California Courier Online, October 14, 2004

California Courier Online, October 14, 2004

1 – Commentary
Turkey Shouldn’t be Admitted to EU
On the Centennial of the Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
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2 – NorCal Armenian Home Receives $100,000
From Bay Area’s Davidian Charitable Trust
3 – ‘Armenian Jerusalem’ Conference
Draws International Scholars to UCLA
4 – Diocese Establishes
New La Canada Parish
5 – Kopple to Direct Film About Dr. Kevorkian
6 – 41 Human Rights Groups Urge EU
To Reject Turkey’s Denial of Genocide
7 – AUA’s Ceremonies Celebrate Founders, 133 Graduates
8 – Armenian Archbishop Questioned for
Slapping Yeshiva Student in Jerusalem
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1 – Commentary
Turkey Shouldn’t be Admitted to EU
On the Centennial of the Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
Turkey took a major step forward last week when the European Commission
recommended that the country is sufficiently ready to start talks for
possible eventual membership in the European Union (EU). The leaders of the
25 EU member states will take up the Commission’s recommendation on
December 17.
The Commission gave Turkey a “qualified yes” or a green light with “strings
attached.” It warned that any reversal in Turkey’s progress towards
democracy, human rights and the rule of law would automatically bring to a
halt the negotiating process. The Commission also stipulated that the EU
might impose controls on the free movement of Turkish workers, should a
large number of them try to immigrate to Europe, if and when Turkey joins
the EU. It also said that the talks would last for a decade or more with no
guarantees that membership would be inevitable.
Turkey has a long and arduous road ahead. During the next 10 years, it has
to overhaul practically its entire political and economic system. To
conform to European standards, it needs to adopt around 80,000 pages of EU
laws. Furthermore, the EU has made it clear that the Turks should focus on
implementation, rather than mere passage of legislation.
Europeans are seriously concerned that Turkey’s membership would: flood
Europe with millions of more Turkish immigrants; cost the EU around $25
billion a year in various subsidies in order to bring it up to EU
standards; and give Turkey the largest number of votes in the European
Council and the largest number of deputies in the European Parliament, as
it would be the most populous member shortly after joining the EU.
Turkey’s biggest obstacle, however, is the fact that most Europeans object
to its membership, simply because they do not feel that it is a European
country. There are already calls in several countries to hold a referendum
on Turkish entry. A negative decision by just one of the 25 EU countries
would preclude Turkey’s membership, depriving it of the required unanimous
approval.
In addition to Turkey not fulfilling the various criteria for the start of
talks for membership, the report issued by the EU last week urged Turkey to
recognize the Armenian Genocide (without referring to it as genocide), lift
its blockade of Armenia, and remove the various restrictions placed on the
Armenian minority in Turkey. The euphemistically worded segment of the EU
Report on Armenian issues is found in the following three paragraphs:
“The accession of Turkey would extend the EU’s borders to Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia. Through Turkey the EU could have a stabilizing
influence in Southern Caucasus, provided that Turkey is willing to try to
solve conflicts with its neighbors already before its accession. In
particular, its relations with Armenia will need to be improved with the
establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the land border
which is currently closed. As regards the tragic events, in particular the
human suffering in the region in 1915/1916, the prospect of Turkey’s
accession must lead to an improvement in bilateral relations with Armenia
and to reconciliation as regards these events. It is also important that
Turkey should contribute to easing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia
in the dispute concerning Nagorno Karabakh….
“The history books for the 2003-2004 school year still portray minorities
as untrustworthy, traitorous and harmful to the state. However, the
authorities have started to review discriminatory language in schoolbooks
and, in March 2004, a Regulation was issued in which it is stated that
school textbooks should not discriminate on the basis of race, religion,
gender, language, ethnicity, philosophical belief, or religion.
“The dialogue with the authorities on the issue of the dual presidency in
the Jewish, Greek and Armenian schools (the deputy head of these schools is
a Muslim representing the Ministry of Education and has more powers than
the head) is ongoing. In May 2004 the Ministry of Education stated that
children with mothers from the minority could also attend these schools
(previously only those with fathers from the minority could attend).
