clinton's footsteps, Obama made his own public-outreach effort, holding an Istanbul town-hall meeting with some 100 Turkish university students that was broadcast live on television. The event took place in a cultural center, a 17th-century Ottoman building that was once a cannon factory, and presented the U.S. president as the college professor in chief: pedagogic without being pedantic, using humor when he needed to, and taking advantage of even bad questions to raise the level of the discussion. Touching on everything from climate change to the Kurdish issue, Obama told the students that the image of America that they might have been getting from films or television shows was not the correct one. "Sometimes it suggests that America has become selfish or crass and doesn't care about the world beyond its borders," Obama told the students. "I'm here to tell you that's not the America I know."

"We are still a place where anyone who tries can still make it. If that wasn't true, then someone named Barack Hussein Obama could not become president," the president added.

"It's a different style, but I think it's effective," town-hall-meeting attendee Berna Ozkale, a 21-year-old senior studying chemical engineering at Istanbul Technical University, told the Christian Science Monitor. "I went to an American high school in Istanbul and I have gone to the United States, but that doesn't mean I was happy with what America was doing and President Bush. ... All these students are here because they have hope in the new American president. ... I wouldn't have come if it was George [W.] Bush."

If there was a golden age in U.S.-Turkey relations, it was probably the several-day visit that then U.S. President Bill Clinton made to Turkey in 1999. Clinton is still fondly remembered for visiting an area outside Istanbul that had been hit by a devastating earthquake only a few months before and for delivering a rousing speech in parliament. Pictures of a smiling Clinton are still easy to find in the small shops in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, where the former president's image is often displayed as shorthand for "We like Americans."

It's likely that Obama pictures will soon be on display in the bazaar. On a visit there during Obama's first day in Turkey, I spoke with Ismail Aksahin, a kilim rug merchant who has been working the Grand Bazaar since 1992. "We are feeling good about Obama. Bush was a bad option for us for eight years. We feel about Obama the way we feel about Clinton."

"If you had asked most of us here a year ago if we were ready to embrace America, everybody would have said, 'No,'" he added, waving his hand dismissively.

"Now the wind is blowing in a different direction."

Yigal Schleifer is the Istanbul correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor

An Inventory Of The Obama Visit
U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit may be analyzed as follows in terms of both Turkish-American relations and its respective outcomes regarding a series of domestic and foreign issues in Turkey:

President Obama has portrayed an identity that owns up to Atatürk’s legacy and his vision with strong expressions. His remarks on Atatürk (“He continues to inspire the world”) his commitment to “support Atatürk’s modern and democratic Turkey vision” and his declaration about having adopted the “peace at home, peace in the world” ideal himself were undoubtedly incredibly warm and powerful messages. And yet, the fact that Obama regards directing Turkey towards democracy as the pinnacle of Atatürk’s success, and that he emphasizes Atatürk’s vision along with the democracy angle should be underlined. We could say that Obama’s view closes the door on Atatürkism interpretations that hold the Republic above democracy, and do not embrace democracy at all. Obama has pointed to democracy as the only source of guidance as a solution for all of the problems.

Obama’s standing behind secularism with strong undertones is a complimentary factor to his view of Atatürk. It should be noted that he presents secularism as a vital component of democracy by emphasizing “secular democracy” during his Parliament speech and he defines a common denominator between Turkey and the U.S., namely “the promise of a secular nation,” where nations do not define themselves through their religious identities.

Another issue complimentary to this development is the fact that the “moderate Islam” expression has come to an end. It had been made public that this very concept has been removed from the official U.S. language during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Turkey last month. President Obama has maintained the same stance with increasing emphasis during his visit to Turkey. This way, all question marks and doubts that had appeared within the sensitive circles in Turkish society regarding the U.S. writing off secularism in Turkey due to this particular language that had found its way in the official circles during the Republican era must have dispersed significantly.

Despite all this, religion is still the determining factor in the U.S. view of Turkey. Even more so, when one considers how Obama utilizes the model relationship concept, it will become evident that he has formulated the model largely on the meeting of two different religions. Obama says, “A nation that is predominantly Christian, and a Western nation where the majority is Muslim, shall be coming together.” Obama thus sends a message to the entire Muslim world, saying, “Look, we could establish close relations with you, too, just as we have with Turkey. You may regard our relationship with Turkey as an example.” These words of his clearly express that Obama places Turkey in a very special position on a global stage in any case. A significant role model as far as the U.S., wishing to build bridges with the Muslim world in the post-9/11 era, is concerned, Turkey retains these characteristics during the Obama presidency as well. The difference is the fact that Washington is not going to change its stance at the expense of giving up on secularism.

Another significant aspect of the visit is Obama’s warm messages to all circles in Turkey. In this context, his visits with CHP, MHP and DTP leaders are an important novelty. Neither Bill Clinton, nor George Bush, had deemed it necessary to visit with the opposition leaders in their 1999 and 2004 visits to Ankara. Obama, on the other hand, has given the message that he not only knows all the actors on the Turkish political stage, but he cares for them as well. This situation has also prevented Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from perceiving and presenting this visit as a show of support solely for himself and his party.

And yet, no one can deny that this visit has all but filled the sails of both President Gül and Prime Minister Erdoğan. Obama has established a close and warm relationship with these two leaders on the heels of his inauguration. We could safely guess that Obama shall be in a process of very close dialog and consultation with both his counterparts, and quite a few sensitive international issues shall be brought up in the course of this dialog in the coming days. This close dialog shall not only reinforce Turkey’s role within the region, but also add to Turkey’s ability to influence the U.S. Likewise, it will open Turkey up to the U.S. expectations, as well. The expectation of a gesture in the form sending Turkish troops to Afghanistan is likely to be the first test in this context.

The fact that Obama had sat down with the DTP leader Türk in addition to the messages he had given regarding the Kurdish issue indicates that the Democrat White House is expecting rather progressive steps of the AKP cabinet in this regard. Expectations of new opportunities for Kurds, especially in education, seem to be rising to the top. What’s more, this is the first time a U.S. president has mentioned Kurds in Turkey as an ethnic minority. The fact that Obama has sat down with the DTP, a political action toward a political figure with whom many civilian and other political figures would not shake hands, has rendered it as the most important component of the solution, and has solidified this position. It is quite inevitable that this shall have an effect that will increase the DTP’s power domestically as well as outside Turkey. The visit has carried the political solution process of the Kurdish issue to a new threshold in this regard.

One of the clear requests of the new U.S. president is the opening of the Halki (Heybeliada) Seminary. The issue has been addressed by every U.S. president. But Obama has carried the message all the way to the Turkish Parliament quite clearly. We’ll see if this could be enough to break the AKP’s conservative resistance in the subject.

Similarly, Obama’s request to open the Turkey-Armenia border gate seems to be another source of Ankara. The step that Turkey is preparing to take has already caused cold winds between Azerbaijan and Turkey. How Turkey will balance its rooted interests in Azerbaijan and initiatives in the Armenian issue will be the most critical case in the days to come.

Turkish-American relations faced the biggest crisis in their history following the rejection of the March 1, 2003, troop deployment note in the Turkish Parliament. With the sack incident that occurred on July 4, 2003, bilateral relations totally hit bottom. During that time, many commentators said Turkish-American relations would never be the same again. But the situation today proves they were wrong. Starting from today, Turkey, in the eye of the Obama administration, is one of the most special allies in the world. This will obviously increase the significance and influence of Turkey in the international arena. However, internal issues in relation to bilateral relations’ new agenda may create tension within Turkish internal politics. Sedat Ergin © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

To Get Turkey Right, Hear What Obama Said
The trip to Turkey by President Barack Ğ Hussein Ğ Obama, as people loved to emphasize here, was a big success. Except for a few hundred "anti-imperialist," lefty protestors who hit the streets chanting, "Yankee go home," most Turks welcomed him calmly and some even fondly.

Some nationalists, including Nationalist Action Party, or MHP, leader Devlet Bahçeli, didn’t like what he said about Turkish-Armenian relations Ğ or rather the lack thereof. But that’s quite normal. The Armenian lobby in the United States, which is no fan of Turkey, didn’t like the way he handled that issue either. The disapproval of extremists on both sides of a question is often the indicator of a fair position.

Personally speaking, I very much liked Obama’s messages. The steps he suggested that Turkey take were completely reasonable. Of course, we need to introduce further reforms to honor the rights of our Kurdish citizens and religious minorities. To be sure, the Halki Seminary, unwisely closed by the Turkish authorities in 1971, needs to be reopened. This is all Democracy 101.

Enter ’secular democracy’

Democracy 102, if you will, was hidden in Mr. Obama’s semantics. In the speech he delivered at the Turkish Parliament, for example, he used a term that we Turks should well note: "secular democracy." This came as he was speaking about the heritage of Atatürk, the country’s founder. "His greatest legacy is Turkey's strong and secular democracy," Obama said. "And that is the work that this assembly carries on today."

While it may not seem like rocket science, that formulation is actually quite brilliant. Because the term, "secular democracy" is not common in Turkey’s political language. We generally, rather, use two different terms: "Secular republic" (laik cumhuriyet) and "democracy" (demokrasi). And these two are sometimes seen as alternatives to each other. Military coups are made, and justified, in the name of the secular republic. And democracy is often loathed by the latter’s zealous defenders as a counter-revolution to theirs. But what is good in a secular republic if is not democratic? The Soviet Union, for example, was a secular republic, but it really was not the place you would want to live in if you have an aspiration for things like civil liberties. The same can be said for North Korea, Red China or Saddam’s Iraq. They all had official ideologies (Kim Il Sungism, Maoism, and Baathism, respectively) that were as secular as they could be. And they all defined themselves as republics. Are you impressed?

What is much better, of course, is to have a democratic ideal, not an official ideology, as the basis of a state. And secularity is only meaningful if it serves this democratic ideal. What secularity does in that context is to save the state, and thus the society, from the dominance of a religious doctrine. But if secularity becomes a doctrine in itself, which aims at suppressing or manipulating religion, then it becomes a threat to the democratic ideal. That is exactly what has happened in Turkey, and that’s why we Turks need to re-understand secularity ("laiklik" as we call it) in a democratic, not autocratic, way.

Obama’s speech not only included a semantic eye-opener in this respect. It also implied that Turkey’s secular state does not have to clash with, and should not blind us from, the Muslim identity of a large portion of its people. Nine times in his speech he referred to Islam and Muslims. And he gave messages that went to not only the Turks but the whole Muslim world: "The U.S. is not, and will never be," he said, "at war with Islam." There is a reason why he said that not in London or Prague, but in Ankara.

The American president also disagreed with those fear-mongering pundits who constantly pump out the idea that Turkey is "turning its face to the East" under its current government. "I know there are those who like to debate Turkey's future," Obama noted, "they wonder whether you will be pulled in one direction or another." And he explained why they were wrong: "Here is what they don't understand: Turkey's greatness lies in your ability to be at the center of things. This is not where East and West divide Ğ it is where they come together. In the beauty of your culture. In the richness of your history. In the strength of your democracy."

Absolutely. The mistake of those "debaters" is to force Turkey to fit into a single identity that they pick and choose. They tend to define it only as a Western ally, a NATO member and a secular republic. This is all true, and very good, but there is more. Turkey is also the heir of the Ottoman Empire, a leading member of the family of predominantly Muslim nations, and the testing ground for the synthesis of Islam and democracy. That is what makes her special. That is what gives her a meaning that goes way beyond its borders. Obviously the American president gets that right. Perhaps it is time for Turks to get it, too. Mustafa Akyol © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

He’s Bright, He’s Charming, He’s Cool, But...
ANKARA - Turkey hailed U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit as a turning point in relations with the United States, but his visit appears to have left people on the streets dazed and confused.

Descriptions of Obama range from "the smiling face of imperialism" to "a member of the family." "He couldn’t gain my confidence. Capitalism and imperialism have simply disguised themselves in a more smiling and friendly mask. We haven’t seen his deeds yet. Is it possible for U.S. foreign policies, which were fixed far before Obama, to demonstrate a change? It is impossible," said Ahsen A., 19-year-old university student at Ankara’s Gazi University.

Many aspects of the public image of Obama have been deemed promising and unusual, not only among Americans, but also among Turks who likewise hoped to see a U.S. president in firm contrast to his predecessor, George Bush. Obama’s sympathetic manners, perceived even-tempered personality and Muslim identity appear to have won the hearts of Turks.

Some say he is likely to smash the deep-rooted anti-Americanism and long-held stereotype of America’s negative and selfish image in Turkey, but not everyone seems to have been convinced by his performance. Some went crazy as traffic chaos doubled during Obama’s presence while for others his Muslim identity was sufficient to nourish new hope for a better future for Turkey.

"He is very sympathetic, friendly and witty. His Muslim identity can contribute to the better relations between Turkey and the U.S. Obama has changed my stark stance toward the U.S.," said university student Hilal Algan, 20.

"I found Obama pretty well intentioned. I was impressed particularly by his manners while he was visiting the mosques in Istanbul. He was so fascinated with what he saw. He is fairly young and inexperienced. I hope he will not be abused by the experienced politicians," said homemaker Perihan Öztürk, 65.

The youth were more skeptical toward what Obama said while the adults seemed more inclined to believe him.

Some, meanwhile, took offense at Obama’s coming to Turkey with full equipment. "Is he suspicious about Turkey and Turkish people that he even brought his toilet and water from the U.S.?" said homemaker Sevim Çetinkol, 70. "

For 16-year-old university student Gözde Aktekin, the traffic chaos created by the extraordinary security measures taken to protect Obama were a limitation put on the liberty of the people.

"Obama offers economic cooperation, but the economic crisis already emerged in the U.S. If he had a remedy, he would have solved the problem in his own country," Aktekin said.

Shop assistant Münevver Arısoy, 39, complained about the lack of customers during Obama’s stay in Ankara because of the traffic jam. She also found Obama selfish."The customers couldn’t come to the city center for shopping because of the blocked roads. " Arısoy said.

For simit-seller Barış Tunçbilek, 21, Obama seemed gentle and his manners made him feel closer to the United States and its people, while for civil servant Huriye Erdoğan, 42, Obama was like a member of her family. "He is a credible personality. His name is Hussein, a Turkish name, and he is black, which makes me feel sympathy for him. I think Obama can repair the U.S.’s negative image," Erdoğan said.

University student Emre Yampal, 22, said Obama was more promising after the Bush administration but his emphasis on his Muslim identity was solely a trick. "He simply wants to gain sympathy from Turks and make Turkey what the U.S. wants by highlighting his Muslim identity in a Muslim-dominated country. Time will show how successful Obama will be," Yampal said.
by İzgi Güngör © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Time For A Historic Decision
Did it really close the George W. Bush era? That is, did the Barrack Hussein Obama’s swing through London, Strasbourg, Prague, Ankara, Istanbul and of course Baghdad mark the end of the hegemonic and agonistic style of the Bush presidency and the opening of a new style based on engagement, cooperation, consensus seeking and partnership?

Turks were impressed with Obama making, excluding Canada, his first-ever presidential bilateral visit to Turkey, mostly delighted with his modest gestures throughout the trip, though some people were angered with some elements in his "open buffet" statements, the majority managed to find sufficient "food for thought" to fill their plates and felt comforted, yet, is it not too early to make such a comment? What we were definitely convinced of was the demonstrated integrity of the character of Obama. It was not easy, obviously, to stand side by side with the Turkish president and answer an American journalist’s question on alleged Armenian genocide issue saying he maintained his views on the issue but believed rather than creating obstructions everyone must help Turkey and Armenia proceed further towards normalizing their relations. It was a courageous statement.

It was irritating for many Turks, but it was just a statement of fact when later that day he told Parliament that although he knew that there were strong views in the Turkish legislature about the "terrible events of 1915" and although "there has been a good deal of commentary about my views" the contentious issue was indeed one of "how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive." The message was indeed clear: Face your past. He was stressing that message while at the same time softening down possible reactions by recalling examples from some very bitter episodes of American history. In both Ankara and Istanbul, the U.S. president explained to Turks that while he appreciated the "historic and courageous steps" taken by Turkish and Armenian leaders so far, opening the border, normalizing relations would not only return the Turkish and Armenian people to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence serving both nations.

What Obama said and the little information we have about the two years of "secret" diplomacy between Turkey and Armenia were all indicative of a historic decision in the pipeline which might be unveiled as early as next week. There are already "not so credible" speculations that it would come on April 16 during Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s trip to Yerevan for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation meeting there, while some people say Ankara is still pioneering whether to withhold such a "done deal" with Armenia until after the "April 24 hurdle" (the anniversary of the so-called genocide) was over and after it was seen that Obama, who had committed himself during the campaign to recognizing genocide, did not make reference to the contentious word in his anniversary speech. Yet, it appears as well that the United States has been pressuring Ankara to announce the deal before Obama makes the anniversary statement with no reference to genocide fearing that if Turkey doesn’t deliver Armenia border opening and other steps towards normalizing relations with Armenia, Obama’s image and credibility could suffer a serious blow.

Azerbaijan factor

On the other hand, Azerbaijan’s strong protest to the Turkey-Armenia deal in the making, as manifested with President Ilham Aliyev boycotting the Istanbul Alliance of Civilizations and Ankara’s concerns of a possible domestic political spillover from undertaking such a step without getting a firm guarantee from Obama that he would not recognize it as genocide in his April 24 statement, is making it difficult for Turkey to announce the timing of the announcement of the deal with Armenia. After three telephone calls by President Gül and a telephone call by President Obama have all apparently failed to soothe Aliyev’s strong opposition, now there is an expectation that either Gül or the prime minister will make a "working trip" to Baku to convince Aliyev that normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would not mean Turkey letting Azerbaijan down but on the contrary will provide Ankara a better and more efficient opportunity to contribute to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
Yusuf Kanlı, © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

American Public Did Not Understand This Visit
We followed President Obama’s visit to Turkey very closely. For two days we kept you informed. We shared with you the political intention or meaning behind the messages of the visit.

After Obama left, I asked myself, "We talked about everything, but how did the American public perceive this visit?" I went through the American press and talked to diplomats and insider sources who watched this visit closely. The result was surprising. I was amazed when I saw that the American public did not quite comprehend this visit to Turkey. When I moved to the bottom of the cause, I understood why.

Let’s start with the formal wing. The U.S. administration watched this visit closely and received the necessary messages. There is no problem there. The bureaucracy knows now what the White House thinks about problems regarding Turkey and is preparing to react accordingly. The problem lies in the American public’s perception.

Attention has been drawn to the fact that this visit happened too early and without sufficient preparation. Some sources say that the administration has not yet completed its staff and team. A director of a civil society movement who said, "The media could not understand this visit. There are even some among them who still question why Turkey was visited," also said that the American public is preoccupied with economic issues and therefore cannot perceive issues like Armenia or Turkey very well.

If we take a look between the lines, we encounter the same points. What is important for the media are developments regarding huge companies on the verge of bankruptcy or how to implement decisions that resulted from the G20. There is neither interest in Cyprus, nor northern Iraq, nor Turkey’s full membership in the EU. In addition, if we look upon how the media reflects on this visit, we see before us "a message sent to the Islamic world." I paid attention and noticed that the president’s visit to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, his meeting with students, his speech at Parliament and other contacts were especially perceived as flowers offered to the Islamic world.

The most important aspect the United States saw in this visit was the fact that the American media applauded Obama quite a bit. Obama is criticized as a sophomore politician and an inexperienced statesman in his country, but in his performance during the visit to Turkey, he was reflected as a natural politician, serious statesman and influential president.

Let’s talk about Obama’s visit in the light of Armenia. The Turkish media has described the U.S. president’s meeting with the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers in Istanbul as a "surprise." Whereas, it was not a surprise. On the contrary, it was planned ahead, and the Armenian foreign minister came to Istanbul only because of this meeting.

The Armenian lobby in the United States is not very happy with the events in Turkey. And in Ankara, while responding to a question, Obama said, "I have not changed my attitude regarding genocide," and made the lobby smile. But his statement, "Despite that I will not interfere," caused the lobby to frown. The Armenian lobby is still persistently waiting for Obama to surprise everyone on April 24 and pronounce the word "genocide."

Atmosphere in Yerevan is different

Foremost, everybody is aware that the genocide issue depends on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border. Obama has put Turkey and Armenia into a tunnel. When exiting the tunnel, the border needs to be opened and the diplomatic relationship between the two countries established. The diaspora wants Yerevan not to hurry. The opening of the border and establishment of diplomatic relations might lead to a temporary suspension of the genocide dispute or even result in a burial of the issue, never to come up again. The diaspora does not want that to happen. It makes plans to accuse Turkey of genocide and seek justice thereafter. Yerevan keeps its hopes high. The words of an Armenian diplomat are very interesting: "The genocide and Nagorno-Karabakh disputes only exist in details from now on. The United States took a step and started a process. It seems that it won’t be long until a result comes up." Here we go. Let’s hope for the best.
Mehmet Ali Birand , © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Us, Turkish, Azeri Leaders Engage In Phone Talks Over Nagorno-Karabakh
ISTANBUL - The presidents of the United States, Turkey, and Azerbaijan were engaged in a three way phone talks over the normalization process of Turkish-Armenian relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to reports on Wednesday. (UPDATED)

U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev Tuesday and expressed support for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Obama also told Aliyev that the United States is committed to a strong relationship with Azerbaijan, the White House said.

Aliyev's office said Wednesday Obama and the Azeri leader "had a frank conversation during which they expressed satisfaction at the successful development of Azerbaijan-U.S. relations".

"Barack Obama informed the Azerbaijani leader about steps taken by the United States concerning Turkey-Armenia relations. President Ilham Aliyev brought the Azerbaijani states position on the issue to the U.S. president’s attention," Aliyev's administration said in a statement.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul also called Aliyev to brief the Azeri leader on his discussion with Obama about the latest developments on Turkey-Armenia relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during the U.S. president's visit to his country, TV channels reported Wednesday.

Addressing Turkish lawmakers Monday, the U.S. president praised Ankara for its role in helping to work toward a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which he said "has continued for far too long."

He had also praised "courageous" contacts between Turkish and Armenian leaders aimed at reconciliation and said Turkey should reopen the border it closed in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan during its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azeri officials have expressed concern over the prospect of the border being reopened and some media reports suggested that Baku might even go one step further in halting the sale of natural gas to Turkey. Azerbaijan has said that opening the border before the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the country’s occupied territories would run counter to its national interests.

Aliyev also refused to attend an international meeting in Istanbul earlier this week, a move that can be seen as a protest against the prospect of the border being opened between Armenia and Turkey.

Normalization talks continue
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Tuesday that Ankara and Yerevan have been in talks for months to normalize relations and that the two countries have come a long way.

"We are working on a comprehensive solution, and our talks are going well. We have made significant progress so far, and both parties have declared satisfaction over the process several times," Babacan was quoted by the Anatolian Agency as telling reporters at a news conference after the second gathering of the Alliance of Civilizations in Istanbul.

"I think third-party countries should act with sensitivity during this ongoing process," he said.

Babacan said Azerbaijan and Armenia are also holding talks to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, adding his country’s aim was peace, stability and prosperity around Turkey.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations, and their border has been closed for more than a decade over Armenia's invasion of territory that accounts for 20 percent of Azerbaijan – a frozen conflict legacy of the Soviet Union known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both countries have however been engaged in a normalization process, including the reopening of the border, since Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a landmark visit to Yerevan last year to watch a World Cup qualifying football match between the countries’ national teams.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Obama Portrays Another Side of U.S.
President Wraps Up Overseas Tour in Which Humility, Partnership Were Key Themes

By Michael D. Shear and Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post, April 8, 2009

ISTANBUL, April 7 -- President Obama concluded his inaugural overseas tour Tuesday after presenting to the world a starkly different image of the United States than his predecessor had, returning home from encounters with exuberant U.S. troops in Iraq, fawning crowds in Europe and Turkey, and foreign leaders who welcomed a new partnership with the country but did little to support its goals.

Obama left Istanbul shortly after 2 p.m. local time and made an unannounced stop in Baghdad, where he addressed U.S. troops and received a briefing from Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of American forces in Iraq. He also met with President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during the several-hour stop, his first visit to the country as president.

Throughout his trip abroad, Obama portrayed a proud but flawed United States, using a refrain of humility and partnership in an attempt to rally allies around such issues of mutual concern as the global economy, climate change and nuclear proliferation. He talked about the nation's "darker periods" of slavery and repression of Native Americans, and its past sanction of torture that he has ended. He also spoke with pride about the United States' diversity and its central role in rebuilding post-World War II Europe, while condemning "anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious."

Despite his celebrity reception at nearly every stop on the six-country tour, Obama was unable to persuade European allies to increase fiscal stimulus spending or to send additional combat troops to Afghanistan for long-term deployments.

"Why didn't the waters part, the sun shine and all ills of the world disappear because President Obama came to Europe this week?" said David Axelrod, one of Obama's top aides. "That wasn't our expectation. . . . We understand . . . that this involves solving the problems, the difficult, thorny problems we face in the world."

The president's advisers pointed to the Group of 20 agreement to commit more than $1 trillion in new money to the International Monetary Fund and other programs to revive the global economy and protect the poorest nations from the economic downturn. Obama announced new arms-reduction talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. And, the advisers said, the president, through his tone and policy proposals, outlined a broad framework for improving U.S. relations with the world.

"There was a sense that America was back. So many of the leaders basically said, 'It's nice to have America back at its place,' " said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

But his conservative critics at home said Obama displayed more style than substance. Thomas Donnelly, a resident fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said the president "maintained, and if anything added to, the feeling of bonhomie that the rest of the world now regards him."

"On the substantive front, there wasn't all that much, and what there was, if you hold it up to the light, there should be many questions about it," he said, referring to Obama's goal, outlined in Prague, of eliminating the world's nuclear arsenals. Donnelly added that "in the case of Afghanistan, the silence was deafening."

"People already liked Obama, that's nothing new," he added. "And at some point there needs to be a 'therefore' clause. The president already had the world's goodwill, but he has yet to translate that into action for the public good, especially on the security issue."

Obama used his time in Istanbul on Tuesday to reach across cultural barriers -- meeting with Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, slipping off his shoes to tour a 400-year-old mosque and urging an audience of university students to "build new bridges instead of new walls" throughout the world.

"The world will be what you make of it," Obama said in the town hall-style meeting here, where he emphasized, as he has in earlier forums, the growing power of young people to change politics and policies.

From the moment in London last week when he handed Queen Elizabeth II an iPod, to rousing appeals to youth in Strasbourg, France, and Prague, to Tuesday's session in Istanbul, Obama used his trip to signal a generational change in the White House and the power of youth to affect global decision making.

Echoing a theme and strategy from his presidential campaign, Obama urged young people to harness their collective power on issues as varied as climate change, nuclear proliferation and the fight against Islamic extremism. In Strasbourg, he told them that "this generation cannot stand still."

"Each time we find ourselves at a crossroads, paralyzed by worn debates and stale thinking, the old ways of doing things, a new generation rises up and shows the way forward," the president said, adding a favorite campaign mantra: "This is our generation. This is our time."

Obama told the students in Istanbul that he believes in setting ambitious goals, including establishing a constructive relationship with Iran, ridding the world of nuclear weapons and forging a peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He also said he would like to change the way the United States is viewed in parts of the world.

"America, like every other nation, has made mistakes and has its flaws," he said. "But for more than two centuries, we have strived at great cost and sacrifice to form a more perfect union."

Obama, who is relatively inexperienced in foreign policy, met over the past week with the leaders of Russia and China and others from across Europe, Asia and Africa on such topics as the global financial crisis and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Mehmet Ali Birand, a prominent journalist and broadcaster who has covered several previous U.S. presidential visits, said Obama was impressive in Turkey.

"He said things that were not very light music to our ears, but we could swallow it," Birand said, referring especially to Obama's refusal to disavow his earlier statements that the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I was genocide.

"He was very clear on what he expected from the Turks," Birand said. "He is not a guy who just came in and gave us some angles."

At each stop, Obama sought to enlist young people to shake up old political orders and assumptions.

"Young people, they can get rid of some of the old baggage and the old suspicions," he said in a wide-ranging exchange with students here. He cited his talks with Medvedev as an example of new thinking, saying he and the Russian president had come of age in the twilight of the Cold War and viewed each other differently than leaders of earlier generations.

Watching the 47-year-old president touring Istanbul's ancient sites, Mehmet Karaman, a 20-year-old student, said: "Obama is a new chance for the world."

"He's young, and after seeing what the older generation has done, he knows it's better to reach out and listen to young people," said Karaman, who joined excited crowds in the streets as Obama visited Istanbul's historic old town.

Emre Erdogan, head of the Turkish research firm Infakto, said Obama's message is resonating with Turkish youth.

"Turkish young people are not optimistic about their lives," he said. "They are looking for a sense of confidence and security in their lives. Obama gives them hope."

Obama, Turkey and History
For those of us who have lived abroad for many years and despaired of the way the image and reputation of the United States had been tarnished during the past eight years, it was a welcome relief to hear the message delivered by Barack Obama in Turkey. From the podium of the National Assembly in Ankara, he spoke not only to Turks, but to the entire Muslim world and he carved out an image of a global statesman.

The United States, he said, "is not and never will be at war with Islam" and that " America's relationship cannot and will not be based on opposition to Al Qaeda." That had to to resonate from Morocco on the Atlantic to Indonesia on the Java Sea. He drew generous applause by reminding Turkey's politicians, its president, prime minister as well as its generals and admirals in the audience that "the United States has been enriched by its Muslim Americans" and that "many other Americans have Muslims in their families or they have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know," he said, "because I am one of them."

The president pledged to support Turkey's admission to the European Union. He urged dialogue with the Republic of Armenia and by inference with Greek Cypriots to bring peace and stability to what until now has been the divided island of Cyprus. He cited Turkey's friendly relations with Israel and hoped that ways could be found to bring peace with it and the Palestinians and a resolution of its own differences with Kurdish opponents both in neighboring Iraq and Turkey. But he was quick to say the United States opposed the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey, as it does all forms of terrorism.

Obama was sensitive enough, as few American presidents have been, to acknowledge Turkey's contribution to the United Nations effort during the Cold War, something the Turks felt had been forgotten for too long. I reported on the Turkish brigade of some 4500 troops that fought alongside the U.S. 25th Infantry Division in 1951 to repel Chinese invaders during the Korean War.

Important as it was in symbolic terms, the Turks' willingness to allow the United States to use monitoring devices based in Turkey to spy on the Soviet Union was vital throughout the Cold War.

U.S. electronic and satellite eavesdropping enabled both the CIA and the National Security Agency to detect every nuclear weapons test conducted by the U.S.S.R from its highly secret base at Baikonur. The Russians were aware of the Turkish collaboration, but they chose to ignore it rather than provoke a more serious confrontation with the United States.

Turkey's commitment went even further. It allowed the United States to base its high-flying U-2 spy planes on Turkish soil from which they could be flown on to Peshawar in Pakistan for overflights of the Soviet Union. One of those missions was flown by the American pilot, Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down by the Russians on May 1, 1960. During one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War, President Eisenhower denied that the flight had ever occurred, But to U.S. embarrassment that claim was debunked by Moscow when it unveiled the wreckage of the U-2 and then Powers at his trial in Moscow. Throughout Powers' imprisonment and his involvement in an eventual prisoner exchange for a key Soviet agent, never a word was ever mentioned of the important role played by Turkey.

Russia Demands Turkey To Normalize Ties With Armenia 06.04.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey is interested in expansion of its ties with CIS, and Russia demands normalization of ties with Armenia, Mikhail Alexandrov , Caucasus Department Head in Caucasus Institute told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. Turkey has already made decisions on creating political relations with the states in the region.

"Yet, Ankara sets a number of conditions: Armenia's mitigating its position on the international acknowledgment of the Genocide. Naturally, Armenia will never abandon its demands on Genocide recognition, yet Turkey insists on a softer position.

It's also connected with acknowledgment of boundaries of present-day Turkey and Armenia's abandoning its territorial claims. Ankara will be satisfied by these steps and, consequently, agree to establish diplomatic relations. NKR conflict is never mentioned. Moreover, border opening spells, in essence, Ankara's refusal to pursue pro-Azerbaijani policy towards Armenia," Alexandrov stressed, adding that Armenia will have to compromise to some extent.

[News Analysis]Obama Mesmerizes Turks With Pledges, But Experts Caution On Delivery
Analysts and scholars in the Turkish capital have put a positive spin on US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to Ankara yet cautioned on the delivery of promises he made in a much-anticipated speech delivered to members of the Turkish Parliament. Many commentators welcomed the speech and visit of the US president but criticized the lack of details and substance. “We need to see how Americans will flesh out this policy,” one analyst said, while others note the trip was immensely important, albeit loaded with symbolism.

Sedat Laçiner, a security analyst and chairman of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Center (USAK), said, “The old era, strained with hard-line [former US President George W.] Bush policies shaped by his neoconservative team, is over.” Speaking to Today’s Zaman, he noted that the US has signaled its willingness to engage in a mutually beneficial partnership in dealing with regional issues as opposed to imposing an attitude adopted in the past.

US-Turkish relations took a dive in 2003 when Turkey opposed the Iraq invasion and did not allow US troops to open a northern front from Turkish soil. A deterioration of ties since then resulted in anger on the Turkish side over the US not doing enough against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Near the end of Bush’s term in office, the US agreed to share vital intelligence about the PKK. Obama on Monday reiterated this cooperation. He said in a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gül that “the US is open to providing Turkey further support in its fight against Kurdish terrorists,” adding, “We have seen that cooperation bear fruit.”
Many commentators welcome the speech and visit of US President Obama but criticize the lack of details and substance. ‘We need to see how the Americans will flesh out this policy,’ one analyst says, while others note the trip was immensely important, albeit loaded with symbolism.

Laçiner finds the tone of the speech very strong, noting it contrasts to previous messages heard from the US side. "I think the US is trying to develop a strategic model whereby it can further American interests in the region while respecting and safeguarding Turkish interests as well," he said, citing as an example the US's strong backing of Turkey's full EU membership. "It appears now -- more than ever -- that Turkey's greater role in the EU fits perfectly in the grand scheme of global policy as formulated by Mr. Obama," he added.

"In meeting the challenges of the 21st century, we must seek the strength of a Europe that is truly united, peaceful and free. Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports Turkey's bid to become a member of the European Union," Obama said on Monday. The message was not taken well by France and Germany, two heavyweights in the bloc. Sarkozy reiterated his opposition on Sunday and said, "I have always been opposed to this entry," in an interview with France's TF1 television. Commenting on Obama's remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, "It's clear there are different opinions," signaling opposition to Turkey's full membership.

Good start but not enough

Seyfettin Erol, a professor of international relations at Gazi University in Ankara, cautioned, however, that the speech lacks substance on issues confronting Turkey. Nevertheless, he welcomed it as a positive turn, breaking away from old Bush policies. "We need to see how the Americans are planning to introduce this new policy," he stressed in a phone interview, adding a caveat: Enhanced relations might be construed by some countries in the region as a US attempt to use Turkey as a proxy, thereby risking a backlash against active Turkish diplomacy.

One analyst disagrees with Erol's argument. "There is no need to downplay the importance of Obama's visit and speech," Hüseyin Bağcı, a professor of international relations at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), said, noting that the visit strengthened Turkey's role as a regional player ready to assume global responsibilities. He pointed out increasing trade volume and business interests between the two countries and noted that "both countries are becoming partners in shaping global politics." Bağcı added, "It also boosted the 'soft power' image of Turkey."

Laçiner shares Erol's concern over Azerbaijan. "Wrong steps might antagonize Baku," he said. "Turkey needs to be very careful in the ongoing dialogue with Armenia and should avoid traps that might damage the vital interests of Turkey with respect to Azerbaijan," he added. Ankara and Yerevan are engaged in negotiations aimed at restoring full diplomatic ties and may be on the point of reopening their border. "I want to be as encouraging as possible around those negotiations, which are moving forward and could bear fruit very quickly, very soon," Obama said in his speech in Parliament.

US President Barack Obama paid visits to Sultanahmet Mosque and Hagia Sophia yesterday as part of his two-day visit to Turkey. He also examined a kemençe, a traditional musical instrument, at Dolmabahçe Palace .

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in response to Armenia's occupation of the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan objects to the opening of the border. The rift between Turkey and Azerbaijan became evident when the Azerbaijani government sent a low-level delegation to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) forum held in İstanbul on Monday. Laçiner says the Turkish government has failed to make its case both in the eyes of the Turkish and the Azerbaijani publics. He also talked about the increasing Russian influence and meddling in the Caucasus. "A very dangerous game is being played there," he said. "When push comes to shove, Azerbaijan is more important than Armenia or even Obama," Laçiner said.

Erol, on the other hand, is concerned about how Russia and other countries in the region are perceived. "If it is seen as hampering the role of independent Turkish policy, that might limit the room to maneuver for Turkish foreign policy," he said. Bağcı, however, argues that there is an overlap in the national interests in the region and that US support might boost Turkey's hand. "I think Obama gave strong messages to both allies in the West and Muslim countries in the East," he said.

Turkey as pivotal country

In his speech Obama covered other issues as well, ranging from the global economic crisis to energy policies and from the Middle East to the nuclear-ambitious Iran. "All these issues he mentioned tell me he sees Turkey as playing an important role in them and that he attaches great importance to it," Laçiner said. He also emphasized that Turkey could possibly become a third capital in addition to Tel Aviv and Washington in formulating policies impacting the region. "It is a declaration of failure of past American policies adopted during the Bush era and the launch of a new period," he noted.

Professor Bağcı maintains that Obama's visit reaffirmed the school of thought that Turkey is reading global and regional developments very well. "We are acting in coordination with the West as well as with the Muslim world," he stressed. In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, both countries strongly support the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, he said. Obama is also of this view, saying that "both Israelis and Palestinians must take the steps that are necessary to build confidence."

"Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and İstanbul to send a message. My answer is simple: Evet ['Yes' in Turkish]. Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together -- and work together -- to overcome the challenges of our time," Obama said in the Turkish Parliament on Monday.

Pundits also welcomed Obama's message to the Muslim world, using Turkey as a platform. Bağcı commended the US president for choosing Turkey as the base from which to send a message of reconciliation. Obama told the audience on Monday that the US was not at war with Islam and renewed his pledged to be respectful, even when there are disagreements. He also wished to convey America's deep appreciation for Islam, which, in his words, "has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better."

In a bid to repair the US's tarnished image in the Muslim world, Obama said: "The US has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them."

As for Iran, Professor Bağcı warns about possible pitfalls in dialogue with the US. "While Iran is certainly one of our major trading partners -- especially in energy -- we have to be very careful in playing a role in the rapprochement of the US with Tehran," he said. He also noted that "the US offer of dialogue has had no substance so far, and we simply don't know how the Iranians would like this to play out."

Obama's message also touched upon Iraq and the withdrawal of US troops from there by the middle of next year. "We will work with Iraq, Turkey and all of Iraq's neighbors to forge a new dialogue that reconciles differences and advances our common security," Obama said. Professor Erol says the details need to be hammered out before cheering for Obama. "The territorial integrity of Iraq is paramount, and we need to know what kind of power balance the Americans have in mind post withdrawal," he said.

Ultimately, Bağcı finds messages Obama relayed at home as important as those he delivered abroad. "An emphasis on democracy and secularism was important," he said. Laçiner finds the stress on continuing reforms highly important as well.

Turks Open Homes To Armenian Fans
ISTANBUL - Servas, the civil society organisation that gathers people who care about peace and international dialogue globally, has 200 of its members in Turkey opening their houses to Armenian supporters coming to Turkey for the national football game between the two countries. The first match of historical importance in the World Cup 2010 was played Sep. 6, 2008, at the Hrazdan stadium in Yerevan, Armenia.

Mehmet Ateş, secretariat of peace for Servas, spoke to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review and told this project is the idea of Sercan Duygan, another member of the organization.

Ateş said in order to solve the problems Turks and Armenians should sit at each other’s tables and establish human contact. "When the awareness level of our world today is considered, it is clear that the attempts to put up walls between people insensibly are not helping anyone."

Although the project was welcomed and supported, the tension that can rise from time to time between the two nations sometimes reflects on the members of Servas, too. Elif Karadenizli, the "Day Host" of Servas, said sometimes arguments took place on the e-mail forum of the organization on the matters related to Armenia. "The reactions arise from prejudices entirely" Karadenizli said. "There are many factors that feed our prejudices; the imposed official history is only one of them. First of all, we should leave politics aside and try to leave our prejudices behind."

Özge Karadenizli, the coordinator of the project, said she agreed with Elif Karadenizli. "There is no border between the west and the east of Turkey but there is not enough contact either. The border between Turkey and Armenia may be opened but this would not be a sign of relations returning to normal. First, the borders between the peoples and their prejudices should be eliminated."

The members of Servas will not only host their Armenian guests at their homes but also organise cultural and social activities while providing a platform for dialogue. Ateş, Elif and Özge Karadenizli, addressed Armenians in the name of Servas: "We are ready to share our homes with you, the most private area of our lives. Come, let us strip ourselves of prejudices and get to know each other."

What is Servas
Servas is an International nongovernmental, multicultural peace association run by volunteers in over 100 countries. Founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement, Servas International is a non-profit organization working to build understanding, tolerance and world peace.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Laciner: Obama Should Not Neglect Turkish Approach 5 April 2009
* Interview with Dr. Sedat Laciner, By Gulay KILIC (JTW)

Sedat Laciner evaluated Obama's visit in terms of domestic and foreign policy of Turkey. There are some interesting and striking issues mentioned by Laciner.

According to you, what should be Obama's messages for Turkey?

S.L. Obama's messages for Turkey can be divided into two main topics: messages relevant to Turkey and messages relevant to the Muslim World and the Middle East.

