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March 17, 2007 — From the front section
All of the articles that appear below are special to the ARMENIAN REPORTER
1. Genocide resolution is introduced in the U.S. Senate (by Emil Sanamyan)
2. It’s NATO Week in Armenia; the CSTO chief is also visiting Yerevan
(by Tatul Hakobyan)
3. Foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan meet in Geneva after
French mediator visits the region; Aliyev makes provocative statement
(by Tatul Hakobyan)
4. From Washington, in brief (by Emil Sanamyan)
* Congressional Armenian Caucus cochairs weigh in on Armenia elections
* U.S. AID administrator sees "great progress" in Armenia
* State Department assesses Armenia’s human rights practices
* Armenian water in America: One banned, another awarded
5. An Azerbaijani-Turkish forum hatches anti-Armenian plots, as one
Genocide denier is found guilty in a Swiss court (by Emil Sanamyan)
6. Israel parliament votes down a motion on the Armenian Genocide (by
7. House Subcommittee on Europe is reviewing U.S.-Turkish relations;
USAPAC letter criticizes Turkey’s record
8. Documentation: Text of the proposed Senate resolution condemning
the murder of Hrant Dink
9. For Garry Kasparov, Armenian foreign policy is a little like chess
(by Florence Avakian)
10. MCC vice president visits Armenia
11. Long-term election observers arrive
12. Arrest in tax official’s murder (by Armen Hakobyan)
13. Market update by Haik Papian
14. Commentary: Robert Fisk talks about the Armenian Genocide
15. Commentary: A shameful campaign: Attempts to intimidate a Turk who
speaks out about the Genocide (by Taner Akçam)
16. Letters: Turkish lobby places article in Wall Street Journal,
17. Editorial: Don’t forget to write
1. Genocide resolution is introduced in the U.S. Senate
by Emil Sanamyan
WASHINGTON – A bi-partisan group of 23 U.S. senators on March 14
formally introduced a resolution honoring the victims and survivors of
the Armenian Genocide. The group is led by Senators Richard Durbin
(D.-Ill.) and John Ensign (R.-Nev.).
Sen. Durbin, who as assistant majority leader holds the Senate’s
second highest position, said, "the Armenian Genocide was the
Twentieth Century’s first genocide – a crime against humanity that
included murder, deportation, torture, and slave labor. It is long
past time that the United States speak with clarity on this reality."
"We must honor those who died in the Armenian Genocide by recognizing
their suffering and by dedicating ourselves to preventing tragedies in
the future," Sen. Durbin added.
Sen. Ensign told the Armenian National Committee of America, "We are a
nation that embraces freedom and justice, and we have a responsibility
to uphold these values in order to not repeat the mistakes of the
past. This important resolution officially recognizes history and the
truth of the crime of genocide perpetuated against the Armenians."
With Senators Durbin and Ensign, the current supporters of the
resolution include Senators Wayne Allard (R.-Colo.), Barbara Boxer
(D.-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D.-Ohio), Norm Coleman (R.-Minn.), Chris
Dodd (D.-Conn.), Elizabeth Dole (R.-N.C.), Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.),
Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.), Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.), John Kerry
(D.-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.), Joe
Lieberman (I.-Conn.), Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.), Barbara Mikulski
(D.-Md.), Jack Reed (D.-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Olympia Snowe
(R.-Maine), Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich.), John Sununu (R.-N.H.), and
Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.).
The resolution calls on the president to issue an annual message to
commemorate the Armenian Genocide, and to ensure that U.S. foreign
policy "reflects appropriate understanding" concerning human rights
and ethnic cleansing relating to the Armenian Genocide.
The Senate resolution’s text is nearly identical to the one introduced
in the House of Representatives last month. H. Res. 106 has since been
endorsed by 183 Congressmen, but is yet to receive consideration after
its referral to the Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Tom
The Senate version is likely to be first considered by the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.) or its
Subcommittee on Europe chaired by Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.).
Senators Durbin and Ensign introduced a similar measure in November of
2005, during the previous, 109th Congress. Although that resolution
was eventually backed by 35 senators, the Foreign Relations Committee
chair at the time, Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), never brought it up
Sen. Durbin is the chair of the Human Rights and Law Subcommittee of
the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Ensign is the ranking member in
the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee of the Senate Armed
2. It’s NATO Week in Armenia
The CSTO chief is also visiting Yerevan
by Tatul Hakobyan
YEREVAN – On March 12, NATO Week started in Yerevan. Jean Fournet, the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s assistant secretary general for
public diplomacy, traveled to Yerevan for the occasion.
Cooperation between Yerevan and NATO was formalized in December 2005
in an Individual Partnership Action Plan. Under the plan, Armenia and
NATO have been working together to develop a national security
strategy and a military doctrine. The plan also includes reforms of
the Armenian armed forces, including an increase in civilian
Mr. Fournet said he was pleased with Armenia’s progress in the
implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan. A NATO
assessment team that visited Armenia from January 28 to February 2
reported positive results. "The interim assessment shows that the two
parties have the will and the willingness to carry out everything in
the plan," Mr. Fournet said.
Defense Minister Serge Sargsian told Defense News last month that
developing relations with NATO is an important element of the ongoing
modernization of the Armenian military. He particularly underscored
the importance of structural reform of the Defense Ministry, including
the introduction of civilian positions, and personnel training.
"It’s no secret our army has few officers who are Western-trained, so
training and retraining is very important," Mr. Sargsian said. "And
next we want to drive this down to the sergeant level, because they
are the vital links between the officers and our infantrymen."
The official opening of the NATO Information Center in Yerevan took
place on March 12. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and Mr. Fournet
participated in the opening ceremony.
Other NATO Week events include public-information programs, including
a television linkup with Kosovo, where Armenian peacekeepers are
serving in NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR). Ara Tadevosian, head of the
NATO Information Center in Yerevan, says that the Armenian Atlantic
Association, a nongovernmental organization, is educating young people
about NATO by sending speakers to colleges in various parts of
Armenia. The speakers are going to Kapan, Sisian, Yeghegnadzor, Gavar,
Ijevan, Vanadzor, and Gyumri in minibuses decked with the NATO logo;
they will stay there until March 16.
Meanwhile, Nikolay Bordyuzha, secretary general of the Collective
Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), arrived in Yerevan on March 13.
He is meeting with government officials, speaking at Yerevan State
University and the Vazgen Sarkisian Military Institute. CSTO was
established in 1992 in Tashkent after the collapse of the Soviet
Union. Azerbaijan and Georgia are former members. Along with Russia,
the backbone of the organization, members are Belarus, Armenia, and
the central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and
Yerevan has announced many times that it pursues a foreign policy of
"complementarity," and seeks to deepen relations with Russia and CSTO
as well as with the West and NATO.
"Cooperation with NATO is important to Armenia’s political and
economic processes, the reform and modernization of the national armed
forces, and especially the integration of the political element," said
Arman Kirakossian, Armenia’s deputy foreign minister. He added,
"Armenia is not pursuing NATO membership."
Mr. Kirakossian said that relations with NATO "have become one of the
directions of Armenia’s foreign policy in recent years. Full
cooperation with NATO is one of the components of our country’s
multi-layered security system."
During a joint press conference with Mr. Fournet on March 12, Foreign
Minister Oskanian was asked whether Armenia hopes to become a member
of NATO. "IPAP, the Individual Partnership Action Plan, is the basic
document of the Armenia-NATO relationship. It is a large,
comprehensive document, and full implementation will take a long time.
So we are focused on that document as we develop our relations," the
foreign minister said.
Mr. Oskanian underlined that Armenia’s adoption of the principle of
complementarity in its foreign relations distinguishes it from its
neighbors. "Our people worry, ‘Isn’t all this in contradiction to our
other steps, as we have an expansive security arrangement with Russia,
we are members of the CSTO, and we are deepening our relations with
NATO?’ Our experience over these years has shown that there is no
Political scientist Stepan Grigoryan, who from 1996 to 1999 dealt with
collective security issues at Armenia’s embassy in Russia, had this
perspective on Armenia’s security efforts: "Armenia is formally a
member of CSTO, but it would not be correct to say that CSTO
guarantees our country’s security. There are a number of reasons.
First, CSTO is not an effective structure; second, our immediate
neighbors, Georgia and Azerbaijan, are not members of it, and so
Armenia is an island apart from the CSTO."
Mr. Grigoryan recalled that until 1999, both NATO and Europe
emphasized that the Commonwealth of Independent States is a Russian
sphere of influence, and that its security must be guaranteed in the
Russian system. "Today, when NATO has actively entered the Caucasus,
it is wrong to expect that our security will be guaranteed in a single
system, be it CSTO or another organization, because now there is an
alternative. The situation has changed," the political scientist said.
Another analyst, Armen Manvelyan, says that Armenia’s membership in
the CSTO is an expression of the strategic relationship between
Armenia and Russia. "When we speak of Armenia’s security system, in a
military sense we are talking about bilateral cooperation with
Russia," he notes.
"CSTO membership allows Armenia to buy arms from Russia at a great
discount, which is very important for us. Cooperation with NATO is
essential for resolving some of Armenia’s security issues. To be
realistic, however, membership in NATO in the foreseeable future is
impossible not only for Armenia but for all its neighbors as well. So
we should take the best that is possible from these two organizations,
CSTO and NATO: arms from the first, a contemporary military structure
from the second."
"And for security," Mr. Manvelian concluded, we must rely on ourselves."
3. Foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan meet in Geneva after
French mediator visits the region
Aliyev makes provocative statement
by Tatul Hakobyan
YEREVAN – Nagorno-Karabakh does not expect much out of the March 14
meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva,
according to Karabakh President Arkadi Ghoukassian. He made the remark
to journalists after a meeting with Bernard Fassier, the French
cochair of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is mediating the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the other hand, Ghoukassian said, every
meeting of the foreign ministers or of the presidents is important.
"The sooner the matter is resolved, the better. This situation, ‘Not
peace, not war," hurts Nagorno-Karabakh the most. We have an interest
in seeing the Nagorno-Karabakh matter resolved, but we have principles
which we will never betray. If the matter is going to be resolved at
the expense of the interests of Nagorno-Karabakh, then naturally, we
have no need for this sort of resolution."
