Sunday, December 30, 2007


Dec 28, 2007
Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, DC
The way I feel about this is that they might have as well vandalized an Armenian Genocide memorial. I share the pain of every Jew who may read this and promise to spare no effort to remedy this kind of cowardly behaviour.
Unidentified vandals defaced a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in central Yerevan, Armenia last week, scrawling a swastika on the simple stone structure and splattering it with black paint, “The Jerusalem Post” reported on December 23.

Rabbi Gershon Burshtein, a Chabad emissary who serves as chief rabbi of the country's small Jewish community, expressed shock upon discovering the vandalism while escorting visitors to the site. After calling the police and local government officials to inform them of the incident, he said, “This is terrible, as there are excellent relations between Jews and Armenians." A senior adviser to Armenian President Robert Kocharian denounced the defacement as "a provocation."

In the past few years, the monument has been defaced and toppled several times. It is located a few blocks north of the centrally-located Republic Square, which is home to a number of government offices. Armenia's Jewish population is estimated at between 300 and 500 people, most of them in the capital Yerevan.


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


Friday, December 28, 2007

Turks say they were absent from Armenian hearings due to religious holiday

A missed chance or intentional boycott?
"The Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Rustamian, sent me an invitation via e-mail to attend the parliamentary hearings organized under the heading "Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Perspectives" held on 19-20 December. Although they do not engender immediate results, such hearings are essentially useful as they are conducive to aiding the parties involved gauge each other’s viewpoints. For this reason, I would have liked to have been able to take part in the said discussions. Unfortunately, I had to inform Rustamian that I would not be able to attend due to prior engagements,” Omer Engin Lutem, chairman of the Eurasian Strategic Research Center (ASAM), said in a letter to Armen Rustamian.

“As gathered from the press, 20 or so Turks were invited to attend the hearings. Among them were personalities such as Taner Akcam, Fatma Muge Gokcek and Halil Berktay who fully espouse and have taken it upon themselves to win others over to Armenian views; people such as Orhan Pamuk and Baskin Oran who adhere to views that fall fairly in line with the Armenian stance; and individuals such as Can Paker who approach the subject matter from the perspective of the European Union. Apart from myself, in order to voice the "Turkish standpoint", Turkish Historical Society President Yusuf Halacoglu, and International Strategic Research Institute Director Sedat Laciner were invited to attend. Most likely Patriarch Mutafian was called upon to participate in order to represent Turkey’s Armenian community. As these hearings were organized by the National Assembly of Armenia, it would only have been appropriate if members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly were invited to attend as well. However, on this point, nothing surfaced in the press,” he wrote.

“All Turks invited notified how they would not be able to attend the hearings. No doubt this is a result of the hearings corresponding with a religious holiday and a result of the invitations having been made so late, and hence due to those in question having prior engagements,” he added.

“The importance of such hearings rests in generating greater understanding concerning the views and standpoints of the parties concerned. Looked at from this perspective, it would be worthwhile if the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s concerned commissions were to organize a similar meeting in the coming months," Lutem whote.

Meanwhile, Armen Rustamian said that the Turkish government spoke out against the arrival of Turkish scholars. “We provided a firm guarantee of security but Ankara decided that their presence would be inexpedient. For our part, we expressed readiness to travel to Turkey for similar hearings dedicated to cancellation of article 301,” Rustamian said.

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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.


U.S. President maintains Armenia and Azerbaijan military aid parity


U.S. President George Bush signed the fiscal year (FY) 2008 overall appropriations package this week, known as the omnibus bill, which included $58.5 million in economic assistance for Armenia and maintained Armenia and Azerbaijan military aid parity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)

The Armenia economic aid figures are $17.5 million less than the FY 2007 figures but represent a clear increase over the Administration’s request of $35 million. Congress also approved $3 million in foreign military financing (FMF) assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan, reversing the Administration’s latest bid to retreat from its 2001 pledge to maintain parity in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"We are troubled by the reductions in aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, particularly in light on the ongoing economic costs of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as Baku’s increasingly violent rhetoric about restarting its war against the Armenians," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank all of our friends in the Congressional appropriations process who, working against significant competing budgetary pressures – were able to deliver figures higher than the President’s request, and also to maintain military aid parity."

In addition to the Armenia allocation, the omnibus aid bill also includes $50.5 million for Georgia and $19 million for Azerbaijan. Millennium Challenge Account funding is set for $1.5 billion, half of President Bush’s request.

The final compromise aid legislation does not stipulate a specific amount of aid to Karabakh, urging the State Department to be guided instead by the individual Senate and House recommendations adopted earlier this year, one of which did allocate $6 million in aid to Karabakh.

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

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


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Is It Still Genocide if Your Allies Did It?

HYE-TERT, Turkey
Yer: USA
Tarih: 27.12.2007

How did you get involved in researching the Armenian Genocide?

I began in 1988 at the Hamburg Social Research Institute, working on the history of torture and violence in Turkish political culture. At first, I was studying and researching later Ottoman history. However, if one looks at this time period, one comes inevitably upon the massacres of 1894-1896 and the deportation and killing of the Armenians in 1915.

In 1991, the Institute launched a project to investigate whether or not the [lessons of the] Nuremburg Trials could be universalized. At the time there were no serious discussions about this subject. We wanted to know whether one could establish a court that would punish officials for the crimes they committed in the name of their government or nation. Within that project, I suggested looking into the Istanbul trials of 1919 and 1922 -- these were the trials that attempted to establish responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. They were sort of precursors to Nuremburg. So these two components came together, and I that's how I really started working on the Genocide.

And you're from Turkey? Are you a Muslim?

I grew up in a very secular family. My father was an atheist, but I grew up, of course, within Islamic culture. I am sure I carry on much of this Islamic culture in the way I live, but in terms of my personal convictions, I am very secular.

Please understand that I am a very ordinary Turkish intellectual. I come from the '68 Generation -- here it was the Hippie Generation, but we too were against the Vietnam War, American foreign policy, and so on. As progressive people of that time in Turkey, we believed that we, Turks created our nation-state in a fight against the great imperialist powers. We assigned a very negative role to the Christian minorities in Turkey, to the Armenians. To us, they were collaborators. This is how we perceived ourselves and the world, and how we saw Turkey's past. Since we saw all Christians in Turkey as allied with the imperialist state, we had a very negative image of them. As progressives, we always thought it was better not to touch on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, because to do so would be to enter a very dark, suspicious terrain, which could not be understood easily. It was not easy for me to decide to work on the Genocide. At first I thought: I'm working on a very suspicious terrain, better not to go in, actually.

You were active in protests from an early age, correct?

In my early period, in the early 1970s, I was in high school when the student movement was very active. This was a huge anti-war movement. When I started studying at the University it was already 1971, and 1971 was the military coup d'état in Turkey. We were under the control of military. At the beginning, we students were trying to reform the universities. We wanted students to have a voice. Later, they became radicalized, describing themselves as a socialist and democratic revolutionary movement. In 1974 there was the first free election in Turkey. The students became active, and I was one of these student activists influenced by his older brothers in the '68 movement. We wanted reform at the universities.

Now, this is important to understand because of the ongoing Turkish campaign in the United States to discredit me as a terrorist. The story begins with my arrest in 1974 for leafleting. At that time, the students didn't have representation at the universities. Our major demand was to have the freedom to establish a student organization to allow the university to hear us.

In order to distribute a leaflet in Turkey you had to go to the central police station and get special permission. You had to have this permit in your possession while distributing literature. However, even if you had this permit -- as I did -- you could still get arrested and held in jail for two or three days; which is exactly what happened to me. That was my "terrorist act": distributing leaflets -- with permission, mind you -- which said I opposed the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. I was against war. So the police arrested me and I spent two days in prison.

Now today, in the United States, you can go online and read about Taner Akçam's terrorist activities in 1974. It's very simple in the United States to stigmatize someone as a terrorist. With that label attached to someone's name, you can portray Al Qaeda and Taner Akçam in the same picture.

If you go to Google and type in "Holocaust", you get to the Jewish Holocaust immediately, and it takes some time and quite a few pages before you get to the crackpots whose Web sites attempt to discredit it. But with "Armenian Genocide," you get "Armenian Genocide Lie" on the first page, nine entries down on the day I checked (May 10). The famed British journalist and Middle East expert Robert Fisk argues -- quite effectively -- that we would think it insane to give equal time to a Holocaust denial group, but that is often par for the course on the subject of the Armenian Genocide. In 2006, John Evans, the United States' ambassador to Armenia, was even recalled by the U. S. government for using the term 'genocide' in a speech, and he was replaced by Richard Hoagland, who is on record as stating that what happened in Turkey doesn't qualify as a genocide. Since we know that Turkey opposes mention of the Armenian Genocide, I have to wonder why they are able to exert this level of control?

