Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Turkey intensifies counter-attack against genocide claims

Today's Zaman
Turkey finally, as the article below states, is realizing that threats to USA, a sovereign country, are counter productive. It is surprising that Turkey just put a booklet together explaining its defense against recognizing the genocide. What was Turkey doing while 26 countries passed resolutions recognizing the genocide? If Turkey did not present those countries with their defense then it sourly was remiss in its duty. If it did provide the information but in a file, and now is putting the information together in a booklet as the novel idea that hit Akgül recently as stated in this article, then it is kind of an insult to the members of the USA Congress.
As the US House of Representatives sets to hear on the Armenian genocide resolution, the Turkish Parliament has published booklets to be sent to US congressmen containing documents that invalidate genocide claims.

An initiative of the Turkish Parliament's Office of the Speaker, the booklets will first be distributed to 550 members of the US Congress. Printed in Turkish, English, German, Italian and French, the booklets will also be sent to legislators of other countries.

Having decided to send three separate parliamentary delegations to the US for lobbying against the Armenian genocide resolution, to be discussed in the House of Representative in April, the Turkish parliament has sponsored the preparation of a booklet instead of a comprehensive book so that it be can easily read.

Published under the guidance of Egemen Bağış, chairman of the Turkish-American Interparliamentary Friendship Group, and Professor Aziz Akgül, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakır deputy, the evidentiary documents were obtained from the Turkish History Institute.

The first four pages state the historic events between 1915 and 1918 cannot be considered as genocide while 14 pages contain documents refuting Armenian genocide claims.

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

Arguing that the resolution will not be accepted in the House of Representatives, Bağış said, "In my opinion, the bill will not pass. I don't think the US will make such a big mistake. Common sense will eventually rule. The US will not be trapped by the Armenian diaspora."

The US administration has opposed previous attempts by members of Congress to pass resolutions recognizing the killings of Armenians as an organized genocide. But US President George Bush will have to persuade the new Democrat-controlled Congress, which does not need presidential approval for such a resolution. The resolution was introduced on Jan. 30 at the US Congress, and currently has 170 co-sponsors.

Akgül noted that the idea of publishing a booklet against the Armenian claims came at his meetings with some of the US congressmen. He said, "During the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and OECD meetings, I was with two US representatives. In connection with the bill, they confessed that virtually all representatives did not have even the simplest historic facts concerning the issue."

Meanwhile, a six-person Turkish parliamentary delegation carried on meetings at the US House of Representatives. The delegation, which consists of four members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and two deputies from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had meetings with six representatives from both the Democratic and the Republican parties in Congress.

In delegation talks, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza reiterated the US administration's opposition to the resolution.

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

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The Armenian nation is celebrating a mournful day – the Day of the memory of the victims of the Armenian pogroms in Soumgait.

February 26-29, 1988 the Azeri nationalists’ disorderly crowds were committing outrages in the Soumgait streets. Their goal was to destroy the town’s Armenian population. The facts that the lists of the flats, where Armenians lived, were made beforehand, the telephones were turned off in the Armenians’ houses and the weapons were prepared testify that the action on the Armenians’ destruction was carefully elaborated. Armed with knifes and traditional axes, the Azeri pogrom-makers burst into the Armenians’ flats. They spared neither children, nor old people and women. The Armenians could not give an effective rebuff. How could they resist numerous groups of bandits? During three days of pogroms the Azeri authorities did nothing to save the Armenian population, which also testifies to the fact that they were implicated in the crime. Tens of people were killed and hundreds were injured as a result of the pogroms. Thousands of people, who were saved by a miracle, became refugees, leaving their homes forever. The pogroms in Soumgait initiated the process of the Armenians’ physical liquidation from Azerbaijan.

The pogrom’s culprits have not been punished and the international community has not given a proper appreciation of the events. ‘’The memory of the Victims of violence in Soumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, Nakhijevan obliges us to strive for the punishment of both the atrocities’ immediate participants and the Republic of Azerbaijan – a state, which propagates, cultivates violence and misanthropy’’, the Network of the Civil Society ‘’Refugees and international Law’’ statement made in connection with the 19th Anniversary of the pogroms in Soumgait runs. In its turn, the NGO of the NKR Refugees in its address notes, ‘’the condemnation of the fact of the Armenian Genocide by the civilized world will prevent the continuation of such atrocities in future and will make Azerbaijan repent, reconsider its policy towards Armenians’’. The Russia’s Armenians also urged the international community to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Today a procession devoted to the memory of the victims of the Armenian pogroms in Soumgait will be held in Yerevan. The participants will walk from the Sport and Concert Complex after Karen Demirchyan to the Memorial of the Armenian Genocide’s victims – Tsitsernakaberd, where they will lay flowers and wreaths. The measures, including round tables and press conferences, arranged for the tragic date will be held in the capital city of Armenia.

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


Armenian Genocide Resolution: Turkey's Chutzpah

Posted GMT 2-28-2007
The Jewish Press
By: Editorial Board

We are certainly not insensitive to the significance of Turkey's support of Israel. But the Turkish government's attempt to capitalize on that support by pressing the American Jewish community to oppose a Congressional resolution that condemns as "genocide" Turkey's murder of a million and a half Armenians during World War I strikes us as being the height of chutzpah.

As The New York Sun reported, on February 5 the Turkish foreign minister met with representatives of several major Jewish groups and "made a hard sell" against House Resolution 106, which now has 176 co-sponsors. The Turkish official reportedly appealed to the participants by noting -- outrageously, we think -- the uniqueness of the German genocide against the Jews. The Turks do not deny that between 1915 and 1917 they conducted a devastating military campaign against the Armenians and that thousands of Armenians were killed on forced marches. They claim, however, that the hapless Armenians were a fifth column, often armed and working on behalf of the Russian army in World War I.

But the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, Henry Morgenthau, wrote in his memoir, "I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this." The orders for the deportations of the Armenian families in 1915 "were merely giving a death warrant to a whole race," he wrote.

Anyone who seriously and objectively considers those events cannot but conclude that there was a calculated and purposeful effort to exterminate the Armenians. After all, approximately 1.5 million perished.

That said, we understand that opposition to House Resolution 106 does not necessarily signify lack of sympathy with the victims, or, indeed, sentiment against the concept itself. Not buying into an initiative on someone else's schedule is not always an indicator of nefarious motives at play.

We also have no doubt that some would argue the Jewish community should oppose the resolution if only to preserve the aura of uniqueness surrounding the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust. And this, perhaps, was the point the Turkish foreign minister was trying to make in his presentation to Jewish leaders.

But acknowledging as genocide the systematic murder of a million and a half human beings of a particular ethnic heritage in no way detracts from recognition of the Holocaust as a uniquely monumental evil in the blood-soaked annals of human history.

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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Khodjalu (Khojaly) was consequence of political disagreement in Azerbaijan


I was in charge of the Askeran direction of the front line and I state that a corridor was provided for the peaceful population of Khodjalu which was guarded by both the Armenian force and armed Azerbaijanis. It was a railroad, the shortest and safest way to Agdam. We had announced beforehand for a several times that the way would be open, said Lieutenant-General Vitaly Balasanyan, former deputy minister of defense of NKR, in an interview with the

“The Khodjalu authorities were to take people through the corridor. However, the people were left to choose their way themselves. Some of them died of cold, but most of them were shot by the Azerbaijanis waiting for them near Agdam. Now photos of people who died at that time are exposed who are reported to have been killed by Armenians. I personally guarded the corridor and I can state that these people were killed by Azerbaijanis. At that time, it was favorable for certain people who were trying to come to power in Baku. Immediately after Khodjalu they accused the Popular Front, now they are accusing the Armenians. At that time the Azerbaijani soldiers and we gathered the bodies and returned to the Azerbaijanis. Those who were there at that time should display courage and tell the truth to stop poisoning the generation with hatred,” Vitaly Balasanyan said.

“I personally returned about 100 people to the commander of the Agdam brigade Allaverdi Mashirov, referred to as “Godja Gartal”. Allaverdi is not alive but his soldiers are alive who witnessed all. Let the people of Khadjalu remember how we took them to the border. I also want to remind how the mayor of Khodjalu Elman Mamedov got to Agdam. His family was in Agdam, he got there through the same railroad. Why is he lying to his own people? At that time there were 735 guns in Khodjalu, and Mamedov had to organize the defense of his people. However, the person who held people in the captured village till the last minute but ran away the first, whereas the Azerbaijanis accuse Armenians of everything. I am ready to meet with E. Mamedov and discuss all these questions,” Valery Balasanyan said.