First, if we began with Turkey's messages, we can say that the relationship between Turkey and the USA was damaged during the Bush era. Most of these injuries were caused by the neo-con (neo-conservative) mentality of Bush and his team. Therefore the U.S.'s relationship with Turkey was not different from the U.S.'s relationship other countries. The Turkey's unluckiness stems from its near proximity to Iraq, occupied by the U.S. After the rejection of the 1 March Bill the American Administration connected its lack of success in Iraq with the aforementioned rejection and started a kind of punishment politics. Of course if Turkey had opened borders to the American military force, this would have been advantage to the U.S.

The U.S. occupied Iraq in only a few days and U.S.' problems did not appear in this period, problems began after the occupation about Iraq could not been administered. U.S. was not able to utilize from Turkey in this issue. Afterwards, Turkey accepted the Bill and Turkey also struggled to send military forces to Iraq to help the U.S. However, these efforts were ignored by the Bush administration; moreover, America did not accomplish the function about PKK. The U.S. also gave complex messages about the Administration of the Kurdish region and the territorial integrity of Iraq. Moreover, the Bush Administration could have cooperated with Turkey, but they avoided collaboration. Almost, Turkey is even excluded from Iraq and Middle East. The Obama Administration should give the sense of a new start and should give the message that Turkey will be a partner in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Afghanistan regions. The message will give hope for the future and will heal the injuries of Bush era.

Second, Turkey is not only a Middle Eastern country, but is at the same time a part of the Caucasus, the Black Sea and Europe, therefore, Turkey and the U.S. need an intense relationship. Thus, Obama did not consider visiting Turkey in line with visiting the Middle East, Greece, or Cyprus. First London, second Strasbourg, third the EU's Term President Prague, and finally Istanbul will be visited. Obama's first visit to Turkey comes as part of his European trip. It should be highlighted as a European country and as one cooperating with the U.S. in the Black Sea region, Central Asia and Europe.

Another important point is the Armenian Issue, in this sense Obama should behave like an American President. Because, at this moment, there is the potential for serious improvement in the Turkey-Armenia relationship, we hope that Obama will escape from reactive, sensitive, and extreme discourses that could destroy this potential.

The second type of message that should be given in Turkey is a global-regional message. It was indicated that Obama would make a declaration in a Muslim country for all the other Muslim countries. It is discussed whether Turkey will be this country or not. There are still discussions on the issue but whether this country will be Turkey or not, Turkey is the first Muslim country Obama will visit. Consequently in Turkey explanations of or comments on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine and other Muslim countries problems will have great importance. These explanations and comments also will demonstrate that how the new American Administration observes the relationship between civilizations. Obama's messages could heal the rift formed in the Bush period.

Why does Obama come to Turkey?

S.L. This is no ordinary visit. Generally, after the election, an American president's every action is observed. Their actions regarding the economy, environmental problems, and foreign relations are all closely watched. While this occurs in many countries, this issue is more important in America. The American policy depends on the American president. We are talking about the strongest country in the world. Conventionally, American presidents first visit North America (Mexico) and then Canada, however, this is not considerer like a foreign visit. Foreign visits are considered to be those that take place overseas. In this respect, Obama's first oversea visit includes Turkey, even if Turkey was added to the list of countries at the last moment. Therefore, there were some arguments about this issue.

Secondly, when we look where Obama will go before coming to Turkey, the agenda includes London, Strasbourg and Prague. The G-20 will be in London, which countries with the world's largest economies come together, the NATO meeting will be in Strasbourg and then Prague, which is the term president country in the EU. So, the G-20, NATO, Prague comprise Obama's travel agenda. Obama will attend an inter-civilization meeting in Turkey. In this aspect Turkey has an important mission. To view this as just an ordinary visit is wrong. In the past, the presidents and prime ministers of Turkey have lined up at the American President's door. Negotiations were very difficult. Turkey was treated as an ordinary country. Turkey's presidents and prime ministers had a chance to meet U.S. President for 15-20 minutes, and if the meeting runs a bit longer, the Turkish media would comment that "the U.S. attributes more importance to Turkey". The American media ignores negotiations with Turkish leaders. Consequently, the importance of the visit is a natural step.

Usually, American Presidents come to Turkey, but their visits are usually added to a trip to Greece or Middle East which has angered some people. Why does Obama come to Turkey? Turkey has become increasingly important. Its significance can be viewed in two lights: economic and political- military. In terms of economic issues Turkey is one of the G-20 countries, and is perceived as a vital country in the repair of economic issues as is the case with China, India, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia. Although economic growth of Turkey has escaped observation, it has the 17th biggest economy in the world. It depends on imports and exports; therefore, Turkey has the potential to contribute to solutions of the global economic crisis. Another aspect that makes Turkey crucial for America in economic terms is the fact that Turkey is a country that can help America to decrease its military defense spending.

In the political aspect, Turkey follows an active policy different from the past and takes initiative in Middle East, Afghanistan, and other countries. Moreover, Turkey produces alternatives to, and solutions for conflicts and makes peace, so it is an important foreign policy actor that America should not ignore. Turkey takes an active role in the Middle East and Muslim countries, and Turkey's reputation reflects the impact and area of its influence.

Turkey is a member of NATO, a candidate for the EU and at the same time member of Middle-East country and a Muslim country. It means Turkey has a special mixture; therefore, will be able to contribute to American foreign policy. There are special problems such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Palestine, in which Turkey has a high credibility. The common aspects of the countries that struggle in these conflict is their respect for Turkey; their reliance on Turkey's intervention, and contribution and their appreciation and preference of Turkey's power in platform making. Turkey has also a potential to bring together Americans and Iranians, Arabs and Israelis. In addition, Turkey can contribute to these problems one by one. The Turkish military is already in Afghanistan, and Americans will hope for increased Turkish military force there. Moreover, regarding Americas' troop reduction in Iraq, Americans think that the political and other powers of Turkey can contribute to filling the gap that will occur after the withdrawal of American military forces. Obviously, America can use Turkey's help in solving the region's problems. Obama should not neglect Turkey.

What are the expectations of Turkey's Administration from the visit?

S.L. First of all, Turkey wants to be a real partner of America. Turkey hopes that this partnership is not alleged and that it is consulted and acts together instead of America taking a step around Turkey's territory. Turkey also hopes to develop the agreement reached during the Bush era about terrorism which stipulates that the PKK should be defined as a "common enemy' by both Turkey and the U.S. and wants to act together in combating PKK. Furthermore, Turkey hopes to work with the U.S. regarding the Kurdish issue and Iraq's territorial integrity, and expects the U.S. to refrain from following a secret agenda. Turkey is exhausted from conflict and America's armed approaches in the region. Turkey' economy and politics have sustained heavy blows during wartime. Turkey expects a more constructive, less conflict-centered approach from America in the next period. Moreover, Turkey foresees traditional American contribution to Turkey's full EU membership. Regarding Cyprus, expectations are that USA should keep its pre-Annan Plan promise, according to which the isolation of Turkish people in Cyprus would be ceased. Turkey hopes that the U.S. would punish a party that breaks its promise and would award the party that keeps it promise. Turkish people are the compromising part of Cyprus. South Cyprus has peace of mind from their full EU membership so they have not exhibited a constitutive attitude.

Obama's America should act together with Turkey in the Caucasus and view Azerbaijan and Georgia optimistically as members of NATO. In Caucasus America should economically and politically support the struggle to establish integration in which Turkey is a central power. The Armenian issue and the lobbying by the Armenian Diaspora should not affect the American view of the Caucasus. America should struggles to include Armenia in integration among Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. For this, Armenia should first withdraw from the occupied territories in Karabagh problem; Armenia has been holding a bigger region than West Bank occupied by Israel. Obama would not blow Turkey's advantages in Afghanistan by increasing Turkish military power. Turkey is the antidote, in terms of religious understanding to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and other areas where extreme religions are in strong need of Turkey's Islam. If Obama does not realize how Turkey has used religion as a force against radical Islamism, and if he tries to benefit from Turkey only by increasing the number of Turkish military he will have been blown the advantage of Turkey. For if Turkey were to enter into a military conflict with another Muslim country, such as Afghanistan, it's soft power in the region would be reduced.

Will the Turkey be a new partner of America in Central Asia, Middle East and the Caucasus?

S.L. America has determined Middle East policy with Israel and England up to now. Other countries remain as alleged partners. Although Turkey is a member of NATO, it was trying to stay away from the Middle East issues. Turkey has just begun to develop its role in the Middle East, which began with Turgut Ozal and continues whit Tayyip Erdogan. Out of this Turkey behaved unwillingly about the Middle East issues. America realized the unsuccessfulness of the policy determined by Israel and England. The Middle East, despite all the efforts of the United States to make it more secure, more stable, and integrated into the world economy, has not been turned into a such a place. So the policy has a failed. Turkey offers new alternative. I think Turkey's participation in the American Middle East policy in this respect will have big benefits.
5 April 2009 By Gulay Kilic, JTW

What Would You Tell Obama?
After the G20 and NATO summits, the US President is now in Turkey. We would like Obama to close down military bases, pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and fight against global climate change.

Bıa news centre - İstanbul 05-04-2009, Erhan ÜSTÜNDAĞ

On Sunday night, US President Barack Obama comes to Turkey’s capital Ankara. On Monday (6 April), he is to address the Turkish parliament and speak to party leaders. It is known that he will ask for soldiers for Afghanistan and that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will want to discuss the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

On Tuesday, Obama will come to Istanbul. Unfortunately, we at bianet will not be able to speak to him. In fact, because he is coming, the Istanbul governor will shut down roads and squares, making our lives more difficult.

However, we will use this medium to call on Obama. He has made the decision to close Guantanamo Bay within a year, and we want him to continue with policies of “change” in other areas:

Please close down the US military bases in Turkey. You could start with the İncirlik base near Adana, in the south of Turkey, built in 1951. Your country used it illegally for its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it harbours nuclear weapons.

Pull out of Iraq immediately, and give up on trying to control Afghanistan. Your previous government terrorised the whole world in the name of “war on terrorism” and shelved rights and freedoms. We would like them back.

Recognise the International Criminal Court so that your country’s leaders can be tried for war crimes that have been alleged. We want justice.
If you do not take decisive steps to deal with global warming, you will drag your country and the whole world into distaster – undoubtedly, the poorest will go first. We ask for urgent change.

Abolish the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, 37 people were killed by the state in your country last year. This is unacceptable.
Stop wrestling with Cuba and lift the embargo. Also give up supporting fascist leadership in places around the world. You can make up for your support of such regimes in the past. It is difficult, but not impossible.

Realise that capitalism is not the solution. Become socialist – you will see that everything is better than. (EÜ/AG)

Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples By Christopher De Bellaigue; Out Of Steppe: The Lost Peoples Of Central Asia By Daniel Metcalfe The Times April 4, 2009, The Times review by Maureen Freely

A young Englishman goes to Turkey to work as a correspondent. He falls in love, picks up the language, and is caught up in the great romance of East-West relations, imagining that his new home, Ankara, is its hub. He becomes interested in Turkish history, noting, with some puzzlement, that his Turkish friends want, for the most part, to turn away from it. But they recommend a few books by eminent British and American scholars. Having read them, he is inspired to write an essay on the origins of the Turkish Republic for The New York Review of Books, in which he refers in passing to the massacre of up to half a million Armenians in 1915, suggesting that it is best understood in the context of widespread ethnic conflicts that raged throughout the Ottoman Empire after it entered the First World War on the losing side and began to break apart.

When the scholars of the Armenian diaspora bombard The New York Review of Books with furious letters (claiming a death toll three times larger, and insisting that it was - because planned and orchestrated from above - a genocide) our young correspondent is appalled. How could he have got it so wrong? He does more reading, this time drawing o n texts rarely found on the coffee tables of the Turkish secular elite, slowly coming to see that he has blundered into one of the great historical controversies of all time.

This is the story that Christopher de Bellaigue tells against himself in the opening pages of Rebel Land. The chapters that follow chart his attempt to make amends. The obvious way forward would have been to track the history wars that were in full swing in and outside Turkey in 2005 and that have led to the deniers of official history being challenged for the first time by Turkish scholars on Turkish soil. The trials of Orhan Pamuk and more than 100 others for insulting Turkishness can be best understood in this context.

So can the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 and the still-unfolding Ergenekon trial, which links several retired generals and almost a hundred others in the secular elite to a state-sponsored terrorist organisation that had allegedly planned to use a string of assassinations and false terrorist incidents to silence those wishing to challenge official history, while at the same time softening up the country for a coup.

One day, when it is all over, if it is ever all over, someone will write a book about it. It is greatly to de Bellaigue's credit that he decides to leave that poisoned chalice for someone else. Hoping to find the human stories of love, longing and loss, he sets out for Varto, a small town in the southeast that was "caught up in the fury of 1915" and has, a knowledgeable friend assures him, continued to be "important beyond its size". By that the friend means that it plays a significant role in the Kurdish separatist movement, contributing not just heroes but (the friend says with a smile) three of its most famous traitors.

On the last leg of his journey, de Bellaigue gets a lift with a group of American Armenians making a pilgrimage to the monastery of Surp Karapet. As he stands with the pilgrims before the ruins, trying to pass himself off as one of them, he notes that they are ringed by a not entirely friendly group of Kurdish peasants, who are surrounded in turn by Turkish soldiers. All three circles, he notes, have claims on this land. Coming down from the Serafettin mountains, and seeing Varto from a distance, in a valley "hollowed and glassy where the meltwaters had spread" and set against the great grey whale of the Bingöl plateau, he is stunned by its beauty. He has "an impression of water as landscape, masterful and unruly, swilling drunkenly and breaking banks of its own making", seeing it as a landscape that "inspires one not to recumbency, as the Aegean groves, nor to poetry, as the oases of Iran, but to action". But the pace slows as he arrives in town to be met by the two policemen who will follow him throughout his travels in and around Varto.

The more he sees of the district, the more he comes to understand it as an occupied territory. As he wanders from village to village, watched and mistrusted on all sides, there are echoes of Ka wandering through the neighbouring city of Kars in Orhan Pamuk's Snow.

Soon de Bellaigue has met the mayor, whose party has links with Kurdish separatists, and the district governor, whose masters are intent on crushing not just the separatists, but all manifestations of Kurdish culture. He rents a room in the hostel where the state houses its teachers: one of their jobs is to crack down on all students heard using one of the two Kurdish languages still spoken behind closed doors. Later, there is the "captain" who sweeps in from points unknown for a friendly chat at the police station, and who is in no doubt that de Bellaigue is (like himself) a spy.

By now just about everyone else in Varto has reached the same conclusion. If they do agree to talk about history, most of it is lies. But he doggedly persists, reading whatever he can find and visiting the Varto diaspora in Germany and northern Iraq. One particular exile opens doors for him, and slowly he is able to pull together a tangled century-long web of human tragedies in such a way that no reader (even this one, who would like to believe in truth and reconciliation) can close the book feeling anything other than despair.

There are no innocents in this story. Europe and Europeans (not least the author) play their part. The book is sure to cause a new skirmish in the history wars de Bellaigue so assiduously avoided, but his critics should pause, at least, to admire the fineness of its prose and the darkness of its heart. It is, in the end, a brilliant literary thriller, an incursion into forbidden territory that is all the more gripping for being true.

Daniel Metcalfe is, in many ways, a younger version of de Bellaigue. In Out of Steppe, he recounts, sometimes guilelessly, but always with a noble heart, his search for the forgotten peoples of Central Asia. These include the Karakalpaks of Uzbekistan; the last remaining Jews of Bukhara, said to be the descendents of the Israelite tribes of Isaachar and Naphtali; the Germans who have lived in Kazakhstan since Catherine the Great brought them over in the late 18th century; the Yaghnobis, said to descend from fire-worshippers; the Hazaras of Afghanistan, whose giant Buddhas were destroyed by the Taleban; and the Kalashas of the Hindu Kush, thought by some to be the descendents of Alexander's army. Everywhere there is the detritus of the Great Games that have been played out on this soil: the environmental atrocities are, if anything, even more appalling. And then there is the destruction of old buildings and old ways in the name of modernity. The lost peoples of Central Asia are not so much lost as heading for extinction, and it may be too late to save them.

Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples by Christopher de Bellaigue Bloomsbury, £20; 288pp

Out of Steppe: The Lost Peoples of Central Asia by Daniel Metcalfe Hutchinson, £18.99; 352pp

Baku Sets Own Rules For 3-Way Play
ISTANBUL -Azerbaijan has attached three conditions to its giving consent to the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review has learned.

Baku sets own rules for 3-way play All three conditions are related to the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories, sources familiar with the issue told the Daily News. In addition to Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian forces have also occupied seven regions surrounding the enclave to which both countries claim sovereignty.

Azerbaijan sent an envoy recently to Ankara to explain the government’s views on the reconciliation process between Yerevan and Ankara, which closed its borders with Armenia in 1993 after Armenian forces occupied Azerbaijani territory.

According to the envoy, Azerbaijan insists on three conditions to give its green light to opening the borders:

* Armenia should withdraw from five of the seven regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, which are Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan and Qubadli.

* The return of the southern portion of the Lachin corridor.

* The use by Turkey of the Lachin corridor.

The Lachin corridor connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. By enabling Turkey to also use the Lachin corridor, Azerbaijan wants to have direct land access to Turkey.

The envoy is said to have voiced concern about being left out of the talks between Armenia and Turkey.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a move to alleviate Azerbaijan’s concerns, stated: "There will be no Turkish-Armenian deal before the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. Then, problems between Turkey and Armenia can be solved, too.

"We hope the U.N. Security Council makes a decision naming Armenia as the occupier in Nagorno-Karabakh and calling for a withdrawal from the region. This is a process the Minsk Group É could not succeed in for 17 years," Erdoğan said in a news conference he held late Wednesday.

The Minsk group Ğ set up in 1992 and co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France Ğ is seeking a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh problem, one of the most intractable conflicts arising from the Soviet Union's collapse.

Right Intentions But Wrong Dialect
ISTANBUL - Whether by gaffe or by wily political maneuvering, the newly launched, state-run Armenian radio station is broadcasting in the Eastern Armenian dialect, which is incomprehensible to nearly everyone outside of Armenia. Officials were unaware and say they are now investigating

Right intentions but wrong dialect Turkey’s new Armenian radio station launched by the state to serve the Armenian community in the country missed the mark by launching in a dialect that is incomprehensible to the local Armenians.

The new radio station launched by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, on April 2 is using the Eastern Armenian dialect in its broadcast, used mainly in Armenia.

The rest of the world’s Armenian communities, including the one in Turkey, use Western Armenian, also called "Askharhapar." While the two dialects cannot be described as totally unintelligible to each other, different uses of the same words and accents make most communication between the speakers of the two dialects very problematic in the least.

Western Armenian, developed of Istanbul origin, is considered the modern Armenian dialect in the Armenian world. Another factor illustrating the importance of Western Armenian is that the classics of Armenian literature have been written in it since the 19th century. Eastern Armenian is the official language of Armenia and is also spoken by the Armenians in Iran.

The difference between the Western and Eastern Armenian dialects is one of the forthcoming subjects on the agenda of the newly founded Ministry of Diaspora of the Armenian Government.

Turkey’s Chief Negotiator to the European Union Egemen Bağış expressed surprise at the situation last Friday night and said he will investigate. In a speech before an annual meeting on the European Union and Turkey, sponsored by daily Radikal and the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, Bağış defended the ruling party's outreach into state broadcasts in "local languages."

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, seeks no political advantage with its new initiatives in Kurdish, Armenian and other languages other than "to create a better communication channel with all of our citizens," the chief negotiator said.

When told most local Armenians did not understand the broadcasts, Bağış said: "I hadn't a clue. This is the first time I have heard this. Perhaps TRT could only find news presenters speaking this dialect, I just don't know. But I will look into it."

One major problem faced by young Armenian Turks is their lack of proficiency in speaking their mother tongue even though most graduate from minority schools. Lack of proficiency also precludes them from following a radio station broadcast in a different dialect.

While the government has initiated efforts for the establishment of Armenian language and literature departments at universities, the current lack of academic teaching at the university level has taken its toll on the development of the language.

Some Armenian Turks tried to establish a private Armenian radio station a decade ago, with efforts led by journalist Hrant Dink, who was gunned down in 2007. Lack of funds prevented the establishment of the station.

’Target not own citizens’

While the Armenian Society of Turkey had abandoned hope of getting their own radio frequency; they were surprised with TRT’s Armenian broadcast. Etyen Mahçupyan, editor in chief of the weekly Agos newspaper, speaking to the Daily News, said: "This means Turkey’s target audience is Armenia, not their own citizens. This initiative is for supporting the foreign policies of Turkey; therefore, it is not sincere. It bears thought that Turkey makes such an initiative without trying to find out what its own citizens need." Mıgırdiç Margosyan, a world famous Armenian writer, said he agreed with Mahçupyan and added, "What is being done is unfair; this broadcast is not addressed to us."

Pakrad Öztukyan, an editor for Agos, indicated that the Armenians of Turkey cannot understand or speak Western Armenian. "I do not know of TRT’s broadcasting policy. If the target audience is Armenia, broadcasting in Eastern Armenian is the right decision," Öztukyan said.

Will Turkey Miss Its Third Opportunity? Mehmet Ali Birand
Are we going to be able to benefit from US President Barack Obama’s visit to Turkey? Or will we once again get into small internal disputes and miss out on an opportunity? International relations are like bargaining. If you play well, you can win more easily

Turkey may be in an unfortunate position in some ways, yet it is one of the world’s most fortunate countries in other respects. Many of us always complain and say, "Our neighbor is not Switzerland or Austria, so we cannot be relaxed." But Turkey’s fortune is based exactly on this position.

We feel discomfort because of the countries surrounding us, but thanks to them, our international and strategic importance increases, bringing with it great advantages. This is the U.S. perspective on us: Turkey has Iran on one side and Iraq on the otherÉ

It is a country that is involved in the Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute, and in Eurasia. It has one foot in the Mediterranean and the other in the Aegean. It is a country that should be listened in each regional crisis.

It is an indispensable power for Afghanistan and an important player that contributes much to the Palestine and Lebanon issues. This is how Washington perceives Turkey. But some administrations consider Turkey as a bird in the hand, while others treat it as a strategic ally.

The first opportunity came with Bush Sr.

Two administrations that glorified Turkey and carried U.S.-Turkey relations to an incredible point have passed through Washington in recent years. One of these was the administration of Bush Sr. (former U.S. President George W. Bush's father), which cooperated with President Turgut Özal during the first Gulf War in 1991.

The Özal-Bush talks and the mutual confidence between two countries led Turkish-American relations to experience a golden age. Bush formally visited Ankara in July 1991 to thank Turkey for its extremely valuable support. Özal, not missing out on the chance, received U.S. support to solve the Cyprus issue and made an attempt with Papandreu Sr. But "hawks" in the Foreign Ministries of Turkey and Greece joined forces and prevented the attempt.

Then, Clinton passed through Ankara

This was Turkey’s most valuable opportunity, which it lost in Cyprus.

President Bill Clinton came to Turkey in November 1999. Before his visit, he had put Turkey on top of the "Ascending Countries List" during a speech at Georgetown University. A breathtaking greeting for Clinton took place here. While talking about the new dimensions of Turkish-American relations during his speech at the Parliament, Clinton said Turkey was a bridge of stabilization through which the energy lines of the region passed.

When Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, was captured in Kenya in 1998, Clinton himself made the decision to deliver Öcalan to Turkey, saying, "I am doing you this favor and you should take some steps to solve the Kurdish issue." As a result, the first plan to liquidate the PKK was launched, but the plan could not be finalized. So Turkey could not benefit from this opportunity, either.

The U.S. is a superpower. On whichever issue the U.S. exerts its authority, particularly the European Union, Cyprus, Armenia and the Kurdish dispute, it facilitates Turkey’s work. Now, we face a third opportunity. The attitude of the Obama administration is ahead of the others.

Of course, he has expectations. But he also has something to offer in return. This time, Turkey is different. It is perceived differently by Europe. If we look at Hillary Clinton’s attitude during her Ankara visit, it looks like Turkey’s star will rise on the horizon of Washington.

I wonder whether we will be able to benefit from this situation. Or will we once again get into small internal disputes and miss out on an opportunity because of fruitless political fights? International relations are like bargaining. If you calculate and play well, you can win more easily.

Et Tu Barack? (part I) David R. Hoffman, Pravda, Russia, April 8, 2009
The late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is alleged to have said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

The late Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler, to rally support for the pending Holocaust, is alleged to have rhetorically asked his followers, "Who remembers now the extermination of the Armenians?"

While historians continue to debate whether Stalin or Hitler actually uttered these words, the insights these quotations reveal about the frailties of humankind are chillingly accurate, whether it's the human mind's capacity to numb itself to tragedy or humanity's ubiquitous myopia.

In the not too distant past, most Americans got their news from their daily newspaper. Such media, however, often had to deal with spatial limitations, which compelled reporters to compartmentalize newsworthy events into a few brief paragraphs, usually through the use of statistics or similar numerical devices.

Unfortunately the cold logic of numbers was incapable of emotionally conveying the magnitude of some of history's most horrific events: Hitler's Holocaust, Stalin's purges, the Khmer Rouge's reign in Cambodia, the Cultural Revolution in China, or the countless other atrocities that occurred, and that continue to occur, throughout the world.

As the cliche goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and soon photographs and television arose to overcome the deficiencies of the print media. But these new developments had deficiencies of their own. While a picture or film can possess the capacity to shock, repulse or outrage a person, the more this person sees that picture or film the less impact it has. The human mind has an uncanny ability to numb itself to repetitious stimuli, and while this may be a blessing, especially to police officers, coroners, doctors or criminal law attorneys, it can also be a curse.

When one looks at images of civilians killed or wounded in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, of rape victims in the Congo, of refugees in Darfur, of victims of oppression in Myanmar, or of the starving and impoverished throughout the world, the outrage should feel the same, regardless of whether it is the first time, or the thousandth time, that one has seen these images.

But usually this is not the case; thus the deaths of millions become a statistic.

This numbing effect is usually accompanied by a myopia that compels people to look no further ahead, or backward, then is convenient at the time; hence the world forgot "the extermination of the Armenians."

Sadly, what is convenient to forget often becomes inconvenient to remember. This was the case when several members of the United States Congress introduced an "Armenian Genocide Resolution" during the dictatorship of George W. Bush. To appease his NATO allies, Bush opposed this resolution.

What inspired my recollection of the Stalin and Hitler quotations was a recent article by the Miami Herald's Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts that discussed how the "revelations of the Bush era excesses continue to drip like water upon the stone of public conscience." Pitts compared the "fear and paranoia" of the Bush era to the "red scare" that launched the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era, and opined that America, just as it came to rue McCarthyism, will one day rue the excesses of George W. Bush and his cabal of war criminals.

As I wrote in previous Pravda.Ru articles (Bush vs. Hitler and Axioms of the World), history, especially American history, is analogous to a pendulum that perpetually swings from overreaction to regret, and back again. Before the McCarthy era witch-hunts there were the Alien and Espionage Acts, which were used by the United States government to destroy political organizations and imprison people who were simply exercising their right to freedom of speech. Before that came a hysteria generated by a newspaper magnate seeking to increase profits and circulation, which eventually led to the Spanish-American war--a lesson not lost on today's corporate-controlled media that sought to profit from the war in Iraq.

This hysteria was even present at America's birth, when its second president, John Adams, used draconian laws, known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, to quash dissent and decimate the newly created Bill of Rights.

If the past is an accurate barometer, then the cycles of history warn us that all the ruing in the world will not prevent the ascendancy of another American president as corrupt, as mendacious, as hypocritical, as criminal, and as sadistic as George W. Bush.

The reason George W. Bush had no compunction about using torture, rendition and illegal detention in an allegedly democratic nation is because the right-wing, corporate-controlled media that packaged him for public consumption are particularly adept at creating and marketing "people without principles." PIMPS (Propagandists in Media Positions), like Rush Limbaugh and the pseudo-journalists at the Fox (Faux) News Network, have elevated this to a science. Their strategy is simple--mindlessly defend the politicians you support and mindlessly condemn the politicians you oppose.

Hence, throughout the Bush dictatorship, Limbaugh vilified people for "not supporting the president." But now that Barack Obama holds this office, Limbaugh, drug-addled hypocrite that he is, says he hopes Obama's economic policies will fail.

Right-wingers have also attempted to justify the Bush dictatorship's use of torture, and quest to destroy America's constitutional form of government, by claiming that these tactics prevented terrorism.

But diversion is not prevention. What became safety to those on American soil became terrorism to Iraqi civilians and American troops serving in that battle-scarred nation.

Bush apologists also claim he is not responsible for the failure to prevent the September 11th, 2001 attacks, because he had only been in office a little over seven months when they occurred. The blame, they claim, falls on the previous president, Bill Clinton, who had eight years to eliminate Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

But, if this is the case, why are so many of these apologists now criticizing Barack Obama's efforts to repair the economic mess that the Bush dictatorship, thanks to two fraudulent elections, had eight years to repair?

Even so called legal "experts" like law professor John Yoo, who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush dictatorship, and Supreme Court "justice" Antonin Scalia have defended the Bush dictatorship's use of torture, rendition and illegal detention. Yoo, as I discussed in my article When Self-Loathing Becomes Law: Clarence Thomas Story (Part I), even claimed that the illegally elected Bush had the authority to suspend the Bill of Rights and imprison American citizens without legal due process or access to the courts.

But while Yoo had the capacity to suggest policy, Scalia has the power to create it. An alleged "pro-life Christian," and primary architect of the Bush dictatorship's coup of 2000, Scalia may be the most ethically deprived and morally corrupt Supreme Court "justice" in American history.

His support of the use of torture, as Leonard Pitts reported, is based on the escapades of Jack Bauer, a fictional counterterrorism expert on the television drama "24." In other words, the fundamental rights and freedoms of every single person in the United States are now in the hands of a man who believes a television program should dictate how the constitution is interpreted. Undoubtedly hypocrites like Antonin Scalia were the type of people Mahatma Gandhi had in mind when he said, "I like your Christ, but not your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

In his column, Pitts also pointed out that information gathered through the use of torture is notoriously unreliable, because a person being tortured will be inclined to say whatever the torturer wants to hear.

In support, he cited the case of Abu Zubaida, who was mistakenly identified as a high-level al-Qaida operative. During the course of being tortured, Abu Zubaida provided an abundance of information, most of which proved to be false. Yet millions of tax dollars, and thousands of man-hours, were wasted investigating Abu Zubaida's tortured induced "leads."

If Scalia, Yoo and other advocates of torture really want to know how reliable torture is, they need only look at the "results" of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

Burge commanded a unit that allegedly used torture to coerce confessions from numerous criminal suspects, many of whom were later discovered to be innocent. Before their exonerations, several of these wrongfully convicted men spent years in prison, some on death row, while Burge enjoyed retirement on a government pension.

In reality, torture can actually increase the chances of terrorism by creating more terrorists. Families of torture victims are certain to hate the government doing the torturing; therefore they can be more receptive to the overtures of terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia Not To Establish Diplomatic Relations With Armenia, Until Azerbaijan's Territorial Integrity To Be Restored: Ambassador
V.Zhavoronkova, Trend News Agency April 8 2009
Saudi Arabia will not establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, until the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan to be restored and its interests to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be provided, new appointed Saudi Arabian Ambassador Fahd bin Ali al-Duseri said at a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

Saudi Arabia treats to the problems of Azerbaijan with great sensitivity and is always ready to assist to resolve those problems, ambassador said presenting a copy of credentials on his appointment to Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan.

The ambassador appraised Azerbaijan's position to resolve the situation in the Middle East and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister thanked the Saudi Arabia leadership for its position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Azerbaijan is interested in immediate restoring of peace and stability in Gaza and is planning to make its contribution to reconstruct the region, Mammadyarov added.

Gordon Taylor: How Obama did in Turkey
Source: pashagypsy.blogspot.com under the title: The Baby in the Iron Womb (4-9-09)

One treads carefully in the Turkish presence. Turkey is no joke.
--Jan Morris

It's a tough audience, the Turkish parliament. Say the wrong thing and you'll quickly discover the disadvantages of growing a mustache. The above photograph was taken 21 December 2008 after a Kurdish deputy of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) got up and told his fellow MPs that it was high time for Turkey to face up to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. As a Kurd, of course, he had his motives for this deliberate provocation: he knew that until the Turks confronted the truth about 1915, they would never recognize reality about the Kurds. It was a gutsy move. He, his DTP party colleagues, and millions of other people are still waiting for something other than a fist in the face.

On April 6, in Ankara, Barack Obama faced the same uncertainties. You could see it on the videos: the tiniest dent in that iron assurance we have come to expect of him. Perhaps it was because Michelle, his partner in world conquest, had left him to be with their daughters back home. In any case, he seemed slightly hesitant as he spoke to the Turkish parliament. "Who are these people?" one can almost hear him thinking; or, perhaps he was mesmerized by the sight of all those mustaches. This was not an easy crowd, nothing like those cheerful Europeans in Prague and London, delirious at having found a U.S. President who actually seemed to have a brain in his head. Most of Obama's Ankara speech, said reports, was greeted with silence.

But, to begin with a generalization, it was as good a speech as one could expect, given the occasion. In it nuance, nonsense, diplomacy, and willful disregard of reality found equal expression. Someone from the military-industrial-diplomatic complex worked hard on this text, and it showed.

First, the nonsense. Those who take a jaundiced view of Turkish nationalism can find plenty of it in Obama's words. He began his speech with the usual--a homage to Ataturk, the Republic's founder--by referring to the morning's signal event, the requisite wreath-laying at Fred's tomb. Here his restraint was admirable. At no point did Obama point out the absurdity of a free and quasi-democratic people, a NATO member and EU-aspirant, bowing and scraping before a personality cult that rivals that of Kim il-Sung.

Obama then moved on to the main event: friendly persuasion and flattery. There were references to Turkey's democracy, a dubious concept, as well as to the friendship between our two peoples--which really is a lie, since I doubt that more than five Americans out of a hundred could find Turkey on a map. (Hell, they can't even find their own country!) Here the message was, Let's Cooperate. The two nations, he said, were working together for peace and prosperity, as was appropriate. Obama affirmed U.S. support for Turkey's EU candidacy. (Which he can do because he knows that France and Germany will have the guts to tell them No.) Cliches like Resolute Ally, Responsible Partner, and Bridges Over the Bosphorus were given the requisite airing. Two Turkish basketball players were duly noted. Obama praised the Turks for their progress (non-existent) on penal code reform, as well as for their establishment (scorned by most Kurds) of a TV station broadcasting in Kurdish. This is where it began to get interesting:

These achievements have created new laws that must be implemented, and a momentum that should be sustained. For democracies cannot be static: they must move forward.

In other words, We know that you've passed a few laws. But you have to make them work; otherwise it's just an empty form. (Which is the game, Turkey-watchers know, that the Turks have always played.)

Freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state, which is why steps like reopening the Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond. An enduring commitment to the rule of law is the only way to achieve the security that comes from justice for all people. Robust minority rights let societies benefit from the full measure of contributions from all citizens.

Note: "a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state." This is the toughest sell of all, the idea that the freedoms Turkish officials fear so greatly could actually strengthen their beloved, all-important Turkish State. This is the heart of the matter. And the Halki Seminary? It's an interesting gambit, a reference to a long-closed seminary near Istanbul which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate desperately needs to have reopened if it is going to sustain itself in its ancient home. If you really become a democracy, Obama is arguing, you become stronger. And upholding minority rights is the key.

I say this as the President of a country that not too long ago made it hard for someone who looks like me to vote. But it is precisely that capacity to change that enriches our countries. Every challenge that we face is more easily met if we tend to our own democratic foundation.
Note: "that enriches our countries"; using the language of inclusion to cajole the listeners into going along. Obama then moved on to admission of past American sins, like slavery, in order to slide into that most treacherous of quicksands, the Turkish treatment of Armenians.
Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History, unresolved, can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there are strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. While there has been a good deal of commentary about my views, this is really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive.
No one, I submit, is ever going to make a more diplomatic, nuanced statement about this subject. With this Obama and his speechwriters have slipped through a narrow opening indeed. If the "full and frank exchange of views" of diplomatic doublespeak were taken literally, a visitor might have said, "Grow up, people, and stop being afraid. Yes, the murderers of a million Armenians were your ancestors, but the ordinary Turks who worked to save their Armenian neighbors were also your ancestors, as were the army units which refused to participate, and the Ottoman generals and officials who refused to go along. Ataturk himself called it a 'shameful act.' So what is your problem?" Obama would never have said such a thing, but for what he did say he deserves credit.

So for the Greek patriarchate and the Armenian Genocide, two touchy subjects, we can give Obama decent marks. He went on to make a statement which was, for America's tone-deaf news media, a big deal: "[T]he United States is not at war with Islam." And he made a pitch for Turkey's cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for Turkey's biggest problem, the Kurds, Obama was as silent as a Turk at Easter. True, he had declared himself in favor of "robust minority rights." But in a Turkey defined by the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, "minority" does not apply to the Kurds. Unlike Jews, Greeks, and Armenians, 15 million Kurds do not have official "minority" status in Turkey. They are full-fledged citizens, indigenous residents of Anatolia for thousands of years, who have a culture and language that has never been recognized by the Turkish Republic.

In a short meeting with Ahmet Turk, vice-chairman of the DTP and the "grand old man" of Kurdish politics in Turkey, Obama expressed "sympathy" for the Kurds but said what he had to say, that violence was not a solution for the Kurdish problem. As he said this, Turkey's Kurdish provinces were still reeling from the latest outbreaks of police violence, which left two Kurds dead and a Kurdish female deputy of the DTP injured after being beaten by the state's "security forces." Despite these almost daily reports, it is still official U.S. policy that the PKK, which has made repeated offers of negotiation, is a "terrorist group"; and the Turkish government, which rarely sees a head that doesn't deserve beating or an F-16 that isn't worth buying, is a beacon for democracy in the Middle East.

So nothing really has changed. Obama's speech made some intriguing gambits, and the symbolism of meeting with Kurdish MPs, a group that has been shunned up to now, will no doubt resonate; but without straight talk and an abandonment of the lavish armaments contracts that are the true core of Turkish-American relations, nothing ever will change. Like a baby in an iron womb, Turkish democracy has gestated for decades without hope of accouchement. Turkey's governance has always had one goal: to maintain the state and its power. And the pattern continues. For the sake of the all-important State, political parties have been closed, papers shut down, reporters imprisoned, YouTube prohibited, websites darkened, letters of the alphabet proscribed, and thought crimes punished. While murderers of liberals and ethnic minorities, caught red-handed, go unpunished, people who speak the simplest truths are arraigned and convicted within weeks. Inquiries into the most blatant thuggery drag on, without resolution, for years. Judges render verdicts that defy common sense, then retire to drink tea out of tulip-shaped glasses.

And so it goes. April 9, 2009 http://hnn.us/

Obama's Turkish Successes By Utku Cakirozer
In the aftermath of President Obama's visit to Turkey early this week, PostGlobal asked five Turkey experts from prominent American research and policy institutions for their reactions to President Obama's visit to Turkey. They reached broad consensus on two issues.

First, Obama made it clear to everyone where exactly Turkey stands in the eyes of the United States. He confirmed his administration's perception that Turkey belongs to West, and supported Turkey's European Union accession process. He did this not only symbolically (by including Turkey to his tour to Europe rather than to Middle East), but also with powerful statements before the Turkish parliament in Ankara. While showing great respect to Islam, the religion of the majority of Turkish society, he underlined the secular and democratic nature of the country, too.

Second, he made great strides toward remaking America's image within Turkish society. Between his personal charm, his promise never to make war against Islam, his firm support for Turkey's EU accession process and his promise to continue supporting Turkey's struggle against terror, he gave important signals that Turks immediately understood.

Some observers prefer a cautious stand about the future of the relationship, especially regarding the American Armenian community's expectation that the President will officially declare the killings of Armenians during the First World War as "genocide." These analysts warn that such a development could radically change that rosy forecast for Turkish-American relations.

Other analysts were less satisfied with the President's performance, highlighting his avoidance of certain human rights issues like freedom of expression and women's rights - the roots of which problems, they believe, emanate from the authoritarian attitudes of the AKP government.

Thoughts from the five experts, in their own words, are below. Please add your own impressions in the comment thread.

Zeyno Baran, Director, Center For Eurasian Policy, Hudson Institute

President Obama made America human again--by reaching out to the various communities in Turkey, holding a town hall meeting with Turkish youth and giving a masterful speech in the Turkish parliament. He personified an America no longer afraid to interact with others on an equal footing. He was already hugely popular and I believe many Turks are even more hopeful that he will indeed bring peace and prosperity to Turkey's difficult neighborhood.

It was extremely important for him to refer to Turkey as a secular democracy; this once and for all ended the debate about whether the U.S. under the Obama administration would continue to see Turkey as a Muslim country or once again see it as part of Europe.

He often referred to American history and experiences and his personal life story to make his point, which was much more effective than just lecturing another sovereign nation about the things they ought to be improving, including the treatment of minorities and dealing with past traumas. In fact, the two countries have very similar founding principles of uniting people under the common citizenship concept, not under an ethnic or religious identity, yet both have fallen short of the promise at times. Turkey gave women their rights much sooner than the United States, yet its concept of being "Turkish" somehow moved from being an ideology like being an "American" to an ethnic one, thereby causing ethnic strife, especially between the Kurds and Turks, as well as other non-Turkish communities. For its part, the United States has redeemed itself by electing a black president, yet the Native American communities are still waiting for their justice and dignity.

I believe it was also important that during his speech at the Parliament, President Obama talked at length about George Washington and how important a figure he is for the United States. In this spirit, he praised Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his immense contribution to the creation of modern Turkey out of the ashes of a fallen empire. Although Americans sometimes are critical of Turks still holding Ataturk in such high regard and naming streets, schools, airports and many others after him as being stuck in the past, the capital of United States is named after President Washington, along with many other sites and even the delicious (Washington) apple! Turks and Americans may be closer than they think.

