Saturday, March 31, 2007

The so-called ‘Akdamar museum’

Friday, March 30, 2007
Turkish Daily news
Cengiz Çandar
Cengiz Çandar in this article inspires hope for Turkey only if he is listened to. I wish more were like him. the Turkish government is so transparent in its political maneuverings to deny an obvious genocide that my its actions it is affirming the genocide. The only recourse it has therefore to fight the resolutions is unabashed threats to those countries that dare to recognize the genocide.
This is the day of the opening of a "church-museum," which the Minister of Cultural Affairs turned into a mess. Whatever the intention was, it looks like a "cultural genocide." Today is indeed the day of the opening of the Ahtamar Church, which has been just restored, to "tourism," and which is expected to attract many tourists to Eastern Anatolia.

However the Ministry has renamed the 1000-year-old Armenian capital "Ani" as "Anı" (which means "memory" in Turkish), and also removed the cross and the bells from the Ahtamar Church, which it renamed as "Akdamar" (which means "white vein" in Turkish.) This obsession with renaming, the cultural and religious intolerance shown towards the cross and the church bell, might well be perceived in the world as a "cultural genocide"; nobody should be surprised if that turns out to be the case.

The obsession with renaming:

The name Akhtamar comes from a myth about the lake Van. It is about the story of a young man, who was looking forward to reunite with his lover, Tamar, who was on the island along with the church in question. The man yelled "Ah, Tamar" while he was drowning. Why in the world we change that name into "Akdamar"?

What kind of a lack of imagination is that? We have renamed many historical areas within Turkey with completely made-up names like "Güzelyurt" (Beautiful Home), "Yeşilyurt" (Green Home), "Yeşilköy" (Green Village), "Gündoğan" (Rising Day). And now, "Ani" turned into "Anı", and "Akhtamar" into "Akdamar."

You restore a historical church and find absurd reasons for not putting a cross and a bell onto it? Who will believe that you are secular, or that you "respect all faiths," or that you represent "the alliance of civilizations against the clash of civilizations."

What you do is simply "cultural genocide." How come you have the right for that? And why?

Here is an excerpt from a news story published in the weekly Agos on March 23, and which tells about the letter sent by a group of intellectuals from the Istanbul Armenian community to Minister of Culture, Atilla Koç:

“…Emphasizing that the church on the island is named “Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church” and that it gets its name from the Sourp Haç festival celebrated on the second Sunday of every September, the intellectuals say: ‘This is an important day and an important festival for Armenians. This is also the reason for the existence of that church. Therefore, we think it would be appropriate to have the name of the church, just like the name of the island, to be changed to fit its religious and historical significance… If required, the ownership of the property can be given to the community and the operation right to the relative state body. However, if this site will also be [serving as] a church, then it needs to be blessed and open to prayers'.”

Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II says: “Is it possible to have a church without a cross at the top? Furthermore, religious services will not be conducted at its opening. If I will not have a role there as a [man of] religion, there will not be a point in my going there.”

Appear righteous and benefit politically:

What do you think “our set” are trying to do? If you ask me, they would like “to appear righteous and benefit politically.” And naturally they make a mess out of it. The initial plans were for the opening of Ahtamar to take place on Apr. 24. A real cunning idea... As it is known to be the “Armenian genocide remembrance day in the world,” a trump for propaganda would have been used on that day.

Then the date became Apr. 11. According to the ancient Armenian calendar, Apr. 11 coincides with Apr. 24. They probably knew this also. They were still pursuing another cunning idea. At the end, it was decided that the opening of Ahtamar, now “Akdamar,” would take place on Mar. 29, as a restoration opening of a museum-church, without a cross or a bell.

What a disgrace. The cross a symbol for the Christian world that represents Jesus Christ's suffering for all humanity. Even if Muslims do not believe in the cross, and even if there are negative connotations of the cross throughout history for Muslims, would it not be necessary to “show respect toward everyone's faiths” in a secular country in 2007? Would such an attitude not glorify a Muslim Culture Minister and his government?

On one hand, they constantly pronounce Fatih Sultan Mehmet's name, yet on the other, they cannot even come near what he has done 550 years ago or his tolerance. They have learned nothing from him.

Hrant Dink foretold it:

A reminder, just in case you have forgotten, that Hrant Dink was treacherously murdered with a shot in the back on Jan. 19. During the time of his murder, the last Agos newspaper he prepared, Agos's 564th issue has just hit the newsstands. The headline of the newspaper was on Ahtamar and so was the editorial, which Hrant wrote and signed as “Agos.”

Here's what Hrant Dink wrote in his editorial:

“The opening of the restored Surp Haç Armenian Church of Ahtamar Island has turned into a comedy. It could only be possible to put a right job on a wrong course so successfully. The impossible-to-hide hidden motive could not be more revealing. A real comedy… A real tragedy… The government hasn't still been able to formulate a correct approach to the “Armenian question.” Its real aim is not to solve the problem, but to gain points like a wrestler in a contest. How and when it will make the right move and defeat its opponent. That's the only concern. This is not earnestness. The state calls on Armenian historians to discuss history, but does not shy from trying its own intellectuals who have an unorthodox rhetoric on the Armenian genocide. It restores an Armenian church in the Southeast, but only thinks, “How can I use this for political gains in the world, how can I sell it?”

They shot Hrant on the day this article was published. It lost its charm in entity. There has been no charm ever since that day. Bad smells come from the Hrant Dink murder investigation.

And today, they replace the cross with the icing on the cake, when they open the Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church as “Akdamar.” Then the “alleged genocide” and “alliance of civilizations” rhetoric will follow.

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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Friday, March 30, 2007


30 March, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Diane Watson, a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today warned her colleagues not to be misled by the Turkish government's token efforts to use the renovation of a single Armenian Church to obscure its longstanding policy of destroying Armenian cultural heritage and denying the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)

"We thank Congresswoman Watson for her work in alerting her colleagues to the true motivations behind this token - and all too transparent - effort by the Turkish government to draw attention away from its anti-Armenian policies," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "It is clearly not an act of tolerance for Turkish leaders to turn an ancient and sacred church, with profound religious meaning for Armenians worldwide, into a secular museum, upon which a cross is forbidden and within which prayer is prohibited."

In a Dear Colleague letter circulated today, the day of the official opening of the newly renovated Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island, in Lake Van, as a museum, she noted that, "the Turkish government is holding an event to tout the rehabilitation of an Armenian Church. Unfortunately, this event obscures the reality that hundreds of Christian Armenian Churches in Turkey, some dating as far back as the 4th century, have been neglected and even egregiously abused." She urged her colleagues to visit a website documenting this destruction:

Congresswoman Watson explained that, "Armenia, which was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D., has a remarkably rich history of ancient churches and Christian artifacts. Sadly, the Turkish government - which still, against all evidence, denies the Armenian Genocide - continues to actively pursue the eradication of Armenian ancient monuments. It is a desperate and malicious campaign, which began in 1915, to erase the Armenian people's physical and cultural existence in their historic homeland."

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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Refutation of the Armenian resolution, article by article-4

Today's Zaman
by Prof. Dr. KEMAL ÇİÇEK*

Turkey is concerned that the Armenian genocide resolution which has been submitted to the US House of Representatives several times in the past will pass due to Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic speaker of the House.

However, I don’t think there is any major significance if the law is passed or not. Firstly, similar resolutions have already been passed in state senates. According to ANCA, 47 states have passed such resolutions. Secondly, the bill cannot impose sanctions. The US president is under pressure to say on April 24 that 1.5 million Armenians were murdered. U.S Republican and Democratic presidents have always used terms similar to the word “genocide” when speaking on April 24. I am not saying that Turkey should stop lobbying against the resolution. Of course, Turkey should fight against this unjust and biased legislation and try to prevent the genocide label from being attached to the nation. Otherwise, those Turkish children who read in textbooks that their ancestors were murderers will suffer an inferiority complex and will become asocial in the countries in which they live.

At the other end of the spectrum, the mentioned resolution that was submitted to the US House of Representatives is laden with incorrect historical information and material mistakes. It seems that those who drafted the resolution were not very concerned about the facts. It was prepared with the assumption that the representatives would approve whatever was submitted and calls on the US president to employ sensitivity to foreign politics regarding ethnic cleansing, human rights and the Armenian genocide. The president is also asked to declare April 24 a day to commemorate the “Armenian genocide.” Certainly this call is intended to hamper Turkey-US relations. So while the resolution lacks the authority to impose punitive sanctions, it is very important because it could prevent Turkish-US relations from moving forward in peace and cooperation. The resolution will increase Turkish opposition to America and will strike a blow to Turkish government efforts to mend relations between the two countries.