However, the declaration by parents of their minority status will be
subject to an assessment by the Ministry of Education. The Greek community
has encountered problems obtaining the approval of new teaching materials
and the recognition of teachers trained abroad. Moreover, in contravention
of the 2003 Labor Law and in contrast with the situation of their
colleagues of Turkish origin, Greek minority teachers are only permitted to
teach in one school. The Armenian community has expressed its concern
regarding the inadequacy of the teaching of the Armenian language.”
Under these circumstances, what should the Armenian strategy be regarding
the talks for Turkey’s membership in the EU? Some Armenian officials and
analysts have argued that after joining the EU Turkey would be more
amenable to recognizing the Armenian Genocide and granting more rights to
its Armenian minority.
In my opinion, this is wishful thinking. Turkey would not take such
positive steps on its own initiative. It would have no incentive whatsoever
to do so, once it acquires EU membership. A good indication of Turkey’s
negative intentions is the passage of a law by the Turkish Parliament on
the eve of the issuance of the EU report, making the recognition of the
Armenian Genocide a criminal act punishable by up to 10 years of
imprisonment.
Rather than throwing away the valuable trump card Armenians hold, they
should take a very hard line and make it clear to Ankara that unless their
demands are met, they will counter Turkey’s efforts every step of the way,
by joining forces with all Europeans who are opposed to Turkey’s
membership. Turkey cannot qualify to enter the EU as long as it does not
uphold European values, it occupies part of Cyprus (the territory of an EU
member), it blockades Armenia, it violates the rights of Kurds and all
other minorities (Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Assyrians, and Alevis), and it
not only refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, but bans any mention
of that crime against humanity.
After initially refusing to comply with the Armenian demands, as the years
pass and their frustrations mount, the Turks would be forced to start
making deals with all those opposed to their EU membership, including the
Armenians.
Only by taking such a tough stand could Armenians make sure that Turkey
does not become a member of the EU on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide, unless it first acknowledges and atones for the Genocide!
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2 – NorCal Armenian Home Receives $100,000
From Bay Area’s Davidian Charitable Trust
BURLINGAME, CA – The Board of Directors of NorCal Armenian Home and Senior
Services announced this week that it has received a donation of $100,000
from the San Francisco-based Davidian Charitable Trust.
“We are very honored that the Davidian Charitable Trust has chosen to
support our organization. We especially would like to thank Louise and
Steven Noroian for recognizing the important community service provided by
Nor Cal with their very generous contribution,” commented NorCal Armenian
Home President Norma Yaglijian.
In a letter to NorCal, Davidian Trustee Louise Noroian, writes, “My
husband, Steven Noroian, and I are extremely pleased to make a donation to
NorCal Armenian Home. We believe the services you are providing to the
Armenian community are extremely worthwhile and vital to our seniors living
in the Bay Area.”
“It is our profound wish,” Noroian continues, “that your Board and the
Armenian community at-large will join us financially to make your goals a
reality.”
It is the goal of the NorCal Board of Directors to serve the elderly
Armenian population residing in the Bay Area and Northern California, as
well as to establish a full-service home.
NorCal is ready to assist Armenian seniors residing in the Bay Area and
Northern California and their families. Among the many valuable services
NorCal provides are: information and referrals; convalescent, hospital and
home visits; assistance with Social Security, Medicare and Medi-Cal
benefits; home-delivered meals; assistance with transportation; placement
in skilled nursing facilities; assistance in maintaining independent
living; psychological counseling; assistance to families seeking caregivers
and services; and monthly excursions for local seniors. The continuation of
these and other vital services is solely dependent on charitable
contributions.
Members of the Board of Directors are Norma Yaglijian, president; George
Rustigian, vice president; Vigen Khachooni, treasurer; Aida Mirigian,
secretary; and advisors Juan Arsenian, Eleonore Aslanian, Richard
Barberian, Dr. Jane Mahakian, and Vaghinag Zakian.