Turkey uses its political importance in the Middle East to pressure the U.S. and other countries not to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Especially the U.S. and Israel have vital interests in keeping good relations with Turkey, so both states have enormous problems to face. Why Turkey doesn't acknowledge the historical wrongdoing is one part of the story. The other part of the history is why the U.S. and Israel let themselves be pressured by Turkey. According to me actually this is a wrong attitude and doesn't help to solve the problem; just the opposite, it lingers the problem and makes it more complicated. I think a strategic partnership that hasn't been based on truth cannot stay healthy in the long term.

Actually, in 2006, John Evans, the United States ambassador to Armenia, was denied a Foreign Service award for "constructive dissent" because he had characterized the Armenian Genocide as such in public presentations throughout the U.S. The State Department forced him to recant, then recalled him from his post.

During confirmation hearings to replace Evans, ambassadorial nominee Richard Hoagland acknowledged the "mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire." At one point highlighting the issue of the perpetrators' intent, Hoagland strenuously avoided characterizing this "human tragedy" as a genocide -- without stating, however, that what happened in Turkey did NOT qualify. The Senate declined his nomination.

Since Evans' departure, Armenia has been without a U.S. ambassador.

Those who argue that there are two sides to the story -- the same people who wouldn't dream of saying such a thing about the Holocaust -- are not doing so because of strong counter-evidence, but only because of political pressure from Turkey. According to the Ottoman documents, there can be no question that the Ottoman government consciously and deliberately destroyed a part of its own population. There is plenty of evidence there.

Acknowledging the Genocide is not a problem of scholarship; it has to do with Turkey's military and political strength in the Middle East. The United States needed Turkey in the Cold War, needed Turkey against the Soviet Union, and needs Turkey today -- not only in the Iraq war, but also in order to preserve the energy routes. Turkey's relationship with Israel is also very important. Turkey is the only country in the Middle East with which Israel has peaceful relations. For these reasons, the Armenian Genocide is highly politicized.

After you were involved in this Nuremberg project, where did you go from there?

In Hamburg, I wrote my doctoral dissertation about the Istanbul Military Tribunals in 1919-1922 and the attitude of the Turkish National Movement towards the Armenian Genocide. The German edition, which appeared in 1996, was around 200 pages long. The Turkish edition was 600 pages. A substantially revised American edition came out in 2006 as A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.

And when did you start noticing harassment because of your pursuit of this subject?

Very early. 1996, I think.

By way of background, I couldn't go back to Turkey before 1993. With my early 1970s activity in the student movement, and some journal articles I wrote stating that the Kurds existed in Turkey, I was punished under Article 141 of the Turkish Penal Code. This was a law forbidding you to write about the Kurds. You also couldn't mention class struggle in Turkey. I wrote about a worker's strike in Istanbul and the right of workers to establish a trade union, topics which were also forbidden under Article 141. This law, by the way, had been adapted from the penal code of Mussolini's Fascist regime in 1936.

So in 1976 I was arrested and sentenced to prison for eight years, nine months and twenty days. I escaped from prison in 1977 and fled to Germany where I received political asylum and became a German citizen. In 1991, while Turkey was applying for membership in the European Union, Paragraph 141 was rescinded and my conviction was annulled. My issue regarding the escape from prison had already lapsed under the statute of limitations. Suddenly, I could go back to Turkey. I returned in 1993 with my family, intending to establish a documentation and research center on the late Ottoman and modern Turkish history. I worked with a private university in Istanbul in 1996 to establish this institute. But within a year, the Turkish Secret Service distributed a file against me amongst the scholars at the university, and they had to terminate contact with me because it was too risky. My family and I had to leave again for Germany.

There were and are no criminal charges pending against me in Turkey. Despite this, I have been constantly targeted by Turkish media, by the nationalists, and in certain political circles. In 2004, because of the strengthening nationalist movement in Turkey, the penal code was changed to prohibit any statement that challenges the official Turkish position. This is the infamous Article 301 that exists today. Now there are many scholars and writers who espouse the official Turkish position for fear of reprisal.

Recently there was a complaint against me because I supported a friend, Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist in Istanbul and an editor of a weekly Armenian/Turkish newspaper, who was charged under this law. He was assassinated in January 2007.

Now, Article 301 doesn't include anything specifically about the Genocide. Since the charge of "insulting Turkishness" is purposefully vague, some public prosecutor had decided that Dink's use of the term "genocide" constituted an insult. He was sentenced at the end of 2005 for the crime of insulting Turkishness. In 2006 he was put on trial for using the 'g' word.

So I wrote an opinion piece saying, essentially, "Here I am, I am also using the word 'genocide', please put me on trial." There was a criminal investigation, but the prosecutor dismissed the complaint. Since 1993 I have been able to travel to Turkey without any problem.

Do you feel that if you went back, you would be prosecuted?

No. The basic problem is the rise of nationalism in Turkey. Ever since my friend's assassination, many intellectuals have been living under police protection. I too could get police protection, but my life would be in danger. In fact, Hrant Dink's assassination showed us that the part of the police were complicit in the murder. You don't know whether or not you can trust the police.

Do you want to go back?

I would love to go to Turkey. I don't plan to live there, but I do plan to go back.

What brought you to the University of Minnesota?

I came to the United States because my work in Hamburg was almost at an end. I couldn't work on the Armenian Genocide and find a teaching position. So I came here because I didn't want to change my topic. I started at the University of Michigan as a visiting scholar. Then I came to Minnesota to give a lecture -- in fact, I gave three -- and the University liked them enough to give me a contract. I have a visiting status, but I am very happy here.

So the research that you did for A Shameful Act you pulled from Ottoman documents?

Actually my original dissertation was not based on Ottoman archival materials, but rather on two different categories of evidence. There were documents from the 1919 and 1922 Istanbul trials, the indictments, verdicts and minutes from meetings. These had been published in the daily newspapers of the time as well as in the official gazette of the government. I mostly used these for my PhD. Later, some of this information came from published memoirs.

In following years, I was able to work in the Ottoman Archive in Istanbul and I received very valuable documents from this Archive. This is the government archive, like the National Archives here in the U.S. In A Shameful Act I relied on these documents. The papers from the Interior Ministry were crucial to my study. They were catalogued just recently, in the 1990s, some in early 2000. They have still been working on cataloguing the documents.

What would prompt a group that wants to hide this information to open it to the public?

International pressure. You couldn't get these archives in the 1980s, but now the U.S. and Europe were saying, essentially, "Look, you claim that nothing happened, and yet you deny access to your archives." In the 1990s, the Turkish authorities launched a campaign to say, "Here we are, we are opening our archives."

Now, I would like clarify one point: the archives were always open to the public, but the question was whether or not the material related to this period was catalogued and available to researchers. If it's not catalogued, it becomes nearly impossible to examine. Also, in the past if you asked for material regarding the Armenians, you would be interrogated. They eased the working conditions in the archives so that it became easier to get access. The working conditions are better, the cataloguing has improved, and now that there's a new governing party, it's easier to do research on this topic.

Does this political party welcome news about the Genocide?

This party is more open than previous parties.

So there are these two parties, and one is more open-minded. But then there's a rise of nationalism. Do they both share hope of joining the E.U.?

No. The people who are challenging the Turkish position on Genocide and the governing party are in favor of joining the E.U. and want more democracy, more respect for human rights. But the resurgent nationalists and the Turkish Social Democrat Party are all very clearly against the E.U. and don't want to hear anything regarding the Armenian Genocide. The position of governing party towards the Armenian Genocide is more complicated. At the dawn of their power they had a more moderate position, but over the years the pressure from nationalists has become so strong that they have, on the surface at least, changed their previous position. I can give one example: initially they were inclined to open the border with Armenia, to support an open discussion in Turkish society, etc.

Is this the group that is primarily behind the efforts to discredit you and others who look into the Armenian Genocide?

That group is not the governing party. The group who organizes the campaign against me in Turkey and here in the U.S. is a part of what we call the "Deep State," the military-bureaucratic complex. This non-elected government body is behind the campaign to discredit Genocide scholars. The nationalists and the Social Democrat Party are behind this effort. Here in the U.S. there are some groups organized and controlled mostly by Turkish diplomats. I can give three names: ATAA (Assembly of Turkish American Associations); Turkish Forum (an e-mail group, coordinated between different initiatives in different states in the U.S.) and a Web site, (one of the most popular Armenian Genocide denial sites).

Definitely there are Turkish diplomats who nourish these sites with information. I mean, who could have given the exact date of my arrest in 1974? Even I had forgotten that! It was for leafleting! And there is no record of this in any journal or newspaper. This is what that Web site claims is a terrorist act. There must be some police officer in Ankara from whom they got the information. All these groups that I mentioned (ATAA, Turkish Forum,, some diplomats and police officers from Turkey) are very well connected.

Let's talk about this recent problem you've been having. Recently you tried to go to Montreal for a speaking engagement and were detained. What happened?

The McGill University Faculty of Law and Concordia University had invited me to lecture on my book A Shameful Act. At the airport in Montreal I was detained for almost five hours, without any explanation. Meanwhile, my hosts contacted the Ministry of Public Safety and the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. Because of this intervention, I was issued a special one-week visa.