While the previous genocide resolutions had indicated that the genocide was committed by the Ottoman Empire and not the Republic of Turkey, the current one directly charges Turkey with being responsible for genocide. The third article was removed from the current resolution, which is why the history of the genocide was extended to 1923. The Armenian lobbyists have extended their claims of genocide because they want to hold the Turkish state responsible and punish Turkey for the goods and property that were confiscated. What’s worse is that the image of Turks in America will be damaged, and this could affect business and cultural relations between the two countries. Some intellectuals, writers and strategy experts say the US will not offend Turkey in any way until, at least, the problems in Iran and Iraq are resolved and do not expect the resolution to pass in the Senate. However, we should remember that in recent years the US has been guided by an unproductive and visionless administration. Unfortunately, the administration draws its strategy and road map based on the marginal groups of each country. Since the possibility exists for the US administration to err and become confused, it is very important that the American public and its administrative departments are informed of the half truths in the bill.

Below you will find an assessment of the mistakes in the mentioned bill.

(Article 1) The Armenian genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed, 500,000 survivors were expelled from their homes, and which succeeded in the elimination of the over 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland.

In the article under dispute, it was claimed that genocide was carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. We know that V. Dadrian and many other leading Armenian historians have claimed the loss of the Armenian life during World War I due to the actions of the Ottoman Empire was 1.5 million. Before we comment on these exaggerated figures, we must emphasize that the Ottoman Empire had exited the stage of history in 1923. This fact indicates that the Armenian lobby is directly targeting the Republic of Turkey and aims to keep Turkey from avoiding punishment for the refusal to acknowledge its heritage. As for the figures, we may state with certainty that the claimed number of Armenian victims is an exaggeration. First of all, many independent researchers have estimated that the Armenian population in 1914 ranged between 1,400,000 and 1,700,000. Even such pro-Armenian scholars as Dr. Johannes Lepsius do not accept the figures asserted by the Patriarchate, at 2.2 million Armenian citizens in that area at that time, and instead calculated the Armenian population to be around 1,845,450 (Der Todesgang des Armenischen Volkes, Potsdam 1919, p. 308). There is not a single source that would indicate the population of the Ottoman Armenians was as high as 2 million. (See H. Özdemir and others. Armenians: Exile and Migration, Ankara, 2004, p.49-50.)

The claim that 1.5 million Armenians were killed is also a myth. This myth originated from the report of Leslie Davis, the US consul at Harput. He wrote on July 24, 1915 -- the 44th day after the order for deportation -- that “It is impossible to say how many Armenians have been killed, but it is estimated that the number is not far from a million” (NARA 867.4016/269). Even Dadrian vouches for 1 million survivors and estimates the number of Armenian victims at 1.1 million. During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Armenian leader, Bogos Nubar Pasha, spoke about the deportation of 600-700,000 Armenians. In addition, the Patriarchate calculated in 1919 that the total number of Armenians living in Anatolia was 644,000. A document released by the League of Nations stated the number of Armenians in 1922 who originated from Turkey was 817,873 and states that “the total given does not include the able-bodied Armenians” who still lived in Turkey. (NARA 867.4016/816) Last but not least, in a memorandum sent to English and French embassies by the Patriarchate in 1919, it claimed that “200,000 Armenians were buried alive or were drowned in Van Lake, the Fırat River and the Black Sea between 1914 and 1918.” (Report presented to the Preliminary Peace Conference by the Commission for the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on the Enforcement of Penalties, March 29, 1919). These figures clearly demonstrate that the Armenian historians have exaggerated the figures about the number of Armenian victims during the war.

(Article 2) On May 24, 1915, the Allied Powers, England, France and Russia, jointly issued a statement explicitly charging for the first time ever another government of committing “a crime against humanity.”

In the second statement in the proposed resolution, the Allied statement of May 24, 1915 is mentioned, and it is asserted that the Ottoman Empire carried out genocide, although they had been warned before the deportation. The text of the resolution implies that the Ottoman Empire planned and launched a systematic campaign to annihilate the Armenians. It is true that there was such a statement made by the Allies; what is left out is the fact that the states that issued this statement were then at war with the Ottomans, and as we know now, had signed treaties amongst each other to divide the Ottoman Empire, which would complicate any claim they asserted about the Ottoman Empire. What is also striking is that these countries were overlooking their own “crimes against humanity.” For instance Russia was carrying out pogroms on the Jews in their country, and England had already deported citizens of German origin to concentration camps.

(Article 3) This joint statement stated “the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres.”

As is stated above, these statements were the propaganda of the Allies. As a matter of fact, the Ottoman Empire, in its reply to the statement issued by the Allies, stated that a massacre of the Armenians in the empire was out of the question. There was also a very interesting detail in the statement of the Ottoman Empire: The sources of these slanders were English and Russian consuls in Romania and Bulgaria. In fact, political propaganda offices for the Taşnaksutyun [Armenian armed gangs] were present in the capitals of those countries, and many reports about the massacres appearing in the “Blue Book” also originated from these offices.

(Article 4) The post-World War I Turkish Government indicted the top leaders involved in the “organization and execution” of the Armenian Genocide and in the “massacre and destruction of the Armenians.”

The third article of the resolution asserts that the Ottoman Empire tried those responsible for massacres and thereby implicitly accepted criminal responsibility during the court-martials. Justin McCarthy, a leading American expert on the Ottoman history, describes those courts as “kangaroo courts” and recalls that they were established by a corrupt administration which was eager for retribution. The British High Commissioner S.A.G. Calthorphe wrote to London on Aug. 1, 1919, that the “trials were proving to be a farce and injurious to our own prestige and to that of the Turkish government” (FO 371/4174/118377). According to Dr. Ferudun Ata, the author of a book titled “Deportation Courts in Occupied İstanbul,” the Ottoman government of the time had established the court-martials to better its conditions in the Paris Peace Conference and also to take revenge against the regime of the “Young Turks.”

The interrogations in the courts-martial were not duly conducted, many witnesses were faked and only testified against the defendants. For example, a certain Artolos, a shoemaker, who testified against Maj. Tevfik during the trials in Yozgat, was brought to İstanbul and was paid to speak against the defendant. According to Dr. Ata, he later appeared before the court in another trial as a Muslim convert. Dr. Ata’s book reveals many false witnesses like this. Those who spoke in favor of the suspects were not brought to court. The chairmen of the courts never charged those false witnesses, although they were sometimes revealed in court. Dr. Ata also found that some false witnesses, before bearing testimony at the court, had been trained and instructed in the “Armenian-Greek Branch” established at the offices of the British High Commissioner. What is most important to note about the decisions of these courts is that the Court of Appeal declared the verdicts null and void. Unfortunately, among such cases was the verdict of Nusret Bey, who had been executed upon his death sentence. Such facts about the nature of the post war courts-martial become more meaningful when we read that the then US high commissioner, Lewis Heck, reported on April 4, 1919 that “many here regard executions as necessary concessions to Entente rather than as punishment justly meted out to criminals,” and that “it is popularly believed that many of them are made from motives of personal vengeance or at the instigation of the Entente authorities, especially the British.” (NARA 867.00/868; M 353, roll 7, fr. 448). Lastly we should remember that England also arrested 144 outstanding politicians of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) for crimes against Armenians and took them to Malta for trial, but later released all of the detainees without charge.

(Article 5) In a series of courts-martial, officials of the Young Turks regime were tried and convicted, as charged, for organizing and executing massacres against the Armenian people.

Besides the findings of Dr. Feridun Ata, historians like Justin McCarthy and Gunter Lewy stated that post war courts-martial were a travesty of justice, the findings of these courts were unreliable, interrogations were not legal, the right of defense for the arrested was denied and the presiding officer, when questioning the defendants, often acted more like a prosecutor than like an impartial judge. As Lewy stated, “The legal procedures of Ottoman military courts, including those operating in 1919-20, suffered from serious shortcomings when compared to Western standards of due process of law.” The court did not listen to any testimony during judgment and the decisions were made by relying solely on false witnesses without considering the answers of the defense.

(Article 6) The chief organizers of the Armenian Genocide, Minister of War Enver, Minister of the Interior Talaat and Minister of the Navy Jemal were all condemned to death for their crimes; however, the verdicts of the courts were not enforced.

The courts-martial operating in the occupied Istanbul tried Enver, Talat and Cemal and convicted them to capital punishment in absentia. Yet, they were not found guilty of “organizing and performing massacres against Armenians,” as stated in the resolution, but they were found guilty of political crimes for dragging the country into a terrible war. The fact that the verdicts of the courts were not enforced has nothing to do with ignorance or being indifferent to the suffering of Armenians, but that the guilty parties had fled the country after the war. Anyhow, the untold verity about these people is that they were assassinated by a secret Armenian organization called “Nemesis” in the countries where they sought refuge. Sadly, the Nemesis organization also killed some statesmen like Sait Halim Pasha, Bahaeddin Takir and Cemal Azmi without judgment although the courts found them innocent.