The fact that it is an election year in Armenia and Karabakh (and next
year will be an election year in Azerbaijan and Armenia) does not stop
the mediators from continuing their visits to the region and holding
high-level meetings. On March 7, Mr. Fassier met Foreign Minister
Vartan Oskanian and President Robert Kocharian of Armenia, then
traveled to Baku to meet President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister
Elmar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, returning on March 12 to Yerevan to
meet President Ghoukassian and Foreign Minister Georgi Petrosian of
Mr. Ghoukassian believes that the mediators are trying to bring
Nagorno-Karabakh into the negotiations about its future, and Mr.
Fassier explicitly says that the matter cannot be resolved without
Stepanakert. "Unfortunately, not everything is up to the cochairs,"
Mr. Fassier said. "Azerbaijan’s position naturally matters, and so far
they don’t want to negotiate with Karabakh. All the same, this is an
obstacle that can be overcome." He added that Azerbaijan will have to
negotiate with Karabakh if, of course, it wants to resolve the
conflict. "There is no other way. Today’s arrangement
(Armenia-Azerbaijan) is not realistic.
Armenia-Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijan is the realistic arrangement," he
Before leaving Yerevan for Geneva, Mr. Fassier met reporters at the
French Embassy. "If the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan
succeed in the Geneva meeting in agreeing on the basic principles for
the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, then they will hold
one or two more meeting, the results of which could be presented to
the two presidents for consideration," Mr. Fassier said. No meeting of
the two presidents will take place before Armenia’s parliamentary
elections on May 12, the French mediator added.
"Experience shows that the pre-election period is not the best time
for the negotiating process. Even if a meeting of the two presidents
does not materialize, the work of the cochairs will continue," Mr.
Fassier said. He called his meetings in Yerevan and Baku "useful,
honest, and constructive." He said he brought no new, magical
solutions with him, as there was a need for serious consideration of
the proposals already on the table.
This is not the first solo visit of one of the three cochairs of the
Minsk Group. Both Mr. Fassier and Matthew Bryza, the U.S. cochair have
visited the region on their own in the past year. The solo visit did
not reflect conflicts among the three cochairs, who represent France,
Russia, and the United States. There have been conflicts among the
mediators in the past, and there can be conflicts among them in the
present and future, Mr. Fassier allowed. But the main conflict today
is between the parties to the conflict, Azerbaijan and Armenia – since
Nagorno-Karabakh is not a direct part of the process.
There are also disagreements between Yerevan and Stepanakert. Mr.
Ghoukassian said that his administration is fully briefed on the
details of the negotiations. "There are minor as well as more serious
disagreements. But, it would not be correct for me to speak about
these disagreements because this is an internal matter: we have not
lost hope that we can persuade the Armenian side about the matters in
which our views are not identical. We approach matters not emotionally
but with reasoned arguments, and the stronger argument usually
prevails," Mr Ghoukassian said.
Mr. Aliyev, who received Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his
meeting with Mr. Fassier, announced on March 9: "Azerbaijan will never
come to terms with the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven
adjacent regions by Armenians and will not allow the creation of a
second Armenian state on Azerbaijani territory." His next sentence
made clear the extent to which Baku is willing to make compromises
toward the resolution of the Karabakh conflict: "Azerbaijan has no
territorial demands of Armenia, although it could have, because
present-day Armenia was created on the territory of historical
Azerbaijan. Zangezur and Yerevan were the lands of our ancestors; they
are old Turkish territories. If we lay claim to those lands, then the
self-determination of Armenians will come under question."
Mr. Ghoukassian had scorn for Mr. Aliyev’s statement that the Armenian
state was formed on Azerbaijani territory. "This shows that Azerbaijan
is not prepared for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
and wishes to complicate matters," he said.
Following the talks in Geneva, Mr. Oskanian said, "The talks were slow
to move, despite the existing groundwork, as [an] attempt was made to
discuss second-layer details pertaining to the principles in the
document. Although there is [a] clearer understanding of each other’s
positions, one thing is evident that there are deep differences. We
believe that there can still be enough progress to warrant a meeting
of the presidents, and for that reason we agreed to another meeting in
The foreign minister explained that Armenia remains committed to the
principles in the document that is being negotiated. Although there
are many secondary issues outstanding still, the principles contained
in the document address the fundamental issues with the right
trade-offs, that could lead to a lasting resolution.
Yerevan expected progress to be achieved during the talks in Geneva.
"If the Azerbaijani side does not create unexpected complications,
there is reason to believe that the Geneva meeting of the foreign
ministers will have positive results," Mr. Oskanian said in a press
conference on March 9. The document on the negotiating table "in black
on white" expresses the positions of the parties. The document is a
result of two years of work on the part of the foreign ministers and
the cochairs, and many of the points in them have the approval of the
presidents," he said.
"The statements of the Azerbaijani side do not always reflect the
contents of the documents, whereas what the Armenian side says, I can
tell you, corresponds 100 percent to the letter and the spirit of the
document. That is why our statements always appear more concessionary,
and Azerbaijan’s, more extreme. Whom to believe? I believe the
document, because its language is clear; witnesses to that are the
cochairs, the United States, Russia, and France, and we are going to
be led not by Azerbaijan’s statements but by the actual document and
the results of the negotiations," Mr. Oskanian said.
Araz Azimov, deputy foreign minister of Azerbaijan, responded, "If
Yerevan does not take unexpected steps, then in Geneva, the meeting of
Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s foreign ministers can have positive
In a press conference in Baku, Mr. Fassier said the matter of the
return of refugees to Nagorno-Karabakh was addressed in Yerevan and
Baku. He said the process will require time.
"I told journalists in Baku that the return of refugees must be
carefully prepared, because there are many preconditions and problems.
You cannot build a house from the roof down. Many questions must be
resolved before they can return safely. This is a very long process,"
Mr. Fassier said.
According to the document now on the negotiating table, the final
status of Nagorno-Karabakh is to be determined by plebiscite. Everyone
who was a resident of Nagorno-Karabakh through 1988 would be eligible
to participate. In 1988, Armenians comprised 75 percent of the
population, and Azerbaijanis, about 20 percent.
Mr. Fassier considered the matter of the return of refugees very
sensitive and noted that it requires detailed preparations, including
neutralizing mines, rebuilding destroyed infrastructure – electricity,
schools, hospitals – and other technical issues. Most importantly, he
said, "in people’s minds and hearts the desire to live together must
The French cochair spoke of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, in which
preparations were inadequate for the return of Georgian refugees to a
part of Abkhazia and people found that their most basic needs could
not be met in their old homes. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other
hand, detailed preparations for the return of refugees took 10 years.
"As long as the criteria and deadlines for the referendum on the
status of Nagorno-Karabakh are not agreed upon, we consider the
discussion of the return of Azerbaijanis to Nagorno-Karabakh
premature," Mr. Oskaniansaid in his press conference.
4. From Washington, in brief
by Emil Sanamyan
* Congressional Armenian Caucus cochairs weigh in on Armenia elections
In a letter sent to Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian dated
February 23, and made available to the Armenian Reporter, Reps. Joe
Knollenberg (R.-Mich.) and Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) related U.S.
officials’ concerns that "needed improvement [in upcoming elections]
may not be achieved without a change in pre-election pace and emphasis
by relevant Armenian authorities."
The Armenian Caucus cochairs acknowledged President Kocharian’s pledge
to conduct free and fair elections, and offered to assist in achieving
this outcome. At the same time, the members of Congress warned that
unless substantial progress is registered, the $235 million aid
program to Armenia, under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA),
could be suspended.
On the same day, Reps. Knollenberg and Pallone sent a letter to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting a briefing on the U.S.
pre-election assistance program in Armenia. Congressional sources
familiar with the exchange told the Reporter on March 13 that while no
formal response has been received, the State Department is "drafting a
response" and promised to brief the representatives "in the next
* U.S. AID administrator sees "great progress" in Armenia
Rep. Knollenberg reiterated his election-related concerns during a
March 8 hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign
Operations with the director of U.S. foreign assistance, Amb. Randall
Tobias. Rep. Knollenberg raised the issue of U.S. pre-election
assistance to Armenia and asked whether "the Armenian government could
do more to ensure a free and fair election," in part to guarantee the
continuation of performance-based MCA assistance.
Amb. Tobias responded: "From everything I know about the [U.S.
pre-election assistance] program, it has been very successful. Armenia
is a place that reflects significant progress in terms of the
indicators measured by the Millennium Challenge Corporation." While
noting that more could certainly be done, Amb. Tobias stressed that
"great progress has been made in Armenia."
Another subcommittee member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.) questioned
the administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request, under which
Armenia’s allocation under the Freedom Support Act (FSA) would be
reduced to $35 million (a nearly 50 percent decline from the FY07 FSA
allocation). Amb. Tobias countered that, taking into account the $60
million that Armenia is due to receive under MCA in FY08, U.S. aid to
Armenia, under both MCA and FSA, would "increase by 34 percent."
Armenian-American organizations, however, do not find this rationale
plausible. USAPAC Executive Director Ross Vartian stressed last month
his opposition to the proposed FSA aid cut, arguing that the
administration should not be "counting the MCA grant against [other
aid to] Armenia."
* State Department assesses Armenia’s human rights practices
The annual congressionally mandated State Department report on the
world’s Human Rights Practices was released on March 6. The report –
accessible at – lists events involving
potential human rights violations throughout 2006. While the report
continues to describe Armenia’s overall record on human rights as
"poor," it also found that "implementation of constitutional reforms
ratified in 2005 led to some increase in judicial independence."
During his March 9 press conference in Yerevan, Armenia’s Foreign
Minister Vartan Oskanian said in reference to the report’s Armenia
chapter that "there is both recognition of the improvement of the
situation on many issues, and serious, grounded criticism. At the same
time, there are also factual mistakes in the report and subjective
approaches to some issues, to which we will certainly draw the
attention of the U.S. side," Mediamax news agency reported.
* Armenian water in America: One banned, another awarded
On March 7, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled the
"Jermuk" brand mineral waters bottled by Armenia’s Jermuk Mayr
Gortsaran, ARPI Plant and Jermuk Group, and warned consumers not to
drink it. "FDA testing of this water revealed 500-600 micrograms of
arsenic per liter," the FDA release said, about 50 to 60 times the
FDA’s "standard of quality bottled water."
