Thursday, December 28, 2006

Azerbaijani deputy transport minister: US decision will not affect Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku project

14:11 12/27/2006

“The bill adopted in the USA on banning financing the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway will not affect implementation of the project. Niether Azerbaijan, nor Georgia or Turkey appealed US banks for loans,” Azerbaijani Deputy Transport Minister Musa Panakhov is quoted as saying by APA.

According to him, Azerbaijan and Turkey are capable of financing the project at their own expenses. The deputy minister stressed that the bill, which was elaborated with participation of the Armenian Diaspora and pro-Armenian congressmen will not bear the expected result. According to him, by such claims the Armenians do nothing but isolate themselves from regional projects. “Azerbaijan will allocate $150 million for construction of the railway line in the Georgian territory. The money will be given to Georgia in a form of a long-term loan for 20-25 years,” Panakhov said., noting that preparations for implementing the project would finish in January.

As REGNUM informed earlier, US congressmen, co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg announced that US policy in South Caucasus is aimed at promoting regional cooperation and normalization of relations instead of isolation. Earlier, the US president George Bush approved a bill banning state financing of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railroad. Before that, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives, and then by the Senate. The congressmen called upon Turkey “to revise the policy of alienating Armenia, put an end to the 13-year-old blockade and take actions directed at cooperation with its neighbors.”

Permanent news address: 12/27/2006

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.


Weapons producers give deadline

27 December 2006

KRAGUJEVAC -- Zastava weapons factory workers spent their second night inside the Kragujevac municipal parliament.

They have been protesting all week, asking the state to pay reparations for prohibiting the export of weapons to Armenia.

President of the factory’s union Jugoslav Ristić said that they are demanding discussions with someone who is familiar with the problems and procedure and known how these things work.

“The Defense Minister did not demonstrate this knowledge yesterday. It is important to say that Armenia is not under sanctions by the United Nations for weapons imports, nor is it under unilateral sanction by the US. These are the two lists respected by all weapons producers, here and abroad. This year and last year we exports to Armenia without problems.” Ristić said.

He said that if the government does not make a decision by Thursday, the gates of the company will be closed on Friday and all workers will be called to the parliamentary building, adding that no one will be able to enter the factory.

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.


Ankara gives notice to Baku

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
ANK – Turkish Daily News

Turkey gave notice to Azerbaijan on claims that pianist Burak Bedikyan, a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, was deported after having been subjected to ill treatment, news reports said yesterday.

Ankara sought information both from the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry and the Azerbaijani Embassy here in Ankara on the allegations, said Foreign Ministry officials speaking to NTV news channel.

Bedikyan, accompanied by Turkish singer Sertap Erener, a well-trained soprano, departed for the Azerbaijani capital of Baku on Dec. 19 to perform on two special occasions but he was deported at the airport. Bedikyan claimed he was subjected to ill treatment because of his Armenian origin.

In comments on Azerbaijani authorities' refusal to issue a visa to Bedikyan, though he was a Turkish citizen, officials from the Azerbaijani Embassy here reportedly said: “Azerbaijan and Armenia are at war. His name being announced during the concert attended by 10-15,000 audience could have sparked an incident.”

Azerbaijan and Armenia are at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri territory occupied by the Armenian troops. Ankara -- which has friendly ties with Azerbaijan -- closed its border gate with Armenia and severed its diplomatic relations with the country after Armenian troops occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

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.


System Of A Down on Matters of Life and Death
Dec. 26, 2006

It's been quite a year for System Of A Down.

With the release of Mezmerize, (the first of a two disc release), in May, they have managed to stay on the top of the Billboard charts in the United States.

With this follow up release to Toxicity, and Steal This Album, multitasking front man Serj Tankian's operation have proven to be amongst the most innovative and original bands to emerge in decades.

Serj Tankian, System's charismatic frontman, though frantically busy with SOAD, still manages to play an active role with Axis of Justice, the organization he started with Audioslave's Tom Morello. AXIS has been a huge political force in the Los Angeles community, and has been instrumental in raising social/political awareness of many different causes around the world.

In addition, of late, Tankian, narrated a powerful documentary, called Armenia, A Country Under Blockade, that was recently featured at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival. He and the rest of the band have been extremely outspoken and proactive about getting recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

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.


Rasizade: Kars-Ahikelek-Tbilisi-Baku railway agreement will be signed next month

27 December 2006
The New Anatolian

Azerbaijani Premier Artur Rasizade stated yesterday that efforts to establish a transportation link between Azerbaijan and Turkey are continuing, and that an agreement on the Kars-Ahikelek-Tbilisi-Baku railway will be signed in January.

Turkey has been pushing the region's states to begin construction of the railway, amid some countries' fears that the project could cut out Armenia. The announcement of the planned agreement on the railway project came during Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nohaydeli's meeting with Rasizade in Azerbaijan. It is also significant since it followed Georgia's announcement on Sunday that the country has reached a gas agreement with Turkey following a visit by the Georgian president to Turkey last week.

Rasizade also announced that the construction and preparation work for the Kars-Ahikelek-Tbilisi-Baku railway project are planned to begin in May.

Stressing that Georgia will face energy shortage problems this winter following Russia doubling its gas price starting next year, Rasizade stated that Georgia's neighbors will help the country through the supply of some 1 million cubic meters of gas daily.

Touching on efforts to attain regional cooperation on energy issues, Rasizade said besides the Turkish-Georgian gas agreement, Azerbaijan will contribute to the construction of new energy stations in Georgia.

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.


Bill Prohibiting Funding of Railroad Bypassing Armenia Enacted


The Armenian Assembly of America hailed the enactment of legislation prohibiting funding for a railroad linking Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia while bypassing Armenia. As reported by the AAA, the bill was signed into law this week as part of a comprehensive measure known as the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2006. The legislation included an amendment by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rick Santorum (R-PA) ensuring that no Export-Import funding is used for a rail line which seeks to isolate Armenia from economic and regional transportation corridors. The provision mirrors the South Caucasus Integration and Open Railroads Act, which was introduced in both Houses with the support of the Armenian Assembly.

Enactment of this provision is part of the Armenian Assembly's anti-isolation campaign and resulted in a successful outcome with final passage in the waning days of the 109th Congress. "This Assembly initiative to combat Turkey's and Azerbaijan's attempts to isolate Armenia is just one of the many ways in which we are working to ensure a secure and prosperous homeland," said Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "We very much appreciate the leadership of House and Senate Members for bringing this important initiative to fruition." "I also want to thank those organizations and individuals who joined us in this community-wide effort," he added.

! 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.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Olympic gold medalist puts health before glory

ecember 26, 2006
LA times
By Helene Elliott

Eduard Azarian accompanied his father to the gym before he could walk, entranced by the tumbling, vaulting and mid-air maneuvers on the rings.

He followed in Albert Azarian's footsteps and became an Olympic gymnastics champion, representing the Soviet Union in the era before their Armenian homeland gained its independence.

Eduard Azarian knows it takes enormous dedication to win a gold medal. As a coach and gym owner, he prepares athletes to give top-notch performances every day.

But if no representative of the Azarian U.S. Gymnastics Training Center in Aliso Viejo ever stands atop an Olympic podium, that's fine with him.

Azarian's goal is to make gymnastics the foundation of a healthy life for 18-month-olds, 50-year-olds and everyone in between. He's fighting the tide of obesity that has engulfed his adopted country by persuading kids to incorporate exercise into their daily routine and inspiring adults to get off the couch and get moving.

"It's not only an Olympic gym. This is for everybody, for all kinds of kids, to make them happy and healthy and find a place in this life," Azarian said.

"They don't need an Olympic title. They need to be healthy. I'm paying a lot of attention to have kids come into this gym and whether talented or not, they need physical activity, and gymnastics is a good thing to do."

Eduard, 47, played soccer as a child, but he knew where his future lay. "You could say that I had no choice," he said, smiling.

His father, Albert, had won four world titles as well as three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. Two moves on the rings were named for Albert — the Azarian (or Olympic) cross, and the Azarian roll. Now 78, Albert carried the Armenian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Eduard became a Soviet junior national champion in his early teens. He won a silver medal in the team competition at the 1978 world championships and a silver medal on the rings at the 1979 world cup meet before being chosen for the 1980 Olympic team in Moscow and sharing an easy victory over East Germany. That year, in the world cup, he won the parallel bars title and finished second in the all-around.

He became a coach to support himself, his wife, Marina, and their two children. A visit to a friend who worked in a gym in Redlands gave him the idea of coming to the United States for a while, and he got an offer to work at a YMCA.

"First I say no, because both kids were in Armenia," he said. "Second, it was a question of how they would pay me, because I had no work permit."

Promised a contract and a job here, the Azarians returned home to pack, only to learn that immigration issues stood in their way. But in 1989, with the Soviet Union dissolving and conditions deteriorating, they were compelled to move.

"No exaggeration, we had electricity for one hour a day for two years," Marina Azarian said. "And within that hour you had to heat up the water to wash the dishes, to take a shower, to pour the water on the kids. It was horrible.