Soner Cagaptay
Director, Turkish Research Program, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy

There has been much confusion in the United States and Europe about Turkey's identity. Until September 11, Turkey was considered a NATO ally, a secular democracy and a member of the West. Suddenly, following September 11, this changed. Turkey became a Muslim ally, considered a model of Islamic democracy and a member of the Muslim world. Punditocracy began to describe Turkey as a "moderate Muslim state," and regional experts viewed Turkey as part of the Greater Middle East. A German Turk born and raised in Berlin told me that prior September 11, his friends referred to him as "the Turk." On September 12, he became "the Muslim." He added: "I had not changed in one night, but the world had."

With his Ankara address, Obama put the post-September 11 confusion about Turkey's identity to rest. The President started his speech with a rhetorical question: "I have been to...the NATO Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl, and the European Union Summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message. My answer is simple: Evet (Yes, in Turkish)." The president added that Turkey belongs in Europe and the West and that "Europe gains by the diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith." For Obama, Turkey is a country in the West that happens to be Muslim, rather than a Muslim country in the Muslim world.

This is good news for Turkey's democracy, and even better news for the Western orientation of Turkish foreign policy. In his address, Obama made strong references to Turkey's secular democracy and the need for the country to move towards European Union (EU) accession. Importantly, Obama set Europe and its liberal democratic traditions as Washington's benchmark for evaluating domestic Turkish developments. On foreign policy, lately a civilizational view of world politics has formed in Ankara, relativizing good and bad according to religion and splitting the Turks from the West. In the latest incident, at the Davos meeting in January, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chided Israel's president for "killing people" -- and then returned to Ankara to host the vice president of Sudan. To encounter this religion-based civilizational view, the President referred to Turkey as a "resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions." Obama understands Turkey's strategic importance ?Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia, and is a staging ground for operations in Afghanistan and beyond. With his speech, Obama set NATO as a Western gauge for cooperation with Turkey on key foreign policy issues.

Steven Cook
Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

President Obama found that on the range of important issues from Iraq and Iran to Middle East peace, Turkey's policies are generally consistent with those of the United States. The Turks have long sought a stable, federal Iraq. The flowering of relations between Ankara and Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish Regional Government, combined with considerable Turkish investment in northern Iraq mitigates a complicating factor in Washington's Iraq policy. The situation in Kirkuk and the persistence of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) violence against Turkey remain flashpoints, but as the Turks and Iraqi Kurds develop closer ties, the magnitude of these problems diminishes, forestalling some of the most dire scenarios about Turkish military intervention that could unravel the progress that Iraq has made over the last eighteen months.

In the context of improved Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish relations, the Kurdish president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, has called upon PKK terrorists to lay down their arms or leave Iraq. For the United States, Turkey is no longer the malevolent wildcard in the game of stabilizing Iraq. Once more, President Obama's clear declaration that the PKK is a terrorist organization that present a common threat to Turkey and the United States helped reassure Ankara that Washington will not back away from 2007 agreement supplying the Turkish military "actionable intelligence" to combat the terrorists. This is likely to garner President Obama significant amounts of good with both the Turkish government and people.

Svante Cornell
Research Director for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, School of Advanced International Studies

Mr. Obama's visit to Turkey was an important step in rebuilding Turkish-American relations and to restoring America's position in the greater Black Sea region. In particular, Mr. Obama's speech to the Turkish parliament should be commended for the offer of cooperation and restoring the strategic relationship between the two countries. On the whole, Mr. Obama's speech did include important signals to Turkey, but failed to state a number of important elements.

On the positive side, Mr. Obama departed from the misguided notion, popular in parts of the Bush administration, to give importance to Turkey as a "Muslim democracy", a policy that often slipped into support for "moderate Islamic" movements such as the ruling AKP. To many Turks, however, that was taken as an insult: why, many Turks asked, was their country's democracy qualified with the "Muslim" adjective, denying the country's long history of secularism? Mr. Obama did not mix Turkey's political system and its cultural identity. He explicitly paid homage to Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, and made sure to emphasize the word "secular" when referring to Turkey as a "strong, vibrant, secular democracy" This is a positive factor, as it may rein in some of the AKP's efforts to undermine secularism, which the party has been able to advance with little reaction from the West and to the anger of secular Turks. If the Obama administration continues to emphasize the twin, interrelated elements of secularism and democracy, that will bode well for the future. Moreover, Obama's clearly equated al-Qaeda's terrorism with the PKK's terrorism - showing appreciation for the sensitivity of the issue, which will be key to the bilateral relationship.

But Mr. Obama failed to indicate awareness of the authoritarian tendencies of the AKP government, and of the deteriorating conditions for women in the AKP's Turkey. While speaking in general terms on the need for further reform, he did not allude to the government's onslaught on freedom of expression in the country, exemplified by the Prime Minister's public bullying of oppositional media, lawsuits against journalists, the shady takeover by pro-government businesses of media outlets, or the half billion dollar fine slammed on the country's largest and moderately oppositional media group. Neither did he mention the importance of ensuring women's representation in the workforce and in politics, both of which have declined rapidly since the AKP came to power.

Mr. Obama also glossed over Turkey's role as an energy corridor, but U.S.-Turkish cooperation in the Caspian region and its accomplishments could have emphasized more explicitly. Mr. Obama also referred only in passing to Turkey's role on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yet Mr. Obama's hope that Turkish-Armenian relations will be normalized is entirely dependent on progress in that conflict. However, Mr. Obama did not reiterate America's own active participation in efforts to resolve that conflict. Indeed, the problem was on clear display as Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev refused to travel to Turkey for a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, in spite of phone calls from Hillary Clinton. Azerbaijan is understandably concerned by American and AKP support for a normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations that would not go hand in hand with Armenian concessions on the Karabakh conflict.

Omer Taspinar
Director, Turkey Project, Brookings Institute

The symbolism of this visit would have been much different had Obama decided to come to Ankara after visiting Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. But a visit to Turkey after visiting London, Strasbourg and Prague is a whole different affair. The message is crystal clear: Turkey belongs in Europe.

Equally clear is the fact that we are living in a world where the "clash of civilizations" has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In this increasingly polarized global context between Islam and the West, Turkey is the most democratic, secular and pro-Western country in the Islamic world. It is the only Muslim member of NATO and the only Muslim country in accession negotiations with the European Union. To use the old cliché, Turkey is the bridge between the Middle East and the West. More importantly, it is an active facilitator of difficult relations between Israel and Syria and a country that wants to play a similar role between Washington and Tehran.

All these factors have significantly contributed to the symbolism of the visit. But make no mistake. An important part of President Obama's visit to Turkey was also about averting a major crisis in relations because of the Armenian genocide issue. Let's not forget that President Obama pledged several times during his electoral campaign to recognize the Armenian genocide. On April 24, in less than two weeks after his visit to Ankara, President Obama will face a critical decision. Will he refer to a "genocide" in his Armenian Remembrance Day letter? Most Turkish analysts seem to believe that he will not. I'm not so sure. When asked the question, President Obama replied by saying that he has not changed his mind on this issue. But he also pointed out that the focus should be on Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, and not on America's view of this issue.

Any presidential recognition of the Armenian genocide, or a Congressional resolution in favor of such recognition, will radically change Turkish-American relations. Ankara could retaliate in a number of ways. In its most extreme, but not necessarily most unrealistic form, scenarios include a decision by Ankara to limit the use of the Incirlik Air Base, which provides more than half of the logistic support for American troops in Iraq.

How can a crisis on this issue of genocide be averted? The answer is simple: Turkey needs to open its border with Armenia. The key development in the aftermath of President Obama's visit to Turkey may very well be Ankara's decision to do so. Such a development would provide the face-saving excuse Mr. Obama needs to refrain from honoring his campaign promise on April 24. If Turkey opens the border, the Armenian Remembrance Day letter may refer to positive developments on the ground between Armenia and Turkey. Yet, Ankara will drag its feet before opening the border and try to get America's support for Azerbaijan. It will be a very long two weeks until April 24th.
by Utku Cakirozer on April 9, 2009 http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/

Good Education
While watching Mr. Obama deliver his speech in the Turkish Parliament, a thought came to my mind. About 30 years ago clairvoyants in the U.S. had foreseen that an African-American president would one day rule the country. Actually the predictions of the clairvoyants turned out to be true, or a perfect product named Mr. Barack Hussein Obama has been introduced to the American people.

I had the opportunity to meet and listen to the speeches of several former U.S. presidents. It seemed to me that the best educated and cultivated of them all is Mr. Obama. The speech he delivered at Parliament was obviously a carefully prepared and very well studied one. It seems the U.S. Embassy in Ankara played an important role in writing the text.

It is natural that we should have differences of opinion with the U.S. But the important thing Mr. Obama tried to convey in his visit to Turkey and during his speech at Parliament is that to minimize these differences of opinion we should start from somewhere. If the U.S. has five international issues that take priority, four of them are over Turkey and one concerning this region. To straighten out these issues, the U.S. has to talk to Turkey. Turkey, on its part, has to make long, short, middle range plans concerning the U.S.

First of all there is the south Caucasus issue and mainly the normalization of relations with Armenia. To bring peace to the south Caucasus region, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem should be solved. But you cannot do it solely to satisfy the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. There is no need to create concerns in Turkey, in Azerbaijan, in Iran by bringing Azerbaijan closer to Russia. To safeguard the energy flowing through Turkey, stability should be brought to the Caucasus region. It is true also for the Middle East. The great concern for all parties is the vacuum that will be created after U.S. troops will pull out of Iraq and who will get hold of the American arms that will remain in the country.

Two reasons were influential in the creation of a strong opposition in Turkey against the U.S. The first is the aid given to forces supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the second is support given to forces that demand the acceptance of the so-called Armenian genocide. The expectation here is that the U.S. should find solutions to these two main problems. Coming to the economy. At the G20 meeting, the IMF was burdened with the mission of saving the world. Including Turkey, the IMF procured additional financial aid for several countries. Time will show is if this financial support will be enough. But there is a strong possibility that these can change the export-import balance to Turkey’s benefit. 2009 will be a difficult year not only for Turkey but for European countries as well. It is impossible to think that European economies and the U.S. economy will recuperate before 2010 and 2011 consecutively. On the other hand, President Obama’s insistence that Europe, which wants a relationship based on privileged partnership, should give accession to Turkey is meaningful.

You can remember that also in 1999 the U.S. had pressured Europe in Helsinki to accept Turkey’s membership application. It is important that Mr. Obama has given a message to Europe that the U.S. wants Turkey within Europe. But Europe is reluctant in accepting it. It is obvious that these days that Europe has its own serious economic problems and doesn’t have time to pay attention to Turkey. Most important of all, Europe doesn’t want to talk economics with Turkey and seems satisfied to open and close chapters during accession negotiations, always bringing up the condition of solving the Cyprus problem. All the world knows that a solution to the Cyprus problem and all problems in the eastern Mediterranean is directly related to the consent the U.S. will give.

In the meantime both in Ankara and Istanbul people had a very difficult time in going to their jobs and coming back to their homes during the Obama visit, though they seemed to like the new U.S. president very much. Maybe tight security was exaggerated by police forces, but innocent of what was going on around him, Mr. Obama became the target of most Turks’ anger.

Although I found him very sympathetic, I, too, showed strong reaction when police searched my car when entering the Parliament complex. When we complain about these exaggeratedly tight security measures, officials say, "It is done all over the world." This cannot be an excuse. While trying to guard our guests coming to Turkey, let’s not create feelings of hatred for them among the people.
Mithat Melen, © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Terror May Become The Idea To Unite World Armenians Again: Head Of Center Of Political Innovations And Technologies Mubariz Ahmedoghlu
Today Az

World Armenians are not a monolythic structure, which is due to Armenians' inclination to assimilate with the title nation of the country where they leave, said head of the Center for political innovations and technologies Mubariz Ahmedoghlu.

According to him in the result the number of Armenians is reducing, while the difference between the views of Armenians, residing in Armenia and Armenians that live in different countries of the world is growing.

"For example, Armenians transform into Frenchmen, while residing in France, too rapidly, while Armenians in the United States assimilate the way of thinking and conduct of the Americans. In the established conditions, to preserve the nation, Armenians need any idea around which they could have unite regardless of the country of their residence and this idea is a mythical "Armenian genocide" of 1915 in the Osman Turkey.

Moreover, this very idea was a forming basis for creation of the ASALA terror organization -Armenian Secret Army of Liberation of Armenia. And hre it would be timely to remind that in period of the intensive activity of ASALA, that terminated a number of Turkish and European diplomats and peaceful civilians, the degree of solidarity among world Armenians was quite high.

Therefore, I quite accept this terror might become the idea around which the world armenians will unite again and if this happens we will hear about new murders and terror acts by Armenian terrorists.

Film About Armenian Terror Posted On Lithuanian Internet Portal Today AZ
A documentary about Armenian terror has been posted in a video format at Lithuanian website www.spaltai.lt, according to the press service for the State Committee of Azerbaijan for work with diaspora.

The film features the genocide and terror acts to which Azerbaijani people underwent by Armenians. This film can be viewed at http://slaptai.lt/news.php?readmore=1069.

This propaganda action is initiated by the association of Lithuanian Azerbaijanis under support of different diaspora organizations.

This documentary will be demonstrated at the website within a year. The picture taken in Azerbaijan in 2003 was demonstrated in Vilnius at the commemoration event on the Day of Azerbaijanis genocide on March 31. 150 DVDs with the film "Armenian terror" in English and Russian were distributed among the event participants. The film director is Sevda Hasanova.

Obama's Strategy and the Summits April 6, 2009 Geopolitical Intelligence Report, By George Friedman
The weeklong extravaganza of G-20, NATO, EU, U.S. and Turkey meetings has almost ended. The spin emerging from the meetings, echoed in most of the media, sought to portray the meetings as a success and as reflecting a re-emergence of trans-Atlantic unity. . .

At the same time, an extremely important event between Turkey and Armenia looks to be on the horizon. Armenians had long held Turkey responsible for the mass murder of Armenians during and after World War I, a charge the Turks have denied. The U.S. Congress for several years has threatened to pass a resolution condemning Turkish genocide against Armenians. The Turks are extraordinarily sensitive to this charge, and passage would have meant a break with the United States. Last week, they publicly began to discuss an agreement with the Armenians, including diplomatic recognition, which essentially disarms the danger from any U.S. resolution on genocide. Although an actual agreement hasn’t been signed just yet, anticipation is building on all sides.

The Turkish opening to Armenia has potentially significant implications for the balance of power in the Caucasus. The August 2008 Russo-Georgian war created an unstable situation in an area of vital importance to Russia. Russian troops remain deployed, and NATO has called for their withdrawal from the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. There are Russian troops in Armenia, meaning Russia has Georgia surrounded. In addition, there is talk of an alternative natural gas pipeline network from Azerbaijan to Europe.

Turkey is the key to all of this. If Ankara collaborates with Russia, Georgia’s position is precarious and Azerbaijan’s route to Europe is blocked. If it cooperates with the United States and also manages to reach a stable treaty with Armenia under U.S. auspices, the Russian position in the Caucasus is weakened and an alternative route for natural gas to Europe opens up, decreasing Russian leverage against Europe.

From the American point of view, Europe is a lost cause since internally it cannot find a common position and its heavyweights are bound by their relationship with Russia. It cannot agree on economic policy, nor do its economic interests coincide with those of the United States, at least insofar as Germany is concerned. As far as Russia is concerned, Germany and Europe are locked in by their dependence on Russian natural gas. The U.S.-European relationship thus is torn apart not by personalities, but by fundamental economic and military realities. No amount of talking will solve that problem.

The key to sustaining the U.S.-German alliance is reducing Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas and putting Russia on the defensive rather than the offensive. The key to that now is Turkey, since it is one of the only routes energy from new sources can cross to get to Europe from the Middle East, Central Asia or the Caucasus. If Turkey — which has deep influence in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Ukraine, the Middle East and the Balkans — is prepared to ally with the United States, Russia is on the defensive and a long-term solution to Germany’s energy problem can be found. On the other hand, if Turkey decides to take a defensive position and moves to cooperate with Russia instead, Russia retains the initiative and Germany is locked into Russian-controlled energy for a generation.

Therefore, having sat through fruitless meetings with the Europeans, Obama chose not to cause a pointless confrontation with a Europe that is out of options. Instead, Obama completed his trip by going to Turkey to discuss what the treaty with Armenia means and to try to convince the Turks to play for high stakes by challenging Russia in the Caucasus, rather than playing Russia’s junior partner.

This is why Obama’s most important speech in Europe was his last one, following Turkey’s emergence as a major player in NATO’s political structure. In that speech, he sided with the Turks against Europe, and extracted some minor concessions from the Europeans on the process for considering Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Why Turkey wants to be an EU member is not always obvious to us, but they do want membership. Obama is trying to show the Turks that he can deliver for them. He reiterated — if not laid it on even more heavily — all of this in his speech in Ankara. Obama laid out the U.S. position as one that recognized the tough geopolitical position Turkey is in and the leader that Turkey is becoming, and also recognized the commonalities between Washington and Ankara. This was exactly what Turkey wanted to hear.

The Caucasus is far from the only area to discuss. Talks will be held about blocking Iran in Iraq, U.S. relations with Syria and Syrian talks with Israel, and Central Asia, where both countries have interests. But the most important message to the Europeans will be that Europe is where you go for photo opportunities, but Turkey is where you go to do the business of geopolitics. It is unlikely that the Germans and French will get it. Their sense of what is happening in the world is utterly Eurocentric. But the Central Europeans, on the frontier with Russia and feeling quite put out by the German position on their banks, certainly do get it.

Obama gave the Europeans a pass for political reasons, and because arguing with the Europeans simply won’t yield benefits. But the key to the trip is what he gets out of Turkey — and whether in his speech to the civilizations, he can draw some of the venom out of the Islamic world by showing alignment with the largest economy among Muslim states, Turkey.

"The Armenians Under Turks: From The Seljuks To `Sahmanatroutyoun'"
Lecturer: Dr. Ohannes Kulak Avedikyan
Date & Time: Thursday, April 30, 2009 @ 7:30PM
Place: Merdinian Auditorium, 13330 Riverside Dr. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Directions: On the 101 FY Exit on Woodman, Go North and Turn Right on Riverside Dr.

Abstract: The lecture will cover the period from the invasions of the Seljuks to the Armenian Highlands to the establishment and fall of the Ottoman Empire. The cultural, social, political and national implications of the Seljuk invasions and the Ottoman Empire on the indigenous Armenian population of the region and the ensuing catastrophic developments will be discussed. The relatively well-to-do Armenian `Amiras' of Constantinople and their role in the development of the first `Sahmanatroutyoun' of the Armenians under the Ottoman Empire will also be assessed. The `Armenian Question' vis-Ã -vis the political maneuvers of the Ottoman Government with the European countries will be discussed and the ethnic, political and social environments that led to the organization and implementation the first Genocide of the twentieth century by the Turks will be highlighted. Light will be shed on the reasons and the circumstances of the perpetration of the most heinous crime of the century.

Ohannes Koulak Avedikyan. Born in 1946 in Kayseri (Gesaria) and moved with his family to Istanbul, Turkey in 1954. He received his elementary education in Sahagian-Nounian school and his secondary education in the Central National School in Istanbul. In 1965 he was admitted to the University of Istanbul, in the Biology department, where he established a biochemistry laboratory.

From his early childhood he was fascinated by the history of the Armenians and has ever since collected innumerable data on the origins, language, the kingdoms and the cultural and political developments of the Armenian nation. He moved to the USA in 1977 and attended the Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. He continued his education and graduated from the Samra University of Oriental Medicine as a specialist doctor in natural and oriental healing. He has served and continues to serve on the Board of the Union of Bolsahay, and heads the Cultural Committee. He has founded and served as the editor of the `Voice' magazine and has organized numerous cultural and educational activities.

Insight: Beyond The Obama Magic By Bridget Kendall, BBC NEWS, 2009/04/09
So Barack Obama is back home after his eight-day whirlwind odyssey -his first proper foray overseas as US President.

Time for him to snatch a family holiday with his girls and prepare for that new White House puppy there has been so much media chatter about.

Time for the rest of the world to mull over what has been learnt about his presidential priorities and promises for tackling global challenges.

There is no doubt that the contours of his foreign policy are taking shape.

A scattergun of speeches, high on rhetoric and rich in crafted messages, have targeted specific audiences.

And all, it seems, have been won over: enthusiastic Brits, excited continentals, gratified Turks, and weary, gritty US troops, still counting the days of their Iraq combat duty.

Humble tune

The range of his remarks has been impressive, the tone supple and carefully calibrated. Apart from one evening press conference in London where jet lag and a cold seemingly caught up with him, he was fluent and inspirational.

He marked clear blue water between himself and his predecessor. He admitted America had been wrong on some things and would change course if it made new errors.

This was a refreshingly humble tune to the ear s of foreigners who were infuriated by what they heard as a stubborn drumbeat of unilateralism from the previous president.

He did not dodge the awkward questions. Even the touchy issue of genocide which still enflames Turkish-Armenian relations was elegantly, though indirectly, dealt with. Without upsetting his Turkish hosts by repeating his campaign pledge for Armenia's grievance to be recognised, he delicately urged the two sides to focus instead on their mutual future.

And yet.

Heady though his rhetoric may be, it cannot entirely conceal curious inconsistencies and the shadow of future difficulties.

Take the perennially controversial question of America's global leadership.

"We have come to listen as well as lead... We may not always have the best answer," he and his officials repeated endlessly.

Perhaps it was different behind closed doors, but in public his folksy "town hall meetings" and press conferences were, above all, an opportunity for him to do the talking. It was his audience who did most of the listening.

Falling into step

His cadences reinforced the impression of a preacher, ready to inspire and guide a wandering flock. "The challenge is great... so many have lost so much," he intoned, an orator up high upon a podium - even if he did deliberately deflate the balloon of his own authority now and again with conversational humour. "I think we did OK," he replied at one point about the G20 summit, with disarming simplicity.

The point is that Barack Obama still wants to proclaim the fact of American exceptionalism.

"America is a critical actor on the world stage and we should not be embarrassed about that," he declared.

But the further point is that, in his case, America's allies are still ready to fall in step behind him... for several reasons.

He likes to argue that it is because his unlikely ascendancy to the presidency is an embodiment of his political message that anything is possible.

But he is also quite simply a global celebrity, a political rock star -the undisputed centre of attention at all the many summits he attended.

Recall only the exuberant shout of "Mr Obama" by Silvio Berlusconi at the Queen's photo shoot - so loud that it earned the Italian Prime minister a royal reprimand.

Remember the cat-like grin on the face of Gordon Brown as he basked in President Obama's praise of his London summit-hosting skills and the reassurance that Britain still somehow merits a "special relationship".

Mantle of leadership

And look closely at that picture of the Obamas posing for cameras next to the French presidential pair in Strasbourg. Nicholas Sarkozy stands on anxious tiptoe next to his willowy wife, but is utterly dwarfed by the towering figures of Michelle and Barack Obama. It had a symbolic resonance, as though European leaders preoccupied=2 0with internal rivalries and their own self importance, lack the stature to see President Obama's further horizons.

And that, perhaps, is the third reason why President Obama can get away with claiming that the US still deserves the mantle of global leadership. His vision is bold and his mission, he tells us, is to galvanize international collective action to solve not just problems of the next four or eight years, but of future generations.

George W Bush fought a war on terror. Terrorism remains one of Barack Obama's scourges too, but so does global warming and a newly revived nightmare of Armageddon from misplaced nuclear weapons.

No longer does the US President invoke a fight for freedom and democracy as the cure for the world's ills, as George W Bush did. Barack Obama's call is to liberate humankind from fear, of the cataclysmic natural and man-made disasters that may overwhelm us if we don't act together.

But a few niggling loose ends mean there are a few contradictions here.

Firstly, yes, the apocalyptic vision may be different. But examine policy on a day-to-day level, and the dividing line between the old Bush and new Obama administration look decidedly smudgy. For all Obama's talk of change, the general direction of American foreign policy is surely rather familiar.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the exit strategies rest on training up the local army and police to do the security job themselves.

On Middle East Peace, the aim remains to get the Israelis and Palestinians to talk about a two-state solution, with no indication yet that the White House might rethink its refusal to talk to Hamas or Hezbollah militants.

On Iran the policy is still carrot and stick, though the carrot has been sweetened slightly by the inclusion of Americans in the official negotiating team.

And even President Obama's much vaunted reset button in relations with Russia has broken no real new ground yet- either on missile shields or Nato expansion. An offer to sit down with Russia to discuss new cuts in nuclear arsenals is exactly where Presidents Bush and Putin started out - and look how that love affair ended.

Secondly, how does one join up the dots between Obama the visionary, whose goal is to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other threats, and Obama the pragmatist, who sees the way to do this is to use US leadership to "guide a process of orderly integration"?

If his philosophy is to engage with global leaders across the board, how far is he prepared to go? Is he still willing to confront nations about human rights abuses or other worrying behaviour?

Or has the bigger strategic goal of repairing relations with Russia and China eclipsed the human rights agenda, so that from now on issues like Russia's still incomplete withdrawal from Georgian territory, or China's treatment of protestors20in Tibet will be put firmly on the backburner?

Is Obamaland a return to realpolitik and an end to alliances built on values?

And there is a third area of apparent contradiction.

On the one hand President Obama sends a message of flexibility, an appreciation of complexity. But he sometimes comes across as a leader who, when pushed, will put his foot down.

In Strasbourg, addressing young Europeans, Barack Obama declared that the fight to keep al-Qaeda at bay did not need to lead to a compromising of moral values. This was why he was closing the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, he said, and outlawing the use of torture in interrogations.

In Prague he argued that the rules to prevent transgressions against nuclear agreements must be binding, and "violations must be punished."

In Ankara, indicating his support for the Turkish government's fight against the Kurdish militant movement PKK, he announced "there is not excuse for terror against any nation."

It sounds so principled and categorical: an American President prepared to send tough messages and take decisive action.

" Not all nations want to be guided into a 'process of orderly integration' "

And he has already shown there is a hint of a streak of ruthlessness in him.

Take his determination to keep going with US airstrikes on suspected al-Qaeda hide outs in Pakistan's border areas, despite the risk of civilian=2 0deaths and government protests.

Take his readiness at home to contemplate bankruptcy for giants of the US car industry.

And take the steel in his voice when he addressed European leaders about his expectation that they would step up to the plate to do their bit when it came to more resources for Afghanistan.

At the moment he can do no wrong, but once the honeymoon is over and Obamamania subsides, there is plenty of room here for tensions and resentments.

But the final twist is that the Obama vision of a world that is willing to pull together, and the Obama method of using the weapon of rhetoric and persuasion to win over converts, has already run into the brick wall of reality.

Not all leaders are susceptible to the Obama magic. Not all nations want to be guided into a "process of orderly integration".

Only hours before his nuclear speech in Prague, the North Koreans made that abundantly clear. They defied American and global appeals and went ahead with their rocket test launch, threatening to raise the stakes still further if UN sanctions were tightened.

And in response, it turns out that not much has changed at the UN Security Council either. President Obama may speak winningly and the handshakes from last week's summits may paint a rosy picture of collaboration, but Russia and China have not budged from their recent reluctance to endorse more UN sanctions.

Business as us ual.

An early reminder that it will take more than fine speeches to reshape the world. And once the low hanging fruit of easy diplomatic gains have been plucked, the course of American foreign policy may be just as rocky as it has ever been.

We Mustn't Practice Self-Deception In Negotiations With Turkey 08.04.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Due to Armenian diplomacy NKR conflict no longer determines normalization of Armenian-Turkish ties, which greatly raises Azeri's concerns, Hay Dat Bureau Director Kiro Manoyan told a news conference today.

"Turkey was Baku's only lever of influence on Armenia. Despite Ankara's declarations that Turkey won't abandon Azerbaijan in NKR conflict, I believe that Karabakh issue is no longer a precondition in Armenian-Turkish negotiations, " Kiro Manoyan noted adding "Otherwise, Ilham Alivev would have attended "Alliance of Civilizations" project meeting in Istanbul."

Still, abandoning "Karabakh precondition" doesn't mean Ankara has altered its position on NKR conflict settlement. "Turkey will still be an ally to Azerbaijan and its protector in Karabakh conflict issue. We mustn't practice self-deception here," Kiro Manoyan emphasized.

Only 20% Of Armenians Favor To The Establishment Of Relations Between Armenia And Turkey
The Center for Strategic Studies "Ararat" was conducted in March to an opinion poll among 200 citizens of Armenia and the Diaspora on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia. According to the results of this survey, 61% of Armenians say they opposed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Yerevan and Ankara. Only 20% of respondents expressed support for the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement. Note that 74% of the respondents are citizens of Armenia and 26% of Armenians in the diaspora.
Krikor Amirzayan

Bringing The Hemshin Armenians To The Big Screen: An Interview With Hemshin Armenian Ozcan Alper , April 17, 2009
Ozcan Alper was born in 1975, in the small town of Artvin in north eastern Turkey. He first studied Physics at Istanbul University, but later opted for a change and graduated with a degree in History of Science. During this time, he grew interested in filmmaking and cinema and started working in alternative cinema groups. In 1999, he started his professional career in filmmaking and worked in several films and TV series as assistant director and production staff. His first short film, Momi (Grandmother), received several awards and was the first film ever shot in the Hemshin language (an Armenian dialect spoken in the north eastern Turkey). Sonbahar (Autumn) is his first feature film, which was supported by the Turkish Cultural Ministry. He also writes film reviews in Yeni Film, a well known cinema magazine in Turkey.

Our sister publication in Canada, Horizon Weekly, conducted an interview with Alper, which we present this week:

Horizon: What is the present situation of the Turkish movie industry? Are there any recent cases where censorship has been imposed on a film released in Turkey?

Ozcan Alper: During the past 15 years, people have been talking about a new Turkish cinema movement in Turkey. I myself cannot say if this is a new wave or not, maybe we should wait a little longer and see... But, if we look at the international film festivals of the last few years, the Turkish cinema is being mentioned more and more. The directors from my generation are seen as the continuation of that movement. Well, we can say that there is a definite progress towards something better.

Compared to the olden days, we can't really say that there is an open pressure or strain on the movies released. But, I think there is still some type of self-imposed censorship present. For example, there was a film made regarding Ataturk called Mustafa, written by a very famous writer. The government officials didn't really say anything about the movie, but the general public and the public leaders started a campaign against the film and the writer, almost like a lynch campaign.

We really don't know the limits or boarders of this pressure. For example, if one was to make a movie on the Kurdish or Armenian issues in the country, openly going against the popular beliefs and thoughts of the general public, no one knows what the repercussions will be.

H: In your second film, Sonbahar, there is the subject of the search for identity. Why was this film based on this subject?

O. A: Maybe this has to do with individual sentiment, but I think for me, it could have something to do with becoming aware of one's own culture and language afterwards in life. Understanding your identity through your past and the land that you were born on. These aspects and the melodies of the people, the voices of the soil, of the wind, and of the sea are important for me. I also firmly believe that all these local ways of life are common for all of humanity universally.

H: What is the present situation of the Hemshin villages? Why is the new generation leaving the villages and settling in the urban areas?

O. A: Only the elderly and the children remain in the villages. The younger generations go to universities or work in the big cities. But over the summer months, almost everyone returns to their homes and the population doubles. The villagers are mostly farmers and the income that they receive from their hard work is not sufficient enough to take care of the whole family.

H: What kind of a reaction did your movie receive by the Hemshinli, the Turks and internationally.

O. A: The Hemshinli reaction was very interesting because when I was filming Momi, even the Hemshinli leaders showed trepidation and negative response. I made Sonbahar eight years later and I realized that the reaction was totally different. Having someone from their own background and culture become famous within Turkey and internationally made them proud and happy. The same people started saying that I was reviving and awakening the Hemshin culture. The young Hemshinlis especially showed a lot of interest and started studying their own dialect.

A big part of the film has to do with the Turkish Left (socialists). For that reason, they too showed a lot of interest and support. The movie premiered on Dec 19 (the day that the Turkish government imprisoned the socialists years ago). Since, more than 150,000 people have seen it, more than 40 Turkish cities had panel discussions regarding the movie and the subject matter. It was also supported by the workers' group and government employee unions.

On an international scale, the movie was shown in about 20 countries and film festivals. Some very important international film magazines wrote articles on the movie, such as Variety in the US and Screen in Europe.

In the end, to be attending the New Directors/New Films Film Festival in New York is a huge break for us, because this film festival selects the first or second movies made by new directors. So, to be picked from thousands of other films and to be a part of the first 15 movies is a very important step.

Sevres Treaty As An Armenian Precondition To Talks With Turkey? 2009/04/18 Shushan Stepanyan Hetq
At a press conference held earlier today Turkish studies specialist Raffi Kurtoushyan stated, “Turkish politicians and reporters are always talking about three preconditions, of which only two are discussed in Armenia. And these are misleading.”

Mr. Kurtoushyan noted that besides the issue of the 1915 Genocide and Karabakh, the third precondition of Turkey is that Armenia sign off on the 1921 Treaty of Kars.

The major aim of Turkey, which isn’t mentioned in Armenia, is the signing of the Kars Treaty. Turkey can ask - how can I open the border if you, without signing the treaty, do not formally recognize me? If Armenia were to take such a step it would mean that we’ve formally given up on Kars and Surmalu in eastern Armenia and all of western Armenia.”

Mr. Kurtoushyan noted that Turkey mad the same ploy regarding Cyprus. “We just can’t sit and state that we don’t want any preconditions. Armenia has to respond with such a set of preconditions that Turkey will back down from claiming theirs.”

The Turkish specialist proposed that Armenia demand the exclusion of the Karabakh issue from the agenda and that, “If they are pointing to the genocide issue as a precondition, we must come back with the issue of the Etchmiadzin diocesan properties and those that belonged to the Cilician Catholicosate. What’s become of these holdings? They want to open up the archives? Great, but we should request that they open up their property registers to see what’s happened to the properties once belonging to Armenians.”

Mr. Kurtoushyan suggested that if Turkey puts forth the Kars Treaty as a precondition to normalized relations then, “we must put on the table the Sevres and Lausanne treaties. If they want a committee of historians, fine. But we should demand a committee to look at these treaties as well. Let’s discuss the entire range of issues and come to some overall declaration.

Cost Of The Matter: Activization Of Russian Diplomacy In The Relations With Azerbaijan And ArmeniaWPS April 17, 2009 Russia
Absence of external forces promoting their own objectives is what makes the conflict over Karabakh unique.

Clearly aiming to justify Russia's claim for a special part in Karabakh conflict settlement, activization of its diplomacy in the relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia brings to mind the matter of the republics denied international recognition. Lots of Serbska Kraina, Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and finally Chechnya were sealed in one way or another by the end of the decade. Abolition of the counter-terrorism operation regime in Chechnya yesterday is but a delayed epilogue to the erstwhile separatism in this republic.

Without going into international corollaries of sovereignty of Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, we must admit that chances of their return into the former mother countries are essentially non-existent. The Trans-Dniester conflict remains unsettled for the time being but not hopeless.

The Karabakh issue in the meantime is probably the worst difficult of them all. The matter was first raised in 1987 when all other ethnic problems in the USSR were still dormant. War over Karabakh, the longest and fiercest in all of the post-Soviet zone, resulted in occupation of the self-proclaimed republic and five districts of Azerbaijan it never comprised. Last but not the least, vicious ethnic and religious hatred is probably the worst legacy of this particular war.

There is only one positive factor in all of the Karabakh situation, but this factor is of paramount importance. What sets Karabakh conflict apart from all others is that there are no external forces involved. The West (including the United States and Europe) and Russia maintain even and friendly relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. These relations preclude attempts to substitute an approach based on international law with double standards. Not that Azerbaijan will join the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (at least before settlement of the conflict with Armenia) of course, but neither does GUAM (an alternative to the Commonwealth) appear to have any future.

Considering that neither warring side seems to be eager to see the conflict escalate into a shooting war again, formulation of realistic tasks seems to be the high priority of the Russian diplomacy and, broader, diplomacies of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasian Economic Community. Like encouragement of a dialogue and advancement of the atmosphere of trust instead of plans of immediate conflict settlement.

The whole situation is unique in the practice of international relations because interests and intentions of all external forces with regard to the conflict itself and the warring sides comply with one another. Should Russia prove its efficiency as the intermediary, everyone will benefit from it.

Turkey’s Agenda, Condensed b.dedeoglu at todayszaman.com
We don't know if many countries have an agenda that is made up of quickly changing issues, but in Turkey it changes with tiring intensity.

New arrests in the Ergenekon trial, the arrest of Democratic Society Party (DTP) members, the turning of Turkey-Armenia relations into a Turkey-Azerbaijan crisis and a long speech the chief of general staff made while addressing the press all took place in the same week, though this is probably a coincidence.

Each of these events has triggered another debate. Those who perceive the Ergenekon trial as a government effort to discard opponents have started to increase their criticism. As the trial corresponds to an account with Turkey's past and its tradition of military coups, it necessarily involves an agenda that challenges the law and the judicial system. Judicial errors committed during the trial are being transformed into allegations that the leading power is involved in a civilian coup d'état; while, in the meantime, unresolved assassinations, military coup attempts, unlawful money transfers and those who call people to violence can all be forgotten. There is an increasing tendency of diverting the focus of the trial, inspired by judicial errors, by questioning the system being used in the case. This in turn causes the whole case to be reduced to politics being conducted by the leading party.

Similarly, arrested DTP members claim that the leading power is seeking revenge for the recent local elections and identify those who act within the scope of information provided by US intelligence regarding Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)-DTP relations as serving the government. Consequently, when the need for the Kurdish movement to settle its own account as part of Turkey's facing up to its history is mentioned, objections arise. Again, the issue becomes locked to politics being conducted by the leading power; the issue of DTP-PKK relations is put on the backburner.

Similarly, the developments in Armenia-Turkey relations also mean facing up to the past. This settlement of past accounts covers the Armenian question, on the one hand, while it also covers the relations built up with Azerbaijan up until today and the involved players, on the other. As a result, the responsibility of investigating a series of attempts at authoritarianism and their international links as well Turkey's coup attempts of the recent past have also been placed on the shoulders of the leading government party.

The chief of general staff has briefly let us know that the army, although more tolerant, is still a player in politics.

When all these developments are considered jointly, it becomes evident that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is the target, as it is the one who fueled the search for a new Turkey; this is because none of the other parties support the adjustments by claiming that the government is doing only part of what is necessary. Furthermore, the arguments are based on the sharp conviction that the government has absolute power over the judiciary. No one is mentioning (within the context of the Ergenekon discourse) that there are laws and a separation of powers in this country.

Maybe those who oppose all of these attempts, that is, the groups that took part in state administration before the AK Party, know that the judiciary was not independent and think that this still remains so. The problem then is about which political inclination will gain the upper hand in influencing the judiciary; the issue of exercising influence over the judiciary is not seen as a problem in itself. It might be that it is the legislative system at hand that makes all this possible. This time, the problem is not the legislative system per se, but who is using it.

The evolution processes of states cannot be achieved solely by governments; if governments commit mistakes, they will likely not be re-elected to another term. What remains are those who wait for a new future and institutions. Accordingly, the environment which feeds the division between the ruling party and the remainder does not help in bringing about a more democratic and transparent future. It points to a process that does not promise a better future for the rest. Rather, it facilitates leading the government into error.
18 April 2009, Zaman

Is Turkey Neglecting Azerbaijan’s Concerns?
When Foreign Minister Ali Babacan traveled to Yerevan on Thursday to attend the 20th Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Foreign Ministers Council at a time when there were increasing calls and contacts for the normalization of ties between the estranged neighbors, Turkey and Armenia, some attributed a special meaning to this trip, saying that Turkey and Armenia will open their common border following this visit.

The prospects of Turkey opening the border with Armenia without the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has already prompted a reaction from Azerbaijan, Turkey's ethnic and strategic ally, though Ankara has previously said any normalization with Armenia is contingent on a resolution of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been under Armenian occupation since 1991. Azerbaijan fears that prospects of a rapprochement between Ankara and Yerevan on the grounds that it will lose key leverage in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute if Turkey opens its border and restarts diplomatic ties with Armenia, but Turkish analysts find Azerbaijan's concerns unfounded, saying that what Turkey is trying to do at the moment is make use of diplomatic channels.

Zaman's Mustafa Ünal, who is among the reporters accompanying Babacan during his trip to Yerevan, concludes from Babacan's statements that Turkey and Armenia have reached a critical turning point regarding rapprochement talks and that Turkey will never neglect the concerns of Azerbaijan. Regarding Baku's uneasiness over the possibility about a normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, Ünal thinks Azerbaijan's reaction is important in that it shows the international community that the problem is a very complicated one and has more than one aspect.

According to Bugün's Ahmet Taşgetiren, no one knows what was said behind closed doors about the Turkey-Armenia relations. He says the diplomacy pursued by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government leads to an impression that Turkey will neglect Azerbaijan's sensitivities in order to fulfill the United States' demands about normalizing ties between Turkey and Armenia. In Taşgetiren's view, though, neither President Abdullah Gül nor Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government will engage with Armenia in a way that ignores Azerbaijan's interests. "Turkey is trying to produce a win-win formula which will satisfy the Turkish, Azerbaijani and Armenian publics," he remarks.

Milliyet's Taha Akyol finds Azerbaijan's concerns and reactions a little meaningless because he says Turkey is holding the border issue as a trump card in its hand until the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is resolved. "Diplomacy has thin corridors and fragile maneuvers. Azerbaijan has common interests with Turkey not only in terms of 'brotherhood' but also in terms of 'overall strategy.' This is a similar process now. It is important not to skip such common interests. Problems in the Caucasus are very complicated and there will surely be diplomatic maneuvers," writes Akyol.