But according to Sean Carmody, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
project director in Armenia, Jermuk is not dangerous, RFE/RL reports.
"You have to drink around 20 liters of water a day [for the arsenic to
have any impact]. It’s either a testing issue or a labeling issue," he
Contacted by the Reporter, FDA spokesman Michael Herndon agreed that
the product posed limited health risks. "In fact we modified our press
release to reflect that ‘there is little chance that someone would
become gravely ill if they consumed this product over a brief period
of time,’" he said. Mr. Herndon said he would check if the ban could
be rescinded after appropriate labeling changes are made.
Spokespeople for the companies involved stood by the water’s quality.
But the director of Armenia’s National Institute of Standards, Yerem
Chakhoyan, acknowledged to RFE/RL that Jermuk has higher than usual
concentrations of arsenic. "The labels on Jermuk bottles make clear
[that it is] medical water," he said, to be consumed by individuals
with intestinal problems.
* * *
Meanwhile, the prestigious water-testing event held at Berkeley
Springs, West Virginia gave one of its top prizes to water imported
from Armenia. The "Aquadeco" brand received the gold medal for
packaging. Aquadeco Vice-President Evan Cooper told the Reporter that
the water comes from Aparan in Armenia’s Aragatsotn province. (Jermuk
comes from Vayots Dzor province.)
"The bottle is made in Slovenia, the decorative caps are made in
China, and the labels are printed in the U.S.," Cooper explained. "All
components are sent to Yerevan, where [the company] Waterlok’s plant
is located," and where the Aparan water is bottled.
"Our original plans called for the distribution of our product across
the U.S., but getting regulatory approval in many of the states is
very difficult, time-consuming, and costly," Cooper said. "We still
need to make some major modifications to the spring site in Aparan
before we can start selling in the U.S."
5. An Azerbaijani-Turkish forum hatches anti-Armenian plots, as one
Genocide denier is found guilty in a Swiss court
by Emil Sanamyan
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Turkish
Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on March 9 joined President Ilham
Aliyev of Azerbaijan and hundreds of Turkish and Azerbaijani
nationalists to plot strategies against Armenians, according to
reports in the Turkish and Azerbaijani media.
The "First Forum of World Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora
Organizations" included 513 delegates from 48 countries, including 173
Azerbaijanis, 140 Turks, 23 Iraqi [Turkoman], 14 Meskhetian Turks, and
five Cypriot Turks, the Day.az news service reported. The largest
delegations came from Turkey, Germany, the U.S., Russia, the Ukraine,
Sweden, the Netherlands, Romania, Norway, and Lithuania.
"The world feels jealous of Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s sharing both the
grief and the happiness," Erdogan was reported to say by the New
Anatolian. "One of the architects of these relations, the great leader
Heydar Aliyev, said Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation in two
independent states. This slogan came true," Erdogan added.
Aliyev stressed the importance of the forum: "The world does not have
full information about us. The powerful Armenian lobby is working
against us," Day.az reported. He promised continued state support to
make the Azerbaijani and Turkish communities stronger, in order to
"undermine the work of the Armenian lobby."
Contacted by the Reporter, Executive Director of the U.S.-Armenia
Public Affairs Committee Ross Vartian predicted: "This effort will
fail because it is based on hatred of Armenians, as opposed to
promotion of either Turkey or Azerbaijan."
Among a number of Turkish and Azerbaijani officials who spoke at the
forum, there were also several representatives from third-party
countries. Day.az reported that the latter included the Lithuanian
Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Gintaras Steponavicius, and
parliamentarians from Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Luxembourg, as
well as officials from the Baltic States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, and Bulgaria.
The forum adopted a joint strategy for the Azerbaijani and Turkish
communities. It also issued statements condemning Armenia, denying the
Armenian Genocide, protesting countries that have recognized the
Genocide, and appealing for Pan-Turkic unity on those and other issues
(including Cyprus and northern Iraq).
Rovshan Mustafayev, who heads the state-funded Institute on Human
Rights at Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences, has long argued
that Armenians should be treated "not as a nation, but as an
In an interview with Day.az, Mustafayev described the forum as the
"beginning of a quite serious political assault in terms of propaganda
of ideas and mobilization of forces in the struggle with Armenian
terrorism." He went on to say that "this enemy [i.e. Armenians] has
become an ethnic corporation and is developing as a political
* Meanwhile, in Switzerland
At least a few dozen activists could not make it to the March 9 forum,
as they flew to Lausanne, Switzerland, where veteran Turkish
politician Dogu Perincek was tried and found guilty over his comments
dismissing the Armenian Genocide as an "international lie."
According to the California Courier, Perincek was joined by a
planeload of supporters from Turkey, which also included deniers
Justin McCarthy, Norman Stone, Jean-Michel Thibaux (a.k.a. Atakan
Turk), and Paul Leidinger. Perincek also brought along what he
described as 90 kilos (200 pounds) of materials denying the Armenian
Genocide. In response, the Swiss prosecutor told the court that "90
kilos of paper do not wipe out 90 years of history; and one million
pages cannot get rid of one million victims."
In the end, Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap ordered Perincek to pay a fine
of $2,450 to the court and to the Swiss-Armenian Association as "moral
injury." He was also given a suspended 90-day jail term and an
additional fine of $7,360, under a 1995 Swiss law which bans denying,
belittling, or justifying any genocide, Swiss and international news
Judge Winzap described the defendant as an "arrogant instigator" and
"racist," and the Armenian Genocide as an accepted historical fact.
The publicity-conscious Perincek said that he would appeal.
Switzerland’s anti-racism legislation has previously been applied to
Holocaust denial. According to the BBC, 12 Turks prosecuted in
Switzerland on similar charges in 2001 were acquitted. The Swiss
Parliament formally recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2003.
Sarkis Shahinian, co-president of the Swiss-Armenian Association, told
SwissInfo there was "great relief" in the community. "The tribunal’s
decision today confirmed the opinion expressed during parliamentary
debates that the article of the criminal code in question does not
only apply to the Shoah (Jewish Holocaust)," the association said in a
In a release to the press, the Brussels-based European Armenian
Federation said that the "Swiss legal victory paves the way for the
Europe-wide legislation criminalizing Genocide denial."
6. Israel parliament votes down a motion on the Armenian Genocide
by Emil Sanamyan
WASHINGTON – The Israeli parliament voted 16 to 12 on Match 14 to
reject consideration of a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.
The resolution that would have made April 24 the Armenian Genocide
memorial day was introduced by an opposition member of parliament,
Haim Oron, and was opposed by the Israeli government.
"Stop ignoring and rejecting the catastrophe of another people," Mr.
Oron was quoted by Agence France Presse as telling the 120-member
Knesset. "We refuse to accept the turning of a blind eye to the
Mr. Oron said, "We owe this vote not only to the Armenian people, we
owe it to ourselves, especially in a period where we are struggling to
prolong the memory" of the Nazi Holocaust.
AFP also quoted Israeli government spokesperson Miri Eisin as saying
that Israel "did not intend to place itself at the forefront of this
issue, which is being handled by the international community." Mr.
Oron said that he came under pressure from the office of Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert and the Foreign Ministry to withdraw the motion.
"Turkey has been exerting its pressure everywhere. This is their
right. But they can not set the agenda of the Israeli parliament," Mr.
Oron told AFP.
Israel has long refused to address the Armenian Genocide as its
relations with Turkey continue to take priority.
A member of the leftist Merets party, Mr. Oron first joined the
Israeli Knesset in 1988. In 1999-2000 he served as a cabinet member
under Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
7. House Subcommittee on Europe is reviewing
USAPAC letter criticizes Turkey’s record
Rep. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.), chair of the Subcommittee on Europe of
the House Committee on Foreign Affairs – and head of the House Turkish
Caucus – has called a subcommittee hearing on "U.S.-Turkish Relations
and the Challenges Ahead." The hearing is scheduled for Thursday,
Scheduled to testify at the hearing are Assistant Secretary of State
Daniel Fried, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dan Fata, and
General Joseph W. Ralston, the State Department’s special envoy for
countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Ross Vartian, Executive Director of the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs
Committee, on March 14 sent the committee a letter arguing that "U.S.
interests would be better served by dealing with Turkey as it is
rather that as it is assumed to be." The text of the letter appears
* * *
March 14, 2007
The Honorable Robert Wexler
Europe Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs
257 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Thank you for calling for a hearing on "U.S.-Turkish Relations and the
Challenges Ahead" before your Subcommittee. The U.S.-Armenia Public
Affairs Committee agrees that it is important to carefully reassess
U.S. policy goals with respect to Turkey.
Turkey is frequently touted by some in the U.S. public policy making
community as a potential regional leader and ally of the United
States. Consequently, Turkey’s relations with all contiguous and
non-contiguous states in the region must be part of any thorough
review of the present U.S.-Turkey relationship. Turkey’s priority
concerns with U.S. actions and potential actions should also be part
of this important review. Recent Turkish government statements
include the following criticisms of the United States: condemnation of
congressional consideration of resolutions reaffirming the U.S. record
on the Armenian Genocide; allegations of U.S. failure to deal with the
Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK); allegations of U.S. support for
Kurdish control of Kirkuk; and, condemnation of any consideration by
the U.S. of plans that would result in a largely self-governing
* Turkish threats
In each case, the Turkish government has threatened to take actions
against U.S. interests in the event that the above concerns are not
addressed to Turkey’s satisfaction. For the past four weeks,
successive waves of senior Turkish officials have come to Washington
setting forth possible consequences if the U.S. does not continue to
succumb to Turkey’s wishes. Should Congress uphold the incontestable
fact of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey threatens diplomatic, economic
and military reprisals. Should the U.S. fail to control events in
Iraqi Kurdistan according to Turkey’s demands, then Turkey warns that
it will do what is necessary to deal with the issue. In both
instances, Turkey fails to take into account the damage that would be
done not only to its own interests, but to the U.S.-Turkey
relationship as well.
A review of U.S.-Turkey relations should take into account what the
U.S. has asked Turkey to do in recent years. All too frequently,
Turkey has rejected American proposals, thwarting U.S. policy
objectives in the region. This includes blocking a northern front for
the Iraq war; rejecting U.S. requests to normalize relations with the
Republic of Armenia; refusing to support the isolation of Hamas;
failing to treat its Christian, Jewish and Kurdish minorities
according to its international obligations and in keeping with its
European Union (EU) aspirations; and, not repealing its laws that
preclude free speech.