(Article 7) The Armenian Genocide and these domestic judicial failures are documented with overwhelming evidence in the national archives of Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, the United States, the Vatican and many other countries, and this vast body of evidence attests to the same facts, the same events, and the same consequences.

This is also untrue. I have personally dug out the documents preserved at the US National Archives and Research Foundation and found no concrete evidence in the documents that can be qualified for use in court. The documents in the archive contain reports by the consul and the testimony of the missionaries who were biased toward the Muslims and the Turks and reported information that they had not witnessed, but rather heard through secondary sources. It can safely be claimed that an overwhelming amount of these documents and reports are based on hearsay. There are also large amount of documents, or rather statements, from the Patriarchate and Taşnaksutyun political propaganda offices. As a matter of fact, documents and reports from the United States consuls had been examined by the officials “for any mention of forty-five Malta detainees accused of outrages against Armenians and other Christians” and found no information that could “be employed in a court of law.” Thus, one cannot help thinking that this might be the reason why the proposal of the Turkish government to set up an international committee of historians have so far been refused by the Republic of Armenia.

(Article 8) The United States National Archives and Record Administration possesses extensive and thorough documentation on the Armenian Genocide, especially in its holdings under Record Group 59 of the United States Department of State, files 867.00 and 867.40, which are open and widely available to the public and interested institutions.

The documents in the American archives have been classified under various categories. The collection that is mostly used by the Armenians as basis for their claims is from the Records of the Department of State, especially the section classified as “Internal Affairs of Turkey 1910-1929.” Most of these documents were collected with the help of the two Armenian secretaries of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau. Reports from the Armenian political propaganda offices were also included in the mentioned reports. When one studies these documents carefully, and ignores the lines of hearsay cited in the reports, he/she can gather a wealth of information about the implementation of the relocation process. For example, we learn from the reports of J. Jackson, the consul of Aleppo, that the number of Armenians who reached the city of Aleppo was up to 500,000, that these people were settled in the houses and camps in and around the city. The consul also gives lists of arrivals by sex, religion and sect.

(Article 9) Henry Morgenthau, US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916, organized and led protests with officials from many countries, among them the allies of the Ottoman Empire, against the Armenian Genocide he said occurred.

The use of Morgenthau’s book to support genocide claims is not a scholarly approach. Heath Lowry, a professor of history at Princeton, has documented without a shadow of a doubt that the Armenian secretaries of the ambassador changed the contents of the reports that came from towns and cities in Anatolia. As a matter of fact, there are in the archives the original documents of the reports of the missionaries and a scholarly approach requires the use of this material. An important detail about Ambassador Morgenthau is that he had never been to Anatolia and was pro-Armenian throughout his career. Adm. Bristol, who was his successor, accused him of taking sides and exaggerating the reports about the massacres. Historians specialized in American politics share the opinion that Morgenthau wrote his book in support of the Armenian National Delegation at Paris in 1919, which had been waging a campaign to persuade the Allies to carve out independent Armenian state in the eastern part of Anatolia.

(Article 10) Ambassador Morgenthau explicitly described to the United States Department of State the policy of the government of the Ottoman Empire as ‘a campaign of race extermination,’ and was instructed on July 16, 1915, by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing that the `Department approves your procedure . . . to stop Armenian persecution.’

Such statements in Morgenthau’s report show how much he had been influenced by his interpreter, Arshag Schmavonian, and his secretary, Hagop Andonian. We must remind the reader that when the ambassador made these remarks, the relocation of Armenians had not started yet or had been implemented in a few strategic towns. It should be kept in mind that the transportation began in many eastern cities after the 1st of July. To name but few, the transportation of Armenians began in Harput on July 4 and in Yozgat on July 18. So, when Morgenthau wrote his report in July, it was very early to call the events “a campaign of race extermination.” This report is an indication of the prejudice of the consul. The quotation in the resolution must be considered in line with the wordings of the reports of the consular since at it is impossible for the US Department of State to have knowledge of the events that took place in the Near East at such an early date.

(Article 11) Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 of Feb. 9, 1916, resolved that ‘the President of the United States be respectfully asked to designate a day on which the citizens of this country may give expression to their sympathy by contributing funds now being raised for the relief of the Armenians,’ who at the time were enduring `starvation, disease, and untold suffering.’

In fact, Robert Lansing in his report dated Nov. 21, 1916 to President Wilson claimed that the Armenian deportation was due to the betrayal of the Armenians. The resolution in question aimed at initiating a relief campaign to increase America’s support to the refugees in the Armenian camps. Thus, it is obvious that resolution of Robert Lansing did not have a purpose like the resolution worded. It should be underlined that Muslim villagers were also suffering from the same conditions. Justin McCarthy in his book (”Death and Exile”) puts the losses of Muslims above 2 million, most of which were caused by epidemics and starvation. Prof. Hikmet Özdemir, in his book “March with Epidemics 1914-1918,” stated the victims to the epidemics among military personal was exactly 401,859.

(Article 12) President Woodrow Wilson concurred and also encouraged the formation of the organization known as Near East Relief, chartered by an Act of Congress, which contributed some $116 million from 1915 to 1930 to aid Armenian Genocide survivors, including 132,000 orphans who became foster children of the American people.

First, the first formation of this organization was in 1916 under the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief. The US Ambassador Morgenthau had an important role in the foundation of the committee, also the most active members of this committee were missionaries and consul generals in particular.

For example the coordinator at Aleppo was Consul General J.J. Jackson. In 1919 all relief organizations in the Near East came under the umbrella of a new organization called Near East Relief. One of the most important details that were not mentioned in the resolution is that these relief organizations helped the Armenians with the help, support and permission of the Ottoman government.

In the beginning of the war the Ottoman Empire rejected aid from foreign organizations to the Armenians on the grounds that it may have “encouraged resistance against relocation orders” and that all needs of refuges were to be met by the state. However when the economic condition of the state worsened all relief organizations were given permission to work and full access to the camps. The presence of relief organizations at camps is self-evident of the fact that the empire had no intention to implement of race extermination to the Armenians as often claimed by the Armenian historians.

(Article 13) Senate Resolution 359, dated May 11, 1920, stated in part, “the testimony adduced at the hearings conducted by the sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have clearly established the truth of the reported massacres and other atrocities from which the Armenian people have suffered.”

Unfortunately, then as now, US politicians relied strictly on deceptive Armenian propaganda and close their eyes to the other side of the story in order not to alienate Armenian voters.

As a matter of fact there was a civil war in Anatolia and both sides were involved in massacres, but historical documentation proves that Armenians killed 500,000 Turks and Muslims in Anatolia between 1914 and 1920. During his term in Turkey as high commissioner, Admiral Mark L. Bristol wrote on March 12, 1926, about the Armenian massacres in the East, saying that “the extent of the excesses committed will never be known.”

He also noted this: “I have received reports from Americans who were there at the time to the effect that the Christians cleared out the Moslem population completely so that ‘there was not a living thing, even a dog, a cat or a chicken left in the country.’

“Russians also reported that the Armenians had killed most of the Muslims in the districts of Erzurum.” (NARA 767.90g15). Unfortunately, little scholarly attention has been paid to the atrocities committed by the Armenians.

(Article 14) The resolution followed the April 13, 1920 report to the Senate of the American Military Mission to Armenia led by General James Harbord, that stated “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.”

Although Gen. Harbord was a pro-Armenian person, he listened to Muslim villagers about the massacres perpetuated by the Armenian bandit Andranik and changed the tone of his report. As a matter of fact, in spite of all Armenian propaganda, Harbord argued that the US must not overtake the mandate of Armenia without the whole of Anatolia -- Rumelia, Istanbul and Caucasia included -- since Armenia alone could not survive without a large amount of money and military presence. This report seems to have played an important role in changing the attitude of the congressmen to the creation of Armenia under the American mandate.

(Article 15) As displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Adolf Hitler, on ordering his military commanders to attack Poland without provocation in 1939, dismissed objections by saying “[who], after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” and thus set the stage for the Holocaust.

To refer Adolf Hitler in the resolution (Article 15) is very deceptive. Armenian historian Dr. Robert John, American historian Heath Lowry and Turkish historian Türkkaya Ataöv have proved that this quote is false. That quote was not found in any speech delivered by Hitler or filed in the documents of Nuremberg. The court had filed two versions of Hitler’s speech to army commanders in August 22, 1939, from the German military records. These have the numbers of US-29/786 PS and US-30/1014 PS and none of these files have this quote.

(Article 16) Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” in 1944, and who was the earliest proponent of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, invoked the Armenian case as a definitive example of genocide in the 20th century.

When Rafael Lemkin defined the crime of genocide he might have used this expression, but that does not prove anything. First of all, Lemkin was not a historian and surely he read only the Armenian version of the story. Since then, many valuable contributions have been made about the details of the relocation of the Armenians, most of which demonstrates that the relocation and settlements were not in line with the definition of the term genocide.