Yeni Şafak's Fehmi Koru says there are no developments in Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, which deserves a reaction from Azerbaijan. He says the closed borders will not reopen tomorrow. What is happening, according to Koru, is this: Until recently, Turkey was not making any effort to change the status quo in the Caucasus; now it wants to break the deadlock and see politics for normalization. Turkey has no intention of losing Azerbaijan, but it intends to win Armenia and is looking for ways to achieve this.
18 April 2009, Zaman

U.S. Ambassador To Turkey Answers Questions In Internet Chat PanArmenian, Anadolu Agency, April 17 2009
Top U.S. diplomat James Jeffrey in Turkey chatted online with Turkish and U.S. people and answered their questions on Turkish-U.S relations.

James Jeffrey said the United States had a variety of actions in support of Turkish military operations to help its NATO ally protect itself against attacks from across the border.

"The Turkish military operations have been very successful, but we are constantly in contact with the Turkish authorities on what further steps we can take with the authorities in Iraq and in support of the Turkish military to ensure a secure Turkey," Jeffrey said.

Asked about relations between Turkey and Armenia, Jeffrey said, "President Obama visited Turkey and clearly stated his support for a constructive solution between Turkey and Armenia. At this moment, our focus is on how, moving forward, the U.S. can help Armenia and Turkey work together to develop a common future of peace, security, and prosperity and to come to terms with their shared past. And we are encouraged by recent Turkish and Armenian efforts in this area."

Upon a question regarding the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Jeffrey recalled a statement made by the U.S. Army European Commander, General Carter Ham. Ham recently told reporters, "we are not aware of any plans by CENTCOM to withdraw troops through Turkey, but we appreciate Turkey's support in this process." (TC-BRC)

Armenian Assembly Ensures That Searing Eyewitness Account Of The Armenian Genocide Reaches Congress
Washington, DC - The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), as a part of Genocide Prevention Month, will ensure that every Member of Congress receives a copy of Grigoris Balakian's Armenian Golgotha. The memoir, translated by New York Times best-selling author Peter Balakian, along with Aris Sevag, provides a detailed, firsthand account of the untold horrors witnessed during first genocide of the 20th century.

Grigoris Balakian was an Armenian priest who was arrested, along with 250 other Armenian Community leaders, by the Ottoman Turkish government in Constantinople on April 24, 1915. This fateful night marked the beginning of the systematic genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians living in Anatolia.

Peter Balakian commented, "My Great Uncle Grigoris' story is one of survival, of hope against hope. It is full of shrewd insights into the political, historical, and cultural context of the Armenian genocide-the template for the subsequent mass killings that have cast a shadow across the twentieth century and beyond. One for the ages, this comprehensive eyewitness account will deepen our understanding about the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and inspire our lawmakers to take action to ensure that the Genocide is recognized and the victims are remembered."

Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory praised Armenian Golgotha, stating, "It constitutes a thundering historical proof that those who deny the Armenian Genocide are engaged in a massive deception."

On April 24, when President Obama issues his first statement on the Armenian Genocide, the Assembly fully expects him to honor his pledge and affirm the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.

We encourage all people of goodwill to help us end the cycle of genocide denial by visiting the official website for genocide recognition at ArmenianGenocideAffirmation.com.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

Thoughts Near Ararat: Geopolitics As Seen By Residents Of A Borderline Village By Karine Ionesyan ArmeniaNow reporter
A full-flowing river, valleys of various shades, a poplar tree, a famous bird standing on one leg - the stork, and, of course, biblical Mount Ararat in the image of the Sleeping Beauty.

This is how Western Armenia usually looks on the canvases of Armenian artists. And the villagers of Margara witness the reality depicted on those canvases every day, but the happiness of enjoying the scenery is given only to the characters in the painting - the storks. This is where Armenia and modern Turkey are divided by a 268-kilometer border that has remained closed since the 1930s (in 1991-1993 the border was briefly opened for trade). First it was where the Iron Curtain ran during the Cold War era separating Soviet Armenia and NATO-allied Turkey. But since the break-up of the USSR and Armenia's independence Turkey has made the opening of the border conditional on the resolution of the long-running Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Turkey insists on a settlement that would favor its ethnic ally Azerbaijan as well as the end of the worldwide Armenian push for the recognition by the world's governments of the World War I-era killings of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide - something that the successive Turkish governments have vigorously denied for decades.

In the recent period, Armenian-Turkish political relations have undergone new developments.

Conversations around this topic of opening the Armenian-Turkish border began to circulate in the village of Margara, in Armavir province -some 40 kilometers southwest of Yervan - as this is the only village that has a possibility of an immediate borderline connection to Turkey - a concrete bridge - over the river.

Most of the 1,500 residents of the village believe that after the opening of the border they would see improvement in their lives.

"I get a pension of 42,000 dram (about $110), but I have six children with their families, none of whom works," says 75-year-old resident Kostan Philiposyan. "The border will be opened, trade will develop, the price of land will increase, tourists will come, and our folks will have jobs."

Should the border open, Kostan says his first steps would be to go see his mother's birthplace in Igdir, the town closest to Margara - about 30 kilometers away.The elderly man tells with tears in his eyes that his mother lost almost all her relatives at age 16. "My grandfather had said to my mother and uncle that he was going back for their relatives. He marked a stone with red to be able to find the way back afterwards, but he never came back. So, only my mother and brother were saved thanks to the bridge leading to Margara, which was made of wood then."

Kostan says that the opening of the border does not mean that they are forgetting everything and forgiving the Turks, nor are they ready to return Karabakh's lands, "even if the authorities decide so, the people will oppose it, as we had shed blood there."

In any case, the villager says he is ready to accept Turks as neighbors. "My father died during World War II in Germany, does that mean we must not communicate with Germans?"

Kostan wishes for the Margara bridge to be opened as it was opened once in the 1980s , when 4,000 tons of wheat were brought to Armenia from Greece (via Turkey). But for 20 years conversations on opening it have led to stalemate.

"When the Armenia-Turkey soccer game took place, we thought the fans would come through Margara, but that did not happen. If they want to open it now, they must start construction work on the roads already. They haven't started yet, therefore I don't believe the border will be opened. They may open it near Gyumri, as there's a railway there, but here? - I don't know," says Hayk Aramyan, who has been headmaster of a local school for 16 years.

Aramyan says the 200 children studying at school are also excited by the speculations about opening the border - according to him, the young generation understands well what is profitable for today. "Once in 1994, Turkish businessmen came to Armenia. They decided to take a walk around Armenian markets as well, after which they said that if the border was opened, the prices of the goods imported from Turkey would be twice as cheap."

It is mostly Kurds who reside on the Turkish side of the borderline regions, with whom Turks often have disagreements. Aramyan wishes for the border to open, but he has one concern, "if it is opened, the Kurds will also get rich, and I don't think Turks need that."

The school headmaster doesn't think there can be contradictions between Turks and Armenians. He says that during so many years he has been cautious, but also on some occasions happened to share both food and drink with Turks.

Margara village has only 300 hectares of farmland, of which 200 hectares are in the monitored zone. Every year, village residents get special permits from locally stationed Russian border troops to get access to their farmland across the barbed wire.

Head of the rural administration Khachik Asatryan says that no extraordinary cases of border conflict were registered during these years.

Asatryan has no answer to the question whether the border will eventually be opened or will remain closed. He says he is "too small a person" to make conclusions. "But if the President of the country makes such statements, that's probably how it's going to be."

No matter, he says he will continue to look at Ararat every day, even at night, with his children, telling them about the historical lands of Western Armenia and the Genocide, as his parents once told him, and as their parents had once told them.

Time For Truth: Turkey Reneged But President Obama Must Not Jirair Haratunian www.aaainc.org
The Turkish government has bowed to pressure from Baku and retreated from its earlier negotiating stance that the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue was not a precondition to restoring bilateral relations with Armenia. The Anatolian News Agency reported that Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference on April 10, "We will not sign a final deal with Armenia unless there is agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Nagorno Karabakh." Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian protested these Turkish assertions and said that during the entire negotiations the Karabakh question had never been linked with progress towards normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey.

Erdogan's insistence on a precondition regarding Nagorno Karabakh effectively shuts the door on any early agreement. It dashes the hopes that at long last Turkey would demonstrate the political will to begin the process of normalizing relations with Armenia.

Turkish reneging will embarrass the American president. It contradicts President Barack Obama's praise of Turkey and Armenia for the diplomatic progress they were making to reopen their common border and resolve their long standing problems. It also removes any pretext to fear that an Obama reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide will upset the prospects for reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey. Erdogan, himself, removed that argument.

Armenian-Americans must now redouble their efforts to insist that President Obama move from implicitly acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, as he did in Turkey, to explicitly and unambiguously reaffirming of the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.

Obama's reputation is at stake. His credibility as an honest leader whose word is his bond will be lost if he too reneges.

But beyond an American affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, it is equally important for Washington to condemn Turkey's regression in the process that began when Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Yerevan in response to President Serzh Sargsyan's football diplomacy initiative.

Until a few weeks ago there were expectations that a breakthrough was imminent. There was public speculation that an agreement might be announced while Obama was in Turkey, or perhaps when Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan attends the Black Sea Economic Conference (BSEC) later this month in Yerevan. One time line has passed without an agreement, and clearly the other will as well.

This failure also portends new roadblocks in the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh problem, as it will embolden Baku to resist any compromise.

Ironically, recent American actions held out hope for progress on both the Nagorno Karabakh diplomatic front and Turkish Armenian relations. President Obama met privately with Foreign Minister Nalbandian in Istanbul and then convened a meeting with the foreign ministers of Armenia, Turkey, and Switzerland. Apparently the Swiss were prompted to act as follow-up conciliators. Obama also telephoned Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev from Istanbul urging progress on the Nagorno Karabakh issue and the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

Obama's meetings in Istanbul were preceded by other important Washington initiatives. It was reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had earlier telephoned President Sargsyan and a personal letter had been delivered to the Armenian government by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza.

It is a pity that all this effort might be for naught. Ankara has missed a unique opportunity to become a positive force in the troubled region on its eastern border. It also causes President Obama's hope that Turkey can face the dark pages of its history to ring hollow. If Turkey cannot withstand the displeasure of Azerbaijan in the matter of opening its border with Armenia, it can hardly be relied on to overcome regressive Turkish nationalists who oppose any concessions on relations with Armenia or the Nagorno Karabakh problem.

It is now up to Washington to challenge Ankara by making it clear that despite President Obama's expressed hopes, Turkey cannot be a bridge between the West and East so long as it blockades Armenia and retains its unconscionable denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Openings Closed One After Another?
Turkey has foreign policy positions that recall trenches in battlefields. These positions, established after the creation of the republic, are considered solutions to problems inherited from the Ottoman state. These are the positions with regard the Armenian and Kurdish questions and the Greek dossier, always on the agenda due to the unresolved Cyprus conflict. There have been no significant changes in any of these three policies since 1923.

On the Armenian position, expectations rose high after the visit President Abdullah Gül to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and secret bilateral talks held in Geneva since August 2007. The expectation has peaked due to the visit of U.S. President Obama and the upcoming April 24 commemoration day. But, at least for now, Turkey’s border with Armenia remains closed. This time we heard from Prime Minister Erdoğan himself that he doesn’t lean on the package designed by diplomats of the two countries. His remarks Ğ "We cannot seal any deal that would hurt Azerbaijan" Ğ helped close this case. And now we even have a Web site on this approach: www.turkiye-ermenistan-kapilar-acilmasin.org (let’s not open the doors with Armenia).

Things way over our heads
It is extremely difficult for Turkey to resolve the Armenian issue through the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Moreover, it is Turkey who, by closing unilaterally its border with Armenia in 1993 to show solidarity with Azerbaijan, has tied its hands for any bilateral deal with Armenia. This time, Azerbaijan, despite being constantly informed about the course of Turkish-Armenian talks, is enraged and this is probably nurtured by Russia. I didn’t say "Russia can remove Turkey from the Caucasus equation easily" for nothing. So can Iran. Iran having excellent relations with Armenia has no problem with Azerbaijan either.

Apparently, the Karabakh issue is more than Turkey can handle. Russia keeps Azerbaijan and Armenia in its hands and laps because of the Karabakh conflict and doesn’t want any durable solution. Armenia clearly depends on Russia: military and strategic relations, patrolling of the Turkish border, handsome Russian military bases, and a strong support in energy supply and in the Karabakh feud. Alright!

But in this case, where does this Russian love of Azerbaijan come from, as Azerbaijanis are supposed to seek alliances against the Armenian-Russia axis? What makes Azerbaijanis dependent on Russia? None of the reasons that are valid in the Armenia-Russia partnership can explain Azerbaijan’s dependency on Russia. The main factor leaving Azerbaijan in the Russian sphere of influence is the authoritarian and antidemocratic regime inherited from the Soviets.

Just like the case in Armenia, by the way. But in fact Azerbaijan’s democratic evolution could bring alone a solution to the Karabakh conflict. In a referendum to be held in Karabakh, democratic guarantees for Karabakh Armenians, provided by Azerbaijan, would bring a solution. But for now, it is impossible for the Azerbaijani authoritarian regime to go through such an evolution. Therefore, its Armenian policy is limited with a tactless approach of "Armenians are poor, but I have oil. I will wait until they are exhausted and take Karabakh back in the end." Turkey has made itself hostage of this policy closing the Turkish side of the Armenian border in 1993.

The Cyprus stalemate, as one of our antique foreign policy positions, will be on the agenda over the weekend. Parties defending "no solution is the solution" may win the April 19 elections in Turkish Cyprus. As a result, settlement talks with Greek Cypriots may once again go to the wall although they were going well despite all odds. With no solution at sight, Turkey may continue to lose time and money in Cyprus as a result of nationalist ambitions in a way to confirm the remarks of British Foreign Secretary James Callahan, who said in the aftermath of the 1974 military intervention that "your army captured the island but in time the island would capture your soldiers." And the fate of Kurdish overture and talks going on with the Kurdistan Regional Administration in northern Iraq may look like that of Turkey’s Armenian and Greek overtures.

It is not painless to clear the past mistakes. Adding clumsiness and nationalist rhetoric on top creates new deadlocks at all fronts. And Turkey continues to pay an arm and leg for its nationalist obsessions.
Cengiz Aktar © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Obama Discredited Neocons' Campaign Against Turkey
US President Barack Obama's recent visit to Ankara confirmed the importance of Turkey and sidelined arguments by American neocons suggesting that the country is "moving away from the West," a senior Turkish diplomat said yesterday.

"While here, President Obama didn't use any definition for Turkey that would indicate that it's a part of 'the broader Middle East or broader Black Sea.' He nonetheless clearly described Turkey as part of Europe, in addition to confirming Turkey's central role in his speech in Parliament," the diplomat said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"I know there are those who like to debate Turkey's future. They see your country at the crossroads of continents, and touched by the currents of history. They know that this has been a place where civilizations meet, and different peoples come together. They wonder whether you will be pulled in one direction or another," Obama said in his speech on April 6.

"But I believe here is what they don't understand: Turkey's greatness lies in your ability to be at the center of things. This is not where East and West divide -- this is where they come together: in the beauty of your culture; in the richness of your history; in the strength of your democracy; in your hopes for tomorrow," he added, just before concluding his speech with a reaffirmation of "America's commitment to our strong and enduring friendship."

Ever since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government was faced with an "e-memorandum" from the military on April 27, 2007, in which the General Staff objected to the possible election of then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül as president and argued that he was an Islamist, numerous articles in both Turkish and foreign media have labeled the ongoing polarization and tension in the country as a battle for Turkey's soul.

A considerable number of those articles' authors have connections with think tanks favoring unilateralist neoconservative policies. "At the meetings between US and Turkish officials during Obama's visit, it was mutually confirmed that claims by certain US-based think tanks suggesting that Turkey has been shifting away from the West are not true," the same diplomat added.

When asked by Today's Zaman which side had raised the issue in the first place and whether any assessments were made concerning the reasoning behind such arguments, he declined further comment.
18 April 2009, EMINE KART Zaman

World Children To Join İzmir Youth Fest: Armenia Invited But Not Attending
Close to 1,000 youngsters from around the world will participate in a children's festival in Turkey, a Turkish official has stated. İzmir Gov. Cahit Kıraç announced on Monday that 950 children from 60 countries will be the guests of Turkish children during the 31st International Children's Festival.

"Children from around the world will come together in İzmir, bringing light to the future," Kıraç said. He also mentioned that Armenia had been invited to the festival but that there would be no participants from that country. The festival will begin with a parade from Alsancak pier on April 17. Children will travel to the Turkish capital and visit Anıtkabir, Atatürk's mausoleum, on April 20. The participating children will also visit historical and cultural attractions, including the ancient cities of Ephesus and Bergama, during their stay in Turkey.

The 89th National Sovereignty and Children's Day will be celebrated throughout Turkey on April 23. The visiting children will return to their countries from April 24 to 26. Every year on April 23, children from around the globe come together in Turkey to enjoy Children's Day celebrations and festivities in the hope that these memories of a friendly atmosphere will contribute to a future of enhanced brotherhood and peace among nations.
16 April 2009, TODAY'S ZAMAN

The Zones Of Resistance Toward Turkish-Armanian Rapprochement by Emre Uslu & Önder Aytaç*
Part I & Part II

As Turkish and Armenian diplomats start carving out possible rapprochement strategies, Turkish and Azerbaijani public dissatisfaction toward the process have emerged, which may negatively affect the process. It seems the rapprochement process has three major zones of challenge: the emotional zone, the strategic zone and the economic zone.

Within each zone there is the possibility of ruining the process, but the most important area of resistance is the emotional zone and the Azerbaijani-Turkish ones are not necessarily sympathetic toward Armenia. Thus public dismay toward the Armenian issues reduces the possibility of positive discussions between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. When we look into the emotional zone we see several factors feeding and maintaining its depth that need to be addressed during the dialogue toward reconciliation.

The first factor that feeds the emotional zone is of course the historical context in which Armenian and Turkish societies became emotionally separated from each other. In addition, the historical events between the two societies were used and are still being used to define the national identities that are opposed to each other. In order to construct Turkish or Armenian national identities, the painful events of history are kept alive in both societies, maintaining the emotional issues that are a challenge to a possible rapprochement. Perhaps the following two examples show how the historical context is such an obstacle. A few years ago in a TV interview, a journalist asked a man in Erzurum what he thought about the Armenian massacre. The man started leading the reporter by the arm and said, "What massacre? Let me take you to Erzurum Castle, where you will see that the blood of Turkish women and children who were murdered by the Armenian militia is still fresh. It has not dried -- you can touch the blood with your own hand." It is obvious from the interview that the man's emotions had hijacked his intellectual ability -- clearly it is not possible for blood to stay fresh for over a century. The interviewee was not exaggerating the events that took place a century ago, but in his mind he still held the belief about the blood and so his anger toward Armenians was undiminished. In addition, the Islamic belief that tells people not to consider martyrs as having died reinforced his belief.

Another example is that Armenians, especially those in the diaspora, have been taught to believe that if they visit Turkey they will be murdered. I personally witnessed this in one of my Armenian classmates in the US; at graduate school-level, she still believed that if she visited Turkey she would be killed just because she is Armenian.

The second fact that feeds the emotional zone is the nationalist discourse of domestic politics that creates the dichotomy that Turks were innocent and were forced to defend themselves in history; this discourse argues that Turks are still being forced by the West to defend their very existence. Similarly, the nationalist tone also exists in Armenian domestic politics, defining Turkey and Turks as the primary enemies of the nation. Because of the domestic political discourse in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the closed border between Turkey and Armenia has turned into a symbol of "brotherhood" between Azerbaijanis and Turks and a symbol of animosity between Armenians and Turks and Azerbaijanis.

Given that neo-nationalism, which consists of anti-West, anti-minority and anti-Islamic sentiments is on the rise and the neo-nationalist network in Turkey extends into the military and Turkish academia -- all able to stir up emotions toward the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement -- the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) needs to find a way to address this problem.

Perhaps one effective way of stopping the neo-nationalist nonsense is to stop funding these people from the pockets of the state and stop wasting the taxpayers' money in the name of "projects to defend Turkish positions in America."

For instance, a professor in America who recently received a grant of close to $1 million from Turkish institutions believed to be connected to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and who received support from the ministry to fund "projects" at his university moved the Azerbaijani press to state:

"Turkey's behavior was such that tomorrow no country in the region, including the Turkic republics, will take Turkey seriously. Turkey does these things because of European and American pressure. It is a pity that Turkey is not an independent country and nothing but a puppet of either the USA or the EU. In other words, if Turkey pursues its current foreign policy it will create the problems in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey is being led by the wrong people and the recent elections proved it. What should also be taken into account is that there is a very powerful Armenia lobby inside Turkey and especially within the AK Party. But I really think that public opinion in Turkey is very much against this. It will ruin Turkey's image; it's already ruined in the Turkish world."

This type of rhetoric in the Azerbaijani press of course stirs up Azerbaijanis minds against the Turkish intention of rapprochement with its neighbors and the sad part is, the rhetoric against the AK Party's policy is primarily funded by the AK Party-led government and Foreign Ministry in the name of projects to defend Turkish policies in academia. Don't you realize this, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Mr. Ali Babacan? Do you know how many "projects" are funded by your ministry and what the academics your ministry funds say about you and your government? Do you know the substance of the projects that are funded by your ministry? Most importantly, do these projects help or harm your ministry's policies toward the south Caucasus?

In this article, the second zone, the "strategic zone," will be examined.

Before examining the strategic zone, one needs to keep in mind that the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement is neither related to Turkey's "zero problem" with neighbors strategy per se, nor is it directly related to Turkey's fear of the possibility of US President Obama's administration recognizing the 1915 events as genocide. It is rather a combination of several factors -- including the US and European Union's strategic move to separate Armenia from the Russia-Iran bloc; the US strategy of limiting Azerbaijan's relations with Russia; and the development of a counter attack against Russia's recent strategies toward Central Asian countries including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan -- strategies which were considered a major setback for the US.

Within these contexts, Turkey's "zero problem" strategy and fears about the Obama administration are important factors in the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, but they are not the major reasons for it.

The Russia versus the US quarrel over winning Armenia creates a zone of challenge for the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that we can call a "strategic zone." In this zone there are two key factors that restrain the rapprochement. Both factors are related to Russian and US strategic planning in this region.

Russia, with her recent maneuvers toward the south Caucasus, including the Russia-Georgia war of last year and developing better relations with Turkey, has gained strategic advantages over US policies in the region. Thus, no government in the region, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, would want to ignore Russia when they are making strategically important policy shifts in their policy preferences. The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement could be one of the major policy shifts for Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia could fear losing the region if Armenia establishes better relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan.

More importantly, the Armenian military is almost fully dependent on Russian aid, particularly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia, therefore, cannot initiate a peace deal with Azerbaijan without receiving the green light from Russia. At this stage, it is not in the interests of Russia to allow Armenia to withdraw its troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Perhaps, for the very reason that Armenian foreign policy has been hijacked by Russia and is unable to maneuver, it needs to free itself from Russia first then take further steps. News reports on this issue indicate that the Turkish and Armenian diplomats who carved out the rapprochement plans should consider this aspect of the problem; reports indicate that the rapprochement plans only refer to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem being addressed in the future.

The second factor is Gazprom's strategic attacks to offer contracts with Central Asian countries -- especially the recently signed 'memorandum of understanding' with Azerbaijan and its contract with Turkmenistan -- aiming to limit the West's policies of securing the energy resources in the region. The US thinks that winning Armenia would help in its strategy to secure an alternative energy source to Russia. In the long run, creating an alternative energy corridor to lessen Europe's dependency on Russia would help the US to contain aggressive Russian foreign policy preferences. To develop a counter energy policy, Gazprom, on behalf of Russia, has signed strategically important energy deals with Central Asian governments to increase the Russian domination of energy resources. In this plan, Armenia is a strategic island from which Russia can maintain its military existence in the region and show its muscles to former Soviet republics. By using its advanced military power, Russia creates advantages through Gazprom in forcing regional governments to sign energy deals with Russia.

Knowing that Russia is seeking an opportunity to extend its influence in the region, Azerbaijani President Aliyev signaled that he would prefer to get closer to Russia. After Obama's call for a normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia, Aliyev asserted that any reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border could prompt Azerbaijan to change its "regional policy." In a speech leavened with not-so-subtle cautions for longtime ally Turkey, Aliyev told Azerbaijan's National Security Council on April 6 that Baku is "tracing potential geopolitical shifts in the region, and we are taking relevant measures." Aliyev added that Azerbaijan's oil and gas export policy will remain "flexible" and driven by national interests -- an apparently thinly veiled reminder to Turkey about Baku's ability to choose between Turkish-based and Russian-based supply routes for its hydrocarbon products. He added that "Azerbaijan has never interfered and will never interfere with [the] bilateral ties of other countries," the Turan news agency reported. (Eurasianet, April 7)

This complicated energy issue is another factor that restrains Armenia from taking progressive steps toward finding a common ground with Azerbaijan. Within this strategic maneuvering it is likely that the US will remind Azerbaijan of the Russian way of dealing with international relations. Once a state allows Russia to dominate its strategic interests, a small government would not easily disengage itself from Russia. On the other hand, Azerbaijan would want to see the US guarantee that Armenia will withdraw its troops from Azerbaijani territories. All in all, the key issue is how the US would ensure a peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

*Dr. Emre Uslu is an analyst working with the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Önder Aytaç is an associate professor at Gazi University's department of communications and works with the Security Studies Institute in Ankara.
16 April 2009, Zaman

The Obama Visit To Turkey: The Broader Context www.noravank.am 14 April 2009
Richard Giragosian is the director of the Yerevan-based Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS).

While Armenia views today's Barack Obama-Abdullah Gul meetings through the prism of border relations and genocide recognition, from the broader perspective of US national interests, Turkey is seen to now hold particular strategic significance, for three main reasons.

First, the Obama Administration recognizes Turkey's more recent role as a resurgent regional actor, with influence and access in the broader Middle East, the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Within this context, the Obama Administration is now seeking to leverage Turkey as a mediator or facilitator to deal with Syria and Israel and possibly even Afghanistan and Pakistan. Washington is also now considering a new Turkish role in supporting the US approach toward Iran as well.

Secondly, for the US, especially in the wake of the August 2008 war in Georgia, there is a new need for stability and security in the South Caucasus region. And for American interests, the possible breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian relations, and the resulting benefits of open borders and at least normal diplomatic relations between Ankara and Yerevan, offers a dynamic opportunity for greater regional stability.

Third, from the American perspective, Turkish cooperation is an essential requirement for US military needs in Iraq and even Afghanistan, as Turkey serves as a vital center for logistics and military operations in both theaters. In light of this broader context, the issues of the Armenian Genocide, and even Cyprus, are actually now seen as secondary considerations.

Yet as the aura of the Obama visit will soon start to fade, the limits of US-Turkish relations will become clearer, and even more considerable. The inherent limits of Turkey's role in support of the US strategic agenda are rooted in the reverse of the very same three factor outlined above.

First, no matter how attractive Turkey's new effort to reassert its role in the broader regions of the Middle East, Black Sea and the Caucasus, this is very much a Turkish initiative-based on Turkish interests and not designed to please or support either the US or the European Union. In fact, there is now clear evidence to the contrary, as Turkish leaders have strongly condemned Israel for its actions in Gaza, imposed strict new limits on NATO activities in the Black Sea and have even made it clear that the Turkish initiative in the Caucasus has more in common with Russian interests than with American goals. And judging by past Turkish efforts, such as inviting the leaders of both Iran and Sudan to Turkey, it does not seem very likely that Ankara will be too anxious to support Washington's foreign policy agenda, no matter how much they may like Obama (or his wife).

Second, Turkey was still the only NATO member to adopt a position of "neutrality" during the Russia-Georgia war, and actually imposed limits on US Navy ships attempting to reach Georgia during the crisis - each move reflecting its now close relationship with Russia, not Washington. And for the Caucasus, Turkey not only announced its "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform" without even informing the US (or NATO) in advance, it even withheld support for the US bid to obtain "observer" status in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization.

And third, in light of the Turkish perception of a threat from the emergence of the Kurds in northern Iraq, the only real ally for the Americans in Iraq, it is also unlikely that Turkey will assist or support US military operations in Iraq in any sincere or meaningful way. Rather, the Iraq and Kurdish issues only promise to remain fundamental obstacles in US-Turkish military relations for some time to come.Although the Obama visit can be seen as an important and symbolic event, Turkish and US interests seem likely to only diverge even further, while Turkey and Russia become closer. Such a more realistic assessment also affirms that the real burden for Turkish-Armenian relations rests with Ankara, not Yerevan or Washington.

For these reasons, President Obama seems unlikely to offer any clear or coherent recognition of the Armenian Genocide on this April 24. Beyond the immediacy of "will he/won't he" speculation of using the g-word, Turkish-American relations over the coming months may actually serve to bolster, not weaken, Obama's campaign promises to pursuing a strong and sincere recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Egoyan To Screen New Film On April 24 www.asbarez.com/ April 14, 2009
Filmmaker Atom Egoyan will be presenting a sneak preview of his latest film, Adoration, on Friday April 24 at the Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, CA. The showing will begin at 7:30 pm. Egoyan will lead a discussion on the film after the screening.

Adoration, written, produced and directed by Egoyan, tells the tale of a young French student who uses a school assignment on terrorism to delve into his own family's murky past. The film speaks to our connections with one another, with our family history, with technology and with the modern world.

The special sneak preview will be followed on April 25 by screenings of two of the director's earlier films, The Sweet Hereafter and Family Viewing at 7:30pm.

The screenings are being sponsored by Cinematheque, a non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms.

Since his 1984 debut Next Of Kin, Canada-based Armenian writer-director Atom Egoyan has been challenging and enlightening audiences with his profound meditations on alienation and isolation in modern life. His early films, including Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989) and The Adjuster (1991), established Egoyan as a fresh new voice in world cinema, and concerned themselves with the ways in which bureaucracy and technology interfere with interpersonal contact.

The size of his audience increased with the hit Exotica in 1994, and three years later Egoyan won international acclaim with his first adaptation, The Sweet Hereafter. This moving drama was based on a novel by Russell Banks, and it kicked off a series of adaptations for Egoyan that included the somber character study Felicia's Journey (1999) and the erotic thriller Where The Truth Lies (2005).

In 2002, Egoyan dealt with his Armenian heritage in the searing genocide drama Ararat. Egoyan is an Oscar nominee (The Sweet Hereafter) for director and screenplay and a four time Cannes Film Festival award recipient (in addition to nominations that didn't result in wins). His films are often told with fractured, complicated timelines that emphasize the burden of the past and the disjointed nature of contemporary existence.

About the Films:


The latest film written, produced and directed by Atom Egoyan speaks to our connections with each other, with our family history, with technology and with the modern world. Sabine (Arsinee Khanjian), a high school French teacher, gives her class a translation exercise based on a real news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend.

The assignment has a profound effect on one student, Simon (Devon Bostick), who lives with his uncle (Scott Speedman). In the course of translating, Simon reimagines that the news item is his own family's story, with the terrorist standing in for his father. Years ago, Simon's father (Noam Jenkins) crashed the family car, killing both himself and his wife (Rachel Blanchard),making Simon an orphan. Simon has always feared that the accident was intentional. Simon reads his version to the class and then takes it to the internet, creating a false identity that allows him to probe his family secret.

As Simon uses his new persona to journey deeper into his past, the public reaction is swift and strong. When an exotic woman reveals her true identity, the truth about Simon's family emerges. The mystery is solved and a new family is formed. Discussion following with director Atom Egoyan.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

After a fatal school bus crash devastates a small town, an aggressive attorney (Ian Holm) arrives to capitalize on the tragedy. As he tries to convince the townspeople to sue whoever (if anyone) is responsible for the accident, the lawyer deals with his troubled relationship with his drug-addicted daughter while his new neighbors deal with secrets and agonies of their own. Atom Egoyan adopts a fragmented, elliptical approach to Russell Banks' novel and creates a powerful ensemble character study.

Family Viewing (1987)

Two years before Sex, Lies, And Videotape, Atom Egoyan gave us this riveting exploration of video and its relationship to sex and voyeurism. A young man who feels alienated from everyone around him -- including his father and father's mistress, who live together in a highrise full of video equipment -- becomes involved with a young woman who works in the phone sex industry. As the plot reveals itself, connections between the characters (like the fact that the father uses phone sex as a tool in his lovemaking) emerge at the same time that all the technology around them creates distancing effects. Haunting and unpredictable, this is one of the best studies of voyeurism on film since Peeping Tom.

Crisis Group Issues Blueprint For Further Crisis By Ara Khachatourian
www.crisisgroup.org www.asbarez.com/ April 14, 2009

The International Crisis Group, a think tank that dispenses suggestions on conflict resolutions around the world, issued a report Tuesday entitled "Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders," in which it offers recommendation to Turkey and Armenia on opening of borders and what it calls reconciliation. The 40-plus-page report is more of a blueprint for further crisis--if not disaster--than a self-proclaimed resolution to what it calls a "dispute that has long roiled Caucasus politics, isolated Armenia and cast a shadow over Turkey's European Union (EU) ambition."

The ICG says, "Turkey and Armenia should seize their best opportunity yet to normalize relations, work on a new approach to shared history and open a European border that for nearly a century has been hostage to conflict."

Some of the pro-Turkish apparatchiks that make up the board of directors of this think tank are Morton Abramowitz, former US Ambassador to Turkey, former Congressman Steven Solarz an ardent supporter of Turkey who was on the Turkish government's payroll here in the US, Guler Sabanci, Chairperson of the Turkish giant Sabanci Holdings and Yegor Gaidar, the former Russian Prime Minister during the Azeri pogroms against Armenians in Baku and elsewhere.

ICG's Director of Europe Program Sabine Freizer identified Director of Armenian Center for National and International Studies Richard Giragosian as a collaborator on the report.

Freizer added that the impetus for the report was the reconciliation process that has been going on, as well as the Russia-Georgia war of last August.

The highly questionable timing of the release of this report clearly indicates yet another attempt to derail efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian says: "Sadly, the ICG reported prepared by Hugh Pope represents little more than a reworked version of the Turkish Embassy's latest talking points in opposition to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In its timing just prior to April 24th, its biased content, and its policy recommendations, it represents a painfully transparent effort to derail the growing momentum toward recognition this April by the U.S. President and Congress."

Among the recommendations the report offers are immediate agreement by Armenia and Azerbaijan to the OSCE Minsk Group principles and more problematic and dangerous element of urging Armenia to adhere to the 1921 Kars Treaty, to which Armenia was never a signatory. That secret treaty between USSR and Turkey delineated the current borders between Armenia and Turkey.

The report urges Turkey to not make the resolution of the Karabakh conflict a precondition, but rather make its ally, Azerbaijan, understand that d?tente between Turkey and Armenia would go a long way to ensure a preferred outcome to the Karabakh conflict resolution.

The international community, especially the US and EU, are also urged to resist efforts to recognize the Genocide and "Back up Turkey-Armenia reconciliation with projects to encourage region-wide interaction, heritage preservation and confidence building; and support as requested any new bilateral historical commission or sub-commission, development of archive management and independent Turkish- or Armenian-led scholarly endeavors to research into aspects of the 1915 events."

Citing the Turkish outpouring of support following the Dink assassination as well as last December's apology campaign, the report aims to paint a picture of increasing tolerance within Turkish circles to confront their history.

More importantly, however, the report paints a picture of a Diaspora divided with so-called hard-liners continuing to press for recognition of the Genocide and introduces the emergence of a new faction within the Diaspora--"the artistic ones"--who want to establish ties with Turkey, have Turkish friends and restore cultural monuments.

The delineated recommendations by the International Crisis Group open the door for a more prolonged crisis in the region that could have disastrous consequences for Armenia and Armenians around the world.

The recommendations speak to all the aspirations of Turkey and Azerbaijan and leave Armenia and Armenians around the world short-changed.

On the surface, all parties are being asked to make concessions in the interest of stability in the region. However, between the lines, the ICG wants Armenia to concede more than the others and make the most sacrifices in this shortsighted approach to regional peace.

Armenia has always agreed to negotiations without any preconditions. Yet, the report is a reiteration of all the preconditions being placed upon it by Turkey and, in a backhanded way, Azerbaijan. By asking the sides to immediately open the borders and establish diplomatic ties and, at the same time, adhere to OSCE Minsk Group principles, Armenia is effectively being put in a position to give up all of its historic rights without any guarantees of stability.

Armenia, and Armenians, must become more vocal in protecting national interests and reject any effort by governments or entities with special interests to define the course to be taken in the historic crossroads.

Perhaps the ICG should have entitled its report: "Armenia: Opening Wide, Opening Borders."

Soccer Diplomacy And The Road Not Taken By Khatchig Mouradian
www.hairenik.com April 11, 2009

An alternative perspective for building peace between Turkey and Armenians

Truth and Mercy have met together;
Peace and Justice have kissed.

Psalm 85
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

"The Road Not Taken" By Robert Frost

In this article[1], I examine the recent heightened diplomatic activity between Armenia and Turkey and the reasons behind the lack of progress in the negotiations despite the confidence with which they started. After providing the context and highlighting the inherent problems with the current state of affairs, I recommend accounting for power asymmetries and addressing the root causes of the problem during the dialogue between the two states.

The context

On Aug. 7, 2008, Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali triggering military intervention by Russia. By the time a ceasefire was reached on Aug. 12, Russia had made it clear that it would resort to all necessary measures to maintain the status quo in the region. Georgia's southern neighbor, Armenia, felt the effects of the confrontation. During the conflict, traffic was disrupted on an important highway connecting the two countries, stopping vital supplies from reaching Armenia.

There might have been another, less dignified, reason behind the urgency in which Turkey-Armenia dialogue was pushed forward by the Armenian authorities. Serge Sarkisian had been elected president only a few months before, and the elections were not only tainted with irregularities and fraud, but on March 1, the Armenian government's crackdown on the opposition had caused 10 deaths, including two security officers, and dozens of injuries. The international community was very critical of the presidential election[3] and its aftermath, and many experts argued that Sarkisian was hoping he would gain legitimacy abroad by giving impetus to dialogue with Turkey. After all, both Europe and the U.S. had been pushing for better relations between Turkey and Armenia for years.[4]

An important development had preceded the Russia-Georgia conflict-and launched what was later called "Soccer Diplomacy." Armenian president Serge Sarkisian had invited his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to visit Armenia and watch with him the Armenia-Turkey World Cup qualifier soccer match.

After the Russia-Georgia conflict, both the Armenian and Turkish sides gave new impetus to behind-the-scenes meetings at the level of foreign ministry officials, which culminated in Gul accepting the invitation a few days before the match. On Sept. 6, Gul's plane landed in Yerevan, making him the first Turkish president to visit the Armenian Republic.

I believe one word describes amply the reasons Turkey enthusiastically welcomed the initiative: genocide.

For several decades now, Turkey has been struggling against resolutions in parliaments around the world recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Twenty countries, including Russia, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, and Argentina, have already recognized the Armenian massacres and deportations as a genocide, citing the overwhelming consensus of historians and genocide scholars on this subject. On the other hand, official Ankara continues to vehemently deny that there was any genocidal intent towards the Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and it spends millions of dollars in its denial campaign, in which it lobbies politicians, entices support from journalists, funds academic denial efforts, suppresses education efforts on the Armenian Genocide, and presents denial assertions to the general public in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East (Israel especially).

The main battlefield for genocide recognition in recent years has been the United States, where a majority of Members of Congress support passing a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but at least twice in recent history, voting on such resolutions has been postponed/put on hold at the last minute.

With a Democratic majority in Congress, and with the prospects of an Obama/Biden victory high, there seemed to be a growing realization in Turkey that it would only be a matter of time before the U.S. officially recognized the Armenian Genocide.[5]

Under such conditions, a discussion about rethinking Turkey-Armenia relations started within the Turkish political and military establishment and was reflected also in the media. The hardliners argued that Ankara should not establish formal relations with Yerevan until the latter stops pursuing international recognition of the genocide and withdraws its forces from Nagorno-Karabagh.

The moderates, on the other hand, argued that the best strategy for Turkey would be to disrupt the harmony between the Armenian state, which has made genocide recognition one of its foreign relations goals, and the Armenian Diaspora-mostly comprised of the descendents of the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide-which has been pursuing genocide recognition worldwide for decades through lobbying and other forms of activism. By starting negotiations with the Armenian Republic and receiving concessions from it on the genocide recognition front, Turkey would create a schism between the diaspora and Armenia and undermine the passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S and other countries, they argued.

It is in this context that negotiations between Turkey and Armenia gained new momentum.

During the negotiations, one of the main issues Turkey was adamantly pursuing was the formation of a commission of historians to study the events of 1915-16 and decide whether or not they constituted genocide. In return, it offered the opening of the border and the establishment of diplomatic relations.

The conceptual context of Soccer Diplomacy

Here, it is important to highlight the fact that in general, Turkish diplomats and commentators do not view Armenians as a single monolithic block, but as three supposedly homogeneous blocks. The Armenians living in Turkey[6] (mainly in Istanbul) comprise the first group. These are, mostly, the descendents of the thousands of Armenians living in Istanbul during the genocide who were spared deportations and killings, because they lived in a metropolitan city, right under the nose of Western embassies, consulates, and missionaries. These Armenians today cannot even commemorate the genocide. In Turkey, these Armenians are regarded as "our Armenians" or the "good Armenians," as long as they do not speak out about the genocide and the continued discrimination they face. A prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was assassinated in 2007 because he was an outspoken critic of the Turkish establishment and called for the recognition of the suffering of the Armenians. The citizens of Armenia, the second group, are, according to the dominant rhetoric in Turkey, the "neighbors" who are under difficult economic conditions and do not mind forgetting the past and moving on, if the Armenian Diaspora leaves them alone. The Diaspora Armenians, the third group, are the "bad Armenians." They are Turkey's sworn enemies. They level accusations of genocide against Turks and try to undermine Turkey. These three stereotypes essentially describe the perception of most Turks. There is absolute ignorance and disregard to the plight of the genocide survivors and their descendents who were scattered around the world and rebuilt their communities after living in camps and in abject poverty, facing the threat of disease and death years after the genocide. In discussions in Turkey, the Diaspora Armenians-the descendents of genocide victims and survivors-need to be isolated and ignored. This is yet another example of official Turkey's reluctance to face the past and address the roots of the problem.