* The Caucasus
It is the oft-declared policy of the U.S. that it is in our
increasingly vital national interest for the states and independent
republics of the South Caucasus to be at peace with one another and to
continue their development as integrated, market-oriented, democratic
nations. The Caucasus region is envisioned as a future east-west and
north-south bridge connecting Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and
Central Asia. Relevant Turkish policies and trends today thwart these
Despite recurring calls from the U.S. and the EU, Turkey keeps its
border with Armenia closed in violation of U.S. and international law.
Turkey repeatedly and summarily rejects Armenia’s offers of
normalized relations without preconditions. Turkey obstinately
refuses to come to terms with its genocidal legacy. Furthermore,
Turkey joins with Azerbaijan in excluding Armenia from all significant
regional commercial and infrastructure projects and provides
substantial and growing military assistance and training to Azerbaijan
as that nation proceeds with a projected multi-billion dollar and
multi-year arms build up against Armenia.
The EU, the European Parliament and select member states have
consistently and repeatedly urged Turkey to normalize relations with
Armenia and to deal with its Ottoman past as part of its EU
integration process. Turkey has virtually ignored six years of Bush
Administration appeals to normalize relations with its neighbor
Nevertheless, despite Turkey’s intransigence, despite Turkey’s
genocidal history, despite Turkey’s continued discrimination against
its citizens of Armenian descent, and despite Turkey’s aggressive
stance towards the Republic of Armenia, Armenia continues to offer
open borders and full relations without preconditions. Armenia
continues to support Turkey’s accession to the EU provided that Turkey
complies with all ascension criteria. And Armenia continues to offer
confidence building measures in transition to full and normal
The Bush Administration has regularly stated that Turkey is a staunch
ally of the United States, and that Turkey is a democratic, secular
and EU ready nation – a bridge between the West and moderate Islam.
While this declaration may describe a distant and perhaps attainable
goal, it is not an accurate or contemporaneous description of Turkey.
At the launch of the war in Iraq, Turkey refused a stunned United
States aid for an essential northern front, and closed access to
military bases constructed and maintained with generous U.S. support.
These hostile actions were taken notwithstanding the cooperation of
some Members of Congress and Senior Bush Administration officials to
block consideration of the Armenian Genocide resolution in 2004 and
2006. These hostile actions were taken despite the fact that the Bush
Administration quashed the exposure of illegal Turkish interference in
America’s elective and legislative processes. And, these hostile
actions were taken despite the fact that the Bush Administration fired
and silenced FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and others that warned or
knew of Turkey’s illegal activities.
Turkey has relentlessly pressured the U.S. and Iraqi governments to
take action against the PKK, and to prevent Kurdish control of Kirkuk,
thereby forestalling any prospect of a self-governing Kurdistan. In
warning the U.S., Turkey included a not so veiled military threat that
Turkey would not sit idly by and watch Kirkuk ceded to the Kurds. In
response, the United States strongly cautioned Turkey against any
unilateral military action, noting that such intervention could
destabilize northern Iraq, the most secure part of that country.
Turkey has not taken the military option off the table.
* Anti-U.S. sentiment
Turkey’s actions and statements are contributing to growing anti-U.S.
and anti-Israel public opinion in Turkey and the surrounding region.
Turkish officials continue to accuse the U.S. and Israel of current
acts of genocide in Iraq and Palestine. And Turkey continues to
assign blame to Jews, Christians and ethnic minorities for its
internal and external problems. The 2006 human rights practices
report, which was released earlier this month by the State Department,
indicated that a variety of newspapers and television shows in Turkey
continued to feature anti-Christian and anti-Jewish messages, and that
anti-Semitic literature is reportedly common in bookstores.
In a press conference last month following a meeting in Ankara with
visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister Erdogan
urged Israel as well as the Quartet – the United States, the European
Union, the United Nations and Russia – to give the new Palestinian
government a chance. Erdogan said that, "I have stressed that the new
Palestinian government is a hope… It is not possible to solve this
with Mahmoud Abbas alone and there is a need for a strong government
that stands on its own feet. The formation of a consensus government
could positively affect the process."
Recently, Hamas agreed to join a national unity government with Abbas’
more moderate Fatah movement. Israel and the Quartet have reserved
judgment, insisting that any Palestinian government must first
recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous peace deals.
Additionally, the United States, Israel and European Union ban contact
with Hamas, which they label a terror group. Turkey was harshly
criticized by its Western allies when Ankara hosted a Hamas delegation
in February 2006.
As a result of recent events, the United States has never been as
unpopular in Turkey as it is today. Surveys indicate that only about
one in 10 people have any sympathy or respect for our country.
Gallup, for example, has just released the results of its second
in-depth survey of Muslims in mainly Islamic countries, like Turkey.
The first survey was conducted in 2001 and 2002, and the second,
follow-up survey in 2005 and 2006. What the data shows is not
reassuring to Americans. The percentage of Turks holding "unfavorable
views" of the United States has risen – from 33 to 62 percent in
Turkey. By comparison, in the same period the figure in Iran fell
from 63 to 52 percent.
Coincidently there has been a sharp decline in support in Turkish
public opinion for the country’s European Union membership. Surveys
indicate that only about a third of the population is still positive
toward the prospect of joining the EU.
* Minority rights
Increasing Turkish animosity towards the U.S., Armenia and others has
fostered a dangerous environment for U.S. citizens and for minorities
living in Turkey. The Turkish government has been unable, even
unwilling, to protect its Armenian minority, who along with other
minorities in Turkey, are regularly victims of ultranationalist,
xenophobic and anti-western sentiments and measures. The latest
casualty of Turkish intolerance and persecution was Hrant Dink, the
courageous Turkish-Armenian publisher, who was assassinated for
speaking the truth about the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish
government failed miserably in its responsibility to guard Hrant Dink
from the countless death threats he received for invoking the Armenian
Genocide. In fact they did the opposite, continually prosecuting him
under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for his courageous
commentary. In the last several weeks, public calls for the murder of
Archbishop Mesrob II, the Patriarch of Constantinople of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenian community,
have become more frequent.
Sadly, this bigotry is even extended to Turkish citizens who speak out
for Armenians and other minorities. The price is high. They are
prosecuted for disputing Turkish laws that deny them their inalienable
right to free speech. Tragically, free speech advocates are still
similarly ostracized and intimidated. Among those targeted are Nobel
Laureate Orhan Pamuk, internationally renowned novelist Elif Shafak
and historian Taner Akçam. Progressive, reformist, pro-western, Turks
are under siege, and the U.S. has not done enough to support this
vital segment of Turkish society.
What is even more damaging to Turkey and its prospects for further
reform and possible EU ascension has been its government’s
incompetence in confronting the "deep state," comprised of assorted
ultranationalists who adamantly oppose a pluralistic, democratic,
EU-integrated nation. Prime Minister Erdogan has acknowledged that
his government had not done enough to crack down on the deep state.
* Genocide denial
Returning to the matter of the Armenian Genocide, Erdogan has
constantly and inaccurately stated that Turkey is ready for a
"political settling of accounts with history," provided that the
Republic of Armenia responds and accepts his invitation to establish a
historians commission to study the events of 1915.
That accounting has already been done. A March 7, 2000, public
declaration by 126 Holocaust Scholars affirmed the Armenian Genocide
and urged Western democracies to officially recognize it. On June 12,
2006, many of these same scholars sent a letter to Prime Minister
Erdogan criticizing his government for the ongoing efforts to avoid
the truth and the attempt to re-write history through the
establishment of needless historical commission. On October 1, 2006,
the International Association of Genocide Scholars again appealed to
those who would deny the Armenian Genocide to fully acknowledge the
truth. Copies of all three documents are attached.
Mr. Erdogan’s suggested historical commission has been exposed for
what it is – another attempt by Turkey to bury the truth.
Again, despite Turkey’s disingenuous invitation to leave allegedly
unsettled history to the historians, Armenia has responded with a more
realistic proposal. Armenia’s President Kocharian has proposed that
an inter-governmental commission be created to discuss all important
bi-lateral issues, and reiterated the Armenian government’s suggestion
"to establish diplomatic relations, open the borders and commence a
dialogue between the two countries and peoples." A copy of President
Kocharian’s letter is attached. Regrettably, Turkey has declined to
It is incumbent upon the U.S. public policy community to fundamentally
question Turkey’s actions and ultimately – its value to the West in
view of trends within Turkey and in consideration of Turkey’s actions
as outlined above. Your upcoming hearing represents an important
opportunity to reaffirm U.S.-Turkish ties that are based upon enduring
shared values and mutual interest – and to critically review the
deterioration of this relationship from an American perspective. U.S.
interests would be better served by dealing with Turkey as it is
rather that as it is assumed to be.
Cc: Members, Europe Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs
8. Documentation: Text of the proposed Senate resolution condemning
the murder of Hrant Dink
The following senate resolution condemning the murder of Hrant Dink
was introduced by Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.), chair of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee.
The text below was circulated by Mr. Biden’s office on February 1,
along with a "Dear Colleague" letter that read in part: "Most
significantly, the measure urges Turkey to repeal Article 301, a
criminal statute against ‘insulting Turkishness’ that was used to
prosecute Hrant Dink for statements he made about the Armenian
Genocide and in support of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. Article
301 has had a chilling effect on freedom of speech and the broader
intellectual environment in Turkey. Its repeal is strongly supported
by the United States Government and the European Union." The letter
notes that the resolution "calls on the Government of Turkey to open
full diplomatic and economic relations with Armenia. This important
action, when it occurs, will provide greater security and prosperity
for the citizens of both countries."
The resolution’s consideration was postponed at the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee’s March 6 business meeting at the request of its
ranking member, Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.).
* * *
S. RES. 65
Condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and human
rights advocate Hrant Dink and urging the people of Turkey to honor
his legacy of tolerance.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. Biden submitted the following resolution; which was referred to
the Committee on Foreign Relations
Condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and human rights
advocate Hrant Dink and urging the people of Turkey to honor his
legacy of tolerance.
