California Courier Online, November 18, 2004

California Courier Online, November 18, 2004

1 – Commentary
University Website Discloses
TARC Proposals and More…
By Harut Sassounian
California Courier Publisher
2 – Visitors Use 10th Century Akhtamar
Armenia Church for Target Practice
3 – Armenian Artists Join Russians
At West Hollywood Exhibit
4 – Armenian Second Only to Russian
In SBC Language Line Services
5 – Armenian Assembly Leaders
Convene in San Francisco
6 – Commentary
Anti-Armenian Schemes of Foreign
Companies Operating in Turkey
7 – Co-Authors of Best-Selling Armenia
Travel Guide to Speak in California

1 – Commentary

University Website Discloses
TARC Proposals and More…

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The controversial Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, contrary to
its members’ repeated assurances that it has terminated its activities, is
apparently alive and well, and plotting.
Even though TARC announced on April 14, 2004, (yet again) that “its work as
a commission is ending,” it made it clear that rather than fading away, it
intended to expand the scope of its sinister work by stating: “We have
decided to convene an initial meeting of a larger group than TARC to
discuss the subject of Turkish Armenian rapprochement and reconciliation.
This conference is planned for the fall of 2004. In addition we intend to
support a Turkish Armenian consultative group which would meet at least
annually to exchange views, review progress, and recommend actions to
promote improved relations. TARC’s website, , will continue to
TARC stated that it would submit shortly its recommendations to “the
concerned governments,” probably meaning Turkey and Armenia, and also the
United States, the main financial backer of this scheme, to the tune of
several millions dollars.
TARC did not make its recommendations public. Its official website does not
include this document. The website of the American University (AU) in
Washington, D.C., however, not only reveals the full text of this internal
document, but also discloses the vast number of Turkish-Armenian exchanges
sponsored by the AU’s Center for Global Peace which received its funding
from the U.S. government. David L. Phillips, the Chairman of TARC, is the
Director of the Center for Global Peace and Deputy Director of the Center
for Preventive Action of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a
senior advisor to the US Department of State.
Here are TARC’s seven recommendations to the governments of Turkey and
Official contacts should be further improved;
Opening of the Turkish Armenian border should be announced and implemented
in 2004;
The two governments should publicly support civil society programs focused
on education, science, culture, and tourism;
Standing mechanisms for cooperation on humanitarian disaster assistance and
health care should be established;
Security and confidence building measures between Turkey and Armenia should
be enhanced;
Religious understanding should be encouraged; and
The Turkish and Armenian people need to develop more confidence that their
governments are working to surmount the difficulties related to the past.
To gain a better insight into the extent of time and effort as well as
money spent by the U.S. government to divert the attention of Armenians
away the genocide issue, I have summarized below, from the AU’s website,
the list of extensive activities undertaken by the Center for Global Peace
to promote Turkish-Armenian exchanges:


Conflict Resolution Training;
Diaspora Dialogue: Regular meetings between Armenian and Turkish
organizations in Washington, D.C., “to discuss issues affecting the
Diaspora communities;”
Regional Mayors’ Project: Meetings with mayors from bordering provinces in
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey;
Turkish-Armenian Parliamentary Exchanges; and
Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission.


Documentaries for Turkish, Armenian and US television stations; Production
of a CD;
Reciprocal visits by Turkish and Armenian journalists;
Radio programs broadcast in Turkey and Armenia; and
Women’s magazine published by Turkish and Armenian women (15,000 copies, 96


Plans to renovate the Akhtamar Church; and
Dialogue between Armenian and Turkish religious leaders; and
Exchanges between Turkish and Armenian musicians.


Exchanges between Turkish and Armenian businessmen;
Marketing network of the Caucasus;
Regional economic working group; and
Cooperative manufacturing effort for textile producers in Turkey and


Mutual Perceptions Research Project (Armenia/Turkey and
Regional Academic Cooperation;
Visiting scholars; and
Youth Peace Education.


