Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pope recalls Armenian genocide

Istanbul, Nov. 30, 2006 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) brought up the sensitive topic of the Armenian genocide-- although he did not mention it explicitly-- during a November 30 meeting with the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Istanbul, Mesrob II.

In his greeting to the patriarch, the Holy Father praised the Armenian people for their faithful witness to the Gospel, even under "truly tragic conditions, like those experienced in the past century." He was clearly alluding to the slaughter of Armenians under the Ottoman empire.

To this day the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the genocidal campaign of 1915- 1917, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed during massacres and forced marches, as the government of the "Young Turks" forced the relocation of an entire people. The Armenian Apostolic Church remains the largest Christian community in Turkey, but today numbers only about 50,000 faithful; in the late 19th century the number was several million. There are about 2 million members of the Church living in the country now known as Armenia.

In his remarks to Patriarch Mesrob, the Pope expressed regret over the divisions among the Christian faithful, repeating what he had said to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew: that these divisions are "a scandal to the world" and a handicap to effective evangelization.

The Armenian Apostolic Church dates back to the year 506, when the Christian leaders of the region broke away from the Catholic Church over disagreements with the doctrines put forth by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Those theological disputes have been resolved, and in 1996 Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and the former head of the Armenian Church, Karekin I, jointly signed a document affirming that the two churches have reached accord on the Christological issues that originally caused their separation.

Pope Benedict joined with the Armenian patriarch in a prayer service at the Armenian cathedral in Istanbul. Later he would meet with the city's grand rabbi, then end the day at a dinner with the Catholic bishops of 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.

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Argentine Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide

30, November 2006
By Diego Karamanukian in Buenos Aires

The lower house of Argentina’s parliament adopted late Wednesday a resolution recognizing the 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

The bill overwhelmingly approved by the assembly declared April 24, which sees annual commemorations of more than one million genocide victims in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora, an official “day of mutual tolerance and respect” among peoples around the world. It gives Argentine citizens of Armenian descent the legal right to be absent from work or university classes on that day.

There was no immediate reaction to the move from Turkey, which has strongly condemned similar resolutions passed by about two dozen other nations and insists that the mass killings did not constitute a genocide.

The bill has to be approved by the Argentine Senate in order to become a law. Officials in Buenos Aires say the upper house could discuss it as early as next week.

Argentina is home to tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians, most of them descendants of genocide survivors. They have long been lobbying the authorities in Buenos Aires to officially recognize the genocide. Neighboring Uruguay, which also has an influential Armenian community, did so several years ago.

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.


For Turkey's Armenians, Painful Past is Muted

By Anne Barnard
Boston Globe

ISTANBUL -- When Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey, meets today with Pope Benedict XVI, the one topic he says he definitely won't bring up is the one that most intensely interests his people around the world: the Armenian genocide.

Getting Turkey and the rest of the world to acknowledge the slaughter of more than 1 million Armenians in the early 20th century, many by troops of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, is a cherished goal of the Armenian diaspora. The visit from the spiritual leader of 1 billion Roman Catholics might seem the perfect opportunity not only to draw attention to the problems of the tiny Christian minority here, but also to ask the pontiff to press Turkey for an apology.

But for about 68,000 Turkish citizens of Armenian descent, who -- along with 20,000 to 30,000 people from neighboring Armenia who have migrated here in search of jobs -- make up by far the largest Christian community in Turkey, the situation is much more complicated, even dangerous.

Armenians here must balance a deep need to preserve the memory of the killings, known in Armenian as metz yeghern, or "the big calamity," with safeguarding the small community that remains, which to them means avoiding conflict with the Muslim Turk majority or the nationalist government. Turkish citizens who mention the killings -- including Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish author who won the Nobel Prize this year -- have been charged with the crime of "insulting Turkishness," and risk fines, jail sentences, and even death threats.

The Armenian community is treading cautiously around the pope's visit. Leaders are seeking his support on general issues of religious expression; during his first two days Benedict has already stressed the importance of religious freedom. But they are being careful not to embrace too closely a pontiff widely seen by Muslims as having insulted Islam -- and they are avoiding any public reference to the genocide.

Many Armenians here say they have chosen to leave the past buried -- or partly buried -- in order to press for more immediate benefits. They want to persuade the government to ease onerous restrictions, such as laws that ban Christians from bequeathing land to the church or running independent seminaries to train priests. And they want to live in peace with the rest of this country of nearly 80 million people, about 99 percent of whom are Muslim and overwhelmingly ethnically Turkish.

Mesrob, the leader of the Armenian Orthodox Church here, is a case in point. Speaking the confident English he perfected at Memphis State University, he chose his words carefully in an hourlong conversation with three foreign reporters.

Asked whether he would discuss the genocide with the pope, he said he never brings up "local issues" with visiting dignitaries. Asked whether he could state for the record that a genocide took place, he fixed a reporter with a friendly gaze and was silent for a long moment. Then he said, "I acknowledge that people were killed."

But Mesrob, 50, spoke more readily when asked what had happened to his own family at the time. His grandfather's six brothers were all deported from the town of Izmit, during a time when many Armenians were shipped off to the Syrian desert. His grandfather, who escaped to Istanbul and became a baker, never heard from them again. He assumed most of them died.

Mesrob's parents and grandparents never told him the details. "They never talked about it. They didn't want us to be at odds with our Muslim neighbors," he said.

"There is no family that didn't share this situation," said Navart Beren, 51, an administrator at St. Mary's Church, across the street from the patriarch's residence on a winding street near the Sea of Marmara, where she was attending Mass last Sunday. Her parents were close-mouthed, too, she said: "They didn't want us to carry revenge in our hearts."

"All that is in the past," said her friend Margarit Nalbantkazar, 52. "But this did happen: My husband's father was 8 or 9 years old. He saw them take his father by hitting him on the back of the head with a gun. . . . They never saw him again."

Murat Belge, a Turkish academic who runs the publishing house that prints Pamuk's books, explained why Armenians inside Turkey walk such a fine line between forgetting and accusing.

Told of the patriarch's comments, Belge said: "If he had said there was an Armenian genocide, it's very likely that he would be assassinated by some fascists, the patriarchate would be burned, and Armenians leading their daily lives would be shot by unknown people."

Turkey has always insisted that the deaths, most of them in 1915, were part of a war in which a beleaguered Ottoman Empire was facing Armenian rebels allied with its enemies, which included the United States, Britain, and Russia.

But most historians agree that Armenians were systematically killed and driven out. The subject is extremely sensitive in Turkey because many of the military leaders of the dying Ottoman Empire went on to found the secular Turkish republic in 1923.

Also in the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians were forced to leave Turkey as smaller numbers of Muslims were forced out of Greece, under the agreement that established the Greek and Turkish borders. Today, Christians make up less than 1 percent of the population.

US policy on the Armenian deaths is to respect the position of Turkey, an important NATO ally, though the 1.2 million Armenians in America fiercely lobby Congress to recognize the genocide.

Pope John Paul II called the events a genocide in a 2000 document, and in 2001 visited a memorial to the victims in Yerevan, Armenia's capital. In a speech there, he avoided the term genocide but adopted the Armenian phrase "big calamity."

The Vatican has given no indication of whether Benedict will mention the issue.

Mesrob said he hoped the pope's visit would improve interfaith relations, but whether it does "depends on what kind of language he's going to use," he added with a chuckle. He said the pope's September remarks, quoting a Byzantine ruler's criticism of Islam as violent, "jeopardized" Christian minorities.

A metal detector and security checkpoint stand outside Mesrob's ornate residence, and security will be extra tight during the pope's visit, he said.

Mesrob said Turks do not bear all responsibility for the killings of Armenians but have "the most important responsibility" because "they were ruling the country." He said many people believe "ethnic cleansing" was carried out to "remove Christians from public life."

When asked if Armenians in Turkey have a ceremony or memorial site to commemorate the killings, he said that they do not, but that people remember the date April 24, 1915, when Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul were rounded up and deported, as a kind of "beheading of the community."

Mesrob dismissed recent allegations that he forbids church officials to speak of the killings. "It's not a question of silence," he said. "How can you make friends with someone if you confront them?"

Instead, he recommends cultural exchanges between Armenia and Turkey to pave the way for an honest discussion of the events, he said. In the meantime, he said, when foreign governments raise the issue, ethnic Armenians in Turkey get nervous.

Aida Barsegian, 56, a house cleaner who moved here from Armenia, said it didn't help when France passed a law last month declaring it a crime to deny the genocide. "If they care so much, they should open the borders of France and let us find work there," she said after lighting candles at the church. "Here they give me work."

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.

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30 November, 2006

RA Human Rights Office has placed an order to become a member of International Coordination Committee (ICC) dealing with human rights protection and their promotion. The members of the ICC must meet the Parisian principles.

The Committee has the following four statuses;

1. A – Compliance with the Parisian principles

2. A (R) – reserve accreditation, when additional information is required to grant A status.

3. B – status of an observer, when the establishment either meets the Parisian principles partially or hasn't submitted all the necessary information to make a final decision.

4. C - the establishment doesn't meet the Parisian principles at all.

The RA Human Rights Office has been granted A status, reports the office.

The status will help Armenia to participate in the sessions of the newly formed Human Rights Council of the UNO, submit written and verbal announcements and participate in the discussion of the disputable issues.

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.