(Article 17) The first resolution on genocide adopted by the United Nations at Lemkin’s urging, the Dec. 11, 1946 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96(1) and the Untied Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide itself recognized the Armenian Genocide as the type of crime the United Nations intended to prevent and punish by codifying existing standards.

This is another false claim. The UN never recognized “the Armenian Genocide.” On the contrary, a sub-committee, which gathered in 1985, refused to receive the report of Mr. Whitaker in the light of evidence against the genocide convention and that only “took note” of the report.

(Article 18) In 1948, the United Nations War Crimes Commission invoked the Armenian Genocide “precisely . . . one of the types of acts which the modern term ‘crimes against humanity’ is intended to cover” as a precedent for the Nuremberg tribunals.

This article of the resolution is based on wrong conception. First of all, it should be stated that the suspects in the Nuremberg courts were punished for crimes against humanity. In fact, the adverse of it is not possible because the genocide convention was accepted in 1951.

(Article 19) The Commission stated that “[t]he provisions of Article 230 of the Peace Treaty of Sevres were obviously intended to cover, in conformity with the Allied note of 1915 ....offenses that had been committed on Turkish territory against persons of Turkish citizenship, though of Armenian or Greek race. This article constitutes therefore a precedent for Article 6c and 5c of the Nuremberg and Tokyo Charters, and offers an example of one of the categories of ‘crimes against humanity’ as understood by these enactments.”

As explained in the previous article, Nuremberg courts were established by the Allied states to punish the defeated governments for the crimes committed in World War II. The lawsuits of those courts were not “genocide lawsuits.” Therefore, 6c and 5c articles of Tokyo agreement can never be an example for the Armenian thesis.

(Article 20) House Joint Resolution 148, adopted on April 8, 1975, resolved: "[t]hat April 24, 1975, is hereby designated as the 'National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man,' and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such day as a day of remembrance for all the victims of genocide, especially those of Armenian ancestry."

Unfortunately, as a result of that decision taken under the influence of the Armenian propaganda, US presidents discriminate against the victims of World War I by race and religion, and only speak for Armenian losses on the Remembrance Day. It is not a civilized attitude and I believe that one should not use the victims of the wars for their political causes.

(Article 21) President Ronald Reagan in proclamation number 4838, dated April 22, 1981, stated in part “like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians, which followed it -- and like too many other persecutions of too many other people --the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”

If the fact that the speechwriter of President Ronald Reagan was Kenneth L. Khachigian is taken into account, one can understand why the president used this terminology as opposed to that of his predecessors.

(Article 22) House Joint Resolution 247, adopted on Sept. 10, 1984, resolved: “[t]hat April 24, 1985, is hereby designated as ‘National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man,’ and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such day as a day of remembrance for all the victims of genocide, especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry.”

Even after such a decision, it is important to note that US presidents have since then not recognized April 24 as “Armenian Genocide Day.” The resolution of the House of Representatives was certainly a political one; few of undersigned persons cared about its truthfulness.

(Article 23) In August 1985, after extensive study and deliberation, the United Nations SubCommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities voted 14-1 to accept a report entitled “Study of the Question of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” which stated “[t]he Nazi aberration has unfortunately not been the only case of genocide in the 20th century. Among other examples, which can be cited as qualifying, are….the Ottoman massacre of Armenians in 1915-1916.”

This is one of the untrue articles of the resolution. The UN has never accepted the report of Mr. Whitaker and as we have shown below, the Subcommittee did not receive the report in question, but only “took note of.” (File E/CN.4/1986/5-E/CN.4/Feb.2/1985/57; Para.57) and instead of that, it is added to the special report as “noted” (E/CN.4/1986/5 E/CN.4/Feb.2/1985/57 page 99. Para 1). Unfortunately, we have encountered that big lie even in scientific meetings.

(Article 24) This report also explained that “[a]t least 1,000,000, and possibly well over half of the Armenian population, are reliably estimated to have been killed or death marched by independent authorities and eye-witnesses. This is corroborated by reports in United States, German and British archives and of contemporary diplomats in the Ottoman Empire, including those of its ally Germany….”

It is obvious that Mr. Whitaker’s report was prepared with the direction of Armenian historians. As a matter of fact, in the meeting of the subcommittee, US representative Mr. Carey said: “All the existing sources have not been taken into account and the matter has not been elaborated sufficiently in depth. The question of genocide has not been elucidated sufficiently.” Carey added, “He was not in a position to approve any resolution on this issue.” In the same meeting of the committee, French representative Mr. Joinet said, “The debate on Mr. Whitaker’s report is in fact a debate on history.”

(Article 25) The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, an independent federal agency, unanimously resolved on April 30, 1981, that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would include the Armenian Genocide in the Museum and has since done so.

This resolution cannot be taken as a proof of the international acceptance of the so-called Armenian genocide, nor does it strengthen the false Armenian thesis.

(Article 26) Reviewing an aberrant 1982 expression (later retracted) by the United States Department of State asserting that the facts of the Armenian Genocide may be ambiguous, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1993, after a review of documents pertaining to the policy record of the United States, noted that the assertion on ambiguity in the United States record about the Armenian Genocide “contradicted longstanding United States policy and was eventually retracted.”

Like other decisions that were taken without consulting the Turkish side, this resolution also is not obligatory.

(Article 27) On June 5, 1996, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to House Bill 3540 (the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997) to reduce aid to Turkey by $3 million (an estimate of its payment of lobbying fees in the United States) until the Turkish government acknowledged the Armenian Genocide and took steps to honor the memory of its victims.

Again this decision was taken under the pressure of the effective Armenian lobbying in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, the politicians are not very interested in reality. In fact, Turkey has a very strict policy concerning US aid, and will not accept any stipulation of this kind in order to benefit from US aid.

(Article 28) President William Jefferson Clinton, on April 24, 1998, stated: “This year, as in the past, we join with Armenian-Americans throughout the nation in commemorating one of the saddest chapters in the history of this century, the deportations and massacres of a million and a half Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the years 1915-1923.”

As it is seen, President Clinton talked about massacres and deportations but did not define that tragedy as “genocide.” Genocide is a crime against humanity as defined by the UN Convention of 1948. Moreover, “massacre” and “genocide” are very different terms from the perspective of law. No need to say that massacres may occur anywhere and anytime during wars.

(Article 29) President George W. Bush, on April 24, 2004, stated: “On this day, we pause in remembrance of one of the most horrible tragedies of the 20th century, the annihilation of as many as 1.5 million Armenians through forced exile and murder at the end of the Ottoman Empire.”

Again the events that took place in Anatolia between 1915 and 1923 were defined as tragedy in the speech of President Bush. A moment of silence for the victims of war is a duty for all human beings.

(Article 30) Despite the international recognition and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, the failure of the domestic and international authorities to punish those responsible for the Armenian Genocide is a reason why similar genocides have recurred and may recur in the future, and that a just resolution will help prevent future genocides.

Unfortunately those who are saying this carried out a massacre in Hocalı in Feb. 26, 1992, deported 180,000 Azeris from the Karabag enclave and occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory. Today there are more than 1 million refugees in the city of Baku from the occupied areas and these people live in deplorable conditions.

*Head of Black Sea Technical University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences; Turkish Historical Association, Armenian Desk

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By Nicholas Birch
Despite the positive words, controversy seemed to hover over the restoration/reopening event. It showed itself indirectly in the ceremony’s patriotic undercurrent: speeches, for example, were preceded by a rendering of the Turkish national anthem. And as they approached Akdamar Island on boats, visitors - many of whom were foreign journalists invited by the Turkish government - saw a huge Turkish flag draped along one of the island spurs long before the church silhouette came into view.
Abandoned since the slaughter of Anatolia’s Armenians more than 90 years ago, Turkey’s best-known Armenian Church was reopened March 29 after undergoing a high-profile restoration. Ankara hopes the highly publicized gesture will improve tense relations with Europe, the United States and neighboring Armenia.

The restored church reopened as a museum. The midday ceremony on Akdamar, a craggy island on eastern Anatolia’s vast Lake Van, came two months after Turkey’s most outspoken Armenian, journalist Hrant Dink, was shot dead in Istanbul [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The event also occurred amid continuing European Union pressure on Turkey to improve its civil rights climate, [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive] and as the US Congress prepares to consider a resolution to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Heading a 20-strong delegation that arrived in Turkey via Georgia due to the closure of the Turkish-Armenian border, Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Culture Gagik Gyurjyan sounded a conciliatory note. "This is an important step for our two countries", he told reporters on the island.

Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual head of Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community, was the guest of honor at the high-security event, which included a concert and a brief fireworks display. "It is a joy to see the church restored to its original grandeur", he told approximately 200 dignitaries seated in front of the 1,100-year old, octagonal structure. At a time of high tension in Turkey, he congratulated the government for "courageously completing the project." The restoration cost Turkey $1.9 million. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Despite the positive words, controversy seemed to hover over the restoration/reopening event. It showed itself indirectly in the ceremony’s patriotic undercurrent: speeches, for example, were preceded by a rendering of the Turkish national anthem. And as they approached Akdamar Island on boats, visitors - many of whom were foreign journalists invited by the Turkish government - saw a huge Turkish flag draped along one of the island spurs long before the church silhouette came into view.

Speaking against a backdrop of flags and a portrait of the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s Culture Minister Atilla Koc called for the protection of "the cultural diversity and assets of the different cultures and civilizations in our lands" without mentioning Armenia or Armenians by name.

Patriarch Mesrob was more outspoken, chiding Turkey for turning Akdamar into a museum. "We all know Aghtamar is a church", he said, using the Armenian pronunciation of the island. "An annual Divine Liturgy that could be celebrated in this church... would gather believers from the four corners of the world."

The secular nature of today’s ceremony prompted Catholicos Karekin II, the Yerevan-based Armenian supreme patriarch, to reject a Turkish invitation to attend the ceremony. For several weeks prior to the opening, Turks had been debating the lack of cross on the apex of the church’s octagonal dome. "There’s no need for a cross on a museum," today’s Turkish newspapers quoted Koc as saying. Critics, meanwhile, pointed to the church’s original name - the Holy Cross.

There are indications that the Turkish government has not made a final decision on whether to permit the installation of a cross atop the church. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has sought input from the Foreign Ministry on the cross issue, Today’s Zaman, a Turkish news website, reported March 29.

Religious leaders invited to the ceremony seemed inclined to let the omission go. "Buildings are built stone by stone, and friendships too" said George Marovitch, Papal Nuncio to Turkey. "But you cannot love what you do not know, and Akdamar is an important start."

With the investigations into the Dink murder still continuing, it is far less clear how the church’s restoration will influence opinion among Turkey’s 60,000 Armenians. "Only two things are keeping the Armenian community going -- this newspaper, and the hope that Hrant’s killers will be brought to justice," said Etyen Mahcupyan, who took over as editor of the weekly Agos after Dink’s death, said in a recent interview.

Sitting around a table in the Istanbul suburb of Yesilkoy a few days before the Akdamar ceremony, a group of a dozen Armenian Turks of all ages largely concurred. When they heard Dink had been murdered, they said, they feared it might be the start of a pogrom like the one in 1955 that ended Greek presence in Istanbul. "All the teachers at my school dropped what they were doing and ran home", said one young woman who - like everybody else - spoke on condition of anonymity. A middle-aged woman nodded in agreement - "I rang my kids and told them to get off the street," she said.

Always close followers of the Turkish media, Armenians everywhere watched with dismay the nationalist reaction to the huge crowd that turned out for Dink’s funeral. "Am I living in the same country that I was born in", Patriarch Mesrob II said in one of two uncharacteristically outspoken interviews with Agos recently.

Following the arrest of two young men who fired shots into the air as mourners congregated in a church to mark the 40th day of Dink’s death, Armenians have been upping security around their community buildings. For the Yesilkoy Armenians, Dink’s death and what followed signaled the end of "the illusion" that outside pressure was transforming Turkey for the better.

"We have two choices," said one 52-year old woman; "Keep our heads down and our mouths shut, or leave. I would leave tomorrow, but like everybody here I have relatives who left Turkey, and none of them are happy."

"The first generation in exile is a lost generation."

In Yerevan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry applauded the Church restoration, but indicated that the lack of a cross atop it diluted the impact of Turkey’s goodwill gesture.

Editor's Note: Nicolas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.

Posted March 29, 2007 © Eurasianet

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.


Transformation of Akhtamar Christian Church into museum shows Turkey's real intentions

29 March 2007
Renovation of the Holy Cross Church as a “monument” must not serve Turkey’s intentions for abolishing the fact that Armenians were the native population of Western Armenia -- Giro Manoyan
Turkey says it restores Armenian church, but does not allow worship and transforms the christian church into museum to attract tourism.

The inauguration of the Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar island as a “monument-museum” shows real intentions of the Turkish government, “Hay Dat” Office head Giro Manoyan stated to the PanARMENIAN.Net journalist.

“They turned the church into a museum, where it is forbidden to pray and deliver services. Such an example in Turkey already exists – the Saint-Sophia Cathedral, which has been turned into a museum. Being Ankara’s hostage the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul asked the authorities to give him one day annually for praying in the church and this is an evidence for desecration of the temple,” Manoyan underlined.

Thus, Giro Manoyan thinks that official Ankara [...]{on} the one hand tried to show that he makes a positive step towards Armenian, and [...]{on} the other hand Armenians are forbidden to pray there. “Archbishop Mutafyan during inauguration underlined that the church has not functioned over 90 years but always has been and is a temple. We shouldn’t view the reconstruction of the church positively.

Turkey officially invited Armenian in the inauguration ceremony purely for propaganda purposes. It should have met the Armenian delegation on the border and not to make them reach Van via Georgia. The stance of Armenian Patriarch, as well as Catholicoses of Echmiadzin and Great House of Kilikia made Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister add that it was a church and not only a “historical monument”.

"I think following this propaganda move aimed at the world community we must take actions in order to prove that it is forbidden to pray there. Renovation of the Holy Cross Church as a “monument” must not serve Turkey’s intentions for abolishing the fact that Armenians were the native population of Western Armenia," Giro Manoyan stressed. - By

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Yerevan Downplays Armenian Church Renovation By Turks

Thursday 29, March 2007
Armenia Liberty

By Emil Danielyan
“Turkey’s announcements about the opening of this renovated church do not include the word ‘Armenian’ anywhere,” it added. “Names of kings and regions from medieval times are evoked, but no mention is made of its Armenian and Apostolic belonging. This is an evasion of the Turkish government’s responsibility not only to history and memory, but to its own Armenian minority.”
Armenia on Thursday welcomed the inauguration of a newly renovated ancient Armenian church in eastern Turkey, but said that alone will not help to improve Turkish-Armenian relations.

The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan pointed to the Turkish authorities’ apparent refusal to reinstate the 10th century Church of the Saint Cross as a place of worship and accused them of using the high-profile event to prevent U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide.

The ceremony marking the $1.5 million restoration of the church, located on the island of Akhtamar on the vast Lake Van, took place earlier in the day in the presence of senior Turkish officials, leaders of Turkey’s Armenian community and a government delegation from Armenia. The delegation led by Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjian attended it at the invitation of Turkish Culture Minister Atilla Koc.

Speaking at the ceremony broadcast live by Turkish television, Koc portrayed the restoration as a gesture of goodwill towards the Armenians and proof of his government’s commitment to protecting the cultural heritage of Turkey’s ethnic minorities.

“This is a positive move and holds the potential of a reversal of the policy of negligence and destruction,” Vladimir Karapetian, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement. He urged Ankara to take the “same kind approach” to dozens of other medieval churches that have fallen into disrepair or been vandalized since the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.

“Unfortunately, this opening was not transformed to a new opportunity in Armenia-Turkish relations, because the Turkish government has not found it expedient to do so,” the statement said.

“Turkey’s announcements about the opening of this renovated church do not include the word ‘Armenian’ anywhere,” it added. “Names of kings and regions from medieval times are evoked, but no mention is made of its Armenian and Apostolic belonging. This is an evasion of the Turkish government’s responsibility not only to history and memory, but to its own Armenian minority.”

Also causing controversy in Armenia was the sight of a huge Turkish flag and a picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, hanging at the entrance to the Akhtamar church. Yerkir-Media, an Armenian television station that retransmitted the ceremony, aired a live phone-in program afterwards. It featured phone calls by angry viewers that condemned the display of Turkish state symbols on an Armenian religious shrine as blasphemous.

Earlier this week, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, rejected an official invitation to attend the event because the Turkish government has converted the restored church into a museum and ignored calls by the Turkish-Armenian community to place a cross on the church's dome.

In a speech before about 350 people attending the ceremony, the community’s spiritual leader, Patriarch Mesrop II, urged the government in Ankara to open up the church for worship at least once a year. "If our government approves [the request,] it will contribute to peace between two communities who have not been able to come together for years," Mesrop said.

Koc promised to consider the request. Reuters news agency reported that Turkish officials removed some of the candles placed inside the church by Armenians that arrived on the remote island for the occasion. It said some of them whispered prayers and wept with emotion.

Turkish officials have made no secret of their intention to use the event for countering the decades-long Armenian campaign for international recognition of the 1915-1918 massacres as genocide. The U.S. Congress is to debate a relevant resolution co-sponsored by over a hundred lawmakers soon.

“It is no coincidence that this opening is being held just as the U.S. Congress is considering a resolution on affirming the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide,” said Karapetian.