Exchange visits by Armenian and Turkish women; and
Institutional exchanges.

The main problem with TARC’s patently obvious recommendations and the
extensive Turkish-Armenian exchanges organized by the American University’s
Center for Global Peace is that they are directed by a group (TARC) that is
set up and funded by a foreign entity (the Bush Administration) for the
purpose of stifling the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S.
Congress as well as the legislatures of all other countries.
As I reported back in 2001, Ozdem Sanberk, one of the Turkish members of
TARC, had blurted out the following admission in a moment of weakness or
inattention: “The basic goal of our commission is to impede the initiatives
put forth every year in the U.S. Congress and parliaments of Western
countries on ‘the genocide issue’…. The key goal is to prevent ‘the
genocide’ issue from being regularly brought onto the agenda in Western
countries…. The significant matter for us is that ‘the genocide’ issue is
not discussed by the American Congress anymore. As long as we continue the
dialogue, the issue won’t be brought to the congressional agenda. If it is
not discussed in Congress, we, meaning Turkey, will gain from that. The US
Congress will see that there is a channel of dialogue between Turks and
Armenians and decide that ‘there is no necessity for the Congress to take
such a decision while such a channel exists.”
2 – Visitors Use 10th Century Akhtamar
Armenia Church for Target Practice
BRUSSELS – The Van correspondent of Istanbul’s Milliyet newspaper writes
that the marvelous carvings of the 10th century church of Akhtamar in Lake
Van are regularly being used as targets for shooting practice by visitors.
The newspaper published also a photo where one can see the state of
after such visits. The correspondent reports that the church is protected
by a guard in the summer time only during the working hours.
During the rest of the day the visitors entertain themselves by shooting on
the carvings of the Akhtamar Church, and some of them even try to find some
Archeology Professor at the University of Van, Veli Seçkin says that there
are rumors among the population that there is treasure cached in the island
of Akhtamar. Even the Church guard was once arrested while he was “hunting
for treasure.”
Already in May 2004, the Zaman newspaper warned that the famous church of
the Holy Cross of the Akhtamar Island was almost in ruins.
The church, which is visited by many foreign tourists, is badly neglected
and close to ruins. The church has been neglected and harmed by treasure
hunters and is at risk of collapsing. Both its foundation and ceiling have
cracks and holes.
The City of Van’s Culture and Tourism Province Director, Bilal Sonmez, told
Zaman that a project for the preservation of the historical identity of the
church is already being prepared. Sonmez said that the issue has already
been transferred to the Culture and Nature Assets Council and that the
directorate is waiting for a decision.
Unfortunately the above-mentioned project for the preservation of the
historical identity of the church was never carried out and the Church is
not protected by UNESCO, since each country decides which are the monuments
to be protected by UNESCO.
The Assembly of Armenians of Europe and upon its request many Armenians all
around the world sent alert letters to UNESCO, but they remained without
In order to raise the awareness of the European an exhibition “Armenian
Architectural Heritage in South Caucasus and Middle East”, organized by the
Assembly of Armenians of Europe with the co-operation of the Research on
Armenian Architecture under the patronage of Swedish Parliament member
Jonas Sjostedt, took place in the European Parliament, at the end of
3 – Armenian Artists Join Russians
At West Hollywood Exhibit
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Eighteen Armenian artists have joined with more
than 60 artists from the United States and Russia to present a
“Russian-American Art Exhibit,” Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 at West Hollywood’s
Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue.
The official grand opening will take place Nov. 18 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.,
with live entertainment, a wine reception and a fashion show.
Part of the proceeds from the exhibit, which is dedicated to the 20th
anniversary of the city of West Hollywood, will also benefit the victims of
the terrorist attack in Russia’s town of Beslan, which resulted in more
than 300 dead, including 250 children.
The City of West Hollywood is co-sponsoring the event along with the
Russian Advisory Board, Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood Convention