On my insistence that I had the right to know exactly why I had been detained, I was shown a printout of my Wikipedia biography. For the last year, that page had been persistently vandalized by anonymous "contributors" seeking to label me as a terrorist. Since then I have received apologies from Wikipedia editors, and my biography is now protected from unauthorized changes.

At any rate, on my way back from Montreal, an American immigration officer advised me not to travel internationally until I could get this information removed from my customs dossier. I still don't know the extent of the problem! My lawyer wrote to the immigration office and we couldn't get any answer.

Before going to Montreal I had applied for a Green Card, and when you do that you get an automatic travel permit and working permit, just for submitting the application. My daughter has her permit. I haven't. It hasn't been issued. Today I am still on an H1 visa, which is a special visa for scholars.

But you still can't travel internationally?

I can travel internationally, but I might not be able to return. The U.S. officers could deny reentry. They could tell me to return to my home country and wait for this to clear up. My lawyer and I are still waiting for news about my Green Card. Now we're working on getting an extension of my visa and waiting to hear about the so-called problem.

[Note: since this interview, Dr. Akçam 's status has changed and he is able to travel internationally.]

That must be frustrating.

Of course! Someone writes in Wikipedia that I'm a terrorist, and suddenly I can't travel or have some trouble in my Green Card application process. We have letters from senators, both Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, and we're hoping for acceleration on my case. Acceleration of a case that has been delayed already.

I've already canceled five international appearances, three conferences in Germany and Italy, a book tour in Britain and Holland. I canceled all of them. My book has been translated into Dutch, and I can't go there to talk about it.

As a campaign to silence you, this has been horribly effective.

Not only has it been very successful in keeping me from travel, it's been difficult to work. I have to focus on the legal problem, writing letters to institutions, meeting with senators and my lawyers. I'm occupied, stressed... this is exactly what they wanted. My publishing house in Istanbul is waiting for an article, and I haven't had time to finish it.

Once this is cleared up, what are your plans?

I'm working on some research projects. I just finished work with another leading scholar of the Armenian Genocide, Vahakn Dadrian. We are writing a two-volume book on the indictments and verdicts and minutes of the Istanbul trials. This is a very important first-hand account of the Genocide.

I'm also working on a book I call the Demographic Policy. My central argument in A Shameful Act was that the Armenian Genocide was not an isolated act against Armenians but a part of a demographic policy enacted during World War I. It had two main components. One was against the Muslim non-Turkish population, who were redistributed, relocated and resettled among the Turkish population with the aim of assimilation. The second was against the Christian population, the Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. The goal was to get the Christians out of Anatolia, what we now know as Turkey-to forcibly move them to Greece or Iran. Or, in the case of the Armenians, to eliminate them altogether.

In 1914, Anatolia was about 25 to 30 percent Christian. After the war it was 3 to 4 percent. The aim was to reduce the Christian population to no more than 5 or 10 percent so that they would have little sway in Turkey. Based on Ottoman documents we can prove this policy existed. The genocidal intent can be shown. What I began in A Shameful Act I will conclude in this book, based only on Ottoman documents.

What would you like to see as the result of your scholarship? Do you feel that knowing about the Genocide actually helps make Turkey a stronger country?

This is an important point. The military-bureaucratic complex, the ruling elite, still believes that facing history is jeopardizing Turkey's security. They believe that there is an intertwining, a link, between facing history and national security. This is the meaning behind the basic argument behind the Turkish denial position. They argue that genocide -- which they call relocation and deportation -- was due to the security concern during the First World War. They argue that the Armenian population was a threat to Turkish security during the war.

Today, talking about the Genocide is considered a threat to national security. That is why they call us traitors. If they openly talk about the Genocide -- or what happened to the Greeks and the Kurds -- they think Turkey will be partitioned, even now. They consider the Genocide claims as a big plan against Turkey; they believe that the United States wants to partition Turkey. Within the rising tide of nationalism, they believe that the U.S. invaded Iraq in order to create a Kurdish state. If you establish this state it would take over a part of Turkey.

They believe that the U.S. wants to revive the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, which would partition Anatolia among Greeks, Kurds and Armenians.

Any part of talking about history is regarded as part of a master plan to partition Turkey. If Turkey acknowledges the Genocide, the Armenians will want a part of the provinces; if Turkey admits the wrongdoings against the Kurds, they will want a part; if Turkey acknowledges the Greek problem, the massacres, the Greeks will want a part. Facing history is a part of a master plan to break up Turkey: this is the basic argument. My argument is that we have to find a way to disentangle security concerns from facing history. These are two totally separate issues. As long as Turkey doesn't face history, that will be a security concern. Any security concept which disregards human rights, which disregards the other national groups, and considers the Kurds a threat is detrimental in itself. Turkey must change its security concept.

Playing devil's advocate, do you think there's any truth to the concept that the U.S. wants to break up Turkey?

No. The U.S. doesn't have this option. Breaking up Turkey would only bring catastrophe. There is no such interest. But if Turkey continues to deny the existence of the Kurds, continues to deny the right of its ethnic minorities, partition could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Islamic government is actually more open to acknowledging the problem, and is looking for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation. But the military is looking for a military solution, and they consider the Kurds as a treat to Turkey's existence.

So actually, you want a strong Turkish state as much as the nationalists do?

I want a democratic, free Turkey, one that is a part of the E.U., and one that is a part of the Western democratic family. There is no way to achieve this unless Turkey faces its history.

Hearing what you've said, and hearing the rhetoric of the Bush Administration and supporters of the Iraq war, it seems odd that the right wing in America has not embraced your scholarship. Bush nominated a man for Ambassador to Armenia who obfuscates the Armenian Genocide, but one would think that someone like yourself, who supports democracy in a Middle East country and who is writing of essentially Muslim atrocities against Christians would be welcomed by the Right. Why is this?

Well, the war in Iraq is another piece of paper altogether. It is a wrong war, a wrong decision. But regardless of whether it was right or wrong, if they are honest with their argument -- spreading democracy in the Middle East -- they have to support the movement in Turkey toward a free society. If they are supporting the military, who are challenging this position, then that is a contradiction. This is what is happening in the U.S. now. If the information in the press is correct, the American new-conservatives are working with Turkish Deep State against Turkey's democratization movement.

So you think that contradiction exists?

Regarding the American arguments outwardly and their practice in the region we can definitely speak of a contraction. But we should never forget that nation-states don't have moral stances; they only have interests. It is naïve to think that the U.S. interest in the Middle East is only to establish democracy. Or U.S. follows certain moral principles in the region. Just the opposite. The last best example is what happened in April 2007. On April 27 of this year there was an "electronic coup d'état" in Turkey. The Turkish military issued a press release online that threatened the ruling party with a coup. The E.U. condemned the military immediately and said they wouldn't allow that to happen. For the first two weeks Americans just watched, to see who would win. They were pragmatic. If the military won, they'd be in good position. But five hundred liberals (I was on of the co-signer) openly challenged the military; we said that the military has no right to intervene in the democratic process. The ruling party took a very powerful stance against the Military. Even Tony Blair, for example, spoke out, it was only the American state department [that] really waited for two weeks to condemn the military. This is one of the basic problems of the U.S. in the region. They have a very bad reputation regarding the democracy and so they again prove that the people in the Middle East have the right not to believe the arguments of the U.S. administration. They stay only on the paper.

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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Experience Armenian culture in Beijing

Editor:Liu Fang


Armenia, known as the Caucasian Tiger, is a small country with a rich culture, a country growing rapidly. Marking the 15th anniversary of Sino-Amenian diplomatic ties, a Chinese audience was introduced to the delights of Armenian culture, Tuesday night.

Armenian culture is strongly influenced by neighboring countries to the east. To the west, lies Europe, providing its strong underlying current to the culture of Armenia.

The Pantomime State Theater of Armenia opens the evening with a tale of a conspiracy inside the imperial palace. Exotic music accompanies the story.

Laureates at international festivals, bass vocalist Barsegh Tumanyan and soprano Irina Zakian and pianist Arus Achemian introduced the Beijing audience to Armenia's accomplishment in the music arts. Music holds a fundamental role in the Armenian culture. The opera house, the theaters and concert halls are the pride of the people. The houses are highly accessible to the general public.

The Armenia Culture Festival in China is being held within the framework of the "Armenian-Chinese Cultural Cooperation 2005-2010" agreement. Ministers of Culture from both countries were at the opening ceremony. Both expressed their hope for further exchanges.

Hasmik Poghosian, minister of Culture ot the Republic of Armenia, said, "Chinese culture already enjoys wide popularity in Armenia. We hope to learn even more of the ancient Chinese legacy. At the same time, we want to bring the best of Armenian culture to China, not only performance arts, but painting exhibitions, concerts and so on. Museums of the two countries are in contact. We hope to arrange exchanges of artifacts and cultural exhibits."