Karapetian also criticized Ankara for failing to reopen the Turkish-Armenian for the Armenian officials heading to Akhtamar. The Armenian delegation took 16 hours to reach the site, less than 400 kilometers from Yerevan, via Georgia.

In a related development, the Turkish police detained on Thursday five trade-union representatives who staged a demonstration on a jetty on Lake Van to protest the church's restoration. According to an Associated Press report citing the government-run Anatolia news agency, the protesters carried Turkish flags, pictures of Ataturk, and a banner that read: “The Turkish people are noble. They would never commit genocide.”

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


Prayers, protests at church opening

March 29 2007
By Zerin Elci
Some Armenians, whispering prayers, placed candles in the church. A few wept with emotion. Officials removed some of the candles, underlining Turkish sensitivities about expressions of religious belief in officially secular buildings.

The Armenian delegation took 16 hours to reach the site, barely 200 km (120 miles) from Yerevan, because Turkey's border with Armenia is closed and they had to travel via Georgia.
Akdamar - Turks and Armenians celebrated the re-opening of a 10th century Armenian Christian church restored with Turkish state money on Thursday in a ceremony they hope will herald a thaw in long-frozen ties.

But some Armenians, including the country's top clergyman, spurned the event because the Church of the Holy Cross, on a tiny island in Lake Van in eastern Turkey, is not adorned with a cross and will function as a museum, not as a place of worship.

Armenians also fear the event may be just a public relations exercise aimed at softening international pressure on Turkey to own up to its role in massacres of their countrymen in 1915.

Turkey denies claims the massacres amounted to a genocide. Flanked by Turkish flags, Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan, spiritual head of Turkey's tiny surviving Armenian community, thanked Ankara for the $1,4-million restoration, but asked that Armenians be allowed to pray once a year at the site.

"Praying at such a historic church, a centre of our faith, would have a positive effect on people's memory," he told about 350 people attending the ceremony. They included representatives of the Armenian government and the worldwide Armenian diaspora.

Turkish Culture Minister Attila Koc said Ankara would consider the request. He also said he hoped the church would boost tourism to the remote, mountainous region.

The church, commissioned by an Armenian king and completed in 921, is shaped as a cross, decorated with stone reliefs depicting Biblical scenes and topped by a conical roof. Snow-capped mountains tower above it and the blue lake waters.

Some Armenians, whispering prayers, placed candles in the church. A few wept with emotion. Officials removed some of the candles, underlining Turkish sensitivities about expressions of religious belief in officially secular buildings.

Armenia's Patriarch Garegin II boycotted the ceremony because of the decision to make the site a museum.

"Such actions by the Turkish authorities are directed against the Christian sentiments of the Armenian people and cannot be seen as a positive step on the path to reconciliation of the Armenian and Turkish peoples," the patriarchate said.

Muslim but secular Turkey, often criticised in the West for its treatment of its Christian minorities, hopes the re-opening of the church will improve its image, especially as the US Congress considers whether to approve a resolution that would recognise the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.

Ankara denies Ottoman Turkish forces committed a systematic genocide and says large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in inter-ethnic fighting in that period.

The church on Akdamar island (Akhtamar to the Armenians) ceased to be a place of worship during World War One, when many of Turkey's ancient Armenian population suffered death or deportation in a tragedy commemorated on April 24 every year.

The Armenian delegation took 16 hours to reach the site, barely 200 km (120 miles) from Yerevan, because Turkey's border with Armenia is closed and they had to travel via Georgia.

"It would be very nice if the border were open. If the border stays shut, tourism from Armenia cannot really take off," Armenia's Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjyan said.

Some Armenians dismissed the church project as empty PR.

"(Turkey) is sending a message to the European Union: 'Aren't we civilised, trying to restore good ties with Armenia', while for domestic consumption they tell everyone: 'You do not need to worry, there will be no cross (on the church)," said Armenia's Social Democrat Hunchakian Party in Yerevan. - Reuters

Additional reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan in Yerevan

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29 March, 2007
The Akhtamar St. Khatch church was built by the Armenian architect Manvel, under the sovereign {Armenian} Prince Gagik I in the 10th century. The monastery used to be the seat of the Catholicos in the years of 1113-1895.
Today, there took place the opening of the restored Surb Khatch (Holy Cross) which was eventually left without a cross. According to Turkish newspaper “Zaman”, the Turkish Foreign Ministry allowed putting the cross on the dome.

The Armenian delegation headed by Gagik Gyurjyan, vice minister of RA Culture and Youth was also present at the opening ceremony.

To remind, Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin has refused the invitation taking into account the fact that the church will turn into a museum and will no longer serve its main mission.

The church was built by Manvel architect under the sovereign of Prince Gagik I in the 10th century. The monastery used to be the seat of the Catholicos in the years of 1113-1895.

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


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Turkish restoration of Armenian church leaves no room for apology

29 March 2007
The Independent
By Ian Herbert in Van, Anatolia, Turkey
the culture and tourism minister, Atilla Koc, Turkey's most senior government representative, made his address. "We protect the cultural diversity and assets of different cultures," he proclaimed during a speech in which the word "Armenia" was not used once.
Across a blue salt lake on an island surrounded by snow-capped mountains in eastern Turkey, Armenian Christians were invited yesterday to witness how the Turkish nation has restored one of their most holy sites.

From the bas-relief etched out of red tufa stone, to the frescoes on the high conical roof, most of the ancient treasures were back on view again at the 1,000-year-old Church of the Holy Cross, on the island of Akdamar in Lake Van, eastern Anatolia. Except for the cross; the same cross which was visible in early sketches of the church and photographed in 1908, just before Armenians were rounded up, never to return, in the city of Van at the beginning of what they describe as their genocide at the hands of the Ottomans.

The church's restoration had been sold to the world - and specifically to the US, whose House of Representatives is about to consider a resolution labelling the Armenian deaths genocide - as proof that Turkey want to put things right with the Armenians. But, despite the protests of the restoration project's Armenian architect, a cross was ruled out - as is any immediate prospect of this Christian church being consecrated so Armenians might, occasionally at least, pray here again. "The church is reopening as a museum and doesn't need a cross," Yusuf Halacoglu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, insisted this week. "Around 22,000 Ottoman buildings have had crescents taken off when attacked. Other countries don't give as much attention to that."

The insensitivity set the tone for yesterday's ceremony which, despite the Turkish posters everywhere declaring Tarihe saygi, kulture saygi ("Respect the history, respect the culture"), was a painful and almost provocative statement of Turkey's national identity. The Armenian architect/bishop Manuel, who started building the church in AD 915, employed Armenian master carvers to create Christian reliefs of Adam and Eve, Noah's flood and David and Goliath. But Turkey has appropriated the holy site in a three-year, $2m (£1m) rebuild and was making no secret of the fact. The Turkish cresent and a giant Ataturk hung from the front of the church where, after a triumphal rendition of the Turkish national anthem, the culture and tourism minister, Atilla Koc, Turkey's most senior government representative, made his address. "We protect the cultural diversity and assets of different cultures," he proclaimed during a speech in which the word "Armenia" was not used once.

Perhaps it was just as well that only 29 people from Armenia had travelled here - by road, via Georgia, because the Turks would not open the borders to their cars or Van airport to their planes. But those who did make the journey bore witness to the most extraordinary man in the place.

Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan believes his people were the victims of genocide - he calls it medzegherm(the great slaughter) - and he would like the Turkish government to say "a simple sorry to my people to ease the tensions". But he was prepared to take the Turks' Akdamar gesture at face value in the hope that Armenians and Turks can live together. "The government ... has courageously completed the restoration project," he said when he clambered to his feet. "It is quite a positive move in Turkish-Armenian relations and I offer my profound thanks." His only request was that the Turks allow the church to become the site of annual pilgrimage, concluding in a Christian ceremony, once a year.

It remains to be seen whether Turkey's modernising Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan can let that pass. It is an election year and a rising tide of nationalism is being fuelled in large part by the EU's frostiness about Turkish accession. Antagonising those who consider further concessions to the Armenians an "insult to Turkishness" might be politically contentious. It might also explain why Mr Erdogan, a progressive who started the Akdamar project and has also launched a History Commission to investigate the events of 1915, thought it best not to attend yesterday's ceremony.

So desperate is Mr Erdogan's government to demonstrate its tolerance of Turkey's 70,000 Armenian minority that it took journalists around the country this week. The trip revealed more than the government might have intended: Armenian schools in Istanbul where only the Turkish version of history - ignoring 1915 - is taught; Armenian priests who need metal detectors at their churches because of the threat of extremists; and, at the newspaper offices of the murdered Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink, a stream of abusive emails from nationalists. (Dink's last article communicated his exasperation at the Turks' initial selection of 24 April - the day when Armenians mark the anniversary of the round-up of intellectuals in 1915 - as the day of the Akdamar church reopening. That date was later changed.)