Recalling those hard times, the general told that during the movement of Artsakh Khodjalu was turned into a den of bandits by the Azerbaijanis. In a few years the village was built up and Turk-Meskhetis settled here. The men were armed. “Day by day the threat from Khodjalu grew. Soon attacks on the road began – they threw stones at the cars, stopped the cars and beat people. The events in Khodjalu, Lesno, Karagava, Khodjavend and other Azerbaijani areas in 1988-1990 were directed by Baku.

The Armenian authorities organized a number of meetings with the Azerbaijani authorities, agreement was reached to stop attacks on civilians. However, the Azerbaijanis did not stop. On February 22, 1988 the Azerbaijani insurgents moved from Agdam towards Armenian Askeran, armed with anything they had. The roads connecting Stepanakert with some villages were blocked. It was already necessary to neutralize Khodjalu,” says the general.

Khodjalu, as well as many other villages in Karabakh, had originally been settled by Armenians. The Armenian population left these villages as a result of the Azerbaijani policy. The Armenian fortress or Askeran and the small village of Khodjalu did not let the Azerbaijanis capture Shushi early in the past century. This made the Baku authorities to settle the areas around Shushi with Azerbaijanis and create a chain of Azerbaijani villages around the capital of Karabakh – Khodjalu, Malibeklu, Djanhasan, Kiosalar, Molanlar, Alimadatli, Aliagha in the right, Avdal and Gyulaplu in the south. Those were far-reaching plans to capture Karabakh in a peaceful demographic way, because all the violent attempts to get hold of the country had failed.

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, February 27, 2007

Can Srebrenica ruling benefit Turkey on Armenian issue?

Today's Zaman
The article below states that Armenians are accusing the Turkish state of the genocide of Armenians. Nothing is further from the truth. Armenians are accusing Turkey of denying the genocide committed by the predecessor Ottoman Empire. So if Turkey goes to the ICJ it will defend its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire. I think this is a very strange situation. As the article here says "There is no logical reason why a new republican administration, established in October 1923 in an act of revolutionary defiance of Ottoman power, should consider itself responsible for things done under the previous regime.

In fact, when the nationalist movement was founded in 1919, the climate of revulsion over the sufferings of the Armenians was so general that even the neo-nationalists were keen to distinguish themselves from the CUP.

Some see significance in the fact that the nationalist movement chose to rally round an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, who had never been anywhere near the places where the Armenians met their fate.". Soon after that time, Turkey embarked on a course of denial which now has become an act of faith by politicians in Turkey. However in the face of the recent resurgence of genocides Turkey has now the moral obligation to correct this oversight.
The acquittal of Serbia on a charge of genocide was not easy for Turkey, while it was unacceptable for the Bosnians who were direct subjects of the worst massacre on European soil since World War II. However, the judgment is still considered an important landmark in international law.

The ruling of the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) is significant for it confirmed that a genocide had taken place in Srebrenica and also that Serbia had the power to foresee and prevent the slaughter, but had failed to use it. Moreover, the judges found that Serbia failed to comply with its obligations to punish those who carried out the genocide. All in all, however imperfect Monday's decision was, it might serve to clarify the definition of genocide and the responsibility of states to prevent it in terms of international law, which is very important for Turkey, a target of claims that mass deportation of Armenians in 1915 at the hands of the Ottomans was tantamount to genocide.

The decision also came at a time when the Turkish Foreign Ministry is considering taking the case to the Court of International Justice, and put an end to Armenian allegations.

Analysts underline that the law of the ICJ, founded in 1945, might not prosecute crimes committed before 1948, when the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the UN General Assembly. Most say that although an acquittal decision might be positive, ideally, the decision of an international judicial body should not recognize the deportation as genocide. In a way, it remains unclear whether the court ruling on Srebrenica is encouraging or discouraging for Turkey to take the case to the Hague.

For Professor Hüseyin Pazarcı from Ankara University's Political Science Department, the author of international law textbooks that prepare Turkey's future diplomats, it is hard to say whether the decision was good or bad for Serbia. However, he believes that any application to the ICJ regarding the Armenian genocide claims would fall out of the scope of the 1948 UN convention on genocide, the document which was the basis for the Srebrenica ruling.

"Normally, at least initially, on the principle of the non-retroactive application of laws, Turkey's case is outside the scope of the 1948 convention," Pazarcı explained, since the incidents resulting in genocide claims happened in 1915.

Some experts, including political analyst Professor Hüseyin Bağcı from Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) Department of International Relations, said that the court ruling that what happened in Srebrenica was genocide without holding Serbia directly responsible could signal that in the event Turkey's case were taken to the ICJ, the outcome could be similar in terms of not attaching any retroactive political or financial responsibility to Turkey.

Retired Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem, who currently heads the Crimes against Humanity Department of the Eurasian Research Center (ASAM), is also of the same opinion. In an interview with the ANKA news agency, Lütem said the Armenians pursued putting the blame on Turkey, insisting that Turkey was the successor of the Ottoman government. "However, this ruling accuses the individuals involved, rather than the state. This might mean that it has the potential to serve our interest," Lütem said, adding that the case was likely to set up an example ruling for future similar cases.

All experts emphasize that there is always the possibility of the ICJ refusing to hear the Armenian genocide, since incidents before 1948 fall outside its scope.

"Normally, it shouldn't be taking up such a suit," Lütem said. However, Lütem expressed that a decision to acquit Turkey of a genocide, but recognizing the forced deportation of Armenians at the hands of Ottomans in 1915 could create a backlash.

"The legal statements should express that forced deportation was essentially not genocide," he explained. In order to explain his interpretation that the ruling does and cannot have any significance on Turkey's Armenian question, Sabah columnist Erdal Şafak points out to two crucial points in how the ICJ works. He notes, in contentious cases, the ICJ produces a binding ruling between states that agree to submit to the ruling of the court. In other words, Turkey would need consent of the other party, Armenia, to apply. If the court, based on the 1948 convention, rules that the application is valid, then the party where the genocide claims originate has to document concrete proof of systemic, organized and planned action to eradicate an ethnic group, which is where Bosnia was weak in the current case, Şafak notes.

In a case between Turkey and Armenia, it would be the job of Armenia to prove that the deportations were genocide, which would not be easy. In addition, for an international court ruling to set a precedent, at least two or three similar rulings should come out. At the end of day, it is almost impossible to express that the ruling has any significance for Turkey's case at all. The ruling is certainly a disappointment to the Bosnian people -- and to the Serbs to a certain extent -- and confusing for Turkey as its relevance to Turkey's concerns about the future of the Armenian question remains open to debate.

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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"I am Turkish, I am honest, I am hard-working!"

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
By Mehmet Y. Yilmaz

Turkish History Foundation Professor Yusuf Halacoglu has turned to be one of those excited about making politics out of the slogan that was heard at the funeral proceedings for slain journalist Hrant Dink: "We are all Armenians! We are all Hrant Dink!"

In fact, Halacoglu has gone a step further than some of the commentaries that we have heard up until today, asserting that "We need to research who exactly it was taking part in the funeral for Dink."

Here is what he says: "There are around 50 thousand Armenians in Turkey. Women, men, children, all together around 50 thousand. Of this number, there were probably 20 thousand at the funeral. So then who else was there? Let's say that there were about 10 thousand sincerely there in terms of protest of Dink's murder. Who were the others, we need to look into this."

I wanted to draw your attention to these strange calculations by Professor Halacoglu, which do not fit any sense of reason or thought I can understand. If this is the way we approach the Armenian matter in Turkey, then we are in real trouble.

Halacoglu asks, among his other comments, "Why didn't anyone shout the slogan 'We are all Turks!'?"

But what I wonder is whether or not Halacoglu ever spent any time in the garden of his primary school here in Turkey. If he had, he must of heard the slogans, shouted in unison by everyone, (including the children of ethnic minorities) which we all know so well: "Turkum, dogruyum, caliskanim." (Meaning, "I am Turkish, I am honest, I am hard-working.")

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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Turkey's Armenian dilemma

Tuesday, 27 February 2007
BBC News
By Bruce Clark

Turkey did not always deny the mass killing of Armenians. As the US House of Representatives prepares to vote on recognising the 1915 massacres as genocide, journalist and historian Bruce Clark looks at how and why Turkish attitudes have changed over the past 90 years.

"The more foreign parliaments insist that our forebears committed crimes against humanity, the less likely anybody in Turkey is to face up to the hardest moments in history."

That, roughly speaking, is the message being delivered by Turkey's hard-pressed intelligentsia as the legislators in one country after another vote for resolutions which insist that the killing of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide.

"Will the adoption [of a resolution] help to inform the Turkish public... on the great tragedy which befell the Ottoman Armenians?

"No, it can hardly be expected to... broaden the debate on the history of the Ottoman Empire's final period."