Soccer diplomacy: a misnomer

The exchange of ping-pong players in the early 70s between China and the U.S. that paved the way for President Richard Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972 became known "Ping Pong Diplomacy." When the Armenian president in 2008 extended an invitation to his counterpart to visit Yerevan and attend the soccer match, the media started referring to the Turkey-Armenia dialogue as "Soccer Diplomacy." While such a term could be fitting to rapprochement between two powerful countries like the U.S. and China, a similar description for Turkey and Armenia is misleading, because it assumes that Turkey and Armenia are "competing" on a level playing field. In the latter case, not only is there a glaring power asymmetry, but that power asymmetry is largely a result of genocide perpetrated by one of the sides against the other.[7]

Here is how Prof. Peter Balakian explains the power asymmetry during and in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide:

First, the asymmetry of power is a key element in the act of genocide. In 1915 the perpetrator used its military, its state bureaucracy, and an unequal social structure to enact a plan of extermination against a people who were a defenseless, Christian minority. The Turkish government's subsequent denial became a further manifestation of such radical asymmetry in which a large, strategically important nation-state uses all of its political and military means-including blackmail, coercion, and cajoling-to get third parties to cooperate with it in delegitimizing the history of the Armenian Genocide. The goal is to absolve Turkey of responsibility for the events of 1915 and to undermine its moral definition. The main power that the Armenians of the diaspora have is the truth of the ever-growing discourse about the history of 1915.[8]

Philosopher Henry Theriault has been at the forefront of the discussion on this power asymmetry.[9] He says: [T]he result of genocide is not a neutral disengagement of the perpetrator and victim groups, but the imposition of an extreme dominance of perpetrator group over victim group. If prior to the Armenian Genocide, Turks and other Muslims as a group were formally and practically dominant over Armenians as a group, the genocide maximized this, to give Turks and other Muslims absolute dominance to the level of life and death over Armenians. Often we mistake the end of a genocide for the end of the harm done to the victims. It is the end of the direct killing, perhaps, but the result of that killing and all other dimensions of a genocide is to raise the power and position of the perpetrator group high above that of victims, in material terms-political, economic, etc. Resolution of the Armenian Genocide requires reversing this domination.

It is this very requirement to eliminate this domination, and bring some amount of symmetry to the power relations, and address the core issues of the problem that is lacking in the current dialogue between Turkish and Armenian officials, facilitated and encouraged by the West. Not only does Turkey continue to vehemently deny the Armenian Genocide, it is also exerting pressure on Armenia to agree to the idea of a commission to examine what happened to the Armenians, disregarding the scholarly consensus on the matter. Acknowledgment of past horrors-let alone the readiness to engage in the long process of restitution-is not even on the table.

Moreover, Turkey wants to stall the recognition of the genocide by countries worldwide by pushing for the formation of a historical commission, and hence be able to argue that the Armenian Genocide is far from being a historical fact, and that historians are still discussing what happened to the Ottoman Armenians from 1915-18.

Where to go from here

The Turkish-Armenian conflict cannot be transformed through traditional diplomacy. Instead, I recommend an alternative approach championed by John Paul Lederach[11] who highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and engaging all segments of the affected populations in the process. These premises have been ignored in the so-called "Soccer Diplomacy."

Lederach argues that "the place called reconciliation" is the meeting point of Truth (which, he says, involves Acknowledgement, Transparency, Revelation, Clarity); Mercy (which involves Acceptance, Forgiveness, Support, Compassion, Healing); Justice (which involves Equality, Right Relationships, Restitution); and Peace (which involves Harmony, Unity, Well-being, Security, Respect). The current Turkey-Armenia dialogue stands in complete disregard of all these principles: The Truth is set aside. There is no readiness from the Turkish side to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and be transparent in the evaluation of past and continued actions. There is no room for Mercy, because the Turkish side continues to assert there is nothing to forgive, because there was no genocide. Nowhere in the dialogue do Justice, Equality, and Restitution have a place-on the contrary, the dialogue is based on the very tenets of the power asymmetry and ignoring justice.[12] And, as a consequence, Peace is nowhere in sight.

Theriault talks about the shortcomings of the theory of magically "resolving" the Turkish-Armenian problem: [T]here is...the assumption that there can be a single, decisive transition from "unresolved" to "resolved" through an act or set of acts. This assumption shared by antagonists from Turkish deniers to committed Armenian activists is curiously Christian, echoing the notion of instantaneous absolution for sins through supplicant entreaty and clerical pronouncement. Resolution is not an event or outcome; it is a process, a very long-term process. Armenian-Turkish relations are not a simple all-or-nothing proposition, either "in tension" or "worked out perfectly." They are better or worse along a continuum of fine gradations, with no bold line between "good" and "bad" relations. Likewise, they are not fixed, but can fluctuate through time in trajectories of improvement and deterioration.[13] Theriault also argues that "[i]n the case where there is no acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, it is trivially obvious that no resolution can occur." However, recognition alone is not enough. It has meaning only when it reflects the "material and social-structural changes" or causes them. Furthermore, according to Theriault, "positive relations between Turks and Armenians are not made permanent simply by being enacted at a given point in time. They must be reproduced and supported at every moment, or the relations will degenerate."

The fact that after a very dynamic start in August, "Soccer Diplomacy" has, as of the writing of this paper, slowed down and is facing impediments is a testament to the fact that "traditional" diplomacy cannot go far in resolving protracted conflicts, because it ignores the root causes and the power dynamics. A new model is necessary.

A 'welcome' initiative

While "Soccer Diplomacy" was already in progress, an important initiative was launched by intellectuals in Turkey, who signed a petition apologizing to Armenians for the "Great Catastrophe that the Armenians were subjected to."[14] The apology, together with the list of initial signatories, was posted online on Dec. 15, 2008, and already within a few days, thousands of other citizens of Turkey had signed it. Despite the fact that it fell short of properly referring to 1915-16 as "genocide," and did not even mention who exactly "subjected" the Armenians to the "Catastrophe," this initiative by Turkish intellectuals created a cautiously positive response among Armenians both in Armenia and the diaspora, where it was generally welcomed as a good first step.[15] Gul's visit, on the other hand, had received mixed reactions, and was not welcomed as warmly by many Armenians exactly because it did not involve any attempt, however meager, to acknowledge the root causes of the problem.

Official Ankara's position regarding the apology campaign initiated by 200 intellectuals was clear from the very beginning: The apology campaign for the Armenian Genocide is bad for Turkey and will also harm Turkey-Armenia dialogue, which has been making strides recently.

Statements to this effect were made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, and Turkish army generals.

When the apology campaign was launched, Erdogan said it amounted to "stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace and undoing the steps which have been taken." He added, "If there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country has no such issue."

Babacan, in turn, said, "This is a sensitive issue for Turkey. There is a negotiation process going on [with Armenia]... This kind of debate is of no use to anyone especially at a time talks continue and it may harm the negotiation process."

"We definitely think that what is done is not right. Apologizing is wrong and can yield harmful consequences," said General Metin Gurak, the spokesperson for the General Staff, during a press conference.

Gul first spoke in defense of the initiative when it was first launched, saying that it was proof that democracy was thriving in Turkey. Yet, this simple statement was harshly criticized by the opposition in Turkey, and accusations flew from left and right. One parliament member "accused" Gul of having an Armenian mother. The president was quick to deny the allegation and start legal action against the person who threw it. He didn't bother to say, "My mother is not Armenian, but what if she were?" By taking the accusation as an insult, he essentially reinforced the racist prejudice in Turkey against Armenians.

Apparently, Gul could not hold his good-cop routine for more than two weeks. In early January, during an interview on the Turkish television channel ATV, Gul said the apology campaign would have a negative effect on the diplomatic efforts between the two countries.

According to Gul, "When we examine the latest debates in terms of their results, I do not think they make a positive contribution." He also said his previous statements were presented in a distorted way.

So within a few weeks of the launching of the apology campaign, there was consensus among the ruling party, the opposition, and the army in Turkey that the apology campaign will have negative consequences on Turkey-Armenia dialogue. This might be an indication that Ankara has no intention to address some of the core issues anytime soon. Moreover, it is opposed to any civil society initiative to address-even in part-these issues.

Instead, Ankara wants to put heavy make-up on its face, hoping to hide its century-old scars. The calls by Turkish intellectuals for official Ankara to wash its face and get plastic surgery are yet to be heard.


True transformation of Turkish-Armenian relations cannot take place without involving all sectors and levels of the affected population. "Soccer Diplomacy" was not Turkish-Armenian dialogue-as it was portrayed in the Western media. It was Turkey-Armenia dialogue and ignored the diaspora, which has been a major source of support for Armenia since its independence. Also, a great amount of creativity is necessary to address the power asymmetries that are so inherent to this conflict-especially since these asymmetries are the product of the genocide perpetrated by one side, followed by denial and continued hostile attitudes towards the victims and their descendents.

The Turkish-American Romance Stephen Kinzer, guardian.co.uk, 6 April 2009
Obama is right to view Turkey as a key world power.
But both sides still have issues they need to address

President Barack Obama's decision to pay an official visit to Turkey on the 77th day of his presidency was a major step in Turkey's emergence as a regional power. This will be one of the big geopolitical stories of the coming decades.

Obama came to Ankara with a short-term agenda. He would like to see Turkey contribute more to the Nato mission in Afghanistan and also wants to withdraw American soldiers and equipment from Iraq through Turkish territory. But that was not all he had on his mind. Larger reasons led him to make Turkey the first Muslim country he visited as president.

Turkey is more democratic today than it has ever been, as last month's local elections showed. Its economy is strong, fuelled in part by money from Gulf state investors who consider it the safest place in the neighbourhood. Most intriguing of all, it is becoming a major diplomatic broker.

Turkey has developed a remarkable ability to win the trust of governments and opposition groups across a wide and turbulent region. It has warm relations with both Russia and Georgia, with Israel and Hamas, with Iran and the United States. Its counsel is valued in countries as varied as Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Turks have found a positive approach to diplomacy in a region where not much is positive. They promote dialogue and conciliation, and reject threats, demands and bombing raids. Obama's visit suggests that he likes that approach.

The newly invigorated Turkish-American relationship may take an interesting twist soon. Obama promised during his campaign that if elected, he would officially proclaim the slaughter of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 to have been an act of genocide. Such a proclamation would outrage many Turks and could choke off the Turkish-American romance he is kindling. Obama is now looking for a way to break his campaign promise.

How could he honourably do that? With the help of his new Turkish friends.

Political circles in Ankara and Istanbul are abuzz with speculation that the long-awaited breakthrough between Turkey to Armenia may be at hand. It would include a reopening of their land border, closed since 1993, re-establishment of diplomatic relations and establishment of a scholarly commission to study the killings of 1915.

If this happens before 24 April, when Obama is scheduled to issue his promised statement on the 1915 events, he would have every reason to avoid the inflammatory term "genocide". After all, he could argue, if these two longtime enemies have kissed and made up, why should an outside power sow discord between them?

This breakthrough, if it happens, would be a decisive step toward reducing regional tension. It would also be another sign of Turkey's maturing diplomatic role. Turkey would finally have achieved its stated first goal in the region: zero problems with neighbours. That would place it in a good position to reach for more ambitious goals, for a grand regional strategy.

In a new book, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, the strategic prognosticator George Friedman says Turkey is on its way to becoming one of the world's key powers. A map in the book captioned "Turkish sphere of influence 2050" looks strikingly like a map of the Ottoman empire.

"Turkey is not isolated and tied down; it has multiple directions in which it can move," Friedman asserts. "Most important, it does not represent a challenge to American interests and is therefore not constantly confronted with an American threat. This means it does not have to devote resources to blocking the United States. With its economy surging, it will likely soon re-emerge in its old role, as the dominant force in the region."

Resolving the long dispute with Armenia would bring Turkey an important step closer to this position of influence. The next step would be find a compromise with Kurdish nationalism. Turkey has emerged as such a deft broker on the international stage that its failure to resolve the Kurdish problem within its own borders seems increasingly paradoxical. If Turkey can meet these challenges and a few others, it is poised for a very good century. That makes it, as Obama evidently realises, an excellent partner for the United States.

61% Of Armenians Are Opposed To Establishing Closer Relations With Turkey April 14 2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ In March 2009 Ararat Strategic Center held a public opinion poll involving 200 respondents. When questioned about normalization of Turkish Armenian ties, 61% declared they're opposed to establishing closer relations with Turkey, Armen Ayvazyan , Ararat Strategic Center Manager told during discussion on current issues of Armenian-Turkish conflict.

Only 11% of respondents spoke for current policy. 20% said Armenia could try to normalize ralatins with Turkey , though not sacrificing its national interests.

74% of respondents were RA citizens, the remaining 26% Armenian Diaspora representatives.

"Thus, poll result show that both Armenia and Diaspora are dissatisfied with Yerevan's current policy towards Akara," Armen Ayvazyan stressed.

Anca Endowment Fund Responds To Crew Allegations www.asbarez.com/ April 13, 2009

WASHINGTON--The ANCA Endowment Fund Monday released the following statement to its donors and the general public regarding ill-informed, unsubstantiated, and incorrect allegations made in a press release earlier this year by a privately funded non-governmental organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Below is the statement:

The ANCA Endowment Fund, Inc. would like to address allegations recently raised against it by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) a purported citizens' watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. Specifically, CREW has accused the ANCA Endowment Fund of having "indirectly participated in countless candidate endorsements" that were made by the ANCA Endowment Fund's affiliated 501(c) (4) organization, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) The only basis for CREW's accusation is that the ANCA Endowment Fund and the ANCA occupy the same address and share certain common directors, and that the ANCA Endowment Fund made grant contributions to the ANCA totaling $200,000 in 2005 and 2006.

The ANCA Endowment Fund is quite disappointed that CREW has accused the ANCA Endowment Fund of engaging in prohibited political activity based on incomplete and misleading information. It is more than curious that its baseless attacks were made just prior to renewed efforts by the ANCA to advance Congressional and Presidential acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

As a fundamental, threshold matter, the ANCA Endowment Fund does not and has not ever endorsed candidates or engaged in political campaign activity, whether directly or indirectly. The fact that the ANCA Endowment Fund and the ANCA occupy the same address and share certain common directors is neither proscribed under IRS rules nor sufficient under the law to attribute to the ANCA Endowment Fund the political activities of the ANCA or to threaten the ANCA Endowment Fund's tax-exempt status.

On the contrary, it has been a longstanding position of the IRS and of the U.S. Supreme Court that a 501(c)(3) organization's tax-exempt status is not jeopardized simply by being affiliated with a 501(c)(4) organization engaged in political activity that would be improper for the 501(c)(3) to engage in itself. This is true even if the 501(c)(3) occupies the same office space and shares the same directors as the 501(c)(4). What is important is not where the organizations are located or how many of their directors are common, but whether they have observed their separate corporate formalities and dealt with each other at arm's length. There should be no legitimate dispute that the ANCA Endowment Fund and the ANCA have done so here, as demonstrated by the following relevant facts:

* the ANCA Endowment Fund is (and always has been) separately organized and incorporated from the ANCA;

* the ANCA Endowment Fund maintains its own records and bank accounts separate and apart from those of the ANCA; funds of each organization have always been segregated from each other and properly accounted for; * the ANCA Endowment Fund owns the building located at 1711 N Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 at which its offices are maintained;

* the ANCA Endowment Fund rents office space within that 1711 N Street building to various other organizations, of which only one is the ANCA, and does so at market rates for all of its tenants; and

* the ANCA Endowment Fund and the ANCA pay for their own share of common costs, which are allocated to each in proportionately appropriate amounts.

In short, the ANCA Endowment Fund and the ANCA have consistently observed their own corporate formalities and dealt with each other at arms' length. We believe this fact pattern leaves no basis for the ANCA Endowment Fund's tax-exempt status to be threatened merely because it has some overlapping directors and the same address as the ANCA. Had CREW had the courtesy to inquire about the actual facts, it would have readily been able to ascertain that its allegations were baseless. Perhaps it did not want to be burdened by the facts.

As for CREW's other complaint that the ANCA Endowment Fund made grants to the ANCA totaling $200,000 in 2005 and 2006, we believe that complaint is similarly misguided. There is no prohibition on the ANCA Endowment Fund's making grants to the ANCA for proper purposes, and no group or individual has come forward with any specific example of any grant by the ANCA Endowment Fund to the ANCA made for any allegedly improper purpose.

By contrast, we at the ANCA Endowment Fund stand firmly behind our 2005 and 2006 grants to the ANCA, which were made principally to fund the ANCA's Capital Gateway Program, which is designed to promote the participation of qualified Armenians in national civic affairs, a purpose entirely consistent with 501(c)(3) activity.

We hope that this information addresses any concerns you may have had arising from the recent CREW allegations, and that it reaffirms your confidence in us.

As always, we thank you for your continued support of the ANCA Endowment Fund.

The Armenian Question: A Snapshot Huffington Post April 13 2009
Betwa SharmaSharma is a freelance journalist who writes on human rights and international relations

Taner Akcam is one of the first scholars of Turkish origin to speak and write about the killing of one and half million Armenians by the Ottoman government during the First World War. Many academics and historians have been charged under Law 301 - which makes insulting "Turkishness" a crime.

Last year, the Turkish government, driven by its desire of European Union membership, amended the law and eased restrictions on free speech. Recently, at an event organized by Columbia University's Armenian Students Association, Akcam said, "After decades of suppression the lid has blown off the Armenian genocide in Turkish society."

Akcam told the emotionally charged audience that the record should be set straight: "You cannot solve ethnic problems without facing history." Turkish denial of the events is attributed to years of government propaganda. The subject, though less taboo today, remains shrouded. On a visit to Turkey, President Barack Obama did not use the word 'genocide.' Clearly, the matter is far from resolved.

The moderator at the Armenian Students Association meeting, Andrea Kannapell, pointed out that the panel discussion was for people who believed that genocide had taken place. It was not to debate its occurrence. A student from Columbia Law School, who asked not to be named, said that for "academic integrity, the panel should have included a historian with an opposite view."

After the event, the president of the Turkish Initiative at the School of International and Public Affairs, Tolga Turan said that "They said that this would be an academic discussion. But they presented only one view." He was shocked at being asked to step away from the microphone by a security guard. According to Turan, "Nobody denies that Armenians were killed but there is no archival material that proves a centrally planned massacre."

An Armenian student from Columbia's engineering department said, "Turks use these different ideas to justify what happened," he said. "It did happen. You can't deny it." The student did not want to be named because he has received death threats in the past.

The word 'genocide' sticks out like a sore thumb. The conversation can't seem to move past this label. Turkey contends that the deaths resulted from civil war and that their numbers were exaggerated.

A common sentiment on both sides was to open up the Armenian archives in Boston and Paris. "Even if we don't use the word 'genocide' you can't justify killing of a million people," said the Armenian student.

The audience was also addressed by Mark Geragos, a trial lawyer who led Federal Class Action law suits against New York Life Insurance and AXA Corporation for insurance policies issued during the time of the killings in Turkey. The cases were settled for 37.5 million dollars.

Geragos, an Armenian himself, said that his legal battles had shifted from recognition to reparation. "Restitution is a fundamental right of a victim." This means possibly getting back the Armenian land and money, which was confiscated by Turkish officials.

Already, Geragos said that he was collecting land deeds. This could result in future action. Individual deeds could not be used to claim land because the case has to be presented in Turkey, which was a problem. The lawyer caused quite a stir to the Turkish part of the audience when he said that Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark lodged after the great deluge, should be given back to the Armenians.

The highest peak in Turkey, holy for the Armenians, lies to the extreme northeast and 20 miles south of Armenia. Someone in the audience responded, "How fair is it to displace the people who live there now?" He added, "Half of this country should be given back to the native Americans." Akcam warned that it was unwise to mess with the territories and boundaries in the Middle East. "Ararat should be open to everyone," he said.

The scholar also noted that it was important to support Turkey's bid for a position in the European Union and encourage diplomatic relations with Armenia. "Language" was the key to moving the Armenian question forward in Turkish society. "Change our language," he said. "The language of conflict is different from the language of reconciliation." In September, President Abdullah Gul became the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia.

On April 24, the Armenian Diaspora remembers the night in 1915 when around 250 Armenian leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople. They were taken to a prison in Anatolia and executed.

Obama called the killings that lasted from 1915 to 1918 genocide during his presidential campaign. Turkey is militarily strategic to Washington. Will he call it genocide on April 24?

A journalist in New York, Kahraman Haliscelik, is from Sanliurfa in South East Turkey.

"Sanli" means great. The city was given the title "great" for the heroic fight it put up against French occupation. "I did not grow up with propaganda. I grew up with stories," he said. These were stories that his great grandmother told him of how the Armenians sided with the colonizers and killed the Turks.

Haliscelik compares the march of the Armenians to the desert in Syria to the internment of Japanese in the US during the Second World War. The memories of the past have been passed on through the generations on both sides of the conflict. The talk of peace and reconciliation is difficult to achieve. "In our village it was the Armenians who killed their Turkish neighbors," he said. "They would not be welcome back in the village."

Armenia Gives Assurances On Border Recognition
Armenians residing in a village near the Turkish-Armenian border celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day. Any opening of the border with Turkey is expected to provide significant benefits to residents of the areas along the frontier.

Armenia has given assurances that it will make no territorial claim on Turkey, as officials of the two countries inch closer to an agreement that would pave the way for normalization of relations after a 16-year hiatus. Sources in Yerevan who are close to the talks also say the final deal is likely to be declared in a third country, most probably Switzerland, which has reportedly hosted closed-door negotiations since 2007.

The Turkish-Armenian talks have been held in strict secrecy and officials are tightlipped on what a possible deal would include. But as expectations grow higher for a breakthrough soon, details are beginning to emerge, such as the Armenian guarantee on recognition of the current Armenian-Turkish border. Ankara, which closed the border and severed its diplomatic ties with Armenia in 1993, links normalization to a set of conditions that include formal guarantees from Armenia recognizing the current border with Turkey. Yerevan has never formally claimed any rights on Turkish territory but the Armenian constitution describes eastern Anatolia as western Armenia.

Asked whether Armenia recognizes a 1920 treaty on the border with Turkey, an Armenian source said: "We are talking about the opening of the border. Which border is to be opened? Can a border be opened if it is not recognized?"

The final Turkish-Armenian deal is now expected to include provisions that the two countries respect each other's territorial integrity and borders.

The agreement is also expected to unveil plans to establish low-level diplomatic relations and create an intergovernmental committee to study history. Armenia claims 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide campaign at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire during the World War I, while Turkey categorically rejects the accusations of genocide. However, it is expected to take years for the committee to be established and announce findings on its study. Even so, although no progress is seen to be forthcoming, Armenia's nod to the establishment of such a committee of historians underlines that the dispute over the World War I events is a matter of history, not a legal or a political one.

Armenians residing in a village near the Turkish-Armenian border celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day. Any opening of the border with Turkey is expected to provide significant benefits to residents of the areas along the frontier.

On another problematic issue, the ongoing Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, the agreement is expected to make a general reference to the problem. But there will be no deadline mentioned for a resolution.

The government has been holding closed-door talks with Armenia since 2007 on the normalization of ties, signaling a shift in Turkey's longstanding policy, which links restoration of relations to Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani territory and a reversal in the Armenian policy of lobbying for international recognition of Armenian genocide claims at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire. Armenian recognition of the current border is another condition.

Azerbaijan, which fears it would lose a key leverage in its Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Armenia if Ankara agrees to have normal ties with Yerevan anyway, has expressed concern over the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev boycotted a the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) meeting held in İstanbul on April 6-7.

The issue has sparked heated debates in Parliament as well. Opposition parties yesterday lashed out at the government for its plans to normalize relations with Armenia without Yerevan ending its occupation of Azerbaijani territory.

"How can we ignore the ongoing occupation of Azerbaijan?" Deniz Baykal, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), told a weekly meeting of his party in Parliament. "How can Turkey follow a policy that would legitimize seizure of Azerbaijan's legitimate territorial rights?"

The closed border with Armenia is a source of irritation in Ankara's relations with the European Union, which it aspires to join, and the United States. It also hampers the government's plans to expand influence in the southern Caucasus.

"No one can open the border with Armenia unless claims based on the genocide lies are withdrawn and Nagorno-Karabakh is returned to Azerbaijan," said Devlet Bahçeli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and a vehement opponent of normalization in Armenia ties.

"I am warning the government: Your approach to Armenia harms our dignity," Bahçeli said, maintaining that he completely shared the Azerbaijani people's "rightful concerns." A group of three deputies from Bahçeli's MHP departed for Baku yesterday for talks with Azeri officials.

Dismissing calls from the opposition to share with the public details about the ongoing talks, President Abdullah Gül said Turkey wants a normalization that would help stability and peace in the whole of the Caucasus and added that it would not be in line with diplomatic tendencies to disclose details of the talks.

Turkish journalists briefly detained

Meanwhile, five Turkish journalists, including this reporter, were briefly detained on Monday by Armenian forces after they attempted to film the Turkish-Armenian border without permission from Armenian authorities.

The journalists were taken to a police station on the border, where they were offered tea, coffee and cookies. The journalists were released after two hours, reporting cordial treatment by the Armenian forces.
15 April 2009, SERVET YANATMA YEREVAN hetq.am/en/

ARF Spokesperson - President Obama Will Keep His April 24th Promise 2009/04/13 Shushan Stepanyan
Press conference held today in Yerevan, Kiro Manoyan, who heads the ARF “Hay Dat” and Political Affairs Office, stated that, “Obama will carry out his obligation and will definitely recognize the genocide as he promised before being elected and as he recently declared in Turkey, saying that his views on the matter hadn’t changed. If he said these things in Turkey than President Obama will be much more comfortable in his own country, talking to his own citizens, and to whom he made such a pledge.”

Mr. Manoyan said that the Armenian National Committee (ANC) lobbying organization was working round the clock to see to it that President Obama keeps his word. The ARF official also stated that if the U.S. president didn’t carry out his pledge his standing in the eyes of the American people would suffer since he was elected as a leader who promised change.

Mr. Manoyan stated that there was no connection between recognition of the genocide and talks between Armenia and Turkey and that such recognition wouldn’t hinder such negotiations. He added that such a move would also not threaten Turkish-U.S. relations. “Turkey might play the role of an aggrieved party but it would only last for one or two months.”

Mr. Manoyan placed importance on U.S. recognition of the genocide since it would obligate Turkey to come to grips with its past history and that it would also impact on other nations to recognize the genocide. In addition, Turkey would be forced to negotiate with Armenia on a more serious basis.

One Response to “ARF Spokesperson - President Obama Will Keep His April 24th Promise”
1. Ararat Says: April 14th, 2009
can some one please tell ARF, please concentrate on the genocide which is happening in Armenia now instead of the past. As it stands all ARF (Armenias radiactive federation) is doing is making sure the Armenians all over the world do not look at the terreble situation in Armenia. here is some pointers for you dashnaks.

Poverty, prostitution, homlessness, unemployment, assasinations, hunger.

Controversy In Greece After Obama's Visit To Turkey 15-04-2009 [infogrece]
In an interview with Eleftherotypia Sunday, Foreign Minister, Dora Bakoyannis, said the pessimism prevailing in part of the Greek press in connection with the official visit to Turkey of U.S. President, Barack Obama, the leader of the opposition Georgios Papandreou has put on the account of the lack of Greek foreign policy and diplomatic inactivity.

In her interview, Ms. Bakoyannis referred to as the "short-sighted and simplistic" analysis to see Obama's visit to Turkey, although the latter renders the same in Greece, as a weakening of the position of Greece in the region. The head of diplomacy said "sordid" and even "sordid impressive how are some international treaties.

Concerning the U.S. position on national issues of Greece, Ms. Bakoyannis referred to recent statements by U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, referring to the decision taken at the NATO Summit in Bucharest on the common acceptance of name of FYROM. The minister further stressed that the Greek government had the opportunity to present to Mr. Obama's positions on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations, his positions in favor of the European perspective of Turkey and its concerns about the tensions in the Aegean.

The opposition press, dominant in the Greek landscape is echoed in recent days criticizing the President of PASOK George Papandreou, who considered inactive and not the government's foreign policy, and explained that the visit to Turkey from American President, Barack Obama, is the conclusion of a policy of flexibility and multi-level implementation by Turkey in recent years.

"The revaluation of the role of Turkey," he said in an interview, also, Eleftherotypia Sunday, "the result of the implementation in recent years of a foreign policy flexible and multi-levels that permit absence and government inaction Greek international developments in the past 5 years. "

Mr. Papandreou also felt that the government interprets the facts so wrong and that the issue does not speed up an application meets the Prime Minister to Washington, edged that "the government does not understand what role Greece today. "

Turkey - United States: What Relationship? 15-04-2009 Baskin Oran April 15 2009
Is Turkey a "strategic partner" of the United States? This is a question which is the Turkish public opinion. The United States can rely on them to have strategic partners and a half: England, Israel and some from Canada. That is why we can assume that on this issue, Turkey is one to see a little too good.

But it is still three concepts are particularly illuminating on the issue of US-Turkey relations (cf. the first volume of our book, "The foreign policy of Turkey)

1 - The State hegemonic
2 - The State's strategic medium-sized (ESTM)
3 - The State pivotal (pivotal state)

The first of these concepts reflects a state able to be heard by all other States. This is of course the United States.

The second is a country that, if the context permits, may consider engaging in actions that exceed its size and, thanks to its geostrategic location, can create an area of "relative autonomy" (I not enough space here to explain this concept, cf. the city that work will also be published in the U.S. this summer). It may even be on some vital issues and times when the context so permits, state able to stand up to the hegemonic state, thanks to the special geostrategic position.

The third term, it concerns a country able to influence regional stability and even international we use to describe a country that has gained the strong support of State who hegemonic designs therefore as one of its regional ramifications.

As you can see, the latter two concepts are used to account for two different roles for Turkey. The first presents a Turkey for more autonomy, but whose status is closely linked to developments in the economy. The second gives us a portrait of a longer bound Turkey but also more stable and prosperous.

The internal and external reasons that make Turkey important

Obama spoke of Turkish-American relations as a "model". Nothing new here but this is the first time it is used in this sense also separately by a President. The term refers to a new environment which gave Turkey an even more important than his own was during the Cold War. It is to this cause to both internal and external:

1) We can separate the external causes in two groups:
- Those related to the international context: the weakening of the United States due to the global economic crisis. Then the fact that the Nabucco project which will pass through Turkey could be used to breathe in Western Europe whose consumption of gas depends for 40% of Russian gas.

- More specifically those related to the United States: the beginning of the decline of its hegemonic power. The fact that they are reduced to withdraw from Iraq. The Afghan quagmire. And finally, the fact that they are absolutely forced to repair the nonsense Bush: tensions with Muslim countries, the backfire inefficiencies of neo-cons. Obama knows that to settle the disastrous legacy of Bush, he is forced to resort to an approach to Clinton, with probably additional softness and prevention. And in this process, Turkey predominantly Muslim but secular can seriously make a bridge.

2) Turkey can not influence these external reasons. But it is in its power to influence these internal reasons that make it so important: Turkey of XXI century, yet despite this mentality embodied by the CHP [Republican People's Party, kémalo-nationalist NdT] finally decided to s' tackle these villains had slipped under the carpet since 1915. It seeks to find solutions with Armenia and Cyprus on the outdoor stage. On the Kurdish issue and that of Islam in it. Turkey can only become stronger and take the value in the eyes of the West as it progresses towards a final solution to these issues.

On the other hand, its stance against Islamist terrorism as its integration with global capitalism can only make his star shine.

The dilemma autonomy - Prosperity

With this realization of value - it will be a little madam but ... Sun - Turkey is at a crossroads:

1 - The relative autonomy of a ESTM seeking to draw some power of its ties with Muslim countries and, to some extent, its relationship with Russia.

2 - Prosperity and stability of a pivotal state deriving its power from its relationship with the United States.

Obviously, these two possibilities are not so antagonistic that it may seem. Since 1923, Turkey was still under the influence, first English and American from 1945. But it has always sought to preserve a "relative autonomy" and that, because of the strategic environment in which it is immersed: this is living and breathing as if he does not fall under the exclusion of one country. Balance is the essence of a strategic medium-sized (ETSM).

In addition, we are immersed in an environment similar to the 1929 crisis. A notable difference that we are positioned to face a new and important: globalization.

And in this situation, I think the issue is very clear: to maximize his position by making the best of a relative autonomy on the one hand, stability and prosperity on the other, it is obliged to play on two tables. For this, three things are needed:

1) Getting closer to the EU to balance American influence. It is by definition a ESTM Thursday. But this is not that of Turkey. It is also mandatory that the EU wants. But we realize that after his rush of blood to Davos, Erdogan, the leader of the Turkish government, was particularly badly handled the crisis with its poorly chosen Rasmussen. In the end, the latter became Secretary General of NATO without the concessions that boasts of having not really torn: do not attempt to resolve the Kurdish question in you and therefore seeks to close a television Kurdish across the continent, especially in te content of a vague promise Rasmussen style "we will see what we can do." Seeks to ensure that he apologized, but do nothing for it. You regrowth one year the opening of Turkish ports to ships flying the Cypriot flag ... He ... ? How much will it serve? Knowing more than such a decision, the agreement of Cyprus is required. Finally, if this is true, you request a senior position within NATO. What is the rhyme there? You might as well have asked for a grant to your children ...

But the worst in history, is the potential to further strengthen EU feel that "Turkey does this not collective.

2 - Maintain relations with its southern and eastern flanks. It is the key to the role of a bridge we attribute Obama. Obama does not assign this role to our eyes: just and secular Muslims like us. But we can not accomplish such a task with redoubled care. For many reasons: there is no "alternative Eurasian" [the preferred alternative of kémalo Conservatives refusing the Turkish democratic requirements imposed by the EU, NdT] that some particularly fond. It should not too much rely on the stability of relations with Muslim countries. This could be a real disappointment. In addition, make feet and hands in NATO and more EU to take the role of spokesman for Islam to be quite "breaker batteries" (bridge) .

3 - continue democratic reforms. This depends on the program of democratization by the AKP. In these times of globalization, you might be the most beautiful of the "secular Muslim", if you're not Democrat, your credibility is not taking off.


Speaking of "model", the United States in fact considering Turkey as a pivotal country. And Turkey aspires to both the prosperity that can provide such a statute as to the relative autonomy of the state's strategic medium size. But the precondition to an end as balance is "zero problem" in domestic and foreign policy. Here, I no longer plays to Ms. Sun.

- Translations for TE: Marillac Collectif VAN [Vigilance against the Armenian Holocaust Denial]

Ass. Prof. Kamer Kasim: "The U.S. Should Put Pressure On Armenia" Jtw
Interview with Ass. Prof. Kamer Kasim by Gulay Kilic.

Associate Professor Kamer Kasim evaluated Obama's visit to Turkey in terms of Turkish-American foreign policy. He emphasized that if Turkey and the U.S. act together, both countries will have the advantage in the region.

G.K: Would you evaluate Obama's visit to Turkey?

K.K: Obama's visit to Turkey has historical importance. Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have zigzagged, especially during the Bush era. Obama's visit to Turkey is important in terms of proving the U.S.' new foreign policy vision. At the same time, I assess the visit as a significant step to discuss the role of Turkey in U.S. foreign policy and what Turkey and the U.S. expect from each other.

G.K: Obama had a positive approach to Turkey regarding the Armenian issue and he did not use the word "genocide'. However, the American Armenian National Committee announced that Obama had not fulfilled his promise regarding the 1915 events. Would you evaluate how this situation will affect the relations between Turkey and Armenia?

K.K: Obama promised to define the 1915 events as how Armenians defined it to the Armenian lobby during the election campaigns. Now, America is faced with a dilemma: the importance of relations between Turkey and the U.S. and the promise given to Armenian lobby. To me, although Armenian Lobby struggles to pass the decision in Congress, it is not a strong probability that the American administration will use the word "genocide' as the Armenian lobby wants. I think this issue will be the most significant problem for the relationship between Turkey and Armenia in the new era. All these positive developments and even the "model partnership' between Turkey and the U.S. could have been interrupted if Congress had passed the resolution. Moreover, if Congress passes the decision, Turkey-U.S. relations would be seriously injured for the third time in history. There were two events that interrupted Turkish-American relations in the Cold War Era. First, the "Johnson Letter" appeared when Turkey considered intervention in Cyprus in 1964. The letter's language was far from diplomatic or courteous. Second, the U.S. embargo which followed the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974. If the decision passes Congress, it would damage the relations more seriously than the first two events.

Turkey's expectation is that Obama should make an effort to prevent Congress from passing the decision. Clinton, a Democrat leader like Obama, is a good example for Obama. When the decision came up in Congress' agenda, Clinton wrote a letter to the Republican chairman of the Chamber of Deputies; therefore, the issue was removed from the agenda. Clinton had used the argument of Turkey's strategic importance; however, the argument of strategic importance is not a valuable reason for Turkey anymore, because there have been important developments since 2000, like some important documents related to the Armenian issue were published in Turkey. The American administration should prevent the decision from passing Congress by using Turkey's academic viewpoints. However, Obama said that he has not changed his opinion on this issue. I think this discourse is just based on the information of the Armenian lobby. The U.S. president should have a look at the archive documents and arguments of Turkey regarding the issue. Therefore, there is a risk that the U.S. President might not do anything about it. He could say that the decision passed Congress; there is nothing to do. However, this attitude does not satisfy the Turkish side, so Turkey expects Obama to do something about it. Not doing anything will not been accepted as an excuse.

I would like to point out that Obama's speech in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) uses an incorrect analogy. He mentioned the Native Americans and compared them to the nations in Ottoman Empire. It was completely wrong. Immigrants in the U.S. came from Europe and they battled each other. However, nations in the Ottoman Empire successfully lived together in peace until the 19th century. Moreover, the position of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire did not resemble Native Americans' position in the process of establishing the U.S. Armenians held important bureaucratic positions, and there was even an Armenian Foreign Minister in the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, I think Obama's analogy was not suitable.

We should ask a question here: Why does America give such importance to the Armenian issue? I guess it is related to the events of August 2008. After the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, the fact that Russia could easily intervene in the southern Caucasus emerged.

Azerbaijan is an ally of the West in the Caucasus. Georgia is an ally of the West as well; however, Georgia is also a strong ally of Russia. Moreover, Russian military forces protect Armenia's borders. Consequently, the U.S. realized that if the relations between Turkey and Armenia were normalized and if the border were opened, Armenia could integrate into the West system. Turkey has three conditions for opening the Armenian land border: (1) Armenia should recognize Turkey's territorial integrity. Moreover, this would declare good neighborly relations and Turkey's territorial integrity. (2) The Armenian administration should not bring the claims of "so-called genocide' to the international agenda. Moreover it should not use this issue as a foreign policy tool. (3) The last and the most difficult issue to solve is the Karabakh problem. Armenia has not taken any steps about this issue until now, so it is not realistic to expect Turkey to take a step. The U.S. especially should put pressure on Armenia on this issue. The U.S. should disengage itself from the Diaspora and Armenia.

G.K: Would you explain the importance of Karabakh issue and its relation to the Armenia-Turkey land border?

K.K: Karabakh is important for Azerbaijan because 20 percent of Azerbaijan's land has been occupied by Armenia. Therefore, Azerbaijan would like to accept Turkey's support for this. Armenia has occupied not only Karabakh but also other lands of Azerbaijan. Moreover, Armenia has not taken any steps to solve the problem until now. The Azerbaijani administration does not want to open the land border between Turkey and Armenia before finding a solution to the Karabakh problem. If the land border were opened, Turkey and Azerbaijan relations would deteriorate, leaving Turkey with problematic neighbors. To avoid any misunderstanding between Turkey and Azerbaijan, Turkey should give healthy and correct information about every step related to the border issue to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani people. The Karabakh problem could be solved between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the two parties of this issue should find a common solution. Turkey does not change its point of view on this issue.

G.K: Will Turkey have a dilemma between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the next period?

K.K: Turkey cannot have such a dilemma. Turkey has an important and close relationship with Azerbaijan and should not allow these strong and close relations to deteriorate, as that would be adverse to Turkey's interests. As for Armenia, Turkey already took a step in this regard so after that Armenia should take a step. Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbantyan and sometimes the President said that they were ready for negotiations without preconditions. It means that the Armenian side will not accept Turkey's conditions. Moreover, it is propaganda towards Turkish and world public opinion. Therefore, it is difficult to draw an optimistic statement on Turkish and Armenian relations in the upcoming period. Opening the land border is not a solution as long as Armenia does not change its attitude. If the border is opened, it will not be easy to close again and there could be bigger problems than there are now. I think the solution of the problem lies within the democratization of Armenia's interior structure. If the Armenian government continues along its current line, the steps that Turkey takes will affect the Armenian oppositions who seem more favorable towards democratization. This could cause a paradigm shift in favor of the opposition parties, who would pressure Turkey in the international arena in order to achieve their goals, which the Ter-Petrossian government was unable to accomplish even with its moderate viewpoint.

G.K: How should Obama follow a method to normalize relations?

K.K: The U.S. should follow a policy of international pressure. If the U.S. can do it and succeeds to moderate the Armenian attitude, the relationship will be normalized. It is essential that the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia should disengage. Moreover, Russia should be neutralized by means of diplomacy. The relations will be normalized if these conditions occur with the pressure of the U.S.

G.K: What would you say about Obama's Central Asia policy?

