Friday, September 30, 2005

Turkey After The Armenian Genocide Conference

Assyrian International News Agency
By Dogu Ergil

The speakers, or better deliberators, were all Turkish scholars serving at domestic or foreign universities to avoid prejudice against ill-willed foreigners. Among a sundry of topics some like, 'An Identity Squeezed Between the Past and the Present', 'Examples of Forgetting and Remembrance in Turkish Literature: Different Breaking Points of Silence', 'The Armenian Issue and Demographic Engineering', 'Scenes of Conscience through a Bitter History', 'From Heranush to Seher: A Story of "Salvation"', 'Mother Fatma, the Child of Deportation' and 'Thinking About the Stories of the Survivors of Deportation', suggest that the issues were not limited to just historiography and document rattling. That has been taking place for a long time. Both the Armenian and Turkish nationalists and 'official historians' have unfortunately narrowed down the discussion of this important matter to the acceptance or denial of "genocide". This radical stance has not only impoverished scholarship but has politicized the matter forcing individuals to take sides. In this ado, unfortunately the human side of the matter, the suffering of real human beings, no matter who they were, has been neglected. Indeed what we ought to start discussing is the human condition at the turn of the last century.

A multicultural society existed with different ethnic, linguistic and confessional groups. They were torn apart, their age-old relations were severed, an economy was shattered, the lives of ALL were changed irreversibly and forever. The majority of them had little to do with the fate they were forced to live through if they had not lost their lives in the chaos of World War One years.
[...] All of these are parts of the wider truth. But the truth is larger than that and larger than the lives of individuals or groups that were caught up in the turmoil of the decade between 1910-1920. [...] WW1 [...] ended with the dissolution of three major empires of the time, the Ottoman being one. [...] a rough estimate is that five million Turks or Muslims identifying themselves as Ottoman had to migrate into present Turkey and remaining territories. They left behind dead family members, their property and a life that had taken root on European soil in the past centuries.

They were frustrated, impoverished, uprooted and bitter. However, they had come to a friendly land where they were welcome and the government of the day compensated their loss to a certain degree. That is why they chose to forget. Did they forgive? Obviously not. [...] the ruling cadre in the last Ottoman decade was the government of the Committee of Union and Progress, better known as the Young Turks. The leading group, including the dictating triumvirate, Talat, Enver and Cemal Pashas of the Young Turks were basically of Balkan stock. [...] they brought their feelings of loss, betrayal (by the non-Muslim peoples of the empire who had attained their independence through painful struggles for national liberation by fighting against Ottoman officers and officials who were mainly members of the Union and Progress.

[...]. They made a conscious effort to prevent a second catastrophe by adopting the method of demographic engineering. There were two aspects of this engineering: 1) Removal of the Christians; 2) Mixing of the non-Turkish Muslims. The first method was territorial; the second was demographic engineering. [...].

Territorial mopping concerning the Armenians was put into effect with the official policy of deportation. It was an announced and acknowledged government policy of the time. However, territorial sterility was not only directed to these largest Ottoman peoples, it encompassed all Christian peoples, large or small including the more peaceful Assyrians in the southeast.[...].

[...] Armenians faced the harshest fate of all because there was no receiving state willing to compensate for their loss like the Bulgarians and the Greeks.

The present Turkish government bears no responsibility to what the adventurous Young Turks who led the Ottoman State into demise had done to the peoples whom they ruled over. They did not only deport Christian subjects, they sent armies totaling two million recruited from among Muslims to three continents and watched them perish in pursuit of their ambitious scheme of creating a Turanian Empire out of Turkic peoples. [...].Their Machiavellian political methods justified the means they used for their exalted end that never succeeded but consumed the lives of millions as well as their own.
What befalls on us is to acknowledge what happened to the Ottoman peoples of the time and why? [...]. Those days are left behind, not to be forgotten though. We must remember what has taken place; what ambitions, policies or impossible dreams have led to such large scale suffering then, so that we do not commit the same mistakes again. However, our primary duty is to understand what role our forbearers played and what we can do to ease the pain of those who still suffer today because they feel that their wounds are psychologically bleeding.

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.

Brutality, poverty and religion stand between Turkey and EU

September 30, 2005
The Times
By Ben Macintyre

ON A tiny island in the middle of Lake Van, on the far eastern edge of Turkey, a team of architects is working feverishly to restore one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world.

Holy Cross Church, on Akdamar island, was built by the Armenian King Gagik in AD921 and was once the spiritual focus for more than a million Armenian Christians.

Today there is no one left to worship in it. The entire Armenian population here was killed or driven away by Turks and Kurdish militias during the First World War, in what Armenians claim was the first genocide of the 20th century — a charge vigorously denied by the Turkish State.

For 90 years the church was left to rot. Its frescoes disintegrated as the rainwater seeped in, and its delightful carvings were used for target practice by local gun-toting shepherds.

In the run-up to planned EU accession talks next week, however, Turkey has come under intense pressure to acknowledge its bloody past and improve its treatment of minorities.

Four months ago the restoration work finally began, and today Muslim stonemasons are busily rebuilding this church without a congregation. The scaffolding-clad church is proof that attitudes are changing, but it is also a poignant symbol of how much work — economic, political, cultural and historical — still needs to be completed.
Indeed, the very concept of Europe was to some extent born out of Christendom’s common cause against the great Muslim empire to the east.

Gladstone, as Prime Minister, expressed the common prejudice against a corrupt and violent Turkey threatening Europe’s very existence: “From the black day they entered Europe, the one great anti- human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went a broad line of blood marked the track behind them.”

As archaic and racist as those ideas seem today, they still have some currency, most notably in those parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire that remember, with an inherited shudder, the Ottoman Janissaries at the gates of Vienna.

Turkey’s critics need not look far to find evidence of cultural and political incompatibility with European norms. Turkey’s military continues to play an important (though reduced) role in the country’s politics, while freedom of speech and other human rights lag far behind the European standard.
Turkey has made significant reforms in recent years, but critics, including many inside the country, worry that such reforms are skin-deep, a pragmatic shift to gain admittance to Europe rather than a genuine change of heart.
The Turkish State remains staunchly secular, yet some argue that bringing millions of Muslims into Europe could provide a springboard for Islamist fundamentalism.

Turkey, after all, was until 1924 the seat of the Islamic caliphate which Osama bin Laden has repeatedly spoken of restoring to its former power. Even Turkey’s most avid supporters agree that Ankara has much more to do before this vast, teeming land straddling Europe and Asia can be ushered into the EU.
The sense of former imperial glory is as pronounced in Turkey as it is Britain; neither country relishes being told what to do by its former European rivals.

That view is poignantly expressed by Ümit Özdag, a Turkish nationalist politician, who insists that EU membership is an unachievable fantasy because Europe will keep shifting the goalposts.
We are heading for the village known, in Turkish, as Koy. Another former centre of Christian Armenian culture, the Kurds still refer to it as Six Churches.

Turkey’s continued refusal to acknowledge the fate of the Armenians has crystallised much of the opposition to Turkey’s EU membership. This week the European Parliament declared that Turkey must acknowledge the “genocide” before it can be admitted.

Slowly Turkey may be inching towards that point. Yet the State stands by its own version of events, insisting that just as many Turks and Kurds perished in a civil war sparked by Armenian rebels. That view is enshrined in Turkish law, though rejected by most historians.
The whiff of wilful historical amnesia also hangs over Six Churches, a once magnificent monastic complex in the mountains that is now a ruin. When I ask the village headman, Mehmet Goban, about the fate of the local Armenians, a chill descends on the warm afternoon. “Kurds and Armenians always lived happily together here. We do not know why they left. We don’t know what happened to them,” he declares, after a long, painful pause.

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.

In Turkey, a Clash of Nationalism and History

Friday, September 30, 2005
Washington Post Foreign Service
By Karl Vick

ISTANBUL -- The exhibit opened 50 years to the day after the mayhem it chronicled in the cobblestone street right outside the gallery.

Captured on black-and-white glossies was a modern-day pogrom, a massive, state-sponsored assault on a foreign community that awoke on the morning of Sept. 6, 1955, still feeling safe in Istanbul. By sunset a day later, a mob of perhaps 100,000 Turks had attacked foreigners' homes, schools and churches, and filled whole streets with the contents of the ruined shops that lined them. In the aftermath of the attack, a city for centuries renowned for its diversity steadily purged itself of almost everyone who could not claim to be Turkish.

The exhibit at Karsi Artworks attempts to confront that history, dubbed the Events of Sept. 6-7, in the era before "ethnic cleansing" entered the popular lexicon. But when ultranationalist thugs swarmed into the gallery on opening night -- throwing eggs, tearing down photos and chanting "Love it or leave it!" -- the question became whether it really is history at all.