So writes Sahin Alpay, a liberal-minded Turkish academic, in a recent column in Zaman newspaper.

What such appeals reflect, of course, is an elementary fact of human psychology: the phenomenon of individual and collective defensiveness.

When people feel completely secure, and among friends, they can be very frank about misdeeds which they, or people close to them, have committed.

But hackles will go up again as soon as they become insecure, because they feel their accusers are acting in bad faith, or that accepting their accusations will have bad consequences.

On the defensive

In recent years, liberal Turkish scholars have expressed the hope that membership, or even prospective membership of the European Union, will give the country enough confidence to discuss the Armenian tragedy without threatening those who use the "g-word" with prosecution.

Sceptics may retort that in recent years, things have been moving in the opposite direction: the revised Turkish penal code and its preamble, adopted in 2005, make even more explicit the principle that people may be prosecuted if they "insult Turkishness" - a crime which, as the preamble makes clear, includes the assertion that the Ottoman Armenians suffered genocide.

It is certainly true that Turkish defensiveness - the sort of defensiveness which can treat open discussion as verging on treachery - has been running high since the 1960s when the Armenians round the world began lobbying for an explicit acceptance, by governments and parliaments, that their people suffered genocide in 1915.

A campaign of violence launched by Armenian militants in the 1970s, who mainly attacked Turkish diplomatic targets and claimed over 50 lives, raised hackles even higher.

All that raises a question: has there ever been a moment, since the events of 1915, when the Turkish authorities might, conceivably, have acknowledged or even freely discussed the view that almost every Armenians regards as self-evident: the view that in addition to relocating the entire ethnic Armenian population of eastern Anatolia, the "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP) which wielded effective power in the Ottoman empire also gave secret orders to make sure that as few as possible of the deportees survived the experience?

In fact, there was such a moment: the immediate aftermath of World War I.

Tried and executed

At that time the Ottoman government was intact but dependent for its survival on the good graces of the victorious British Empire.

The sultan's regime was desperately trying to distance itself from the actions of the CUP, the "state within a state" which in 1915 had masterminded the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians - and is alleged to have given secret "extermination" orders at the same time.

During the early months of 1919, few people in Anatolia publicly doubted that Armenians had suffered atrocities that were egregious even by the standards of a terrible war.

The sultan and his foreign minister were at pains to reassure the British of their determination to punish the perpetrators of these atrocities, and they held four big and revealing trials whose proceedings were published in the government gazette.

In April 1919 a local governor, Mehmed Kemal, was found guilty and hanged for the mass killing of Armenians in the Ankara district.

But the climate shifted rapidly after May 1919, when Greek troops were authorised by the victorious Entente powers to occupy the Aegean port of Izmir and, in another part of Anatolia, Mustafa Kemal - later known as Ataturk - began his campaign to make the Turks masters in their own land.

Nationalist feeling

Turkish rage over the Greek landing lent fuel to the Kemalist cause, and discredited the Ottoman government.

With every passing month, the British government's leverage over the Ottoman authorities waned, and so did British enthusiasm for the conduct of war crimes trials.

In 1921, the British government made a pragmatic deal to release a group of Turkish prisoners it had been holding in Malta on suspicion (among other things) of crimes against the Armenians.

They were freed in exchange for Britons being held by the Turks.

In Turkish lore, this release is held up as proof that no serious evidence against the captives existed.

What it certainly proves is that British zeal for investigating the past was waning, even as the Kemalist cause gained strength and the British-influenced Ottoman regime faded into oblivion.

In any case, the officially cherished version of the Turkish state's beginnings now insists since the empire's British adversaries and occupiers were the main promoters of war crimes trials, those trials themselves must have been worthless or malicious.

A new state

But in the midst of all this nationalist discourse, something rather important is often obscured, and there are just a few Turkish historians who dare to point this out.

The atrocities against the Armenians were committed by an Ottoman government, albeit a shadowy sub-section of that government.

There is no logical reason why a new republican administration, established in October 1923 in an act of revolutionary defiance of Ottoman power, should consider itself responsible for things done under the previous regime.

In fact, when the nationalist movement was founded in 1919, the climate of revulsion over the sufferings of the Armenians was so general that even the neo-nationalists were keen to distinguish themselves from the CUP.

Some see significance in the fact that the nationalist movement chose to rally round an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, who had never been anywhere near the places where the Armenians met their fate.

The very fact that the Turkish republic bears no formal responsibility for eliminating the Armenian presence in eastern Anatolia (for the simple reason that the republic did not exist when the atrocities occurred) has given some Turkish historians a flicker of hope: one day, the leaders of the republic will be able to face up to history's toughest questions about the Armenians, without feeling that to do so would undermine the very existence of their state.

Fatma Muge Gocek, a Turkish-born sociologist who now works as professor in America, has said there are - or will be - three phases in her country's attitude to the fate of the Armenians: a spirit of "investigation" in the final Ottoman years, a spirit of defensiveness under the Turkish republic, and a new, post-nationalist attitude to history that will prevail if and when Turkey secures a place in Europe.

That makes perfect psychological sense, even if the immediate prospects for a move from phase two to phase three do not look very bright.

Bruce Clark is international news editor of the Economist newspaper.

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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Turkish Governmentʼs Statements Create Outrage

Posted on Monday, February 19 @ 11:53:19 EST
by greek_news

Washington, D.C.- Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) expressed outrage at recent warnings by the Turkish government that it will take actions threatening the security of US troops in Iraq should Congress even consider the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

In a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Reps. Pallone and Knollenberg noted that, "it is our understanding that senior Turkish government officials have warned that, in response to Congress even considering this resolution, they will close supply pipelines for our forces serving in Iraq. This shameless threat to interfere in US military operations is absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive." The Representatives went on to express dismay at the response of several Administration officials who, caving in to the Turkish government's threats, have urged Members of Congress to oppose even debate on this human rights measure.

"Sadly, the Turkish government is able to maintain its denial - against all evidence and the tide of international opinion - in large part due to the State Department's efforts to silence those who speak with moral clarity about the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "It is a testament to the hypocrisy of the Administration's position that, on the one hand, its senior officials remained almost entirely silent on Article 301 prior to Hrant Dink's murder, while on the other hand loudly and repeatedly attacking even the consideration by the US Congress of the Armenian Genocide Resolution."

The letter to Chairman Lantos comes on the heels of a three-day Washington, visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who had announced that his government's opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution was a top priority in discussions with senior US officials. "In this case, approval of this bill [Armenian Genocide resolution - H.Res.106] against Turkey would ruin everything.

"I told my counterpart that this step will have a great influence on our relations," said Gul during a press conference immediately following his meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Similar statements threatening a cut-off of economic ties following the French adoption of a law recognizing the Armenian Genocide in January, 2001, proved empty, with trade between France and Turkey growing by over 131 percent between 2001 to 2005. Meanwhile in the US, despite US Administration and Congressional leadership opposition to Armenian Genocide legislation from 2001-2006, Ankara still blocked a northern front into Iraq, a move that the Defense Department has said added significantly to the problems currently facing our forces in the region today.

Gul is reported to have met with Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary Rice and several Members of Congress this week, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Chairman Lantos, Turkish Caucus Co-Chair Robert Wexler (D-FL), and former Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO).

The visit of a high level delegation of Turkish parliament members scheduled for this week to lobby against Armenian Genocide legislation has reportedly been postponed indefinitely.

The Armenian Genocide resolution - H.Res.106 - was introduced on January 30 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) along with Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone, Joe Knollenberg, Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and currently has 170 cosponsors. The resolution would urge the President to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as 'genocide' and reaffirm the US historic record on the topic. ANCA regional and local chapters have been working with activists across the US in support of securing a speedy committee and full House approval of the measure. A similar resolution will be introduced in the Senate in the upcoming weeks.

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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PKK planning to assassinate Turkish diplomats in Europe

Today's Zaman

A report by the weekly news magazine Aksiyon claimed in its last issue that the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was preparing to carry out assassinations against Turkish diplomats in Europe and bomb various centers serving Turkey in imitation of the ASALA campaign of violence.

The ASALA, or Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, was a terrorist organization that targeted Turkish diplomats in Europe during the 1970s and 1980's.
According to the Aksiyon report, the interrogation of 15 suspected PKK operatives in custody in France shocked the members of the terrorist organization. The elimination of one of the PKK's most important financial networks also angered the imprisoned head of the group Abdullah Öcalan, currently being held in a prison on İmralı island. In a statement made through his lawyers, Öcalan said, "Europe always cheats; they are not reliable."

Rumors of a possible cross-border operation Turkey is likely to conduct is unsettling the organization, says Aksiyon. According to the magazine, going through difficult times "on the mountain" in northern Iraq, the PKK is about to launch a new plan to perpetuate its existence.

