Saturday, April 30, 2005

Armenia: Our Archives are Open

Today's Zaman
Anadolu News Agency (aa), Cihan News Agency Yerevan, Kayseri

After Turkey's announced the opening of its archives regarding the so-called Armenian genocide allegations and inviting historians to conduct research, Armenia, too announced that its archives are open.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that their archives are open to any countries or researchers who wish to conduct studies on genocide claims. Spokesperson for the Ministry, Hamlek Gasparyan, noted that many scientists have already done studies on the Armenian archives. "However, there were no Turks among them. If Turkish scientists want, they can come and study." he said. Gasparyan claimed that any propaganda should be left aside and researchers should be clear in this issue. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sent an official letter to Yerevan proposing the formation of a "joint research commission" to investigate the allegations, had suggested to Yerevan on last Wednesday: "Let's open our archives, let them be examined and let's accept the outcome."

Meanwhile, Armenian President Robert Kocharian announced that an international "Presidential Award" would be given to those who contribute to the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide allegations, in 2006. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, on the other side, made an announcement in Kayseri yesterday and said that there are no current plans to open the Armenian border at this stage.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Genocide Factor in Armenia's Foreign Policy

Prof. Ruben Safrastyan, Ph.D. - 4/30/2005

This article outlines how the Armenian foreign policy on the genocide question evolved from bilateral policy to a successful global recognition policy and how Turkey is trying to redirect it towards a bilateral issue.

The Genocide issue is the only vector of Armenia's foreign policy, which reaches far beyond the regional context and enters modern global politics.[...]

In the past decade, global political processes have been aiming noticeably at strengthening their moral component, as manifested by the growing attention to issues, falling under the category of protection of human rights. In this context, Armenia's policy of promoting the universal recognition of the Genocide and its condemnation as a crime of sweeping and massive violation of the fundamental right to live of the whole nation, takes the central stage of significance.

[...] the new Armenian leadership made to the foreign policy agenda upon coming to power in 1998 was the official acknowledgment of the Genocide factor as a priority issue.

[...]Armenia, as a state established by the nation victimized by genocide right after its unacknowledged and unpunished occurrence, now includes on its foreign policy agenda the question this gravest crime under the international law be affirmed and condemned by the genocide perpetrator's successor-state, as well as and by the international community.

Turkey, however, is trying, firstly, to downgrade the problem to a level of bilateral relations, and secondly, to falsify the very essence of that policy by portraying it as conspiracy built on hatred, confrontation, even hostility. At the same time, Turkey has actively been taking steps, increasingly reminiscent of a full-scale diplomatic offensive, aimed at inflicting her point of view on the international community.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears on:
Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...].The bold emphasis is mine.

Germans Back Study of Armenian Massacres

I find that the visit of the German chancellor to Turkey at this time, when his spokesman has stated that Germany intends to officially apologize to Armenians for the role it played during WW I as Turkey's ally, is significatn.

His statement "it was important that a nation looks at its history with a sense of self-criticism" in reponse to the Turkish proposal to create a joint commission of experts, speaks volumes.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder expressed support Friday for a Turkish proposal to create a joint commission of experts with Armenia to study the disputed history of the mass killings of Armenians by Turks in 1915. "The proposal of the Turkish Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) is good and this path should be followed," Schröder said during an interview with Turkish television station NTV before his May 3-4 visit to Turkey.

However the German chancellor said it was important that a "nation looks at its history with a sense of self-criticism." Schröder added that this question would "never" be a pre-condition imposed on Turkey -- which rejects the Armenian claim of a genocide -- for its entry into the European Union.

Ankara fears that the genocide allegations could fuel anti-Turkish sentiment in international public opinion at a time when it is vying for EU membership. Erdogan said Friday Turkey could normalize relations with Armenia at the same time as undertaking the study of the Armenian massacres. Turkey had previously demanded that Armenia first abandon its campaign for the recognition of the World War I massacres as genocide.
Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears on:,1574,1568855,00.html
Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...].The bold emphasis is mine.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Armenia's painful past

From Brian ToddCNNFriday, April 29, 2005
Posted: 5:06 PM EDT (2106 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- We shudder at images from Darfur, Sudan, wince at memories of Rwanda and look at grainy pictures of the Holocaust and say "never again."

Turkey edges towards Armenia ties

Turkey has said it is ready to build "political" relations with Armenia while experts investigate Yerevan's claims of a World War I "genocide".
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "political relations could be established" during joint studies.
Mr Erdogan told Turkey's Milliyet newspaper that the establishment of formal diplomatic relations would depend on Armenia showing "sincerity" towards undertaking a joint investigation.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears on:
Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...].The bold emphasis is mine.



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July 21- August 3 in


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Please feel free
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Armenia: Yerevan Appears Unmoved At Turkey’s Genocide-Study Offer

By Jean-Christophe Peuch

Yerevan showed little response today after Ankara’s proposal to conduct a joint investigation into the mass killings and deportations of Armenians during World War I. Turkish leaders yesterday suggested that both countries set up a joint commission of historians to determine whether the massacres carried out between 1915 and 1917 constituted genocide. Armenia insists it will continue to seek international recognition and condemnation of what it says was a deliberate attempt at exterminating an entire people. RFE/RL correspondent Jean-Christophe Peuch reports.