"Just like what happened 50 years ago," said Mahmut Erol Celik, a retired civil servant emerging from the defaced exhibit. "It's the same mentality. That's what's so embarrassing."

Appearances have lately counted for a lot in Turkey. Under intense international scrutiny, its government hopes to begin negotiations Oct. 3 that should conclude with Turkey as a member of the European Union[...] {to} fulfill an ambition [...] which drove modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [...].

But questions arise almost daily about whether either side wants to proceed. [...].

That question came up again this month, when a Turkish court made headlines by barring a handful of scholars from gathering to discuss the deaths in 1915 of perhaps a million ethnic Armenians [...].

[...] {The} obsessiveness [...] overtakes Turkish efforts to appear poised. This summer, readers of Time magazine's international edition found a DVD tucked into a four-page ad for Turkish tourism. The disc included 13 minutes of commercials and an hour-long propaganda film accusing Armenians of slaughtering Turks.

Last May, the prospect of scholars gathering for an independent assessment of the controversy brought a chilling warning from Turkey's justice minister, who called them "traitors." [...]. Also this month, a prosecutor filed charges against Orhan Pamuk, the country's most acclaimed novelist, for observing that the Armenian issue was off-limits in the country.

"There is no other country which harms its own interests this much," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said.

But then few other countries are so nationalistic. Turks are raised to believe that Turkey is surrounded by enemies and can rely only on itself. The unitary notion of the state views all citizens as ethnic Turks and regards any other presence as a dire threat.
"When a country is embarking on a major negotiation process, when it's trying to eradicate old taboos and embrace modern norms, you usually do that in the name of nation-building," said Katinka Barysch, an analyst at the London-based Center for European Reform. "As Turkey embarks on this, it invokes nationalism. Which doesn't sit very well with the E.U. process."

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.

Armenian festival venerates beloved culture

September 30, 2005
Dallas News
By VERONICA VILLEGAS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

For nearly two months, Rachel Adonian has been learning the traditional dances of her native country along with other members of St. Sarkis Apostolic Church – the only Armenian congregation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The countless hours of practice culminate next week for her and about 40 other women, men and children learning the native dances when they take to the stage during the three-day ArmeniaFest.

The festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is held on the grounds of St. Sarkis in Carrollton and is organized by its congregation.
Festival organizer Paul Kirazian said the dance performances are important to understanding Armenian culture.
Mr. Kirazian said that each year, the church brings in an Armenian dancer to teach interested members of its congregation and the community.
This year, the festival is celebrating the 1,600th anniversary of the Armenian alphabet with a special history and art exhibit.

And as usual, those attending will be able to enjoy traditional Armenian food.

During the instructor's two-month stay, she lives with a host family.

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.

Freed Scholar Speaks Out

September 30, 2005
Inside Higher Ed
Interview by Doug Lederman

The interrogators’ questioning in the initial few days of my arrest was entirely devoted to my research, my political views and connections with Turkish intelligence and state officials. The concept of “scholar” is meaningless to them. According to them, as the investigator put it, “all scholars are spies.”
It was only later, when the Armenian secret service could find no basis for their claims, that the issue of legally purchased, second-hand books in my possession came into the picture.
I am convinced that not only my arrest but also my release were political decisions taken by (few but) very high ranking Armenian officials.
I think the basic reason why they targeted me is that they could not put me in any of their nationalist, primordialist categories. I was like a UFO to them[...].
My work is not only about the history of the region but also about historiography. [...]. In that sense my work is critical not only of the Turkish nationalist historiography but also of the Kurdish and Armenian counterparts. Hence my work can neither be called pro- or anti Armenian. [...].
It is very clear that almost the entire Armenian population of eastern Anatolia was subjected to forced migrations and massacres beginning in the early months of 1915.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank especially my colleagues, Turkish, Armenian and American, who have demonstrated an exemplary and meaningful solidarity. [...]. I am grateful to all of them who have signed the open letter to [Armenia’s] President Kocharian and hope that my case has opened up further space of dialogue and cooperation between the critical intellectuals studying the controversial and painful pages of the history of the region.
I am also extremely grateful to the American politicians who got involved. Bob Dole’s intervention was really crucial. I thank him very much.
[...] for me there is no difference between Istanbul and Yerevan. I feel at home when I am in Yerevan. I love walking on the streets (especially Mashtots) of the city, or sitting at the lovely cafes around the opera building. [...]. Whoever it is behind the provocation against me, there is no doubt that they have damaged the image of Armenia in the international arena. As a scholar, I have been deeply disheartened by this incident.

But there are also people like the director of the National Archives of Armenia, Mr. Amatuni Virabian, who from the first day of my arrest, understood what was happening behind the scene and diligently supported me. I received considerable support from pro-democratization Armenian intellectuals. I also know that majority of the people in Armenia eventually understood that the officials made a big mistake and also that I was not an enemy of the Armenian people.

I don’t want those who have tried to intimidate independent researchers through my own case to win over those who have been seeking and struggling for improved relations and scholarly cooperation between the two countries and communities. Therefore I will definitely go back.
I am willing to pursue an academic career in the U.S. where I can attain a free environment necessary for my studies.

Finally, I want to emphasize that I am not angry or bitter. I want to put everything aside and concentrate on my work. I am an academic not a politician, notwithstanding the fact that I was caught in the middle of a fight among hostile political actors.

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.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

EU parliament deals setback to Turkey

September 29, 2005
People's Daily
Source: China Daily

European Union lawmakers chided Turkey Wednesday, five days before it is due to open EU membership talks, demanding that Ankara recognize the 1915 killing of Armenians as genocide before it joins the bloc.

The European Parliament gave grudging blessing to the start of negotiations next Monday after a heated debate that vented strong criticism of Turkey's human rights record.

But it postponed a vote to ratify Turkey's extended customs union with the EU in a bid to put pressure on Ankara to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus.

The non-binding resolution was a political slap in the face for Turkey, which insists there was no genocide.

The Turkish lira and stock market lost ground on the news, although traders said they did not believe the October 3 opening of talks was at risk.

Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis from the ruling AK party told NTV television: "These decisions of the European parliament make things more difficult for Turkey."

EU governments remain deadlocked on a negotiating mandate for the talks, with Austria holding out for a more explicit mention of an alternative to membership.

Ankara reaffirmed Wednesday it would accept nothing less than full membership.

By Dan Bilefsky
International Herald Tribune
In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey publicly dismissed the European Parliament's statements. But people close to the prime minister said he had been stung by them and had momentarily considered boycotting the talks. Erdogan has reiterated forcefully over the past few weeks that he would walk away from the talks if Turkey were offered anything less than full membership.

Turkish analysts said Turkish public opinion was growing increasingly frustrated with the EU's stance and Erdogan could not afford a deal deemed humiliating by many Turks. "Erdogan will not agree to talks if Turkey is forced to make more sacrifices," said Selcuk Gutalesi, a commentator for Zaman, a conservative newspaper close to the government. Already, Turkey has accepted unprecedented conditions to open EU negotiations, including an open-ended halt to the movement of Turkish workers into the bloc.
Recent polls show a majority of French, German and Austrian voters oppose admitting Turkey, and a majority of Danes would rather see non-EU candidate, Ukraine, in the EU than an "Islamic country" like Turkey.

That skepticism is likely to intensify in coming years, because leaders viscerally opposed to Turkey's entry are on the rise in two of the EU's most important countries, Germany and France. The Christian Democrat leader, Angela Merkel, who may lead a German coalition government after finishing ahead of the party in power in this month's elections, favors a "privileged partnership" for Turkey. In France, a likely presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, also opposes Turkish membership.

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

The myth of the Shi'ite crescent

Sep 30, 2005
Asia Times
By Pepe Escobar

Azerbaijan - where 75% of the population is Shi'ite - could not be included in a Shi'ite crescent by any stretch of the imagination, even though it was a former province of the Persian empire that Russia took over in 1828.

Azeris speak a language close to Turkish, but at the same time they are kept at some distance by the Turks because they are in the majority Shi'ites. Unlike Iran, the basis of modern, secular Turkey is national - not religious - identity.

To complicate matters further, Shi'ism in Azerbaijan had to face the shock of a society secularized by seven decades of Soviet rule. Azeris would not be tempted - to say the least - to build an Iranian-style theocracy at home.