10 hitmen tasked

The magazine says instructions were given two weeks ago by a Syrian named Fehman Hussein -- who is an important figure in the organization and who uses the code name Dr. Bahoz Erdal -- to a terrorist named Kemal Bacıyan, also possibly a code name, who is said to have made his way to Europe by way of Greece to organize assassinations.

Another important detail highlighted by the magazine claims that a group of ten trained hitmen has been assigned the task of assassinations in Europe where Bacıyan will reportedly organize them and take care of logistics.

Dr. Bahoz Erdal firmly and persistently maintains that the armed fight of the PKK will continue at all costs. The blow struck to the terrorist group's financial sources by European police in operations in France and Belgium is being described as reasons behind Bahoz's instructions to carry out ASALA-like assassinations, which are aimed at shocking Turkey while also intimidating European countries.

The magazine comments that the name of this terrorist is really striking: from his surname, Kemal Bacıyan is supposedly of Armenian descent. The magazine claims that he knows the tactics of ASALA as he was once a member. There are about 30 Armenian citizens in the PKK. According to another argument, Bacıyan was chosen to secure the support of militant-leaning personalities from among the Armenian Diasporas in Europe.

The Armenian terrorist group ASALA began killing Turkish diplomats in Europe in 1975 with the assassination of Danış Tunalıgil, Turkey's ambassador to Austria, in Vienna. From 1975 to 1984, 34 Turkish diplomats were killed by the ASALA.

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.


Playing a Losing Game

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Moscow Times
By Thomas de Waal
This is a realistic view of where the Russian diplomatic influence is headed in the South Caucasus. Weaker Russian influence opens the door up for EU influence.
Late last month, Moscow quietly returned its ambassador, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, to Georgia. The restoration of diplomatic ties occurred with much less fanfare than their angry rupture in October but was in its own way just as significant. Nothing substantial has changed in Georgian-Russian relations since the blowup -- only perhaps the belated realization in Moscow that breaking off relations was a strategic mistake.

Georgia has not only endured Russia's blockade, but used it to become more economically independent. Thanks to Azeri gas, Georgia is surviving the winter and Gazprom has lost a big customer. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said the economic punishment has helped Georgia diversify its markets.

This own-goal is part of a larger picture about which the Kremlin, preoccupied with Russia's resurgence as a world power, seems only dimly aware: Russia is losing the South Caucasus.

It is not just Georgia, although recent Russian policy there has been spectacularly unproductive. A country that has 200-year-old historical, cultural, linguistic and religious ties to Russia has now set a firm course in pursuit of NATO membership and alliance with the United States. This was by no means inevitable. It was Russia's foreign minister at the time, Igor Ivanov, who brokered the deal that led to the resignation of former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Saakashvili's arrival in power in 2003. I myself heard Saakashvili at his first news conference following the Rose Revolution in Tbilisi going out of his way to say that he wanted "normal" relations with Moscow.

Since then, prickly Georgian nationalism has played its part in the subsequent decline in relations, but the bigger factor has been the high-handed behavior of the bigger neighbor on a whole range of issues, from energy policy to South Ossetia to the treatment of Georgian workers inside Russia.

Now that same highhandedness is harming Moscow's relations with the two other South Caucasus countries as well.

One of Vladimir Putin's first acts as president was to visit Baku and start to repair relations with Azerbaijan, the largest, richest and most strategically important country in the South Caucasus. In the 1990s, the adversarial relations between Russia and Azerbaijan were only barely concealed. Putin cleverly played on his common KGB past with President Heidar Aliyev. After Aliyev's death, he supported and cultivated his successor and son, the Moscow-educated Ilham Aliyev.

That improvement in relations was all but destroyed at beginning of this year, when Gazprom tried to impose higher gas prices on Azerbaijan and Moscow clumsily told Baku to abandon support for the Georgians. Aliyev Jr. promptly used the opportunity to demonstrate that Azerbaijan was an emerging power. He rejected Russian gas, halted oil shipments through the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline, ordered the pulling of Russian channels from Azeri television, called into question the usefulness of the Commonwealth of Independent States and threw extra support behind a new non-Russian regional project, the Baku-Kars railway line. Azeris cheered enthusiastically.

This is bad enough for Russia. More remarkable is that Armenia, once the most fiercely loyal of Russia's neighbors, is also experiencing a cooling of affections for Russia. Russian elites have failed to notice that the wholesale grab of Armenian economic assets by Russian companies has turned public opinion there against them. Last autumn, Armenians were outraged when the Russian blockade of Georgia hurt them almost as badly, as most of Armenia's trade with Russia goes via Georgia. Worse, Armenians in Russian cities were picked up and harassed by the police with almost the same nastiness as Georgians -- after all, one person from the Caucasus looks very much like another to your average Russian police officer. The upshot has been unprecedented demonstrations against Russian xenophobia outside the Russian Embassy in Yerevan and the emergence into the mainstream of the first serious Armenian politician to say that Armenia's future lies with the EU and NATO -- former parliament Speaker Artur Baghdasarian.

This should be enough bad news for anyone sitting in the Kremlin. But let's provide some more. The breakaway Black Sea statelet of Abkhazia is perceived by most of the world as being entirely in Russia's pocket. Russia saved it from being overrun by the Georgian army in 1993, most of its citizens now have Russian passports, and its elderly residents draw Russian pensions. But the Abkhaz are also a people of the Caucasus, and their support for Russia is based on pragmatism, not love, and it may be that Russian-Abkhaz relations are now declining from their high-water mark. The reason is that many Abkhaz have been waiting for Russia to recognize Abkhazia's unilateral declaration of independence from Georgia, but the realization is dawning that Moscow is merely playing with them, using the prospect of recognition as a card to play against Georgia and the West. The Abkhaz are not happy about this, and some of them are now saying as much. This does not mean that they will turn back toward Georgia, but it does mean that they may try to engage more with Turkey and Europe and rely less on Russia.

Russia is in such a state of proud introspection that few in the leadership seem to be aware where its Caucasus policy is heading -- toward a deeper divorce between the South Caucasus and Russia than at any time since the 18th century. The trouble is that policy toward the region seems to be more driven by domestic and energy politics than the calculations of diplomacy. A friendly policy toward people from the South Caucasus does not win many Russian votes in a year running up to State Duma and presidential elections.

Yet the pity of it is that Russia still has a lot to give the South Caucasus, if only it would seek to cooperate instead of wanting to dominate. The people of the South Caucasus are not instinctively anti-Russian -- a huge number have lived in Russia and large numbers work there now. And Moscow has one great asset in the region that could be a source of immense "soft power" -- the Russian language. But Moscow is doing nothing to promote it, and Russian is dying out for want of teachers or language centers in all three countries. Entire university libraries full of Russian-language books are being rendered redundant as a new generation of students lacks the ability to read them. I suspect that in about 10 years, someone in Moscow will wake up to this reality -- but by then it will be too late.

Thomas de Waal is Caucasus editor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.

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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Armenia Adopts Dual-Citizenship Law

February 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Armenian parliament today overwhelmingly approved the third and final reading of a bill allowing Armenia's large diaspora to hold dual citizenship, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Under the draft law, dual citizenship holders will be able to vote in Armenian elections provided they are registered in the country as residents.

Holders of dual citizenship would be allowed to run in parliamentary and presidential elections after five and 10 years of residency, respectively.

Obtaining dual citizenship would not require conscript-aged men to serve in the Armenian Army.

The country's ruling Republican Party, initially opposed to granting voting rights to members of the Armenian diaspora, backed the bill.

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


Monday, February 26, 2007



Gomidas Institute
42 Blythe Rd.
London W14 0HA

Tel: xx 44 20 7603 7242

26 February 2007

Contact Person: Roland Mnatsakanyan


Last week the Gomidas Institute offered to begin a case study of the events of 1915 and the fate of Armenians in the Harput region of the Ottoman Empire (see Dr. Halaçoğlu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, was kind in responding immediately and accepting the proposal.

In a private email, I thanked Dr. Halaçoğlu for accepting my offer and took the opportunity to explain that I will be discussing some aspects of our projected work with other parties so that I can fund raise and contact scholars to cooperate with the proposed project. I could not discuss any project with Dr. Halaçoğlu until I had an agreement in principle from him. I now have such an agreement which is noteworthy for its spirit of cooperation and academic engagement.

The core of our work and our commitment so far, based on the proposal I made to Dr. Halaçoğlu, is the following:

1/ The Gomidas Institute will present Dr. Halaçoğlu relevant records which explain why we think the events of 1915 in the Harput region should be called "abuse," "massacre" and "genocide," and not simply a deportation program (tehcir).