and Visitors Bureau, Russian Community Center, and the Russian-American
Arts Foundation.
West Hollywood is home to more than 37,000 residents of Russian descent,
equivalent to 30% of the city’s population.
Armenian artists participating in the exhibit include: Vartan Asadourian,
Grant Avakyan, Hakob Baghdasaryan, Vahan Demirtchian, Alexander Djanian,
Razmik Hadjikian, Samvel Hadjikian, Samvel, Hambardzumyan, Vahram
Hovakimyan, Varuzhan Hovakimyan, Irena (Ovsepian) Huges, Razmik Kazarian,
Samvel Marutyan, Henrik Vardeniktsy Sargsyan, Liosin Semerdjian, and Evrik
For more information, call Viktoria Kanevsky, (323) 512-2228.
4 – Armenian Second Only to Russian
In SBC Language Line Services
LOS ANGELES – SBC California last week announced its “Top 10” languages
requested by customers at its Language Line interpreter service* center
with Armenian finishing No. 2, behind Russian. Representing
more than 16 percent of the center’s language requests, the high Armenian
ranking is among a selection of 150 different languages offered by SBC’s
Diversity Marketing group that enables California consumers to conduct
business in the language of their choice, at no charge, to inquire about
their bill, set-up phone service, change or add services such as SBC Long
Distance or SBC Yahoo! DSL and have other questions answered.
“We are committed to understanding and serving the unique needs of our
diverse California customer base. SBC knows many people prefer to discuss
their options, including telephone and communications services, in their
native or preferred language,” said Jody Garcia, Vice President, SBC
Diverse Markets Group. “The Interpreter service, coupled with the multiple
international calling plans, makes the SBC family of companies the leader
in understanding and serving the needs of our customers.”
To meet the needs of its increasingly diverse community, SBC California
partners with professional interpreters to assist customers during a call.
Customers can access this interpreter service by calling SBC customer
service at 1-800-203-8600 and requesting assistance in their language of
choice. So far, SBC has assisted consumers in more than 100 languages.
5 – Armenian Assembly Leaders
Convene in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – Led by Chairman Anthony Barsamian, the Armenian Assembly
Board of Directors convened on November 6 at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
for a full day of business meetings that included an in-depth look at
Assembly operations in the Washington, Los Angeles and Yerevan offices.
“The San Francisco session was extremely productive and has reaffirmed the
Board’s commitment to the Assembly’s goals,” said Barsamian. “During the
meeting, Members raised key questions regarding the Assembly’s current and
long-term initiatives which we will continue to look at in the month’s
Looking at the year ahead, the Board approved the 2005 operating budget and
set a preliminary agenda for the coming year. To that end, they also
discussed the Assembly’s efforts to co-sponsor the 90th anniversary and
subsequent commemorations of the Armenian Genocide in our nation’s capital
under the auspices of the Armenian Caucus and Armenian Embassy.
Meeting participants included Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mugar and
Board of Directors Members Murat Acemoglu, Bryan Ardouny, Berge Ayvazian,
Lisa Esayian, Edele Hovnanian, Lisa Kalustian, Van Krikorian, Richard
Mushegain, Gail O’Reilly, Annie Totah and Peter Vosbikian.
Executive Director Ross Vartian, along with Deputy Executive Director Peter
Abajian and Finance Director Colleen Clancy, were also on hand to provide
the group additional information on the following program areas:
Development and Membership, Finance, Government Affairs, Grassroots,
Internship and
Public Affairs.
Prior to the weekend meeting, Board of Directors Treasurer Berge Ayvazian
on Nov. 5 moderated a panel discussion on Armenia’s Economic Development
held at the hotel. Panelists included Adam Kablanian of Virage Logic, Tony
Moryoyan of Viasphere International, Board Member Gail O’Reilly of Made in
Armenia Direct and Anahid Yeremian of CRD Support Committee. The event
attracted a high community turnout and was organized by the Assembly’s
Northern California Regional Council.
The Council also helped plan a Saturday night dinner for supporters, which
was hosted at the home of Development Co-Chair Suzanne Abnous and her
husband, Fellow Trustee Razmik Abnous. More than 50 people attended the
event in Danville, which welcomed more than two dozen new members.
Barsamian and Mugar thanked the Abnous’ for opening their home to the
Assembly and presented the couple with a gift created by a child in