It's true that Azeri mullahs are "Iranified". But as Iran and Azerbaijan are contiguous, independent Azerbaijan fears too much Iranization. At the same time, Iran does not push too hard for Shi'ite influence on Azerbaijan because Azeri nationalism - sharing a common religion on both sides of the border - could embark on a reunification of Azerbaijan to the benefit of Baku, and not of Tehran.

And if this was not enough, there's the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, an enclave of Armenian people completely within Azerbaijan, where Iran supports Armenia for basically two reasons: to reduce Turkish influence in Azerbaijan and to help Russia counteract Turkey - perceived as an American Trojan horse - in the Caucasus.

A fair resume of this intractable equation would be that Azerbaijan is too Shi'ite to be totally pro-Turkish, not Shi'ite enough to be completely pro-Iranian, but Shi'ite enough to prevent itself from becoming a satellite of Russia - again.

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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Turkish academics break genocide taboo

Tuesday 27 September 2005
By Jonathan Gorvett in Istanbul

The recent conference in Istanbul on the controversial killing of Ottoman Armenians in the closing stages of first world war has been widely lauded as a breakthrough event which could strengthen accession talks with the European Union.

"It was a major shift in the understanding here of the importance of freedom of expression," Ferai Tinc, a leading columnist with the Turkish daily Hurriyet, told "It showed a transformation in mentality."

Others see it as a major step too on Turkey's rocky road to European Union membership, with talks on this due to start in just one week's time.
"This was Turkey's academic community asserting its independence," says Razmik Panossian, a leading Armenian academic and director of programmes at the Canadian Rights and Democracy pressure group.

"They were saying 'We'll go ahead with this even if people are against us'. This was a very important step to take."
"The conference was not just about the Armenian issue," says Ekyen Mahcupyan, the ethnic Armenian director of Turkish think-tank TESEV's democratisation programme. "It was about Turkey showing itself and the world that it can discuss issues like who we are and what kind of world we want to live in."
"It is obvious that Europe will be influenced in a positive way by how things turned out," adds Mahcupyan. "As soon as the court halted the conference, everyone reacted - many people came forward to condemn the court and support the event and free speech."
The issue also has wider strategic implications for Turkey's EU accession bid. Turkey borders Armenia, yet the frontier remains closed, with no diplomatic relations between the two.
The claims over genocide are a key factor in these frozen relations - although there is one other major issue at stake.

"Relations are being held hostage by the Nagorno Kharabakh conflict," says Panossian. Since war between Armenia and Turkish ally Azerbaijan resulted in the occupation of some Azeri territory by the Armenians, Turkey has shut off its links with its Armenian neighbour.

"From the moment the EU accession talks start, the Armenian issue will keep coming up"Gareth Winrow,Bilgi University, Istanbul"Yet, from the moment the EU accession talks start, the Armenian issue will keep coming up," says international relations professor Gareth Winrow of Istanbul's Bilgi University - where the conference was eventually held.
Meanwhile, ordinary Turks seem largely divided on the issue.

"I don't think it should have been allowed," says shop worker Mert Aslan. "There was no such genocide - it was the Turks who suffered. Nobody ever talks about that, and to think that Turkish professors are supporting the Armenians is a shame for us."

By contrast, student Dicile Atacam said: "I think it's a very good thing. If we can't talk freely about the past, then how can we ever understand each other today, in the present?"

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.

Armenians seek a voice

The Courier News
By Matthew DeFour

BATAVIA — Politics in music haven't changed much since the days when Neil Young lamented "four dead in Ohio," but politics in practice have.

Heavy metal rockers System of a Down headlined a political rally at noon Tuesday outside U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Batavia office to bring awareness to the slaughter of thousands of Armenians by the Turks in the 1920s.
Lead singer Serj Tankian, whose grandfather survived the massacres, delivered a personal letter asking the speaker to call for a House vote on two controversial resolutions that would recognize the massacres as genocide.

"By allowing this vote, and allowing the will of Congress to be freely expressed, you will be doing the right thing morally and, at the same time, encouraging Turkey to deal honestly with its past and more openly with its future," Tankian read through a megaphone to a crowd of about 125 people, including elderly Armenian descendants of the survivors and young fans who will see the band perform Friday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

Tankian handed a copy of the letter across a police line to a sergeant who took it inside to Hastert's office. Hastert himself was in Washington and unable to make an appearance, but a spokesman said the speaker was attentive to the demonstrators' concerns.

"He's allowing the House to move through the process and — he's listening to different viewpoints," spokesman Brad Hahn said. "As a speaker he has an obligation to build consensus."
Demonstrators emphasized that Hastert promised the Armenian community in August 2000 that he would allow the House to vote on a resolution, but since then he has had two opportunities to do so without result.

In October 2000 and July 2003, separate House committees passed resolutions that would have recognized as genocide the murders committed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. Neither resolution was scheduled for a House vote before the end of the term.

Hastert has said that both the Clinton and Bush administrations have opposed the resolutions because of an alliance with Turkey.
Most of the demonstrators arrived by bus from Glenview and other Chicago suburbs, although some came from as far away as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana.

They brandished signs that read "You can't rewrite history" and chanted "You can't buy the truth."

Read between the lines, that last chant could have been a reference to a recent Vanity Fair magazine article in which a translator alleged that Hastert had received campaign contributions from Turkish officials to stymie the House vote in 2000. But aside from murmurs in the crowd, organizers never mentioned the article or allegations in their speeches or as part of the program.

"I think that speaks to the validity of the Vanity Fair report," said Hahn, who reiterated Hastert's position that the article had no credence.

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.

The new-Canadian establishment: the Russian warrior

September 27, 2005

When I walked into Alexander Shnaider's room in London's luxurious Lanesborough hotel, adorned with Regency furniture and wall hangings, the suite was awaft with the sweet smell of money. It's the kind of luxury hostelry, located between Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, where guests have personal 24/7 butlers trained to unpack their bags and coordinate their social itineraries.
This {Russian billionaire} definitely is a warrior. His peregrine eyes can kill. At 36, he is too young to have fought any wars, but he carries firepower in his brain and his calm manner is deceptive.
He spent his youth helping in his parents' North Toronto delicatessen, delivering newspapers and eventually graduating from York University with a degree in economics. In 1989, as the Soviet Union collapsed, he left to work in a steel trading house in Zurich, then set up his own shop in Belgium, but didn't make any real money until he moved to Ukraine, where, among other things, Shnaider would import US$40 microwaves and trade them for US$150 units of hot-rolled steel. Then he sold the coils to Asian traders and eventually (with English partner Eduard Shifrin, who has a doctorate in metallurgical engineering) managed to win control of Ukraine's fourth-largest steel mill.
Then there was the power grid that lights up most of Armenia, which he bought as a lark for $24 million while on a brief visit in 2002, though he knew nothing about the business which was losing an annual $64 million and carried $40 million in debt. He almost set off a revolution when he cut off electricity to customers who refused to pay their bills. He has since turned the troublesome company around and is negotiating to sell it for about $125 million.

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.

Armenian Taboo

Published: 9/27/2005

MILLIYET- Another taboo has been broken. The Armenian conference was held, and the world didn’t come to an end. These are the headlines of newspapers published in Turkey. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times characterized the issue as follows: ‘a groundbreaking event where Turkish academics could for the first time publicly challenge their country's official version of the events leading to the slaughter of Armenians.’
As long as democracy grows stronger in Turkey and hurdles to freedom of expression are removed, the atmosphere of discussion will grow more mature. [...]. The academics who organized the conference contributed to the development of Turkey’s democratic structure, just like the intellectuals who took the initiative for disarmament in southeastern Anatolia. We should congratulate them.

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.

Halonen in Armenia {was} asked for recognition of Turkish massacre


During her visit to Armenia on Tuesday, President Tarja Halonen found herself in the middle of a discussion on the sensitive issue of the Turkish massacre of more than a million Armenians during the First World War and shortly thereafter.
Armenian journalists asked the Finnish President if she would publicly recognise the events as a genocide. [...].
President Halonen avoided a direct response to the questions, saying instead "We are building a common future with Armenia".

[...] the President {said}, Finland is not in the habit of giving recognition to historical events. She said that every generation has the right to re-examine history, and every country has a right to its own history. She added that countries should not become prisoners of history.
The Finnish President defended Turkish EU membership, which Armenia opposes, because of Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. She said that Turkish EU membership would benefit the whole region, including Armenia.

On the question of Nagorno-Karabakh - an ethnically Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan - Halonen offered the autonomous status of Finland’s Åland Islands as a model. A fiery-eyed student responded: "Azerbaijan is not Sweden".