2/ Dr. Halaçoğlu will present Ottoman records which detail how deportations were implemented in Harput and its surrounding villages. He will show deportation records, family by family and village by village, accounting for the deportation and resettlement of each village from the Harput area.

3/ We will then critically examine the materials presented in each set of records and see if either one can make a convincing case. Perhaps both set of records may have merits, or both may be flawed. We will examine the nature of agreement and disagreement between the two sets of records. We will then make these records, as well as our deliberations, open to the scrutiny of others.

The proposed work will have three key stages:

1/ We will collect documentary materials for our respective positions.

2/ We will examine the data presented by our colleagues on the other side.

3/ We will then discuss the two sets of information side by side.

The Gomidas Institute is already planning for (a) the collection of published, archival and audio sources in English, Armenian and German languages related to the events of 1915; (b) the organization of such data so that they can be readily utilized by all; (c) the use of these sources to present an argument about the events of 1915 in Harput. The Institute will list much of this data on its website so that interested parties may contribute or scrutinize our work.

The above discussion reflects my understanding of the proposal I made to Dr. Halaçoğlu on 20 February 2007 . However, the final course of action, including all details, are subject to discussion with Dr. Halaçoğlu. I hope to see Dr. Halaçoğlu in person to discuss these matters soon.

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US 'outreach' diplomacy downplays Armenian resolution

Monday, February 26, 2007
The article below says that this is an election year in Turkey and ultranationalist politicians in Turkey will use the debates and resolution in the American Congress on the Armenian genocide to gain nationalistic votes. Another threat by Turkey in a long list of threats (politically they soft peddle these as warnings, not threats). The decision in USA will be based on their factual archives during the WWI. Has USA ever interfered with decisions taken in Turkey's parliament? Would Turkey welcome such interference? How about the Penal Code Article 301 which is against free speech? Would Turkey welcome threats by the USA for its removal?

U.S. diplomats in Turkey have made clear their strategy of dealing with the possibility that the U.S. House of Representatives could pass House Resolution 106, the “Armenian genocide bill.” They want to get the message out that the bill would mean next to nothing in terms of U.S. foreign policy. Dr. Clyde Wilcox, of Georgetown University in Washington, told members of the Turkish media that such a vote would mean, “one chamber [of the U.S. Congress] said something. It doesn't mean our Congress said something, it doesn't mean that our government said it.” Dr. Wilcox was speaking via live video feed from the U.S. State Department to the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, which hosted the 90-minute question-and-answer session last week.

Wilcox stressed that if the bill passed in the House, it would not reflect U.S. public opinion, rather the “organized opinion” of Armenian lobby groups working within the United States for a symbolic victory. However, journalists at the session repeatedly stressed that playing down the significance of such a resolution was not much of a strategy. Many of the questions posed to Wilcox indicated that any indication of U.S. support for Armenian genocide claims would be manipulated to fuel nationalist sentiments in Turkey and shift votes to nationalist parties. This would be crucial during this year's elections for both president and government.

Wilcox acknowledged this dilemma: “Symbols are often powerful for political actors. … [But] within the framework of U.S. governance, a vote by the House of Representatives would not be very important in American politics. It would not speak for America. It would not speak for the administration. It would not even speak for the Congress. However, symbols are important, because people interpret them as important. And so [Turkish] political parties would use those symbols [the U.S. genocide bill] as part of their election campaign.”

“Most Americans don't know anything about this issue. … They don't know what, where, or when, or whatever – it's a time of history in another part of the world. … I bet there's not 1 percent of the American public who has a position on this.”

Meanwhile, a minor vote in the House of Representatives, one designed to appeal to Armenian lobby groups in the United States, could change the distribution of political party power in Turkey.

Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker of the House of Representatives, had promised her many Armenian constituents a vote in the House (possibly up to 20 percent of voters in her district are Armenian-American), but she is facing pressure from the Bush administration, as well as from Democrat and Republican politicians, to postpone the vote in order to preserve current U.S.-Turkish relations.

“This is not party politics,” stressed Wilcox, “this is domestic constituency politics.” The vote has more to do with the fact that “party leaders in the House of Representatives have [in the past] promised to vote on this regardless of the party.” In addition, every U.S. president has pressured Congress not to vote on an Armenian genocide bill because it would damage strategically important U.S.-Turkish relations. “My guess is that every president will continue to do that because that's the president's job, to think about bilateral relationships [and] multilateral relationships.”

“For serious [foreign] policy to be made,” said Wilcox, “all three branches [Presidency, Senate, House] have to be in cooperation. The House is the least concerned with foreign policy. It is designed to focus on domestic policy, which is why it's listening to Armenian groups because they are organized and lobbying in domestic constituencies.” “They [the House] feel free to [listen to Armenian lobby groups],” Wilcox said, “because they know the Senate will not go along and so [a resolution] will not have the force of law.”

Regardless of U.S. diplomatic efforts to downplay the significance, if the bill passes, a crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations will follow. When asked what U.S. President George W. Bush might then do, Wilcox said: “It would not surprise me if he would make some kind of public statement or make some kind of personal phone call to the prime minister or president. … He's making a gesture to stop this [vote on the resolution] because he thinks it's an important bill to stop. If he loses on this I think he would probably at least make some verbal statement that ‘this does not represent U.S. foreign policy and this administration's policy has not changed'.”

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


Armenians feel victory is close in US Congress

Monday, February 26, 2007

WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

U.S. Armenians have set their sights on a pending congressional resolution calling for the recognition of World War-I era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, and believe that, after several failed tries over the past two decades, this time victory is within reach.

"The chances of passing are the best they have been in recent years," Bryan Ardouny, a top U.S. Armenian official.

"We have a very strong bipartisan support. Over 170 members of Congress in just a few weeks have cosponsored this resolution," Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News. AAA is one of the two large organizations representing the United States' Armenian community. The resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber in late January, and the Armenians' biggest advantage is having Democratic congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, following her party's landslide victory in congressional elections last November. Pelosi said before the elections that she would back the genocide measure's passage in the new Congress.

Independent analysts also agree that if a House floor vote is held, the measure has more than enough support to win approval.

The last time Armenians came very close to victory was in October 2000 when a similar resolution reached the House floor. But only hours before a planned vote, then President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, urged then House speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican, to shelve the measure on grounds of U.S. national security, and Hastert agreed.

This time, the current resolution is also highly likely to overcome initial hurdles and again reach the House floor.

President George W. Bush's Republican administration, like its predecessors, opposes the bill's passage. However, this time it is not clear if Bush would similarly call on Pelosi to stop the measure at the last minute or if Pelosi would listen to him at a time of heightened hostilities between the Republican administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

The resolution's approval would set the U.S. record right on this sensitive matter, according to Ardouny. "The Armenian genocide is an incontestable historical fact," he said, without referring to a division among world historians over whether the Armenian killings amounted to genocide. Ardouny suggested that the resolution's purpose was not to humiliate Turkey, but a confirmation of "the truth of history in the face of denial." "The issue is how we can help Turkey to come to terms with its past," he said, adding that "building a relationship on truth will improve the relations between Turkey and Armenia." But Ardouny's recounting is in full contrast with how Turkey feels.
It is not what Turkey feels it is what Turkey is made to feel by its political elite and their decedents who revised history for the sake of establishing the Turkish republic on the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.
During a visit here early this month, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül warned that the Armenian resolution's approval would poison U.S.-Turkish ties in a lasting way. Turkish diplomats also said the measure's passage would rule out any improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations in the foreseeable future. Asked if congressional approval of a genocide resolution would lead to additional demands, including compensation and even territorial claims, Ardouny said, "Right now we're focused on this resolution." Also asked if Armenia and U.S. Armenians recognize Turkey's border with Armenia, which they want to be opened for trade and passages, he said: "The border is where it is. And we think that Turkey, instead of attempting to isolate Armenia, should take positive steps and try to show good faith by opening the border."

Turkey officially recognized Armenia when the latter gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. But Ankara refuses to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan and open the border, saying Armenia has been keeping the Nagorny-Karabakh region inside Azerbaijan and another 20 percent of Azeri territory under its occupation. Asked if a potential Turkish acceptance of Armenian President Robert Kocharian's recent proposal for the creation of a Turkish-Armenian intergovernmental commission to discuss outstanding issues could stop the pending resolution in the House of Representatives, Ardouny said the two were different matters.

"If Turkey and Armenia want to link them that's one thing. But in terms of our focus, we're looking at it (the genocide resolution) as the U.S. record," he said.