K.K: The U.S.' Central Asia policy focuses on Afghanistan more than the Central Asian Republics. Obama highlighted that "We are going to withdraw our troops from Iraq because we need them in Afghanistan" during the election campaigns. Therefore, Obama's expects Turkey not only to send military forces to Afghanistan, but to have an active role in the region. Obama wants to provide stability in Afghanistan. He does not want Afghanistan to become unstable like Iraq, since this issue will reflect poorly on his foreign policy report in the next term elections. Afghanistan seems to have priority in U.S. foreign policy.
Energy will take over U.S. foreign policy in the next term. The U.S. is going to concentrate on the Nabucco Project.
Obama discussed the "model partnership' of Turkey-U.S. relations. Model partnership does not refer to strategic partnership. Turkey is not only a Middle Eastern country, but at the same time is a part of the Caucasus, the Black Sea, and Europe; therefore, Turkey and the U.S. need an intense relationship. Both countries could benefit provided that they act together in these regions. However the U.S. should get rid of the pressure of domestic lobbies. For example, the Armenian lobby in the U.S. has not behaved in favor of the U.S.

G.K: It was predicted that the military forces would be increased. Do you think that Obama should use Turkey's military capability for the Afghanistan issue?

K.K: Turkey has already positively contributed to Afghanistan in reconstruction activities, health services, and education. Obama emphasized in the Turkish Grand National Assembly that sometimes it was necessary to use force to ensure stability. Afghanistan has some regions that require force, so the U.S. has a need for more military forces. Afghanistan has various social problems; however, increasing the military presence is necessary to control the region outside of Kabul. Obama expects allied countries to increase military forces in Afghanistan.

War, Oil And Gas Pipelines: Turkey Is Washington’s Geopolitical Pivot by F. William Engdahl, Global Research, April 14, 2009
The recent visit of US President Obama to Turkey was far more significant than the President’s speech would suggest. For Washington Turkey today has become a geopolitical “pivot state” which is in the position to tilt the Eurasian power equation towards Washington or significantly away from it depending on how Turkey develops its ties with Moscow and its role regarding key energy pipelines.

If Ankara decides to collaborate more closely with Russia, Georgia's position is precarious and Azerbaijan's natural gas pipeline route to Europe, the so-called Nabucco Pipeline, is blocked. If it cooperates with the United States and manages to reach a stable treaty with Armenia under US auspices, the Russian position in the Caucasus is weakened and an alternative route for natural gas to Europe opens up, decreasing Russian leverage against Europe.

For Washington the key to bringing Germany into closer cooperation with the US is to weaken German dependence on Russian energy flows. Twice in the past three winters Washington has covertly incited its hand-picked President in Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko to arrange an arbitrary cut off of Russian gas flows to Germany and other EU destinations. The only purpose of the actions was to convince EU governments that Russia was not a reliable energy partner. Now, with the Obama visit to Ankara, Washington is attempting to win Turkish support for its troubled Nabucco alternative gas pipeline through Turkey from Azerbaijan which would theoretically at least lessen EU dependence on Russian gas.

The Turkish-EU problem

However willing Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan might be to accommodate Obama, the question of Turkish relations with the EU is inextricably linked with the troublesome issue of Turkish membership to the EU, a move vehemently opposed by France and also less openly by Germany.

Turkey is one of the only routes energy from new sources can cross to Europe from the Middle East, Central Asia or the Caucasus. If Turkey — which has considerable influence in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Ukraine, the Middle East and the Balkans — is prepared to ally with the United States, Russia is on the defensive and German ties to Russia weaken considerably. If Turkey decides to cooperate with Russia instead, Russia retains the initiative and Germany is dependent on Russian energy. Since it became clear in Moscow that US strategy was to extend NATO to Russia’s front door via Ukraine and Georgia, Russia has moved to use its economic “carrot” its vast natural gas resources, to at the very least neutralize Western Europe, especially Germany, towards Russia. It is notable in that regard that the man chosen as Russia’s President in December 1999 had spent a significant part of his KGB career in Germany.

Turkey and the US Game

It is becoming clear that Obama and Washington are playing a deeper game. A few weeks before the meetings, when it had become obvious that the Europeans were not going to bend on the issues such as troops for Afghanistan or more economic stimulus that concerned the United States, Obama scheduled the trip to Turkey.

During the recent EU meetings in Prague Obama actively backed Turkey’s application for EU membership knowing well that that put especially France and Germany in a difficult position as EU membership would allow free migration which many EU countries fear. Obama deliberately confronted EU states with this knowing he was playing with geopolitical fire, especially as the US is no member of the EU. It was a deliberate and cheap way to score points with the Erdogan government of Turkey.

During the NATO meeting, a key item on the agenda was the selection of a new alliance secretary-general. The favorite was former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Turkey opposed him because of his defense of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish magazine. NATO operates on consensus, so any one member can block Rasmussen. The Turks backed off the veto, and in return won two key positions in NATO, including that of deputy secretary-general.

Turkey thereby boosted its standing in NATO, got Obama to vigorously defend the Turkish application for membership in the European Union, which of course the United States does not belong to. Obama then went to Turkey for a key international meeting that will allow him to further position the United States in relation to Islam.

Obama has a Grand Strategy to use Turkey to isolate Russia via Nabucco pipelines through Georgia and Armenia to the EU

The Obama Erdogan talks were perhaps the most strategic of the recent Obama tour

The Russian Dimension

During US-Russian talks there had been no fundamental shift by Obama from the earlier position of the Bush Administration. Russia rejects Washington’s idea of pressuring IUran on their nuclear program in return for a bargain of an undefined nature with Washington over US planned missile and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. The US claimed it need not rely on Russia to bring military and other supplies into Afghanistan, claiming it had reached agreement with Ukraine to transship mililtary supplies, a move designed by Washington to increase friction between Moscow and Kiew. Moreover, the NATO communique did not abandon the idea of Ukraine and Georgia being admitted to NATO. The key geopolitical prize for Washington remains Moscow but clearly Turkey is being wooed by Obama to play a role in that game.

Germany will clearly not join Obama in blocking Russia. Not only does Germany depend on Russia for energy supplies. She has no desire to confront a Russia that Berlin sees as no real immediate threat to Germany. For Berlin, at least now, they are not going to address the Russian question.

At the same time, an extremely important event between Turkey and Armenia is shaping up. Armenians had long held Turkey responsible for the mass murder of Armenians during and after World War I, a charge the Turks have denied. The US Congress is considering a provocative resolution condeming “Turkish genocide” agianst Armenians. Turkey is highly sensitive to these charges, and Congressional passage of such a resolution would have meant a Turkish break in diplomatic relations with Washington. Now since the Obama visit Ankara has begun to discuss an agreement with Armenia including diplomatic relations which would eliminate the impact of any potential US Congress resolution.

A Turkish opening to Armenia would alter the balance of power in the entire region. Since the August 2008 Georgia-Russia conflict the Caucasus, a strategically vital area to Moscow has been unstable. Russian troops remain in South Ossetia. Russia also has troops in Armenia meaning Russia has Georgia surrounded.

Turkey is the key link in this complex game of geopolitical balance of power between Washington and Moscow. If Turkey decides to collaborate with Russia Georgia’s position becomes very insecure and Azerbaijan’s possible pipeline route to Europe is blocked. If Turkey decides to cooperate with Washington and at the same time reaches a stable agreement with Armenia under US guidance, Russia’s entire position in the Caucasus is weakened and an alternative route for natural gas to Europe becomes available, reducing Russian leverage against Western Europe.

Therefore, having sat through fruitless meetings with the Europeans, Obama chose not to cause a pointless confrontation with a Europe that is out of options. Instead, Obama completed his trip by going to Turkey to discuss what the treaty with Armenia means and to try to convince the Turks to play for high stakes by challenging Russia in the Caucasus, rather than playing Russia's junior partner.

The most important Obama speech in his European tour came after Turkey won key posts in the NATO political structure with US backing. In his speech Obama sided with Turkey against the EU and in effect showed Turkey Washington was behind her. Obama’s speech addressed Turkey as an emerging regional power, which was well received in Ankara. The sweet words will cost Turkey dearly if it acts on them.

Moscow is not sitting passively by as Washington woos Turkey. Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a four-day visit to the Russian Federation this February, where he met with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin, and also traveled to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, where he discussed joint investments. Gul was accompanied by his minister for foreign trade and minister of energy, as well as a large delegation of Turkish businessmen. The stakes in this complex three-way Great Game for domination of Eurasia have been raised significantly following the Obama trip to Ankara. Turkey imports 65 percent of its natural gas and 25 percent of its oil from Russia. Therefore, Turkey is also developing a growing dependency on Russian energy resources, including coal.

On March 27, 2009, a memorandum was signed between the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR and Russia's Gazprom. The memorandum includes a statement of deliveries, beginning in January 2010, of Azerbaijani natural gas to Russia.

Gazprom was particularly interested in signing such an agreement with Azerbaijan, not the least because Azerbaijan is the only state outside Iran or Turkmenistan, both of which are problematic, that could supply gas to the planned EU Nabucco pipeline, for transporting natural gas from Azerbaijan and the Central Asia states through Turkey to south-eastern Europe. In reality, gas may come only from Azerbaijan. Russia has proposed an alternative to Nabucco project, South Stream, also in need of Azerbaijani gas, so in effect Russia weakens the chances of realization of Nabucco. Obama strategy is clearly not less confrontational with Russia. It is merely playing with a slightly different deck of cards than did Cheney and Bush.

F. William Engdahl is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by F. William Engdahl

Sargsyan - A Year of Deception www.asbarez.com
Armenia’s President Sargsyan convened a Friday 10th April news conference to celebrate his first year in office, when he labored for two hours and forty minutes articulating rehearsed answers to sixty prepared and vetted questions from dozens of hand picked state-backed news reporters. The answers did not always match the questions, but his general drift was to hail his amazing achievements, especially the wonderful way in which he has dealt with the burdens of the externally imposed crisis.

Not surprisingly, one of the most keenly followed topics was the Armenian / Turkish negotiations, to which Sargsyan explained that he and his MFA Nalbandian could have possibly been mistaken. Local and international press agencies have been busy reporting Sargsyan’s calculation that talks may end in failure – “because the Turks are now adopting a different position and trying to set preconditions”.

It is surprising that after so many months of this Sargsyan subterfuge, the numerous news organizations still prefer to steer clear of Sargsyan’s continued deceit of the Armenian public. His statement completely contradicts the actual truth, presumably an attempt to salvage some credibility from his despicable misdealings with this most sensitive issue and in the process, wrongfully accusing his Turkish counterparts of changing their position.

The nearly year long Sargsyan / Nalbandian program of deceit has been comprehensively reported through a string of articles on khosq. In particular, 22 weeks ago the “Karabakh /Genocide – The Final Countdown” article included links to how Eduard Nalbandian continued his efforts to Establish Turkey’s Long-Awaited Independent Commission and how he Derided those Countries which have Already Recognized Genocide, with complete contempt to the Armenian cause.

20 weeks ago the “Karabakh/Genocide – The Deception” article linked to a diplomatic source who said Armenia was to announce the establishment of a Joint Committee of Historians to study the events of 1915. Sargsyan later stepped back from the ‘Genocide Commission’ by saying: first, let our joint border be opened and diplomatic relations constituted, then we can establish commissions, sub-commissions and sub-sub-commissions for any issue. He then re-manoeuvred to say the formation of a commission to investigate the Armenian Genocide is unnecessary and he referred to an “Intergovernmental Process”, which can be established later. Sargsyan’s compliance with another of Turkey’s conditions is also on record, he has publicly announced that he has no ambitions with regard lands in the eastern part of Turkey, and it is well known that he is pursuing his 'Karabakh Deal' with equal enthusiasm and in the same deceptive manner.

Turkeys President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and MFA Babacan, in total contrast to persistent lies from senior representatives of Armenia’s illegitimate regime, have been absolutely consistent with regard their requirements to open the Turkish / Armenian border, which to repeat includes: 1) resolution of the Genocide issue; 2) Armenia withdraws claims to lands in the eastern part of Turkey, and; 3) the Karabakh issue be resolved under agreement with Azerbaijan. Turkey did withdraw the Karabakh issue from its list for a short period in early 2009, plainly a temporary measure to de-link Karabakh from the sensitive Genocide issue in an understandable effort to dissuade US President Obama from saying the ‘G’ word in the period leading up to Armenia’s 24th April Genocide Memorial Day. That danger has no doubt now been resolved in Turkey’s favour, with backing from the Armenian regime, including a Nalbandian meeting and a Sargsyan telephone discussion with Obama during his 6th / 7th April trip to Turkey. Turkey has since re-established the link with its close Azerbaijani ally and put the Karabakh requirement back on the table.

Through the past months the Armenian regime has repeatedly intimated to the overseas audience that they are ready to comply with Turkey’s demands to open the border, whilst at home Sargsyan and Nalbandian have been feeding repeated untruths to the Armenian public. The process has been well documented by the Turkish and other international media organizations, but Armenia’s state-backed press fails its readers by simply presenting regime untruths verbatim. There should be no doubt that when the 24th April has passed and Obama has not uttered the ‘G’ word, Sargsyan and Nalbandian will return to the pursuit of their self-serving ambitions with Turkey and Azerbaijan, irrespective of the better interests of the Republic and its people - starting with establishment of the commission of historians.

The alternative is to lose the massive compensation package promised – by Turkey, Azerbaijan, the US, Russia and the EU, a loss which Armenia’s bandit regime will not stomach.
Bruce Tasker –

Armenian Genocide – Going, Going, GONE -

The latest report from the International Crisis Group (14 April 2009), examines how a decade of academic and civil society outreach laid the foundations for what is now intense official engagement between the governments.

"The two sides are now close to agreement on a package deal that will establish diplomatic relations, open the border and set up bilateral commissions to address a range of issues".

So much for Sargsyan's 'No Preconditions'

Full ICG Report: www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6053&l=1

Classic Nalbandian:

The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Mahmud Mammadguliyev, gave a joint press conference after the sitting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

In response to electronic and print media writing over the past two days that the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Turkey are going to sign an agreement on the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations in Yerevan. Edward Nalbandian informed that Armenia and Turkey have ........... "no intention to sign any document today".

My Comment - Is Nalbandian a complete idiot, or is he taking the p......ss out of the Armenian public. I would say the first.

The article also quotes Nalbandian as saying - “The negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh are underway between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and with the support of the Co-Chairs. There is no other format of negotiations. Turkey does not act as a mediator in the settlement process,”

My Comment - Since when has Nagorno Karabakh been a party to the OSCE Minsk Group backed negotiations?

Turkey's Ambassador To Australia Trying To Prevent Recognition Of Armenian Genocide April 15 2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey's Ambassador to Australia has attempted to prevent Australian lawmakers from recognizing as genocide the organized annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians and 350,000 Greeks during World War I, the Weekend Australian reports.

The newspaper reported of the attempts made by the Turkish Ambassador, Murat Ersavci, to block the government of South Australia from passing a motion recognizing the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides.

The measure also acknowledged the role of the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia, which provided immediate humanitarian relief to the victims and survivors of the genocide.

On March 25th, South Australia became the second Australian state (after New South Wales in 1997) to recognize the Armenian Genocide when its Parliament's Legislative Council passed a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide as "one of the greatest crimes against humanity".

The report revealed that upon Ersavci's request, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Stephen Smith, "had written to South Australian Premier Mike Rann outlining the federal Government's position 'on these historical events' in Turkey at the time the remnants of the once mighty Ottoman Empire gave way to the new republic".

"It is completely undemocratic that the ambassador of a foreign nation forces our Foreign Affairs Minister to lobby the Premier of South Australia," commented Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) President, Varant Meguerditchian. "Mr. Ersavci's actions are a direct attempt to gag our politicians from speaking truthfully about our proud history."

ANC Australia has called upon the Australian Government to review its official position, in light of eyewitness testimony from ANZAC soldiers held captive in Turkey during WWI, and the overwhelming body of evidence which demonstrates Australia's involvement in providing aid to the orphaned survivors of the Armenian Genocide,

"Australia can no longer avoid or stay silent on this issue when it is so closely intertwined with Australia's proud history," Meguerditchian said.

Adding weight to the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide is the research conducted by the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies that discovered records of Australia's humanitarian assistance to Armenians following the genocide and testimonies by ANZAC soldiers to atrocities against the Armenians as they occurred.

Obama: President Of The World By Victor Davis Hanson
AINA Assyrian International News Agency, April 15 2009

Given Obama's performance on his recent trip, three developments were quite astounding.

First, despite this fresh climate of atonement, there was a complete absence of a single apology from any other foreign leader -- odd for the new shared spirit of multi-polarity and reciprocity.

Not a word came from Britain about colonialism. Nothing from Germany on the Holocaust, or its trade with Iran. Not a peep from France about Algeria or Vietnam.

Turkey was mum on the Armenian killings and its own tough anti-Kurdish policies. Russia said nothing about the 30 million murdered by Stalin -- or its present assassinations abroad, much less its leveling of Grozny or its destruction of Afghanistan. Nothing came from China about the 70 million who perished under Mao or its present role in subsidizing North Korean nukes -- or its violation of global copyright laws. We won't hear anything in the "New Asian Hemisphere" about Muslim Uighurs or Tibet.

Second, there was no other example of "He did it!" about supposedly inept predecessors. Mr. Medvedev said nothing about Putin's brutish rule. Sarkozy and Merkel did not trash the shady Chirac or Gazprom's bought lobbyist Schroeder, and their role in harming the Atlantic alliance. Gordon Brown was quiet about Tony Blair and Iraq. China did not mention a reset button. The new Berlusconi did not trash the old Berlusconi.

Third, we saw no concrete evidence of any help -- or hope and change --from any foreign leader. Zilch. There were expectations of American concessions, but nothing new or helpful from anyone else.

Instead I think a number of astute foreign leaders -- rivals, enemies, and friends alike -- have already drawn the following conclusions.

I. An Obama visit

A vast entourage will descend on your capital in campaign mode. Most of your functionaries will wish to get a photo-op with the rock-star president. The American president at some point will request a "town-hall meeting," press conference, or open-air handshake session with the crowd. All this is largely for domestic consumption back home, and is designed to offer an antidote for the concessions or apologies that follow. It is quite successful in generating temporary goodwill toward the new Obama administration.

II. "I'm sorry."

Obama will apologize for almost anything one can imagine. First comes the generic lamentation about Bush, the need for a reset button, and America's characteristic "arrogance." Then there are the "we are at fault" lines on spec, tailor-made mea culpas for the country in question.

If you are Turkish and Islamic, you get a threefer: the morally equivalent reference to the American treatment of the Indians, the pledge that we are not at war with Islam (forget that no president ever said we were), and the reminder that we are not a Christian nation.

In Europe, you receive apologies for Bush, Iraq, and the financial meltdown. Each leader gets a unique version of Obama's somewhat narcissistic "Them, not me" -- either a strain of something like "Bush did it" or "Every American except me is arrogant." We can console ourselves only that Obama has not contextualized or apologized to the Somali pirates -- yet.

III. "You're Right!"

Differences that your country has with the United States will be resolved in your favor. Foreign leaders already sense that Obama's success hinges on his "hope and change" ecstasy back home -- which cannot for long sustain stories of difficult diplomacy and public manifestations of international trouble and acrimony, of anything really that suggests he is not mesmerizing the world in the manner he did the American electorate.

Europe? Take your pick. No more combat troops to Afghanistan; an international financial "czar"; no additional financial deficit stimuli; no Guantanamo prisoners on European shores; American acknowledgment of culpability for the financial crisis; no mention of Europe's own reckless lending, protectionism, or pre-September 2008 declining GDP. But goodwill aplenty.

China? It gets praise when it ridicules the dollar, but offers no help on North Korea. Nothing new about trade violations. Hope is expressed that they will still buy our growing debt.

Russia? Let us count the ways. No more missile defense for Eastern Europe; no mention of Russia's human-rights violations or its policy of serial assassination abroad; de facto abandonment of advocacy for former Soviet republics' autonomy; Russia's energy blackmail is Russia's business; no help with de-nuclearizing Iran.

Turkey? Yes, Europe must let you in the EU. The new Danish NATO supreme commander must apologize for defending free speech -- and, as relish, hire some of your generals; continued American assurance that we are not a Christian nation.

The Islamic World is not to be inconvenienced by any mention of radical Islam, or 9/11, or of the endemic pathologies that nourished al-Qaedism in the first place -- such as gender apartheid, religious intolerance, autocracy, statism, and tribalism. Instead there is plenty of Bush-bashing, courting of Iran and Syria, caricatures of the "war on terror," and talk of Iraq as a "mistake."

IV. "Them"

Then comes the "separation." Obama makes it clear to any host or foreign leader that both he and his vision of America are strangely exempt from America's past, from Bush, and from our innately arrogant nature. That is accomplished in a number of adroit ways. There is evocation of his once-taboo middle name "Hussein" to win affection in the Middle East, but also to suggest a more Third Worldish resonance such as "I am one of you too who has grievances against 'them.' "

He is beginning to mention the novelty of his racial heritage a lot, usually in the context that we are now in a new world of Obama, and that his very presence is a rejection of the old and illiberal America.

That the veteran Colin Powell and Russian-speaking Condoleezza Rice ran American foreign policy the last eight years, in a way unthinkable in Europe, is never voiced. Suggesting that China would have an Uighur foreign minister, that Saudi Arabia would have a Christian foreign minister, that France would have an Algerian foreign minister, that Germany would have a Turkish foreign minister, or that Russia would have a Chechen foreign minister is as absurd as suggesting that a Powell or Rice was never a big deal.

So what Obama leaves out about America is telling. He touches on slavery, lack of voting rights for blacks in the South (although he conflates this issue and implies to foreigners that African Americans could not vote in the North as well), our past treatment of Native Americans, and the dropping of the bomb against Japan.

These transgressions are rarely put in any historical context, much less referenced as sins of mankind shared by all of his hosts (the pedigree of murder, exploitation, and rapine of his foreign interlocutors is quite stunning). We don't hear many references to the American Revolution, or the great tradition of American ingenuity embodied by Bell, Edison, or the Wright brothers.

We hear nothing about our Gettysburg, or our entry into World War I. Iwo Jima and the Bulge are never alluded to. Drawing the line in Korea and forcing the end of the Soviet monstrosity are taboo subjects. That we pledged the life of New York for Berlin in the Cold War is unknown. Liberating Afghanistan and Iraq from the diabolical Taliban and Saddam Hussein is left unsaid. The Civil Rights movement, the Great Society, affirmative action, and present billion-dollar foreign-aid programs apparently never existed. Millions of Africans have been saved by George Bush's efforts at extending life-saving medicines to AIDS patients -- but again, this is never referenced.

V. What's Next?

At present the world is watching, probing, and digesting the Obama presidency. But it has already concluded that Obama is nourished by applause and will work to maintain it -- not merely for personal gratification, but because he realizes that loud public endorsement is essential to his perpetual candidacy, given its absence of experience and sagacity.

Those abroad are also reassured that the American media, so heavily invested in hope and change, will do almost anything to transmogrify American embarrassments into Obama successes. Meanwhile, the contours of the new world order are clear. Iraq's democrats are snubbed; Iran's cutthroats are courted. A Saudi royal receives a bow; the British queen, a presumptuous squeeze -- while her prime minister receives unplayable DVDs.

Pakistan released Dr. Khan and wants us to idle our Predators. Iran is adding to its centrifuges. North Korea will ready ever-more missiles. Syria lectures on the putative peace it is begged to participate in. The former Soviet republics will fall back into line, closing American supply bases or bracing for the next Putin push. Israel gets a Charles Freeman nomination; Gaza a billion U.S. dollars in aid.

The odious governments of Cuba, Libya, and Syria quite logically have now expressed warmth of some sort for Obama and expect similar treatment in return. Russia fears little challenge to the reestablishment of its 19th-century influence. Pirates in Somalia, though slightly fewer in number today, likely have little to fear going forward.

Europe had better prepare for its own defense. So should Japan. They may get more expressions of outrage when crises loom, more calls for U.N. action, but not much more than that. Expect a world of more nukes, not fewer -- in direct proportion to Obama's calls for their entire elimination.

In short, we have a return of Jimmy Carter's postnational idealism, but this time with the charismatic face of a Ronald Reagan. For 40 years we have had well-meaning moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multiculturalism taught in our schools, and we are now learning that all that was not just therapy, but has insidiously become our national gospel. The world is hearing a deeply pessimistic view of what America was and is -- now offered in mellifluous cadences by a messianic president who not so long ago in more unguarded moments called for more oppression studies and reparations.

President Obama will get his much-needed praise and adulation abroad, and Americans will finally be somwhat admired for a while. And thereafter, there will be real hell to pay -- either abject U.S. appeasement as the world heats up, or some sort of frantic eleventh-hour hyper-response to restore stability and lost deterrence.

Just watch.

Facing History: Denial And The Turkish National Security Concept* By Taner Akcam • April 16, 2009 The Armenian Weekly
April 2009 Magazine

In September 2005, Turkish intellectuals who questioned the Turkish state’s denial policy on the deportation and killings of Armenians during World War I gathered for a conference in Istanbul. Outside, in the streets, demonstrators also gathered in protest against the conference. One of the placards read: “Not Genocide, but Defense of the Fatherland.” Two parallel convictions are at work here, one referring to the past, the other to the present. Both the events of 1915 and the denial policy nine decades later are framed in terms of Turkish national security and self-defense.

In 2009, in a raid against the ultra-nationalist shadowy terror organization Ergenekon, which is composed of mostly army and police officers and bureaucrats, Turkish police confiscated some documents. Among those documents was a file listing the names of five people along with their photos; they were targeted for assassination. My name was among that group. Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in January 2007, were two other names. The title of the document was “Traitors to National Security.” All of the people listed were known for having spoken out on the Armenian Genocide and for asking the Turkish government to face this historic reality honestly. One can therefore draw the conclusion that to be outspoken about the genocide is to be considered a threat, by certain groups, to Turkish national security.

This is not just the view of the political elite or an ultra-nationalist terror organization. It also underpins legal decision-making. In a judgment in 2007 against two Turkish-Armenian journalists—Arat Dink, the son of Hrant Dink, and Sarkis Seropyan, who received suspended sentences of a one-year imprisonment for using the term genocide—the Turkish court stated: “Talk about genocide, both in Turkey and in other countries, unfavorably affects national security and the national interest. The claim of genocide…has become part of and the means of special plans aiming to change the geographic political boundaries of Turkey… and a campaign to demolish its physical and legal structure.” The ruling further stated that the Republic of Turkey is under “a hostile diplomatic siege consisting of genocide resolutions… The acceptance of this claim may lead in future centuries to a questioning of the sovereignty rights of the Republic of Turkey over the lands on which it is claimed these events occurred.” Due to these national security concerns, the court declared that the claim of genocide in 1915 is not protected speech, and that “the use of these freedoms can be limited in accordance with aims such as the protection of national security, of public order, of public security.”[1]

The situation is not that different here in the United States: Even though April 24 was declared a “National Day of Remembrance” for the Armenian Genocide by a joint declaration of Congress on Sept. 9, 1975, and the president of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation, since then no U.S. president, except Ronald Reagan in 1981, has used the term genocide. The main reason for this attitude is “national security concerns of the United States in the Middle East.”

The same argument is used against proposals for recognizing the Armenian Genocide on the floor of Congress, which has been brought up almost every year in the form of resolutions. Both U.S. presidents and opponents of the genocide resolutions have very similar arguments to the Turkish court’s decision above. Indeed, it would appear that, as the court stated, using the term genocide “unfavorably affects national security and the national interest” of Turkey and the United States.

We have two sets of arguments here that are brought up in opposition of one another: national security versus morality, or in other phraseology, “realists” versus “moral fundamentalists.” The realists emphasize the national security concerns of their country. In Turkey today, any attempt to openly discuss historic wrongs is denounced as a covert move in a master plan to partition the country—a move, therefore, against the “national security of Turkey.” Here in the United States, the realists consider the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide by Congress or the use of the term by the president to be “against U.S. strategic interests.”

One often hears: “Turkey is a close friend of ours and we should not upset them,” or “we should not jeopardize our strategic interests in the Middle East because of a moral issue, which occurred in the distant past.” On the other side we have the fundamentalist moralists who emphasize the supremacy of morality against “real interests.”

Pitting national interests against morality as mutually exclusive is wrong. Any security policy in the Middle East that excludes morality cannot ultimately work. Eventually it comes to undermine national security. Indeed, if one knows Turkey and the Middle East, one would easily recognize that history and historical injustices are not just dead issues from the past; the past is the present in the Middle East. There is a strong interconnection between security, democracy, and facing history in the Middle East. Even a passing glance at the region makes it clear that historical injustices and the persistent denial of these injustices by one or another state or ethnic/religious group is a major stumbling block—not only for the democratization of the region, but also for the establishment of stable relations between different ethnic and religious groups. My central argument is that the failure to confront history honestly is one of the major reasons for insecurity and instability in the region.

Why is the discussion of historical injustices perceived as a threat to Turkish national security? Let us try to examine the roots of this mentality, and try to show the reasons why it must be changed. The mindset that an open discussion of history engenders a security problem originates from the breakup of the Ottoman Empire into nation-states beginning in the 19th century. From late Ottoman times to the present, there has been continuous tension between the state’s concern for secure borders and society’s need to come to terms with human rights abuses. In this history, human right abuses and the security and territorial integrity of a crumbling empire can be likened to the two faces of a coin—the two separate faces of the same coin caused the rise of two opposing historical narratives.

Until recently, the dominant narrative has been the story of the partition of the Ottoman Empire among the Great Powers, which ended with its total collapse and disintegration. If one were to review the books in Turkey that recount this narrative, one would be hard pressed to find a reference to the massacres and genocide during the late 19th and early 20th century. Instead, Christian communities are painted as the seditious agents of the imperialist Great Powers, continually conspiring against the state.

The other narrative has been developed by those ethnic and religious minorities who were subjected to a different level of human rights abuses during that period. The history of the 19th century is mostly formulated in terms of human rights and the intervention of the Great Powers on behalf of the minority groups. It is plain to see the contrast in both positions. In one perspective the Great Powers are portrayed as “evil” and must be criticized for having intervened too much. In the other perspective, the Great Powers have been characterized as “positive” or “benign,” and are criticized for not having intervened enough.

Hence, Turkish controversies about facing national history, in particular the Armenian Genocide, can be understood, in part, as the deployment of two apparently contradictory narratives against one another. Whenever proponents of acknowledgment bring up the history of human rights abuses, they are confronted with an opposing narrative, that of the decline and breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the seditious agents who quickened the process.

Indeed, there have been certain moments in that history where national security and human rights became inseparably intertwined. One such moment came immediately after WWI, between 1918 and 1923. When that war ended with an Ottoman defeat, the political decision-makers of the time grappled with two distinct, yet related issues when working out the terms of a peace settlement—the answers to which determined their various relationships and alliances: The first was the territorial integrity of the Ottoman state. The second was the wartime atrocities committed by the ruling Union and Progress Party against its Ottoman Armenian citizens.

The questions about the first issue were: Should the Ottoman state retain its independence? Should new states be permitted to arise on the territory of the Ottoman state? If so, how should the borders of these new states be defined? The questions regarding the second issue were: What can be done about the wartime crimes against the Armenians and the perpetrators of these atrocities? How should the perpetrators be punished? These questions related two different sets of issues that hadn’t been tackled separately and were rather intertwined with each other.

The questions related to the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire led to the formation of two different viewpoints. The Turkish nationalist movement, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, favored continued sovereignty within reduced borders as defined by the 1918 Moudros Ceasefire Treaty. The Allied Powers and ethnic/religious groups such as the Greeks, Armenians, and to a lesser degree the Kurds, on the other hand argued for the establishment of new states on both occupied and unoccupied territory of the Ottoman Empire. The successive treaties of Sevres (1920) and Lausanne (1923) reflected these divergent points of view.

As a result of this fight over territory in the period of the republic, a general understanding of history in modern Turkey emerged: We, the Turks, who see ourselves as the legitimate successors of the Ottoman Empire, defended our sole remaining territory against the Armenians, Greeks, and to a lesser extent the Kurds, who were trying to carve up Anatolia into nation-states,with the support of the British, French, and Italians. The 1920 Treaty of Sevres resolved the question of territory in favor of the non-Turkish nationalities. For the Turks, therefore, Sevres remains a black mark in our history. For the other ethnic/religious groups, however, the significance of Sevres is quite different.

Although it did not fully reflect their demands for territory, the treaty represented an unprecedented historical opportunity to resolve the territorial issue in their favor. Conversely, the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which guaranteed Turkish dominance in Anatolia, stands as a milestone and validation of our continued national existence. Meanwhile, the other nationalities regard it as a great historical injustice.

Nevertheless, both treaties were not merely symbols of territorial conflict; they also symbolized how the injustices committed against the Armenians and other Christians during the war would be addressed. The central question concerned how the perpetrators of human rights abuses during the war would be punished. Although everyone, including the Turkish nationalists, agreed that these crimes should not be left unpunished, there was uncertainty about the scope of the penalty. One group advocated for the trial and punishment of only some first-hand criminals as well as some of the top Union and Progress leaders. Another group advocated for the trials of individual suspects, casting the net as wide as possible, and for the punitive dismemberment of the Ottoman state into new states created on its territory.

The position of the Entente Powers was that “the Turks,” [2] so to speak, organized the massacres of other peoples, in particular the Armenians, during World War I, and that it was therefore necessary to punish “the Turks” collectively in order to rescue the subject peoples (Arabs as well as Greeks, Armenians, etc.) from Turkish domination. Punishing “the Turks” was to be accomplished in two phases: First, the members of the Ottoman government and other officials were to be tried for the crimes against religious and ethnic communities. Second,“the Turks” would henceforth inhabit a state that would be rendered as small and as weak as possible. A telegram sent to the Paris Peace Conference on April 3, 1919 by the assistant high commissioner of Istanbul, Webb, clearly illustrates this policy; it read:

In order to punish all of those persons who are guilty of the Armenian horrors, it is necessary to punish the Turks as a group. Therefore, I propose that the punishment be given on a national level through the partitioning up of the last Turkish Empire, and on a personal level by trying those high officials who are on the list in my possession, and in a manner that would serve as an example for their successors. [3]

In short, casting the net as widely as possible, the Allied Powers advocated for the trials of individual suspects and for the punitive dismemberment of the Ottoman state into new states created on its territory. So, the main ostensible reason for partitioning Anatolia among the various national groups was motivated by the Great Powers’ desire to punish “the Turks” for the barbarous acts they had committed.

What was the attitude of the “Turkish” position relative to the punishments of the criminals? Recall that postwar Turkey was governed from two political centers: Istanbul, the seat of the Ottoman government, and Ankara, the headquarters of the Turkish Nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal. Both the Istanbul and Ankara governments acknowledged the massacres of the Armenians and agreed with the Allies that the perpetrators should be tried and that the trials were considered “just and necessary.” However, Ankara and Istanbul vehemently opposed the punitive partition of Anatolia.

This was one of the central issues when both governments met in October 1919 to call an election of an Ottoman parliament in accordance with the constitution. They signed five protocols to regulate the process of the upcoming elections. The first and third protocols were directly related to the topic at hand. The first protocol declared: “1. Ittihadism (Party of Union and Progress) [which organized the genocide against the Armenians] or any hint of its reawakening is politically very damaging . . . 4. It is judicially and politically necessary to punish those who committed crimes in connection with the deportation.” In the third protocol, both parties agreed that the fugitive members of “Ittihat,” who were wanted in connection with wartime atrocities, were not to participate in the elections. The protocol described the atrocities as “the evil deeds” of the Union and Progress Party. The perpetrators were defined as persons “who have been sullied by the nefarious acts of the deportation and massacre,” and so their participation in the election was qualified as “contrary to the true interests of the nation.”

The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, when addressing the parliament on April 24, 1920, called the atrocities a “shameful act.” Now, keep in mind that Mustafa Kemal was not a human rights activist or an altruist, but a politician. The underlying reason in supporting the punishment of the perpetrators was his expectation from the ongoing Paris Peace conference; the commanders of the British and French occupying forces in Istanbul had grabbed every opportunity to remind “the Turks” that if they expected a positive outcome from the Paris peace talks, action had to be taken against the perpetrators of the war crimes. So, the Mustafa Kemal-led government in Ankara and the administration in Istanbul believed that the war crime trials were the price for obtaining national sovereignty. In a memo written by Mustafa Kemal in September 1919 to the Istanbul government, this point was underlined in a very clear way: “The punishment of perpetrators,” he wrote, “should not stay only on paper…but should be carried out, since this would successfully impress the foreign elements.” In exchange for this concession, the Turkish leadership expected a more favorable peace settlement without the loss of territory.

This strategy failed. In April 1920, the provisions of Sevres became known, according to which it was proposed to punish “the Turks” for the war crimes by partitioning the Ottoman territory. In the same month, the Istanbul Court Martial, which had been established in November 1918 and which was in the process of trying the perpetrators of the Armenian atrocities, now under pressure from the Allied Powers, began trying almost the entire Turkish national leadership,Mustafa Kemal foremost among them, who were opposed to the partitioning of Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal and around 100 nationalists were sentenced to death in absentia.

When the Turkish nationalists realized that their support for the punishment of war criminals was not going to prevent the partitioning of Anatolia, and was in fact going to lead to their own prosecution and punishment, their attitude changed. As Mustafa Kemal wrote to Istanbul on Aug. 20, 1920: “[t]he Ottoman government . . . continues to hang the children of the homeland on accusations of [having perpetrated] deportation and massacres, which now became totally senseless.” [4] What Mustafa Kemal meant was that the policy whereby the Ottoman government punished Turks for what they had done to the Christian minorities would make sense only if Turkey received some positive results in terms of a better treaty to secure the Ottoman territories. However, Sevres had been signed, Ottoman sovereignty had not been acknowledged, and the Ottoman territories were distributed among different nations. Therefore, Mustafa Kemal concluded that these “senseless” death sentences should be halted.

We can conclude that had the Western forces agreed to territorial integrity in exchange for trials for “crimes against humanity,” we might be talking about a very different history.

Today, we can say that the court martial in Istanbul is a symbol of these two interwoven but distinct strands of Turkish history: “territory and borders,” or expressed another way, “national security” on the one side, and “human rights,” or “facing history and addressing historic wrongdoings,” on the other. The fact is that the attempt to dismember and partition the state as a form of punishment for the atrocities committed during the war years, and the proposed punishment of its nationalist leaders for seeking the territorial integrity of their state, created the mindset in Turkey today that views any reference to the historic wrongdoings in the past as an issue of national security.

A product of this mindset is therefore a belief that democratization, freedom of thought and speech, open and frank debate about history, and the acknowledgment of one’s past historical misdeeds is a threat to national security. Those who invite society to engage in an open examination of the past are therefore labeled as “traitors,” made targets of smear campaigns, and dragged into courts for “insulting Turkishness.” It is this kind of mindset that was behind the murder of Hrant Dink in 2007.

Reviewing Turkish history from this perspective reveals four important new perspectives. First, Mustafa Kemal’s condemnation of the Armenian massacres is diametrically opposed to the current official Turkish policy of denial. His position during the difficult war years could be a positive starting point for a resolution. To become truly democratic, Turkey must confront this “dark chapter” of its history, this “shameful act,” as Mustafa Kemal called it.

Secondly, until now, the Turkish-Armenian problem has been perceived within the old paradigm that produced these conflicts, namely, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the clash of different ethnic or national groups over land and boundaries. We have to change this understanding. What we need is a new paradigm, and we need to rethink the Armenian-Turkish conflict. We have to reposition the Armenian-Turkish conflict within the new paradigm of transitional justice, that is, as a part of the democratization effort within existing nation-states. The conflict should not be regarded as a territorial dispute, but rather as a human rights issue and as a problem of historic injustices that must be rectified in order to establish a just and democratic society.

Thirdly, the concept of Turkish national security must be revised and changed. The main flaw of this concept is its perception that the promotion of basic democratic rights such as equality under the law, social reform, and freedom of speech are a threat to national security. In the past, the emergence of the so-called “Armenian Question” was the result of Armenian demands for equality and social reform, which arguably would have led to a better Ottoman society. Their demands and the Armenians themselves were considered a security threat, leading to them being targeted for massacres and deportations. Today, the demand for an honest account of history is being handled in the same way: as a security problem.

The irony is that criminalizing historical inquiries for national security reasons is not only a huge obstacle on the path to democracy, but is also counterproductive and leads directly to real security problems for the country. This “self-fulfilling prophecy” can be shown not only in the case of the Armenian Genocide of the past but in the Kurdish problem today. Just as the Armenians and their social and political demands for a more just society were considered a threat in the past, a democratic future for Kurds today is also considered a threat to Turkish national security. So, instead of solving the Kurdish problem by seeking solutions that would lead to a more democratic society, the old—and, I would argue, now useless—security concept has been resurrected and has declared that Kurdish demands are essentially a security problem for the nation.

As long as Turkey continues to regard moral principles (one of which is facing historical injustice with honesty) and national security as two opposing poles that are mutually exclusive, and refuses to come to terms with the past for national security reasons—indeed, as long as Turkey’s national security is defined in opposition to an honest historical reckoning—further problems will be created.

Fourth, the United States should change its policy towards the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the security concept towards Turkey. The best way to summarize why is with the French concept of “Bon pour l’Orient!” translated as “It is good enough for the East.” During the 19th century, this concept legitimized French colonialism and provided justification for the humiliation of the eastern countries they colonized and the acts committed there. The U.S. has to rid itself of this classic colonial patronization. If it’s good for the U.S., then the same should be demanded of Turkey.

The idea of criminalizing discussion about American slavery or the treatment of Native Americans because of “security issues”; or of maintaining federal government websites where these historical events are uniformly referred to as “so-called” or “alleged” and filled with openly racist, hateful propaganda; or of forcing American children to watch films denying that the slavery of Africans or subjugation of Native Americans ever took place would be viewed as a sick joke in the U.S., but American foreign policy makers have had no problems supporting Turkey, a country that has been doing virtually the same consistently for decades, even going so far as to establish a coordination committee among the different ministries to coordinate the fight against “so-called Armenian genocide lies.”