"And we had no gas. Our joy was that one hour daily. And it was just freezing during winter. We would wear turtlenecks and go to bed."

Eduard said the couple decided to return to the U.S. so he could work for two years, "until everything gets normalized back in Armenia. Then we will just go back."

That was in 1992.

He found work in Van Nuys with a gym owner who had known his father, but his money went to a lawyer who got the family visas and green cards. Eduard, Marina, 10-year-old Albert and 7-year-old Albina lived with a friend in Pasadena while Eduard learned English and built a clientele.

His success got him an offer from a gym in Fountain Valley. While he worked there, the family members became U.S. citizens in 2002. That spurred him to act on his long-held dream of being his own boss.

"In doing this all these years I saw so many unfair things. About teaching, about how to make kids become better gymnasts," he said. "I always had that pressure there, that somebody was telling me what to do and how to do it.

"And that was bothering me, too, to produce better gymnasts and make kids not to be bitter as a human being…. I saw mistakes that were made, saw success from people and learned from them. I had experience on my shoulder to help me understand what I wanted and how I could do it to make things better for kids and the community."

He bought the Aliso Viejo gym 14 months ago from Tim Klempnauer, a former Cal State Fullerton gymnast who became a coach and judge. Marina oversees business operations and Albina is the office manager and teaches pre-school classes. The Azarians' son, an aspiring writer, isn't involved with the gym.

The Azarians kept nearly all of the students who had previously studied there and have a substantial number of boys in classes. Three boys from the gym were named to USA Gymnastics' National Development team: Kevin Wolting in the 12-year-old level, Marty Strech at the 10-year-old level and Joey Ringer at the 8-to-9-year-old level. Another gymnast, Donathan Bailey, was the 2006 junior Olympic pommel horse champion.

Not every child will match that, but many thrive on teams or in classes.

"My son likes the challenge of learning new things and takes pride in his accomplishments. He'd live here if we'd let him," said David Dean, whose 10-year-old son Christopher competes on a team.

"Eduard works with each child. It's about helping each child do their very best within what they're capable of doing."

Karen Davis of Aliso Viejo has brought her 5-year-old daughter Brennan to the gym since she was 3. "She really enjoys it. We're not thinking about the Olympics. We're thinking that maybe she'll stay in it until next June," Davis said.

"Part of it is the fun and exercise. And we want to improve her academics and focus, and I'd heard gymnastics was really good for that."

Azarian, she said, "has a great presence. I think everyone kind of looks at him as, 'Wow!' "

His feats are common knowledge, though he no longer has the gold medal as evidence. His medal and his father's were stolen from the Armenian museum where they had been on display, and the International Olympic Committee doesn't issue duplicates. "I have a diploma to prove I am an Olympic champion," he said, smiling.

And a healthy legacy.

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.


Change in U.S. Congress boosts prospects for Armenian genocide resolution

December 26, 2006
International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON: With Democrats taking control of the U.S. Congress, prospects have increased that lawmakers will approve a resolution recognizing the World War I-era killings of Armenians as genocide — despite the objections of President George W. Bush.

The shift in Congress also dims the likelihood that the Bush administration can break a deadlock over the president's nominee for ambassador to Armenia, Richard Hoagland. Senate Democrats have blocked Hoagland's nomination because of his refusal to call the killings a genocide.

The matters before Congress highlight how the deaths of the 1.5 million Armenians almost a century ago remain a sensitive international issue today. The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate on the genocide question could damage relations with Turkey, a moderate Muslim nation that is a NATO member and an important strategic ally.

Turkey has adamantly denied claims by scholars that its predecessor state, the Ottoman government, caused the Armenian deaths in a planned genocide. The Turkish government has said the toll is wildly inflated and that Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the empire's collapse.

After French lawmakers voted in October to make it a crime to deny that the killings were a genocide, Turkey said it would suspend military relations with France.

In Washington, Armenian-American groups have been pressing for years for a resolution on the genocide issue. The House of Representatives' International Relations Committee last year endorsed two resolutions classifying the killings as genocide. But the House leadership, controlled by Bush's Republican Party, prevented a vote by the full chamber.

With Democrats taking over the House, the top leader will be Nancy Pelosi, who has supported the genocide legislation. A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hamill, says she'll continue to support the resolutions.

"I think we have the best chance probably in a decade to get an Armenian genocide resolution passed," said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, a top advocate of the resolutions.

The genocide question was the key issue as the Senate considered the ambassadorial nomination of Hoagland to replace John Evans, who reportedly had his tour of duty cut short because, in a social setting, he referred to the killings as genocide.

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, blocked the nomination over Hoagland's refusal to use the word genocide at his confirmation hearing in June. With Democrats taking over the Senate, it will be even more difficult now for the Bush administration to circumvent Menendez's objections.

Early this month, Menendez and the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking the Bush administration to withdraw the nomination.

But an administration official responded in a letter to Menendez that it was continuing to back Hoagland.

"Despite some claims to the contrary, neither Ambassador-designate Hoagland nor the administration has ever minimized or denied the fact or the extent of the annihilation and forced exile of as many as 1.5. million ethnic Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire," Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns wrote. The letter was provided to The Associated Press by a congressional aide, who requested anonymity because the administration had not agreed to its release.

"It would be a shame for the entire Foreign Service should Ambassador-designate Hoagland, an experienced diplomat with a distinguished record of service, be denied confirmation due to past disagreements over Ambassador Evans."

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, December 26, 2006

Foreign Exchange: We owe the Armenians

Saturday, December 23, 2006
Pakistan Daily times
By Kalpana Sahni

The Ain-i-Akbari mentions numerous Armenians who had been invited by Akbar to settle down in Agra. Mariam Zamani Begum, one of Akbar’s wives was allegedly an Armenian, as were the Chief Justice, Abdul Hai, the Lady Doctor, Juliana, and several others

Ashot Hindilyan graciously offered to show us around the Armenian Quarter of old Jerusalem.

“Is your name linked to India?” I asked.

“Naturally, -hindi- Hindilyan. At some point of time my family traded with India. So much so I am told that I even look like an Indian. Do I?”

“Y-e-e-s, I guess so. Your nose is definitely not an Armenian nose...”

A professor at Birzeit University, Dr Hindilyan took us to every nook and corner of old Jerusalem’s Armenian quarter with its narrow cobbled streets lined with stone houses, the library, the cemetery. We witnessed the ancient church service in the 11th century Armenian Church of St James. As special guests, we were shown some church treasures. These were cotton block-printed altar curtains depicting the life of the Holy Family – all made in Madras! One of the most treasured ones was an enormous block-printed curtain with images of plants. Below each image was its name in Armenian script. Hindilyan read out – imli and looked up as if to ask if it made any sense.

“Of course, that’s an imli tree!”

We tried to identify the other plants too. Why anybody would make a veritable encyclopaedia of South Indian plants for an Armenian church’s altar curtain is anybody’s guess. Perhaps some Armenian with a passion for botany had guided the block printers while writing down the names in Armenian script for them to copy. This particular altarpiece was made in the 18th century.

Well, this episode spurred my curiosity. I remembered a Mr Khachaturian who, long long ago, had been my cousin’s landlord in Bombay. So I started foraging for more information.

We are ignorant about our Armenian links that go back to the second century. Armenians had once traded in many parts of India and their settlements were scattered along the coastline: Bombay, Surat, Madras, Calcutta, and later in Agra, Lucknow, Delhi, Lahore, Gwalior. Persia’s Shah Abbas encouraged Armenians from Persia in the 17th century to trade with India. Their numbers swelled and soon they set up schools in Madras and Calcutta. The first Armenian language periodical was printed in Madras in 1794 and not in Armenia. It was the British who gradually forced them out, feeling threatened by their commercial expertise.

The Ain-i-Akbari mentions numerous Armenians who had been invited by Akbar to settle down in Agra. Mariam Zamani Begum, one of Akbar’s wives, was allegedly an Armenian, as were the Chief Justice, Abdul Hai (in Armenian ‘hai’ means Armenian), the Lady Doctor, Juliana, and several others.

Some claim that Sarmad, an outstanding Sufi poet of the 17th century, was an Armenian Jew, while others that he was Armenian Christian. He arrived in India in 1654 from Kashan in Persia, became a bhikshu, and later turned to Sufism. Better known as the Naked Sufi, he attracted followers from all faiths and classes. He wrote in one of his Persian quatrains, “I obey the Koran. I am a Hindu priest and a monk; I am a Rabbi Jew, I am an infidel and I am Muslim.”

Among his disciples was Dara Shikoh, the prince philosopher and humanist. Aurangzeb killed both Dara Shikoh and Sarmad. To this day people lay floral tributes on the grave of Sarmad located near Delhi’s Jama Masjid.

The Zamzama canon outside the Lahore museum was made in 1761 by an Armenian gun-maker, Shah Nazar Khan, for Ahmed Shah Durrani, the Afghan invader of the Punjab. The Sikhs later captured it.

What a lot we owe the Armenians! An Armenian lady doctor opened the first nursing home in Calcutta; an Armenian conducted the first archaeological digs. There are so many unsung Armenian heroes in our history who fought the British alongside us. Colonel Jacob Petrus commanded Scindia of Gwalior’s Army for 70 years (1780-1850) against the British. Mesrovb Jacob Seth writes:

“His reputation was so high and he was so respected that the entire city of Gwalior mourned his death in 1850. Thousands including the nobility and military attended his funeral, and guns were fired ninety-five times from the ramparts of the historic Gwalior Fort, to mark his age.”

Then there was the legendary Gorgin Khan, Commander-in-Chief of Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal’s army, and Movses Manook, a Colonel in the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Army. The list of Armenian military officers is long. There were historians too. Tovmas Khojamalyan wrote a history of India in 1768. It included the period of British rule, which could provide a very important source of alternative information, especially in the chapters about the infamous ‘black hole’ tragedy.

Was this a one-way traffic? Not at all! The 4th century Syrian historian Zenob Glak mentions that from the 2nd to the 4th century AD there existed in the Armenian area of Taron, an Indian settlement of some 15,000 Indians, which prospered for over two hundred years and consisted of 20 Indian villages. They were wiped out with the coming of Christianity to Armenia. A Toran village by the name of Hindkastan existed until the early 20th century as well as other names – Hindukhanum, Hindubek and Hindumelik.

Dr Kalpana Sahni has been a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A doctorate in Russian literature, she has published extensively on literature and cross-cultural issues. She can be reached at

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


Friday, December 22, 2006

Ukraine wants Russia to recognise genocide

Radio Netherlands Worldwide
by Thijs Papôt*

Between five and seven million Ukrainians died from starvation in the winter of 1932-1933. The Ukrainian parliament maintains this was a deliberate attempt by the Soviet Union's then leader, Joseph Stalin, to exterminate the Ukrainian people. As such, this would make the famine equal to genocide.

The recent decision by parliament in Kiev - declaring that the famine was indeed genocide - would therefore seem to be a political move on the part of Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko to put pressure on the fragile relationship with Russia.

"My mother tried to flee to Russia with her children, but I was too weakened by hunger, so she left me behind in a hospital," says Kateryna Kholovan, who survived the famine at the age of four but never saw her family again.

"The winter of famine left its mark on my body. I never grew fully, and I've often been ill throughout my life."

At just 1.30 metres, Kateryna is indeed very small.

During the 'Holodomor' (death by starvation), as the Ukrainians refer to the great famine, an estimated five to seven million people lost their lives.

"I remember how brigades stormed into our village and literally took away everything that was edible or growing in the gardens."

How could it be that Ukraine, the grain store of the Soviet Union, with its fertile black soil, suddenly found itself without food? It's said that it was all a deliberate attempt by Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party in Ukraine to force Ukraine's obstinate farming community to accept the Soviet collectivisation of agriculture. Starvation as a means of repression. Historian Vasyl Marochka, who has studied the famine, says the evidence is conclusive:

"The harvest was made more difficult because the farmers' cattle was confiscated. The harvest itself was exported to Europe and the United States, and Ukrainians who tried to flee were stopped at the border or had their passports removed."

Material from the archives of the KGB, the one-time secret service of the Soviet Union, allegedly shows that Stalin himself gave the order that anyone who tried to steal food should be shot.

However, the decision to officially describe the famine as genocide - which implies a targeted attempt to exterminate the Ukrainian people - is a controversial one.

"Yes, mistakes were made," says Sergei Gmyrya, a historian of the Communist Party in Ukraine, "But there was also a failed harvest, problems with collectivisation, and there was hunger in all parts of Europe."

He would rather describe the famine as a 'tragedy.' However, the new genocide law makes that a punishable defence, "Because I am now, in fact, a genocide denier."

Ukraine's President Victor Yuschenko managed to get the law through parliament with a narrow majority, much to the dismay of his political rival, pro-Russian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovitch, who doesn't want to strain ties with Moscow with this painful issue from the Soviet era. Messrs Yuschenko and Yanukovitch are caught up in a fierce battle for power over the issue of whether Ukraine should align itself with Moscow - as Mr Yanukovitch would like - or turn more towards the West, as Mr Yuschenko would prefer.

It would, therefore, seem to be no coincidence that the question of the famine has now ended up on the political agenda. Sergei Gmyrya believes that President Yuschenko is deliberately politicising the genocide issue for his own anti-Russian purposes.

"Yuschenko is fanning anti-Communist hysteria and anti-Russian feelings in society. This weakens our relationship with Russia."

In Poland too, where incomprehension at, among other things, the Russian embargo on Polish food products recently led to a significant cooling of the relationship with Moscow, the parliament has - unanimously - declared that the Ukrainian famine was genocide. Meanwhile, Mr Yuschenko is trying to get official recognition of the genocide from the United Nations.

Just as the European Union has confronted Turkey with the genocide in Armenia, Ukraine is now calling for Moscow to acknowledge the genocide it suffered. With Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Ukraine this weekend, this could be an opportunity to find out how far the Kremlin is prepared to meet that wish.

"The question will certainly be raised at some point," says Vasyl Marochka, who has little hope of any gesture of recognition being forthcoming. "I was shocked recently when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of a 'so-called' famine. But if Russia wants to have moral and political authority as part of the international community, it has to be capable of recognising the mistakes of the past."

* Translated and Edited by RNW Internet Desk (tpf)

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.


Christmas comes but thrice a year

Dec. 21, 2006
The Jeusalem Post

The dream of Christian children worldwide: Jerusalem celebrates three Christmases! That statement is, of course, a bit misleading. The traditional Christian communities - Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian - celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25, January 6 and January 19 respectively, negating the possibility of Santa coming thrice to the same child.

These faith traditions each bring their own customs to the holiday, but share a common focus on the mystery and glory of the event, deemphasizing the commercial aspects so prevalent in the West.

Most Europeans and Americans are unfamiliar with the Armenian Church, which is ironic, because Armenia officially adopted the faith in 301 CE (about 25 years before Rome), and has maintained an emphasis on the Christ-mass, without the more secular gift-giving.

Bishop Aris Shirvanian, spokesman for the Armenian Patriarchate, explains why the Western churches were more influenced by pagan practices surrounding Christmas.

Christmas parties and gift-giving stem from "merrymaking inherited from the old pagan worship of the sun god - Saturn," he said. "Saturnalia was celebrated on December 25 in Rome, while Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 6.

"The pope of the day, Sylvester, in order to abolish the pagan feast, moved the celebration of Jesus's birthday from January 6 to December 25, but the Armenian church had no reason to change the date because there was no pagan feast in Armenia on December 25."

Since the Armenians maintain the ancient date of Christmas as well as the old (Julian) calendar, 13 days are added to January 6, postponing Armenian Christmas until January 19 on the modern (Gregorian) calendar.

The Armenians focus on astvadz-a-haytnootyoon - revelation, since the January 6 holy day celebrated both Jesus's birth and baptism. (Many churches still celebrate Epiphany, the baptism of Jesus, on January 6.)

Since Jesus's birth and baptism are celebrated together, water is a vital aspect of the Armenian feast. Water, blessed by the Armenian clergy, receives the addition of oil believed to be similar to that which Jesus used to clean the feet of his apostles, and is distributed to the congregants.

The oil additive is said to come from St. Thaddeus, who first preached the gospel in Armenia, and is considered to have healing properties.

On January 18, Christmas Eve, Patriarch Torkam Manogian leaves the Armenian Quarter of the Old City with a large entourage and police escort. In centuries past the horsedrawn procession stopped at the Greek monastery of Mar Elias outside Bethlehem to water the horses and allow devotees to refresh themselves. Modern processions keep that tradition, as the Palestinian Authority assumes responsibility for the procession. Greek Archbishop Aristochos notes that the two governments work diligently to ensure Christmas access to Bethlehem. The Greek Orthodox Church enjoys a similar procession on Christmas Eve.

The procession continues to Bethlehem's Manger Square, where there is an official reception. The congregants enter the Church of the Nativity - shared by the Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Armenians - and a mass is held. After a festive supper and rest, the midnight mass begins, concluding at about 3:30 Christmas morning.

The Greek Orthodox were reluctant to join the Western church in celebrating Christmas on December 25, but eventually did so for the sake of unity. (Both East and West agreed to celebrate Jesus's birth in December and his baptism on January 6.) Still, Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Church clings to the Julian calendar, so when it adds the required 13 days to December 25, it celebrates Christmas on January 7 according to the modern calendar.

A highlight of the Greek Orthodox Christmas season is the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6 and a pilgrimage to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Beit Jala.

St. Nicholas was a church father born in the late third century who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in about 330 CE. Tradition holds that he slept in a cave in Beit Jala while visiting nearby Bethlehem. The church built over that cave commemorates his pilgrimage.

Archbishop Aristochos states that St. Nicholas's feast day "prepares us for Christmas." Since St. Nicholas was noted for his kindness and generosity to children, many believe this contributed to the Western tradition of giving gifts on Christmas. (Influenced by northern European immigrants to the US, St. Nicholas's memory eventually morphed into Santa Claus, akin to the Dutch Sinterklaas.)