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. entrepreneurs call on George Bush not to recognize Armenian Genocide

Bill Gates, innocent


In connection with c the recent statements by Azerbaijani mass media that over 100 biggest businessmen of the world, among which Bill Gates
and Warren Buffet, demanded the US President to deny the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, director of the "Micriosoft Area" company,
Grigor Barseghian stated that the Microsoft company has no idea what letter it is, therefore has no information about its content, origin or its goals.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ 100 American leading entrepreneurs including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett addressed a letter to President Bush calling on him not to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The letter says, in part, that recognition of the Armenian Genocide may turn out a calamity for the United States and trade relations with Turkey will be damaged badly. Besides, the authors of the letter are convinced that the Genocide recognition will hamper reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, Turkish media reports.

The Armenian Genocide resolution was introduced in the U.S. Congress in January 2007. Its adoption is quite real due to democratic majority. It’s worth mentioning that if passed by the Congress, the resolution cannot be vetoed by the President.

! 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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Turkish Parliamentarians Send Messages Of Warning To Their US Counterparts

Turkish Press
Is US Congress decision held hostage by Turkey? What does this say about the USA sovereignty?
BRUSSELS - Turkish parliamentary delegation that is currently in Brussels to attend NATO Parliamentary Assembly meetings sent messages of warning to their U.S. counterparts on the draft resolution about so-called Armenian genocide.

Vahit Erdem, head of the delegation, said in his letter to John Tanner, head of the U.S. parliamentary delegation, "we attribute great importance to friendly relations between Turkey and the United States. Any attempt that may harm those relations in a complicated period following the Cold War era, should be avoided."

"Approval of the draft resolution by the U.S. Congress will disrupt the bilateral relations. In that case, Turkey-the United States relations will seriously damaged. By making such a political judgment, the U.S. Congress will make a big mistake," he said.

Erdem stressed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier proposed Armenia to form a committee of historians and open all archives, but Armenian party did not give a response.
This talking point is a lie. Armenian President Robert Kocharyan rejected Turkey's offer to set up a joint panel of historians to debate the issue, using an interview in the daily Le Figaro on Monday to call on Ankara to accept his suggestion of an intergovernmental commission. Here.
Meanwhile, Turkey-the United States Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman Egemen Bagis held a series of talks with U.S. congressmen on the same issue.

Bagis said that the congressmen understood the importance of the matter, and pledged to explain it to their colleagues when they return to Washington D.C.

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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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Glendale Armenians reach out to Iraqi Christians

February 25, 2007
LA Times
By Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer

An Armenian church in Glendale is part of an effort to allow more refugees persecuted in part for their faith into the U.S.

They were dressed as police officers, but Iraqi physician Nina Grigor knew something was dreadfully wrong when they threw her into a car, blindfolded her, tied her wrists — and ripped the cross from her neck.

For five days last March, the Iraqi Armenian Christian was held somewhere in Baghdad. When she was finally freed after her family paid $100,000 in ransom, she was immediately spirited away to Armenia for safety and then, in July, to Glendale.

Now she is free — one of a growing number of Iraqi Armenians who have found safety in Southern California amid spiraling sectarian violence in their homeland. Grigor, 26, has received political asylum and is studying for her U.S. medical licensing exam.

Grigor's sleepless nights and frightening dreams have finally stopped. But the widespread kidnappings, killings, rapes and church bombings — atrocities that have become almost routine — continue to terrorize hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians left behind, she said.

"I have a safe life here," said Grigor, who asked that an alternative first name be used to protect her and her relatives. "But the other Iraqi Christians need our help."

Now, at last, more of them will get it. After months of mounting violence, the U.S. government recently announced it would accept 7,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September — a big increase from the few hundred accepted so far since the war began in 2003.

Locally, St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale kicked off the Lenten season last week with a candlelight service and letter-writing drive urging greater resettlement opportunities for Iraqi Armenian refugees. The letter, which will be sent to elected officials, said Armenians have lived peacefully in Iraq for centuries but that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since the war began has made them open targets of killings, harassment and discrimination.

The Iraqi Armenian Relief Fund in Glendale is raising money to move families from Iraq to Armenia, where it supports them for one year. But so far the group has only managed to relocate nine families in the last two years, according to vice-president Rafi Ohanes Garabedian. The group is aiming for 15 families this year, he said.

Southern California is home to at least 300,000 Armenians, one-fifth of whom may have ties to Iraq, community leaders say. They estimate that a few hundred Iraqi Armenians have come here since the war began, mostly on tourist or work visas, and may be seeking political asylum or other ways to stay.

Despite those efforts, many people are calling for far greater measures amid what experts say is the largest mass exodus of Iraqis from their homeland in modern history. Earlier this month, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) called on the United States to pledge at least half of the $60 million requested by the United Nations for Iraqi refugee resettlement. So far, the U.S. has pledged $18 million.

"Our invasion of Iraq led to this crisis, and we have a clear responsibility to do more to ease it," Kennedy said this month on the Senate floor.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants says $250 million is needed for a more comprehensive resettlement effort.

For their part, Iraqi Christians say that a far larger quota for refugees is needed.

The Chaldean Federation of America said Christians make up about 200,000 of the 2 million people who have fled Iraq since the war began. Joseph Kassab, federation executive director, said Iraq's Christian population has dwindled from 1.1 million during Saddam Hussein's regime to 600,000.

Christians are routinely targeted for violence and accused of being American collaborators, Kassab said. But unlike their Arab and Muslim neighbors, Christians lack tribes or militias to protect them, he said.

State Department official Ellen Sauerbrey said the 7,000 quota was not a ceiling but an initial number that could be adjusted annually. She said priority would be given to Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government, are members of persecuted religious or ethnic minorities or are members of other vulnerable groups.

Ultimately, however, U.S. officials want to stabilize Iraq so people who flee can return, Sauerbrey stressed.

However, Kassab said many Christians no longer regard Iraq as their homeland and do not expect to return. For Chaldeans, who trace their roots to the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia and who predate Muslims by centuries, the forced departure is particularly appalling, he said.

Many Armenians, who represent a far smaller group of Iraqi Christians, voice similar sentiments. Although they have lived in Iraq for centuries, their numbers particularly grew after the Turkish genocide against them in the early 20th century, community members say, and came to total perhaps 60,000. (The government of Turkey disputes that what occurred was genocide.)

Many say they are grateful to the Arabs of Iraq who welcomed and sheltered them. Under Hussein's secular regime, Grigor and others said, most Christians were allowed to work, worship and socialize at Armenian clubs largely without interference as long as they did not challenge the political status quo.

Now, all of that has changed, they say.

Pamela Hartman, an Encino immigration attorney, has won political asylum for a dozen Iraqi Armenian clients. Clients have reported death threats, kidnappings, vandalized homes and letters telling them "Christians, go home," she said.

The uncle of one client, she said, was told by his kidnappers that "they will get all of the Christians out of their neighborhood or kill them because they're friendly with Americans." Another Christian client in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood received a letter demanding that all non-Shiite families leave immediately or face death.

Hartman and some refugee groups argue that Iraqi Christians have a prima facie case for refugee and asylum status. The United Nations, however, does not agree and reviews all claims individually.

For now, many Iraqi Armenians are relying on prayer and political appeals to help their loved ones.

At St. Peter Armenian Church, pungent incense and chanted Armenian prayers filled the sanctuary as more than 250 parishioners gathered last week in support of the refugees.

One of them, Marine Abrahamyan Abdasho, wept as she held a candle in prayer. The Glendale teacher is not of Iraqi descent, but she said the long history of persecution against Armenians compelled her to support all victims of violence.

"Our history as Armenian people has made us able to feel the pain of anyone suffering now," she said.

After the service, parishioners gathered in the reception hall to sign letters of appeal for Iraqi refugee aid and shared story after story of families fleeing atrocities, of being scattered around the world. Nearly 70% of the church's 500-member Sunday congregation are of Iraqi descent, according to Pastor Vazken Movsesian.

Noobar Zadoian, 32, trained as a computer programmer, said he arrived in Glendale two months ago after too many bombings, murders and kidnappings made him lose hope in his country's future. His elderly father remains alone in Jordan, where he had gone in late 2003 to say goodbye to another son who was leaving for the U.S. The father ended up staying in Jordan because the situation in Iraq had begun to deteriorate too badly to risk returning.

Another parishioner said a relative was stoned as he walked down a formerly peaceful neighborhood street because his sister had married an American.

"You guys have to leave; this is not your country anymore," she said he was told.

"Armenians have been caught right in the middle," Movsesian said. "We were a respected class as a Christian minority in Iraq. Now, Armenians are left without homes and nobody wants them."



Times staff writer Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.

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.