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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Armenia Bolsters Air Force With 10 Russian Fighters

09/26/05 09:39
Defense News -- Europe

Armenia has taken delivery of 10 new Russian-made SU fighter jets as part of a program to update its air force, Armenian Defense Minister Seiran Shakhsuvaryan said Sept. 26.

”The purpose... is to update the air fleet. We previously had a total of six such fighters,” the minister told AFP.

He added that the purchase was in compliance with international agreements limiting the size of conventional forces in Europe.

Armenia’s arch-rival Azerbaijan has been building up its armed forces, saying it may one day need to use force to retake territory seized by Armenia in a conflict in the 1990s — should bilateral talks on the problem fail.

Of the three South Caucasus countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — Armenia has maintained the closest ties with Moscow since the end of Soviet rule in 1991.

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.

Conference On Armenian Ottomans Ends In Istanbul

Turkish Press

ISTANBUL - ''This conference (the Conference titled ''The Armenians during the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire'') will have a positive impact on the point of view of foreigners on Turkey'', Cem Ozdemir, a member of the European Parliament, said on Sunday.

Taking the floor on the last day of the conference held at Istanbul's Bilgi University, Ozdemir said, ''if this conference had not been held, it would have caused extraordinary reactions. And, it would have strengthened the hands of those who do not want to see Turkey in the EU.''

Referring to Europe's perspective on Armenian issue, Ozdemir said, ''Armenia is Turkey's neighbor. Turkey's relations with Armenia should be just the same with its relations with Greece. Europe wants opening of borders and trade. Also, it (Europe) attaches importance to situation of non-Muslims in Turkey.''

[...]. If Turkey debates these matters, the pressure on it will be reduced.''
12 sessions were held in the two-day conference to which 786 people were invited. Nine foreign journalists, including two from Armenia, and many Turkish reporters covered the conference.

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.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Armenian government approves sale of electricity network to UES

26/ 09/ 2005

YEREVAN, September 26 (RIA Novosti, Gamlet Matevosyan) - The Armenian government has authorized Midland Resources Holding Ltd., a British company, to sell its 100% stake in Armenian Electricity Networks (AEN) to Russia's Unified Energy Systems (UES), a spokesman for the Armenian Energy Ministry said Monday.

In accordance with Armenian energy legislation, Midland Resources requested permission from the Armenian government and the Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia to sell its stake to Interenergo B.V., an offshore subsidiary of UES.

Midland Resources had acquired 100% of AEN shares at $40 million and lent the shares to Interenergo for a 99-year term in June at an estimated cost of $73 million, while retaining ownership of the stock.

Interenergo is a joint venture of UES subsidiary Inter UES (60%) and state-owned Rosenergoatom (40%), the world's largest nuclear energy company.
{See previous story World Bank Concerned About Sale Of Armenian Power Grids }

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.

Tigran Gichunts a mason native of Armenia

September 25, 2005
Cape Cod Times

EAST DENNIS ''' Only a portion of Tigran Gichunts' ''masonry paradise'' is visible from the road in this seaside neighborhood.

Halfway up a long driveway, a rambling yellow, federal-style house perched on a hilltop comes into full view. The sloping front lawn is framed by two tiers of stone walls.

But Gichunts didn't stop there. His handiwork includes 10,000 square feet of stone walls that wrap around most of the secluded 3-acre property. Some of the 4 1/2-foot-high walls - which run for 1,500 feet, or more than a quarter of a mile - flaunt built-in planters and graceful columns.

Gichunts also built three patios - a large one of Turkish marble in the backyard with an outdoor gourmet kitchen for entertaining; a fieldstone patio in the backyard; and a side-yard rectangular patio, made of concrete pavers that resemble bricks, that is designed with a herringbone pattern. He combined landscape materials of different textures and colors throughout the project. In the front yard, a network of fieldstone pathways trimmed with cobblestone is connected by a circular walkway of concrete pavers. The formal entranceway is made of tumbled bluestone edged with granite.

The ambitious project took Gichunts, a masonry designer whose business is based in South Yarmouth and Brewster, two years to complete. He finished it last month.
Gichunts, 24, was eager to showcase his stonework skills on such a grand scale.

''It's an art,'' he says, of doing masonry, a trade that apparently runs in his genes. Gichunts is a native of Armenia and his grandfather was a mason.

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.

Conference On Ottoman Armenians Continues In Istanbul

Anatolian Times

Taking the floor on the second day of the Conference titled ''The Armenians during the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire'' held at Istanbul's Bilgi University, Akcam said that the relocation decision was made at the end of long discussions and debates.

''The Ottoman documents indicate that the decision to relocate the Armenians was made to end a deeper problem defined as the 'eastern problem' and to end the dissolution process of the Ottoman Empire. This decision was not a result of a need that erupted during the war. There are many documents in hand with respect to the destruction of Armenians,'' claimed Akcam.

On the other hand, Dr. Ahmet Kuyas of Galatasaray University referred to the four members of the Ittihat & Terakki Party, and said that a serious massacre was made those days. According to Kuyas, the architect of this massacre was Enver Pasha. Kuyas expressed his view that the other three people who were responsible for these massacres were Talat Pasha, Dr. Bahattin Sakir and Dr. Nazim.

Also speaking at the conference, professor Baskin Oran of Ankara University's Political Sciences Department said, ''concept of class, criticisms of Ataturk, Cyprus, socialism, communism and Kurdistan are no more taboos in Turkey. There was only one taboo left, and it was Armenian issue. Now, it is no more a taboo.''

Referring to Armenian Diaspora, Oran said, ''Diaspora talks about 'recognition, compensation and territory', and this prevents 'recognition'. Nobody in Turkey can think of paying compensation for things that an empire (Ottoman Empire), the alphabet of which you have abandoned, did. Moreover, territory claims are nonsense.''

Oran pointed out that assassins of Turkish diplomats should not remain unpunished, and added, ''assassins of 35-40 Turkish diplomats were not punished or sentenced to minor punishments. And, this caused as much reaction in Turkey as the 1915 incidents caused in Armenia. And, this was the factor which increased this taboo in Turkey.''

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.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Turkish People Is At Peace With Its History, Gul

Published: 9/24/2005
Turkish Press

ISTANBUL - ''The Turkish people is at peace with itself and with its history,'' said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Sending a message to the opening session of the Conference entitled ''The Armenians during the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire'', Gul said, ''the approaches of our government and our people towards our past, including Turkish-Armenian relations, constitute an indication of our confidence in ourselves and our future.''

In his message, Gul said, ''the last era of the Ottoman Empire is subject to discussion and research in academic circles, with increased interest. Nearly every day new documents from the era emerge and new books, articles and research papers are published. Yet, it is not possible to say that all data and documents related to those times have been properly analyzed. With an aim to help redress this shortcoming, our government is in the process of taking important steps to enable the Ottoman Archives to serve researchers, in modern conditions. Our Archives have begun to serve scientists through documents converted to a digital medium since 2003. Within this context, many researchers, coming from 75 different countries have completed their research on the Ottoman Archives. These activities are ongoing.''
''It is a fact that in some chapters of history, or even today, some societies cannot tolerate one other's language, religion, identity or even very existence. It is an unfortunate reality that such intolerance can turn into a deep-rooted and destructive ideology, which gets ingrained in the social subconscious. Some serious and very dangerous trends, from xenophobia to racism and from anti-Semitism to attitudes against Muslims are present and are on the rise today, even in societies which represent the highest level of contemporary civilization,'' underlined Gul.

Gul stressed, ''it is a source of pleasure that such a psychology does not exist between the Turks and Armenians. This also constitutes a major advantage for the future of relations between the two peoples.''

''Another issue I want to draw your attention to is that, many studies so far held on the theme of the Conference, particularly outside Turkey, have been conducted with political motivations, in a manner inconsistent with scientific ethics and objectivity. [...].''

[...] ''young generations from all nations must know and draw lessons from the facts that during the last era of the Ottoman Empire the imperialist-colonial powers ruthlessly exploited peoples' ethno-religious sensitivities for their own gains and that some elements, knowingly or unknowingly, became instruments to these provocations.[...].''

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.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Armenia: Can Lake Sevan Rise to the Challenge?

Saturday, September 24, 2005
Institue of War and Peace Reporting
By Arevhat Grigorian {a reporter for the Hetq online newspaper in Yerevan}

Buildings and beaches around Lake Sevan are rapidly disappearing under water as efforts by scientists and environmentalists to reverse the decline of this huge freshwater reservoir pay off more quickly than expected.
Despite the fact the encroaching waters could soon be lapping at their windows, many who live and work around the Armenian lake are delighted to see it returning to former levels.