For more information and to make a tax-deductible donation to “NorCal
Armenian Home and Senior Services,” call (650) 697-7474 or e-mail:
[email protected]
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3 – ‘Armenian Jerusalem’ Conference
Draws International Scholars to UCLA
LOS ANGELES – “Armenian Jerusalem and Armenians in the Holy Land” is the
theme of the 15th in the UCLA conference series on Historic Armenian Cities
and Provinces sponsored by the Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in
Modern Armenian History. The international conference will be held on the
UCLA campus, in the Court of Sciences (CS 50), on Nov. 6, and Nov. 7.
Conference organizer, Professor Richard Hovannisian, noted: “The Armenian
presence in the Holy Land dates back to the early Christian centuries, and
it is certainly fitting that scholars from around the world should gather
at UCLA to discuss their findings on various aspects of that long and
continuous history.”
Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, is the
honorary chairman of the conference, which includes papers on art and
architecture, the manuscript collection and library of Saint James
Monastery, the history of the Armenian Patriarchate and the Armenian
Quarter of Jerusalem, relations between the Patriarchate and the Cilician
Armenian kingdom, Greater Armenia, and other Christian churches. More
contemporary issues include the history of the Armenian community of
Jerusalem and the Holy Land during and after the Armenian Genocide,
literary themes, Jerusalem’s significance for Armenians worldwide, and new
directions for future research.
A Photographic Exhibit by Richard and Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht, Davis,
Calif., will be on view throughout the two-day program.
The conference is open to the public at no charge. Parking is available on
the UCLA campus in Parking Structure No. 2. Entrance from Hilgard Avenue at
Westholme.
For further information, see or contact Professor
Richard Hovannisian:
E-Mail: [email protected]; Tel.: 310-825-3375 (a.m. hours)
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4 – Diocese Establishes
New La Canada Parish
BURBANK, CA – The first Divine Liturgy of the newly established La Canada
Parish of the Armenian Apostolic Church will take place Oct. 24, at 10:30
a.m. in the Frank Lanterman Auditorium, 4491 Cornishion Ave. The celebrant
will be Rev. Fr. Hovsep Hagopian. Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Yardemian will
deliver the sermon.
The Liturgy will be sun by the Khachadourian Choir of St. Sarkis Armenian
Church in East Los Angeles, directed by Deacon Stepan Gozumian.
For more information, call (818) 326-4725.
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5 – Kopple to Direct Film About Dr. Kevorkian
By Gregg Kilday
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the advocate of
doctor-assisted suicide who is serving a 10- to 25-year prison term, will
be the subject of a feature film.
The project marks the first time that the doctor, who was convicted of
second-degree murder in 1999 and is serving his sentence in a
maximum-security prison in Michigan, has authorized any media-based project
surrounding his life and efforts in assisted suicide.
Barbara Kopple will direct the film for producer Steve Jones, whose Bee
Holder Prods. has acquired rights to an unpublished biography. Kevorkian is
cooperating with Neal Nicol, his assistant of 25 years, and Harry Wylie, a
longtime friend, on the book. The filmmakers are seeking a screenwriter for
the project.
Kevorkian assisted in more than 150 cases of suicide and had beaten the
state court system in Michigan numerous times, but he was convicted after
he willingly sent a videotape of himself euthanizing a terminally ill man
to “60 Minutes.”
Kopple is an Oscar winner for her documentaries “Harlan County, U.S.A.” and
“American Dream.”
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6 – 41 Human Rights Groups Urge EU
To Reject Turkey’s Denial of Genocide
BRUSSELS, Belgium – In a Memorandum addressed to the European Union (EU)
last month, several dozen human rights organizations called to the
attention of the EU the continuing discrimination and prejudice towards
minorities, and particularly those of non-Islamic faith in Turkey. The
speakers argued that the policy of denial of the genocide committed in 1915
on Armenians, Pontic Greeks and Syriacs should be dealt with as part of
Turkey’s accession process to the EU.
This issue has so far been sidestepped by official EU circles, arguing that
the denial of the genocide is a “matter for historians,” with no relevance
to contemporary relations between Turks an the peoples concerned.