US congresswoman supports Turkish stand on Armenian issue

Today's Zaman
American interests are served better if USA takes the high road to morality in its foreign policy. USA archives are full of testimony on the Armenian genocide. The fogging of the genocide is promoted by the Turkish lobby for the tenuous preservation of a self image anchored on forgetting its past history. The fact that Virginia Foxx does not take the time to read what is published in the USA archives should not reflect on other Congress members.
Turkish-American relations would be negatively affected if the Armenian genocide resolution gets approval from the House of Representatives, said Virginia Foxx, a Republican member of the US Congress.

As US President George W. Bush puts special importance on national security and counter-terrorism, the US administration is concerned that approval of the resolution would have a negative impact on the American fight against terror and its relations with Turkey.

Foxx's statements came after a luncheon meeting with the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry held in her honor at a Turkish restaurant in New York. Fox joined the Turkish-American Friendship Group in the US Congress, after she was elected the North Carolina representative, in an effort to help improve relations between Turkey and America.

Putting her personal stance on the resolution in words that expressed opposition to the bill because, she believed, there was no sound reason behind it, Foxx further said that most representatives who signed the resolution do not actually know much about it and have not thought about it deeply. Foxx added that the recent shift of power in the House of Representatives from the Republicans to the Democrats was adding to the concerns of the US administration. Historically, US Democrats have been more supportive of the Armenian claims than Republicans.

House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi has expressed support for the resolution. The Armenian genocide resolution was introduced on January 30th and currently has about 170 co-sponsors.

Mustafa Merç, the president of the Chamber, told the Anatolia news agency that they were maintaining a series of one-to-one connections with US congressmen in order to convey a truthful picture of problems facing Turkey, to improve the American image of Turkey and to prevent the passage of the Armenian resolution.

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

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spite meeting to be held

Saturday, 24 February
What reasons has Turkey given to earn the trust of the Armenians in the Diaspora let alone in Armenia and Turkey?
Diaspora responded to the suggestion of the Armenian historian Sarafyan with a threat. Halaçoğlu stated that he will invite Sarafyan to Turkey.

The extreme nationalist Armenians reacted harshly to the suggestion of Sarafyan to conduct a collaborative research in Harput. Sarafyan stated that he received criticisms such as "you are not a real Armenian, Turks will foul you, you are making a mistake." Sarafyan stated that he will not quit in spite of the criticisms.

Armenian historian comes in spite of Diaspora

The director of Gomidas institute, Ara Sarafyan said that he will meet with Professor Halaçoğlu although the extreme nationalist Armenians said: "you are not a real Armenian, Turks will foul you".

The extreme nationalist Armenians reacted harshly to the suggestion of Sarafyan to conduct a collaborative research with the chairman of the Turkish Historical Society, Professor Yusuf Halaçoğlu in Harput about the events regarding Armenians. Sarafyan stated that he received criticisms such as "you are not a real Armenian, Turks will foul you, and you are making a mistake." Sarafyan stated that he will not quit in spite of the criticisms.

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


Armenia aims at regional cooperation

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Turkish Daily News
Turkey's intent to co-operate with Armenia in the economic sphere is disingenuous. On the one hand it touts the benefits of its project for cooperation and on the other hand it puts political conditions on Armenia's participation such as abandoning the genocide recognition and giving in to Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karapakh. This article shows a classical case of this policy in action.
Armenian permanent representative to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Karen Mirzoyan said dialogue and cooperation are two vital elements in the region

Armenian permanent representative to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Karen Mirzoyan describes the “Ring Road” project to connect the Black Sea countries as a promising development for the region.

The BSEC consists of member countries situated in the Black Sea region and is working to unite the two rival countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Though Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations, Armenian BSEC representative Mirzoyan has been serving in Turkey for the last five years in the BSEC.

Mirzoyan spoke to the Turkish Daily News this week regarding the effects of the closed Armenia-Turkey border and about cooperation between the two countries, the Armenian perspective, Armenian businessmen and BSEC studies.

Mirzoyan said the BSEC Armenia Office of Representative, which was opened in 2001 in Istanbul, has failed to perform active duties since the Turkish-Armenian border is closed. “BSEC is an unparalleled organization,” he said. To improve cooperation among neighboring countries is one of the primary aims of Armenian foreign policy, says Mirzoyan, who thinks both regional and global issues could be resolved through inter-country dialogue.

Mirzoyan said the Black Sea basin is not an area that is closed to the outside, adding, “Dialogue and cooperation are two vital elements; otherwise, problems cannot be solved,” as he voices the Armenian businessmen's modest approach to cooperation with Turkey.

We're hopeful for region's future:

As for his assessments regarding international institutions, Mirzoyan emphasizes that Armenia has a liberal economy; therefore, foreign businessmen from various countries do business in Armenia.

The European Union is interested in the region for its geographical location, according to the Armenian BSEC representative, and the BSEC plans new projects to conduct bilateral studies with the EU. It is also advantageous for BSEC member countries to become EU members in order to facilitate implementation of future projects.

The BSEC pays attention to the future of the region rather than political issues. “We include economic matters on the BSEC's agenda. We are an organization to unite not to separate,” Mirzoyan concludes.

BSEC to get stronger with ‘Ring Road' project:

BSEC countries cover an area of nearly 20 million square kilometers in the region and have a total population of 350 million people and trade volume of $300 billion. After the end of the Cold War, the organization came into existence with the initiatives of the late Turkish President Turgut Özal in 1992. In June, Turkey again will be the BSEC term president. With a summit for its 15th establishment anniversary, it is expected that the organization's activities will be accelerated.

Its first vital project to be realized is the “Ring Road,” a Black Sea beltway to interconnect regional countries. With the project, the BSEC will become a bridge to connect Europe and Asia. The Bosporus Statement was signed on June 25, 1992 in Istanbul to give birth to the BSEC, which consists of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Who is Karen Mirzoyan?:

Karen Mirzoyan was born in 1965 in Yerevan, graduated from the Armenian State University Faculty of Eastern Sciences and has held office at the Armenia Foreign Ministry since 1993. Mirzoyan was appointed as the Armenia permanent representative to the BSEC in 2005.

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.


FM Gül: EU unaware of its ‘soft’ power

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül is embarrassing himself and Turkey in the world opinion. He says about the Armenians genocide "what happened those years, it was sad .....But when you call it "genocide," you have to find another terminology for the Jews that were killed in Germany ... some Armenians were given arms by Russians to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and they started to kill civilians in Anatolia .... When all this was happening, the foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire was an Armenian! And, Armenians held senior state posts then, churches were functioning in many parts of the country. If they (Ottoman rulers) had hostile feelings against their Armenian subjects, why should they wait until they were at their weakest throughout their history? Hitler acted only when he was strong. So, these genocide claims offend us."
Since when is Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül expert on genocide? In an Open Letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 13, 2005 the International Association of Genocide Scholars, said "We represent the major body of scholars who study genocide in North America and Europe. We are concerned that in calling for an impartial study of the Armenian Genocide you may not be fully aware of the extent of the scholarly and intellectual record on the Armenian Genocide and how this event conforms to the definition of the United Nations Genocide Convention." Here. Where did 2 million Armenians in Turkey disappear to and only 60,000 of them are left now. Is it because of Turkey's love for Armenians? There are proportionately more Jews left in Germany than Armenians in Turkey. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the adoption of the genocide resolution in Germany Here, asked Turkey to examine its history with a critical eye. Turkey came a long way from admitting that no Armenians ever lived in Eastern Turkey to admitting that there was a massacre, it has to go further a step and recognize the genocide of Armenians.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül reaffirmed his government's determination to proceed at full speed with European Union membership reforms, although he complained the bloc did not treat the issue of Turkish membership with a foresighted approach.

In a meeting with a small group of journalist from France, Germany, Romania and Turkey, Gül complained that "EU is not aware of its power" to set into motion positive changes in Turkey. He said he expected a more constructive rhetoric from EU, rather than a negative one shaped by "petty, local politics," in Turkish-EU relations. Implying that the counterproductive rhetoric was seen as "insulting" the Turks here, he repeatedly said "Unfortunately, there, EU underestimates its power."

Gül also reaffirmed the government's intent on amending Article 301 of the penal code, which, by bringing a load of cases against journalists and intellectuals, triggered high tension both domestically and internationally. "We will change it" he said. "I advocate a change, Prime Minister believes it must change. In a few weeks we will change it."

The European Union, as well as critics at home, say Article 301 restricts freedom of expression and pressure the government to change or abolish it. The government, which has said it was open to amendments, has been dragging feet, however. It also appears to be divided on the issue, with some ministers, most notably Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek, dismissing calls for a prompt amendment to the law.