With the Armenian government unwilling to join Mr Erdogan's History Commission, Patriarch Mutafyan invokes the memory of Levon Ter-Petrossian, Armenia's former president, and his search for common ground. Mr Ter-Petrossian wanted a monument on the countries' border with the inscription, in Armenian and Turkish, of the words "I'm sorry". It was never built.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday that a request by Patriarch Mutayfan that the cross be returned to Akdamar was being referred to the culture ministry. "I'm praying that one day it will be there," another Armenian church leader, George Kazoum, said before the ceremony.

For now, the Armenians can only take comfort from the crosses which no one can take from them. They were bathed in sunshine yesterday, away from all of the Turkish stage-managed razzmatazz, on gravestones in the Akdamar churchyard which have stood here through 1,000 years of snow, storms, earthquakes and human carnage.

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.


Senate panel condemns murder of Turkish-Armenian

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Washington Post
Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel condemned on Wednesday the murder earlier this year of a prominent Turkish-Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, who had urged Turks to acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians on Turkish soil in 1915.

The largely symbolic resolution approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reopened the question of whether Congress should weigh in on the debate over whether the killings were genocide -- a sensitive issue in Turkey, a key NATO ally.

Armenia says some 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at Ottoman Turkish hands, but Turkey denies a systematic genocide of Armenians took place, saying large numbers of Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in inter-ethnic fighting during World War One.

The Senate resolution that passed the committee on a voice vote does not explicitly refer to the killings as genocide, but observes that Dink, before his death, was subjected to legal action in Turkey for doing so.

It condemns Dink's murder and urges the people of Turkey to "honor his legacy of tolerance." Dink was murdered by a Turkish nationalist gunman outside his Istanbul office in January; his funeral drew 100,000 mourners.

Turkish diplomats do not look favorably on the Senate proposal, which can now go to the floor for a vote. "We don't see the benefit of such a resolution," said Tuluy Tanc, the minister-counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Washington.

But the author of the Senate resolution, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, said he was not deterred by Turkish sensitivities.

"A relationship that rests on a requirement of a denial of an historical event, is not a sound basis for a relationship," Biden told Reuters.

Turkish officials, as well as members of the Bush administration, have expressed more concern about other resolutions pending in Congress, but it is unclear how quickly they may advance.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned last month that Congress would harm bilateral ties if it backs a resolution recognizing the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Turks as genocide.

Such a resolution has been introduced in the House by Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and in the Senate by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. Schiff told Reuters that with Democrats now in charge of Congress, he believed his resolution had its "best chance in a decade" of passage.

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Turkey and its past

March 29, 2007
Washington Times

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul is worried that the House of Representatives will pass an Armenian genocide resolution ("“Politicizing the Armenian Tragedy”, Op-Ed, March 28). He's a bit late.

You see, the House already has passed three resolutions (in 1975, 1984 and 1996) that explicitly reaffirmed America's long-standing recognition of the Armenian genocide.

President Reagan's official proclamation of April 22, 1981, also affirmed the factuality of that genocide.

Turkey took no action against the United States on those occasions and cannot do so when the current resolution passes, as Turkey is infinitely more dependent on America than America is on Turkey.

That it would threaten the United States with retaliation over a mere resolution disproves Turkey's contention that it is a loyal ally.

Finally, Mr. Gul's call for a "joint commission" to study the 1915 Armenian massacres is disingenuous, to say the least. He knows very well that such a joint study was undertaken by the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission and released in 2003. Its conclusion: Turkey committed genocide.

Turkey is in denial and must confront its demons.

Newton, Mass.

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Opening of Akhtamar Church - an attempt to prevent Armenian Genocide recognition


/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The renovation of the Holy Cross Church in Akhtamar island undoubtedly is a positive phenomenon, since the matter concerns one of the most famous Armenian medieval historical-cultural monuments, which was in poor condition after 1915, RA MFA Acting Press Officer Vladimir Karapetyan says in his statement.

Particularly the statement notes, “At the same it is worth mentioning that speaking about the opening of the church, the Turkish authorities and media do not mention her historical-cultural value. Turkey’s announcements about the opening of this renovated church do not include the word ‘Armenian’ anywhere, no mention is made of its Armenian and Apostolic belonging. This fact is being used for propaganda purposes, in order to prevent recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the international community.

The Turkish authorities are trying to avoid of the responsibility not only to history and memory, but to its own Armenian minority. Examining the issue from historical viewpoint, one cannot mention that the Holy Cross Church is one of a dozen other priceless examples of Armenian medieval architecture on Turkish territory, which have been abandoned at best, or more often, intentionally vandalized, simply because of their Armenian identity.

Armenia highly appreciates Turkey’s initiative on renovation of the church hoping that it will not become a single example. Renovation of the Holy Cross Church is important both for us and the Turkish society. The denial of such a broad layer of civilization, historical presence, culture of an entire nation today is impossible for a nation and a country, which tries to become a part of civilized system of values. Instead, constantly the political implication is being underlined of this issue, it is being presented as a “demonstration of good will” towards Armenia and the Armenian nation.”

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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.


Ancient land offers feast of history and natural beauty

Mar 29, 2007
The Star
Special to the Star

Vibrant culture survived decades of Soviet dominance

Yerevan, Armenia–The axles scream at every bump in the road and we are tossed about inside our minibus like lottery balls.

Appropriately enough, this crumbling Armenian back road, like an archeological ruin, paves the way for a unique journey back in time.

Part of the road network, battered by the great earthquake of 1989, remains in disrepair.

A couple of hours along, our stomachs feel the same. We have been told to bring food and water since rural Armenia offers little for tender Western stomachs.

But we are here to sample a different menu: a feast of ancient history and natural splendours.

"This is a special place. Its beauty never ceases to amaze me," says Armenian-American Matthew Karanian, a professional photographer and writer (and attorney and university professor) who co-wrote Armenia & Karabagh, The Stone Garden Guide, an illustrated 306-page guidebook about his beloved homeland.

Set amid the mountains of the Caucasus Region, Armenia is surrounded by exotic, sometimes turbulent neighbours, including Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and packs 7,000 years of history into a country that's a little more than half the size of Nova Scotia.

Imagine a breathtaking blend of rivers, valleys, plains and sand canyons reflecting 1,001 colours.

One of several countries whose doors have recently opened to tourists, Armenia unveils a paradox of an intense religious culture and dazzling urban nightlife that will impress even the most jaded traveller.

"When I was transferred to Yerevan, I did not know what to think and what to expect. Now I'm having a great time here. The Armenian culture and people are fascinating," says Frenchman Alex Nurock, director of management at the Marriott Armenia Hotel in Yerevan.

Despite centuries of conflict and oppression, Armenians remain a steadfastly religious people, proud of being the oldest Christian nation on Earth.

Monasteries, some of them thousands of years old, remain active, inhabited and true to their purpose. Very much a living history, these medieval structures operate much as they did 1,700 years ago, despite being Armenia's No. 1 tourist attraction.

During my visit, the head of the Armenian Church, Catholicos Karekin II, said that the role of all church leaders is "to establish goodness in the heart of the people, so that, through love, they will find their salvation."

"Christianity is like the colour of our skin," our guide added. "It is inseparable for the life of every Armenian."

For centuries, Armenia's political and social evolution has been guided by faith.

The Armenian Apostolic Church resembles Catholicism (although married men can become priests), and as with many Western nations of centuries past, the church represents a kind of a parallel government.

The fraternal and historical links between Armenia and the West – particularly France and the United States – breathe a natural warmth into the relationship between Armenians and their guests.

Roughly eight million people of Armenian descent are scattered throughout the world (double Armenia's population), notably French singer Charles Aznavour, American tennis legend Andre Agassi and American singer and actress Cher.Armenia languished as a republic of the former Soviet Union before regaining its independence in 1991.

Today, the architecture, cars and fashions stir memories of this period and Russian endures as the nation's most common second language after Armenian.

Still, the painted-over greyness of the land is brightened by a grand elegance that will not be denied.

Yerevan, the capital, resembles a modern Russian city. A small town of 14,000 in 1900, it is now home to 1.2 million people. At its heart, Republic Square is an immense public space and cultural centre bordered by shops, hotels, museums and art galleries.

This was Lenin Square during the Soviet period, and the requisite Lenin statue stood watch over the masses before eventually being toppled – and beheaded – after independence.

This decapitated symbol of Soviet repression lies broken and discarded in a back courtyard of the National History Museum, for all to see.

The Canadian consulate has a prestigious address – on Republic Square, in an office once occupied by the KGB.

"The Canadian embassy is in Moscow but we provide consular services," says Artashes Emin, the honorary Canadian Consul.