China and Armenia established diplomatic relations in April 1992. Since then, bilateral exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, science and technology and education have expanded, so that the ties between the two countries have grown even stronger.

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.


Kocharian Signs Armenian Defense Doctrine

Wednesday 26, December 2007, Armenia

By Emil Danielyan

President Robert Kocharian signed on Wednesday Armenia’s official military doctrine that describes Azerbaijan’s pledges to win back Nagorno-Karabakh as a key threat to national security and asserts Yerevan’s right to launch pre-emptive military strikes against potential aggressors.

“In the event of an immediate threat of armed aggression, the Republic of Armenia reserves itself the right to take military actions aimed at neutralizing it,” reads the doctrine approved by Kocharian’s National Security Council on Friday.

The 18-page document was drawn up by a special commission of the Armenian Defense Ministry in collaboration with local and foreign experts. Its main points are in tune a separate “national security strategy” that was signed by the president in February.

Both documents were developed as a result of Armenia’s decision three years ago to deepen its defense and security links with NATO and other Western security structures. The Armenian government has since upgraded its participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program by negotiating an “individual partnership action plan,” or IPAP, with the U.S.-led alliance.

Accordingly, the military doctrine states that Armenia will increasingly cooperate with the armed forces of NATO member states and the United States in particular in reforming its military and contributing to international security. It specifically commits Yerevan to expanding its involvement in Western-led peace-keeping operations abroad. The Armenian military already has small contingents deployed in Kosovo and Iraq and is considering joining the NATO-led multinational force in Afghanistan.

The doctrine makes it clear at the same that “strategic partnership” with Russia will remain the bedrock of Armenia’s defense policy. It says the two countries will continue to maintain close military ties both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan’s persistent threats to resolve it by force are high on the list of “external threats” to Armenia’s security contained in the document. “The Republic of Armenia is the guarantor and supporter of the security of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and their chosen path of development,” it says. Among other perceived security threats is Turkey’s “strategic alliance” with Azerbaijan and continuing economic blockade of Armenia.

The doctrine also lists internal security challenges such as attempts to change the country’s “constitutional order,” set up “illegal armed groups” and “discredit” the Armenian Armed Forces. The latter are to play the central role in meeting all these challenges. The government, for its part, undertakes to make the army more combat-ready by supplying it with modern weaponry and boosting the morale of military personnel.

The doctrine reaffirms the government’s commitment to defense reforms that are meant to bring the Armenian military into greater conformity with NATO standards and practices. The government undertook to implement such reforms three years ago and plans to complete them by 2015. If implemented, they will lead to greater civilian control over the military and a so-called “civilianization” of the Armenian Defense Ministry. The ministry’s current organizational structure essentially mirrors that of the formerly Soviet and now Russian armed forces, with army officers holding just about every ministerial position and facing little civilian oversight.

The doctrine further envisages that the proportion of contractual personnel in Armenia’s conscription-based army will grow significantly in the coming years.

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.


Misinformation regarding ties between Armenia and Kurdistan Workers Party is possible prelude to aggression

26 Dec. 2007
By Armen Ayvazyan

Recently, the Azeri mass media disseminated information claiming that “Armenia is settling Armenians and Kurds, emigrants from Syria and Iraq, in Nagorno Karabakh and now it also plans to host terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).” REGNUM asks Armen Ayvazyan, political scientist and Director of the “Ararat” Center for Strategic Research, to comment on this.

The new Turkish deliberations regarding ties between the PKK and Armenia that were voiced in recent weeks and the immediate joining-in of the official Baku should be considered in several aspects: first, in the context of Turkey’s consistently hostile policy towards independent Armenia; second, in the light of the acceleration in the pace of Azerbaijan’s preparation for a large-scale war of aggression against Artsakh and Armenia; and third, in the context of the continued passive information policy of Armenia.

The Turkish propaganda campaign alleging that Armenia supports and even provides bases for the PKK was first launched in 1993 and continued at varying degrees of intensity up to 2000, when the PKK temporarily extinguished the insurgency. The following headlines from the Turkish press convey an idea of the scale of the initial campaign: “Syria Flies PKK Militants to Armenia;” “PKK Will Attack with ASALA in the Spring;” “Intelligence Report Details Armenia-PKK ties;” “PKK Reportedly Moving to Iran, Armenia.” (1) Moreover, the Turkish Daily News article published on April 16, 1998, asserted without any proof that purportedly the PKK has 7 bases in Armenia, 11 in Iran, 4 in Russia and 1 in Cyprus. At the time Azerbaijan joined in this Turkish propaganda campaign when its defence minister declared that supposedly "200 Kurdish terrorists are being trained in the Lachin region, occupied by the Armenian aggressors, and another 457 Kurdish fighters are receiving full military training in Armenia, to be later deployed in the territory of Turkey. (2)

A number of high-ranking Turkish officials, including the Chief of Staff of the Turkish army, have made statements regarding ties between the PKK and Armenia. On October 11, 1998, Turkey’s Secretary of State Metin Gurderen openly threatened Armenia with war: “If Armenia supports separatists, then we have made our decision, the button has been pressed. A war might break out any moment.” (3)

Many suggest that the Turkish allegations regarding Armenia-PKK ties are intended only for “domestic consumption”, that they are put forth to explain the prolonged nature of the Kurdish armed resistance and to satisfy the hostile sentiments of the Turkish public towards Armenia. However, the reality is even more dangerous. The true purpose of this continuous and well planned false propaganda, coordinated with Azerbaijan, regarding Armenia-PKK ties is to create new and additional causes for exerting constant pressure on Armenia, to demonise Armenia and NKR in the eyes of the international community and to prepare the information front for the planned military aggression by Azerbaijan, with a possible direct intervention of Turkey. Let’s not forget that using the pretext of pursuing PKK, Turkey has periodically been invading Northern Iraq. Within the period of 1991 and the beginning of 1999 Turkey carried out 55 incursions into Northern Iraq, which the international community although did not authorize, but neither did it condemn. Four of them were large-scale operations with the participation of over 20,000 Turkish soldiers. (4)

Recently, new information was published revealing that Turkey planned an incursion into Armenia in October 1993, using the very same Kurdish bases as a pretext. (5) Leonidas Khrisantopolos, the Greek Ambassador to Armenia in 1993-1994, stated that the then Turkish Prime Minister Tancu Chiller had come to an agreement with the speaker of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov on launching a few “surgical” strikes against Armenia. This information was indirectly confirmed by RA Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan in his interview to “Azg” daily (October 4, 2001), as well as by the former head of the National Security of Armenia Eduard Simonyan. (6)

Before that Western sources had reported that twice in 1993, in April and September, Turkey deployed its tank, mechanized and other units on the border with Armenia, the Turkish armed forces were brought to high state of combat readiness and Prime Minister Tancu Chiller warned she would ask the parliament for authorization to start military action, if Armenia touched any part of Nakhijevan. (7) Consequently, it is no accident that reports about PKK bases allegedly located in Armenia started to appear in the Turkish press as of Fall 1993. It is even less of an accident that in the above-mentioned reports the Turks indicated a number of locations in Armenia for supposed PKK bases (including the surrounding areas of the Armenian Atomic Power Plant and the Lachin region). (8)

Well affected by the Turkish propaganda some Western information agencies and think tanks presented the non-existent ties between Armenia and the PKK as a widely known fact. (9) Thus, in 1999, after the declaration of cease-fire by the PKK, one of the most famous American institutions of geopolitical research, Stratfor, apparently at the bidding of the Turks, trumpeted twice (on August 23 and November 23, 1999) to the whole world that the PKK squads were supposedly retreating to Armenia, for rearming and retraining in bases prepared for them beforehand. (10)

The halting of the Kurdish guerrilla war since 2000 (formalized only in 2002 (11)), to some extent deprived Turkey of the possibility to play the Kurdish card against Armenia. That is why the Chief of Staff of the Turkish armed forces Hussein Kivrikoghlu made a new false statement in the beginning of 2002, which alleged that Armenia possesses weapons of mass destruction, and, consequently, the same measures of punishment should be applied against Armenia as those against Iraq. (12)

On June 1, 2004, the PKK, now operating under the name CONGRA-GEL, terminated its 5-year old unilateral truce, (13) thus confirming that the Kurdish insurgents in Turkey are a long-term strategic factor in the region.

The latest insinuations coincided almost to the date with the intensification of Baku’s war rhetoric and particularly with the statement made by the Azeri Defence Minister Safar Abiyev that “as long as the Azeri territories remain occupied by Armenia, the probability of war is almost 100 percent.” Mr Abiyev’s statement was made on November 27 at the closing press conference of the Meeting of the CIS Defence Ministers Council in Astana. On November 30, with a direct reference to the Turkish intelligence, the Turkish pro-government newspaper “Zaman” disseminated misinformation about talks between Armenia and the PKK and alleged about the installation of bases for Kurds in NKR, in the towns of Shushi, Lachin and Fizuli. (14) This bait was immediately caught and circulated by the American United Press International. (15) On December 10, Araz Azimov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani President’s Special Representative on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stated about “readiness of Baku to launch anti-terrorist operations against the PKK’s military detachments stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh.” (16) It is exactly the coordination of activities between Baku and Ankara with respect to the timing and target of information attack that should be cause for concern. All these could be a prelude to not so virtual attacks.