Gül has said repeatedly that he favored changes to the Article 301, because it overshadows Turkey's reform efforts and creates a wrong impression about Turkey, with many people outside Turkey believing that people end up in jail simply for expressing views. "I strongly advocate change on this article. The prime minister also believes in a change," Gül said. "When we changed the Turkish Penal Code, our intention was to have no problems anymore with freedom of expression. Expression is free in this country, but there are problems unfortunately: some prosecutors take action and that irks the writers and opinion-builders."

Gül, however, did not elaborate on how the internal disagreements within the government on the issue would be resolved. He also remained cautious on results of an amendment. "Even after a change we might expect problems, this is a matter of education" he added, pointing out to the fact that prosecutors still can file charges on certain cases on the basis of other articles in the penal code.

Calling the events in 1915 as "tragedy," Gül warned again that a possible approval in the US Congress of a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide would have serious consequences. "We have a wide range of cooperation with the Americans" he said. "How can we explain this sudden decision to the Turks?" On the issue of opening the border to Armenia, Gül told that Turkey was expecting responses of good will from Yerevan. He informed also that there were continuing "talks" with Armenians on diplomatic level but did not elaborate.

"We are not happy with the status of our relations with Armenia. But unfortunately we are not given the opportunity to move forward," Gül said, complaining of a lack of Armenian steps to reciprocate a series of Turkish good will gestures.
Armenia replied with its own proposal but Turkey only wants to hear agreement to its proposal, in other words capitulation by Armenia. This will not happen. Turkey should get off its imperial past of ordering nations around.
Where is Turkey regarding the EU membership process?

The last decision (in December, when the EU decided to suspend negotiations on eight chapters with Turkey) was not good, of course. We believe that some EU members were worried about the high speed with which we proceeded and they wanted to slow it down. And for this they used some pretexts. It is sad and it is my firm conviction that the EU is not well aware of its soft power. The problem is coming from within the EU: there is no self-confidence there. Before the negotiations, almost all the strategic studies showed that Turkey would not be a burden on the EU; on the contrary, it would be an asset. But because of a lack of self-confidence on the part of the EU, we are now where we are. But I also firmly believe that this is going to change. Now you must know that definitely everything depends on our performance. We never ask for favors for us (from the EU). The conditions and rules are clear and we are well aware of what we are supposed to do. In the negotiations, one chapter has been opened and closed. We are preparing position papers on four other chapters, one which was already sent to Brussels. So, we have not slowed down our speed at all.
Our conclusion is that the EU has some problems and these problems are not permanent. But we should speed up the process so that when "the climate" in Europe becomes better Turkey will be in a better position in terms of preparedness. Our commitment to the reforms is not just rhetoric. We are well aware of our shortcomings. We will upgrade our standards on all levels. And we have a clear road map with a timetable that we -- State Minister Ali Babacan, the chief negotiator, and I -- have prepared.

Let us delve into the climate in Turkey. The parties seem sharply divided, with one group demanding further reform and another demanding no reform at all. Would it be fair to say that the upcoming general elections will be seen as a referendum on the EU?

I don't want to say "yes" or "no." Although the opposition leaders, such as Deniz Baykal and Onur Öymen, appear to be against reforms in their public statements, those who support their parties actually back the EU process. A similar conclusion holds for the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as well. The dangerous thing is, mind you, that the EU sometimes is seen as "insulting." The EU expects positive rhetoric from us, but its rhetoric sometimes becomes very counterproductive. It is "petty politics" we witness in the EU's policies, and inter-party politics overshadow this process. The EU is unaware of its soft power, it underestimates its power. For example, what goes on in France is petty politics. I am sorry to say this but I must be frank. France has now decided to hold a referendum on Turkish membership when the time comes. France has the key. Even if we complete negotiations with 100-percent success, even if the EU Commission says that Turkey is ready to join the EU, the French referendum will still hold key importance. It is possible that because of just a hundred votes against, our membership may be rejected. While France has this key in hand, why are French politicians speaking out against Turkey's membership today? Why do they try to block negotiations now? You can say "no" in the end and we would respect it. But we have all the time for that, maybe ten years later… But why should this be an issue today? This is why I call it narrow-minded politics, that is unbecoming of the great French nation. France is a country with which we have great relations; it is like a window for us toward the West… Yes, our relations with EU are not easy. But Turkey is a fully legitimate negotiating country because all the EU leaders decided on that. They agreed and signed for it. The question is this: Is the EU paying enough attention to its future? If the EU is to play an important role in world affairs, I wonder whether the EU is tied up or not?

Free speech is high on the agenda. Will there be any change on Article 301 soon or is it only rhetoric?

You know that I strongly advocate change on this article. The prime minister also believes in a change. There are, in my opinion, two reasons why Article 301 should change. Firstly, when we changed the Turkish Penal Code, our intention was to have no problems anymore with freedom of expression. We made it very clear then. It was clear that we may not like dissenting views but we should allow them. You see expression is free in this country, but there are problems unfortunately: some prosecutors take action and that irks writers and opinion-makers. We are aware of these problems. Secondly, Article 301, as it is, actually overshadows Turkey's reform process. People outside think that because of 301 you are unable to express yourself on any issue, they think that a lot of people are in prison! They are not. But people believe that! So we will change this article, we took that decision. It will happen soon.

How soon?

In a few weeks' time, it will be changed. But mind you, that it is an ongoing process. Even if we change it tomorrow, we might still face problems again. Maybe not with 301, but maybe with other ones. Now the important thing is the intention of the government and also public opinion on this matter. But as politicians, we also have to educate people.

During your recent visit to the US, what did you tell American officials about the consequences if the Armenian genocide resolution passes in the Congress?

Look, our relations with the US are very special. Our agendas are similar. I do not think there are other countries that have the same agenda as us. We are in cooperation on very many issues: for example in Afghanistan with our schools, we teach 35,000 students there, our hospitals have treated 650,000 Afghanis. In Iraq, we give logistics to coalition forces, we distribute electricity to northern Iraq, 90 percent of gasoline sent to Iraq goes through Turkey. We work on energy oil pipelines, we are in Lebanon in UNIFIL. And, now, suddenly you have a resolution against Turkey... Although I do not believe that it will pass, but suppose that this passes: what will we tell the Turkish people? Of course, what happened those years, it was sad, it was a tragedy, in fact. But when you call it "genocide," you have to find another terminology for the Jews that were killed in Germany before and during World War II. For the Ottomans it was different. In World War I, the army was at war, and in fact some Armenians were given arms by Russians to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and they started to kill civilians in Anatolia. When all this was happening, the foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire was an Armenian! And, Armenians held senior state posts then, churches were functioning in many parts of the country. If they (Ottoman rulers) had hostile feelings against their Armenian subjects, why should they wait until they were at their weakest throughout their history? Hitler acted only when he was strong. So, these genocide claims offend us. This was a tragedy, many people lost their lives; Turks, Armenians, Muslims, non-Muslims… Our offer is, if you are so interested in the truth, let us open all archives and initiate a committee of historians. Let's study these events. But unfortunately the Armenian side is not forthcoming. We ask also the French and the US to join these efforts.

A recent survey shows that up to 47 percent of Turks are willing to see open borders and economic, political relations with Armenia. Would the government act on opening the border?

I understand that. And we are not happy with the status of relations we have with Armenia. But sadly we are not given opportunity by them to go forward. We wish this would happen. Now, although we have closed borders we have direct flights to Yerevan. We also have Armenian immigrants that work here who send their savings to their relatives there. These things should be looked at too. We must also get a positive response for our gestures. But let us not forget Karabakh: there are two million people - Azeris -- living in miserable conditions in refugee camps. How can we close our eyes to this tragedy? We are active in diplomacy, we have met Azerbaijanis and Armenians before. The world should also pay attention to this fact.

Are you talking to Armenians now?

Yes. We are. We in fact expect some responses to our proposals.

What is Turkey's position on Iraq. Are there any changes?

Iraq's unity and territorial integrity is of primary importance to us.

Is it not too late?

No, it is not too late. Partition is not an alternative, neither for us nor for the Americans. The disintegration of Iraq would be a huge failure for all of us, everybody. And some now compare partition with the former Soviet republics. It was not bad, so why should it be different for Iraq they say. But they do not know Iraq enough. In the former Soviet republics, there were clearly definable natural borders, but there is no such thing in Iraq. When it is forced, there will be real, full-fledged civil war. And if it starts, all its neighbors, willingly or not, will be involved. Now we have a new strategy: securing Baghdad should have priority. And the ambiguities in the constitution that are causing the problems that lie behind the violence must be overcome. A Constitution review committee should finish its work quickly. And on the Kirkuk issue, there should be normalization and consensus before the referendum on the fate of the city at the end of this year.

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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