EU pulls the rug on Turkish talks over refusal to lift Cyprus blockade

November 30, 2006
The Times

By David Charter and Suna Erdem in Istanbul

Negotiations on eight issues halted

Blair denounces 'serious mistake' Video: Has Turkey's EU admission stalled?

Turkey reacted furiously yesterday to the proposed suspension of a large section of its talks on joining the EU as a punishment for its refusal to open trade with Cyprus.

Eight of 34 areas of negotiation will be frozen under the European Commission’s plan until Ankara fulfils an agreement signed last year to open its ports to Cyprus, an EU member that it does not recognise.

The Commission’s move was criticised by Britain, Sweden and Spain, but — in a sign of the faultlines within the Community over Turkish accession — was applauded by France and Germany.

Turkey itself was defiant, insisting that it was not prepared to make any further concessions. “We have set out the framework [for progress on Cyprus],” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, said. “If they are approaching the issue with the idea that they might grab a new concession, then we have no concession to make.”

He was referring to earlier statements that Turkey would open its ports only if the EU made good a pledge to end the economic isolation of the breakaway Turkish enclave of northern Cyprus. Nicosia has blocked any such relaxation.

Ankara is unlikely to make any move on Cyprus until after elections next year; an increasingly nationalistic public is likely to punish any sign of weakening on what is a pet issue for hardliners.

In spite of the blow to negotiations, Mr Erdogan said that Turkey would continue to make progress towards membership. “This is a long road — previously the date mentioned [for accession] was 2014. In the meantime we will continue talking and working on the remaining chapters and continue on our way just as before.”

Britain backed Turkey, describing the Commission’s position as “disappointingly tough” and voicing concerns that it could fuel anti-European sentiment and drive the country away from the EU.

Tony Blair said that the EU’s proposal was a “serious mistake”, while José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, urged EU leaders to keep the door open to Ankara. Mr Blair’s concerns were shared by Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, who spoke of a possible calamity if EU leaders followed the tough Commission line next month. “If you put the brakes on too hard there is a risk of the collateral damage being very extensive,” he said. “If it comes to a standstill, we are talking about a strategic calamity for the EU in a rather volatile, sensitive part of our neighbourhood.”

But Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who takes over the rotating EU presidency on January 1, approvingly called the proposal a strong signal and President Chirac, a powerful opponent of Turkish membership, insisted that the EU “had no other choice”.

The furore ensures that another row over Turkey will dominate the EU heads of government summit on December 15, which will take the final decision on the sanctions after they are considered by foreign ministers earlier that week.

As part of the punishment, talks on other areas of the accession process could be opened but will not be able to be signed off until Turkey resolves its blockade of Cypriot vessels, Olli Rehn, the Enlargement Commissioner, said. He added that Turkey could score a “golden goal” before the foreign ministers’ meeting.

Christodoulos Pashiardis, a Cypriot Government spokesman, said that freezing some aspects of the talks while allowing discussions on other areas was not a punishment.

Sticking points

Cyprus Turkey does not recognise the southern part of the divided island

Armenian genocide the Government will not acknowledge Turkey’s role in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians between 1915 and 1917

Article 301/1 states that “public denigration of Turkishness shall be punishable by imprisonment”. It was used to bring charges against the writer Orhan Pamuk, who acknowledged the Armenian genocide

The Kurds the minority group continues to be persecuted, with prosecutions brought against Kurds who use their language in public life. Only Turkish can be taught as a first language in schools

Clash of civilisations the predominantly Muslim culture has attracted accusations that Turkey lacks European credentials. France’s Interior Minister says that Turkey “has no place in Europe”

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.

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Refusal to acknowledge Armenian genocide

November 29, 2006, 3:13 PM EST

For the Turkish state, and many Turks, to admit their forebears committed genocide is something they will not even consider

Newsday Staff Correspondent

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and all Turkey, was silent for a second.

He had just been asked by a reporter if he acknowledged that the Armenian genocide happened.

"Uhhhh," he said, "I acknowledge that people were killed." He was silent again. "Many people lost their lives."

More uneasy silence followed.

This from a man whose paternal grandfather was the only one of six ethnic Armenian brothers to make it back to Istanbul after being, as he put it, "deported to the Syrian desert" in 1915. They were among more than a million ethnic Armenians who suffered a similar fate at the hands of Ottoman Turks: They were rounded up, deported to concentration camps and, for the most part, killed.

"So severe has been the treatment that careful estimates place the number of survivors at only 15 percent of those originally deported," the U.S. consul in Aleppo wrote to the State Department in 1915 in a dispatch quoted in a recent article in The New Yorker magazine. "On this basis the number surviving even this far being less than 150,000 … there seems to have been about 1,000,000 persons lost up to this date."

What Mesrob II, who will meet the visiting Pope Benedict XVI today in Istanbul, could not or would not say was that the Turks of the then-Ottoman Empire committed genocide against the Armenians who lived in modern-day Turkey. For the Turkish state, and many Turks, to admit their forebears committed genocide is something they will not even consider, and it makes many Turks extremely angry even to suggest the genocide happened.

Authors and journalists, including Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted for suggesting it took place. But for the 65,000 ethnic Armenians -- mostly Orthodox Christians -- who live in this country of 70 million Muslims, to speak publicly of genocide would not be just brave, but potentially suicidal.

"Probably the state wouldn't do anything directly except make some statement" if Mesrob was to say there had been a genocide, said Murat Belge, one of Pamuk's publishers and an organizer of an unprecedented conference last year in Istanbul about the genocide.

"Very likely he would be assassinated by some fascists," continued Belge, who was himself prosecuted under a controversial law last year for writing critical articles about a court's ban on the conference. "The Patriarchate would be burned down. A lot of Armenians would be shot in their daily lives."

Mesrob, in an interview at the well-guarded Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, said many different peoples, governments, political parties and even his own Armenian Patriarchate should share the blame for what happened in 1915. He said he believed the best way for Turks and Armenians to reconcile is for Turkey to open its border with Armenia and for the two countries to encourage exchange visits and other ways of generating mutual sympathy.

"It's not a matter of being silent about the issue," he said. "It's a matter of how can you make friends with someone. Do you from the first moment simply confront the person?"

If it's not silence, then it's a pragmatic sort of self-censorship. Growing up, Mesrob's father never talked to him about what happened to the previous generation, he said. "I think they didn't want us to be at odds with our Muslim neighbors."

That parenting method continues today among the ethnic Armenians in Turkey, Mesrob said. "We don't tell our children about historical problems so they won't face problems."

The Turkish government's position on the events of 1915 is that the people who died in the region at the time died as a result of inter-ethnic fighting, disease and hardships caused by war.

More than 20 countries have officially recognized the genocide, as have a majority of the 50 states in the United States, including New York. It is long-standing State Department policy not to refer to the events of 1915 as genocide; many critics of this policy see it as a politically expedient way of avoiding alienating a crucial American ally.

Most Western historians agree the genocide happened. Last year, the International Association of Genocide Scholars wrote to Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about it, concluding: "We believe that it is clearly in the interest of the Turkish people and their future as a proud and equal participant in international, democratic discourse to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government for the genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German government and people have done in the case of the Holocaust."

Such an acknowledgement will not come easily or quickly -- if at all.

"Until the 1980s there was a total loss of memory," said a Turkish political powerbroker who requested anonymity because of the topic's sensitivity. "Nobody talked about this. It was the policy of the omnipotent state not to talk about anything negative."

Last year's conference in Istanbul and a growing concern about the issue within Europe -- a recent French law makes it a crime to deny the genocide happened -- have moved Turkey slightly closer to coming to terms with its past.

"The skeletons are there and they have not vanished," the Turkish powerbroker said. "Now we are going to open the cupboard."

If Turkey is to gain entry to the European Union, it likely will have to acknowledge its actions in 1915 -- although Turkey accepting the word "genocide" could forever remain a sticking point.

Egemen Bagis, foreign policy adviser to Erdogan, said in an interview that last year Erdogan made an offer to the Armenian president: Both countries would establish an independent investigative commission and open up all countries' archives in order to establish what happened.

"No other politician in Turkey's history has ever said he is ready to face his own history," Bagis said.

But when asked if he recognized that a genocide took place, Bagis responded quickly: "I don't."

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.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Benedict XVI between Constantinople and Istanbul

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
American Chronicle
Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

Orientalist, Assyriologist, Egyptologist, Iranologist, and Islamologist, Historian, Political Scientist, Dr. Megalommatis, 49, is the author of 12 books, dozens of scholarly articles, hundreds of encyclopedia entries, and thousands of articles. He speaks, reads and writes more than 15, modern and ancient, languages. He refuted Greek nationalism, supported Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, and rejected the Greco-Romano-centric version of History. He pleaded for the European History by J. B. Duroselle, and defended the rights of the Turkish, Pomak, Macedonian, Vlachian, Arvanitic, Latin Catholic, and Jewish minorities of Greece, asking for the international recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Born Christian Orthodox, he adhered to Islam when 36, devoted to ideas of Muhyieldin Ibn al Arabi. Greek citizen of Turkish origin, Prof. Megalommatis studied and/or worked in Turkey, Greece, France, England, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, and carried out research trips throughout the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and Central Asia. His career extended from Research & Education, Journalism, Publications, Photography, and Translation to Website Development, Human Rights Advocacy, Marketing, Sales & Brokerage. He traveled in more than 80 countries in 5 continents. He defends the Right of Aramaeans, Oromos, Berbers, and Beja to National Independence, demands international recognition for Somaliland, and denounces Islamic Terrorism.