The corresponding government bodies of Armenia should treat this newly unleashed campaign of Turkish-Azerbaijani propaganda in all seriousness. The brief refutations voiced by the Armenian MFA in this case are not at all effective. A well-supported clarification and condemnation of all the underpinnings of this old/new anti-Armenian row is necessary, including an exposition of all the dimensions, of its true purpose and possible consequences for the peace and stability in the region. Otherwise, it is impossible to expect the understanding and support of the international community for Armenia’s foreign policy positions, including for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

(1) Sezai Sengun, “Syria Flies PKK Militants to Armenia,” Hurriyet, 10 November, 1993, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report (further in FBIS Daily Report): West Europe, 15 Nov. 1993, p. 72; Gorsel Polat, “PKK Will Attach with ASALA in the Spring,” Cumhuriyet, 27 December 1993, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 5 January 1994, p. 29; Sinan Onus, “Intelligence Report Details Armenia-PKK ties,” Aydinlik, 29 January 1994, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 3 February 1994, p. 36; “PKK Reportedly Moving to Iran, Armenia,” Turkish Daily News, 1 February 1994, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 7 February 1994, p. 44.

(2) Elmira Akhundova, "Defense Minister Abiyev: “We are keen on privileged partnership with NATO,” Azernews/Azerkhabar 2/17/99 — 2/23/99.

(3) RFE/RL Newsline Vol. 2, № 197, Part I, 12 Oct. 1998, Transcaucasus and Central Asia.

(4) Ed Blanche, “Terrorism: Turkey seizes PKK commander,” Jane's Intelligence Review-Pointer, 1 June, 1998. The same source notes that since the start of the Kurdish rebellion in 1984 through 1998 Turkey destroyed or deported 3000 Kurdish villages. According to data of the Turkish army, 39900 PKK fighters were taken out of action. The losses of the Turkish army amounted to 4600 deaths.

(5) См. Leonidas T. Chryzantopoulos, Caucasus Chronicles: Nation-Building and Diplomacy in Armenia, 1993-1994 (Princeton & London: Gomidas Institute Books, 2002), pp. 76-78, 155. “The Sensational Announcement of Leonidas Chryzantopoulos”, Golos Armenii, 19 September 2002 (in Russian).

(6) “'Turkey Really Was Going To Attack Armenia in Autumn 1993', Former Head of State Department of National Security, Major General Eduard Simoniants Says,” Noyan Tapan News Agency, Yerevan, September 23, 2002.

(7) R. Ernest Dupuis and Trevor N. Dupuis, World History of Wars. Book Four: 1925 – 1997 Saint Petersburg — Moscow: Polygon – Ast., 1998), pg. 754 (in Russian).

(8) Rouben Paul Adalian, “Armenia's Foreign Policy: Defining Priorities and Coping with Conflict,” in Adeed Dawisha and Karen Dawisha, eds., The Making of Foreign Policy in Russia and the New States of Eurasia (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1995), p. 318.

(9) For example, see Ed Blanche, “Terrorism: Turkey seizes PKK commander,” op. cit..

(10) “Where, oh where, has the PKK gone?” 1999.08.27; “PKK Wields Pipeline Leverage,” 1999.11.23.

(11) Officially the temporary halt in the armed resistance was announced after the regular 5th assembly of the PKK. It became known on February 6th, 2002, from the announcement of MED TV (see Akop Chakryan, “PKK decided to halt armed resistance in Turkey”, Azg, February 8th, 2002, #24, in Armenian).

(12) Here is an excerpt from the announcement distributed by on that occasion: “Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Turkey Hussein Kivrikoghlu stated the other day that Armenia possessed mass destruction weapons … This statement is included in the list of the six ‘apprehensions’ of Turkey that Kivrikoghlu had presented to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit before the latter's visit to the U.S.A. Speaking about the negative response of Turkey to the possible U.S. strikes on Iraq, Kivrikoghlu stated not only Saddam Huseyn regime, but also Armenia, Syria, Iran and some other countries possessed weapons of mass extermination. In the words of the chief of the general staff of Turkey, sanctions like those used against Iraq, should be applied to Armenia.” See also. “Azeri ex-military men on threat if Armenia has weapons of mass destruction,” Azerbaijan News Service TV January 8, 2002; “Does Armenia Possess a Mass Destruction Weapon?” Azerbaijan News Service, January 9, 2002; “Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman calls Turkish general's statement 'absurd',” Arminfo, January 7, 2002.

(13) Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey's Kurdish Rebels End 5-Year Truce”, Associated Press News, 1 June 2004.

(14) Ercan Yavuz, “PKK looks into relocating to Karabakh,” 30.11.2007 It must be noted that even a month before this, on October 29 the same “Zaman” newspaper published an article titled “Relations between Armenian and PKK terrorism”, full of myths about Armenian-Kurdish relations during the 1980’s and 90’s, with an indication of dates and locations, intended to give the “information” semblance of veracity. That article seemed to prepare ground for the subsequent direct accusations.

(15) “PKK reportedly planning move to Azerbaijan,” United Press International, Published: Dec. 1, 2007 at 1:49 AM.

(16) Araz Azimov: Azerbaijan is ready to launch operations against the Kurdish guerrillas in Nagorno-Karabakh, REGNUM News Agency, 10:22 11.12.2007 (in Russian).

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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Today finished the project “People’s President” SMS poll, organized by “Radio Hay”. The project started in November 17.

What should be the policy of the Armenian president concerning the relations of Russia and Europe? The poll results showed that 50% of population quoted for “Armenia should play neutral position and create balanced relations both with Russia and Europe”.

Another question was asked “Armenia should strengthen its relations with Europe, regardless of Russia’s position”. The most astonishing thing is that this variant received higher marks (28%) than its negative variant (22%).

As for Armenian genocide and Armenian Turkish relations the majority of participants (98%) quoted for having demands in this issue. And, finally the last issue was NKR question. The participants of the poll quoted for keeping the peaceful negotiations with Azerbaijan, and get the final results without carrying out military activities.

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




New labor groups created by the initiative of the Governments of Iran and Armenia to research the pollution of Araks River. According to Aram Harutunyan, the minister of nature protection, seven labor meetings were organized with the participation of both countries and the activities were discussed which should be held next year.

According to him 30 million drams were disposed to assist the development of the summer trout and other fishes. He said that 11 licenses were given to agricultural fishers and 6 contracts were signed, besides 17 tickets for amateur fishing and 515 permissions were prepared.

The minister said that they managed to find environmental violations and registered 1682 violations. And totally 93.4mln.drams was sent to the state budget from the taxes of those violations.

In the department of Syunik region one case of violation was registered: hunting of Bezoarian Goat; this type of goat is registered in the Red Book. The appropriate punishment was applied to the hunters.

According to the minister 950 Christmas trees were imported from abroad, particularly from Germany, Netherlands, and Russia. He said that not a single case of tree cutting was registered from Armenian fields.

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


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gov’t ready to take steps to amend Article 301

Today's Zaman Ankara

Within two weeks the Turkish government will assess an amendment on a controversial law that has been widely considered as a stumbling block for freedom of expression in Turkey, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin said Tuesday.

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin says the government will assess an amendment on the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code within the next two weeks.
Şahin told reporters that his ministry will hand the draft amendment to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which makes it a crime to "insult Turkishness," to the cabinet within 15 days.

Turkey has been under heavy pressure from the EU to amend or scrap Article 301, which has been used to prosecute Turkish writers and intellectuals, notably for comments on the killings of Anatolian Armenians in 1915 under the Ottoman Empire. Last month, the EU's executive commission criticized Turkey for not carrying out any substantial reforms in the past two years and urged the government, which was given a strong mandate when it was re-elected to power, to reinvigorate the stalled reform process.

The most important element in the draft amendment is that it requires prosecutors to secure permission from the Justice Ministry to launch court trials against the expression of opinions, Şahin said. This change is expected to lead to a decrease in the number of cases opened under Article 301. The term "Turkishness" in the article is expected to be changed to "the Turkish Republic," while the expression "insulting Turkishness" is expected to be replaced by "insulting the Turkish nation."

Discussions on the amendment are being carried out both by lawyers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Justice Ministry, Şahin noted.

The government has so far refused to heed EU demands to amend the article without delay, saying the issue will be taken up as part of its broader drive to reform the current Constitution, which was drafted under military rule in 1982.

Releasing its annual progress report in November, the European Commission called on Ankara to make "significant further efforts" toward improving freedom of expression and religion, stressing that more people were prosecuted under Article 301 last year than in 2005. It particularly urged steps to repeal or amend Article 301, saying accession talks will not be opened on at least one of 35 negotiation chapters if the law is not amended or repealed.