“I'd like to see the water rise as much as possible, and if necessary, we'll just move the building to another place," said Norik Simonian, a bookkeeper at a motel located on the lake.
Lake Sevan, one of the highest altitude lakes in the world, began dwindling in the 1930s under a ruthless plan to use its waters for irrigation and hydroelectricity. A paradise of beach resorts and holiday villas sprang up along the lake's edge.
The government stopped using Sevan for energy in 1999 and two years later parliament passed a law decreeing the water should be raised to 1,903 metres above sea level, the height at which experts say it will be possible to regulate the temperature and oxygen levels and restore the ecological balance.
Scientists had predicted it would take 30 years to refill the lake, but now forecast that could happen in just 15, as water pours in faster than expected, helped by unexpectedly high levels of precipitation.
Though they don’t know if the water will continue to rise at this rate, it seems likely that money will have to be found sooner than expected to carry out crucial preparatory work along the shoreline.

This could be a problem as the government has only a fraction of the estimated 30 million US dollars needed to remove trees, shrubs and buildings from areas that will eventually be flooded.
Environmental campaigners are worried that if money isn’t found to sweep up the rest of the rapidly disappearing land, the flooded forests will begin to rot and poison the lake.

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.

ARMENIA: New wave of Jehovah's Witness sentences begins

23 September 2005
Forum 18 News Service
By Felix Corley, Editor

All 22 Jehovah's Witnesses who abandoned their alternative military service because it remains under defence ministry control and does not provide a genuine civilian alternative to military service now face severe punishment.[...]
The alternative service law - which came into force on 1 July 2004, and was amended by parliament on 22 November 2004 and again on 24 December 2004 - provides for "alternative military service" of 36 months and "alternative labour service" of 42 months, both under the ultimate oversight of the defence ministry, thus failing to meet its commitments.
The Council of Europe agrees. "We believe there should be a clear civilian alternative to military service in Armenia," Krzysztof Zyman of its directorate general for human rights told Forum 18 from Strasbourg on 20 September.[...].
However, Sedrakian of the defence ministry denies this. "Those doing alternative service are under the control of the Social Care Ministry and the Health Ministry," he claimed to Forum 18. "The Defence Ministry has no control over them and has nothing to do with them. Passports are routinely taken off conscripts when they are called up and the same goes for those doing alternative service. But their identity cards make no reference to the armed forces. That is impossible." He denied that those doing alternative service are fed or clothed by the army, insisting that the defence ministry receives no financial allocation for these purposes.

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.

Prosecuting Pamuk: Author and Narrator on Trial

Sep 23, 2005
The Simon
By Alan Williams

Two ideas usually hover closely around Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name is Red, Snow, and, most recently, Istanbul, a memoir. The first is the Nobel Prize, which he will doubtlessly garner for the second idea, namely that his fiction is undeniably “prescient.” [...]
On its cool surface, Snow traces the journey of Ka, a Turkish poet in exile [...]who travels to the isolated city of Kars [...] only to get swept up in a blizzard of politics between the pseudo-totalitarian republican government and Islamic fundamentalists. [...] he attempts the impossible task of courting both sides of the battle, and negotiating the flawed, self-protecting, and treacherous personalities in every camp in between, in the hopes of safely delivering himself, Ipek, and her family out of the fray.
And just as a poem revolves around an unknown, missing center (it is revealed that all of Ka's poems written in Kars go literally missing and are ultimately unknown), it is Kars’ Armenian populace that is the missing space in Snow. [...]
The Armenian Genocide is referenced several times, directly and indirectly. Ka trudges through snowdrifts by old homes and shops that had belonged to Armenians long since gone. [...] When representatives from Kars’ multitude of political views gather to sign a document about the military’s staged coup and its ensuing aftermath, the lack of Armenian voice becomes noticeable because of the very impossibility of having one. The Armenian absence and silence, like the omnipresent snow, like the hollows within the lines of a snowflake, permeate the novel.
Since Snow is offered as a record-setting tale of fictional events in a place that is haunted by the massacre of a minority populace, would not Orhan the narrator also be on trial? Is Pamuk being indirectly persecuted for highlighting such truths, and, more specifically, the whitewashing of truths, in his fiction? The answers will come in December.

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.

Bridges: A survivor remembers a father’s good work and a Turk’s kindness

September 23, 2005

By Marianna Grigoryan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Red and white grapes twist in the old man’s hands, slipping into the bowl. Andranik Tachikyan {who is now 94} begins separating the sweet tasted bunches of grape – one to eat, one to make wine.

Memories of a tragic childhood are kept in a pasta package . . .He was a small child when he used to take bunches into his hands squeezing them and having fun of it.

Andranik’s family was well known in the Turkish city of Tripoli (now in Lebanon). His parents and ancestors, Andranik says, were wealthy famous people possessing a big garden, a pharmacy, endless fields of wheat and tobacco and a mansion that they lost in one day when the mass extermination of Armenians began.

“My father was Dutch, his name was Pierre Van Moorsel. He was a famous man, a doctor and engineer, who had built several bridges,” tells Andranik, taking his father’s visit card from a pile of papers. “My mother was Armenian, her name – Arshaluys. She was a kind woman, who lost almost everything during the genocide and stood against all the pain and trouble alone.”
“I was small; there are some dates and names I can’t remember, but there are several things I remember very well,” tells Andranik. “The Turks on horses with swords in their hands either killed people or threw them into the river. The scene was horrifying. Although my father was a Dutch, they killed him and my older brother as Armenians. We were shocked and horrified. We did not know where to go and what to do without father. We left home, fame, wealth and took the way of refuge – starving and barefooted.”

Andranik remembers their gardener, a Turk, reached them in a difficult moment and “saved us away from the sword”.

“Our Turkish gardener was very loyal to my father and our family, because we treated all of them very well. As soon as the massacres began, he saved us, endangering his own life. He took my mother, my sister and me under a bridge my father had built,” he says. “Everything went wrong, people could not save their children from the Turks’ swords; we would not survive if it were not for the gardener.”

Andranik remembers the grass was high under the bridge and the gardener kept them there.

“We stayed there for a while. Every day our gardener would secretly bring us sunflower seeds, hazelnut oil cake and we ate it until the Americans entered Tripoli,” he says. “Then the Americans found us and sent us to Greece by sea.”
“Everyone cried by the ship, for they couldn’t believe they have been saved at last. My mother would also cry, she would squeeze us to her breast and cry loudly,” he remembers. “Then the ship took us to Greece. We move to Armenia from Greece.”

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.

Sargis Sargsian inducted into the Arizona State athletics Hall of Fame

Sept. 24, 2005 12:00 AM
Republic news sources

Football player Darren Woodson, gymnast Tina Brinkman, golfer Amy Fruhwirth, baseball player Jim Merrick and tennis player Sargis Sargsian will be inducted into the Arizona State athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 1.
Sargsian (1994-95), of Armenia, was a two-time All-American and won the only NCAA singles championship in school history in 1995, when he was named the NCAA and Pac-10 Player of the Year. He's currently ranked No. 138 on the ATP Tour and has one professional title, in Newport, R.I., in 1997.

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.

Turk nationalists rally outside Armenian conference

Sat Sep 24, 2005 5:23 AM ET
By Jon Hemming

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Hundreds of Turkish nationalists chanting slogans and waving flags protested on Saturday against a controversial academic conference devoted to the World War One massacre of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.

The conference had been due to open on Friday at two universities in Istanbul but a last-minute court order blocked it, causing acute embarrassment to the Turkish government just days before the start of its European Union membership talks.

Organizers then circumvented the court ban by moving the conference on Saturday to a third university in the city.
"This conference is an insult to our republic and to the memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk," Erkal Onsel, head of the Istanbul branch of the leftwing but nationalist Workers' Party, told protesters gathered outside the private Bilgi University.

Ataturk is the revered founder of the modern Turkish Republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.
Turkey is under pressure to change its stance if it is to become the first Muslim country to join the European Union.
This time, with a nervous eye on Brussels as the clock ticks toward the start of its long-delayed EU entry talks on October 3, the government has strongly backed the conference.
Despite a flurry of EU-inspired liberal reforms in recent years, promoting certain interpretations of Turkish history can still be deemed a criminal offence under the revised penal code.

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.

Harutyun Arzumanyan wins William L. Montague, Jr. prize

September 24, 2005
Press Release News Wire

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 24, 2005 -- The Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition has announced the results of its 2005 competition held in Kharkov, Ukraine between August 29 and September 4. This year’s competition featured 29 competitors from 16 countries around the world.