"Once I was in an arts and crafts market, and I found a Canadian passport on the ground. Then I returned to the consulate and the Canadian who lost the passport arrived just moments after me, to get a replacement passport. It was incredible. I really felt useful that day."

Yerevan's Genocide Monument pays homage to the estimated two million victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

A circular, underground museum recalls the event in stories and photos while a 45-metre granite stela points to the sky to signal rebirth. A 12-sided structure leans inward to mourn the 12 Armenian provinces annexed by Turkey. More a pilgrimage site than a tourist stop, the park is both profoundly moving and deeply disturbing.

The greatest surprise is the restaurants and the lively nightlife that begins as soon as the plates are emptied.

A full meal of Armenian specialties, accompanied with wine, costs about $12, delivering wonderful memories at remarkably affordable prices. At night, joyful revellers move through the main streets in waves. Food and drinks are served on terraces with an authentic Mediterranean flavour.

"Armenia is a destination that will open the eyes of a curious traveller seeking something beyond the well-worn pathways of tourism," says Karanian.

Benoit Legault is a Montreal-based writer. His trip to Armenia was subsidized by the Armenia Marriott Hotel and by Lufthansa Airlines.

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.


Jared Goldberg: The ghost of genocides past

The Michigan Daily
If we truly want to honor the victims in Darfur and understand how to help them, we should recognize and remember one of the first genocides of the 20th century, that of the Armenian people.
Activism against the genocide in Darfur has become omnipresent. Students Taking Action Now in Darfur has just joined with the new group Will Work for Food to help raise awareness and aid those suffering in the conflict. Students have the power to change the world. We have done it before, and the creation of groups like Will Work for Food and STAND will show future generations that not everyone was silent.

The genocide in Darfur however, is definitely not the first modern genocide. Genocides were common throughout history, even before the Holocaust. If we truly want to honor the victims in Darfur and understand how to help them, we should recognize and remember one of the first genocides of the 20th century, that of the Armenian people.

April 24 will mark the 92nd anniversary of the arrest and eventual murder of Armenian leaders in Turkey. Though for centuries Armenians lacked an independent government and were not equal citizens in the Ottoman Empire, (which controlled much of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, including historic Armenia), the rise of Armenian political institutions and groups in the 19th century gave hope that Armenians would eventually have their own state.

Several years before World War I, a groups of reformers within the waning Ottoman Empire, known as the Young Turks, gained considerable power. While some wanted to liberalize the empire and grant more rights to minorities, a faction known as the Committee of Union and Progress rose in the ranks. By 1913, three leaders known as the Three Pashas, assumed control of the country. Much of their ideology was overtly racist and expansionist.

What had begun as a policy of arrest and detainment evolved into a campaign of deportation, starvation and mass murder. By the end of World War I in 1918, much of historic Armenia, including the famous Mount Ararat, had been completely "cleansed" of Armenians. Over a million people were dead. To put this in perspective, it is estimated that the total number of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire was no more than 3 million.

Unlike the Holocaust, or even the events in Darfur, the Armenian Genocide is still not recognized by some countries. While Turkey's denial comes as no surprise, other countries like America and Great Britain do not use the word genocide to describe the events. Undeniably, though the many parallels between Hitler's extermination policies and those of the Turkish government between 1915-1917 are clear; each can only be described as genocidal.

So why the persistent denial? Why is there no pressure on the modern government of Turkey to recognize past horrors? Why are Western governments apprehensive about turning up such pressure? And, perhaps the bigger issue, why do we acknowledge the Holocaust, Rwanda, the Balkans and now Darfur as acts of mass murder to be universally condemned while at the same time forget the genocide that some have argued made it all possible?

I have my own theory about this complacency: the nation-state. Modern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East are states built on the foundations of the nation, whatever your definition of nation is. World War I created the concept that nations deserve their own states. Our world, since the downfall of empires and colonialism, has seen the birth of numerous such states. For the modern state of Turkey, much of whose current territory encompasses historic Armenia, the genocide marks its birth as a nation-state, arising from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. To recognize it, in the views of some, is an admission of original sin.

Other countries in Europe and elsewhere during and after World War I also committed atrocities in their quest for independence. Recognition of the Armenian genocide would indict the entire nation-state system, a system that has created new identities for people across the world - identities which have liberated many from oppression in centuries past.

The nation-state is an imperfect creation, but remembering the Armenian genocide doesn't invalidate it. The Turkish people, like the Armenian people, are free to determine their own destiny in this world. But to deny the deaths of a million people does a grave injustice.

If we want our efforts to stop genocide in Darfur to be successful or even have any significant meaning, we should always remember the Armenian genocide.

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


Armenian delegation in Turkey to attend ceremony to mark restoration of Armenian church

March 29, 2007
Source: The Associated PressPublished

ANKARA, Turkey: The spiritual leader of Turkey's Armenian Orthodox community on Thursday called on Turkey to open up a newly restored ancient Armenian church for worship at least once a year, saying the move would help reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

Patriarch Mesrob II was speaking at a ceremony marking the restoration of the Akdamar church, perched on a rocky island in Lake Van, a vast body of water in eastern Turkey. Turkish authorities restored the church as a gesture to its neighbor and its own ethnic Armenian minority, but opened it up as a museum — not a place of worship.

Mesrob expressed gratitude for the restoration of the sandstone church but added: "Our request from our government is for a religious and cultural service to be held at the church every year and for a festival to be organized."

"If our government approves, it will contribute to peace between two communities who have not been able to come together for years," Mesrob said.

Akdamar's restoration — at a cost of US$1.5 million (€1.1 million) — has been showcased as a step by Turkey to help overcome historical animosity between Turkey and Armenia, who are locked in a bitter dispute over mass killings of Armenians in Turkey around the time of World War I.

Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia but still invited Armenian officials to the ceremony. Armenia's Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjyan, accompanied by a 20-member delegation, including officials, historians and other experts, traveled to Turkey for the ceremony.

One of the finest surviving monuments of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, the church had deteriorated over the past century, neglected in the years following the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks. Rainwater seeped through the collapsed, conical dome. Its basalt floors were dug up by treasure-hunters, its facade riddled with bullet holes.

On Thursday, police detained five trade-union representatives who staged a demonstration on a jetty on Lake Van to protest the church's restoration. The protesters carried Turkish flags, pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's founder, and a banner that read: "The Turkish people are noble. They would never commit genocide," the government-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Akdamar, called the Church of Surp Khach, or Holy Cross, was inaugurated in A.D. 921. Written records say the church was near a harbor and a palace on the island on Lake Van, but only the church survived.

Armenia has welcomed the restoration, but said a better move toward improved ties would be the opening up of the border with Armenia and the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 during a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a Muslim ally of Ankara. Landlocked Armenia's economy suffered as a result.

Turkey is lobbying hard against a proposed U.S. congressional resolution that would recognize the killings of Armenians in the last century as genocide.

Some of Turkey's 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians complain of harassment in Turkey, which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in Istanbul in January, was apparently targeted by nationalists for his commentaries on minority rights and free expression.

Associated Press writer Selcan Hacaoglu 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.


Gül: Our strategic cooperation is jeopardized

Today’s Zaman İstanbul
Mr. Gül, you said "As Mr. Dink himself said in a published interview shortly before his tragic death, 'What I want from the Armenian Diaspora is not to make any demands about accepting the genocide, neither from Turkey, from the parliament nor any other governments'. ", as referenced un the article below. It takes only a mean spirit not to honour Hrant Dink by attending his funeral see "Turkish media has criticized top politicians and armed forces chiefs for not attending the funeral." here, and then turn around and distort his words to your benefit. Hrant Dink never said "neither from Turkey". What he said was speak to Turks directly, for Turkey to recognize the genocide. This shows the despicable approach Turkey has taken in denying the genocide. I hope the US Congress will see you for what you are. Mr. Gül, the greatness of Turkey is not manifested in winning. It is manifested in the way it stands on principles.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has said "a single interest group" has jeopardized the US-Turkish relationship, in an article in a US newspaper.

"Our strategic partnership spans a wide range of global challenges, from helping secure Iraq and Afghanistan to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting energy security and fighting terrorism in our region and beyond," wrote Gül on Wednesday in an opinion piece in The Washington Times called "Politicizing the Armenian tragedy."

"Yet, such strategic cooperation is jeopardized by a single interest group that solely pursues its own political agenda over national interests. Once again, Armenian lobbying organizations are determined to politicize the past -- and impose their view of history -- without any regard to the overriding and lasting interests of the United States or Armenia."

Indicating that Turkey has no difficulties in facing its past, he said all Turkish archives, including the military archives of the period, are open to the entire international academic community. However, important Armenian archives are not.

In the article Gül also referred to the slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's wishes: "As Mr. Dink himself said in a published interview shortly before his tragic death, 'What I want from the Armenian diaspora is not to make any demands about accepting the genocide, neither from Turkey, from the parliament nor any other governments'."

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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