When, within a few hours, the Pope will land in Istanbul, he will find himself for a few days outside Time; the evenly balanced gravitation of Istanbul and Constantinople will place the Pontiff at a uniquely equidistant point between Turkey and Europe, Christianity and Islam, and Orient and Occident. Few moments counted as much as this in the World History.

Pontiff’s visit is the Terminus Post Quem

Conflicting interests and disastrous policies cultivated and pursued for hundreds of years by all parts involved, in the past and the present, have brought the world at the brink of the abyss. Few realize how close the Mankind has reached to the point of collapse. From ecological disasters caused because of the Industrial revolution, the emergence of a besotted society of consumers, and the repeated arms races of all sorts to cultural and educational alienation of hundreds of millions of people, the Mankind deviated to the utmost materialism, extreme oppression, and absolute disregard of the Other, let alone the other’s sensitivities.

Suddenly, the world has become too small to accommodate an ill-conceived European unification, an American presence in five continents, two expansionist economies like those of China and India that are based on extreme and at times inhuman exploitation of masses without alleviating poverty and misery, plus unjustified and unsolicited anti-Americanism that emanates from uncultured and thuggish dictators like the Venezuelan clown, and last but not least, the hysteria and the hatred directed by the pseudo-Islamic sheikhs and their millions of followers against all the rest.

And all interconnected and interrelated to an extent that you almost cannot mend this without deteriorating that. What to do, and where to start?

Benedict XVI does not represent the Occident!

To some this statement may sound odd and erroneous, but brief thought is enough to drive us to the conclusion that Benedict XVI does not and by definition cannot represent the gay couples legalized in Spain or the accepted adoption of children by them. Furthermore, Benedict XVI does not represent abortion, pedophilia, and the ceaselessly increasing consumption of drugs by Western youth. No one can disagree on this; Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic Church do not represent the advanced materialism that invaded the Western societies, taking all possible forms of existentialism of the Left, Marxism, anarchism and/or nihilism. Even more so, Benedict XVI does not represent secretive groups, plots and conspiracies, racism and anti-Semitism, all the ideological contaminations that brought wars and disaster to Europe and the world.

Benedict XVI represents, is the only Authority in the West to represent, Justice, Equity, Humanism, dedication to Spiritual Concern, and a certain Hope for many.

Benedict XVI represents Jesus, a person highly revered by Muslims, and adored by Christians. There is no divergence between the Christian and the Muslim sources about, and references to, Jesus as regards his Foremost Authority in terms of Justice and Equity.

Representing Jesus’ Legacy – or at least part of it as Muslims claim that too –, Benedict XVI can truly offer great service to the confused Mankind of our times, by sticking to the most representative Criterion for Jesus’ Concept of Justice; he must make it his, apply it everywhere, and support the approach:

Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.

Representing this sentence, Luke, 20:23-25, bringing forth Justice in the relations among states and nations, religions and ideologies, Benedict XVI has a chance to be heard and accepted by a significant number of Muslims, who know that the Right and the Just is not the monopoly of those who pray – like the Pharisees of Jesus’ times – five times per day, but forget to endure self-criticism and rejection of egoism.

Benedict XVI to vigorously support Turkey’s adhesion to the European Union

The Pontiff is a Head of State; and as such, he is able to understand that Vatican’s policies are not situated at the miserable level of parochial politicians like the former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé and other lower and lewder fellows of the French Right.

The Pontiff cannot tolerate perverse political interests that would jeopardize the entire relationship of Christianity with Islam. As an institution, millennia long Vatican cannot be compared with, and therefore cannot allow policies corresponding to those of, the French Fifth Republic (est. 1958). The horizon of the universal Christian – Muslim relations cannot be damaged at the hands of people like Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy, and their likes. Looking at the centuries ahead, Benedict XVI, although German of origin, cannot take into consideration the current pocket interests of German employees and workers.

What could all this miserable microcosm of the European politicians say, when Benedict XVI stipulates that Ephesus, Smyrna and Thyateira are as European as Stockholm and Dublin?

What would they answer to the Pontiff stating that Basil of Caesarea is as European, although Cappadocian, as Mohyieldin Ibn Al Arabi of Andalusia?

One sentence of the Pontiff can avert a most perilous blockage of the Turkish candidature at the hands of the Southern Cypriot president who is known for his long dated hatred of Catholic Christianity.

Benedict XVI to adamantly denounce colonial practices

The possibility to understand is one of the most significant privileges of the human being. Certainly the Pope understands that the masses gathered at the Aghia Sophia Museum two days ago do not hate him personally; they reject the injustices and the crimes carried out by the French and the British in Algeria, Greece, Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia.

By denouncing practices that were never accepted by Vatican, the Pontiff will demonstrate to hundreds of millions of Muslims that he agrees with them in the Search of Justice, namely that he indirectly condemns the murderous work of the colonials, and their illegal, unjust, and ultimately antihuman interference in the lands of the Ottoman Empire.

The Pontiff understands very well that the manipulation of Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire by the French, the Russians, and the British, who mercilessly and cynically abandoned these populations, after they had first long incited them against their own country, was a disreputable work for which the absolute condemnation is badly and urgently needed.

France rather than Turkey stands accused for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Armenians of Van and of Aramaeans of Julamerg (the Kutshanus Patriarchate) and Tur Abdin. What does it mean except dishonesty and duplicity that France is vociferous when it comes to Armenians killed in WW I, but keeps silent about the parallel extermination of hundreds of thousands of Aramaeans?
The act of the genocide speaks for itself without resorting to justifications.
Either all will be denounced or we all will forget it all. The cynical, unethical and disreputable attitude of thugs like the racist Kotcharian tyrant of Armenia, and his French presidential friend, must be castigated in Jesus language and terms.?
Even the longest trip starts with a first step.
Only then, the Muslims will be able to repent for their mistakes, regret for the oppression of millions of Aramaeans and Copts at their hands, be apologetic for their anti-Semitism, and finally, commonly with the Roman Pontiff, and all those who seek Justice and Truth on Earth, contribute to shaping a future faraway from the contamination of the anticlerical French conspirators.

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.

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Armenians and Turks Should Communicate at All Levels

29.11.2006 GMT+04:00
Interview with Nursun Erel, Political observer of The New Anatolian :

The Armenian-Turkish relations tend to animate. This can be proved by frequent private visits of experts and journalists. But there are and will be issues without settlement of which the two states cannot enjoy normal relations. These are the Armenian Genocide, closed borders and Turkey’s stand on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Political observer of The New Anatolian Nursun Erel commented on position of the Turkish media to PanARMENIAN.Net.

The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire still remains a stumbling block for Armenia and Turkey. Can Turkey introduce any changes in its position?

Both sides speak of the Armenian Genocide, at that positions of the states are absolutely opposite. Each side produces figures, refutations or confirmations. Armenians and Turks should overcome all taboos and start open dialogue. As you know, a conference on the Armenian Genocide, that was constantly postponed, was held in the Istanbul University. At last it took place. Documents referring to the rule of Young Turks were made public. I have read two absolutely different versions of the decree by Interior Minister Talaat pasha on the deportation of Armenians. One contains his telegram ‘on deportation of all Armenians irrespective of gender and age’; the other quotes an extract from his diary, where he writes he could not issue such an inhuman decree. Thereupon, all the documents should be made public.

Politicians hamper the establishment of dialogue between the two states. It’s wrong to use a bypass route instead of the Kars-Gyumri highway. We should communicate and maybe the relations between our states will improve.

The appliance of Article 301 is often immediately bound with the Armenian Genocide issue. To what extent does it correspond to the ideas of free and democratic press?

Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code is incorrect and should be amended. Turkish media stands against the Article and presses for its cancellation or at least alteration of the chapter penalizing ‘insulting Turkishness’. The Turkish government faces difficulties under the pressure of media and EU to amend or cancel Article 301 of the Penal Code. I hope we will succeed. It’s impossible to write about serious things if the Article is not amended. For most part the matter concerns the Armenian Genocide. Prime Minister Erdogan said Article 301 does not impede Turkey’s accession to the EU but it’s not so. This article limits freedom of speech and expression. Editor-in-chief of Armenian-Turkish newspaper ‘Agos’ Hrant Dink and many others were sentenced in compliance of the article. The adoption of the French bill penalizing the Armenian Genocide denial badly damaged the French-Turkish relations. I do not know whether the Armenian Diaspora needs this bill. But the provision calling to responsibility historians and scientists should be excluded. They can express various opinions and cannot be judged for it. This is a violation of freedom of speech.

The EU-Turkey talks can be broken over the Cypriot issue. Do you think both sides can somehow change their positions?

The European Union and Turkey speak much of the Cypriot issue but the hope for the resolution of the problem is vague. Certain hopes are anchored with the UN plan that can get things moving. However an atmosphere of distrust and disappointment reigns among Cypriots and Turks. We should undertake joint steps to improve the situation.

As it’s known, Azerbaijan is a fraternal country for Turkey. Doesn’t it hamper the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey?

Turkey should not take any stand on the apple of discord, that is the Nagorno Karabakh problem. This fact impedes badly the establishment of neighborly relations in the whole region. Azerbaijan is very jealous of the Armenian-Turkish contacts. The Milli Mejlis chairman was very ‘discontent’ with the meeting of the Turkish and Armenian parliament speakers. I think that we should communicate with Armenians at all levels. This nation left a deep trace in Turkey’s history and culture. Let us take, for example, the temple of Akhtamar, which has been recently reconstructed by a Turkish architect of Armenian origin.