6 – Commentary
Anti-Armenian Schemes of Foreign
Companies Operating in Turkey
By Tigran Ghazarian
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey tried to assume the role of
“patron” of the three Southern Caucasus states. While Georgia and
Azerbaijan did not have any particular problems with this arrangement,
Armenia, on the other hand, was subjected to a restrictive treatment given
the Turkish blockade of Armenia.
Regrettably, some of the Western corporations with regional offices in
Turkey went along with the restrictions imposed on Armenia.
A recently revealed internal memorandum by Jim Dyer, one of the executives
of Philip Morris company, disclosed that back in 1989, the Turkish
government had urged the firm’s representatives to lobby against the
adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution by the U.S. Senate.
Another evidence of the western corporations’ collusion with Turkish
interests in the region was revealed during a recent court case in Armenia
in which the Turkish division of a major multinational company was tried on
charges of dodging its Armenian tax obligations. Even though this firm
conducted business in Armenia, it misrepresented its Armenian employee in
Yerevan as a resident of Georgia in order to avoid paying taxes to the
Armenian government.
During the trial, the Turkish division of the company presented several
forged receipts that were supposed to prove its tax payments for the
Armenian employee who was laid off when he refused to go along with the
company’s fraudulent scheme. His successor received her salary at a bank in
the U.S.
The company was forced to engage in such fraudulent activities in order to
comply with the Turkish government’s policy of preventing not only
political, but also economic relations with Armenia. Until recently,
Turkish companies were not allowed to issue an invoice to any entity in
Armenia. Invoices for goods shipped from Turkey to Armenia were falsely
issued under the names of various Georgian, Bulgarian, or Ukrainian
This situation began to change a year ago when Turks started to realize
that they cannot play the role of a regional “patron” under such terms.
Turkish entities were finally allowed by the Turkish authorities to openly
export to Armenia.
This change came as a result of international pressure on Turkey to
normalize its relations with Armenia. It remains to be seen whether these
changes would lead to the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border and the
beginning of direct relations between the two countries. Such a development
would be more in the interest of Turkey, rather than Armenia, as it would
facilitate Turkey’s economic and political interests in the Caucasus.
7 – Co-Authors of Best-Selling Armenia
Travel Guide to Speak in California
LOS ANGELES – The authors of the best-selling travel guide for Armenia will
present a travelogue to Armenia and Karabagh at a pair of events next month
in Fresno and San Francisco.
Original color photographs from their newly-released “Stone Garden Guide to
Armenia and Karabagh” will also be exhibited as part of the travelogue.
Guidebook authors Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian, Ph.D, will speak
about their adventures in Armenia during the decade they spent researching
the book, and about Armenia’s recent development as a tourist destination.
Karanian is a member of the law faculty at the American University of
Armenia, in Yerevan. Kurkjian is a former member of the faculty at AUA and
is now an international environmental consultant based in Los Angeles. They
are both professional photographers who have traveled extensively
throughout the region.
The authors will speak in Fresno at 7 pm, Thursday, December 2 at the A.
Peters Auditorium on the campus of California State University. Seating is
limited so guests are encouraged to arrive early. More information is
available from the Armenian Studies Program of CSUF
( (Tel. 559-278-2669).
Karanian and Kurkjian will speak in San Francisco at 1 pm (following church
services) on Sunday, December 5 at the St. John Armenian Church, 275
Olympia Way (Tel. 415-983-8344). Both events are free and open to the
The “Stone Garden Guide to Armenia and Karabagh” was published in September
and it immediately became the leading travel guide for Armenia. The
304-page handbook includes 25 color maps and 75 color photographs. The book
will be available for purchase at both events and the authors will sign
copies. More information about the book, including sample pages, is
available on the internet at and from the online
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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress