ASBAREZ Online [03-17-2005]


1) Trials of Writers Symbolize Turkey’s Freedom of Expression Problems
2) PACE Presses Azerbaijan to Free Political Prisoners or Face Consequences
3) ‘Topsy-turvy’ Turkish Reports Simply Worn-out Maneuver
4) OSCE Report on Mountainous Karabagh Strikes down Azeri Allegations of
5) Armenian-Azeri Talks on Hold

1) Trials of Writers Symbolize Turkey’s Freedom of Expression Problems

–Publisher Zarakolu Dragged to Court for Printing Jerjian Book

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–The co-founder and owner of Belge Publishing
Ragip Zarakolu has again been taken to court in Turkey, this time for printing
a translated version of George Jerjian’s book “The Truth Will Set Us Free:
Armenians and Turks Reconciled.” He faces charges of insulting the state and
defaming the founder of the Republic, Ataturk.
In his defense, Zarakolu stated that in translating and publishing Jerjian’s
book, he presents to the Turkish reader a book read throughout the world. “The
Turkish public must know about the existence of such a book, especially these
days, when there’s so much said about Armenian deportations and genocide. The
reader can choose for himself; if he has opposing views, he can respond,
creating a forum for debate,” said Zarakolu. He also said that the case
him is in violation of his freedom of expression.
The judge in the case has postponed the trial until May 12 “in order to
reaction of people who have read the book.” The trail is being closely
by international human rights organizations, as well as progressive Turkish
intellectuals. If convicted, Zarakolu faces one-and-a-half to four years
“The postponement is typical of such trials where hearings take place over
many months, and sometimes years, causing much inconvenience and financial
to those involved. Even if the defendant is acquitted of the charge, the long,
drawn out process can be seen as a form of harassment. The trial itself can
serve to make others think twice before publishing views that may bring them
before the courts,” writes International PEN, a world-wide organization of
writers, established in 1921 to fight for the freedom of expression.
Zarakolu also faces separate charges of “incitement to racial hatred,” for
writing an article critical of Turkey’s foreign policy on Kurdish issues.
charges carry a two-year jail sentence. An investigation was launched for his
publication of Zulkuf Kisanak’s “Lost Villages.”
In a separate case, writer Fikret Baskaya was acquitted of charges of “insult
to the State, State institutions, and the military,” stemming from articles
published in the early nineties (since republished as a book titled: “Articles
against the Current”) in which he was critical of the Turkish authorities.
International PEN and The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA), as well as
other international NGOs, among them Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch, were in Turkey observing the hearings.

2) PACE Presses Azerbaijan to Free Political Prisoners or Face Consequences

BAKU (Armenpress)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
warned Azerbaijan on Wednesday, that it must free its remaining political
prisoners or face punitive measures.
The assembly’s rapporteur on political prisoners, Malcolm Bruce, said in Baku
earlier this week that it wanted to see progress by its next meeting in April,
or it would press for a review of the former Soviet republic’s membership in
the 46-nation Council of Europe.
Human rights activists in Azerbaijan say some 100 political prisoners remain
in jail, including more than 40 people arrested in October 2003 in a police
crackdown on protests that broke out after presidential elections that the
opposition claimed were rigged.
Azerbaijan Joined the Council of Europe in 2001.

3) ‘Topsy-turvy’ Turkish Reports Simply Worn-out Maneuver

YEREVAN (Yerevan)–Foreign ministry Hamlet Gasparian on Thursday, called
Turkish press reports on a speech presented by an Armenian diplomat, simply
Turkish media reported that Armenia’s ambassador to the European Union Vigen
Chitechian, stated during a meeting of EU-Armenia cooperation commission in
Strasbourg, that “the problem of the Armenian genocide was created by diaspora
Gasparian explained that, as a rule, Ambassador Chitechian uses the phrase
“the diaspora itself was created as a result of the Genocide.” He added that
this is yet another attempt by the Turkish press to mislead the international
community into thinking that serious disagreements exist between diaspora
Armenians and those in Armenia.
“It is a worn-out Turkish trick meant for uninformed people,” he added.