The Greek Orthodox observe a 40-day fast before Christmas. The fast forbids meat, milk and eggs, but allows fish after the first week until the beginning of the last. This culminates with a great feast on Christmas Day including fried fish, asparagus with egg and lemon sauce, bean soup, and honey cake with nuts.

There are a number of beliefs related to the killantzaroi - "bad spirits" according to the archbishop - that are released during Christmas and wreak havoc until January 6, when Epiphany is celebrated.

These spirits are mischievous, toppling things and scaring people. Still, tradition holds that home remedies can be employed to restrain them. Among these is a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. Eventually the killantzaroi are expelled by the priest on Epiphany as he sprinkles holy water (associated with Jesus's baptism) around the house.

Like the members of its related liturgical churches, Roman Catholics proceed to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, celebrated December 24. This is the celebration for which Bethlehem is most noted. Whether associated with the church or not, Manger Square fills with thousands. Multitudes of Muslims also come to witness the event.

But in smaller parishes quieter ceremonies occur on Christmas Eve. Franciscan Father Fergus Clarke is guardian of St. John in the Mountains Church, built at the traditional site of John the Baptist's birth, and on Christmas commemorates the Magnificat - the Virgin Mary's extended quote in Luke 1.

"Since we're a very small community," he says, "it's extraordinary that on Christmas Eve our church is full of mostly Jewish people. For example, last year I counted only eight Christians present. Since the church is very small, holding about 110 people seated, when I say it was 'full,' I mean standing room only.

"These Jewish people arrive as early as 11:15 for midnight mass. What is really so edifying is that the Jews, predominately young, stand in complete reverence and silence for almost an hour and half. If you compare it to other churches you wouldn't see such reverence and patience.

"Remember, the mass is celebrated in a foreign language for them, since we celebrate in Italian. The whole ritual is foreign to them, apart from the homily, which is given in English.

"But they come from as far away as Tel Aviv, and many call in advance to be sure they'll be here on time. They come because of some sense of mystery or awe of the divine that comes from the ritual, the music, their memories - transmitted from their parents, perhaps. For us it's a very uplifting ceremony because of their presence and attitude."

Fergus says the Israeli presence contributes to the "peace on earth, goodwill toward men" that Luke says the angels proclaimed at Jesus's birth.

"This year we are having an Israeli choir sing at midnight mass, and two years ago we had a Southern Baptist from Alabama sing a solo," he said.

Protestants maintain no official presence in Bethlehem, although many visit for interdenominational "shepherds' field" services convened by the YMCA in nearby Beit Sahur. Many attend local services in Jerusalem, such as those at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City, or at the Baptist Church near the city center.

Lindell Browning is a Nazarene minister living in Jerusalem. Browning's tradition includes traditional "shepherds' field" services.

"'Shepherds' field' is wherever the shepherds are in Bethlehem; it's not a specific field that we know of. There's no way to know."

Browning says he and friends read the birth narratives together from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, often asking one of the young people to read the account of angels singing "Glory to God in the Highest." They sing carols, pray and share thoughts on the Christmas message.

Browning believes that in Jerusalem there is great stress placed on the angels' declaration to secure peace on earth. "In this area of the world it's something we pray for, something we want to see happen. Isaiah predicted the coming of a man who would be called the prince of peace, and that's our declaration: Christ is the prince of peace for the world."

Among Christians in Jerusalem there is less focus on the commercial aspects of the holiday. "I think there's much less emphasis on shopping and much more interest in people that are less fortunate than us. There were a couple of years when we gave each other smaller gifts and gave gifts to needy families. There were other years on which we made gifts for each other so we could better give to those in need.

"Here too [in Jerusalem] there's much more time because we don't have the Christmas activities that we would in the States. So we get together with friends and share."

For the majority of the Israeli population it is a normal work day.

Some Jerusalem Christians do put up Christmas trees, as the Israeli government provides trees free. A few shops decorate their windows for the holiday, but for the most part, commercialism is subdued and the season is pared back to its devotional origins.

The Armenians, proceeding into Bethlehem on their Christmas Eve, summarize the motive for the march as they sing joyously "Great and Wonderful Mystery." Greek Archbishop Aristochos says Christmas is in memory of the event "by which begins our salvation," while Father Fergus calls for goodwill toward men. The Brownings and friends quietly find a hillside and try to imagine what the shepherds experienced, expressing their devotion in good works.

St. Nicholas would recognize a Jerusalem Christmas.

The real Santa Claus
St. Nicholas was born in Patara, a Greek village (now Turkish) in the late third century. Although it's difficult to distinguish legend from fact, scholars agree on several points about his life.

Nicholas was from a wealthy fishing family and was generous to young people. A story, regarded as accurate in its essence though shrouded in legend, holds that on three different occasions he provided dowries for poor girls, thus saving them from slavery. (Tradition maintains that these dowries, tossed in through a window, were bags of gold that landed on stockings or shoes left near the fire to dry.)

Similar stories tell of Nicholas's generosity in saving people from starvation.

Due to a wealth of popular support, Nicholas was elected bishop of Myra on the coast of modern Turkey in the early fourth century.

About 330 CE he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was there for several weeks, often sleeping in a cave in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church now stands over that cave.

Nicholas died about 350 CE on December 6 - a feast day that was already being celebrated only a few years after his death. Due to the day's proximity to Christmas, as well as his generosity, Nicholas became caught up in the season's lore.

Throughout much of Europe alms were given to the poor on this saint's day, and children were the special recipients of gifts. Medieval French nuns would distribute candies on December 6.

Nicholas began the transformation into Santa Claus mostly by way of German and Dutch immigrants to North America. Germanic St. Niklaas became Sinterklass, and eventually Santa Claus.

Some less desirable aspects of northern European fable may have immigrated as well: His flying reindeer may stem from myths of the Norse god Wodin riding through the sky.

Reformers like Martin Luther tried to stop the metamorphosis, hoping to portray the baby Jesus (Christkindl in German) as the gift giver. Kris Kringle, derived from that German word, is now a synonym for Santa.

Nicholas's image in Dutch-influenced New York changed from pious churchman to elf-like gift bearer. This picture became formalized by a few poems, notably the Christmas favorite "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (now known as "The Night before Christmas") in 1823.

Currently burdened by commercialism, it's hard to envision Santa's prototype, the generous and devout Nicholas, making the dangerous trip to the Holy Land and sleeping in a cave in order to worship at the site of the first Christmas.

East is East and West is West
The early church can be roughly divided into East and West. The Eastern church, later Byzantium and the Eastern Orthodox liturgies, maintained different holidays, traditions and even doctrines than the Western church, which remained bound to Rome and the pope.

Among the points of disagreement was the proper dating of Jesus's birth - Christmas Day.

There is an ancient Jewish tradition that a prophet dies on the day of his conception, and the early church applied this formula to Jesus. Eastern and Western churches, through various and often questionable reasoning, determined respectively that Jesus died on April 6 and March 25. (The Roman Catholic Church still celebrates the latter date as the Annunciation of the Birth.)

Adding nine months of pregnancy to those dates results in a December 25 or January 6 Christmas.

Scholars also hold that the December 25 date was especially appealing to the Western church because it replaced the birthday of Sol Invictus (invincible sun). Romans thought that on that day the sun began its ascent and the days began to lengthen.

The pagan ceremony contained much revelry, drinking and immorality which the early church couldn't condone. Sun worship was outlawed under penalty of death, in the hope that worship of the Son would replace it.

Clearly that did occur, but not without echoes of the pagan traditions surviving. Imbibing and, to a lesser degree, gift-giving and holiday lights are related to the pre-Christian feast.

Still, the Eastern church maintained the January 6 date and combined it with Epiphany, the day of Jesus's baptism.

Eventually, under pressure from the Western church as well as its own clergy's inability to go to both the Jordan River and Bethlehem on the same day, a compromise was reached in the middle of the fifth century. Christmas would be celebrated December 25 and Epiphany on January 6 by both churches. This is simple enough, but when the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian one, the Eastern church in Jerusalem continued using the old calendar. This results in a January 7 Christmas (December 25 plus 13 days).

Armenians refused the compromise, maintaining both the old January 6 date as well as the Julian calendar. Consequently Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 19 (January 6 plus 13 days).

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


In Spite Of The Genocide . . .

Friday, December 22, 2006
The Wall Street Journal
By Serge Sarkisian

YEREVAN, Armenia -- Over the past few months, attention in Europe has focused once again on the genocide of the Armenian people. The debate in the European Parliament over whether Turkey's recognition of the genocide should be a precondition for membership in the European Union, and the French National Assembly's bill criminalizing genocide denial, have put the spotlight on this tragic period of Armenia's history.