Whereas Hrant Dink was a respected, eloquent advocate for press
freedom, human rights, and reconciliation;
Whereas, in 1996, Mr. Dink founded the weekly bilingual newspaper
Agos and, as the paper’s editor in chief, used the paper to provide a
voice for Turkey’s Armenian community;
Whereas Mr. Dink was a strong proponent of rapprochement between
Turks and Armenians and worked diligently to improve relations between
Whereas Mr. Dink’s commitment to democratic values, non-violence,
and freedom in the media earned him widespread recognition and
numerous international awards;
Whereas Mr. Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish
Penal Code for speaking about the Armenian Genocide;
Whereas, notwithstanding hundreds of threats to Mr. Dink’s life and
safety, he remained a steadfast proponent of pluralism and tolerance;
Whereas Mr. Dink was assassinated outside the offices of Agos in
Istanbul, Turkey, on January 19, 2007;
Whereas tens of thousands of people in Turkey of many ethnicities
protested Mr. Dink’s killing and took to the streets throughout the
country to honor his memory;
Whereas the Government of Turkey has pledged to undertake a full
investigation into the murder of Mr. Dink;
Whereas the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has
stated that when Mr. Dink was shot, "a bullet was fired at freedom of
thought and democratic life in Turkey";
Whereas the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, stated
that Mr. Dink "lived his life in the belief that there can be
understanding, dialogue and peace amongst peoples"; and
Whereas Mr. Dink’s tragic death affirmed the importance of promoting
the values that he championed in life: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate –
(1) condemns the murder of Hrant Dink as a shameful act of cowardice
perpetrated with contempt for law, justice, and decency;
(2) supports the pledge of the Government of Turkey to conduct an
exhaustive investigation into the assassination of Mr. Dink and to
prosecute those responsible;
(3) urges the Government of Turkey to repeal Article 301 of the
Turkish Penal Code and work diligently to foster a more open
intellectual environment in the country that is conducive to the free
exchange of ideas;
(4) recognizes the decision of the Government of Turkey to invite
senior Armenian religious and political figures to participate in
memorial services for Mr. Dink;
(5) calls on the Government of Turkey to act in the interest of
regional security and prosperity and reestablish full diplomatic,
political, and economic relations with the Government of Armenia; and
(6) urges the people of Turkey to honor Mr. Dink’s legacy of tolerance.
9. For Garry Kasparov, Armenian foreign policy is a little like chess
By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK – At the invitation of the Foreign Policy Association and the
National Endowment for Democracy, world renowned chess champion Garry
Kasparov addressed the New York Democracy Forum on Monday, February
12, on the topic, "Prospects for Russian Democracy."
At that event, the Reporter was able to ask him several questions on
the situation in Armenia and Karabakh.
Though he has been highly critical of the current Russian leadership,
Kasparov said, "I am happy that Russia keeps a strong alliance with
Armenia. Hopefully they will remain so. This is a personal issue for
me, as you know," he said smiling. (Kasparov was raised by his mother,
who is Armenian. As a native of Baku, he experienced the expulsion
from Azerbaijan of much of the country’s Armenian population.)
"This is one of the few areas that I can hardly criticize Vladimir
Putin," he said.
Armenia, he continued, "is surrounded by enemies. The only country
friendly to it is Iran," even though Iran is in conflict with the
West. It’s like chess. You cannot think of long term planning. You
can’t fight geography."
Kasparov expressed a hope that the "major outstanding issue with
Turkey [recognition of the Genocide] will be resolved favorably, or
else it will never join the European Union." He predicted that "this
issue will be resolved because Turkey must join, and they know it must
Commenting that Turkey "is moving in the right direction," he related
that "looking in the long term, I wish them well, because a democratic
Turkey will recognize the Genocide. Therefore, I want more progress to
be made for Turkey, because eventually they will have to cooperate
first with Cyprus, and then with Armenia."
* Ten years to a Karabakh resolution
Kasparov also predicted that it will take 10 years to resolve the
Karabakh issue. "Only when the Genocide issue is resolved can we talk
about Karabakh," he said with emphasis.
Kasparov, who has been a severe critic of the Russian leadership, also
did not have entirely positive feelings concerning Armenian democracy.
"I don’t think Armenian democracy is something Armenia should be proud
of. And I don’t think Armenia should measure its democratic standards
to Azeri democratic standards. I think it should look to other
countries in order to raise its standards."
Before the mostly friendly audience, Kasparov continued his sharp
critique of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration. "What
is left of this democracy is on the endangered list. It matters
because of the benefits a free and democratic Russia could provide as
a true member of the free world." Calling the Kremlin regime "a new
and difficult cancer to diagnose and treat," he noted that this cancer
"is not completely resistant yet, and may yet be forced into
remission, or cut out entirely."
Kasparov turned to retracing Soviet missteps, and offering a series of
negative personal comments, especially against the Russian president;
but he did not delve too deeply into the positive prospects for
democracy. "First, Putin’s bunch took justice into their own hands,
and then they put the state coffers into their pockets. With his
expertise in creative money management, perhaps Putin can retire and
run a hedge fund."
He confirmed information that is widely known today, including
Russia’s lack of a free press, the persecution of its political
opposition, and the steady demolition of its democratic institutions.
"With every new billionaire Kremlin crony, we have tens of thousands
of ordinary Russians, out of sight and falling fast. The oligarchs
today are themselves top state officials," he declared.
"Russia likely has the richest government in the world on an
individual level. In the West, many millionaires enter politics; in
Russia, they usually become wealthy after joining the administration.
The stagnant Soviet economy has been replaced by energy wealth for a
very few Russians, and intimidation is again becoming an important
export. Russia is again becoming a haven and ally for the world’s most
dangerous regimes," he continued.
Claiming that Putin’s Russia only cares about the flow of cash and the
price of oil that is needed to sustain it, he said that energy revenue
that "supports graft, propaganda, and repression is the only thing
keeping Putin and his friends in control, something of which they are
all very much aware."
He referred to the Russian government as a "mafia structure," and
predicted that when President Putin’s term in office ends in 2008,
"this efficient machine will threaten to explode, and chaos will
surely occur." Putin can choose to stay by "easily bending the
Constitution, but after having made so many statements about his
intent to step down in 2008, he would lost all legitimacy in the West
if he exercised this option."
Kasparov’s estimation of Russia after Putin involved insiders "looking
for ways to reduce their risk, and therefore quietly courting the
democratic opposition." He advised the West to send a strong message
that the Russian ruling elite should then "play by the rules in 2008.
It is the job of Russians to get rid of Putin and his kleptocracy. All
we ask is that the West stop helping Putin by providing him and his
regime with democratic credentials at this critical time."
Accusing the Bush-41 and the Clinton administrations of "passivity and
omission," Kasparov said that in the early 1990s there was an
opportunity for a great realignment toward democracy in the world,
which was lost." In the context of current President Bush’s stated
concern about democracy and human rights in Iraq, Kasparov asked:
"Doesn’t Russia deserve democracy and human rights as much as any
Iraqi or any Palestinian?"
In conclusion, he asserted, "If Western leaders continue to ignore the
signs and to enable the Putin crackdown, they will be complicit in the
crimes to come. We are going to fight no matter what Bush and Blair
say, or don’t say. If the West wants to live up to its rhetoric, it
must be made clear to Russia, and from the very top, that the free
ride is over."
10. MCC vice president visits Armenia
John Hewko, vice president of operations for the Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC), was in Armenia to meet with high-level government
officials and review progress of the $235 million MCC Armenia Compact.
During his meetings here, Mr. Hewko stressed how important it is to
MCC and the U.S. government that Armenia continue to maintain a high
level of performance on the 16 objective indicators MCC uses to
determine compact eligibility. These indicators measure whether a
country is ruling justly, investing in its people and promoting
economic freedom. Because the coming legislative and presidential
elections will directly affect three MCC indicators in the ruling
justly category – political rights, civil liberties and voice and
accountability – Mr. Hewko stressed that it is critical the government
of Armenia maintain its commitment to holding elections that
demonstrate significant improvement over past elections.
"Let me be quite clear," Mr. Hewko said in a statement. "MCC expects
to see significant improvement over past elections. MCC and the U.S.
Embassy in Yerevan will continue to monitor the situation closely and
will look to independent assessments, including reviewing the OSCE’s
assessment of the elections, because these assessments capture the
issues that affect MCC’s indicators."
The MCA-Armenia compact, signed on March 27, 2006, aims to reduce
rural poverty through a sustainable increase in the economic
performance of the agricultural sector.
11. Long-term election observers arrive
by Armen Hakobyan
The head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Amb. Vladimir Pryakhin,
announced the arrival on March 15 of the first group of long-term
election monitors from the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights (ODIHR). The team is headed by Amb. Boris Frlec of
Slovenia, whom Mr. Pryakhin characterized as a veteran poll watcher. A
former foreign minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Frlec has
been in Armenia before.
With the arrival of a second group, the OSCE-ODIHR delegation will
grow to 24 members, representing Germany, Latvia, Ukraine, the United
States, Georgia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In the week before the
elections on May 12, the OSCE observer team is expected to reach 300
Amb. Pryakhin told the Armenian Reporter that the OSCE has the full
cooperation of Armenia’s government in its election-related work.
12. Arrest in tax official’s murder
by Armen Hakobyan
Law enforcement authorities in Armenia have arrested and charged a man
who they believe murdered Shahen Hovasapian, one of Armenia’s top
tax-collection officials on September 6, 2006, in broad daylight.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General announced that Hayk Israelian,
32, a resident of Yerevan, was charged on March 10 with planting and
using a remote control to set off the explosive device that killed Mr.
Mr. Israelian was charged under a section of the criminal code that
covers mercenary killings as well as acts that endanger the lives of
multiple people, planned by an organized group for financial gain. The
daily Aravot reports that according to its sources in the police, the
accused is implicated in other murders as a gun for hire.
Sources in the Office of the Prosecutor-General inform the Armenian
Reporter that the accused, a former boxer, has been convicted of
violent crime before and was given a suspended sentence.
President Robert Kocharian had personally condemned the murder,
linking it to tax authorities’ efforts "efforts to tighten tax
administration and create equal taxation conditions for everyone,"
13. Market update by Haik Papian
The yield curve has looks "normal" at the beginning of March. The
yield varies in the range of 4.5-8%. Interest rates have fallen
slightly as compared with the first of the year. At that time, the
yield for different periods varied in the range of 5.5-8.5%.