Two years ago the government tried Nobel Literature Laureate Orhan Pamuk under article 301 for his remarks on the events of 1915-16, but he was acquitted on a legal technicality. Claiming that the killings of Anatolian Armenians amounted to genocide is a criminal offense in Turkey under Article 301. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has recommended that the EU not extend accession talks to the key areas of justice and human rights until the article is changed.

Critics say Turkey's centre-right government is dragging its feet, fearing that amending the law could spark a nationalist backlash at a time when EU membership is becoming less popular among Turks. EU officials said the law was poisoning Turkey's relations with Armenia and that it is a burden on the media and NGOs in Turkey.

Prominent Turkish Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who was shot dead in İstanbul in January by an ultranationalist youth, had also been handed a suspended jail sentence under Article 301 for his comments on the Armenian issue. Tens of thousands of people marched through İstanbul at his funeral to protest against ultranationalist violence. As the first anniversary of Dink's assassination on Jan. 19 approaches, it is not yet clear when the cabinet will approve the amendment on Article 301. Earlier this month veteran publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who could receive a jail sentence of up to three years for insulting national identity, described Article 301 as "very dangerous."

"If writers and journalists are depicted as traitors or enemies of Turkey, it becomes difficult to be in front of Turkish public opinion. It opens the door to being lynched or killed by ultranationalist gangs," Zarakolu said, citing the example of Dink.

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.


Sins of Our Fathers

December 26, 2007
Mahvish Zehra

The more Turkey denies the 1915 genocide of Armenians, the less the world believes it

Watching movies can be an educational experience. I have come across many interesting facts about history, different places, and life in general from watching movies. And wittingly or otherwise, they have left lasting impressions. Take the Jewish Holocaust for example; I don't think any person exposed to the media is ignorant of it. Every person reading this will have knowledge about the Holocaust, and be naturally against all the factors that brought it about.

For me, movies like 'Life is Beautiful' with the adorable Roberto Benigni, and the ways he tries to conceal from his young son the horrors of the concentration camp they are in, form a part of my impressions of the Holocaust. The destitution of the Jewish people captured by Adrien Brody in 'The Pianist', and the ruthless and coldly calculated extermination of the Jews shown in many other movies, form the major body of Holocaust knowledge that people are exposed to. While the Jewish people rightly deserve the sympathy of the whole world, why may I ask, the same sympathy is not afforded to other peoples similarly persecuted?

About two years ago, I stumbled upon a very interesting movie that I have not been able to forget. It was about another holocaust, one that happened around 1915, of a people I had not heard much about before: the Armenians. The film is titled 'Ararat', after Mount Ararat where biblically, Noah's ark came to rest after the flood. The Armenians call it 'Our Ararat' and see it as a symbol of their history and resistance. It is located in eastern Turkey and since 1920, some claim, it has been officially closed to the Armenians across the border from visiting it.

Armenians trace their history back to at least 2000 BC. They are one of the oldest Christian nations in the world, and the first nation to have adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. Only about one-fifth of Armenians live in present day Armenia, the rest scattered about the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Members of rock band, System of a Down, and singer Cher, are some famous Armenians.

Preceding the genocide of 1915, the Turks and Armenians lived in relative peace with each other. No doubt, the Armenians lived as second-class citizens in the Ottoman lands due to their Christian status. As the Ottoman Empire's power was deteriorating, revolutionary and nationalistic sentiments grew among its peoples. The Armenians, as a major Christian majority, desired independence as other Christian nations had received. They also clearly remembered the widespread killings they had been subjected to in the 1890's and in 1909, when they had demanded more rights and security from the Ottoman government. The Turks viewed the Armenians as getting in the way of their nationalistic aspirations, and under the pretext of 'disloyalty', planned out the genocide of 1915.

Ararat shows very graphically the treatment meted out to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks, which resulted in the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians. The Director, well-respected Canadian, Atom Egoyan, seems less concerned about winning awards or being a success at the Box Office then about making a lasting impression on his viewers. Scenes showing an Armenian woman being raped by a Turk while her toddler daughter clings to her ankle, or adolescent girls being burned alive, seem to scream out against the silence around the genocide. A silence being borne by Armenian descendants such as Egoyan, for more than 90 years.

Walking away from the film, one is not left untouched. It reminds one of the Jewish Holocaust in many ways. The cold and calculated extermination of the Armenians, and the brutal methods that were used in the process, bring to mind the Jewish concentration camps and gas chambers. Researchers have unearthed that Armenians were killed with hammers and axes to save ammunition. There were mass drownings and live burnings. Internationally renowned expert on the Armenian genocide, Professor Vahakn Dadrian, has produced a document written by General Mehmet Vehip Pasha, commander of the Turkish Third Army, who visited an Armenian village and found all the houses packed with burned human skeletons. General Pasha wrote in the document, "in all the history of Islam, it is not possible to find any parallel to such savagery."

It is not the point, of remembering and rehashing past events, to make a show and drama out of misery. Or to carry out performing rituals of our fathers we fail to understand anymore; it is to learn lessons. To make a vow to ourselves not to let anything remotely close to that event happen again. If we, people of today, have any reason at all to claim to be better than those of yesterday, it is because we have before us their mistakes and faults to learn from.

They say the similarities of the Armenian genocide with the Jewish Holocaust are not coincidental. There were many Germans present in the Ottoman lands who were witness to the mass killings and deportations, and thus carried back accounts to the rest of the world. Hitler thus had full knowledge of the genocide, and used it to learn from while planning out his own. For example, while ordering the mass extermination of the Polish, before the invasion of Poland, he is known to have said: "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

The Turkish government denies any genocide took place, and claims that the Armenian killings took place during a time of political turmoil and fighting during World War One. To call the mass killings 'genocide' or even to speak of them in Turkey could leave you facing charges, as Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk discovered. In 2005, during an interview with a Swiss newspaper, Pamuk said: "A million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I'm the only one who dares to talk about it". These remarks left him facing 3 years in prison for 'public denigration of Turkish identity'.

Recently, Turkey finds itself embroiled in the Armenian genocide issue, as the U.S House of Committee approved a resolution, calling the 1915 Armenian massacres genocide. Turkey viewed the resolution as an insult and threatened the U.S that "great harm" would be done to their bilateral ties. Turkey is a very important U.S ally in the Iraq War, providing key logistical support to U.S troops in Iraq. Support for the resolution has since faltered as the U.S is more concerned about keeping good relations with Turkey, than taking the risk of passing a resolution that only recognizes the genocide, and nothing more.

The point of accepting responsibility for past sins, I repeat, is not to make a show out of misery. It is to learn lessons and better ourselves, so that those mistakes may never be repeated: of causing such misery, or letting it happen while we stand idly by. As Turkey plans an offensive into Northern Iraq against Kurds, who have been struggling for independence for years, it may seem poised to repeat the sins it denies so vehemently. The worst kind of sin is the one we refuse to acknowledge as a sin at all.

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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Monday, December 24, 2007

Museum plans are stymied - Armenian dream now under threat

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Worcester Telegram, MA

WASHINGTON— Since it opened in 1993, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has attracted more than 25 million visitors, the vast majority of them non-Jews. That number has astonished many observers: Many experts thought that such a large museum devoted to so somber and discomforting a subject would have difficulty attracting visitors.

It gave Anoush Matevosian, a member of the Armenian National Institute’s board of governors, an idea. A museum could open up a new front in the struggle to gain wider public recognition and remembrance of the Armenian genocide.

“No one had quite imagined constructing a museum dedicated to this sad subject,” said Rouben Adalian, director of the Armenian National Institute. “The Holocaust Museum set an example which can be emulated and learned from, and I think the Armenian-American community was very much impressed and inspired by that example.” But building it would prove more difficult than anticipated.

The Armenian National Institute is a lobbying group devoted to preserving the memory of thousands of Armenians massacred in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire, an event Armenians describe as genocide. Turkey, the Ottoman state’s modern heir, vigorously objects to that description of the event.

The institute and other Armenian groups have waged a worldwide campaign to have governments recognize the killings as genocide; dozens of governments have passed resolutions to that effect, including Russia, Argentina, Sweden, and Canada. France passed a law in 2006 that made denial of the genocide a crime.

A measure recognizing the genocide has languished in Congress since the Clinton administration. In October, the nonbinding resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on a 27-21 vote, but Turkish protests and pleas from President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice succeeded in quashing the effort.

The need to preserve access to crucial bases and airports in Turkey to supply the U.S. Army in Iraq was a factor cited by many opponents of the resolution, but even before the war in Iraq, the desire of the U.S. government to maintain Turkey as a close ally in the Middle East has stymied Armenian activists.

