Massis Weekly Online – Volume 27, Issue 48 (1348)

Massis Weekly Online

VOLUME 27, ISSUE 48 (1348)

– U.S. Charge D’affaires Joseph Pennington’s New Year Message To The
Armenian People
– Finland Assumes OSCE Chair
– Rep. Lantos to Retire Due to Cancer
– Instances Of Abuse Continue
– Facing Up To The Challenges Of 2008: A Strong Party Organization
– Sins of Our Fathers
– 2007 Review: Foreign Policy And The Pursuit Of Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement

– U.S. Charge D’affaires Joseph Pennington’s New Year Message To The
Armenian People

On this first day of the New Year, I would like to thank the people of
Armenia for their friendship and for the support they continue to give
to the strong relationship between Armenia and the United States.
Today is a day to celebrate the many things that bring us together as
nations, and to reflect on the many achievements our two peoples have
accomplished together since Armenia?s independence. It is also a day
to look ahead to the hopes and challenges that the future holds.
As we look ahead to 2008, I would like to assure you that US
assistance to Armenia, which has now reached nearly 2 billion dollars,
will continue. The United States is committed to supporting Armenia as
it works to both establish a strong democracy, and build a vibrant
economy, that benefit all of Armenia?s people. This year represents a
particularly important opportunity for Armenia to demonstrate its
commitment to democracy by holding a presidential election that meets
international standards.
The United States stands ready to support that important effort.
I would like to express today my deep appreciation for the
extraordinary warmth and hospitality the Armenian people continue to
show me and my colleagues at the American embassy, and the wider
American community in Armenia. It is an honor for us to live and work
in Armenia, a country that has achieved so much since it gained its
independence, and which has unlimited potential to accomplish even
more in the future.
I know Armenians have a saying about the New Year?s holiday: ?Just as
one spends New Year?s, so, too, will they spend the following year.?
So on behalf of the American people and the entire embassy, I wish all
of the Armenian people a very special New Year?s holiday spent with
close friends and family, and every success in the promising year ahead.
Merry Christmas and a Happy
New Year!
Thank you.

– Finland Assumes OSCE Chair

HELSINKI — Finland on Tuesday assumed the chair of the 56- nation
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Finnish
Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said as chair, Finland ?will focus,
above all, on intensifying the organization?s operation and on the
observance of existing commitments.? Finland succeeds Spain as chair.
Issues in 2008 were likely to include the issue of Kosovo, conflicts
involving Nagorno-Karabakh and breakaway regions in Transnistria in
Moldova and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Kanerva
said in a statement issued in Helsinki. The OSCE is also engaged in
election monitoring. In 2009, Greece will take over from Finland as
OSCE chair.

– Rep. Lantos to Retire Due to Cancer

WASHINGTON, DC — Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat and chairman
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced on Wednesday that he
will not seek reelection this year because he has cancer of the
Lantos, 79, is the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress and is
known for his dedication to human rights issues. He is serving his
14th term, after joining the House in 1981. According to his
statement, ?routine medical tests? revealed the cancer. It did not
provide additional details. Lantos was born in Budapest, Hungary. In
1944, as a teenager, he was sent to a labor camp but eventually
escaped. Three years later, he came to the United States on an
academic scholarship.
If Democrats retain control of the House after this fall?s elections,
the next in line to assume control of the Foreign Affairs Committee
would be Rep. Howard Berman, also a California Democrat.
In October of 2007, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved H.
Res. 106 by a vote of 27 to 21, which included an affirmative vote by
Chairman Lantos.