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.


Azerbaijani President Says Karabakh Talks In 'Final Stage'

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

PRAGUE, November 29, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said today that negotiations on a settlement with Armenia over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh are entering their 'final stage, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported.

"It has been almost three years that the Karabakh negotiations have been conducted within the Prague [peace] process," Aliyev said. "During this period we have had many meetings at the levels of presidents and foreign ministers. Of course, in these meetings ways of resolving the problem were discussed. There were different stages, but I can tell you we are approaching the final stage of negotiations."

Aliyev's comments, broadcast on Azerbaijani State Television, came a day after his talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Minsk.

Constructive Talks

Aliyev assessed the results of his November 28 meeting with Kocharian as "good," saying that the "negotiations were held in a constructive matter." The success of future negotiations, he added, will depend on the two presidents.

"The most contentious issues were at the center of the negotiations," Aliyev said. "Lately we have succeeded in resolving some of them. On some of the issues on which we previously disagreed, we now have agreement. But we still have some principal issues on which we have different opinions. And both presidents addressed these issues."

Armenia has not yet commented on Aliyev's statement. However, upon arriving in Yerevan on November 28, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian provided a similar appraisal of the presidents' talks that day.

"I can't give you an assessment yet whether there was a progress during the talks or not, but I can tell you that both presidents positively evaluated the meeting itself in terms of atmosphere and constructive approaches," Oskanian said. "I think in coming days the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will analyze everything in detail, after which they will give concrete instruction to the ministers about further steps to be taken."

The two countries are still officially at war over the predominantly Armenian territory that seceded from Soviet Azerbaijan in 1988. About 30,000 people died in fighting between the two sides before a Russian-brokered cease-fire was reached in 1994. The conflict has been "frozen" ever since, with Armenian forces occupying Nagorno-Karabakh.

Clear Stance

The Azerbaijani president clearly outlined the stance his country is taking in negotiations on a settlement to the longstanding conflict.

"Azerbaijan hasn't changed its position," he said. "Azerbaijan insists on the resolution of the issue [of Nagorno-Karabakh] on the basis of our territorial integrity. The four resolutions of the UN Security Council should be implemented. Azerbaijan's land should be vacated by the occupying forces, and more than 1 million of our citizens should be able to return to their lands.

"Again, Azerbaijan's position has not changed. [Azerbaijan's] territorial integrity should be restored and within that [restoration], the people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh should be given the highest status for self-rule."

Aliyev had strong praise for the role international mediators have had in trying to resolve the dispute. The OSCE Minsk group, co-chaired by representatives of Russia, the United States, and France, has overseen negotiations since the 1994 cease-fire went into effect.

"Respected international organizations saying that the issue should be resolved within the principle of our territorial integrity -- of course this approach strengthens our position," Aliyev said. "Generally, every issue should be resolved in keeping with international law and norms. No issue can be resolved outside of this approach. Because the creation of any kind of precedent can also create problems in the future for other countries."

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.

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'Screamers' and Genocide: A Talk With Serj Tankian From System of a Down

The Huffington Post

'Screamers,' a documentary by Carla Garapedian, just won the Audience Award at the AFI Film Festival. It uses archival footage, interviews, and live music to reflect on the Armenian genocide, its aftermath, and the effect that later denials of the atrocity had on history.

'Screamers' examines efforts to have the Armenian genocide internationally recognized, and ties it to other genocides, past and present - particularly Darfur.

It's a powerful document, both politically and artistically.

The film centers around the highly popular Armenian-American rock band System of a Down and its lead singer, Serj Tankian, as they tour Europe and discuss the issues of Armenia, genocide, and human rights.

Last week I spoke with Serj about the film and his own political work. Serj cofounded Axis of Justice with Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, to mobilize musicians and music fans around progressive issues.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

What politicized you? As an Armenian-American, was it your family's memories of the Armenian genocide?

It was the denial of genocide, more than the genocide itself, that politicized me. I was troubled by the idea that this kind of violence could occur, only to be ignored or covered up. It made me feel I had to act and react. There are so many things going on in the world today that are receiving the same treatment - including, but not limited to Darfur and Rwanda.

In a way, the hypocrisy of the denial is more politicizing than the act itself. I think that the memory of Armenia's genocide opened my eyes at an early age to the existence of political cynicism.

What's your definition of "genocide"? The diplomatic community has one, but does the word have a more personal meaning for you?

My thing is figuring out how to put things in a simple way, so here's my definition: If someone gets attacked because they look different, act different, or pray differently, that's genocide. And if the mass execution of a people is organized and perpetrated by a government, that's definitely genocide.

But anytime people are made to suffer as a group because they're different from others - to me, that's genocide too.

A lot of political leaders, even well-meaning ones, might say that forcing Turkey to acnowledge the Armenian genocide would limit our ability to fight terror or do other good things in the world. What would you say to someone who argues that the genocide took place almost a century ago, and that they'd rather concentrate on what we can do today?

Look: Correct recognition of the past affects the present. It's as simple as that. If we're at the point where we're going to use genocide as currency to get something we want from another nation ... well, we're really fucked, aren't we?

Let me put it another way: You can't do the wrong thing for the right reason. It won't work. It never has.

The movie shows your efforts to get Denny Hastert to advance a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. The film's equally rough on the first Bush administration and Clinton's over this issue. Do you think the resolution will do any better now that the Democrats control Congress?;

You mean, are they real reformers or just "corporate Democrats"? We'll see. So far everybody's enjoying the general feeling of optimism, but Congress hasn't even convened yet. Nobody's really "in" over there right now.

What do you say when people complain about musicians and other celebrities who speak out about politics?

I agree with them, in a way. What do musicians know that other people don't? Nothing. Plumbers can speak. Electricians can speak. Everyone can speak. They should speak.

Lech Walesa was an electrician, and he became the leader of Poland.

Exactly. Good for him. I don't want to spend all my time working as an activist. I don't get satisfaction out of it. I'd rather be doing something else. I'm a musician.

I've noticed something about people who say they don't like actors and musicians having political opinions, if you ask them who they think was the greatest President ever they always answer "Reagan." And what was Reagan before he went into politics?

(laughs) Exactly. If anybody wants to speak up, they should speak up. I don't want to be a politician ...

Serj discusses other topics, including the balancing act between music & politics and how it felt to become the target of jingoistic attacks after 9/11, here. "Screamers" opens in Los Angeles on December 8.


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, November 28, 2006

Talking with Turkey

Ottawa Citizen
November 28, 2006 Tuesday
Final Edition

Some 25,000 Turks hit the streets of Istanbul this weekend to protest
the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. That's good news. Not the protest
itself, but the fact that only 25,000 people took part in a city of
10 million. The Turkish "street" is perhaps more reasonable than
people think.

True, other protests are planned and Benedict will be under a massive
security blanket during his four-day trip. But the pontiff is working
hard to improve Christian-Muslim relations. On Sunday he sent
"cordial greetings" of "esteem and sincere friendship" to "the dear
Turkish people." As a welcome show of good will, Benedict will visit
the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, becoming only the second pope to set
foot in a mosque, after John Paul II in 2001.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has been
able to "find time" to meet the Pope today at Ankara airport.
Otherwise, Mr. Erdogan, en route to a NATO summit in Latvia, will be
absent for the duration of the Pope's trip. The prime minister
insisted his absence was no snub and that the Pope was welcome in
Turkey, though he cautioned that "whoever comes here must show
respect for the Prophet Muhammad."

Mr. Erdogan's awkward, somewhat conflicted attitude toward the Pope's
visit is suggestive of Turkey's general ambivalence about the
non-Muslim world. Turkey, though, is country of sufficient strategic
interest that the West needs very much to nurture this relationship.

Sometimes this is hard to do. Turkey's human-rights record is shaky.
The country's refusal to admit the Armenian genocide is unfortunate.
The stubborn demand for an end to the isolation of Northern Cyprus,
the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state that only Turkey recognizes, is
putting the country's accession into full membership in the European
Union on hold yet again.

Yet we need Turkey on our side. Turkey is a strong counterpoint to
the geopolitical ambitions of Iran and Syria. As a Muslim country
committed to the separation of mosque and state, Turkey is a buttress
against religious fundamentalism in the region. Turkey has its flaws
to be sure, but it remains a functioning democracy built upon a
population that is mainly Muslim.

Western leaders should never surrender their prerogative to speak
plainly to the Turkish government on matters of conscience. But as
with any mature relationship, and we see this in the dialogue with
countries such as Russia and China, the criticism ought to be
balanced with positive and constructive incentives.

The pope has chosen the right path by visiting the Blue Mosque. It is
a gesture of respect. Talking with Turkey about its place in the
European Union must continue. At the end of the day, the benefits of
having Turkey firmly within the western orbit justify the efforts
needed to keep the relationship healthy. If there is one country that
can demonstrate the compatibility of Islam and democracy, it will be Turkey.

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Memorial Plaque of Armenian Genocide Victims Opens in Rome


/PanARMENIAN.Net/ A Memorial Plaque, dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 has opened in Rome. The Plaque is established with the assistance of Rome City Administration at the instance of the Armenian community of the Italian capital, indignant at establishing a monument to Kemal Ataturk. Talks over establishment of the Plaque were held by Head of the Italian Department of the Hay Dat European Office Aleko Pezikian since July 2006.