Prague, 14 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Armenia today reacted coolly to Turkey’s initiative.

In comments made to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, presidential spokesman Viktor Soghomonian said Yerevan had still not been officially notified of the Turkish proposal.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian, in turn, said Armenia would not agree to any initiative that aims at questioning the genocide issue. “I cannot say what Armenian authorities will decide and how they will react when they get this [proposal], but let me remind you that there have been such calls before to set up a commission of historians to determine whether there was genocide," he said. "Armenia has once and for all said that the genocide issue is not a subject for debate.”

Addressing the Turkish Grand National Assembly on yesterday in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called upon Armenia to accept the creation of a joint commission of historians. He added that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already sent a letter to that effect to Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

Gul said a positive Armenian response would contribute to improving relations between Ankara and Yerevan. The two countries severed diplomatic ties 12 years ago in the midst of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Talking to reporters in Yerevan shortly before Gul’s speech, Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said, however, that his government will continue to seek recognition -- including from Turkey itself -- of the massacres as genocide.

“With regard to the protection of human rights, we have the moral right and the moral obligation to be on the front line today," Oskanian said. "The world expects us to take adequate steps in that direction. We must be on the front line, seek recognition of the genocide and, because we are a people that already went through this, discuss ways to prevent [other] genocides.”

Gul had made it clear last week that Turkey should prepare what he had described as a “counter-strategy” as Armenians worldwide prepare to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1915-17 tragedy on 24 April.

So far, only a few governments and national parliaments have recognized Armenia’s genocide claims. Those include France, Russia, Lebanon, Uruguay, Switzerland, Greece, and Canada. The European Parliament and a number of U.S. states have also recognized the slaughtering of Ottoman Armenians as stemming from a systematic policy of extermination.

Turkey is very much concerned the U.S. Congress may follow soon. Ankara has recently enlisted the support of an American historian, Justin McCarthy, to reject the Armenian genocide claims.

Addressing Turkish lawmakers last month, McCarthy reportedly argued that the mass killings of Armenians were the result of war operations, not of a deliberate, government-sponsored policy. Reuters at the time quoted the U.S. expert as accusing world politicians of using the genocide claims to hinder Turkey’s bid for European Union membership.

Most Western historians estimate that at least 1 million Armenians were slaughtered during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

Gul yesterday accused Yerevan and the Armenian diaspora of working relentlessly to undermine Turkey’s image:

“[We are] confronted with a very well-organized campaign, which makes use of every opportunity to discredit Turkey," Gul said. "This organized campaign against our country is based on bias, prejudice, slander, exaggerations, and distortions that were fabricated nearly one century ago.”

Most Western historians estimate that at least 1 million Armenians were slaughtered during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. They argue the massacres -- which followed the slaughter of at least 200,000 Greeks -- were part of a deliberate policy by the ruling Committee of Union and Progress to exterminate the empire’s largest remaining Christian community.

The Unionists, also known as the Young Turks, ruled over the Ottoman Empire from 1912 through the end of World War I.

A few of those CUP leaders believed to have ordered and supervised the 1915-17 massacres were later executed by Armenian commandos.

Although some Unionist officials were tried by Ottoman courts after the war for their participation in the slaughter, the genocide issue remains taboo in today’s Turkey.

All the successive nationalist governments that have taken over from Ottoman rulers have persistently refused to recognize the genocide claims.

If Turkish leaders admit to the killing of tens of thousands of Armenians, they maintain the deaths were the result of either war operations or interethnic strife, not of a genocidal policy. They also say as many Muslims -- mainly Turks and Kurds -- were killed during those years.

Addressing lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development party, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan yesterday said his country was not afraid of confronting its past:

“Medicine has yet to invent a remedy for those who do not want to open their eyes to history,” Erdogan said.

Yet, all those who, in Turkey, challenge the official version of the 1915-17 events face potential troubles.

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk recently caused uproar for saying in a February interview with Switzerland’s “Tagesanzeiger” magazine that 1 million Ottoman Armenians had been slaughtered during World War I.

Although Pamuk did not refer to the massacres as “genocide,” some Turkish newspapers accused him of “treason.” Also last month, a high-ranking government official in Turkey’s Isparta Province ordered copies of Pamuk’s books to be seized and destroyed.

In his address to parliament yesterday, Gul said Turkey will formally ask British lawmakers to reject as “baseless” a collection of eyewitness accounts of the massacres. The accounts sustain the view that Ottoman Armenians were slaughtered systematically.

Known as the “Blue Book,” those accounts were collected by historian Arnold Toynbee and published by the British parliament in 1916. They have served as a major source on the Armenian massacres.

(RFE/RL Armenian Service correspondents Anna Saghabalian and Nane Adjemian contributed to this report from Yerevan.)

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.