The reduction of interest rates is explained by the yield-curve
construction methodology adopted by the Central Bank: trades executed
in the secondary market during the preceding two weeks are taken as a
basis for curve construction. Consequently, in constructing the yield
curve at the start of the year, trades executed at the end of the past
year were taken into account, when interest rate volatility was high.
During the reporting period, the slow decline of the USD/AMD exchange
rate persisted. At the end of the period, all expectations of market
participants were concentrated on the AMD 350 for USD 1 margin.
During the period, the USD rate failed to cross this margin of
psychological importance. Moreover, at the end of February, the USD
rate started to grow slowly and reached AMD 356 for USD 1 at the
beginning of March.
During the same period, the EUR/AMD exchange rate fluctuated in the
range of 460-475, and did not demonstrate any clear trend of decrease
* * *
See accompanying tables at
14. Robert Fisk talks about the Armenian Genocide
Robert Fisk, for two decades the Beirut-based Middle East
correspondent for the U.K. Independent, is well known to Armenian
readers for his outspoken acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide; it
was Mr. Fisk who, in the wake of the murder of Hrant Dink, called the
slain journalist "the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian Genocide."
Mr. Fisk was in New York recently to speak at Town Hall (see the story
on page B1), as part of an extensive world tour to promote his latest
book, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.
In that volume, Mr. Fisk dedicates an entire chapter to the Genocide,
under the title, "The First Holocaust." Armenian Reporter Publisher
Sylva Boghossian met Mr. Fisk at a New York diner to interview him on
Sylva Boghossian: Your articles are avidly read by many Armenians
because you’re one of the most consistent and forceful voices on the
Genocide. Where does your interest in the Armenian community come
from? Do you recall when you first heard of the Armenian Genocide?
Robert Fisk: Oh, I knew about it when I was in school because my
father, who loved history, was in the First World War. He talked about
it. He remembered reading about it. He was a soldier in 1918 in France
and he always gave me books on the First World War, which of course
included the Genocide – which wasn’t in doubt in anyone’s mind in
those days; nor should it be now. He gave me Winston Churchill’s two
volume history of the Great War, where Churchill actually refers to
the Genocide as a "holocaust." So I knew about it from the time I was
about 12 or 13 years old.
Although I was aware of it, I didn’t know any Armenians because I
lived in Maidstone, in Kent, and there wasn’t a big Armenian community
there. When I was in Lebanon in ’76, I remember the Armenians were not
involved in the war because they somehow managed to stay okay with
both sides. At the time, I was working out of the AP [Associated
Press] bureau in Beirut, because in those days, there was no e-mail or
mobile phones, so we used their facilities to send stories.
I remember going over to [Nor] Marash in East Beirut – named of course
after Marash, in what is now Turkey – and meeting Armenians. There
were all these pictures of Mt. Ararat on the walls, and I didn’t
realize that you can only see Mt. Ararat, but can’t go there –
although I’ve been there. They talked about their grandparents, and
recounted all the horrific crimes that were perpetrated against them.
At that stage there were still quite a lot of people alive who were
survivors who remembered the Genocide. There was quiet a few thousand
alive at that time; not like now, maybe there’s one or two around. So
I met quiet a lot survivors who talked about their ordeal. I was very
struck by how similar it was by pattern, not in numbers of course, to
the Jewish Holocaust.
I then started writing about it because [as a writer] one wrote about
the Kurds, one wrote about the Palestinians, [and] one also wrote
about the Armenians because they were one of the many communities in
Lebanon. It was obviously an extraordinary episode, a brutal episode
in the history of that last century, so I started writing more about
it because I thought it was considerably under-reported,
under-discussed, and I thought it was important that people should
know what happened to the Armenians. I was also interested in knowing
more because I was going to Turkey. I remember I went to Trabizond
once to do a story on an election and I saw this extraordinary
Armenian church in ruins in the hills and I was amazed that journalist
wouldn’t write about the Armenian Genocide because the Turkish
pressures were so great.
The New York Times had an article about a woman they sent to Turkey,
to Trabizond – the home city of the man alleged to have killed Hrant
Dink – and there was this whole thing about "Why [go to] Trabizond?"
It goes on talking about the fiery temperament of the people living on
the Black Sea, but it doesn’t mention that during the Genocide, they
took boatloads of women and children and shot them in the sea. It’s
missing from the story. Didn’t that have something to do with it? It’s
not there, like it didn’t happen. Still, you have this denial in the
New York Times, although there’re not as bad as they were.
Q: In the present climate, do you as a notable person who has
acknowledged the events of 1915 as "genocide" in articles, public
lectures, and books, do you feel that you would be personally at risk
if you were to go to Turkey? Or a better question is: Would you go to
Fisk: I do go to Turkey. I gave a lecture in Istanbul about two and
a-half years ago, and I did mention the Armenian Genocide and it was
no problem… I’ll go to Turkey anytime. We have Turkish publishers
for the full translation [of The Great War for Civilisation] and the
translation of the Armenian chapter in Turkish is very good; I had Joe
Panossian check it out. Joe is the AP’s Turkish speaker in Beirut.
Q: Yes, but does the murder if Hrant Dink and Article 301’s "insulting
Turkishness" provision put a different twist on things?
Fisk: They [the Turkish publishers] wrote me a letter about four
months ago saying that their lawyers think they are going to [be open
to prosecution] on Law 301; but as a foreigner, I would be immune. But
I could ask the court to accuse me and I could join them in court. So
I said I would be happy to. I’ll talk about the Armenian Genocide in a
Turkish court – absolutely.
Before Hrant Dink was murdered, I received another letter saying they
were getting very worried about the political situation, it was
becoming very sensitive – there were elections coming, EU membership,
and they were intending to publish the book with no publicity. To
which I said, "What’s the point of publishing it if they didn’t want
any reviews?" I said this isn’t a book on the Genocide, it’s a book
about the Middle East with one chapter on the Genocide. They’re
obviously shaking in their boots. I said I’ll come and advertise it
for you. They didn’t want publicity. This is exactly what happened
with Taner Akcam’s book (A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and The
Question of Turkish Responsibility): it was published in Turkey and no
one bought it because no one knew it was there. It was published under
the counter. You either publish a book properly or you don’t publish
it at all.
Anyway, the London publishers, in about a week’s time, has a lady
going out to Istanbul to talk to them to say either you’re going to
publish it or not…because we’ll back them, I’ll go to court. Well,
the funny thing is, this letter said we want to publish it with no
publicity and have no problems, but if we do have problems, will you
join us in court? [Laughing] In other words, we’re going to screw the
book but we’d like you to come along to prison for us. My reaction is,
I’ll go to court, but we’re going to publish the book properly.
However, you see there is a catch to this, after Hrant Dink, and this
was all correspondence before Hrant Dink’s [assassination]. Am I in a
position to go to Turkey and encourage the publishers to publish a
book for which they may end up in very dangerous circumstances, while
Lord Bob [i.e., Fisk himself] back in Beirut sits on his balcony
having a nice cup of coffee? So there is a responsibility on my part
to make sure that I’m not putting them in danger by my exuberance.
Q: So in other words, you’re more concerned for their personal danger
rather than your own.
Fisk: Look, I’ve had one anonymous threatening phone call in 31 years.
It actually came from a Turkish woman in London who wouldn’t give me
her name. This wasn’t about the Armenians, it was about a piece I did
on a Turkish earthquake. It had nothing to do with the Genocide. I’ve
never had a threat in Turkey. And I often go to Istanbul and I have no
problems at all. I stay at the Marmara Hotel.
Q: On the subject of denial in Turkey: Do you think the majority of
Turkish people actually believe that there was no Genocide, or is
denial just the official position of the Turkish government, which is
forced on the population?
Fisk: Several years back, I visited Turkey after the earthquake they
had, and traveled around the country with Turkey’s top earthquake
expert. During our travels we discussed the Genocide openly. On night
before I left, during dinner with him, his friends and family, I said,
"Gentlemen, we’re now going to discuss the Armenian Genocide." And
they all said, "Of course." They all knew about it. "Why on earth do
we continue with the charade of saying it didn’t happen when we all
know it happened?" Ataturk talked about it, the trials ran at the end
of the Ottoman Empire, Taner Akcam’s book is all about it, they are
quite open about it. They said it’s time to drop this childishness and
come clean. But then you come back to 301 and nationalism.
Q: So according to you, the average citizen in Turkey is aware that a
Genocide did occur, and is willing to admit it. But what do you think
it’ll take for the Turkish government to acknowledge it?
Fisk: The danger to the Turks is that the Armenians will want
recompense for losing their land, just as the Jews of Europe demanded
from the Germans. I suppose the EU will have to help Turkey out with
that. But you can’t go on forever denying it. It will come back and
back and back. And then you die and then there’s your children and
their children’s children, and it’ll keep on going, like it does with
the Palestinians and anyone who’s been dispossessed; they’ll keep it
going. You know you will not get Turkish Armenia back, it’s not going
to happen – maybe in 10,000 years, but not now – but at least you can
have that recognition. Of course there will be claims. After all,
American insurance companies have at last started paying out insurance
claims against victims of the Armenian Genocide – or "the Armenian
tragedy," as they call it. Even the insurance companies will not call
it by its rightful name.
Q: Do you think the Genocide will ever be acknowledged?
Fisk: Yes, eventually it will be. Eventually it will be.
Q: In our lifetime?
Fisk: Yes, I think so. More and more Turkish academics are trying to
push it through. The problem is, if the Western governments, including
the United States, stood up to the Turks and said they must
acknowledge it, they would. But since they don’t, the Turks don’t have
to. They get away with it. Why make a concession to the truth of
history when you don’t have to?
Q: What do you think the consequence should be for Turkey, for having
committed the Genocide?
Fisk: Look, what Armenians should do – and I’ve said this before, I’ve
written this – they should draw up a list of all the named Turks who
risked their lives to save Armenian lives during the Genocide.
Policeman, soldiers, farmers, you know who they are. We have the names
and call them the "Brave Turks." Honor them and have a memorial for
them and name them and invite the Turkish ambassador to come and be
present and honor those brave Turks. You dare him not to come. But
Armenians haven’t done that.