The opening ceremony started in the yard of St. Nikoghos Church with anthems of Italy and Armenia, followed by a speech by Pezikian, who thanked the Rome Administration. He also noted that after the Italian Parliament adopted the resolution, recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Rome Administration also passed a respective decision.

In his turn Armenian Ambassador to Italy Ruben Shugaryan noted that the memory on the Genocide does not have a statute of limitation, it is not a political question or that of return of lands. «It should become part of human history, which should be conveyed to generations,» Shugaryan noted. The Armenian Ambassador also hoped that Armenia will soon become part of the European community, reports the Azdak.

! Reproduction in full or in part is prohibited without reference to «PanARMENIAN.Net».

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.


Black Sea & Caspian Business community under a single roof

28 November 2006
The new Anatolian

The International Union of Black Sea and Caspian Confederation of Enterprises (UBCCE), pioneered by the Turkish Industrialists' & Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), held its first general assembly meeting in Turkish metropolis of Istanbul today.

After the meeting, Tugrul Kudatgobilik, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Turkish Confederation of Employers' Unions (TISK), said that the UBCCE has been set up to enhance cooperation and contribute to economic and social development of the region.

Representatives of business organizations from Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Greece participated in the first general assembly meeting.

On the other hand, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro and Armenia were not represented in the meeting.

The headquarters of the union will be in Istanbul, and the Chairman of UBCCE will be TUSIAD President Ömer Sabancı.

The chairmanship will be handed over to Romania two years later.

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.


Majority in poll welcomes relations with Armenia, yet conditionally

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

An overwhelming majority of Turks would welcome establishing relations with neighboring Armenia, as long as Armenia fulfills certain conditions, a poll made public on Monday showed.

The poll, carried out by the Erzurum based Association for the Fight against Groundless Allegations of Genocide, revealed that 82 percent of 8,714 people polled “are positive towards establishing relations with Armenia,” as long as certain expectations -- such as abandoning their allegations of genocide and apologizing to Turkey because of those allegations -- are met.
This is another example of the blind infused nationality of ordinary Turks. How can you have proper answers if Turkey hides the truth on the Armenian Genocide from its public?

“Armenians should apologize to the Turkish nation because of massacres that they committed during World War I, they should destroy a monument in Armenia dedicated to the alleged genocide, they should get rid of expressions in their constitution which are against Turks and the territorial integrity of Turkey, they should break off their relations with the Armenian diaspora, they should reject the so-called genocide and they should withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh,” are the conditions listed by 4,618 people polled which makes 53 percent of the total for establishing relations with Armenia.

The survey was conducted over three months with 16 percent of those polled saying that Armenia breaking off its relations with the Armenian diaspora in Europe and the United States and their rejection of the so-called genocide would be sufficient enough for establishing relations.

Only 6 percent said that “Armenians should apologize to the Turkish nation for massacres they committed during World War I,” for having a relationship.

While 5 percent said the alleged genocide monument in Armenia should be destroyed and that expressions in the Armenian constitution against Turks and the territorial integrity of Turkey should be removed, only 2 percent put the withdrawal of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh as a condition for relations.

Meanwhile, 18 percent said they didn't wish Turkey to have relations with Armenia under any conditions.

The border gate between Turkey and Armenia has been closed for more than a decade. Turkey shut the gate and severed diplomatic relations with Armenia after Armenian troops occupied the Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ankara now says normalization of ties depends on the Armenian withdrawal from the occupied area, as well as on progress in the resolution of a series of disputes -- which include the support by the Armenian diaspora of efforts to get international recognition of the alleged genocide, claims strongly refuted by Ankara.

Savaş Eğilmez, head of the association which conducted the survey, interpreted the results of the poll as proof of the “forgiving” nature of Turks.” “The poll once again revealed our philosophy that ‘forgiving is a noble act,' a philosophy which we have embraced throughout history,” he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
The epitome of blindness towards viewing the past with a critical eye.
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, November 27, 2006

Ghosts of Massacred Armenians Could Haunt Turkey's Chances To Join European Union

November 27, 2006 at 11:41:22

by Sherwood Ross

Turkey's bid to join the European Union could suffer by its refusal to admit the genocide of its Armenian Christian population nearly a century ago.

When European Union leaders meet in Brussels Dec. 14-15, the debate to admit Turkey likely will hinge on, among other issues, its failure to open its ports and airports to Cyprus, which opposes all talk of membership. The Netherlands, Germany, Austria and France are cool to admitting Turkey and are backing Cyprus.

Lingering in the background, though, will be the ghosts of the Armenian genocide, a crime Turkey has denied at every turn and is still "investigating" to this day.

As recently as March, 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an "impartial study" into the genocide as if the facts of the slaughter of a milion Armenians were ever in doubt.

When the "Young Turk" nationalists created the Republic of Turkey after World War I, they refused to punish the perpetrators of the 1915 genocide. Mustapha Kemal formed a new government in 1920 that forced the Allies to sign the Treaty of Lausanne, ceding Anatolia, home of the Armenians, to Turkish control. Two years earlier Anatolia had been parceled out to Italy and Greece after the Ottoman Empire's surrender to the Allies.

As author Elizabeth Kolbert put it in the November 6th The New Yorker, "For the Turks to acknowledge the genocide would thus mean admitting that their country was founded by war criminals and that its existence depended on their crimes."

"Turkey has long sought to join the European Union, and, while a history of genocide is clearly no barrier to membership, denying it may be; several European governments have indicated that they will oppose the country's bid unless it acknowledges the crimes committed against the Armenians."

So opposed is Turkey to discussion of the subject, when the U.S. Congress sought a resolution in 2000 to memorialize the Armenian genocide, Turkey threatened to refuse the U.S. use of its Incirlik airbase and warned it might break off negotiations for the purchase of $4.5-billion worth of Bell Textron attack helicopters.

President Clinton informed House Speaker /Dennis Hastert passage of the resolution could "risk the lives" of Americans and that put an end to the bill. Like his predecessor, President George Bush has bowed down to Ankara's wishes and issues Armenian Remembrance Day proclamations "without ever quite acknowledging what it is that's being remembered," The New Yorker points out.

The cover up denies Turkey's historic victimization of some 2-million Christian residents treated as second-class citizens by special taxation, harassment, and extortion. After Sultan Abdulhamid II came to power in 1876, he closed Armenian schools, tossed their teachers in jail, organized Kurdish regiments to plague Armenian farmers and even forbid mention of the word "Armenia" in newspapers and textbooks.

In the last decade of the 20th Century, Armenians were already being slaughtered by the thousands but systematic extermination began April 24, 1915, with the arrest of 250 prominent Armenians in Istanbul. In a purge anticipating Hitler's slaughter of European Jewry, Armenians were forced from their homes, the men led off to be tortured and shot, the women and children shipped off to concentration camps in the Syrian desert.

At the time, the U.S. consul in Aleppo wrote Washington, "So severe has been the treatment that careful estimates place the number of survivors at only 15 percent of those originally deported. On this basis the number surviving even this far being less than 150,0000, there seems to have been about 1,000,000 persons lost up to this date."

In our own time, the Turkish Historical Society published "Facts on the Relocation of Armenians (1914-1918). It claims the Armenians were relocated during the war "as humanely as possible" to keep them from aiding the Russian armies.

In 2005, Turkish Nobel Prize recipient Orhan Pamuk, was said to have violated Section 301 of the Rurkish penal code for "insulting Turkishness" in an interview he gave to a Swiss newspaper. "A million Armenians were killed and nobody but me dares to talk about it," Pamuk said. Also, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak was brought up on a like charge for having a fictional character in her "The Bastard of Istanbul" discuss the genocide.

Fortunately for him, Turkish historian Tanar Akcam resides in America. His new history, "Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" (Metropolitan) otherwise probably would land him in jail.

As there are few nations that have not dabbled in a bit of genocide, one wonders why Turkey persists in its denials? After all, genocide is hardly a bar to UN admission or getting a loan from the World Bank.

Turkey has every right to membership in the same sordid club as Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, China, and America. Why must it be so sensitive? Let them confess and sit down with the other members to enjoy a good cup of strong coffee. They'll be made to feel right at home, as long as they don't mention Tibet, Iraq, Cambodia, the Congo, Chechnya, Timor, Darfur, Rwanda ad nauseum. After all, there are ghosts everywhere.

Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, as a publicist in the civil rights movement, and as a wire service columnist.

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.

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The More States Recognize Armenian Genocide the More Aggressive Turkey Becomes


YEREVAN (YERKIR) - “Recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey is not a precondition for the establishment of normal neighbor relations,” RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told France Press, PanARMENIAN.Net reported, citing RFE/RL.

He voiced assurance that ‘the obstacle can be removed via cooperation between the Armenian and Turkish people. The RA FM described the proposal of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on formation of a commission of historians for investigation of the events of 1915 as smoke screen.

“How can a joint commission be formed in the absence of diplomatic relations between Yerevan and Ankara?” he said adding that it’s a political issue and the approach should be political. Minister Oskanian condemned Turkey for its denial policy. “The more states recognize the Armenian Genocide the more aggressive Turkey becomes.

Turks have never been so organized at the state level as in this denial campaign,” he remarked. In his words, the adoption of the French bill penalizing the Armenian Genocide denial is a response to the aggressive line of the Turkish government. When commenting on the fear that the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide may arouse claims of compensation Vartan Oskanian said. “Armenia’s foreign policy agenda includes the recognition of the Genocide only.”

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.

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Russia shares Turkey's concerns on Kurdish issue

27 November 2006
The New Anatolian
By Ayhan Simsek

Russia is deeply concerned about the looming threat of Iraq's disintegration and shares the concerns of Turkey on the Kurdish issue, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko in an interview with a group of Turkish journalists in Moscow over the weekend.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko underlined that on a growing range of international issues, including Iraq, Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict; positions of Russia and Turkey have become very close, sometimes even identical. "Our relations are rising to a level of a multifaceted partnership, a goal stipulated by our heads of states in Dec 2004," Grushko stressed.

On Turkey's bid to join the European Union, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister underlined that this process should promote greater stability and mutually beneficial international cooperation in the region, and also raised Moscow's expectation that Turkey's commitments to the EU during the accession process will not hinder development of the multifaceted Russian-Turkish partnership.

Stressing that Russia has always advocated a comprehensive, fair and viable solution to Cyprus problem in line with the UN resolutions, Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko said Turkish and Greek Cypriots should be encouraged for resumption of full-scale negotiations with the goal of reaching a comprehensive settlement. He also said Russia is prepared to carry on a policy of developing economic relations with the Turkish Cypriots on condition of compliance with the principles of international law and UN resolutions.

On the claims of the Armenian genocide and problems between Turkey and Armenia, Alexander Grushko expressed hope that improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations will contribute to a greater stability in the region. "In our opinion, the parties should agree to jointly address issues related to the genocide. Russia's position on the issue is well known: relations today must not be made hostage to history," he said. Grushko also expressed support for Turkish proposal for establishing an international commission of historians. "We think that implementation of the initiative on setting up an international commission of historians, in one form or another, could be beneficial," he said.

Here is what Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko had to tell us:

-Russia and Turkey have stepped up political cooperation in recent years. What is Moscow's view of the quality of bilateral relations and their future, in particular over the next decade?

-GRUSHKO: Russian-Turkish relations have been progressing dynamically, and political dialogue has become more active at the top level. The leaders of the two countries have met six times since December 2004, when the Russian head of state made an official visit to Turkey for the first time in the history of bilateral relations. They regularly talk on the telephone and exchange messages.

Our foreign policy departments are interacting very intensively and effectively, as proved by a packed schedule of their consultations. This month, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Moscow, First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov held talks with the leaders of the Turkish foreign ministry, and two rounds of ministerial consultations were staged in Ankara.

Our relations show that the positions of our countries coincide or are similar on a growing range of international issues. In fact, they are rising to a level of a multifaceted partnership. This goal was stipulated by the heads of the two states in the Joint Political Declaration they signed in December 2004.
Out trade and economic cooperation has given a powerful impulse to bilateral relations. Bilateral trade amounted to $12.6 billion in 2005 and is growing at a fast rate. We expect to raise it to $25 billion by 2008.
Relations in the fuel and energy sector play a crucial part in our cooperation. Russian companies are prepared to contribute to the construction of underground storage facilities and other elements of the gas infrastructure in Turkey, as well as in projects stipulating the delivery of Russian gas to global markets via Turkey.

There are good cooperation opportunities in the generation of electricity, including at nuclear power plants. We also regard military-technical cooperation as a promising element of bilateral relations.

Tourism promotes contacts on a personal level; about 2 million Russian tourists visit Turkey every year. We have agreed to hold events dedicated to Russian and Turkish culture in 2007 and 2008 to encourage state cultural exchanges.

Taking into account the level of cooperation we have reached and future possibilities, we think that Russian-Turkish relations have a fair chance of progressing to the benefit of our nations and in the interests of stronger regional security and development.

-How do you view Turkish foreign policy on the issues such as the Iranian nuclear program, Iraq, and the Arab-Israeli conflict?

-GRUSHKO: On the whole Ankara's official position on these problems is seen as realistic and aimed at their speediest political settlement in the interests of peace and stability in that region. Our approaches to the solution of these problems are very close and sometimes identical, which is a good foundation for an active Russian-Turkish exchange of views. We value confidential communication established between us in the recent period on the issues indicated, and are ready to pursue it further.

-Rising sectarian violence and future of Iraq -

-What does Russia think about Iraq and its future? Does Moscow share Ankara's concerns about the possible disintegration of Iraq?

-GRUSHKO: We are deeply concerned about the situation in Iraq, where a large-scale civil conflict is brewing and has already spread to the relatively tranquil Shiite southern provinces. There is a looming threat of Iraq's disintegration. We stand fully for preserving its territorial integrity, and share the concern of our Turkish partners, including on the Kurdish issue.
We believe that the process of national reconciliation can start on the basis of agreements reached at the meeting on Iraq held in Cairo in November 2005 under the banner of the Arab League and attended by the leaders of the major political forces and ethnic and religious groups of Iraq.

Outlining a timetable for the presence of multinational forces in Iraq may considerably ease tensions there.
We are convinced that the international community must not stop its efforts to harmonize the warring sides' positions. Neighboring countries have not yet exhausted their possibilities either. Turkey regularly attends the conferences of foreign and interior ministries of Iraq's neighbor countries.

Russia is prepared to contribute to drafting and implementing any initiative that can facilitate an early stabilization of the situation. In our opinion, a political settlement in Iraq based on a broad consensus between Kurds and Shiite and Sunnite Arabs would contribute to the development of a civilized model of a federative state with a balance of interests of the regions and the federal center.

-Turkey's EU perspective, Cyprus question-

-Accession to the European Union is a major priority of Turkey's foreign policy. What do you think are the possible reflections of Turkey's EU process to the Turkish-Russian relations?

-GRUSHKO: We are closely monitoring Ankara's intention to become a full member of the EU. In our opinion, this process, which will depend on the sovereign decisions of Turkey and the EU countries, should promote greater security and stability, and mutually beneficial international cooperation in the region, and should prevent tensions and the appearance of division lines.
We believe that issues directly bearing on Russian-Turkish relations can appear on the agenda at the early stages of EU-Turkish negotiations. One of them can concern compatibility between bilateral contracts and agreements and EU norms regulating foreign trade, energy relations, transport, visa regimes, and so on.

Russia does not want Turkey's commitments to the EU to hinder the development of multifaceted Russian-Turkish partnership, trade and economic cooperation, or complicate the entry of Russian visitors to Turkey. In bilateral relations with Turkey, we stress our desire to hold prompt consultations aimed at minimizing possible negative effects of the EU accession on Russian-Turkish relations.

-Ankara expects Russia to support it on the issue of ending the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. What is Russia's stand on the issue of the Cyprus settlement? Will Moscow advance relevant initiatives?

-GRUSHKO: Russia has always advocated a comprehensive, fair and viable solution to the Cyprus problem in keeping with relevant UN resolutions. We have worked consistently to ensure the legitimate interests of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and will continue to act in this vein. We think UN Security Council resolutions and the assistance of the UN Secretary General should be used to encourage the parties involved in the conflict to resume full-scale negotiations.

Definite results have been attained in the past year. Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, who visited Cyprus last July, coordinated a mechanism for starting an inter-ethnic dialogue on the everyday life of the two communities and on substantive issues. Both can facilitate the solution of fundamental problems hindering a comprehensive settlement. In our opinion, the international community and all countries working for a settlement of the Cyprus problem should help Cypriots advance towards these goals.

We believe that steps should be taken to strengthen the leading role of the UN in resolving the Cyprus problem and the role of the five permanent member states as the main body of international political monitoring. We are prepared to contribute to the resumption of the Good Offices Mission of the UN Secretary General.

We think that the two parties' striving for settlement should be encouraged, and we are prepared to carry on a policy of developing economic relations with the Turkish Cypriot community on condition of compliance with the principles of international law and UN resolutions.

-Armenian genocide claims, international commission-

-Can Russia propose ways to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia?

-GRUSHKO:We think direct Armenian-Azerbaijani contacts must be resumed to bring about a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. In our opinion, the recent meetings between foreign ministers were both productive and instructive, and paved the way to solving outstanding problems.

Russia and its partners from the OSCE Minsk Group think it crucial to continue to discuss the positive achievements made in the Karabakh settlement since mid-2005. We support the initiative of formalizing the coordinated settlement principles by signing a relevant document.

As for Turkish-Armenian relations, we are confident that their improvement could contribute to greater stability in the region. We know that Armenian and Turkish leaders have been communicating, and think that bilateral consultations at different levels, including a top one, will facilitate the search for reasonable compromises.

In our opinion, the parties should agree to jointly address issues related to the genocide. Russia's position on the issue is well known: relations today must not be made hostage to history. The adoption of a relevant law in the French parliament has provoked a wave of indignation in the Turkish community. A reply wave of anti-Armenian sentiments would hinder the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. We think that the implementation of the initiative on setting up an international commission of historians, in one form or another, could be beneficial.

- The Chechen issue had at one time been a negative impact on Turkish-Russian relations. Has the situation changed?

-GRUSHKO: We respect the balanced approach of the Turkish officials to the issue of combating terrorists and separatists in the North Caucasus, which is particularly painful to us. We welcome measures, taken in the last years, to stop the operation of self-proclaimed "representatives of Ichkeria" in Turkey, and hope that Ankara will respect our antiterrorist concerns. Double standards must not be allowed in our common fight against international terrorism.

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, November 26, 2006

Armenia Hopes Turkey EU Process Will Open to Doors to Genocide Debate

Posted GMT 11-25-2006 2:11:29
Assyrian International News Agency

By Jean Christou
Cyprus Mail

Armenia said yesterday it hoped Turkey's accession to the European Union would lead to more honest and open debate on issues such as the Armenian genocide.

Speaking to reporters during his official visit to Cyprus, Armenian President Robert Kocharian said Turkey's path to Europe would likely influence relations between the two countries.

He said that once Turkey had expressed its wish to include itself in the EU, it should mean normalisation of relations with its neighbours, including Armenia.

"Consequently, the issue of Turkey's accession course interests us and we are waiting to see it become what it should become. This will certainly influence Armenian-Turkish relations," Kocharian said.

The Armenian president also commented on the recent difficulties in French-Turkish relations after Ankara said it was suspending bilateral military ties with Paris

It was the latest step in a row over whether Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915, after the French National Assembly approved a bill criminalising denial of the Armenian genocide.

Kocharian avoided commenting on the row, but welcomed moves by the international community to recognise genocides and hoped that one day Turkey could join the ranks.

"We believe the process of Turkey's accession to the EU will lead to a more open and honest debate in Turkish society where people can express their opinions," Kocharian said. "I know this a difficult process. I also know that the international community, in recognising the various genocides that have taken place, all contribute so that these matters can move forward to the point where there is understanding of such things."

Kocharian also said that "Armenia would like to see a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem", following his meeting with President Tassos Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos said that discussions with his Armenian counterpart covered a wide range of issues, aiming at developing the bilateral co-operation, in the fields of education, tourism, bank sector, and culture. He also expressed the belief that Armenians who live in Cyprus would pave the way for new areas of co-operation, and accepted an invitation from Kocharian to visit Armenia in 2007.

Prior to the meeting, an agreement was signed between the two governments on co-operation in combating organised and other forms of crime, which was initialled by Justice Minster Sophocles Sophocleous and his Armenian counterpart Davit Harutyunyan.

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.

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It is quite different now

25 novembre 2006
European Turkey
By Gündüz Aktan
Source : Turkish Daily News, 18-11-2006

Former high-level diplomat, Gündüz Aktan is one of the best informed and deeply thinking intellectuals of the nationalist and conservatist wing in Turkish politics. Fiercely opposed to any Armenian "allegations" regarding the matter of genocide, he is also able to play the game of a debate that has been recently opened within the Turkish society on historical matters. Although his positions does not always fit well with Turquie Européenne’s ones, it seemed us interesting to publish Gündüz Aktan so as to underline the nature of the debate in Turkey today and the ability of the "enlightened" conservatist wing to tackle the very matter of history, in spite of a strong inclination to denial.

On Tuesday Nov. 14, during debates on the Foreign Ministry draft budget at Parliament’s Budget-Plan Committee, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said Turkey would take the judicial path to solution of the Armenian issue. Then Şükrü Elekdağ of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) suggested arbitration and Mr. Gül responded by saying that arbitration too could be considered. Thus a bipartisan consensus was achieved on a highly important foreign policy issue. To put it differently, the compromise that had been reached when the prime minister had suggested a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians was confirmed on this occasion by an all the more critical step.

Article 33 of the U.N. Charter specifies the methods to be used for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. By agreeing to have the Armenian issue resolved through arbitration or adjudication, Turkey has accepted all the methods cited in that article.

The Armenian side and those individuals and organizations in the West that support them are not suggesting paths of peaceful resolution. They are convinced that the Armenian incidents were genocide. They expect Turkey to acknowledge this “fact,” engage in an exercise of memory and face up to its past. A judicial process would require both sides to strain to stretch their capacity to remember. It would also provide a chance to go through the history of the event in a hairsplitting manner.

However, this is not the only reason for Turkey to opt for the judicial path. The fact that Turkey is rejecting the genocide allegations attests to the presence of a conflict. Conflicts can only be resolved via peaceful means, and taking the legal path is one of them. On the other hand, the substance of this particular conflict pertains to law. For this reason there is no way other than the judicial path to resolve it.

Genocide is a word denoting a specific category of crime. Crimes are defined by law. The U.N. Genocide Convention of 1948 defines the crime of genocide in Article 2. According to Article 6 of the convention, only a competent court can decide whether the crime of genocide has been committed or not. In other words, legislative or executive bodies are not authorized to pass judgment on this issue. Yet the Armenians base their genocide allegations not only on made-to-order books they have elicited from certain “historians” but also on genocide resolutions they have obtained from legislative bodies in 18 countries and statements made by certain political figures.

In reality, the plaintiff itself, Armenia, should have taken the judicial path. It should have sought our permission for retroactive application of the 1948 convention so that it could be applied to the 1915-1916 incidents. Yet Armenia has consistently avoided that. The Armenian diaspora has been lavishly spending money to promote the genocide allegations. It would be unthinkable for them not to have consulted the best jurists in the world. Yet they have always preferred to limit their activities to the realm of propaganda. Obviously they must have received advice from those experts to the effect that the judicial path would not be “auspicious” for the Armenians.

However, the time has come for their ship to run aground. They will either travel the judicial path together with us or their allegations will lose all credibility.

Naturally they are likely to stick to their traditional path for some more time but each time they repeat their allegations the answer they will get will be, “Come and meet us in court.” If they happen to say, “But we have already taken this issue before the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ),” the Turkish side will remind them that the ICTJ is merely a nongovernmental organization, specializing in South Africa’s reconciliation process, and not a judicial body. The Turkish side will point out that the identity of the “bright” lawyer that drafted the ICTJ paper without discussing this issue with anyone has been kept secret. Turkey will also say, “If that is all you are putting forth as a thesis we see better now why you have avoided court action on this issue all these years.”

Then one day they will come to court. And they will regret it. They will see how the century’s greatest baloney will evaporate. It is more probable than not that they will in fact end up as the side that “owes” Turkey something. Armenian gangs killed over 500,000 Turks. We have the names, addresses, ages and sexes of the victims.

The Russian archives will be another source of evidence. Having discerned that possibility, the Armenian side is already launching an intimidation campaign, claiming that the Russians were the Turks’ accomplices in the Armenian “genocide.”

Meanwhile, we will seek access to the archives the Patriarchate moved to Jerusalem, the archives of the Dashnaks in Boston and Armenia’s official archives. Naturally we will demand verification of the authenticity of the relevant documents by a committee of international experts.

In fact, Armenia does not have to be invited to court, since that would further upset the Armenian people, who are already feeling victimized. Instead, we could invite France to court for having acknowledged the “genocide” by passing a law to this effect, or the United States if the U.S. Congress passes a similar resolution.

Going to court is a risky business in any case. One can never know what kind of conclusion the court will reach. For this reason we should congratulate Mr. Gül and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for courageously taking political responsibility for such a step, and do our best to prepare an impeccable file for this greatest of all court cases.

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.

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Armenian joy but genocide row continues

Sat 25 Nov 2006
Edinburgh News

ARMENIANS in the Capital are celebrating after councillors stood by their decision to class a campaign against their countrymen during the First World War as genocide.

The city council voted to back an original motion passed last year regarding the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 stating "it was indeed genocide".

Debate on the matter raged for an hour at a stormy meeting of the full council in the City Chambers - but Councillor Phil Attridge's attempts to approve a new motion were rebuffed. He wanted a motion that supported plans by Turkey to set up an independent investigation and make a verdict on whether it was genocide. He claimed the snub "reeked of Turkophobia".

Today, the Morningside-based man leading the Scottish arm of the campaign to have the deaths recognised as genocide said he was "proud" that his local authority had made the decision.

Armenian Dr Hagop Bessos, 55, chairman of the Scottish branch of UK organisation The Campaign for Recognition of Armenian Genocide, said: "I am extremely proud and moved that the council in Edinburgh have stuck by this decision. Although the genocide was 91 years ago, the consequences for Armenians continue today."

The council first passed a motion on the matter last August after it was presented by then city leader Donald Anderson.

But the decision led to a number of complaints to councillors and Cllr Attridge put forward the new motion in support of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's call for an international commission to carry out a probe. But it was widely rejected by councillors, with only two people backing it. Instead, they passed a new motion that reaffirms the original decision.

Cllr Attridge said: "In Britain we always seem to support the minority and the Armenians make it seem like the only people that died during the war were Armenian. The reek of Turkophobia in that room was extreme."

The British wing of the Citizens Proclamation of Turkish Rights group had arranged for a Turkish history professor from the University of Ankara to make a 3500-mile round trip to give evidence at the City Chambers.

Its chair, Hal Sausas, said: "The whole thing is absurd. Nobody on that council has the power to judge something like this. Most of the people on the council don't know anything about this. They couldn't even tell you where Armenia is."

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.




TV marathon organized by All Armenia Fund recorded exceptional $13.7 million result. The fund has never had such outcome with the highest being $12 million. The 9th marathon of All Armenia Fund aimed to raise money for the implementation of “Revival of Artsakh” project. Such outcome could be predicted since the fund had received donations before November 23, the day of TV marathon.

Public relations department of the fund said before the start of the marathon $2.4 million were collected – $1.2 million from Armenia and $1.4 million from Europe.

Sargis Hakobyan made a promise to donate $550 thousand for the development of Hadrut region of Artsakh. Luiz Simon Manukyan promised to donate another $500 thousand. Alber Boyajyan, member of board of director of All Armenia Fund, announced about a donation of his friend, Jery Turpanjyan – in the amount of $1 million 250 thousand. Another big donation was made by Vahe Karapetyan – $1.5 million. Kirk Kirkoryan donated $2 million through Linz Foundation. Ara Abrahamyan, chairman of the Union of Armenians in Russia, promised to donate $1 million. American Project Cure announced about its donation in the amount of $2 million. The same organization also sent medical equipment amounting $1.5 million to a regional hospital in Martakert.

The foundation will provide the complete list of benefactors in its May, 2007 newsletter.

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.


Opening Eyes To Plight Of Assyrians

Assyrian International News Agency
By Loretta Waldman

Growing up in Iran, Sharokin Betgevargiz remembers diving into ditches at the sound of approaching MiGs during the Iran/Iraq War. In the apartment she shared with her parents in a Tehran suburb, shelter was found under beds and in doorways. Black tape crisscrossed the windows in case of flying glass.

Now 36, Betgevargiz lives in New Britain and teaches the history of graphic design at Central Connecticut State University. She has not forgotten her childhood terror, nor how she says it felt growing up as a Christian in a mostly Muslim world.

That is how she explains her passion for calling attention to the plight of Assyrians: a less visible, seldom mentioned group than the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds now caught up in the bloodshed ravaging Iraq.

Yet these mostly Christian descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians are frequent targets of fundamentalist Islamists who see them as the face of the West. Abductions and beheadings are common, she says. Men go to work and never return. Women are terrified to leave their homes.

"We equal George Bush" in the eyes of the enemies, said Betgevargiz.

She and other Assyrian Americans living in New Britain have organized events on Sunday and Monday to highlight the struggles of Assyrians in Iraq. Both events will feature films by Lina Yakubova, an Assyrian ethnographer and documentary filmmaker living in Armenia.

The first, scheduled Sunday at 12:30 p.m., is at the Assyrian St. Thomas Cultural Center, 92 McClintock St., New Britain. The second is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Torp Theater at Davidson Hall at CCSU.

New Britain has one of the largest Assyrian communities in the Northeast, with 250 households. In Connecticut there are about 5,000 Assyrians, representing about 10,000 estimated to be living in the region, according to the Assyrian National News Agency.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 300,000 Assyrians, the agency says. Most are concentrated in Chicago, Detroit and California. Many are doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals who have fled the numerous conflicts in the Middle East since World War II.

Atrocities against Assyrians in the latest Iraq war include the decapitation of a priest last month, the abduction and murder of 15 women and the crucifixion of a 14-year-old boy, according to news reports and local Assyrians.

The origin of the community in New Britain dates to the arrival of 70 Assyrian families sponsored by Presbyterian missionaries at South Church in 1904, Betgevarigiz and others say. Today, this thriving but low-profile community boasts a church, St. Thomas Church of the East, and its own cemetery.

The events Sunday and Monday are part of an effort to establish a safe zone in northern Iraq. A march in Washington is planned Dec. 4; Assyrians from throughout the U.S. are expected.

"When you talk about Iraq, it's not just Muslims," Betgevargiz said. "These are real people with real differences. I don't just want Assyrians to come to these talks. I want everyone."

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-Turkish Dialogue and Taner Akçam

25 November 2006,
KEVORK BARDAKJIAN, University of Michigan
FATMA MÜGE GÖÇEK, University of Michigan

The current problems, if not enmity, prejudice and hatred, between the Turkish and Armenian communities can almost entirely be traced back to the Genocide of 1915. This has been, and still is, the major stumbling block in Armenian-Turkish relations.

Frequently, the Armenians look at the year 1915 as the epitome and culmination of the misfortunes, misgovernment and tragedies they suffered under Ottoman Turkish rule. The Turkish state continues flatly to deny the events of 1915, often mitigating or denigrating the Armenian tragedy in various forms and to varying degrees.

They also claim that the vile acts of destruction committed against the Armenians are below the inherent dignity and honor of the Turkish people and the ideals of Turkish nationalism that gave rise to the modern Turkish state.

Any and all references to 1915 have not only polarized both the Armenians and the Turks but have also politicized their respective stands vis-à-vis one another.

They continue to suffer emotionally, as their viewpoints remain mutually unrecognized or unacceptable. They spend millions of dollars to silence one another’s voice and become all the more embittered, as they fail to come to terms with the unspeakable pain, loss and memories associated with 1915 and its attendant consequences.

The social actors engaged in this confrontation are the nation-states of Turkey and Armenia, the communities in both countries, including the Armenian minorities in Turkey, the Armenian diaspora, especially in France and the United States, and the nascent Turkish communities in Germany and the United States.

All of these actors have their separate interests, interpretations, and expectations from the discussion of the Armenian tragedy, and they all attempt to impose their respective views upon others.

As a whole, the Armenians are in agreement that what happened in 1915 was indeed genocide. They have different interpretations, however, as to why 1915 happened, where 1915 should be located in collective memory, and how this location should affect the present.

The views of the Turkish state, the Turkish diaspora, and the people of Turkey also differ widely on the assessment of 1915. The Turkish state has developed a master story that aims to deny and erase the genocide from Turkish collective memory. This master story has so far been viable because of the inherent disregard of the Turkish state for its own historical past. Since the Turkish nationalist project had to construct the Turkish nation-state in contradistinction to the Ottoman Empire, it construed and identified the birth of the Turkish state as the beginning of the history of the nation, rendering what had transpired earlier irrelevant.

While the Turkish diaspora seems to adhere to this official state line, the people of Turkey often do indeed have their own alternative narratives. These narratives circulate informally among groups and individuals, but are never brought into the public arena, for fear of retribution from the state.

Such contestation and discrepancies between and within the Armenian and Turkish communities, and the persistent lack of meaningful dialogue produce sadly significant consequences. Their failure to cultivate direct ties not only allows third parties to enter the public space and exploit Armenian-Turkish differences and disagreements to their advantage, it also forecloses opportunities to discuss, acknowledge and address problems and silences in their own histories.

The Armenian and Turkish communities can overcome such negative consequences by recognizing their shared past, the violence, shock and trauma they both have experienced, and the man-made tragedy inflicted on the Armenians.

One could certainly assert that the Armenians have experienced a double trauma : one resulting from the massacres of 1915, and the other from Turkey’s refusal to recognize the genocide. One of the first steps towards reconciliation through dialogue is the recognition of the trauma of the past affecting both the Armenians and the Turks.

Prior to 1915, the Armenians and Turks shared more than six centuries of common history. This common history can only be studied if 1915 is recognized as one, albeit major, historical instance to be analyzed within the context of the common history Turks and Armenians shared before and after 1915. Inability to do so would essentialize 1915. The second step in reconciliation through dialogue is the recognition of the common history of the Armenian and Turkish communities.

In its account of what happened or did not happen to the Armenians, the master story of the Turkish nation-state chooses to emphasize the pain and suffering inflicted on the Turks themselves, as if this would in some way alleviate Armenian pain and lessen the Armenian tragedy.

The Turkish master story also claims that the denial of the Armenian tragedy and the exclusion of this group from its imagined community would decrease the pain and suffering of the Turks. The third step in reconciliation through dialogue is the recognition of the inherent biases present in the master story of the Turkish state.

Once these steps are taken jointly by the Armenian and Turkish sides, on equal terms and with mutual recognition and respect, the current insufferable atmosphere can be turned into a joint search for reconciliation through dialogue. Such a perspective is essential if Armenian and Turkish scholars are to explore history in a meaningful way and in all its shades, gray and otherwise.

There is an acute need and, indeed, much room for understanding, collaboration and joint exploration of all aspects, facets and details of Armenian-Turkish relations throughout history. For there is much prejudice to be shed, stereotypes to be destroyed, and many obscure areas to be explored in a constructive fashion. It is this spirit that has led us, two University of Michigan faculty, working in the field of Ottoman and Armenian history and culture, to work together with a view to promoting a scholarly dialogue and adopting a wider embrace of Armenian-Turkish studies.

In our approach and determination to work together, we have derived much inspiration from the person and work of Dr. Taner Akçam.

It is with a deep sense of privilege and honor that we introduce Dr. Taner Akçam’s collection of essays. For many years now, Dr. Akçam has been working tirelessly, and against tremendous odds, to overcome prejudices and biases and to promote understanding and better relations between Turks and Armenians. The focus of his scholarship has been the Armenian Genocide, its history and impact on Armenian-Turkish relations since 1915.

He has diligently delved into primary archival sources to understand and illuminate, and to analyze and interpret, some of the darker aspects of the Armenian tragedy and human behavior. In all his work, Dr. Akçam’s scholarship has been meticulous, his perspectives illuminating, and his moral fortitude inspiring.

What has also been remarkable about this gentleman is not only his perseverance, but also his genuine sense of optimism. His essays offer us a glimpse into the soul and work of a compassionate human being and a dispassionate scholar, endowed with a deep sense of social awareness and responsibility.

Dr. Akçam’s work has been so far published in Turkish and German and has therefore been inaccessible to the English-speaking public. The present volume brings together some of his essays in English translation.

We are certain that this volume will be of significant importance to those interested in the modern phase of Armenian-Turkish relations. We are also certain that its appearance will be gratifying to Dr. Akçam himself. A wider audience will read his work. This will translate into a greater impact and, hopefully, will stimulate more dispassionate research.

And there is no greater fulfillment for a Turk who began his arduous journey all alone, than to be joined by an increasing number of companions in quest of the truth and fruitful understanding between Turks and Armenians.

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.