The jury did not award a Jordania Grand Prize, but did decide on two William L. Montague, Jr. Second Prizes – Harutyun Arzumanyan of Armenia and Matteo Pagliari of Italy. Third Prize was awarded to Christopher Chen of the United States.

Mr. Arzumanyan is a graduate of the Yerevan State Conservatory as a violinist and conductor. He founded the Armenian Chamber Orchestra and has frequently conducted at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Armenia. He was the first prizewinner of the 1999 National Competition for conductors and was 3rd Prizewinner of the 8th Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors in Katowice, Poland.
As William L. Montague, Jr. Second Prizewinners, Mr. Arzumanyan and Mr. Pagliari will receive concert engagements during the 2006-2007 concert season with orchestras in Ukraine, the U.S., and other countries to be named.

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.


Columbia Records

Los Angeles, CA - September 23, 2005 – System of a Down, one of rock's most daring and innovative bands, have just announced that they – along with their fans, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA;, Axis of Justice ( and the Armenian Youth Federation – will visit the Batavia office of Rep. Dennis Hastert on Tuesday, September 27 (Noon) to ask Speaker Hastert to ‘do the right thing’ and keep his commitment to hold a vote on the pending Armenian Genocide legislation. If passed, the legislation will officially recognize Turkey’s destruction of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. The band have invited their fans to join with them in this effort by attending the rally and have set up a system by which fans can directly email Speaker Hastert on the issue.*
The System of a Down/ANCA rally will take place at the offices of Rep. Dennis Hastert - 27 North River Street, Batavia, Illinois (about an hour from downtown Chicago). The rally is scheduled for 12Noon-2:00 PM on Tuesday, September 27. The Armenian community, activists, and the band’s fans from across the greater Chicago area are expected to attend the rally.
* System Of A Down have asked their fans to take action and send a free WebFax urging Hastert to hold a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution:


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.

Friday, September 23, 2005


September 22, 2005
Hotels Magazine

STEPANAKERT, SEPTEMBER 22. ARMINFO. During the recent years the hotel business has been successfully developing in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

According to the report of ARMINFO correspondent in Stepanakert, major investments in this sphere of economy have been made by the Armenian diaspora of the USA, Great Britain, Australia and Switzerland. Particularly, the Sirkap Armenia Swiss company has spent about $1,500,000 on several modern hotels in the regions of Karabakh.

The hotel owners in Karabakh are satisfied with the country's tax policy. For example the manager of the "Nairi" hotel, one of the biggest hotels in Stepanakert, Mr. Akob Bulakian, a citizen of Australia, says that his hotel has been exempted from taxes for 3 years, and that the taxes he is paying now are half of what he pays in Australia. The number of hotel visitors has increased by 30% during 4 years.

In the opinion of experts, the hotel business in NKR can increase even more after the airway, connecting Stepanakert to Yerevan, is opened.

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.

Seminar on Turkish Genocide of Assyrians to Be Held in Stockholm

GMT 9-22-2005 20:56:59
Assyrian International News Agency
Translated from Swedish by Nahrin Akguc

The Armenian researcher Ara Sarafian is invited to give a lecture during the Seyfo Seminar taking place at the University of Stockholm on September, 24th. {Below are some excerpts from an interview}
Even today, where there is an Assyrian minority in Armenia, there is no information on their language, culture or history in the general Armenian society. One exception of which I remember is William Saroyan, who wrote about Assyrians in one of his short stories. And that was the first time I thought of Assyrians as a modern people. I was touched already as early as then, because they were like us Armenians, however living under worse conditions.
I became an historian during the 1980's, because I wanted to find out the truth about the Armenians. I was privileged enough to make that decisions. At that time I lived in Turkey, where I found some good friends, and came to realize how close Armenians and Turks stood to each other. After that I went to the USA and the University of Michigan where I started to study Ottoman-Turkish and Armenian history, and that led me unavoidably to the question of the genocide. [...].
I think that Turkey will recognize the genocide and other injustices that Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and others have suffered from, mainly because more and more Turks are becoming interested in those questions and they do not want to carry the burden from that time on their shoulders, as little as they want to lie about such questions. I hope that even we act in a way that invites them to go through this phase. Establishing individual contacts with the Modern Turkey and working for a democratisation of that country, will help this development.

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.

Sergey Khachatryan received the right to play Huggins Stradivarius violin

23 September 21:07


September 24 Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan will perform with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia in the concert hall named after Aram Khachaturyan.

Sergey Khachatryan, the awardee and laureate of numerous contests resides in Germany . Lately in Brussels he was awarded the first prize of the famous Queen Elizabeth contest and received the right to play Huggins Stradivarius violin.

Today Armenian President Robert Kocharian received the young violinist. Wishing him every success the President wished the musician gave concerts in his homeland once a year at least.

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.

RPT-Turkey condemns court stopping Armenia conference

Fri 23 Sep 2005 4:56 AM ET
By Jon Hemming

ISTANBUL, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Turkey's government condemned a court decision to stop a conference to discuss the massacre of Armenians during World War One, calling it a blow to freedom of speech and a mistake ahead of EU-accession talks on Oct. 3.
"Those inside and outside the country who want to obstruct us as we go towards Oct. 3 are making their last efforts," said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. "There is no one better than us when it comes to harming ourselves," he added.

Late on Thursday, the court stopped the conference pending information from the two universities which organised it on the academic careers of the speakers, who was participating and who was paying for it.

"It was cancelled because they did not know who was going to say what," the Sabah daily said.

The European Commission was not impressed.

"The absence of legal motivations and the (timing) of this decision a day before the conference looks like yet another provocation," said Krisztina Nagy, the EU executive's spokeswoman for enlargement, on Friday.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn previously called a Turkish court's plans to prosecute novelist Orhan Pamuk a provocation. Pamuk faces up to three years in jail for backing allegations that Armenians suffered genocide 90 years ago.

The Armenian conference had been postponed in May after a minister accused its organisers of treason.

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.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Amb. says Turkey, Armenia should forge ties

22/09/2005 12:24

Turkey and Armenia are neighboring countries and should forge ties.

There is a need for a dialogue on the issue, Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan Turan Morali has said. "The visit by any Turkish group to Armenia is normal. Relations must be established between our countries.

"Turkish and Armenian people can't live without any ties for a long period", Morali said. The Turkish diplomat added that he is not aware of any specific group of people that will visit Armenia in the future.

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.

IMF says Azerbaijan leads CIS in economic growth rates

21.09.2005, 19.20
Itar Tass

WASHINGTON, September 21 (Itar-Tass) - Azerbaijan is a doubtless leader in the Commonwealth of Independent States in terms of economic growth, says a report on short-term and medium-term prospects of economic development issued by the International Monetary Fund.

It puts this year’s expected growth rate in Azerbaijan at 18.4% and next year’s rate at 26.6%. Along with it, the IMF notes a sizable increase of inflation to 12.7% from an almost zero fairly recently.

The report also predicts high growth rates in the oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – 8.8% {7.7% next year}and 9.6% {6.5% next year}respectively.

The IMF forecasts an 8.0% {6% next year} growth in Armenia and {8.0% in 2005 and 7% next year} Tajikistan, 7.5% {4.5% next year} in Georgia, 7.1% {4% next year} in Belarus, 6.0% { 5% next year} in Moldova, 5.5% {5.3% next year} in Russia and 5.5% {5.4% next year} Ukraine, 4.0% { 5.5% next year} in Kyrgyzstan, and 3.5% {2.5% next year} in Uzbekistan.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Turkey an Example of Religious Tolerance for 500 years

20 September 2005
Voice of America
By Miguel Angel Rivera

Kuzguncuk lies on the Asian side of the Bosporus Strait. There is a church, a mosque, and a synagogue, right beside each other. The priest of the Armenian Orthodox Church {Mehmet Biraz}, using a key made in 1835, opens the doors to a Christian world within a Muslim one. The priest is one of a few who come from another part of Istanbul to serve the faithful. And when he says “faithful,” he is referring to Jews and Muslims, as well as Christians, who enter this holy place to pray.

"There is no difference between us,” says priest Mehmet Biraz. ”Muslims come in here to light a candle. Yes, Muslims come to pray here. They light the candle and they pray. There is no difference. There is only one God and different paths to that God."

The church leader says cooperating on every level is vital for offsetting the religious negativity he finds in politics. He says ties with others are still strong.
The land the mosque sits on was a gift -- from the Armenian Orthodox Church.
"We have good relationships with our neighbors the Armenians and the Greeks. They come to our funerals. We go to their funerals,” says Mahmut Uslu, a worshipper at the mosque. “The Armenian Church is older than ours. Ataturk's new republic had an open door policy to all religions. [...].