I want to look to the future and I hope that Turkey's negotiations for EU membership will provide the long-awaited opportunity for our two countries to establish civilized relations for the benefit of our peoples and the region. Armenia is part of the new European Neighborhood Policy and is seeking closer ties with the EU. As the country with the oldest Christian community in the world, we are a neighbor to Europe, but also to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

Turkish-Armenian relations and the genocide are, of course, important factors that need to be considered during Turkey's negotiations for EU membership. It is important to remember the past to ensure that such crimes against humanity are not repeated. Nevertheless, Armenia has a very straightforward and practical position in terms of future relations with Turkey. We would welcome starting normal diplomatic and other relations -- without preconditions. That includes not tying the establishment of diplomatic relations to recognition of the genocide. More importantly, we want to profit from such diplomatic relations as a means to overcome the issues that burden our relations. We cannot expect solutions to come before we start talking to each other. Solutions will only arise when we work hard for them, starting by establishing an open dialogue.

In addition to building diplomatic ties between our two countries, we believe that in negotiating for membership -- and perhaps as a future EU member state -- Turkey will contribute to an economically stronger and more stable neighborhood. This is in the interest of both Turkey and Armenia. EU membership would also make Turkey much more predictable. It is always easier to deal with a predictable neighbor.

Sadly, in the past Turkey's response to Armenia's desire for normal, diplomatic relations has been to punish and threaten those who have recognized the genocide. The breakthrough promised 15 years ago when Ankara announced its recognition of Armenian independence remains unfulfilled. Turkey refused then to establish diplomatic relations with my country -- and refuses to do so to this day. The result is that our bilateral relations are zero. Worse, Turkey maintains closed borders with Armenia despite growing international pressure and condemnation, throws every effort into isolating landlocked Armenia from international and regional transportation projects and does not play a constructive role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While these policies contradict contemporary principles of international relations and world order, Armenia does not regard Turkey's potential membership in the EU as a threat to national security. Quite the contrary. We hope it will mean that Turkey will change, and be in a better position to face both its history and future.

The entry negotiations hold seeds of hope that the impasse between Turkey and Armenia can eventually be broken. If Turkey lifts the blockade of its border with Armenia, my small country becomes geopolitically closer to Europe. Armenia already shares a common interest with the EU on a large range of issues ranging from regional security to democratic development.

The statehood that both Armenia and Turkey enjoy is not an apartment. You cannot sell it and leave it. Neither Turks nor Armenians will leave the region. The logical solution is to have normal relations with each other. That's what neighbors seek to do in today's world.

I do not say that Armenia should resolve its relations with Ankara at any price. What I do say is that it is ready to regulate its relations with Turkey without any preconditions. Armenia is committed to doing everything it can to find a way to develop bilateral relations, as much as we are seeking close cooperation with the EU. We look forward to the EU becoming increasingly involved in finding a way to a breakthrough for relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Finally, let me make yet one more appeal to Turkey. We cannot be permanent enemies -- and even if we could, there is no need or sense in being such enemies. So for the sake of our future, let us move forward.

Mr. Sarkisian is Armenia's defense minister.

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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Local pianist's student makes 'personal and diplomatic breakthrough'

Times Community Newspaper
By: Susan Anspach

Twenty fingers flew across two sets of facing keyboards against a backdrop of organ pipes that stretched to the ceiling.

In a concert hall in Yerevan, Armenia, an enlarged image of Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness smiled down on the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra's featured piano duo, Martin Berkofsky and Atakan Sari, the first Turkish musician to ever solo with the ensemble.

"There are just a boatful of articles on this coming from Armenia," classical pianist and musicologist Martin Berkofsky said. "The effect and reaction was the greatest reward."

The performance by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, held Nov. 24 in the nation's capital, featured Hovhaness's Symphony No. 50 "Mount St. Helens," Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy," Hovhaness's Magnificat for choir and four soloists and his Concerto for two pianos and orchestra. Seated across from one another at the stools of their interlocking instruments, Berkofsky of Casanova, 65, and 25-year-old Atakan Sari of Izmir played the piece to an audience of thousands in the Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall.

The reception, say the two musicians, was unlike anything else.

"The clapping just went on and on," said Berkofksy. "There were people coming up to me afterwards, telling me that with music, there is no race, no nationality ... (Sari) carried himself off with absolute dignity, making a personal and diplomatic breakthrough of the whole thing."

"It was honoring," said Sari in a recent interview. "It was bringing the music back to its own land, so to speak."

The teacher-student protege pair first recorded the concerto in Moscow in 2003, then performed it there in 2004 in Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, where Armenian diplomats heard the piece and invited the two to play in Yerevan.

"The idea was basically to establish a cultural bridge between these two countries," Sari explained. "It was the best of all performances. I believe the crowds really enjoyed it."

He added, "Some people in Turkey were against me going there. But I feel that one should take risks, and I was talking to Berkofsky every day almost about what we could do with our playing. I didn't have any fear."

Hovhaness, who wrote 67 symphonies before passing away in 2000, gave the Concerto for two pianos to Berkofsky in the 1970s.

"I had tried to put it on with so many other people," said Berkofsky, who noted earlier that he had been waiting for the right kind of person and musician with whom to premiere the piece. "This just happened to be the right set of circumstances. It took me 30 years of broken promises and failed missions to actually perform it."

Berkofsky, who himself had never before played with the Armenian Philharmonic prior to last month, was first introduced to Sari in Turkey by a former student at one of his international master classes. Of the 25 piano pupils who passed through the classes in the six seasons Berkofsky organized them, the student who best embodied the universal ideals Berkofsky embraces was Sari, the musicologist claimed.

"I organized these master classes here with the hope of not just developing young pianists, because frankly, anyone can do that, but of developing young pianists with the right character," he explained.

In 2000, then again in 2001, Berkofsky invited the young musician to play in Warrenton, the site of further classes. Soon afterwards, Sari was accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, from which he graduated with his bachelor's degree last February.

"Berkofsky," said Sari, "was always my favorite pianist. My dad taught me piano from an early age, but didn't want me to continue studies because of this preoccupation he had with the idea that's it's hard to find a job as a pianist unless you are a soloist."

For a brief period, Sari focused more on the viola than the piano.

"But then I heard (Berkofsky's) Franz Liszt recording," he recalled. "I was listening to him over and over again. Eventually he came to Turkey, and I was able to study under him."

Pausing for a moment of reflection upon his own story, he added, "it's pretty amazing, actually."

Sari is currently enrolled in a graduate assitanceship program at Ithaca College in New York, where he plans on earning his master's in music by 2008.

"He's trying to organize a night of all-Armenian music there with the Cornell Orchestra," Berkofsky said with a touch of pride.

A principle reason behind Berkofsky's enthusiasm is his personal interest in Hovhaness's work. A self-proclaimed advocate of the composer, he is currently working toward the construction of the Alan Hovhaness International Research Center in Yerevan, construction of which has already begun. Berkofsky estimates that 10 percent of the requisite funds have been raised so far. There is not yet a projected date of completion for the museum.

"I have this crazy confidence that you can start with nothing and make it happen," said Berkofsky. "But I've always believed in the impossible."

He noted that he's eager to return to Armenia to perform in the near future, as well as track the progress of Sari's own career as a pianist.

"I'm so happy to see he's developing not only as a fine professional musician but also as a fine diplomat that we strive to find in music," he said. "A Turk being applauded in Armenia ... that's unheard of."

E-mail the reporter:

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.


Bush's nominee for envoy to Armenia fails to win Senate approval

21 December 2006

Armenian groups plan to block any ambassador to Yerevan who fails to recognize Armenian genocide.

The U.S. Senate has effectively declined to approve Richard Hoagland, President George W. Bush's pick for ambassador to Yerevan, who has been condemned by U.S. Armenian groups for refusing to characterize last century's Armenian killings in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

This embarrassment for the Bush administration came at a time when the Armenian groups, buoyed by a Democratic victory in last month's congressional elections, are gearing up for a major effort to push for a change in U.S. policy on the genocide issue next year.

The outgoing Congress completed its term in recent days, and the administration's efforts to win Hoagland's confirmation in the Senate failed after a pro-Armenian senator refused to lift his hold on the ambassador-designate.

As a result, the new Senate that will take office when Congress opens on Jan. 4 will have to deal with the problem.

But as nominations that were not approved during the previous legislative term now become defunct, the process to appoint an ambassador to Yerevan will have to restart from scratch.

Bush may re-nominate Hoagland or select a new ambassador-designate.

But in any case, U.S. Armenian leaders have made clear that they and their backers in the Senate are determined to block any "genocide denier" as U.S. envoy to Armenia.

Analysts view the blocking of Hoagland' as a major success for the Armenians.

"Just a few days ago, the Senate returned Dick Hoagland's nomination to the president, marking the refusal of Congress to let an Armenian genocide denier represent America in Yerevan," boasted Ken Hachikian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, a leading U.S. Armenian organization.

The ordeal began in May when Bush fired U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Robert Evans, who qualified the Armenian killings as genocide in violation of Washington's official policy. Armenians blasted the move.

Bush then nominated Hoagland to replace Evans. But the Armenian groups launched a campaign against Hoagland's approval after he declined to endorse the g-word at his confirmation hearing at the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee in June.