Enter Gerard Cafesjian. A stout, balding man who wears a black eyepatch, Mr. Cafesjian, 82, is a former executive and part owner of West Publishing, a Minnesota-based legal database firm that was sold to Thomson Corp. in 1996 for $3.4 billion. Mr. Cafesjian retired from West following the sale, but still manages a wide array of business and charitable ventures. He has a stake in a chain of restaurants, is one of the producers behind last year’s “Prairie Home Companion” film, and paid for the restoration of a historic carousel at the Minnesota State Fair, now known as the Cafesjian carousel.

He is better known in Armenia, where he operates a satellite TV station — which has come under criticism for a perceived strong bias toward the government of President Robert Kocharian. In Armenia, ground has been broken on a museum, funded by Mr. Cafesjian and named after him, which will house his extensive collection of Armenian art.

The institute approached Mr. Cafesjian in 1997 for help with the genocide museum and in 2000 his family foundation contributed $3.5 million to help purchase the former national bank building on G Street in downtown Washington, D.C., is just a short stroll from the White House. Mr. Cafesjian also contributed $500,000 to the project in the form of a promissory note.

Mr. Cafesjian helped to purchase additional lots adjacent to the old bank. In 2002, articles appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post detailing the project and its goals, including a $75 million, 115,000-square-foot project to be opened in 2008.

And then, silence. Public silence, anyway. Behind closed doors, there was much to discuss. Mr. Cafesjian had hired an architect, Edgar Papazian, to create a design. The rest of the museum board raised questions about the scale and elaborate design of the proposal. While the board wrangled, the project remained in limbo.

Then last year, Mr. Cafesjian sued to get his money back from the board. Lawsuits have been filed both in Minnesota — where Mr. Cafesjian’s charitable foundation is run — and in Washington. He is seeking $15 million, more than half of the museum’s endowment. Were he to win, some of the land purchased for the museum would have to be given to Mr. Cafesjian to settle the claim.

“We think the reason he wants the property back is that the value of the property has increased significantly since he donated it,” said museum lawyer Arnold Rosenfeld of K&L Gates. “He wants the property back so he can make a big profit.”

Armenian community members in Central Massachusetts expressed disappointment over the project delays.

“It’s too bad that political games are being played,” said Van Aroian of Worcester and a member of Armenian Church of Our Saviour. “That’s a tragedy that hurts the memory of the people, including my mother’s family and my father-in-law’s family.”

He hopes the parties will resolve their differences. While he would love to have a museum dedicated to the Armenian genocide, he said, it would be more meaningful if it paid homage to all the other contemporary and ongoing genocides.

“I would incorporate it with all evil acts of humanity in the past,” he said.

George Aghjayan, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Central Massachusetts, agreed a museum to educate people about the Armenian genocide in particular, as well as genocides in general, is an important and worthwhile goal.

“We’re saddened that there are issues that are preventing the museum from moving forward,” he said. “We think a genocide museum in the capital would be fitting.”

Even if he ultimately loses the court case, all the legal wrangling may result in Mr. Cafesjian obtaining his wish. A provision in the original grant returns the property he acquired to him if the museum isn’t built by 2010.

“By stopping them now, they can’t possibly get the museum built by 2010, and he’ll get his property back that way,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

The museum board has taken action, hiring its own architectural firm, Martinez & Johnson, and exhibit designers, Gallagher & Associates, to get to work on the plans.

The new plans call for a 50,000-square-foot facility, with the bank as its centerpiece but including a modern addition, in part to accommodate disabled visitors. The museum planners are aiming to attract not only Armenian Americans, but the broader public as well.

“In the case of the Armenian genocide, the United States played a very constructive and positive role from the very beginning, and the fact of the matter is we know the story of the Armenian genocide primarily because of the way American witnesses documented and recorded the events,” Mr. Adalian said.

But as long as the case remains in court, even the extent of the facilities cannot be fully mapped out, which is a threat to the broader public role supporters envision the museum serving.

“There have been other people who have been subjected to genocide,” Mr. Adalian said. “And the problem keeps repeating itself into our own times.”

Colleen Sullivan reports for the Washington, D.C., bureau of Boston University News Service. Lisa D. Welsh of the Telegram & Gazette staff 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.


International Forum Calls Upon Turkey to Recognize Genocide against Greeks

Monday, December 24, 2007
Greek News, New York
by greek_news

A monumental decision by the New York based “International Association of Genocide Scholars”
New York.- In a groundbreaking move, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has voted overwhelmingly to recognize the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923.The resolution passed with the support of fully 83 percent of IAGS members who voted.

The resolution declares that "it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks." It "calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.

"In 1997, the IAGS officially recognized the Armenian genocide. The current resolution notes that while activist and scholarly efforts have resulted in widespread acceptance of the Armenian genocide, there has been "little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire."

Assyrians, along with Pontian and Anatolian Greeks, were killed on a scale equivalent in per capita terms to the catastrophe inflicted on the Armenian population of the empire -- and by much the same methods, including mass executions, death marches, and starvation.

IAGS member Adam Jones drafted the resolution, and lobbied for it along with fellow member Thea Halo, whose mother Sano survived the Pontian Greek genocide. In an address to the membership at the IAGS conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in July 2007, Jones paid tribute to the efforts of "representatives of the Greek and Assyrian communities ... to publicize and call on the present Turkish government to acknowledge the genocides inflicted on their populations," which had made Asia Minor their home for millennia.

The umbrella term "Assyrians" includes Chaldeans, Nestorians, Syriacs, Aramaens, Eastern Orthodox Syrians, and Jacobites.

"The overwhelming backing given to this resolution by the world's leading genocide scholars organization will help to raise consciousness about the Assyrian and Greek genocides," Jones said on December 15. "It will also act as a powerful counter to those, especially in present-day Turkey, who still ignore or deny outright the genocides of the Ottoman Christian minorities."

The resolution stated that "the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides." The Assyrian population of Iraq, for example, remains highly vulnerable to genocidal attack. Since 2003, Iraqi Assyrians have been exposed to severe persecution and "ethnic cleansing"; it is believed that up to half the Assyrian population has fled the country. Extensive supporting documentation for the Assyrian and Greek genocides was circulated to IAGS members in the months prior to the vote, and is available at .


WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides;

WHEREAS the Ottoman genocide against minority populations during and following the First World War is usually depicted as a genocide against Armenians alone, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire;

BE IT RESOLVED that it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.

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.


Timely recognition of the Armenian genocide

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
December 24, 2007 Monday

December 24, 2007 Monday
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
by Paul Harris

The US Congress' foreign affairs panel created a stir this autumn when it agreed that the deportation of 2 million Armenians from Turkey, between 1915 and 1923, was genocide.

Some asked why Congress was provoking America's ally over something that happened so long ago. The answer relates to the nature of genocide - an attempt to destroy a particular national, racial, religious or ethnic group in whole or in part - which is so awful that it is hard to comprehend and confront.

Germany's slow, painful recognition of the scale and evil of the Nazi genocide of Jews and gypsies has been exceptional. Other genocides, smaller in absolute numbers of victims but still horrifying, have not had the recognition they demand. Denial and self-deception are common. Only televised video footage of the 1994 Srebrenica mass killing of Muslims finally convinced many Serbs that it was true, and not propaganda.

In 1803, France attempted to exterminate the rebellious former slave population of Haiti, tying people of all ages and both sexes to cannon-balls and throwing them into the sea.

In 1904, general Lothar von Trotha, commander of German forces in South West Africa (today's Namibia), issued his "extermination order" to kill all the Herrero people - 65,000 of whom were killed before the outcry forced him to stop.

The Turkish genocide of the Armenians was in two phases, both on a bigger scale than Srebrenica, Haiti or the Herreros. The lack of international response to the first encouraged the second.

In 1894, Armenians in the Turkish empire seeking equal civil rights with Turks held a demonstration in Istanbul. Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid made this an excuse to use police and organised mobs to kill not just the demonstrators but at least 100,000 Armenians across Turkey - most dramatically at Urfa, where 3,000 were burned to death inside the cathedral.

In England and the United States, the public outcry put pressure on the governments to do something. Elsewhere there was little interest.

That lack of reaction encouraged the revolutionary Young Turks movement, which overthrew Abdul Hamid in 1908, to plan genocide on a bigger scale during the first world war. The Young Turks feared that Armenians would support Russia if it invaded, and decided to remove the threat by removing the Armenians. The entire populations of many Armenian villages were massacred.

Other Armenians were driven from their homes on forced marches of hundreds of kilometres without adequate food, and died of starvation or exhaustion; or were shot when they fell behind. Estimates of the numbers that died vary between 1million and 1.5 million. There are virtually no Armenians today in their former heartland provinces. The Armenians' fate was widely reported by foreigners living in the affected areas and confirmed by detailed investigations after Turkey's defeat.

The main organiser, Young Turk leader Mehmet Talaat, was assassinated in Hamburg in 1921 by an Armenian, Soghomon Tehlirian. A German jury, after hearing Talaat's telegrams ordering the genocide, acquitted Tehlirian of murder.