The U.S. government should recognize that any argument here, in the U.S., that brings up America’s national interest as the reason to reject the official acknowledgment of the genocide, will result in supporting those in Turkey who still hunt down intellectuals because they are opposed to this inhumane, racist mindset.

There is a security aspect of the problem, as well: A non-democratic, authoritarian Turkey creates a security problem when it makes denial of historical injustices an integral part of its security policy. It is exactly this attitude that not only delays democratization in the region, but also destabilizes relationships in the volatile Middle East.

A main problem in the region is the insecurity felt by different groups towards each other as a result of past events. When you make the denial of these pain-filled acts a part of your security policy, this brings with it insecurity towards the other. This is what I call the security dilemma: What one does to enhance one’s own security causes a reaction that, in the end, can make one even less secure. Often statesmen do not recognize that this may be a probable outcome; they do not empathize this with their neighbors and are unaware that their own actions can appear threatening. The existing sense of mistrust engendered by denial is an obstacle to the creation of security in the region. For this reason, any security concept, any policies of realpolitik in and for the region that ignores morality and forgets to address historical wrongdoings are doomed to fail.

So, instead of helping those who deny past injustices, U.S. policy should integrate an honest confrontation with history into a policy of national interest in the Middle East.

Lastly, there are some pragmatic reasons why existing U.S. policy regarding Turkey should change. First, there’s an ongoing theatrical drama (or perhaps comedy would be a better term) that all the parties engage in every year and that has started to grow old. It’s time to end this dishonorable playacting. As we know, each time the administration or Congress has the issue of the Armenian Genocide on their table, they don’t vote for/against what they think about the events of 1915. They end up denying for one day what they believe the other 364 days of the year. All of the parties involved know very well what the administration and Congress think about 1915, but Turkey asks them to tell a lie only for one day. I have never understood why the Turkish government extracts so much joy out of making the United States lie for one day. I also find it completely dishonorable. Not only does this lie fail to lead to a resolution, it needlessly locks up the debate. All of the parties involved, arguably using all of their energy and effort, wait for this one day and get completely locked into a single word that may or may not be used by Congress or the president. Placing so much expectation and energy on a specific day and around a single word that may be uttered by the U.S. government creates incredible tension. It builds up into an impenetrable gridlock that impedes any solution. The United States should stop being a gridlock that prevents resolution. The time has come for the United States to stop allowing itself to play that role.

If the United States declares what it believes to be the truth and stands behind it, not only will it gain some self-respect on the subject, but it will liberate both Turks and Armenians and itself in the process.

After stating what it believes to be the truth, the U.S. could step away from being a part of the problem and could step into the role of mediator. That would bring about the realization to the opposing sides that the solution lies within them, not in expending all of their energy trying to get a U.S. president to state something or to keep quiet. The border between the two countries should immediately be reopened, diplomatic relations re-established, and a series of meetings planned where all subjects, not just history alone, are discussed and debated. Turkey needs to stop treating the discussion of history as a category of crime. This can only be possible when the U.S. puts an end to this gridlock and is honest with its statements about history.

The problem has another important aspect to it. At a time when Turkey is making an effort to engage in foreign policy mediation between Arabs and Israel and is attempting to be seen as an international team player, it might be an eye-opener for Turkey to understand that bullying and threatening others is not the behavior of an international actor. Turkey cannot continue with the same repressive domestic policies towards its own history and minorities—under the guise of national security; it cannot continue to threaten other countries in expressing their thoughts on 1915, while at the same time pretending to be a democratic country. An open official acknowledgment by the U.S. government might force Turkey to understand that blackmailing and threatening other states and suppressing and persecuting its own intellectuals do not offer solutions for historical problems nor for security.

I believe that we will enter a new era where morality and realpolitik will not be considered mutually exclusive—if President Barack Obama should put an end to this lingering problem and liberate everybody in the process by an official acknowledgment of genocide.


* This article is based on the inaugural lecture of the author at Clark University.

[1] Court decree, Second Penal Court of First Instance for the district of Sisli, file number: 2006/1208, decree no. 2007/1106, prosecution no. 2006/8617.

[2] I place the term “Turks” within quotation marks. Although the term was used in the discussions of the time, it is clear that in explaining historical events general terms such as this are not only wrong to use, but also incorrect from the standpoint of attempting to write a history.

[3] FO 371/4173/53351, folios 192-3.

[4] Bilal Simsir, Malta Surgunleri (Ankara, 1985), p. 334. The letter was written to the first Grand Vizier of the Armistice period, Ahmet Izzet Pasa, with the aim of its contents being communicated to the British High Commission.

‘Dinner With The President, Back To The Wall’: A Conversation With Oral Calislar By Andy Turpin • on April 16, 2009
ISTANBUL, Turkey (A.W.)—On March 16, Radikal columnist and Turkish journalist Oral Calislar spoke to the Weekly about the current state of Armenian Genocide politics in Turkey just prior to President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Turkey and Iraq.

Speaking about Turkey’s current ruling government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Calislar stated, “Turkey is now in a changing position with the AKP in power but there are many Kemalists still in the army. They wanted to prevent the AKP from taking power but they couldn’t. Now the AKP has brought Turkey closer to Western standards.”

Of his own record as a voice of Turkish dissent, incarcerated by the state in the 1970’s alongside historian Taner Akcam for his views in support of Armenians and Kurds, Calislar said, “For many years I was a Maoist. I spent 10 years underground and 7 years in jail. At this point, though, I’m closer to the Islamic party on many issues. It is a pity, but it is true. On the Armenian issue this government is closer to my views.”

He expanded, “This government is not in favor of the apology campaign [initiated in December 2008], but they do want to do something on the Armenian issue. But if recognition [of the genocide] comes from the U.S. this year, it will affect Turkish policies negatively. The problem now is relations.”

Asked whether Turkey and Armenia should open their common border for commerce and passage, Calislar stated, “I am very supportive of Turkey and Armenia opening up the borders. I went to Armenia several times in favor of this. I was also one of the first signers of the apology. I think 90 percent of the world believes it was genocide, but in Turkey there was a total blackout period. Now books are being written here on the subject but we need time. The Turkish people need time.”

Commenting on the role Hrant Dink’s assassination has played since 2007, he said, “Millions of people cried for him. He was a very effective and important figure and we used to travel around Anatolia speaking in many panels together.”

Asked whether he feels safer today from ultra-nationalists in Turkey who seek to silence dissenters through violence, he noted, “Well tonight, for example, I will eat dinner at a function with President Abdullah Gul and I will bring my bodyguard. But in general I do feel safer than I have before.”

Much of this feeling of increasing safety is from the ongoing Ergenekon trials, in which Turkish security forces have made sweeping dragnet arrests of political figures and intellectuals they have alleged are members of the “Deep State,” seeking a coup of Turkey’s present government.

He added, “Many of these people are killers and the majority of the bad killers have been put in jail. My name was on their list of people to kill, too.”

Asked whether he was currently under any indictments or in any court proceedings involving the infamous Article 301 statute that had made it a crime to “insult Turkishness,” Calislar said, “I was before, because of my articles and declarations [regarding the Armenian Genocide] but not today. Although now the state wants to open up cases against the signers of the apology. But 30,000 people signed the apology. What can they do?”

The number of those in Turkey that recognize the genocide is increasing, he said, and “step by step things are changing. Now at least 10 percent of Turkish people think it was genocide. That’s a huge improvement.”

Of his own projects, Calislar has written a new book called Alevi Lands that will come out this year in Turkish. “The Alevis [ethnic Kurdish minority] are about 10 million in Turkey and have hidden their identity for so many years but are now looking to secure minority rights,” he explained. “My wife, Ipek Calislar, also has a new book coming out called, Mrs. Ataturk, about Ataturk’s wife Latife Hanim or Latife Hanimefendi, that will be published in English, German, and French.”

“They tried to open a case against her, too,” he said of the Article 301 prosecutors, “because she recounts a story of how Ataturk once disguised himself as a woman during the war to escape capture by the Allies. But what can you do, this is reality.”

TurkishPAC Takes Position on Armenian-Turkish Relations
In the last several months there has been a softening of Turkish-Armenian relations, and the pace of these developments has gained momentum. TurkishPAC has followed these developments with great interest. All indications to date are that the Turkish Government, under external pressure, is seriously considering opening the Armenia-Turkey border toward normalization of relations between the two countries. Armenia, on the other hand, while viewing such normalization very favorably, appears to make no concessions in return.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has stated that normalization of relations between the two states should have no preconditions, and that Turkey and Armenia has a mutual understanding to that end.

TurkishPAC firmly opposes normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations without preconditions. It believes that normalization should depend on Armenia's agreeing to certain conditions. In particular, Armenia should:

1. Comply with the UN resolution to withdraw from the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabagh, which it illegally occupies,

2. Drop false “genocide” claims against Turkey that go back almost 100 years and agree to the establishment of a joint committee of historians, as proposed by Turkey, to study and judge the 1915 events. As Turkey has declared it would do so, Armenia should declare that it would consider the findings of such a committee binding.

3. Withdraw its support to the Armenian Diaspora on the latter’s campaign to disseminate “genocide” propaganda, and,

4. Remove indirect reference to a Greater Armenia in its Constitution by amending Article 13 of Chapter 1 that describes its national coat of arms.

With regard to items 3 and 4, note should also be made that in its Declaration of Independence in 1990, Armenia declared its support to false “genocide” claims against Turkey and has referred to Eastern Anatolia as “Western Armenia,” and as such, considers this area as part of Armenia. That is not a friendly posture toward a neighbor.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, disturbed by Turkey’s recent moves, has refused to attend the UN Alliance of Civilizations held in Istanbul recently. TurkishPAC applauds Aliyev’s principled stand. Azerbaijani and Turkish people are two brotherly nations, and Turkey should fully respect Azerbaijani people’s sensitivities.

TurkishPAC has viewed with apprehension press reports that the Turkish Government’s recent gestures toward Armenia without any preconditions is an attempt to forestall the passage of Armenian “genocide” resolution in the US Congress and discourage President Obama from using the word “genocide” on April 24. TurkishPAC firmly believes that the merits of Armenian “genocide” allegations should be judged by historians according to historical facts, not by politicians driven by ethnic interests. Turkish-American relations should not be held hostage to ethnic politics. The value of a strong, lasting Turkish-American partnership is too great to risk by narrow political considerations and gamesmanship.
TurkishPAC Board of Directors

Pitfalls and Possibilities: Armenian-Turkish Relations Explored
The past, present, and future of Armenian-Turkish relations were the focus of a three day seminar on March 20-22 that brought some 70 young Armenian Americans to the Armenian Youth Federation's campgrounds in Big Pines, California.
17 Apr 2009

The seminar covered a broad range of issues related to the current push to normalize ties between the two countries, including the history of the Ottoman Empire as well as the political and economic realities surrounding the troubled relations between Armenia and Turkey today.

"We wanted to present the current status of Armenian-Turkish relations and where it is going or should be going," said Shahan Boghikian, whose educational committee organized the seminar. "If and when relations are normalized, it is our generation, both in Turkey and Armenia, that will start the socialization process between the two peoples."

The various discussions sought to build a framework of understanding that will help a new generation of youth actively influence Armenian and Turkish societies, according to Boghikian. He also noted that the weekend's theme was Agos, the Armenian word for pathway.

A Mutual Understanding of History

The bridge building role of a new generation of Armenian activists was the focus of the seminar's first presentation, which traced the development of Armenian-Turkish relations from the early days of the Ottoman Empire to the Armenian Genocide.

"The entire history of Armenian-Turkish relations amounts to about a thousand years of shared experiences," explained Professor Garabet Moumjian who delivered the presentation.

These historic issues, however, have been dealt with only marginally on both sides, with Turkey banning any discussion of the Armenian Genocide. This, along with decades of animosity toward Turkey's denial, has made it difficult for the budding of a positive and progressive movement toward normalizing relations, he explained.

While he acknowledged that good neighborly relations are necessary for survival in an increasingly globalized world, Momujian noted that as much as this is important for Armenians, it is more important for Turks.

Moumjian said that because the larger part of Turkish society has been in denial for the past 94 years it has forgotten about an indigenous people that lived with them for nearly a millennium. "They have to deal with it with a real effort to know the past, and study it as opposed to forcefully forgetting it," he said.

Armenia's Legal Rights

A crucial aspect of that past is the fact that the Ottoman Government and its secular successor have stripped the Armenian people of their legal and historic rights to live on their ancestral homeland free and secure to exercise their right to self determination. Furthermore, a nearly incalculable amount of real property both in terms of land property and possessions were lost during the Armenian Genocide.

Any relations between Armenia and Turkey must be founded on a mutual acceptance of this reality, according to the weekend's second speaker, Steven Dedeyan, who is a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's Western USA Central Committee.

"As with any crime, in order to help ensure that it will not be recommitted, there has to be a remedy for the crime," he said, adding that the Genocide has been a "sore on the body politic of the Armenian nation," carried on for almost a century because the issue has not been resolved.

As a result, the Armenian nation today has very legitimate claims against the government of Turkey, explained Dedeyan, discussing the Armenian nation's legal and political rights under international law and specifically the Treaty of Sevres.

According to Article 89 of the Treaty of Sevres, Turkey and Armenia had agreed to submit to the arbitration of the US President and accept his decision to establish the Armenian-Turkish frontier "in the Vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis." Article 90. Meanwhile, stipulated that both parties agreed to renounce "all rights and title over the territory so transferred" once Wilson's stamp was set on the document. Both articles stood as stand alone provisions within the treaty, with the full force of international law, whether or not the treaty was ratified.

On November 22, 1920, US President Woodrow Wilson affixed his official seal on the his arbitral award issued pursuant to two articles, determining the Armenian-Turkish border. "That action effectively and legally transferred the historic Armenian territories of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis under Turkish occupation to the first Republic of Armenia," Dedeyan said.

Because article 89 and 90 are still legally binding on Turkey, the "current border between between Armenia and Turkey is illegal; it's a de facto border," Dedeyan said. "This is the crux of the dispute between Armenia as well as the Armenian Diaspora as heirs to this legacy and Turkey today."

"The legal border and frontier of Armenia and Turkey can only be governed and determined by treaties and here is where the problem arises for the Turks," he added. "This is why they have no official relationship to Armenia."

Since Armenia rarely discusses this issue it has left Turkey in the drivers seat as it consistently hinges the normalization of its relations with Armenia on signing a treaty that recognizes the current de-facto frontier between the two countries.

"This is a problem, Dedeyan explained. "If we sign such a treaty with Turkey, we will be giving up our political and legal rights," he said. "The border that currently exists has no legal basis today."

In essence, the Turkish government is using economic and military pressure today to force the Republic of Armenia to get what it cannot achieve given the current status of the treaties. This makes scrutiny of recent dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan all the more important. Under these circumstances, if Wilsonian Armenia is to be lost, it will have been the Republic of Armenia that gave it away and in the process, the diasporan heirs will have had their opportunity for justice undercut.

For Dedeyan, it's vital that this generation of activists work to ensure that the reconciliation between Armenians and Turks be rooted in the restoration of Armenia's legal rights. "Armenia cannot survive as an independent state with these current borders, let alone compete with Turkey, or in the world in general, on an equal economic footing," he stressed.

Economic Inequality

The success of any relationship building measure requires a certain degree of equity, but that is currently devoid in the ongoing normalization process, noted Aram Kaloustian, the third presenter of the day and a member of the ARF's Western US Central Committee.

Armenia, under blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan since 1993, has a far smaller and weaker economy than Turkey whose economy is ranked as the 15th largest economy in the world. Kaloustian presented the possible impacts on Armenia's economy that open borders with Turkey would bring.

Citing a 2007 AIPRG conference on this issue held in Yerevan, Kaloustian said that analysts have predicted that an unbound frontier will allow the establishment of transport networks and energy links from Turkey through the Caucasus to Central Asia. The end of the blockade, he added, will also open up Armenia's economy for Turkish business and vice versa.

But Armenia's economy may be at a serious disadvantage in this scenario, Kaloustian noted, explaining that it is still in its infancy and ill-equipped to compete against its Turkish counterparts.

"On the short term, the biggest factor that will be affected is the cost of transporting goods in and out of Armenia," he said, underscoring how the Russian-Georgian war last August closed off Armenia's main access point to the world, costing the country millions in lost trade.

Kaloustian noted that while the cost of shipping goods into and out of Armenia will drastically drop and certain sectors of the economy would benefit, these benefits would not be felt by the majority of the Armenians in the republic. If the Sarkisian Administration fails to address key concerns regarding economic corruption in Armenia, any benefits of the open border would overwhelmingly only be enjoyed by few within the republic.

"Armenia's economy is small and concentrated in the hands of few. This puts Armenia at an unequal footing to compete with Turkey," explained Kaloustian.

This is a reflection of the fact that Armenia does not have the laws in place to protect its national economy from being monopolized by Turkish corporations according to the previously cited AIPRG conference report.

Highlighting the lack of preparedness in Armenia for an open boarder, one need only look at the energy sector of Armenia's economy. When the Armenia-Turkey border opens, in the short run, Armenia will become an energy producer, exporting electricity from its hydroelectric plants to Turkey's eastern provinces, which have remained largely underdeveloped since the Armenian Genocide. "Unfortunately, the Armenian energy sector is primarily owned by foreign companies," Kaloustian pointed out.

The average Armenian will not see the benefit of the border opening and it will have a limited impact in securing a short term relief from Armenia's deepening economic recession. In this light, it becomes readily apparent that there may be a significant danger of trading away Armenia's rights to lands necessary for its long-term stability and economic prosperity in return for short term reduction of costs and opportunities in a limited number of sectors, the benefits of which would unlikely be felt by the majority of Armenian citizens.

According to Kaloustian, the lifting of the blockade may also lead to a upsurge in development in the occupied provinces, where impoverished and oppressed Kurds currently make up the majority. Investment has already slowly begun to trickle into places like Garin and Van, transforming them into prominent centers of manufacturing.

"The richer and more developed these regions become, the more difficult it will be to transfer the land back to Armenia," Kaloustian warned, noting how more and more generations of non-Armenians will settle on those lands once it becomes comfortable to live there.

A Contemporary Issue

The seminar ended with an open forum moderated by the weekend's director Aram Madelian, who opened the floor for participants to discuss the topics presented. Debate over the implications of normalizing relations with Turkey and possible new avenues of activism toward attaining justice for the Armenian Genocide took center stage.

During the back and forth, some participants criticized the Armenian government's handling of its rapprochement with Turkey; others expressed concerned with how open borders with Turkey would impact their lives here in America.

"What's important for us to realize is that the matters discussed during this seminar are not issues to be relegated to the past, but causes for contemporary concern that must be addressed by us as a community, said Vache Thomassian, the chairman of the AYF, during the closing discussion. "Whether we live in Armenia, Europe, or the United States, the decisions made in Yerevan and Ankara in the coming months will affect us all for generations to come."

Ethic Cleansing Michael Crowley, The New Republic, April 15, 2009
Whose genocide are you on?
Are you a former current or former leader of the House of Representatives? Then the government of Turkey wants to talk to you! In recent years, Turkey has hired as lobbyists at least four men who held senior House posts. Currently working Capitol Hill for the Turks is former Democratic leader Richard Gephardt. Schmoozing Republicans is the former House speaker, Dennis Hastert. Hastert was signed up to replace Bob Livingston, a former House speaker-designate (now plying his trade for the Libyans), and former House Republican leader Dick Armey. Steny Hoyer, what are you waiting for? Have you seen Gephardt's new house in Sonoma?

Turkey pays these men handily to defend its many interests in Washington. But one mission overrides all the others: blocking an official U.S. government declaration that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide against the Armenian people at the end of World War I. For years, lobbyists for Turkey have smothered congressional efforts, fueled by America's vocal Armenian community, to pass a resolution recognizing the genocide. They warn that such a blasphemy of Turkey's founding fathers would ignite public outrage there, alienating a moderate Muslim ally and perhaps costing the United States access to an air base vital for Iraq operations. The result has been a classic perennial Washington issue that mostly serves to appease interest groups and enrich lobbyists, much like asbestos reform or tax loophole fights--except, in this case, there are up to 1.5 million murdered innocents involved.

But, as Barack Obama prepares for his upcoming state visit to Ankara in early April and the day of a traditional presidential statement to the Armenian-American community that follows a couple of weeks later, this debate may finally be coming to a head. Obama is the first American president elected after explicitly promising to invoke the dreaded G-word. And, thus, a trip designed to defuse tension between the United States and the Muslim world will have the small matter of genocide culpability hanging over it like a foul odor.

As a candidate, Obama was perfectly clear. "The facts are undeniable," he said in a January 2008 statement. He called the massacre not an allegation or matter of opinion--many Turks maintain that the killing resulted from anarchy accompanying the Ottoman Empire's collapse--but a clear exercise in race-based killing: "As president," he vowed, "I will recognize the Armenian genocide." Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, who said America's "morality" and "credibility" demanded such a statement, agreed. And why not? Last year, all were presidential candidates looking for easy ways to sound bold and noble, not to mention courting Armenian-American votes and money.

But, now that Obama is in the Oval Office, the world may seem rather more complex than it did on the campaign trail. The smell of capitulation is in the air. "At this moment, our focus is on how, moving forward, the United States can help Armenia and Turkey work together to come to terms with the past," a National Security Council spokesman told the Los Angeles Times last week. When a top Turkish official emerged from a recent meeting with National Security Advisor Jim Jones, he sounded sanguine on the question, declining to say whether Obama was standing by his campaign promise, yet adding cheerily that he and Jones "went through all these issues in a very friendly and cooperative manner."

Obama has also been joined by a new cadre of influential advisers. Take his chief of staff. When Congress considered a genocide resolution in late 2007, then-Representative Rahm Emanuel opposed it. The new State Department official with purview over Turkey, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Phillip Gordon, has warned about a possible anti-American backlash in Turkey resulting from recognition, and, in 2006, Gordon wrote that "[u]ltimately, historians, not governments, should be the ones to decide these sensitive issues." Jones has close ties to the Turkish military from his time as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. And Obama's defense secretary, Robert Gates, strongly opposed the 2007 resolution, which he feared could result in Turkey cutting off supply lines the United States relies on to support its troops in Iraq.

Obama can be forgiven for dodging the explosive subject of genocide while he is a guest in Ankara next week. But, when the Armenians' annual day of genocide remembrance comes on April 24, the White House will be expected to release a statement. In the past, these proclamations have been exercises in strained euphemism. Last year, for instance, George W. Bush lamented "mass killings and forced exile" and "epic human tragedy"--but did not use the term "genocide." The Armenian-Americans who supported Obama in November (John McCain never endorsed genocide recognition) expect him to use the occasion to say the magic word.

But sources on Capitol Hill and those familiar with Ankara's thinking both predict Obama will punt on the issue. "I fully expect him to fold," laments one human rights activist who wishes otherwise. "I would be shocked if he didn't." But the real shock should be in seeing Obama break such a clear promise. Reasonable people can differ on whether recognizing the genocide is worth the possible consequences. It is not debatable, however, that Obama made a promise, or that he ran as a man of integrity and principle. To be sure, Obama's high-minded rhetoric has always concealed a deeply rooted pragmatism (think of the convenient difference between troops and "combat troops" in Iraq). But there is a line between pragmatism and hypocrisy, and Obama may be about to cross it.

Last week, Aram Hamparian, the genial executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, sat in his Dupont Circle town-house office surrounded by books with titles like The Banality of Denial and Blood and Soil and recounted how his grandparents had been forced out of their villages by the Ottomans and marched through the Syrian Desert. Hamparian said he wasn't nervous that the cause he has worked on for years will once again lose out to Turkey's strategic clout. "The basic civics-class understanding of the situation should be that folks run for office on a certain promise, and they should govern that way," Hamparian said. Hopelessly naive words? In Barack Obama's Washington, they shouldn't be.

Arf Vows To Prevent Disrespect Of Turkish Flag On April 24 Today's Zaman April 16 2009
Giro Manoyan, political director of the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, also known as the Dashnak Party), has expressed support for the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, while pledging that he would not allow any disrespect for the Turkish flag during upcoming demonstrations in Armenia on April 24.

Officials of the two countries have inched closer to an agreement that would pave the way for normalization of relations after 16 years of estrangement. Sources in Yerevan who are close to the talks say the final deal is likely to be declared in a third country, most probably Switzerland, which has reportedly hosted closed-door negotiations since 2007.

"I promise that no such thing will take place this time," Manoyan said yesterday, when reminded by Today's Zaman of the fact that Turkish flags were burned last April 24 by members of the youth branch of the ARF. "Of course, if we can keep control [over the demonstrators]," he added.

Last year, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted harshly to a Turkish flag being trodden upon during an official demonstration in Yerevan on April 24 commemorating the tragic World War I-era events that Armenians claim amount to genocide. News reports showed pictures of the demonstration, during which a Turkish flag was laid on the ground and participants of the commemoration stamped on it.

"With the meaning that it carries, the Turkish flag symbolizes freedom and all the fundamental values and beliefs of the Turkish nation. The flag is accepted as synonymous with our nation's existence. The importance attributed by the Turkish nation to these values and its flag is widely known. In this regard, the related news reports led to great sadness, upset and indignation in our society," the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at the time in a written statement.

Manoyan also voiced his eagerness for having the border between Armenia and Turkey reopened.

"Not only Armenia, but both parties will win if the border is opened," Manoyan told Today's Zaman, while underlining that neither party should set preconditions for being able to reach an eventual normalization. "Negotiations will be cut if the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan is set as a precondition," Manoyan added.

"Turkey / Armenia: choices for Obama" by Marie Anne Isler Béguin 7 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
The unexpected visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Turkey in early April to the Turkish authorities offer a historic opportunity to open the border with Armenia. Essential to the development of the region both Anatolia that for Armenia, the European Union did not explicitly demanded the lifting of the blockade or in the accession negotiations of Turkey, nor in its European Neighborhood Policy .

The new administration, however, Obama must choose between pressure Armenia to discuss the Armenian genocide or favor Turkish American relations. Choices.

Turkey closed its land and air borders with Armenia to support Azerbaijan in the wake of conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993. Since Armenia is isolated from its neighbors and Azeri Turkish. Excluded from major regional projects, such as the BTC and BTE, Armenia is highly dependent on Russia, which maintains a military base in Gyumri and manages the nuclear Medzamor. In addition, the land supply is via Georgia.

After the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008, Turkey had set for the resolution of regional conflicts by initiating the creation of a platform for peace and stability for the South Caucasus. Followed the so-called soccer diplomacy which led for the first time in the history of independent Armenia, a Turkish head of state in Armenia. First obvious sign of a détente in relations of conflict, to resolve disputes between the two neighbors deal with sensitive subjects, but are not insurmountable.

Thus, the claims mentioned in the Declaration of Independence "which means the Armenian eastern Turkey in terms of" Western Armenia ", could be terminated with the mutual recognition of the inviolability of Turkish-Armenian border.

The case of genocide is another bone of contention between the two peoples. A century after the massacres and mass deportations of about 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the first World War by the Ottoman Empire, the use of the term genocide is a crime of opinion in Turkey.

The campaign of the Armenian diaspora in both Europe and the United States to recognize the Armenian genocide to the Western powers did not help the Turkish company to do the necessary work on the memory of historical events that occurred in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and often grows to adopt a defensive attitude and stick to its positions.

However there were official attempts approximation; the Commission Turco-Armenian Reconciliation Commission established in 2001, was aborted after the official refusal of Armenia to participate. Following this setback, Turkey proposed the establishment of a Joint Commission of scientists to study allegations of genocide. Rejected at first by the Armenians, it could find a favorable today.

But despite many signs of opening the Turkish side, including the commitment of personality as Hrant Dink and the mobilization of Turkish intellectuals for the marketing application for pardon in 2008, the Turkish company and part of his political struggle to begin substantive discussions on this painful subject.

Armenia and / or Turkey, the choice of Obama

Obama expect that unravels the histories between these two neighbors, would be the candor, the United States have interests to defend in this geostrategic area. However, this move gives hope for a breakthrough in the normalization of complex relationships in the region.

Hilary Clinton announced in Ankara on March 10, the displacement of President Obama in Turkey on April 6 demonstrates the desire of the new U.S. administration to turn the page of the Bush era. The Bush years were marked differences between Turkey and the United States on the American invasion in Iraq or tensions about Kurdish guerrillas. Long-time ally in NATO, Turkey is a partner of Israel, a neighbor of Iran, Syria and Iraq. It is also a gateway to the vast Asia rich in energy resources and, therefore, arises as a key element of the policy of the United States.

Yet the pressure mounts from U.S. Senators and the powerful Armenian diaspora in the United States, which calls on new president to fulfill his campaign promises and mention the Armenian genocide of 1915 on April 24, at 94th anniversary of these events. The authors of the draft resolution on the recognition of Armenian genocide are present to Congress soon.

Turkey has already warned that the adoption of this resolution will adversely affect the normalization of Turkish-American relations and Turkish-Armenian, while Foreign Minister of Turkey stressed the willingness of Turkey to help the United States in the withdrawal of troops of Iraq or on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Choices for President Obama to unveil its strategy through its European journey that the G20 will take him from London to Ankara, through the NATO Summit in Strasbourg and the informal European Council in Prague.

Provide opportunities for Europeans to influence American decisions, including opening the border between Turkey and Armenia, a concrete recreation for the entire region.

Marie Anne Isler Béguin
Chairperson of the Delegation of the European Parliament EU-South Caucasus

"An Agreement Between Turkey And Armenia Can Not Be At The Detriment Of Our Nation," Viken Hovsepian Officer Of The Global FRA 17 April 2009, by Stéphane / armenews

Any agreement on the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia will not be at the expense of future generations and our national interests, "said Dr. Viken Hovsepian member of the global office of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

The question of opening the Armenian-Turkish border is a complex issue, Hovsepian said, explaining that the FRA, on numerous occasions, expressed its concerns in both the government and through public announcements.

"It is unacceptable to us that an agreement (the opening of the border or the normalization of relations) contains concessions that will impact future generations," Hovsepian said, adding that any documents which cast a shadow on the veracity of the Armenian genocide is unacceptable to his party.

The officer of the global FRA said that President Serge Sarkisian will be held responsible for all decisions, because it is the only leader of the government and its foreign policy.

He explained that despite the fact that the FRA Dashnaksoutioun is a party in the ruling coalition, the problem is a matter of principle, which derives from the national aspiration of the Armenians as well as concerns for national security of Armenia .

Viken Hovsepian stressed the need for the State of Armenia and the Armenian nation to pursue the same interests as, at least divergence, we will be on the verge of defeat. "

Hovsepian said that the will of the United States to further open the border between Turkey and Armenia has the goal of weakening the influence of Russia in the region and reduce the role of Iran in the region, especially vis-à-vis Armenia.

He stressed that the United States has been cautious in their approaches to Armenia because the U.S. government has often taken into consideration ke Armenia and Armenian lobby.

"We were able to focus on successive U.S. administrations that Turkey can not be used as a mediator because we, the Turkish government is not an acceptable vis-à-vis our questions, given that there are still outstanding issues such as the Armenian genocide and other historical issues, legal and political. We are not willing or ready to accept Turkey's role as an honest broker in the region, "said Hovsepian.

The officer of the global FRA Dashnaktsoutioun said it is always desirable to have friendly relations with its neighbors, open borders pose a number of complexities including closing the border on a whim.

He explained that any decision affecting the Armenian-Turkish relations should be considered, because the opening of the border will create situations of dependence, whether economic or otherwise.

"We will become hostages if we are not well prepared for this," said Hovsepian.

The way Barack Obama has addressed the issue of genocide in Turkey has been a missed opportunity for Obama to take stock, Hovsepian said, adding that he hoped the president would be stronger at the commemoration of 24 April.

Hovsepian asked the Armenian community to redouble its efforts to combat this by presenting the White House to the expectations of the Armenian American community on this crucial issue.
www.fra-france.com/index.php? page = article & id = 222

Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders - International Crisis Group
Istanbul/Yerevan/Baku/Brussels, 14 April 2009: Turkey and Armenia should seize their best opportunity yet to normalise relations, work on a new approach to shared history and open a European border that for nearly a century has been hostage to conflict.

Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines how a decade of academic and civil society outreach laid the foundations for what is now intense official engagement between the governments. The two sides are now close to agreement on a package deal that will establish diplomatic relations, open the border and set up bilateral commissions to address a range of issues.

These commissions will include one on joint historical dimensions of the Armenian-Turkish relationship, which will work to broaden understanding of the Ottoman-era forced relocations and massacres of Armenians, widely recognised as the Armenian genocide. Turkey contests the term genocide, disputing its legal applicability and pointing to mitigating circumstances as the Ottoman Empire fought on three fronts in the First World War. But many Turks, including officials, now publicly express regret over the tragic and high loss of Armenian life.

“Turks’ and Armenians’ once uncompromising views of history are significantly converging, showing that the deep traumas can be healed”, says Hugh Pope, Director of Crisis Group’s Turkey/Cyprus Project. “At this sensitive time, third parties should avoid statements or resolutions in the politicised debate over genocide recognition or denial that could inflame opinion on either side”.

A separate but related issue, the stalemated Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, still risks undermining final agreement on the Turkey and Armenia normalisation package. Azerbaijan opposes any border opening until Armenia withdraws from its occupied territory. But Turkey should not sacrifice this chance to move forward, and should persuade its ally that détente which makes Armenia feel secure will do more for a settlement than continuing a fifteen-year impasse.

For long-term normalisation with Turkey to be sustainable, Armenia, together with Azerbaijan, should ultimately adopt the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group basic principles for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of the OSCE, and Armenia should withdraw from Azerbaijani territories that it occupies.

“Turkey and Armenia should finalise their agreement and thus create new momentum for peace and cooperation in the South Caucasus”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “They should not wait until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is settled. But outside powers such as the U.S., EU, Russia and others should build on their rare common interest to move both Turkish-Armenian normalisation and the Nagorno-Karabakh process forward”.

A promise of peace in the shadow of Ararat, Michael Binyon, The Times, April 15, 2009
At last the Turkey-Armenia border may finally be opened. But the move will stir up deep and long-held regional feelings

Years ago Andrei Gromyko, the veteran Soviet Foreign Minister, was once buttonholed by his irate Turkish counterpart. “Why do you show Mount Ararat, which lies in Turkey, on the flag of Soviet Armenia? Do you lay claim to our territory?” “No,” replied Gromyko. “Why do you have a crescent on your flag? Do you lay claim to the Moon?”

Armenia is now free of Soviet control. But the Turkish-Armenian border, sealed during the Cold War years when it marked the tense boundary between Nato and the Soviet Union, remains closed. And though Armenians gaze across at Ararat’s elusive peak, they still cannot cross over into the lost provinces of their historic homeland that lie in northeast Turkey.

Something, however, may at last be moving. Ali Babacan, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, will visit Yerevan today for a meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council, an 11-nation regional grouping set up in 1992. But the real issue for him and for his Armenian hosts is the border. Can both countries set aside their historic animosities and suspicions and dismantle the last Cold War barbed-wire barricades?

Barack Obama hopes so. Indeed, in Istanbul last week he challenged his Turkish hosts to “move forward” and establish, for the first time, diplomatic ties with their Armenian neighbours. Much more than just the border is at stake. A reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia would help to ease more than 90 years of bitterness dating back to the Ottoman massacres of Armenians between 1915 and 1917, which still cast a long shadow over the politics of the Caucasus and the West’s attitudes to Turkey.

An open border would not only bring huge economic benefits to both sides: it could also help to thaw one of the last “frozen conflicts” in Europe’s backyard, the military stand-off between Armenia and Azerbaijan over control of the ethnically Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It could also help Russia to regain its balance within the turbulent Caucasus and Turkey to extend its reach to its cultural Central Asian hinterland. And it could remove some of the taboos from today’s Turkish politics, where any mention of the Ottoman killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians produces a venomous nationalist reaction.

The issues are all interlinked, and, bedevilled by emotion, are exceptionally difficult to resolve. At the heart of the stalemate lie the fears and political isolation of Armenia, a tiny country of less than three million people, that has historically been at the mercy of its powerful neighbours. Armenia, the first nation to adopt Christianity, lies on the front line of Islam, and has always looked to Russia for protection from Turkey and its Muslim Azeri neighbours. It is a role that Moscow has embraced eagerly, and one that has underpinned Russia’s military confrontation with Turkey, which for centuries has shaped the history of both countries.

But the forcible incorporation of Armenia into the Soviet Union in 1922 changed the relationship. There is lingering resentment in Yerevan of Moscow, especially after the postSoviet economic collapse when Russia put pressure on Armenia by cutting fuel supplies. The impoverished nation shivered through several winters. Armenia hoped to open up to the south. But although the border with Turkey was briefly opened, it was closed swiftly in 1993 after Armenia invaded Azerbaijan to establish a corridor to the besieged Nagorno-Karabakh, and Turkey sided with Muslim Azeris.

Turkish support is vital to Azeri hopes of regaining control of its enclave. Azerbaijan has therefore reacted ferociously to hints of a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. It has suggested that it would use its oil muscle and interrupt supplies through the vital pipeline from Baku to southern Turkey unless Armenia made concessions.

The threat seems to have rattled Ankara. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister, poured cold water yesterday on suggestions from Armenia that the border could be opened in time for the World Cup qualifying tie in October. President Sarksyan said he hoped he would be able to cross the border into Turkey to watch the football game. Not until Nagorno-Karabakh is settled, Mr Erdogan retorted.

The Islamist Prime Minister cannot be seen to abandon his Muslim neighbour. But Turkey has also long harboured hopes that it could spread its influence far beyond Azerbaijan into former Soviet Central Asia, which is Turkic-speaking and desperately in need of some Western knowhow and investment. These hopes came to little in the early 90s. Now they are being revived. Ankara can ill afford to upset the Azeris.

Reconciliation with Armenia, however, and an end to the Caucasus stalemate could benefit everyone. It would confirm the status of Turkey as the superpower within the Black Sea council. Turkey may look to the EU as a supplicant, but to its neighbours it looks an economic giant.

Armenia, blocked to the north by the instability in Georgia and fearful of being too dependent on Russia, would have an alternative outlet to the world through Turkey. And economic cooperation could soothe historic hatreds.

For Russia, there would also be gains. Paradoxically, the Russians have never had better relations with Turkey than now, largely because of the huge volume of trade, the massive flow of Russian tourists and the reduced threat from a Nato member on Russia’s borders. But these smooth relations are fragile.

Historic competition for influence and for the region’s energy resources could flare up again. Russian actions in Georgia raised hackles in Turkey. Moscow needs a settlement to ensure that there is no new “South Ossetia” in the offing – and that the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute does not turn violent again, leaving Moscow and Ankara on opposite sides.

Mount Ararat is a peak of startling beauty, especially in the morning sun. The reputed resting place of the Ark and revered by so many in the region, it has become a symbol of division. An open border would allow all to approach its heights.

It is a pleasant experience to read an article which speaks honestly about the region. The Nagorno Kharabagh area was gifted to Azeri's by Stalin though it was an Armenian area. Lest we forget the the conflict was birthed by Azeri's who attacked local populations of Armenians in Baku
Joseph , Burbank, USA

If historical, the opening risposte surely goes back to Chicherin (G.V.) in the context of the Treaty of Kars (1921).
Clive Sweeting, Couture sur Loir, France

If historical, the risposte surely goes back to Chicherin (G.V.) in the context of the Treaty of Kars (1921).
Clive Sweeting, Couture sur Loir, France

I found the article interesting and unbiased. Unfortunately I have never found any case where ethnicity comes before religion - now that would be a great start, world peace for all I say.
Kingdon, UK
JK, Northampton, UK

Is Turkey's perceived reconciliation genuine or is it for show?
Turkey has been asked to open its border by the EU for entry into the EU. It talks of looking into past yet prosecutes and jails anyone who says Genocide. Turkey is only using the issue to blackmail Armenia - preconditions will be set.
Vmanv, London, UK

It would be an unforgiveable betrayal to open up borders with Armenia without a solution of Nagorno-Karabakh issue and the Khojali Massacre.Nothing is as sacred as sovereignty and land - countless have died defending these principles and their territory.These facts should not be so easy to forget.

Why does the author keep referring Azerbaijan as Muslim and not Turkish? Does he not know that both Azeris and Turks speak the same language and are ethnically one? Does he refer to UK's neighbor as Christians, rather than Irish or French? Does he not know that for Turks ethnicity comes before religion?
Seldan, San Francisco, USA

‘Genocide’ Is A Matter Of Opinion by Scott Simon
Weekend Edition Saturday, April 11, 2009 · When President Obama was beginning his run for office, he said he believed the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey was not war but genocide and that the American people deserved “a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.”

But when Obama addressed the Turkish parliament this week, he referred only to “the terrible events of 1915.”

I was part of a PBS program called The Armenian Genocide. There was no question mark in the title. I think there are times when you have to say “genocide” to be accurate about mass murder that tries to extinguish a whole group. That’s why slaughter of a million Tutsis in Rwanda is not called merely mass murder. An American politician who got to Germany, for example, and called the Holocaust of European Jews merely “killings” would be mocked.

I don’t doubt that Obama is still outraged by the Armenian genocide. But when he ran in the presidential primaries, it was important to win support from people concerned about human rights and, perhaps, Armenian-Americans in California.

Now, Obama may feel that it is more important for the United States to win Turkey’s cooperation on a range of issues than it is for him to be consistent on a controversy that may seem like old history.

But it’s not. Almost every year, the Turkish government has charged reporters and writers, including the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, for “insulting national identity” by referring to the massacres of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

Peter Balakian, the pre-eminent scholar of the genocide and co-translator of a new, widely lauded family memoir called Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, told us this week that he admires President Obama for telling Turkish leaders that confronting the past and restoring good relations with Armenia is important.

But he believes Turkey’s campaign against acknowledging its genocide raises questions about reliability.