Q: Currently there is another Genocide resolution in Congress.
There’ve been others in the past, but with no result. Do you think
there is a better chance that the U.S. will adopt the current
Fisk: I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen when
we have a new president.
Q: Regarding the phenomenon of Genocide denial: Is there a particular
kind of evidence that would be so overwhelming that it would really
clinch the issue, and no one would be able to deny or dispute the
Genocide if they had this evidence?
Fisk: Yes, it’s moving film. I believe there is moving film of the
Genocide. Actual moving film – not the fake film they made afterwards,
but real film. It won’t show executions, but it will probably show
bodies. Moving film is different from still pictures.
But look, you’ve got people who still deny the Jewish Holocaust and
half the survivors are still around. They have film, testimony, and
they still deny it. So there will always be Turks who will deny this.
That’s a political issue.
Q: From your experience, are the Middle Eastern countries sympathetic
to the Armenian cause, or hostile or indifferent? Who are our friends?
Who should we count on? Who shouldn’t we count on?
Fisk: Because of the latent historical distaste for the Ottoman
Empire, there will be sympathy, especially in Syria and Lebanon. A
hundred thousand Lebanese, just in the Beirut area alone, died of
starvation in 1915, ’16, ’17, at the hands of the Turks. People were
eating wheat in the streets, just like they did in the Irish famine.
So there’s a good deal of sympathy there [in Lebanon]. Less so in
Egypt, because it’s further away. In the Gulf, you’re Christians and
they’re not, but certainly in Jordan, Iraq, and Syria there’s a great
deal of sympathy and complete acknowledgement. But they’re not going
to do anything for you, anymore than they do anything for each other.
Q: What will Armenians do when and if Turkey does acknowledge the
Genocide? Other than the question of reparations, what will it mean
Fisk: When I was in Syria [at Der Zor], I was digging out, with my
hands, the skulls and bones of young people – and you can tell they
were young because they still had beautiful teeth. We had an Armenian
man with us whose grandfather died in the Genocide. I handed one of
the skulls to the Armenian guy, and it started to crumble in his
hands. He just looked at me and said, "It’s over." That’s the answer
to your question: It’s finished. It’s over.
15. A shameful campaign
Attempts to intimidate a Turk who speaks out about the Genocide
by Taner Akçam
For many who challenge their government’s official version of events,
slander, e-mailed threats, and other forms of harassment are all too
familiar. As a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in
Turkey, I should not have been surprised. But my recent detention at
the Montreal airport – apparently on the basis of anonymous insertions
in my Wikipedia biography – signals a disturbing new phase in a
Turkish campaign of intimidation that has intensified since the
November 2006 publication of my book, A Shameful Act: The Armenian
Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.
At the invitation of the McGill University Faculty of Law and
Concordia University, I flew from Minneapolis to Montreal on Friday,
February 16, to lecture on A Shameful Act. As the Northwest Airlines
jet touched down at Trudeau International Airport about 11:20 a.m., I
assumed I had plenty of time to get to campus for the 5:00 p.m. event.
Nearly four hours later, I was still at the airport, detained without
"Where are you going? Where are you staying? How many days are you
staying here?" asked the courteous officer from Citizenship and
Immigration Canada. "Do you have a return ticket? Do you have enough
money with you?"
As the border control authorities were surely aware, I travel
frequently to Canada: three or four trips a year since 2000, most
recently with my daughter in October 2006, just before the publication
of A Shameful Act. Not once in all that time had I been singled out
"I’m not sure myself why you need to be detained," the officer finally
admitted. "After making some phone calls, I’ll let you know."
While he was gone, my cell phone rang. The friend who had arranged to
pick me up at the airport had gotten worried when I failed to emerge
from Customs. I explained the situation as well as I could, asking him
to inform my hosts, the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at
McGill and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights
Studies at Concordia, that I might be late for the lecture. The Zoryan
Institute and the Armenian Students’ Associations of Montreal,
co-presenters of the event, would also need to be updated.
The immigration officer returned with a strange request: could I help
him figure out why I was being detained? You’re the one detaining me,
I was tempted to say. If you don’t know the reason, how do you expect
me to know? You tell me. It was like a scene from Atom Egoyan’s
Ararat. I knew better than to challenge him, giving the impression
that I had something to hide.
"Let me guess," I answered. "Do you know who Hrant Dink was? Did you
hear about the Armenian journalist who was killed in Istanbul?" He
"I’m a historian," I explained. "I work on the subject of the Armenian
Genocide of 1915. There’s a very heavy campaign being waged by extreme
nationalist and fascist forces in Turkey against those individuals who
are critical of the events that occurred in 1915. Hrant Dink was
killed because of it. The lives of people like me are in danger
because of it. Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel Laureate, couldn’t tolerate
the attacks against him and had to leave the country. Many
intellectuals in Turkey are now living under police protection." The
officer took notes.
"In connection with these attacks there has been a serious campaign
against me in the U.S.," I went on. "I know that the groups running
this campaign are given directives and are controlled by the Turkish
diplomats. They spread propaganda stating that I am a member of a
terrorist organization. Some rumors to that effect must have reached
you." The officer continued to write.
"For your information, in 1976, while I was a master’s degree student
and teaching assistant at Middle East Technical University, I was
arrested for articles I had written in a journal and sentenced to
eight years and nine months in prison. I later escaped to Germany,
where I became a citizen. The Turkish criminal statute that was the
basis for my prosecution, together with similar laws, was repealed in
1991. I travel to Turkey freely now and went there most recently for
Hrant Dink’s funeral."
The officer finished his notes. "I’m sorry, but I have to make some
more phone calls," he said, and left.
My cell phone rang again. It was McGill legal scholar Payam Akhavan,
an authority on human rights and genocide, who was to have introduced
my lecture. Apologizing for my situation, Prof. Akhavan let me know
that he had contacted the offices of Canadian Minister of Public
Safety Stockwell Day and Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and
Canadian Identity Jason Kenney. Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, Primate of
the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, also called to confirm
that he too had been in touch with Secretary Kenney’s office. I was
going to be released.
About 3:30 p.m. the officer returned with a special one-week visa.
Upon my insistence that I had a right to know exactly why I had been
detained, he showed me a sheet of paper with my photograph on top and
a short block of text, in English, below.
I recognized the page at once. The photo was a still from the 2005
documentary Armenian Genocide: 90 Years Later, a coproduction of the
University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and
Twin Cities Public Television. A series of outtakes from the film,
originally posted on the CHGS website, could be found on the popular
Internet video site YouTube and elsewhere in cyberspace. The still
photo and the text beneath it comprised my biography in the
English-language edition of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia which
anyone in the world can modify at any time. For the last year – most
recently on Christmas Eve, 2006 – my Wikipedia biography had been
persistently vandalized by anonymous "contributors" intent on labeling
me as a terrorist. The same allegations had been repeatedly scrawled,
like gangland graffiti, as "customer reviews" of A Shameful Act and my
other books at Amazon.com.
It was unlikely, to say the least, that a Canadian immigration officer
found out that I was coming to Montreal, took the sole initiative to
research my identity on the Internet, discovered the archived
Christmas Eve version of my Wikipedia biography, printed it out seven
weeks later on February 16, and showed it to me – voilà! – as a
The fact is that my upcoming lecture had been publicized well in
advance in the Canadian print and broadcast media. An announcement had
even been inserted in Wikipedia five days before my arrival. Moreover,
two Turkish-American websites hostile to my work – the 500-page Tall
Armenian Tale, and the 19,000-member Turkish Forum listserv – had been
hinting for months that my "terrorist" activities ought to be of
interest to American immigration authorities. It seemed far more
likely that one or more individuals had seized the opportunity to
denounce me to the Canadians. Although I was forced to cancel two
radio interviews, I made it to the McGill campus in time to lecture on
A Shameful Act.
* * *
On Sunday, February 18, before boarding my return flight to
Minneapolis, I was detained for another hour. It was obvious that the
American customs and border authorities knew what had happened at the
adjacent offices on the Canadian side. "Mr. Akçam," I was gently
advised, "if you don’t retain an attorney and correct this issue,
every entry and exit from the country is going to be problematic. We
recommend that you do not travel in the meantime and that you try to
get this information removed from your customs dossier."
The well-meaning American customs official could hardly have known the
extent of the problem. Wikipedia and Amazon are but two examples.
Allegations against me, posted mainly by the Assembly of Turkish
American Associations (ATAA), Turkish Forum, and Tall Armenian Tale,
have been copy-pasted and recycled in innumerable websites and
e-groups ever since I arrived in America. By now, for example, my name
in close proximity to the English word "terrorist" turns up in well
over 10,000 web pages.
The first salvo in this campaign came in response to the English
translation of my essay, "The Genocide of the Armenians and the
Silence of the Turks." In a sensational March 19, 2001, commentary
from the ATAA Turkish Times ("From Terrorism to Armenian Propagandist:
The Taner Akçam Story"), one Mustafa Artun introduced me to
Turkish-Americans as a mastermind of terrorist violence, including the
assassinations of American and NATO military personnel.
Among the next salvos was an announcement from Turkish Forum: "For the
attention of friends in Minnesota…. Taner Akçam has started working in
America…. It is expected that the conferences about so called Genocide
will increase in and around Minnesota. Please follow the Armenian
(Taner Akçam’s) activities very closely." My contact information at
home and at work was conveniently provided "in case people would like
to send their ‘greetings’ to this traitor." Soon enough, harassing
e-mails were sent anonymously to my employer, the University of
Minnesota, and to me personally.
With the publication of A Shameful Act, the circle began to close in.
On November 1, 2006, the City University of New York Center for the
Humanities organized a gathering at the CUNY Graduate Center to
introduce my book. Before I rose to speak, unauthorized leaflets
bearing an assault rifle, skull, and the communist hammer and sickle
were distributed in the hall. In rhetoric obviously inspired by
Mustafa Artun’s commentary, I was labeled as a "former terrorist
leader" and a fanatic enemy of America who had organized "attacks
against the United States" and was "responsible for the death of
As soon as I finished my lecture, a pack of some 15 to 20 individuals,
who had strategically positioned themselves in small groups throughout
the hall, tried to break up the meeting. Brandishing pictures of
corpses (either Muslims killed by revenge-seeking Armenians in 1919 or
Kurdish victims of Iraqi gas attacks on the town of Halabja in 1988),
they loudly demanded to know why I had not lectured on the deaths of
"a million Muslims."