4) OSCE Report on Mountainous Karabagh Strikes down Azeri Allegations of

(RFE/RL)–Armenia claimed a major diplomatic victory Thursday, when the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) denied Azerbaijan’s
allegations that Armenia is encouraging and financing a massive
resettlement of
Armenians in the Azerbaijani territories around Mountainous Karabagh.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry released excerpts from a report drawn up by a
fact-finding OSCE mission that toured those areas early last month. The report
was officially submitted to the OSCE’s governing Permanent Council in Vienna
earlier on Thursday and has not yet been made public by the organization.
“The Fact-Finding Mission has seen no evidence of direct involvement by the
authorities of Armenia in the territories,” concludes the report cited by the
ministry. “There is no clear organized resettlement, no non-voluntary
resettlement, no recruitment.”
“Overall settlement is quite limited,” the OSCE team was quoted as saying,
adding that there are less than 15,000 Armenians living in all seven districts
in Azerbaijan proper, and not between 30,000 and 300,000 as was claimed by
Baku. “The Fact-Finding Mission has concluded that the overwhelming
majority of
settlers are displaced persons from various parts of Azerbaijan, notably, from
Shahumian (Goranboy) Getashen (Chaikent)-now under Azerbaijani control–and
Sumgait and Baku.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry welcomed the reported findings of the OSCE
inspectors led by a senior German diplomat, Emily Haber. “Armenia appreciates
the diligent, hard work of the Minsk Group co-chairs and the members of the
Mission,” the ministry said in a statement. “We believe that their detailed,
first-hand, objective report clearly describes the situation on the ground in
the region.”
“Armenia believes that the most important accomplishment of the Fact Finding
Mission Report is that it has laid to rest Azerbaijan’s charges,” read the
The OSCE inspection was organized as a result of a compromise agreement
between the conflicting parties and the mediators. The deal prevented a
vote in
the UN General Assembly on an Azerbaijani draft resolution condemning the
decade-long occupation of the Azerbaijani lands. The resolution was
endorsed by
many Islamic nations, but the United States, Russia and France warned that it
would hamper their peace efforts.
Prior to the completion of the official OSCE report, French mediator Bernard
Fassier, who was in Karabagh as part of the OSCE monitoring team in January,
confirmed Karabagh’s stance that the borderlands have been settled
and unevenly, and, in many cases, by itinerant refugees driven from Azerbaijan
during the war years. Fassier noted, “In many areas there is no electricity
poverty predominates. I wouldn’t say people live. Rather, they are
surviving in
half-destroyed walls topped by a tin roof.”
The OSCE team found that the vast majority of Armenian settlers live in the
Lachin district that serves as the shortest overland link between Armenia and
Karabagh. The Armenian side has ruled out Lachin’s return to Azerbaijan under
any peace accord. A senior Karabagh official declared last month that
Stepanakert will continue to populate Lachin. The Armenian Foreign Ministry
statement said the area is “viewed differently in the negotiation process.”
“This is so because Lachin is Mountainous Karabagh’s humanitarian and
corridor,” it explained. “Without it, Mountainous Karabagh would remain an
isolated enclave.”

5) Armenian-Azeri Talks on Hold

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has come away from a
with international mediators without an agreement on the next round of
Armenian-Azerbaijani talks on Mountainous Karabagh, according to officials.
Oskanian and Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov had been scheduled to
take place in Prague on March 2, but were delayed due to Oskanian’s bout with
Oskanian said on March 4 that a new date for the potentially crucial meeting
will be set “in the coming days.” He was in Vienna on Tuesday, discussing the
peace process with the French, Russian and US co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk
“The new dates for the Prague negotiations are still not known,” said
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamlet Gasparian.
Gasparian referred all inquiries regarding reasons for the
longer-than-expected delay to the Minsk Group. “They are the ones who organize
the negotiations,” he said.
The canceled meeting was supposed to continue a series of Armenian-Azeri
held in the Czech capital since last summer. Mammadyarov and Oskanian
in January the second stage of the “Prague process,” raising fresh hopes for
breaking the deadlock in the Karabagh peace process.

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