At a press conference held in Brussels on September 22, Dr. Tessa Hofmann,
a scholar, writer and human rights activist, introduced the initiative by
highlighting the concerns of the Memorandum’s 41 signatory organizations
“about very recent and severe violations, on a governmental level, of
minority rights in Turkey. [For example] the decrees, issued by the Turkish
minister of education, Dr. Hüseyin Çelik, during 2002 and 2003 against
Armenian, Syriac and Greek demands for the recognition of the genocide on
their ancestors have been described by the Teachers Trade Union of Turkey
as chauvinist and racist.” Dr. Hofmann said: “We do not ignore [recent
progress in respect for human rights], but we know that lasting progress
depends on profound reforms in Turkey’s values as represented in her
education system and on the approach towards ethnic and religious
minorities by the media and other opinion-leaders.” Dr Hofmann also
detailed evidence of the prevalence of anti-Semitism in Turkey today.
Prominent French historian Dr. Yves Ternon focused on Turkey’s policy of
genocide denial and stated that the European Community could not remain
neutral on the matter: “I am only a historian, and for thirty years I have
examined the crime of genocide in its complexity…. But, I am in a position
to warn states against complacency towards denialism. Denying a genocide,
refusing to qualify this breach of international law, and rejecting the
evidence is tantamount to taking part in its continuation.” Ternon added
that he refused to envisage that Turkey might be admitted into the EU
without first having recognized the Armenian genocide.
Hülya Engin, speaking for the Turkish Human Rights Group TÜDAY, denounced
her government’s position: “The main obstacle to Turkey joining the EU is
not that most of its citizens are Muslims”, she insisted. “If Europe is a
project based on democracy, equality and human rights, if it embodies the
hope to fight racism, discrimination and genocide, then it does not have
the right to admit the denial of this crime. If Turkey wants to join
Europe, its first task will be to discover for itself the usefulness of a
public debate on its past”.
Two other speakers stressed the destruction from 1915 onwards, of the
Pontic Greeks and the Aramean-speaking Christians. Michalis Charalambidis,
member of the Central Committee of the International League for the Rights
and Liberation of Peoples, addressed the little known topic of the genocide
of Pontic Greeks living in Turkey, while Johny Messo, chairman of the
Foundation Study Centre Aramea and UN representative of the Syriac
Universal Alliance explained the critical situation of Syriacs of Turkey.
The prejudice towards the remnants of these groups in Turkey is unabated
today.
Finally, Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury, Deputy Speaker of the House
of Lords, closed the press conference with a moving call for Turkey to face
its past, emphasizing in particular how denial of a past genocide feeds
insecurity today in the region, as relations between Armenia and Turkey
continue to remain hostile.
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7 – AUA’s Ceremonies Celebrate Founders, 133 Graduates
YEREVAN – A New Beginning for a New Generation was the fitting theme as the
American University of Armenia (AUA) celebrated its 11th graduation and
commencement ceremonies during the first week of October. One hundred and
thirty three motivated men and women walked down the aisle to receive their
Master’s Degrees.
These new graduates join AUA’s 1,136 alumni who now occupy important
leadership positions, such as the Deputy Minister of Privatization, Deputy
Minister of Health, Directors, Program Officers, Chief Business Officers
and Country Directors in private and international organizations.
That same week, AUA honored founding members, the late Dr. Stepan
Karamardian and Dr. Mihran Agbabian, with ribbon cutting ceremonies for the
Stepan Karamardian Conference Hall in the AUA Business and Conference
Center and the newly furnished Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian Hall in the
AUA Baghramian building.
The traditional annual alumni dinner was held on Oct. 1. AUA alumni and
faculty congratulated the Class of 2004. The Alumni Association bestowed
hoods and diplomas naming AUA President Haroutune Armenian, Edward
Avedisian, and Dr. Krikor Soghikian “Honorary Alumni.”
The following day, AUA held its Baccalaureate Service for the AUA
graduates, families, faculty, and staff to reflect upon their
accomplishments in a spiritual setting. Edward Avedisian, Trustee of the
AUAC Board, addressed those present.
On Oct, 3, AUA held its annual Commencement exercises. Parents and spouses
of the graduates, many distinguished guests from the government, foreign
embassies, local and international organizations and more then 350 guests
from the AGBU, who were in Armenia to attend the AGBU General Assembly,
were present.
After Bishop Navasard Kjoyan’s invocation, AUA President Armenian and Dr.