Balakian told us, “A country that spends millions of dollars a year in an effort stop the facts about the Armenian genocide from being known and that persecutes and prosecutes its own citizens for speaking truthfully about the extermination of the Armenians is hardly a government to trust to broker honest and just foreign policy.”

In a way, the president’s choice to say “killings” in front of his hosts may remind us that it might be wise to regard what any politician says as the words of a suitor who coos “I love you” during courtship. They mean it in the moment. But any adult should know that they may not mean it in just a few weeks.

'Genocide' Is A Matter Of Opinion
April 11, 2009 · When President Obama was beginning his run for office, he said he believed the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey was not war but genocide and that the American people deserved "a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides."

But when Obama addressed the Turkish parliament this week, he referred only to "the terrible events of 1915."

I was part of a PBS program called The Armenian Genocide. There was no question mark in the title. I think there are times when you have to say "genocide" to be accurate about mass murder that tries to extinguish a whole group. That's why slaughter of a million Tutsis in Rwanda is not called merely mass murder. An American politician who got to Germany, for example, and called the Holocaust of European Jews merely "killings" would be mocked.

I don't doubt that Obama is still outraged by the Armenian genocide. But when he ran in the presidential primaries, it was important to win support from people concerned about human rights and, perhaps, Armenian-Americans in California.

Now, Obama may feel that it is more important for the United States to win Turkey's cooperation on a range of issues than it is for him to be consistent on a controversy that may seem like old history.

But it's not. Almost every year, the Turkish government has charged reporters and writers, including the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, for "insulting national identity" by referring to the massacres of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

Peter Balakian, the pre-eminent scholar of the genocide and co-translator of a new, widely lauded family memoir called Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, told us this week that he admires President Obama for telling Turkish leaders that confronting the past and restoring good relations with Armenia is important.

But he believes Turkey's campaign against acknowledging its genocide raises questions about reliability.

Balakian told us, "A country that spends millions of dollars a year in an effort stop the facts about the Armenian genocide from being known and that persecutes and prosecutes its own citizens for speaking truthfully about the extermination of the Armenians is hardly a government to trust to broker honest and just foreign policy."

In a way, the president's choice to say "killings" in front of his hosts may remind us that it might be wise to regard what any politician says as the words of a suitor who coos "I love you" during courtship. They mean it in the moment. But any adult should know that they may not mean it in just a few weeks.

Copyright 2009 NPR
Audrey G (AudreyG) wrote:
“When President Obama was beginning his run for office, he said he believed the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey was not war but genocide and that the American people deserved ‘a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.’"

I agree with Mr. Simon that all genocides should be forcefully responded; however, I disagree with Mr. Simon’s criticism of President Obama.

When President Obama ran for office, he was the junior United States Senator from Illinois; therefore, his comments did not echo around the world, but now everyone is carefully listening to what President Obama says.

During the Bush administration, we had lost our moral authority by engaging in an unjustified war. President Obama needs to regain this moral authority before preaching to others.
13 April 2009

Dennis Long (denlong) wrote:
Wow Scott; what a hornets nest of hatred you disturbed. Thank You Scott, keep up the good work
13 April 2009

Dennis Long (denlong) wrote:
Great essay Scott, I wonder if we as Americans should take a look at what we did to the Native Americans during our push west in pursuit of Manifest Destiny, before we condem the Turks.
13 April 2009

Azamat Bagatov (Hala) wrote:
Jan Econ seems to have closed this case with convincing logic and clarity: anyone who reads "Mein Kampf" is a Nazi, and since it was a "best seller" in Turkey, ergo this is a clear national admission of genocide. C'mon, people, wake-up to evident truths!!
13 April 2009

Zareh Sahakian (Z15) wrote:
Anytime an issue is addressed with such clarity and honesty it helps cut through obfuscating noises and dishonest propaganda, a practice perfected by the Turkish government in its futile denial of the Armenian genocide.

Thank you Scott Simon for your clear thoughts.
13 April 2009

Jan Econ (Jan111) wrote:
PS It may be noteworthy that in 2005 "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler made the Best Seller list in Turkey.
13 April 2009

Jan Econ (Jan111) wrote:

Thanks Scott Simon. And at least this story is useful in one more way: Americans can get a taste of what genocide denial is like.

Imagine posting a story about the holocaust, and ultranationalist ideology brings people out of the woodwork who think that posting truths about Nazi atrocities is "insulting German-ness." Well, now you know what it's like.

Automatic denial of truths isn't argument; it's not even controversy. It's just lies. It's just propaganda.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars has not only written to President Obama regarding their firm and united stance that the genocide of Armenians in 1915 was indeed genocide, they are activity campaigning for President Obama to recognize it as such.

International scholarship has documented this tragedy exhaustively. There is no debate left. From Elie Weisel to Samantha Power and on to every single scholar internationally in the specialization of genocide, the verdict is unanimous. These scholars are now campaigning for Obama's recognition of this fact. It is only Turkey and their paid advocates who do otherwise.

Why should we settle for lies about the genocide that inspired Hitler to think he could get away with his plans for the Jews?
13 April 2009

Stephen Oliveri (SO2) wrote:

What exactly is it that President Obama would have gained by confronting the Turkish people on this matter? Perhaps Mr. Simon would like to see the president construct his own "Axis of Evil" - that would certainly be as productive as it was for the last president.
13 April 2009

Azamat Bagatov (Hala) wrote:

Until this issue is addressed in an international forum that both promotes and supports open research and debate from both sides of the argument professionally, equally and critically, then all claims FOR and AGAINST a "genocide" must be considered suspect.
13 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

I maintain my position about the terminology as I stated the idea about "needless" killing of innocents. If all facts are not in order, so be it, the same idea holds -- use terms consistently as the term refers to the killing of innocents for reasons as arbitrary as their ethnicity or placement of village. Spouting facts endlessly does in no way change the idea that one ought not shift focus away from the idea that killing mass amounts of humanity is wrong. If you believe that I have erred with respect to facts (as you have dared me, etc.), then that may be the case; however, "genocide" was the focus of my argument and not who did the genocide, specifically. Killing en masse is wrong -- regardless of politics, circumstances, etc.
13 April 2009

Don Dowd (Enigma_Too) wrote:

merely "killings"
Two things - why is 10 people murdered less of a tragedy than 100? 1000? 10,000? "A Rose by any other name..."

Second, where was Scott Simon for the last 8 years? Did Bush call Turkey out by referring to the genocide, or did he not mention it even once? (rhetorical question, we already know the answer)

Finally, how did 600,000 Armenians suddenly become 1.5 million? It seems insulting to those who died to concoct fabrications about the event.
12 April 2009

Ergun Kirlikovali (Oneworld2009) wrote:

What if a genocide is not really a genocide?

What if no court verdict can be produced saying it is genocide?

What if only hearsay and foregries pass as proof of genocide?

What if only one side of a terrible human tragedy is embellished and the other, ognored?

What if a racist and dishonest interpretation of history is force fed to unsuspecting readers, like the essay above, and all other views and facts are censored behind a smoke screen called "genocide deniers"?

What then?

Well, then, it becomes ethocide, a new term coined in 2003 as a companion term to genocide, which means "systematic extermination of ethics via malicious mass deception for politicla, personal, and other gain."

What transpired in 1915, tragic though it is, was no genocide; but what transpired since 1915 is definitely an ethocide.

If the Armenians and their fellow falsifiers are so sure about their facts or figures, then why do not they take their case to the Internationa Court of Justice like the 1948 UN Convention demands in its article 6?

Last word on the essay above: such ethocidal coverage of a complex human tragdey must end, leading to more research and debate, not more name calling.
12 April 2009

Demir Karsan (Ironside) wrote:

An NPR moderator has removed this comment because it does not adhere to the discussion guidelines
12 April 2009

Demir Karsan (Ironside) wrote:

Did Armenian Causalities Amount To 1.5 Million?

Armenian propagandists claim that as many as 1,5 million Armenians died as the result of so-called "genocide". Like the rest of their claims, this also is imaginary, with the number claimed being increased over years. At first, immediately following the war the Armenians claimed that as many as 600,000 had been killed. Later they raised it to 800,000 and now they talk about 1,5 million and tomorrow they may talk even about three million. The 1918 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica said that 600,000 Armenians had been killed; in its 1968 edition this was raised to 1,5 million.
How many Armenians did die? It is impossible to determine the number exactly, since no complete death records were kept during those years. The only basis on which even an estimate can be made is the actual Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire at the time. Even here figures vary widely, with the Armenians claiming far more than other sources:
Claimed Armenian Population
1.British Annual Register 1917 1.056.000 (1)
2.Patriarch Ormanyan 1.579.000 (2)
3.The Armenian historian Kevork Aslan
1,800,000 (3)
12 April 2009

Demir Karsan (Ironside) wrote:

How many Armenians died during World War I?

Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire during World War I:
The French yellow Book ---1,555,000
Encyclopedia Britannica ---1,500,000
Contenson ---1,400,000
Lynch ---1,345,000
Ottoman census statistics for 1914 ---1,295,000
Annual register (London) ---1,056,000

And Boghos Nubar Pasha, head of the Armenian National Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, stated that 280,000 Armenians remained in the Ottoman Empire and 700,000 emigrated elsewhere.
Thus, during the World War I, the estimated amount of death is around 300,000 for the Armenians while the Ottoman deaths during the same period are around 3,000,000.
12 April 2009

Demir Karsan (Ironside) wrote:

• Armenian allegations of a premeditated “genocide" by the Ottoman Empire and their efforts to legislate history by using political clout and ample resources are of great concern to Turkish-Americans. A large number of renowned historians, the final arbiters in any such debate, have stated that there is no evidence of a systematic and official program by the Ottomans to eradicate its Armenian populace. Allegations of such a “Holocaust style" campaign are simply distortions of historical fact. Any official recognition of Armenian allegations should include a balanced debate regarding the Turkish Muslim victims of Armenian aggression.
• As a matter of principle, we are against the perpetuation of hatred and the carrying of “old continent" animosities to these shores. Scores of Turkish civilians were killed in the late 70’s and early 80’s by Armenian extremists who wanted to “avenge the genocide." Recently, Mourad Topalian, the Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), was indicted by US prosecutors for having allegedly masterminded a series of bombings in the early 80’s.
12 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

The same comment holds -- genocide is genocide -- the killing of innocents based on ethnicity, etc. The U.S. ought not take a side in determining who was the agent of the genocide so much as it should be consistent on stating that genocide occurred. Who started it, etc. is not as important as acknowledging that it occurred at all. On both sides of the "facts" thousands died needlessly.
12 April 2009

Ed Owens (CitizenED) wrote:

I should just select/copy/paste this comment and save it for every time Obama shows that he is not going to be the agent of change we all hoped for. He is still way better than McCain would have been but he has drank the koolaid and going back for seconds everyday. His claim to fame will be his color and elite tax evading nominees. Oh well sorry folks we'll try again in 4 years.
12 April 2009

Harry Aintablian (Harry_A) wrote:
Thanks Scott Simon for taking on this issue. It is past time that the American media take a principled approach on the Armenian Genocide and call it what it is. During the years 1914-1917, the American ambassador to the Ottoman empire, Morgenthau clearly stated in his memoirs that what the Young Turk government of the time was annihilating the Armenian nation. The articles in the New York Times alone during WWI attest to the fact that there was a systematic plan of mass murder. The Issue of the Armenian Genocide is not such that the Armenians and Turks need to sit down and come to an understanding about what happened. It is a universal issue about crimes against humanity and if not acknowledged it would happen again as it did in the case of the Jewish Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda etc. Genocide scholars have researched the subject and come to the conclusion that what occurred to the Armenians is nothing less than Genocide. It is time for the government of Turkey to face its own history and let it's people speak freely about this instead of spreading lies and putting people jail for expressing their views.
12 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

I fail to understand the idea of being "civil" in simply using the term "genocide." The point is not to force Turkey to atone or even acknowledge what it has done, it is for the U.S. to be consistent in its use of terminology. Consistency lends itself to the implication of a position on the matter, yet it need only be broached if both parties want to do so. In a sense, agree to disagree, but the sentiment is clear -- the actions were wrong "genocide." Oddly, it can be the sort of passive moral high ground that is sometimes necessary in order to move on with other points of business when there are issues with which two parties seriously disagree, yet they must work together any way.

Genocide is genocide -- politics twists moral issues in order to maintain agendas, needs, etc. So be it. Use the same term and some of the hypocracy can be aleviated. No one needs to "come clean" right now, as perhaps that is not completely fruitful -- for all sides. That should not detract from the idea that we acknowledge that genocide is wrong, that it has happened, and that it still happens around the world, and should not happen. If the term is used consistently, perhaps the message may be somewhat clear.
12 April 2009

Chewbacca the Wookie (Chewie) wrote:

We should be just as outraged by "killings" as we should be by "genocide". The only difference is the kind of hate that motivated the crime. In the case of genocide, it's racism, in the case of killings it could be anything.

Mass murder is so bad that it's hard for anything to make it worse, including racism. Maybe if we weren't just outraged when it came to "genocide" we would be able to stop more of our own "killings", especailly those that we do in the name of fighting terrorism.
12 April 2009

Very Anonymous (Lygris) wrote:

History echoes to the present and is always desperately trying to teach us lessons. It cries out from the graves of the deceased to give us warnings and caution of what awaits those who do not grasp what they have to say.

Nay sayers like Peter Balakian? They're desperately trying to show us the past so we can fully understand the present. Men like Balakian and Simon Scott are right to remind us of history.

People are free to get angry about criticism by Simon Scott. But the fact stands that Obama did promise to refer to it as genocide and then has gone back on his word. Obama may turn around and call it genocide later, but thus far he failed to do so. In Scott's defense, he is pointing out a few facts to consider, and no one should be punished for pointing out something, be it good or bad.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
12 April 2009

charles chaplin (cheep) wrote:

An NPR moderator has removed this comment because it does not adhere to the discussion guidelines
12 April 2009

Michael Hollifield (Hume) wrote:

Paul 99's argument from analogy fails in two important respects. The United States does not deny the injustices in its past with respect to Mexico or its treatment of minority groups. And there was no genocide committed on our part. The Turkish government not only denies its history of murder but prosecutes those who speak the truth in their own country and denounces those outside of it. Germany doesn't do this with their actions during WWII and neither should Turkey in this case.
11 April 2009

James Stewart (ArtbyStewart) wrote:

Genocide is Genocide.
The question is, why would Obama go there?
They are Muslim, we need Muslim, they are strategic, we need strategic...
what else?

When I say we, I mean the "Corporatocracy" that virtually everyone in media confuses for the average American's interests.
NPR needs to get off of the Corporate teet, and find its way back home.
11 April 2009

Sylena Badger (Cestmoi) wrote:

This is the first article in a long time that I think is dead on. Good job.
11 April 2009

Paul Kiser (Paul99) wrote:

I disagree with Mr. Simon's opinion that President Obama should have been more agressive in front of his hosts in Turkey regarding the events of 1915. It is unfortunate that Turkey has tried to minimize a terrible time in their history and by minimizing it, risks the appearance of seeming to approve of what happened almost a century ago.

We, in America, have many things that our forefathers have done as they led a conquest over the native people of the Americas. We took all of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Utah and the western portion of Colorado at gunpoint from Mexico, while paying them half of what we orginally offered.

However, if we were being visited by a head of state that, on their first trip to our country, gave a speech that pointed out how wrong the white people of this country were for stealing the land from Mexico, we would be offended and we would see that person as an enemy and not worthy of listening to regarding any issue. President Obama came to Turkey as a guest and extended a hand of friendship. Through friendship he may have a far greater impact on helping Turkey to acknowledge the wrongs of their past.

After eight years of arrogance as leadership, let's try being civil.
11 April 2009

Karen B (thetruth1915) wrote:

Sevgin Oktay- Your comment is quite commical- I would like you to share with us data indicating the "millions of dollars" that the Armenian diaspora uses-- why don't you look at the desperate attempts by Turkey to pay people to deny this issue, the most recent being Dennis Hastert-- does that name ring a bell and is it at all surprising that the former speaker along with people like Gephardt and Livingston make their living off of Turkish blood money?

"Former wrestling coach and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will lobby on behalf of Turkey as part of a $35,000 per month contract with his K Street firm, Dickstein Shapiro, The Hill reported this afternoon."

What was it, some $2,000,000 that the Turkish Government paid lobbyists just in 2008 alone?
11 April 2009

Greg Arzoomanian (garzooma) wrote:

The Turkish government doesn't just "persecute and prosecute its own citizens." It also reaches into this country. Taner Akcam has described being harassed at customs because of the campaign waged against him (www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/1761). And Donald Quataert was forced to resign as Board Chairman of the Georgetown-based Institute of Turkish Studies by the Turkish ambassador (www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/07/01/turkey). If President Obama allows the Turkish government to dictate what he can and cannot say, he will be validating this censorship both inisde and outside of Turkey.
11 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

If the U.S. wants to take the moral high ground about things, then it should be consistent about ideas, terms, etc. If genocide is wrong, and it is wrong in every instance, then it is not a political issue to state the case. Politics would come in when trying to justify the equivocation on matters. With respect to the U.S. not atoning for and/or acknowledging all of its own genocidal actions, well, two-wrongs don't make a right either.

Certainly, the U.S. has to clean up its historical legacy in many areas, but that does not and should not give permission to have something that is viewed as genocide by all parties involved recast as a "problem of the past" in order to avoid controversy.
11 April 2009

Sevgin Oktay (Sevgin) wrote:

You quote Balakian telling you that “A country that spends millions of dollars a year in an effort stop the facts about the Armenian genocide from being known…" You do not mention how many more millions the Armenian Diaspora has been pouring for years to mislead the American people and fortunately they have not succeeded. I use the words “Armenian Diaspora" advisedly, because the current “Yerevan Armenians" understand what happened during those terrible years much better and that’s why they are willing to sit down with Turks to get to the bottom of all this once and for all. Diaspora Armenians have been resisting any kind of a dialogue for years. There are many historians who have written that just as many or even more Turks and Kurds were killed during those terrible years, and that there was no genocide. If there had been, it would not have taken this long to show for it in the first place. The one-sided accusations have been going on for almost 100 years now, and it is about time that the parties involved get together (with historians) and figure out what happened, and let the chips fall where they may. The Yerevan Armenians should be lauded for getting ready to do just that. And Obama is wise to encourage such a discourse. He is the type of a person who would encourage dialogue, and not dictate what historians should sort out in the first place. He has the capacity to learn and relearn. As Obama said to the Turkish students in Istanbul, “there are always two sides to a story."
11 April 2009

Mario Chamorro (MoChaMan) wrote:

I have to say I became a little angry when I heard Scott Simon bash Obama for being a coward. I agree with Thomas Smith completely . How can a president go to a foreign country to rebuild bridges while putting a finger in their face? How can a crimson American kettle covered in indigineous blood call a Turkish pot red ? Scott Simon knows how to talk . I think he should let Barack Obama lead.
11 April 2009

Peter Noordijk (noordijk1) wrote:

I don't think diaspora Armenians like Mr. Balakian can be pre-eminent historians of the genocide/massacres, it is enough for them to achieve the label of genocide, and to have that be the end of it. Once the Russians and Armenian, government and Churches open their archives to research (as the Turks have already done) we can more accurately understand the use of Armenians as a military force for Europeans to carve up the Ottoman Empire.
I realize it is convenient to demonize muslims (as it was in 1915), but the European christian powers used Armenians as proxy forces, just as the Ottoman used Kurdish forces against Aremenians.

It is still shameful that the stupid 301 laws exist, and I hoe that will change too. But although the Court of public opinion finds it convenient to label this simply genocide, actual scholarship has a long way to go in placing this in a useful frame for understanding.
11 April 2009

Thomas Smith (IEnjoyNPR) wrote:

Agreed. Consistency is needed, which is why it's important to note that the US government has apologized to Japanese Americans for internment, and to various other groups, but never to a single Native American tribe. America's made 465 treaties with Native Americans, and we've broken every single one (Howard Zinn's People's History of the US). So when are we going to admit any of this? and until then, what moral authority do we have to judge?
11 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

The issue is not whether or not it is not up to Turkey, etc. to atone. It is the idea of being consistent in message. The moral weight of the term is as such -- genocide. If the mass murder was wrong, then it was wrong. If it is incorrect to allow Holocaust deniers to be given the potential of credibility (e.g. well, maybe Aushwitz was a conspiracy theory), then why should it be acceptable to allow the same sort of denials continue about similar issues that are incontrovertable? Perhaps if consistency is used in calling genocide, "genocide" it will be seen horrendous and not something that can be reframed as a political issue.
11 April 2009

Thomas Smith (IEnjoyNPR) wrote:

One should also note that Turkey foiled an assassination attempt just prior to Obama coming. Have him declare genocide while there, and then, can you really count on the authorities to stop such an attempt?
11 April 2009

Thomas Smith (IEnjoyNPR) wrote:

As useless as a debate about wording is, the simple solution is for Obama to declare it a genocide, and in the same breath admit America's own series of genocide against the many native American tribes in the US. He could declare an apology and recommend reparations, and then we could all move on. He could also mention the Armenian genocide was conducted prior to the formation of modern Turkey.

Then, we could all get past this and work towards strengthening relations with Turkey and Armenia, which would actually be useful.
11 April 2009

Marcella Mroczkowski (MDMJD) wrote:

I have to speak in President Obama's defense. Given Turkey's extraordinarily draconian laws on speaking truthfully about the Armenian genocide and their deeply entrenched cultural attitude of denial, President Obama is dealing with the matter like the exceptionally skilled attorney that he is. I agree with you that Turkey's insistent denial of the Armenian Genocide sends a message to the world that Turkey cannot be trusted.

Enlightened self-interest may be just the prompt for Turkey to own up to the truth and atone for this evil episode in their past.
11 April 2009

Elizabeth Hodge (Bobblehead) wrote:

The term "genocide" only seems to come out when it won't cause political controversy. This is contrary to the idea that genocide, in whatever form, is the extermination of human lives and obviously (really, obviously) a violation of basic human rights (that is, the right to exist). Regardless of what side of the political fence one is on, shouldn't the acknowledgement that extermination is wrong be an acceptable position? It is because of this cavelier attitude and capriciousness that so many students of history and the general public do not know of the many instances of more recent genocides -- Armenian, Bosnia,Cambodia, and for that matter, Darfur. Political "speak" just obfuscates the matter -- say the word "genocide" and stop worrying about taking sides. The only side that one will take in denying the existence of genocide is that of the murderers.
11 April 2009

Lynn A (astralweeks) wrote:

Thank you, Scott Simon... Although there are many of us (Armenians) who are strong supporters of President Obama and his world vision, if Turkey wants to join forces in becoming an EU member, recognizing the Genocide and coming clean with it's history of Genocide must be front and center. Some may argue that the larger issue of a good rapport with a strong Muslim ally would be jeopardized, but it would be absurd to think that you can not have one without the other.
11 April 2009

dikran kabbendjian (deeek) wrote:
Baravo, Scott Simon. As a son of a Genocide survivor, I was delighted when candidates Obama and Clinton publicly supported the official US recognition of the genocide. I'm was disappointed, but surprised, when President Oorrect bama used "newspeak" to avoid calling it what it is. Scott is corect in saying that a Turkey that is actively attempting to rewrite history and continues to persecute free thought and speach cannot be trusted as an ally and can't be taken at its word and that it is seeking discussion and reconcilliation. Thak you.
My name is pronnounce: Dickrahn kabenjian
11 April 2009


Klara, Chesterfield, New Hampshire, United States said...

I believe the only issue is to remember is this: Definition of Genocide . Convention and Resolution which I am posting for your attention below.

Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

Article 1

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article 3

The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.

Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

Article 1

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article 3

The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.

Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

Article 1

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article 2

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article 3

The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.

The decision to carry out a genocide against the Armenian people was made by the political party in power in the Ottoman Empire. This was the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (or Ittihad ve Terakki Jemiyeti), popularly known as the Young Turks. Three figures from the CUP controlled the government; Mehmet Talaat, Minister of the Interior in 1915 and Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in 1917; Ismail Enver, Minister of War; Ahmed Jemal, Minister of the Marine and Military Governor of Syria. This Young Turk triumvirate relied on other members of the CUP appointed to high government posts and assigned to military commands to carry out the Armenian Genocide. In addition to the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Interior, the Young Turks also relied on a newly-created secret outfit which they manned with convicts and irregular troops, called the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa). Its primary function was the carrying out of the mass slaughter of the deported Armenians. In charge of the Special Organization was Behaeddin Shakir, a medical doctor. Moreover, ideologists such as Zia Gokalp propagandized through the media on behalf of the CUP by promoting Pan-Turanism, the creation of a new empire stretching from Anatolia into Central Asia whose population would be exclusively Turkic. These concepts justified and popularized the secret CUP plans to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.

The Young Turk conspirators, other leading figures of the wartime Ottoman government, members of the CUP Central Committee, and many provincial administrators responsible for atrocities against the Armenians were indicted for their crimes at the end of the war. The main culprits evaded justice by fleeing the country. Even so, they were tried in absentia and found guilty of capital crimes. The massacres, expulsions, and further mistreatment of the Armenians between 1920 and 1923 were carried by the Turkish Nationalists, who represented a new political movement opposed to the Young Turks, but who shared a common ideology of ethnic exclusivity.

I would like to post to your attention the Verdict ("Kararname") of the Turkish Military Tribunal :


International Affirmation Turkish Military Tribunal (1919)

July 5, 1919

"Prime Minister Talaat Pasha and Minister of War Enver Effendi, now expelled from his military career; Djemal Effendi, Minister of the Navy, likewise expelled from the service; Dr. Nazim, Minister of Education-these were the principal criminals (fayili asli) and their guilt has been determined by a unanimous vote

In accordance therefore with the abovementioned paragraphs in the law code, Talaat, Enver, Djemal and Dr. Nazim are sentenced to death"
Below is a translation of the official transcript of the verdict of the court martial conducted by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1919 against the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. It was first published in theOfficial Gazette (Takvim-i-Vekayi),No. 3604.

"During the course of this trial, having heard the petitions and statements of both sides; having studied and examined in detail documents relating to this case; and after holding many consultations in the interest of the proper disposition of the matters under dispute, the following verdict is handed down:

"Although the accused and their attorneys entered a motion that the accused be set free, in accordance with the decrees(Idianname)of the Attorney General dated May 3, 20 and 22, June 9, 16 and 25, all 1919, (saying) that the accused were in fact moral representatives of the now defunct Ittihad and Terakki Party, which had committed countless crimes, as were the members of the Ittihad General Council(Medjlisi Oumumi),who were the authors of the abovementioned crimes(jerayim fayilleri),(it was ruled) that all the accused were then competent to stand trial and face punitive judgment.

"It was first deemed necessary to study the acts and deeds of the abovementioned Party (Djemiet) since its establishment. Before the Turkish Revolution (of 1908), there were individuals and organizations, which remain secret today, which expressed patriotic sentiments and aims. The record compiled since the Revolution by these people, parties and movements may be summarized as follows:

"(Certain) Ottoman subjects who thirsted for justice and freedom withdrew on July 9, 1324 (1908) to the mountains of Resneh to fight for freedom.

"To all Ottomans who thirsted for justice and freedom, July 9, 1324 (1908), the withdrawal to Resneh represented the bursting forth of a torrent of pure water bursting on them from heaven. The conviction was born that this was the only remedy for the oppression and injustices which we suffered; and the people in nowise obstructed the spread of the movement, supporting the revolutionaries with sincerity and loyalty until normal conditions were restored in all the provinces of the vast Ottoman Empire, which rang with the hope that justice and freedom would in fact be established. These sweet cries often reached the ears of the revolutionaries and their movement became stronger.

"But with the passing of time, as a result of political errors, many portions of Ottoman territories were lost, one after the other, to the Empire. Efforts were made to rectify these failures by pointing up the errors of the old regime. The errors followed on one another. Even the (dreadful) consequences of the Italian and Balkan wars did not lead to the initiation of programs of administrative reform. Those who had hoped were disillusioned; those who thirsted for freedom were seized with anguish and concern; and a segment of those who were thought to be working for the national weal surrendered themselves to their own personal aspirations, and they followed an entirely wrong path; and some of those who had cried out 'We are thirsty for freedom' committed such strange acts that they laid the country open to ruin — they dried up the land and subjected it to a painful situation. They practiced selfishness and thoughtlessly misled the government, outwardly pretending to be abiding by the law, but actually, through deception, creating a system of bodied in the Provinces which took over their local provincial administration and finally subordinated the Ministers' Council. They accomplished this by taking over their general assemblies. Thus did they achieve their goals.

"It is apparent from the statements of Minister of Finance Djavid Bey, and the written records of the Fifth Committee of Parliament, especially those of October 24-26, 1334 (1918) that the Executive of the Ittihad and Terakki Party had taken decisive and audacious steps involving the fate of the nation and the country, that it declared war on its own without even consulting the Council of Ministers and obtaining that body's consent, something which it found to be unnecessary — although even the kings cannot arbitrarily declare war.

"No good could come out of such behaviour. Everyone understood this.

"The opponents of the Ittihad Party who, however, had practiced a certain degree of respect toward that Party, now began openly to criticize it.

"After the revolution it had been deemed necessary to declare martial law, which the Party did — but without cessation, indefinitely. They enlisted the mob, the rabble, collectively to assail the Sublime Porte. They assassinated Nazim, the Minister of War, and his chief Aide, and they proceeded to overthrow the Cabinet of Kiamil Pasha, establishing a Cabinet of the Ittihad and Terakki. They summarily dismissed the experienced and honorable members of the Cabinet and replaced them with persons who belonged to the Party. There arrived a moment when people sought again the days of the tyrant. Everyone began to protest the rampant arbitrariness and tyranny.

"There was even more to it. They created an even greater atmosphere of harassment of the non-Islamic elements of the land, the Armenians in particular, who had hoped, from our precious Constitution, for justice and peace. These people now understood that they had been victimised by hypocrisy, and they assumed the posture of awaiting that opportune moment when they would be able to realize their former national aspirations. And the cause of all this were the Ittihadists themselves. They even raised national and racial issues among the Moslems of the land, they promoted divisiveness and conflict and jeopardized Ottoman unity. All this has been established by the intensive studies and examinations done of the matter as they appear in the charge of the Attorney General.

"The Court Martial has confirmed the following five points which are irrefutable, which substantiate the Attorney General's demand that a verdict of guilty be arrived at.

"These facts relate to the active body of the Ittihad and Terakki, the Party's moral representative. The personal crimes attributed to this representation have tainted the name of the Party. Of these crimes, all of us (i.e., members of the Court) have in all good conscience formed our own convictions.

"Consequently, the adjudged abovementioned crimes cannot be ascribed to all members (i.e., the accused). Special legal disposition must be made to judge the degree of guilt or innocence of all participants in these crimes in accordance with the degree of their guilt.

"Counsel for the accused in the course of his defense declared that under the constitutional regime the presence of political parties has been deemed to be necessary, that even today in our land other political parties in fact exist, in particular the 'Hurriet and Ittilaf' party, which has a Central headquarters, a General Assembly and branches, just as the Ittihad and Terakki party; and (defense counsel said), the 'Hurriet and Ittilaf' has even called those of its members who are Ministers to a meeting of their own.

"It is the contention of this court, after many consultations, that although the presence of parties and coalitions is necessary in countries governed by a Constitution, these parties and movements must never interfere in the affairs of the Government and its Executive Branch. After defining their aims and goals through majority actions taken at their national conventions, they leave the Ministers who enjoy their confidence alone to express their own views and cast their votes in accordance with the dictates of their own conscience.

"Parties and movements then aspire simply to influence Governmental actions to be in accordance with their own plans. They work solely to that end. They do not meddle on other business and they try to influence those Ministers whose actions they do not approve to resign, not by threats but by votes of 'no confidence.' This is the natural way of doing things.

"As to the parties which exist in Turkey, up to the convening of the National Assembly, the majority party cannot exert any influence on, or intervene in, the operations of the Executive of the Government which it has not chosen; on the other hand, if such a Party tries to alter the Government's legal and constitutional form, the end result will be just as bad. Thus, in examining the diverse offices of this Government, one must conclude that the views of defense counsel have no validity.

"The five points projected by the Court are then the following:

"(1) On the evidence of the trial which has taken place before this Military Court, it is obvious that the massacres which took place in the Kaza of Boghazlayan (Ankara), the Sanjak of Yozgat, and the Vilayet of Trebizond, were organized and perpetrated by the leaders of the Ittihad and Terakki Party.

"(2) The Defense argued that the news of these was communicated (to the Party) only after they had been committed. But even if this hypothesis were true, it is plain that even after the news was received of the atrocities, no steps were taken to prevent their repetition; nor were arrangements made for the punishment of the original criminals.

"We note that the President of the Ittihad(Sadrazam),Prime Minister Said Halim Pasha, upon the proclamation of general mobilization, invited to his seacoast residence the members of the Central Committee of the Ittihad(Merkezi Oumoumi),advising them that it would be extremely perilous for Turkey to take part in the war, that they adopt a policy of neutrality. He backed up his views with explanations and factual data, but failed to convince them. So, they took part in the war; and based on the minutes of the Parliament, as confirmed by Riza Bey, it is obvious that the responsible representatives of the Ittihad and Terakki had, even before the declaration of war, organized bandit bands in Trebizond which entered Russian territory and committed acts of aggression. Riza Bey confessed this to be a fact. The war itself was not declared with the full assent of the Council of Ministers; and it was after the step to war had been taken that Minister of Finance, Djavid Bey, Churouk Sulu Mahmoud of Postal Services, and Suleyman el Boustani Effendi, Minister of Commerce, resigned their posts. This confirms further the fact that war was not declared on the DECISION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS, that such a step was decided upon by the Ittihad and Terakki Party, that that Party alone declared war.

"(3) From the testimony of former Prime Minister Ahmed Izzet Pasha it is clear that his resignation as Minister of War was brought about by the intervention of the Ittihad Party — was the direct result of that Party's hostility to him.

"(4) The world congress of the Ittihad and Terakki Party, having come to an understanding on the subject of the logistical support of the army, the Party's Istanbul headquarters handed over the direction of that task to its representative, Kemal Bey. First, they created a businessmen's body which took over the operations and rights of a number of firms and factions and seized private property. Public institutions were forced to transfer their assets to a limited number of individuals, including members of bodies mentioned above. As a result, countless numbers of Ottoman subjects have perished from lack of nourishment; many have suffered paralysis, and many have died. The result was that to a considerable degree the government's potential defense force was diminished. That the Ittihad and Terakki Center interfered in Governmental operations was confirmed by the records of the Ittihad Congress of 1332 (1916) which show that a report to this effect delivered there was warmly received.

"This Court demanded and received from the Municipality (of Istanbul) an explanation of this event.

"(5) Musa Kiazim Effendi, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, while consulting with the Senate on the matter of transfer of the religious court (Sheriye) to the Ministry of Justice, in replying to a question put to him, said: 'Do not ask for my vote. The Party (Firka) wants it that way and that way it shall be.' These circumstances were fully explained and understood during this trial.

"They simply mean that the Ittihad in fact interfered (in the operations of the Government).

"These five points were familiar to all of them; as were other matters, the consequences of which we have all seen. With reference to important matters of State, no opportunity was given the Council of Ministers to determine issues by their own vote and on their own counsel. There were instances of intervention to render the Government subservient to their own interests and their purposes. All this have been proved.

"The legal form of the Ottoman Government called for authority to be divided into three agencies: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. The Ittihad rendered itself superior to the three branches of Government, brought itself to the fore as a fourth power, prevailed through the force of threat, and disfigured our form of Government.

"The authors of the above-mentioned crimes, representing the moral person of the Ittihad and Terakki Party, are the members of its General Assembly, the fugitives — Prime Minister Talaat Pasha and Minister of War Enver Effendi, now expelled from his military career; Djemal Effendi, Minister of the Navy, likewise expelled from the service; Dr. Nazim, Minister of Education — these were the principal criminals(fayili asli)and their guilt has been determined by a unanimous vote. As for the case of another member of the Ittihad General Assembly, the Seikh-ul-Islam, Musa Kiazim Effendi, who was present throughout the trial, and on whose behalf both defense counsel and the Attorney General pleaded as if he were a man of virtue, a person of character and great learning, a man whom they could not possibly envision as having participated in the crimes: Musa Kiazim Effendi, however, has been one of the important members of the Party since the Revolution but has obviously convinced such people of high education as defense counsel and the Attorney General of his innocence.

"The truth is that he is a person of inadequate education, who represented to ignorant people the deeds of the Party as logical and legal. He exerted no effort (to discourage the crimes committed) and even obstructed attempts to rectify erroneous opinions. In this trial it came to light that he directed the scientific and religious affairs of the Ittihad and Terakki Party, acting contrary to the Sheri Sherif (the law of the noble religion of Islam), and gave advice contrary (to the spirit of Islam). He has told this Court that the advice which he rendered was not proper and admitted that he made no attempt to forestall (the events); he also said that to resign from the Ittihad and Terraki is to resign from Islam — and these and similar concepts are in ill-keeping with the virtues and perfection ascribed to him. They simply exacerbate his guilt. During the examination and interrogation of this individual it was made clear that, being very busy with his work in the scientific branch of his Party, although not included among the principal authors of the crimes, he nevertheless became a participant and for this his guilt has been confirmed by a unanimous vote and his case has been decided on a two-thirds majority vote.

"It has not been confirmed that Rifaat Bey, the former President of the Senate, participated in the Ittihad and Terakki Party; neither was he a participant in the crimes committed. The court decided unanimously to grant him freedom provided that he is not jailed for another cause. "Former Minister of the Postal Service, Hashim Bey, was in Berlin. Without receiving his consent, he was elected a Minister and, despite his refusal, he was appointed a Minister upon his return to Istanbul. His period as Minister coincided with the last years of the Ittihad Ministerial Council and he attended only three general meetings of the Ittihad in which he busied himself with issues outside of the Constitution. He was never personally present at any of their consultations, he was a mere listener. This was confirmed in the ensuing examinations. He too therefore has been set free by a majority vote provided that he will not [have] been arrested for any other cause.

"As to the sentences: punishment is to be meted to the abovementioned persons: Talaat, Enver, Djemal and Dr. Nazim, whose crimes were the greatest according to the first paragraph of the 45th Article of the Imperial Municipal Punitive Lawbook; also to be punished are Djavid, Mustafa Sheref and Musa Kiazim, by virtue of the second paragraph of the same Article and in accordance with the last paragraph of the 55th Article of the same Lawbook. The Articles in question are:

" 'When a number of persons commit together a crime, or commit a crime which itself comprehends a number of criminal acts, when each of these persons has been responsible for the commission of one or a few facets of that crime, such people will be termed as co-participants and will be punished individually as principal criminals.

" When it is a question of altering the form of the constitutional government or plotting against the Sultanate, or committing a violent murder — when such acts are confirmed, the accused shall be sentenced to death.

" 'Accomplices in a felonious crime who are not subject to a legal exception shall be punished in the following manner: If the principal has been sentenced to death or to permanent forced labor, accomplices shall be sentenced to a term of hard labor of not less than ten years.'

"In accordance therefore with the abovementioned paragraphs in the law code, Talaat, Enver, Djemal and Dr. Nazim are sentenced to death and Djavid, Mustafa Sheref and Musa Kiazim are sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor; and

"Although the abovementioned Rifaat and Hashim Beys are to be set free, this will pose no obstacle to issuance of Supreme Court summons to them to appear before that Court on matters relating to their offices; and

"Former Minister of Postal Services, Vosgan Effendi, and Minister of Commerce Suleyman-el Boustani Effendi, having departed for Europe quite a while ago, and it having been confirmed that even now they are unaware of invitations issued them (by this Court) to appear before it, and it being known that even if they were aware of this Court's invitation their return would have been improbable, their cases are therefore tabled.

"These verdicts have been rendered unanimouslyin absentiain the cases of Talaat, Enver, Djemal and Dr. Nazim; Djavid, Mustafa Sheref, Vosgan and Suleyman-el Boustani Effendis; they have been likewise rendered in the presence of Rifaat, Hashim Beys, and Musa Kiazim.

"July 5, 1919 (1335), 6 Shevval 1337: signatures: The President of the Military Court,Ferik(General) of Staff;Mustafa Nazim Binni Ahmed;Member of the Military Court;Mirliva(General) of Staff,Ali Nazim;Member of the Military Court, Colonel of Infantry,Rejeb Ferdi Binni Mehmed Ali.


"Having considered the confessions of Mustafa Kiazim Effendi and the circumstances revealed by his statements, the undersigned is in full agreement (with the Court sentence) that he was not an accomplish to the crimes of the Merkezi Oumoumiya; but (it is the view of the undersigned) that he used his religious and scientific responsibilities in such a way as to hide the crimes of the Central body, that he made no effort to prevent or forestall the commission of those crimes, that he did not resign from office (because of those crimes), and that therefore he was one of the principal criminals. Hashim Bey, too, according to the evidence of his own confessions, adhered with all his heart to the Central Body and has been loyal to it both during his tenure of office and before he assumed the responsibilities of his position. He posed not a single objection to the crimes committed up to the day of his trial, and is convinced of the Central Body's innocence (of those crimes). The undersigned is inclined to consider him an accomplice-criminal. — (Signed) Member of the Military Court and Mirliva (General of Staff)Mustafa Binni Aziz, Suleymaniye.

"It is confirmed that the signatures affixed to this sentence are the authentic signatures of the Members of the Military Court:

"July 5, 1919 (1335)

"Military Court: NAZIM.

"Head of the Secretariat empowered to Record the Minutes of this Military Tribunal: Abidin Daver.

"Official organ: No. 3604."

(End of official transcript)
Published in theOfficial Gazetteof Turkey(Takvimi Vekayi),no. 3604 (supplement), July 22, 1919. The transcript was translated into English by Haigazn K. Kazarian and published in theArmenian Review,Vol 24 (1971, 4), pp. 19-26.

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