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.

Armenia Dispatch: 2 - Yerevan

Posted Sep 20, 2005, 11:17 PM ET
by Erik Olsen

So the short answer first (admittedly after just two days): I am hugely bullish on Yerevan.

The city so far has exceeded my expectations by a degree or two of magnitude. [...], you might be led to believe Yerevan is a post-communist republic (aka: one of the Stans), struggling to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. Stunted and confused. Not true. Yerevan is a vibrant, happening, hip, fun, interesting and culturally rich city…and it is pulling this off in a neighborhood where the neighbors are all, shall we say, rather ornery.

[...] I will forecast right here that Armenia becomes a viable and somewhat common destination for American and European travelers within three years. No it will likely never become Italy or the US in terms of attracting tourism, but the country has an immense amount to offer, and is only beginning to wake up to rediscover itself. You can see this in the streets of the city.

I spent the day exploring Yerevan’s busy avenues, historic churches and a few tourist sites (including a somewhat disappointing tour of the Ararat brandy factory which ended well, though, with a tasting session). It is a busy city. People stride along the streets and sidewalks with purpose. Of course, many are just standing around. Or sitting in the park. But there is an upbeat vibe and hum to the city. Oh, one thing. Walk the streets with care. The cars don’t watch for you much. Even New Yorkers should take their alertness up a notch in Yerevan.

[...]. I attended a concert for the Armenian Day of Independence and witnessed some tremendous musical talent. A young violinist (whose name escapes me right at this moment, but I’ll find it) blew me away with his playing.

[...]. At eleven pm, the streets and clubs and bars and outdoor cafes were teeming with people, most of them young, good-looking and bursting with confidence. Yerevan is a confident city, and you can tell that the youth here are making the culture their own. [...] Armenian music, which, even though I can’t understand a word, has a unique, upbeat sound that’s very appealing. In fact, I hope to spend more time over the next few days checking out the Armenian music scene.

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.

Much ado about Turkey

September 20, 2005
By Tulin Daloglu
{Tulin Daloglu is the Washington correspondent and columnist for Turkey's Star TV and newspaper. A former BBC reporter, she writes occasionally for The Washington Times.}

[...] Rep. Adam Schiff, Californian Democrat, the sponsor of both measures, wrote, "The resolution urges Turkey to go beyond recognition of genocide and reach a just resolution with the Armenian people."

The efforts on behalf of these congressional resolutions are not solely about a duty to the past, but about demands from the present and the future of Turkey.

The question, then, is what exactly makes a "just solution." Armenian activists have over the years made their three goals clear: recognition of the genocide, reparations for the victims and return of the land.

If so, Gunay Evinch, a Turkish-American lawyer and Fulbright scholar, compares the matter of compensation and return of property to the Japanese-American relocations during World War II. In Korematsu vs. United States, the Supreme Court held that treating all Japanese Americans as a security threat and interning them was constitutional for national security purposes. Fifty years later, however, the Supreme Court reversed Korematsu (in Korematsu II), and held that U.S. authorities did not have sufficient information to justify such a relocation. But not only did the United States not return property to the wrongfully relocated and dispossessed, it also did not compensate them at the properties' real value.
No one should forget the challenge of history to the Turkish Republic in the region and its geostrategic location in this very rough neighborhood. Iran is a serious matter in terms of world peace, and no country would be happy about a neighbor's emerging nuclear power. The United States should also realize that this is not the time to send the message that Congress may allow Armenians to use the Diaspora to get what they want.

The people who believe that genocide occurred will believe it no matter what. This is not about recognizing whether there was an Armenian genocide; but this is about whether to seek compensation and land from Turkey.

One should no wonder why every U.S. administration opposes similar bills. But now, when the future of Iraq's territorial integrity is unprecedented, does Congress really want to send Turks the message that it's willing to divide up their country?

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.

International PEN calls for an end to publisher Ragip Zarakolu's trials

19 September 2005
International Freedom of Expression and Exchange
Source: Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN

In the next four weeks Zarakolu will be brought before courts three times in three separate cases.

On 20 September an Istanbul court will preside over the latest in a series of hearings initiated in March this year against Zarakolu's publication of George Jerjian's book History Will Free All of Us/Turkish-Armenian Conciliation. The book is said to be "insulting" to the memory of Kemal Atatürk by suggesting that leading government figures close to Atatürk had been responsible for the mass deportation of Armenians in 1915. Zarakolu is being charged under articles of the Penal Code (art. 159/1 and art. 5186) that have since been removed following penal revisions put into place in June this year.

The next day, another hearing will be held under the same law - this time for Zarakolu's publication of a book by Professor Dora Sakayan's An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922.

On 11 October, Zarakolu will yet again appear in court to hear the latest in a series of hearings that started in May 2004 for an article published in 2003 entitled, "Sana Ne" ("Of No Interest") that criticised Turkey's policy towards the Kurds in Iraq. As for the hearing on 20 September, he is being tried under a law that has changed since the introduction of the new Penal Code.

Zarakolu has long been an advocate for minority and human rights in Turkey. [...]. Unable to publish certain works within Turkey, Zarakolu turned to the international market, whilst he circumvented the ban on criticism of Turkey's military regime by turning his attention to abuses of human rights by governments in South America and elsewhere. The Belge Publishing House, established in Istanbul in 1977 by Zarakolu and his equally eminent wife Ayse Nur, has been a focus for Turkish censorship laws ever since. [...]. In 1995 the Belge Publishing House offices were firebombed by an extremist rightist group, forcing it to be housed in a cellar. Since his wife's death in 2002 Zarakolu has continued to face numerous prosecutions of which his current trials are all too familiar.
{Please send your protest to the Turkish embassy in Canada with a copy to your MP}.

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.

Hatay to play host to civilisations

Sept. 20, 2005

ANKARA - Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to open the “1st Civilisation Meeting” in the southern eastern Turkish city of Hatay on Sunday.

The meeting, which will bring together representatives of many different beliefs and cultures, is to run between September 25 to 30.
Many senior religious figures from countries around the world, including the Vatican, Italy, Macedonia, Kirghizstan, Croatia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Israel, Bulgaria. Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Greece and Iraq will take part in the activities.

The patriarchs from both the Armenia and Greek Orthodox churches will also take part in the events.

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.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

US House Takes Revenge of March 1 Motion by the Armenian Draft

Friday, September 16, 2005
By Ali H. Aslan

Many US representatives taking floor during the draft negotiations mentioned Turkey's refusal of the March 1 motion to allow US troops to open a northern front before the Iraqi war.

Genocide allegations brought to the agenda of the general council is under the initiative of the House Chair of the Republican Party, Dennis Hastert.

If Hastert makes his preference on the direction, the drafts will definitely be adopted in the US Congress; however, Turkish and the US administrations are like-minded that the adoption of such a draft will harm relations.
Another issue frequently carried to the agenda against Turkey during the sessions was the trial of renowned Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk.

Participants of the Committee, who approved the drafts, often referenced the Jewish genocide, the Holocaust, and drew attention to Germany's responsibilities over the event.

Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler, who is of the Jewish origin, made one of the strongest attempts to support Turkey.

Wexler managed to include a statement sent by the Turkish Ambassador in Washington, Faruk Logoglu, to the records.

Beside the Armenian groups, some ethnic Greek organizations, such as the American Helen Institute (AHI), called to support the drafts sent to the Congress leaders.

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.

Council in diplomatic row with Turkey

Sun 18 Sep 2005
Scotland on Sunday

[...] Edinburgh City Council has caused a diplomatic incident with Turkey by proposing a motion on the Armenian genocide, angering a close Nato ally of Britain and a would-be EU member.
The Turkish embassy in London has decided to send a diplomat to Edinburgh in an effort to stop any motion about genocide being passed because they believe it will damage their bid to be a member of the EU.

The matter has been reported to the Turkish government in Ankara, and a high-ranking official is expected to arrive in Edinburgh to discuss the matter next month.
Edinburgh council leader Donald Anderson {see City leader sparks row by backing claim of genocide } has already enraged Turkey by telling its ambassador in a letter:
"As council leader I have to advise you that I am convinced of the need to support recognition for what I believe was genocide."
While the move has been welcomed in the city by members of the Armenian community, it has puzzled and enraged Turks. The embassy did not give any official comment, with a source saying that they hoped they could deal with the issue by talking to the council.

The source said: "We believe that raising this issue is calculated to damage Turkey's bid for EU membership and the country's reputation in the West.
"You also wonder what this has to do with a Scottish city council. I would have thought they might have other things to deal with, like roads and so forth."

Ian White, the Tory leader on the council, echoed these sentiments [...].