Shouting and swearing in Turkish and English, they completely
disrupted the discussion in the lecture hall and the book-signing
session nearby. I was verbally assaulted as a "terrorist-communist"
and lashed with the vilest Turkish profanities. Two individuals dogged
my footsteps from the podium to the elevator doors, howling, "We are
the soldiers of Alparslan Türkes!" (A Turkish politician who was
arrested in 1944 for spreading Nazi propaganda, Türkes later founded
the Nationalist Movement Party.) The security guards surrounding me
had to intervene when I was physically attacked.
A month later, on December 4, I was scheduled to speak at another New
York event, a symposium at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law
on "Denying Genocide: Law, Identity and Historical Memory in the Face
of Mass Atrocity." As if to illustrate this very theme, a 4,400-word
letter was sent to the law school dean and faculty three weeks in
advance, urging the cancellation of the symposium and labeling me as
"a propagandistic tool of the Armenians."
The Turkish Forum mobilized an e-mail campaign against the "Taner
Akcam conference." Members were also urged to attend the symposium and
a "pre-meeting for Turks," coordinated by Ibrahim Kurtulus.
I forwarded this information to the event organizers with a request
that appropriate precautions be taken. Yeshiva was concerned. An
organizer who had attended the CUNY gathering on November 1 assured me
that security would be increased.
As a pre-emptive step, the event committee informed the Turkish
Consulate that the law school symposium was intended to be general in
scope, comparative and scholarly in approach, and not focused on
either Taner Akçam or Turkey. They made it clear that any disruption
similar to the CUNY incident would not put Turkey in a favorable
light. A Turkish consular official disavowed any government
involvement in the disruption at CUNY, which he attributed to "the
actions of civilians" in grassroots organizations. There was nothing
the Consulate could do about them, he said. The organizers stressed
that they intended to take extra security precautions and that the
Consulate ought to think hard about what would happen if the symposium
was invaded and its participants attacked.
Just one day before the symposium there was another phone conversation
between the Turkish consular official and the organizers. He assured
them that no disruption would take place and only two or three Turkish
representatives would attend.
The government kept its word. The symposium was peaceful and no
leaflets were distributed. The Turkish consular official attended with
ATAA President-elect Gunay Evinch, both of whom were scrupulously
polite. It was as though three intense weeks of mobilization had never
For many Turkish intellectuals, freedom of speech has become a
struggle in North America as well as in our native country. What is
happening to me now could happen to any scholar who dissents from the
official state version of history.
Since my return from Montreal, the Canadian immigration authorities
have refused to say exactly why I was detained. As a result, I am
unable to face my accusers or examine whatever "evidence" may be filed
against me. Although I have formally requested access both to my
Canadian and American dossiers – a process that could take months – I
have had to cancel all international appearances. Meanwhile, my
Wikipedia biography and Amazon book pages remain open to malicious
insertions at any time.
Nevertheless, my American book tour continues under tightened
security. Although it is stressful and very sad to have to lecture
under police protection, I have no intention of canceling any of my
domestic appearances. After all, the United States is not the Republic
of Turkey. The Turkish authorities whether directly or through their
grassroots agents have no right to harass scholars exercising their
academic freedom of speech at American universities. Throughout my
life I have learned in unforgettable ways the worth of such freedom,
and I intend to use it at every opportunity.
16. Letters: Turkish lobby places article in Wall Street Journal,
Turkey’s lobbyists in Washington are working overtime to derail
H.Res.106, the Armenian Genocide resolution in the House of
Representatives. They have managed to place articles in some
influential newspapers. An article signed by Mark Parris, a former
U.S. ambassador to Turkey, appeared in the Wall Street Journal on
March 3. Under the title, "Don’t Go Cold on Turkey," it argued that
the resolution is ill timed; if it is adopted, "The result will be a
train wreck with an important, longstanding American ally: Turkey."
On March 11, the Wall Street Journal published the following three
letters to the editor in response to the article by Amb. Parris.
* * *
Turkey, and the U.S., must confront Genocide’s reality
In his March 3 editorial-page commentary "Don’t Go Cold on Turkey,"
former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris opposes U.S. recognition
of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. His main contention is that this
will result in a "train wreck" with an important, long-standing
Amb. Parris and the other opponents of honestly recognizing this crime
are once again crying wolf. "Train wrecks" were loudly but falsely
predicted before President Reagan’s 1981 public affirmation of the
Armenian genocide, the 1984 designation by the House of April 24 as a
day for its remembrance, as well as before the amendments passed by
the House in 1996 and 2004 restricting U.S. aid to Turkey based on its
denial of this crime against humanity.
Despite threats of retribution, Turkey has taken only token steps
against the European Parliament, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden,
Switzerland and other states and international bodies that have
recognized the Armenian genocide.
In fact, despite all its threats in 2001 against France’s recognition
of the Armenian genocide, trade between France and Turkey grew 22% the
following year, and has grown by 131% over the past five years.
Kenneth V. Hachikian
Armenian National Committee of America
* * *
Mr. Parris advocates that the recognition of the genocide of the
Armenians be shelved so that among other concerns candid voices by
progressive Turks like Orhan Pamuk are not drowned out. Do we have to
remind ourselves that there was no talk about the genocide resolution
when charges were brought against the Nobel Laureate and many other
scholars and journalists? Irrespective of what sublime bill the
American legislature adopts, Turkey will continue its abhorrent
attitude toward free thinkers unless the draconian rules in its
criminal code are swept away.
Dikran Abrahamian, M.D.
* * *
Every time a congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide is
introduced, the theme of "now is not the time" is rolled out. The
previous moment came in 2000 when the House was poised to reaffirm the
fact of the Armenian genocide.
President Clinton successfully made the timing appeal to Speaker
Hastert, who pulled the resolution from the schedule moments before it
surely would have passed. A not so grateful Turkey subsequently denied
a stunned United States any cooperation in dealing with Iraq.
To date, more than 170 Democrat and Republican members of Congress
have co-sponsored the current genocide resolution.
Clearly there is growing bipartisan congressional support for action
now to reaffirm Armenian history and confront genocide denial.
The Republic of Turkey denies this crime and demands that friends
around the world join in their revisionism. If friends do not, Turkey
threatens them with reprisals.
Simultaneously, Turkey criminalizes free speech and prosecutes its
citizens for daring to speak the truth. Unless Turkey opts to deal
forthrightly with its genocidal legacy, international recognition of
the Armenian genocide will never be opportune.
It is long past time for the U.S. to reaffirm the Armenian genocide
despite Turkish threats and to support those in Turkey who serve
democracy and reform by speaking freely. Now is precisely the time to
U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee
1 7. Editorial: Don’t forget to write
The Armenian Genocide resolution in the House of Representatives has
the support of over 40 percent of the members of the House. To date,
182 members have signed up as cosponsors, joining Rep. Adam Schiff,
who introduced the resolution.
The Genocide resolution also has powerful opponents, however, among
them the government of Turkey and the executive branch of the United
With such opponents, supporters of the Genocide resolution cannot take
anything for granted. The fight for the resolution is going to be
difficult and ugly.
We reported last week that some of the opponents of the resolution
acknowledge that they’ve "lost the battle for history." Former U.S.
ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz said, "I think Turkey has lost,
here at least, the battle of history. I don’t think there is anything
you can do here which will convince legislators that this is an open
question, that you got to leave it to the historians. I don’t think
that it is, rightly or wrongly, an effective argument here."
But Mr. Abramowitz was not suggesting giving up the fight against the
resolution. He was simply suggesting a shift in tactics. The focus, he
argued, should be on the alleged importance of Turkey to the United
Already, we see a concerted effort to sway the opinion of lawmakers
through the columns of influential newspapers. The Wall Street Journal
on March 3 published an article by Mark Parris, another former
ambassador to Turkey, saying the resolution will result in "a train
wreck with an important, longstanding American ally: Turkey." The
Washington Times on February 20 ran an editorial under the title,
"Pelosi’s pandering against Turkey." The Washington Post’s op-ed
columnist Jackson Diehl weighed in with a condescending article
titled, "The House’s Ottoman Agenda," claiming the resolution "has the
potential to explode U.S. relations with Turkey, sway the outcome of
upcoming Turkish elections and spill over into several other strategic
American interests, including Iraq and Iran."
Armenian-Americans are usually diligent about responding to such
articles. That there is an onslaught of them should not deter us; nor
should we be content with responding to only one of them.
Kudos to those who have made the effort to respond. On this page, we
reprint the letters of the Armenian National Committee of America’s
chair, Ken Hachikian, Dr. Dikran Abrahamian from Canada, and USAPAC’s
Ross Vartian, published in the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, the Washington Times published responses by Nick Larigakis,
executive director of the American Hellenic Institute; Jules Boyadjian
of the Armenian Youth Federation, Valence, France; Leon Baronian of
Los Angeles; and Stephen S. Elgin of Bethesda, Md.
Of course, we need not wait for articles, good and bad, to write
letters to the editor. Nor must the paper be a Washington or national
paper; elected officials are sensitive to opinions expressed in their
Most newspapers make guidelines available for letters to the editor.
It’s good to consult these guidelines and follow them. It’s also good
to match the length of previous letters the paper may have published
on foreign-policy issues. The challenge is to write respectfully and
The sheer number of responses also contributes to at least one of the
submissions being selected for publication. If the editors get a high
number of replies, then they know they hit a nerve and cannot or
should not ignore the subject.
Last week we urged our readers to write to their representatives in
the House and to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Let us meanwhile
be vigilant about what the national and local media have to say and be
diligent and prompt in letting our views be known.
After 92 years, we know we have justice and truth on our side. But
after three decades of pursuing this cause through Congress, we have
learned that justice and truth are not always enough to win the day,
at least in the short term. Especially because victory seems so close
this time, we cannot afford to slacken our efforts to see this
resolution passed. We know all too well that its opponents will try to
give all manner of extraneous reasons to derail the resolution once
again. But at the end of the day, the voice of the people counts for
something, too. And that voice – your voice – needs to be heard.
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