The committee approved him in a vote two months later. But then Sen. Robert Menendez, a pro-Armenian New Jersey Democrat, put a hold on Hoagland's nomination.

Under U.S. law, all senior government officials, including ambassadors, must win Senate approval, and any senator can block nominations indefinitely. But such moves are rare because they put dissenting senators under intense pressure.

The State Department had hoped that Menendez would lift his hold after the Nov. 7 congressional elections, but he did not. As a result, Hoagland's nomination was unable to come to a Senate floor vote before Congress closed.

Pro-Armenian lawmakers also are planning to introduce fresh resolutions early next year calling for genocide recognition in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Out of concern for a potential collapse of relations with Turkey, Bush's Republican administration has never classified the Armenian killings as genocide, to the dismay of U.S. Armenians. However, the new Congress' Democratic-led composition and the next House and Senate leaderships are sympathetic to the Armenian cause. In an example, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the November elections that she would support efforts for genocide recognition.

"The Armenian lobby has never been this strong, and they're aware of it," said one analyst here. "On the one hand they will aggressively seek congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide, and on the other they will push for a compromise from the Bush administration on the ambassador issue."

Armenian groups have made it clear that they will press for the passage of at least one genocide recognition resolution in Congress before April 24, designated by U.S. presidents as the day of remembrance of the Armenian killings. Turkish Daily News


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.


Produced by Teens from Three Nations, TV Program Bridges Regional Divides

(December 20, 2006) In the strife-torn region of the Southern Caucasus, an innovative weekly television program gives teenagers a chance to compare life in neighboring countries, even those often called as "the enemy." Jointly produced by teams of teenagers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Kids Crossroads instills the ideas of tolerance and understanding for participants and viewers alike.

This month 16-year-old Levan Jobava and 14-year-old Irakli Tsanava, journalists of Chveni Exspresi (Our Express), the Georgian version of Kids Crossroads, won a prize for their documentary on social issues in their country. The movie features footage of President Mikheil Saakashvili opening new roadways, fancy stadiums and fountains juxtaposed with images of homeless children, beggars, and the poor raiding trash bins and looking for food.

The 10-minute film was awarded second prize at the First South Caucasian documentary film festival “Nakvalevi,” which was held in Tbilisi December 6-8. The movie was shot entirely with borrowed equipment, and Internews Georgia donated the editing facilities.

The Kids Crossroads project teaches young people in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia how to address the issues that matter to them through television. The teens cover topics ranging from conflict resolution and prevention to social inclusion and health issues. Through the medium of television, adolescents can share with their peers across the region the common challenges of growing up.

The most recent audience research conducted by Internews Network indicates that the programs reach up to 20 percent of their target audience weekly, and occupy a unique niche in the media landscape. In each of the three countries television programming dedicated to teenagers is scarce at best, and there is a virtual information blockade between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Launched in 2004, Kids Crossroads is a three-year initiative implemented with financial support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Internews Georgia and UNICEF.

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.


U.S. Voices ‘Solidarity’ With Armenian Rights Defenders

Wednesday 20, December 2006

By Emil Danielyan

A senior U.S. diplomat on Wednesday heaped praise on Armenia’s leading human rights defenders, saying that the United States believes their activities are “critical” for the country’s democratic future.

Anthony Godfrey, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Yerevan, voiced Washington’s strong backing for human rights advocacy at a special lunch with the state Ombudsman Armen Harutiunian and three independent campaigners.

"In Armenia, the United States stands in solidarity with you -- the country's brave men and women who are doing such essential work as supporting a free press, fighting against trafficking in persons, advocating for freedom of religion, and supporting women's rights,” Godfrey told them, according to the U.S. embassy.

“We thank you for your efforts to further Armenia's democratic reforms, and for your dedication to fighting for those people who often don't have a voice,” he said.

The U.S. State Department has described the Armenian authorities’ human rights record as “poor” in its annual reports released in recent years.

A statement by the U.S. embassy said the lunch meeting, apparently the first of its kind, was dedicated to International Human Rights Day that was marked around the world on December 10. Two of its participants, Avetik Ishkhanian and Mikael Danielian, are outspoken critics of the Armenian government that have long accused it of condoning police torture, violations of due process and other human rights abuses.

Ishkhanian, who leads the Armenian Helsinki Committee, said the U.S. and the West in general have done “more than enough” to highlight these problems and press the authorities in Yerevan to tackle them. “The reasons why the situation with human rights in Armenia is disastrous are purely domestic,” he told RFE/RL. “We have only ourselves to blame for that.”

But Danielian disagreed, saying that Western powers “could and should have done more” to bring Yerevan to task. “I expect tougher action from them,” said the chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Assembly.

Interestingly, the meeting at the U.S. mission in Armenia coincided with the professional holiday of the employees of the National Security Service (NSS), the Armenian successor to the Soviet KGB. It marks the establishment on December 20, 1917 of the VChK, Bolshevik Russia’s infamous secret police which historians blame for the deaths of millions of people. The agency changed several names before becoming the KGB in 1954.

President Robert Kocharian, who reinstated the Soviet-era holiday after coming to power in 1998, used the occasion to award medals to the entire leadership of the NSS. Among the 17 decorated officers were the agency’s director, Gorik Hakobian, and the head of a hitherto unknown NSS directorate tasked with protecting “constitutional order” and combating terrorism. Kocharian’s office said they were decorated for their “considerable contribution” to Armenia’s national security.

Ishkhanian scoffed at the official explanation, saying that the ex-KGB’s main function is to help the Kocharian administration stifle dissent and hold on to power. “This ceremony only testified to the deplorable state of human rights protection in Armenia,” he charged.

In a rare newspaper interview given two years ago, Hakobian said his agency is learning and drawing inspiration from the “glorious” experience of its Soviet predecessor. He also described former KGB informers as “patriots” who honestly served their country.

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


New York Life Likely to Pay Compensations to Genocide Heirs till Yearend


YEREVAN (YERKIR) - Those who appealed to New York Life insurance company for compensations will to all appearance receive the sums till the New Year, Armenian Insurance Settlement Fund Executive Director Barsegh Takhtalyan told RFE/RL.

New York Life agreed to pay off compensations to the heirs of the Armenians who insured their lives and later fell victims of the Armenian Genocide. Bank transfers will be made via the Armenian Insurance Settlement Fund.

Lawyer Vadrez Yeghiayan, who represents the interests of the Genocide heirs, said in mid November the company launched payments and all plaintiffs will receive a corresponding notice. However notices have not been received so far. Barsegh Takhtalyan assured that the terms were calculated wrongly but the funds have been already transferred to a corresponding Armenian bank and in the near future the letters will reach the addressees.

Some $3.6 million will be transferred to Armenia. These funds will be distributed among 1254 plaintiffs. $ 2,7 million for 896 plaintiffs was allocated in the United States. The total sum makes $7 million 954 thousand and will be circulated among Armenians from 26 countries. The rest $3 million the lawyers will transfer to charitable organizations, reported 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.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Film Review - 4th London Kurdish Film Festival

By Kameel Ahmady

4th Kurdish Film Festival

The 4th London Kurdish film festival, which took place 8th-11th December, was a significant event for members of Kurdish diaspora community, their Kurdish homeland, and for the general film-going public in the UK. This review contains views and critiques from participants at the festival as well as the film makers and members of non-Kurdish community and the author whose opinions were asked to shape this report.

Kurdistan is a land that does not exist on any maps, but remains important in the lives of many nonetheless. As for the Kurdish cinema, it is still a nascent entity, which tries to represent a culture and a place which Kurds wish to call Kurdistan.

In this global world communication is considered an important means of cross-cultural exchange, and communicating ideas through the medium of film is a vital tool in cultural exchange. While film and visual representation has always been used as one of the driving vehicles to reflect our life and the world we live in, in the face of this Kurdish films and cinema have managed in many instances to maintain this very important goal.

Opening night of the 4th Kurdish Film Festival
In the last few years with the works of prominent and successful Kurdish directors, Kurdish traditions, beliefs and identity, a rich and diverse heritage in the region of Mesopotamia, has been shown to the wider world. The focus on artistic and cultural production is a much needed antidote to the singularly political representation of Kurdish issues which predominates. Democracy and human rights are not only about representational government, the right to vote and equality for all minorities; they are also about the freedom in which to develop a vibrant civil society and cultural infrastructure in which artists, educators, and regular citizens take part and dissent. While politics often speaks a language of power struggles and exclusionary policies, cinema, theatre and the visual arts speaks in a language of human emotions. This is both more experimental and more inclusive. Politically elite versions of reality lack this dimension of participation, but artistic interpretations of reality are all equally valid and open to question. Although Kurdish films and cinema are still very political, there have been successful steps towards breaking away from this politically influenced focus, turning more towards aesthetics, and contemporary social issues as well.

Some of the feature films on show at this year’s festival included works by prominent Kurdish directors, such as Half Moon by Bahman Ghobadi, and Kilometre Zero by Hinar Saleem. However, a fairly new director on the scene, Jay Jonroy, with his film David and Layla, proved to be the true the highlight of the festival. Young filmmakers also were truly the stars of this festival. The festival opened with Half Moon, whose director Ghobadi was sadly absent from the festival because he refused to give finger prints to the British authorities to obtain visa to travel to the UK. His refusal and his reason to travel were well supported by the Kurdish community and for sure he should be praised if he in fact missed the festival for this reason only.

Ghobadi’s films are well known across the world, although his sale records and the market size of the his audience are still small, mostly among non-Kurdish people with a particular interest in the Middle East, and social justice issues such as poverty and children’s conditions. He is truly self-made film-maker, who comes from an ordinary background in Iranian Kurdistan. Ghobadi’s work began with children through some short films he made before he moved on to shooting features.

Ghobadi’s past films normally try to portray the conditions of life for ordinary people mostly across border areas between Iran and Iraq. While his films do talk about underdevelopment of the area and questioning borders as artificial boundaries, he uses children or old people as his prime actors. Previously he has been widely criticised by film critics and intellectuals for the way he works with children and the ethics of his approach have been on the firing line. Most are concerned about his work with children and the profound affect and changes his films may make on children’s mental states and their lives after films’ ends. Many believe and speaking from experience that all the support and help which withdrawn after a film project ends makes it extremely difficult to the those children to re-enter their child’s world, which was invaded by such films for a few months, deforming their lives forever.

In Half Moon Mamo, an aging renowned musician has been granted permission to give a concert in Iraqi Kurdistan. His faithful friend Kako will drive a school bus and help collect Mamo's ten musical sons from all over Iranian Kurdistan. The old Kurdish musician has waited 35 years for the chance to perform again in Iraqi Kurdistan and ignores his son's premonition that something awful awaits him before the next full moon. On the other hand, he also has to persuade Hesho, a female singer who lives in a mountain retreat with 1,334 other exiled female singers, to go with them. Given that women are forbidden to sing in front of men in public in Iran, Hesho must be carefully concealed in the bus. The journey of Mamo and his musical group is not without difficulties, but Mamo's persistence guides everyone towards adventure, emotion and magic.

Half Moon by Bahman Ghobadi
This work, like most of his, has particular interest on the significance of borders and border crossing by Kurds on either side of the borders within Iran, Iraq and this time even further more in Turkey’s borders, where Mamo has friends which he hasn’t seem for years. Its clever approach to the conditions of women and the effects of religion on music and art in Iran came through nicely in jokes about modernity, including chats about world famous artists, the uses of laptops to connect to the internet via wireless on the highlands of Kurdistan. What this beautiful film is lacking is understanding and details of the areas he trys to connect to one another. Although the movie is shot in the style of a typical road movie, with images of the bus driving across different regions of Kurdistan in Iran and tiny bits in Iraqi Kurdish villages in Hawraman, as well as his friend’s village inside of Turkey’s Kurdistan, it for example overlooks explanation of the significant of Hawraman in particular. Pir-e Shalyar, which is regarded as one of most important and secret places in the heart of the Hawrami people. There are shots there of the ritual dance of the Sufis outside of the Pir-e Shalyar's house and the camera travels inside the house where Mamo kisses the imaginary hand of the Pir. What the film dose not introduce is the significant of this secret place and the importance of the ‘’Mythra’’ festival which takes place in the second month of the spring. While the time of the film seems not to match with the ceremony, this section of the movie looks like its been shot in such a way as to show only the exotic images of the Sufis dancing, singing religious songs in Hawrami dialects. Although these images are undoubtedly beautiful and give a rare glimpse into a forgotten world, to do so without contextualisation is a shortcoming. Most of Hawraman and its unique historical and religious significance have yet to be examined and discovered and written about by anthropologists; such films as Ghobadi’s therefore should not give profound and rich visual aspects of the pir-e Shalyar which only contributes to the viewers misunderstanding such local and religious phenomena. If there was such intention to film this part it should have been handled with greater care and open interaction of the place, however limited. It would have also benefited the film greatly and added to its depth and credibility if a historian or anthropologist were consulted. The other aspect of this movie and its short coming is lack of respect for regional cultures and dialects where the movie was shot, such as Hawaman and the borders between Turkey and Iran where dialects other than Sorani are spoken, but which failed to surface in the film. On the other hand, Hinar Saleem’s film Kilometre Zero, with its segments shot in Garmyan and Badinan, beautifully captured this diversity.

Kilometre Zero by Hinar Saleem
Kilometre Zero referred to Iraq, 1988, where a young husband and father Ako is forced to join Saddam Hussein's army. The unwilling soldier dreams of fleeing the country, but his wife Selma refuses to leave while her old bedridden father is still alive. Ako is sent away to the frontline of the Iran-Iraq War, where he experiences not only the reality of war, but also abuse due to his Kurdish background. The desperate man considers drastic measures for a fast ticket home. Ako thinks it's his lucky day when he receives orders to escort the return of a fellow soldier's corpse to his family. But his driver turns out to be an anti-Kurd Arab. With flag-wrapped coffin in tow, the mismatched duo prepares for an unexpected voyage across the majestic Iraqi landscape. Ako won't miss his chance to trick the driver into heading north toward the Kurdistan region where he and his family were bombed by saddam but some how they will make to Europe and become refuges in France.

Hinar Saleem now resides in France, having made the very successful film Vodka Lemon , a beautifully done film which brought him a lot fame and publicity. It depicted the lives of Yezidi Kurds in a remote, snow covered village of former Soviet Republic, and the inhabitants social lives and ties to migrants in Europe. For sure Kilometre Zero was shot better in terms of technical aspects, however it seemed the film was rushed through to serve the situation of the region, with Iraq being a sexy topic at the time of release, and was adjusted to cash in on customers who were hungry for images from Iraq and the political situation of Iraq at war. It seemed somehow politically staged to attract the world’s attention about Iraq and the recent events which brought Iraq in the centre of world attention and media coverage. It can be said the film was trying to address the Kurdish suffering under rule of Saddam Hussein, and talking about the more secular Kurdish tradition as opposed to a more conservative and religious Arab south (Basra). However these regions also paid a heavy price at the same time as the Kurds, because there were opponents to the regime who were Shi’ite Muslims. While most films about Iraq deal with Saddam’s time and post Saddam is highly interesting to the world, viewers by what going on Iraq today, one can say such films may leave bad feelings among many Arabs and anti-war supporters across the world. It also undermines the Iraqi Arabs who continue to die in their hundreds per day after US led coalition intervened in Iraq. Such films do not serve the Kurdish political benefit if it’s only aim is to bring to light the pain and sorrow of the people who suffered under dictator Saddam’s Ba’ath party. The film ends when his two main characters, after hearing of the fall of Saddam’s regime in their Paris flat, open the window and shout through the sky of Paris, “we are FREE”, a line that probably many will disagree with, seeing the daily carnage continue on their TV screen every day. Taking questions after the film, Saleem came across as dismissive and disinterested in most of the questions put to him by the Kurdish audience, constantly making jokes and putting the questions back to them. At one point Saleem expressed his disbelief of Kurdish people and lack their understanding about art and film, and criticising them as not capable of understanding his work. He said his films are designed to target the mainstream and not the Kurds, who would not want his film even for free. While Saleem needs to work on his public image and be more open to criticism, it should not be forgotten that his current success may come down to him because of being a Kurd in the first place.

The festival also showcased a series of short movies, which were made by young Kurds mostly from Europe and in diaspora, which were truly the forefront and success of this year’s film festival. There were a number of very good and well thought through documentaries and short films, some of them made by young women, which were the most successful films of the festival. Young men and women who were mostly brought up in diaspora told many beautifully chosen stories, which mostly related to daily life for individual viewers at the cinema. Such directors may very well be the future of modern Kurdish cinema in some years to come.

Another exciting addition was the viewing of the first ever Kurdish film, dating to 1926. Shot in Armenia, this silent film by Hamo Beknazaryan was truly the greatest importance of all films at the festival from the point of view of heritage preservation and ethnographic archives of Kurdish life in previous decades. It was beautifully directed silent film in three episodes which gave priceless features of typical Kurdish life which were amazingly similar to what you might still come across in some villages in Kurdistan. Weddings, women, food, dance, Aghas and the role of the state was very well played to the extent that most Kurdish tales and stories of this time are shaped from a run away bride whose honour was questioned by her husband’s family, followed by a dual over women between the poor boyfriend and rich Lord . However the down side of the this film was not about the film itself, it was about the way it was screened and fed to the audience. The film easily could have been subtitled from Russian into Kurdish, so as to make it more accessible to the audience, as there was not much text or conversations in the movie although it was said they received the film late. At the same time a debate should have been held as part of the festival which might have included anthropologists or ethnographers and film experts or historians that could have contributed to analysis of the film; such as a panel of experts to discuses the film. As the film was in three parts, by mistake part three was projected before part two which added to the complication of misunderstanding such a rich and valuable historical Kurdish film. It was a great shame that this very important part of the visual history of Kurdistan was handled with no care and very little attention was given to its importance to Kurds and to the Kurdish people numbering many millions, whose history is truly lacking due to the non-representation of their culture and history as written or documented throughout centuries. While Kurdish as a written language is not very old at all, other aspect of the culture of Kurdistan, such as music, costume, and religion, so that such an important film should have been treated as a treasure for Kurdish people.

Organisers of the festival unfailingly did a superb job running this event, days and weeks of work was put in by limited numbers of people for it all to happen, and the community has to be grateful and thankful for the great work they have done year after year. However the way LKFF was handled it was evident that it was lacking for misorganization and was more clear as no analytical or proper presentation of the movies was giving by the LKKF organisers before the start and end of each movie. In addition, during the question and answer events with various directors, there was a lack of proper management with people whose language and communication skills were not sufficient and who did not encourage the audience to participate fully, and it seemed it did not handled the whole team of MC. As the London Kurdish Film Festival grows bigger every year, the organisation will become more demanding and harder work; it appeared this year’s event, which is a big project as whole, was rushed through, to the detriment of the presentation of some fantastic films which were a rare opportunity to view.

The festival closed with American production David and Layla, a phenomenal film inspired by a true love story. Married since 1990, the real David & Layla now live in Paris. The film centres on the following premise: the sparks that fly when a Jew and a Muslim fall in love in New York! This heart-felt, romantic comedy s reminiscent of the worldwide hit MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. But David & Layla offers unexpected insight and a lot more spice reflecting today’s political world as our Romeo and Juliet (David and Layla, also was referred to Layla and Majnaon-in Kurdish) attempt to shake off the. baggage of their families' deep rooted prejudices. Sparks fly when David, a Jewish American TV sex and spice host in New York, falls in love with the sensual and mysterious Layla, a Muslim Kurdish immigrant from Iraqi Kurdistan. About to be deported, Layla is forced to choose marriage between the Kurdish Dr. Ahmad or the Jewish David? Despite, David's mad pursuit of Layla, which sets off a playful veiling and unveiling of the similarities (and contrasts!) of their ancient cultures, both families are dead set against this unlikely romance. David who is sexually frustrated with his Jewish girlfriend, and after their break up layla a wife to be does not want to have sex with him until their wedding night, he also has a gay brother who finds a Kurdish gay man at their wedding ceremony. This film is a big, light hearted taboo breaker, with gay issues and things of this nature hardly put in to the public domain through conventional Kurdish films, which also contains repeated remarks about drink, food (Halal and Kosher), regional politics of the Kurds and other issues which normally other Kurdish directors are trying to keep their distance from.

David & Layla Director Jalal Jonroy discussing the film with some of the audience
This film even by most mainstream standards, was sexually explicit and an open-minded work, although not so much visually but there were constant remarks about sex and at times a sense of sexual tension. The very interesting thing about this film, it can be said it was truly the only Kurdish film which made you constantly laugh; that is something you would not do normally watching a typical Kurdish move. The other and most significant part of this move was how the director was trying to break the sex taboo within the traditional and culturally Muslim society by directly telling and visually representing sexual acts and teasing the Kurdish audiences, something that some viewers were not comfortable with, and expressed their unhappiness after the movie at the time of the question and answer. But the film tried to address cultural and religious point to the greater world audience, something that Jonroy himself said. The film made direct reference to religion and somehow give quite Islamic and conservative religious image of Kurds to Islam, but also tries to represent some aspect of the Kurdish culture as similar to that of Arabs, by featuring all kind of ways to connect Kurds with popular Islamic culture. Again something that most viewers after the end of the movie did not agree with, even in point some individual started swearing at the director as to why he is making very open and explicit remark to sexuality. It would have been interesting to see if such reactions would have been different if gender roles were reversed and David was Kurdish and Layla Jewish; some wondered it would not made so much sensitivity within the Kurdish male population as then the pure image of Kurdish women would have not been questioned.

However there is a worry if David and Layla can be understood in a Middle Eastern context and in particular in Kurdistan for its unique and open expression of sex, at the same time it is a shame that such a good quality film for sure will be censored and even banned from showing in many Arab countries as well as in Turkey, Iran and Syria for its direct remark on regional politics, such as the Armenian genocide and politically sensitive Kirkuk as well as Palestinians and Jews.

As this review comes to its end it would be fair to say the best movie and winner of this year’s 4th Kurdish Film Festival has to be David and Layla. Not only for its superb direction and light hearted approach to introducing important political issues in an unorthodox and controversial way – which all good art should accomplish – but also for its rich portrayal of the beauty and benefit that comes of multiculturalism at the human level, that is, when people fall into relationships with those from different backgrounds and break down cultural barriers through love and laughter. This is no doubt a theme which man in multicultural Britain can personally relate to.

Kurdish filmmakers should not try to expose so much the importance and beauty of Kurdish life, history, but show fair and ethical images of this unique visual presentation of this hidden culture which has not had the opportunities to flourish. Rather than focussing only on the tragic past of the Kurds and getting bogged down in political issues, Kurdish directors must also be encouraged to express themselves on purely artistic levels. Equally, they should not only look to represent exotic and sometimes inaccurate images of very traditional Kurdish life. Such repeated action by Kurdish directors will endanger and misinterpret the rich cultural history, a culture which is yet to be researched and written about extensively. And while so much prejudice faces the Middle East, directors as socially embedded artists should very well face this challenge. But Kurdistan today is not only about traditional culture, and as it rests on the brink of massive developments, Kurdistan has been highlighted on the international stage as its films and filmmakers make headway on the artistic front through the international festival circuit. Mesopotamia is considered is one of the most beautiful lands in the world, with great civilisations and culture, dance, sex, spice all contributing in some way to modern cultures of Europe and the Middle East.

Projects such as the London Kurdish Film Festival are important to broadening dialogue because they address human realities, while also portraying particular aspects of Kurdish existence. They speak to humanity, not only the Kurds. When well-known filmmakers travel the globe presenting their films at festivals in Europe, North America and Asia, they invite diverse audiences to learn about the Kurdish people. Those with no prior knowledge of the Kurds will see the unique aspects of the culture and history, as well as shared universals. The London Kurdish Film Festival achieves the same at the local level, by allowing this opportunity to Londoners from all cultures, faiths and heritages. Many people will first be exposed to such things through the universal phenomenon of the arts.

As contributions to the world of cinema by Kurdish directors expand each year, presenting an image of contemporary Kurdistan and its people, Kurds themselves are also given an opportunity for reflection in the ways they see themselves portrayed. New or previously taboo topics can be tackled by audiences and filmmakers alike. In this context, it is vital for Kurdish women and female directors to address and expose the treatment of gender and the unequal situation of woman in their work. This can open up further dialogue and help to bring social change.

It is to be hoped that next year Kurds in London will hold the 5th Kurdish Film Festival and build on the efforts and continue to improve, with greater films, greater aims and greater hope for a peaceful solution for the people and the land of Kurdistan. In the meantime, art and the history it can bring to light plays an important part in helping us to integrate these aims into the wider society.

Kameel Ahamdy at the Film Festival
Kameel Ahmady is visual anthropologist who has written number of film reviews ( ) and research dealing with themes of gender, diaspora, multiculturalism and modernity in the Middle East and Europe.

Kameel maintains a website at:

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.


Exhibition on Armenian Khachkars Will be Held in All European capitals


/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The exhibition devoted to the Armenian cemetery in Old Djugha (Nakhichevan) will be exhibited in all European capitals, said Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in Yerevan. He also added that PACE Monitoring Group on protection of cultural values will visit our region in 2007.

“Azerbaijan put forward conditions: if the group wants to visit Nakhichevan it must also visit Nagorno Karabakh, since, as Baku says, there are cultural monuments in Karabakh, which have been destroyed by the Armenians. But the neighboring country evades the fact that distructions in Nagorno Karabakh are the result of war. At the same time the distruction of the Armenian cemetery in Nakhichevan is the policy of Azeri authorities,” Oskanian stressed.

! 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.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

EU Could Use Armenian Genocide Against Turkey


By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels
Monday, December 18, 2006

Intensified efforts to make Turkey recognize an Armenian genocide during World War I have fallen on the European Union and Turkey’s membership process.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation says Turkey should be made to recognize the genocide before it can become an EU member.

Kiro Manoyan, the director of the organization, said the EU had used Greece and Cyprus against Turkey and the time for Armenia would come as well.

According to the PanArmenian agency, Manoyan said the Armenian issue would eventually become an instrument for the European Union and urged all Armenians to be ready for such a development.

The genocide issue and the Armenian lobby have a significant impact on some EU countries. France and Holland, two countries seemingly against Turkey in the EU, have made the matter an internal one.

A bill making it a crime to deny the existence of an Armenian genocide passed in the French parliament on Oct. 12. The bill awaits approval from the Senate and President Jacques Chirac, through probably will not pass.

On Oct. 22, three Turkish electoral candidates in Holland were removed from their party lists for denying the genocide.

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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