Marianne Celce-Murcia, Dean of AUA’s Department of English Programs,
welcomed the graduating class, followed by greetings from Sam Simonian,
AUAC Trustee and EPYGI Technologies Chairman, and Ruben Vardanian,
President and CEO of Troika Dialog.
In his address, Pres. Armenian noted the generosity of many AUA supporters
and the number of new named scholarships and contributions to AUA’s student
loan program. He announced two new awards established by Arthur
Baghdasaryan, Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly.
The first carries a cash prize of $250 from the Speaker, and is granted to
two graduates in recognition of their academic excellence. The second
award granted two outstanding first-year students with stipends of 25,000
Armenian Drams per month during their second year of study. The graduates
concluded the exercises by throwing their caps in the air.
During graduation week, the AUA dedicated the Stepan Karamardian Conference
Hall and the Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian Hall. The late Dr. Stepan
Karamardian, along with Dr. Mihran Agbabian and Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian
are AUA’s founding members.
At the Karamardian Hall dedication, AUA President and Dean of the College
of Health Sciences, Dr. Armenian, welcomed guests and noted, “Being a true
academic, Stepan Karamardian was the ultimate entrepreneur of knowledge – a
person who could plan, manage and deliver knowledge.”
President Emeritus, Dr. Agbabian, said, “Nothing comes such a long way,
unless it has a strong foundation. We gave our best to ensure that
together with Stepan.” Mrs. Seta Karamardian expressed her gratitude to
the faculty, staff and students, as well as to the administration of AUA
for naming a room after her husband. She announced that the Karamardian
family would establish an annual scholarship in Dr. Karamardian’s name to
assist a deserving student in AUA’s School of Business and Administration.
At the Agbabian Hall dedication, the AUA community expressed their
appreciation for Dr. and Mrs. Agbabian’s many contributions in addition to
the remodeled hall.
Dr. Yuri Sargisyan, former President of the Yerevan State Engineering
University, and member of the AUA Fund, noted, “Mihran and Elizabeth
Agbabian helped create AUA when Armenia was facing a period of
re-establishment in the early 1990s. Today we are witness that they both
will do their best to maintain and develop what they created a decade ago.
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8 – Armenian Archbishop Questioned for
Slapping Yeshiva Student in Jerusalem
By Amiram Barkat
JERUSALEM (Ha’aretz”) – The Armenian archbishop in Israel, Nourhan
Manougian, was questioned under warning by police yesterday after he
slapped a yeshiva student during a procession marking the Exaltation of the
Holy Cross in Jerusalem’s Old City. The archbishop slapped the student
after the latter spat at the cross the Armenians were carrying and at
Manougian himself.
The incident developed into a brawl during which Manougian’s ceremonial
medallion, which has been used by Armenian archbishops since the 17th
century, broke.
The yeshiva student was also detained for questioning.
Police are now considering whether to initiate criminal proceedings against
the Armenian archbishop and to charge him with assault. Meanwhile, the
incident has sparked much anger among the clergy of the small Armenian
community in Jerusalem.
Religious Jews, among them yeshiva students, customarily spit on the ground
as a sign of disgust on seeing the cross. The Armenians, who live adjacent
to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, suffer from this
phenomenon more than any of the other Christian sects in the Old City.
Manougian says he and his colleagues have already learned to live with it.
“I no longer get worked up by people who turn around and spit when I pass
them by in the street; but to approach in the middle of a religious
procession and to spit on the cross in front of all the priests is
humiliation that we are not prepared to accept,” he notes.
A policeman is customarily posted to guard the Armenians’ religious
processions, but doesn’t generally do anything to prevent the spitting. The
Armenians took the matter up with Interior Minister Avraham Poraz some
seven months ago, but nothing has been done about till now.
“The Israeli government is anti-Christian,” Manougian charges. “It cries
out in the face of any harm done to Jews all over the world, but is simply
not interested at all when we are humiliated on an almost daily basis.”
Lawmaker Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor Party) says the phenomenon should be
tackled through educational means. “I would expect prominent figures among
the religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors, such as the chief rabbis, to
denounce this phenomenon,” he says.

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