Anderson said: "Accusations of genocide are a very sensitive issue and we are attempting to deal with it as such. [...].

Asked why it was felt necessary for the council to have a position on a historical issue which happened abroad, he said: "Although this isn't a particularly fashionable or high-profile issue, the council does from time to time become involved in issues that are not recognised as our core business. Apartheid would have lasted a lot longer if a wide cross section of organisations, including local authorities, had not campaigned."

An aide to Anderson said he "strongly supports" Turkish membership of the EU.

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


2005-09-16 18:16:00
Defacto Agency

A model of the Karabakh issue settlement enabling to combine the principle of territorial integrity with the nations’ right to self – determination was outlined at the second session of the PACE temporary committee on Karabakh issue that took place in Paris on September 12.

[...]in the course of the press conference on the outcomes of the PACE sitting on Karabakh issue in Yerevan, RA NA deputy from Justice Faction Shavarsh Kocharyan informed of the details and estimated the Paris discussions[...].

In Shavarsh Kocharyan’s opinion, there are some positive shifts in the scheme; however, it contains danger as well. He believes the positive aspect is recognition of the fact that Karabakh’s status should be determined on the basis of the nations’ right to self – determination. Besides, they realize that Karabakh cannot be an enclave. Thus, according to the scheme, Karabakh should have a corridor connecting it with Armenia.[...].

Mentioning the negative aspects of the settlement option Shavarsh Kocharyan dwelled upon the issue referring to a referendum. He said according to the logic of the scheme’s realization the referendum will not be conducted in the near future. In his words, the danger is that return of the territories weakens Karabakh’s stand: status quo is violated, so Azerbaijan is likely to settle the conflict by force of arms. [...].

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.

Erdogan: Decisions About So-called Armenian Genocide Taken By Unrelated Countries Are Political

September 17, 2005
Turkish Press

Erdogan held a news conference in New York, the United States on Friday.
When journalists reminded that Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives adopted two resolutions acknowledging so-called Armenian genocide, Erdogan said, ''such a resolution can be adopted by committee. We clearly say that Turkey's archives are open and Armenia shall open its archives, if it has. We shall speak on basis of documents and information. I do not understand on which basis unrelated countries take decisions about so-called Armenian genocide. These decisions are all political and do not serve world peace.''

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.

Death to the Crusade

September 18, 2005
The New York Times

Near the bazaar, Istanbul's new bookstores are selling out [...] "Metal Storm," [...] available only in Turkish (as "Metal Firtina"), [...] Written by Orkun Ucar (a science fiction writer) and Burak Turna (a reporter), this surprise best seller will give palpitations to anyone concerned about the image of the United States overseas.
[...] "Metal Storm" offers a highly realistic account of an American war with Turkey. [...]. To be sure, the book is trashy - its wild speculations include a shadow ruler behind the unnamed American president and arms smuggling via the Mexican drug mafia - and readers are presumably taking it with a grain of salt. Yet it's a sign of how far America's reputation has plummeted that "Metal Storm," first published in late 2004, is now in its eighth printing of 50,000. The book is said to be very popular with the Turkish military, and men aged 18 to 30.
That tinderbox demographic plays a part in the book, in the form of a secret service outfit that recruits 14-year-old orphans. At the start of the three-year training, each boy is given a puppy. At the end, he's ordered to shoot it - a lesson in how to banish all love from his heart except love of country. "Come time, you may have to kill a little baby, maybe a whole family or the girl you love, in order to save your country!" the boys are instructed.
The plot of "Metal Storm" unfolds something like this. American forces invade Turkey over two weeks in 2007. After war planners discover Turkey has a high concentration of borax, a strategic mineral needed for nuclear weapons and space technology, G.I.'s overrun Turkey from their position in neighboring Iraq. [...] . The Americans have no difficulty taking over Turkey's primary cities, where they allow cultural vandalism. They fail to secure the countryside, however, and slowly their hubris begins to do them in.

Things get stranger in Phase 2 of the war, named Operation Sèvres after the Treaty of Sèvres, which was signed after World War I and intended to carve up Turkey as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. In this phase, the United States attempts to partition Turkey between two historic rivals, Greece and Armenia, and allows a Kurdish state to come into being. [...]. First, the Turks form a new alliance with China, Russia and Germany. Then, a brave Turkish secret agent named Gokan [...] steals a poorly guarded nuclear weapon and takes out Washington. At the moment of impact, everything turns to vapor, including one Washington mother welcoming her children home from school. [...] and Turks can go to bed knowing the invader has been soundly and justly defeated.

The story is outlandish, and one hopes the Turks are reading it the way we watch "Star Wars," [...]. The American government includes Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and a grinning, nameless president who seems to enjoy war almost as much as his naps, speaks glowingly in terms of "crusades," and is close to evangelical Christians, who want to build a megachurch in Istanbul. [...].

The book's anti-Americanism is all the more disturbing since Turkey is one of America's most important allies [...].

So it's not surprising the book has attracted attention in Washington.[...]. In March, Zeyno Baran, a Turkey expert from the Nixon Center, told the senators that "Metal Storm" was "essential in understanding the Turkish mind-set today."

But the popularity of "Metal Storm" is not the only disturbing literary trend in Turkey today. In the past year, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" has sold tens of thousands of copies in Turkey, ever since an inexpensive version was published that costs only six new Turkish liras, or $4.50. This vexes Germany, one of Turkey's most important allies, where the book is banned (the state of Bavaria owns the copyright). Turkey has been relatively tolerant toward Jews [...]. But the popularity of "Mein Kampf" suggests countercurrents are never far from the surface.

[...] Only a few weeks ago, one of the authors of "Metal Storm" published another book, a spinoff of sorts. It still features the secret agent Gokan, only this time around, Turkey and Israel go to war. It could be a long century.

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.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Turkey Puts Economical Pressure on Armenia

2005-09-15 16:03:59

The Armenian-European Policy and Legal Advice Center (AEPLAC), an EU-sponsored think tank, presented a report in July on the possible impact of the reopening of the land border between Armenia and Turkey. Turkey closed its land border with Armenia in April 1993, as an act of solidarity with ethnically close Azerbaijan, then in armed conflict with Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh. [...].

Economic effects.

This situation has created some problems: [...]. As a result, transport costs in Armenia are 20-25% of nominal goods value, more than twice the world average and the highest in the region, comparable with those of Mongolia, which is ten times further from the sea. Reopening the Turkish-Armenian border would bring the Giumri-Kars rail link back into operation, ending Georgia's monopoly and improving Armenia's access to its markets, including those in the Middle East.
World Bank study

It has been commonly assumed that reopening the borders with Armenia's neighbours would stimulate its economic performance. In particular, a World Bank study in 2000 claimed that unblocking Armenia's borders with both Azerbaijan and Turkey would boost GDP growth by 30%. However, these estimates seem exaggerated:

[...]. They were based on the year 2000, since when Armenia's GDP has grown by some 60% in cumulative value. The structure of the economy has since changed [...] the share of production with a high transport component (chemistry, construction materials exports and machinery) has fallen [...] increasing the share in GDP of jewellery, information technology (IT) and services. Mining of copper and molybdenum has increased lately, but high world commodity prices have offset the export costs.

AEPLAC study

The latest review evaluates the impact of reopening the border with Turkey on main economic indicators and foreign trade in particular, in the short (one-year) and medium (five-year) terms, using general equilibrium modelling:

Short term.

No significant changes are expected in foreign trade structure. The economy will respond to some reduction in transport costs. Trade volumes with particular countries will change, but the trade structure will remain basically the same. This scenario expects a 0.67% rise in real GDP, to about 20 million dollars.

Medium term.

More substantial changes are expected in the volume and structure of trade between Turkey and Armenia. In particular, electricity exports will be equivalent to 20% of current (2003-04) production -- the study reckons this to be a 'conservative' estimate. Transport costs will continue falling owing to more efficient use of Turkish capacities by sea and land. The cumulative change in real GDP growth over the five years is estimated at 2.7%.

The authors are probably correct that only limited growth in turnover may be expected, along with some stimulation of investment, in the short run. However, they may not be correct to expect only a mechanical continuation of the same trends in the medium term, with a decelerating rate of investment adjustment. They assume that technology investment will not grow apace in the medium term, and therefore some portion of foreign demand growth will be met at the expense of domestic consumption. [...] the term 'blockade' still deters potential investors in Armenia.
The AEPLAC study's conclusion that reopening Armenia's border with Turkey will have little economic effect probably overstates the case, but it may be welcomed by those who expect little progress on an issue whose resolution does not depend on the economic argument.

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.