The Armenian genocide was a direct encouragement to Hitler to embark on the extermination of the Jews. In 1939, as German armies invaded Poland, he ordered them to ignore the laws of war and mercilessly kill civilians, with the words: "Who remembers the Armenians?"

Turkey remains in denial about the Armenian genocide, and this April forced the closure of a United Nations exhibition about the Rwanda genocide because of references to it. Without recognition of what happened, a terrible injustice continues to the memory of the dead and their surviving relatives, and the prevention of future genocide is harder.

That is why it is particularly timely and appropriate that the US Congress panel voted to recognise the Armenian genocide - at last.

Paul Harris is a barrister and was the founding chairman of Human Rights Monitor

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
January 4, 2008 Friday


Common sense to recognise genocide proof

I would like to thank Paul Harris for his courageous article ("Timely recognition of the Armenian genocide", December 24), in which he calls upon the United States to recognise the Armenian genocide, not only to honour the memory of those who were massacred, but also as a warning to other nations, which would commit the act of genocide, that they would also be held to account.

However, I must take issue with the reply written by Turkey's consul general, Raif Karaca ("US should examine history, not legislate it", December 28).

First, Mr Karaca claims that "many internationally renowned historians" agree the deportations were for security measures. However, only a handful of historians take this view.

In contrast, the International Association of Genocide Scholars - which represents the main body of scholars who study genocide and whose hundreds of members have no affiliations with any government - unanimously agreed that what happened to the Armenians during the first world war was genocide.

Mr Karaca says the Turkish government has opened "all Turkish archives of that period" for researchers. However, in March 2005, the Turkish [newspaper] Zaman brought to light that only a selected 2,000 out of the 300,000 documents were open to the public.

Finally, Mr Karaca claims that "the passing of such resolutions by foreign parliaments is simply irrelevant". He fails to see the relevance that crimes of genocide need to be recognised by governments, not historians, in order to stop future genocides.

The US Congress is not attempting to rewrite the history books. By recognising the genocide took place, Congress will show to the world that it will not allow similar crimes to happen again.

It is common sense to examine history. However, it is also common sense to recognise what history has already proved.

Katia M. Peltekian, Beirut, Lebanon

The Turkish Consul's Letter

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
December 28, 2007 Friday


US should examine history, not legislate it

I refer to Paul Harris' article ("Timely recognition of the Armenian genocide", December 24), urging the United States Congress to adopt a resolution which would characterise as "genocide" the decision taken by the Ottoman government, in 1915, with regard to the relocation of a portion of its Armenian subjects who were in collaboration with invading forces.

The nature of the events that took place in Anatolia in 1915 and prior to it, is still being debated. Contrary to Armenian claims, many internationally-renowned historians consider the relocation decision in this period as a war-time security measure taken under the conditions of the first world war.

It is blatantly obvious foreign governments, including that of the US, do not have a task or function to rewrite history by distorting a matter which specifically concerns the common history of Turks and Armenians. The responsibility of governments is to further improve relations between peoples and look to the future, not to the past.

Turkey has been advocating for years that disputed periods in history should be evaluated by historians, not by legislative bodies.

Turkey's call to Armenia in 2005 to examine our common history through the study of uncontested archive documents by historians from Turkey, Armenia, and if necessary from a third country, is a clear manifestation of this approach.

While our proposal aimed at reconciling the opposing narratives between Turkey and Armenia with regard to the events of 1915 - through a sincere and open dialogue - is still on the table and has not, as yet, been responded to favourably by Armenia, the passing of such resolutions by foreign governments is simply irrelevant.

The period in question is marked with immense mutual suffering from the atrocities of the first world war.

Countless individual stories have been passed from generation to generation among Turks, Armenians and others who then made up the Ottoman Empire. But the complex political history and dynamics of that tumultuous period are yet to be fully grasped. Each life lost is one too many, whether it is Armenian or Turkish. It is truly regrettable there is no mention today of Turkish or Muslim lives lost during the same period, in the same region.

Turkey has no difficulties in facing its past. All Turkish archives of that period, including military ones, are open to the entire international academic community.

However, important Armenian archives are not.

We eagerly await a positive response from Armenia to our proposal, agreeing to establish a joint research commission. Meanwhile, the ill-conceived agenda of Armenia to promote the adoption of such resolutions by foreign governments, both behind the scenes and recently out in the open, continues.

Common sense would require efforts to examine history, not to legislate it.

Raif Karaca,

Turkish consul-general in Hong Kong


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Schiff refutes deputy’s account of meeting

Today's Zaman İstanbul

US Congressman Adam Schiff has denied he was "surprised" when a Turkish lawmaker told him the story of his family, a survivor of Armenian atrocities in the course of World War I in eastern Anatolia, during a recent meeting in Washington.

Schiff, in a letter to Today's Zaman, said a story in the paper based on lawmaker Burhan Kayatürk's account and published on Dec. 20, "grossly mischaracterizes" the meeting he had earlier this month with a Turkish delegation, arranged by the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL).

Kayatürk, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said he had explained that Turks and Armenians killed each other during civil strife when Armenians cooperated with the invading Russian army and revolted against the Ottoman Empire. He said his grandfather was one of the Muslims killed by the Armenians at that time and called on US congressmen not to deepen hostilities by pressing the administration to recognize Armenian claims that the events amounted to genocide of Armenians.

In response, Schiff said, according to Kayatürk, that he was surprised by what he heard and that it was the first time he heard a different account of the events. In his letter to Today's Zaman, however, Schiff denied having made such comments and insisted that he reiterated his outright position in favor of the Armenian claims.

"I told the delegation that the historical record was unequivocal -- that 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923 and that this tragedy constituted the first genocide of the 20th century," he said, adding, "Turkey's denial of the genocide is hurting Turkey and jeopardizing the country's accession to the European Union."

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.


IP Leader Perincek To Apply To ECJ Regarding Decision Of Swiss FSC

Turkish Press, MI

ISTANBUL - Dogu Perincek, the leader of Workers` Party (IP) said he would apply to European Court of Justice regarding the ratification of the verdicts of Lausanne Court of First Instance and Regional Court of Appeal by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, on Saturday.

Holding a press conference at his party`s HQs in Istanbul Perincek, said the Swiss FSC had seriously violated freedom of thought and scientific freedom.

Perincek said the verdict of FSC rested on the political decisions of EU acknowledging the `Armenian genocide lie`.

"This is a politically motivated verdict. The Swiss administration and Swiss judges are becoming a tool for US plot of separating Turkey under the Greater Middle East Project. This is a shame for Switzerland," noted Perincek.

Perincek who indicated they would not surrender to this decision wowed to mobilise the Turkish citizens living in Europe to stand to this verdict.

Perincek said he would apply to the ECJ about the verdict.

"I will put a 90kg pile of Armenian documents --proving that the allegations of an Armenian genocide is an international lie-- on the bench of the ECJ," said Perincek.

IP leader Perincek, was prosecuted for breaching the Swiss law on "denying" Armenian allegations of genocide because of the remarks he made during a conference in the Winterthur city of Switzerland in 2005 saying that Armenian allegations of genocide were "an imperialist lie".

22.12.2007 - 16:21:00

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.


Turkish M.F.A. Expresses Discontent Over Rejection Of Perincek's Appeal By Swiss F.S.C.

Turkish Press

ANKARA - Turkish MFA said the rejection of the appeal of Dogu Perincek, leader of Worker's Party (IP) by The Federal Supreme Court(FSC)of Switzerland was "a serious violation of freedom of expression".

FSC of Switzerland had announced its rejection of the appeal of Perincek, IP leader, against the verdicts of Lausanne Court of First Instance and Regional Court of Appeal on 19 December 2007.

"We maintain the same views put forward in our press release which was made following the verdict of Lausanne Court of First Instance. We consider the verdicts of these courts, above all, as serious violations of freedom of expression," said a press release issued by Turkish MFA on Thursday.

Turkish MFA noted that 'an understanding which was predicated on subjective assessments' prevailed in the said verdicts instead of universal norms, principles and rules of law.

"In these verdicts, the historical facts have been replaced by the self-constructed memory of Armenian circles and the erroneous convictions of some circles concerning the 1915 events," said the press release.

Turkish MFA recalled the proposal it had made in 2005 to Armenia for the establishment a joint commission of historians to study the incidents of 1915 and said, "history should be evaluated and commented by historians and not by judicial or legislative organs."

On the other hand, Jean-Philippe Jeanneraz, Spokesperson of the Swiss MFA told A.A that the Swiss Government was of the belief that formation of a commission of historians would be beneficial for shedding light to the incidents that had occured in the last period of the Ottoman Empire, on Thursday.

Turkish MFA welcomed the statement made by the Swiss MFA following the verdict of FSC.

IP leader Perincek, who had been fined to 9,000 francs for breaching the disputed Swiss law on "denying" Armenian allegations of genocide saying "Armenian genocide is an imperialist lie", had filed an appeal with the FSC in March 2007.

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.