– Instances Of Abuse Continue

By Vahan Ishkhanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Freedom of Speech

September 1st broadcasting of Radio Liberty was suspended on Public
Radio of Armenia as the Public Television and Radio Company refused to
prolong the contract with the station. Before that in June the
government had submitted a draft law on making amendments in the law
on television and radio with the National Assembly, which prohibited
the Public Television and Radio Company that rebroadcast the programs
of Radio Liberty, financed by the US Congress.
The draft law failed, but the Public Television and Radio Company
refused to prolong the contract signed up to February.
Broadcasting of Radio Liberty on Public Radio was once suspended in
1994, then restored in 1998. Liberty was available all over the
territory of the republic on Public Radio. Liberty now broadcasts on
Yerevan FM and regional FM stations. Liberty is the only station not
controlled by government authorities.

Arman Babajanyan, 31, editor of Yerevan Zhamanak daily has been in
prison for a year and a half. He was detained on June 26th 2006 and
was sentenced to 3.5 years of imprisonment this year for avoiding
military service by fake documents. Babajanyan has accepted his guilt.
Babajanyan paid 1 million drams as prescribed by the order and
submitted the check to the Appeal Court; however, it was not taken
into notice and the Appeal Court only mitigated the verdict of the
court of first instance changing it from 4 to 3.5 years. Yerevan
Zhamanak daily takes a critical posture on authorities and many
journalists and rights activists believe the true reason for
Babajanyan?s imprisonment is the stand of the newspaper. ?When they
arrested him we knew it was because of his activities. And now a
number of circumstances clearly prove it,? says the chairman of the
Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan.

Tax bodies and the municipality of Gyumri have launched persecutions
against the GALA Television Company of Gyumri after the channel
broadcasted on October 14th the speech delivered by Levon
Ter-Petrosyan on September 21st. The municipality of Gyumri has
appealed to the court to uninstall the GALA broadcasting antenna from
the old TV tower of Gyumri; and the tax service has appealed to the
court to make it pay 25,212,800 drams ($83,000). The trials proceed
Vahan Khachatryan, director of the TV Company says representatives of
the National Security Service had a talk with him the next day after
the broadcast encouraging him to avoid broadcasting such kind of
materials otherwise it would be bad for the television company. A
conversation of similar content took place between him and the
chairman of the Commission for Television and Radio Grigor Amalyan on
October 17th.
Khachatryan says he has told them he will not succumb to pressure.
After that, the tax bodies launched regular check-ups in ChAP Limited,
the founder of the GALA Television, and the municipality has demanded
to remove the antenna. Vahan Tumasyan, coordinator of the National
Democratic Union office in Gyumri says GALA is the only television
channel that gives air to all political forces.
Seven organizations in Gyumri have created a headquarters for freedom
of speech and the protection of the GALA ().


The preliminary investigation into the criminal case on the death of
Levon Gulyan, 30, in the police on May 12th has been underway in the
prosecutor general?s office of the republic for more than nine months.
Gulyan was taken to the police as a witness of a murder in the
neighborhood of the Pandok restaurant he ran.
Two days earlier, May 10th and May 11th, Gulyan was taken to the
Shengavit police department and, his relatives say, was beaten. The
workers at his restaurant say they were also beaten by police.
According to the police version, Gulyan died in an attempt to escape
the police through the window on the second floor. The forensic
examination of the Ministry of Healthcare concluded Gulyan died of
falling from a 7 meter height, while upon the conclusion of the
experts from Germany and Denmark the number of bruises found on the
body could appear before the fall.
The chairman of the Helsinki committee says beatings and tortures in
the police are a constant matter, but society learns about them only
when they end up in one?s death.

Political prisoners

Citizen of Lebanon and the coordinator of the non-governmental
initiative Defense of Liberated Territories Zhirayr Sefilyan and
Vardan Malkhasyan, member of the political council for the Fatherland
and Honor Party were sentenced to 1.5 and 2 years of imprisonment
respectively for making public calls on forceful change of the
constitutional order.
They have been in prison since December 10th 2006. Vardan Aronyan has
been sentenced for two years of conditional imprisonment on the same

Former minister of foreign affairs of Armenia Alexander Arzumanyan
spent four months in prison charged with money laundering. He was
arrested on May 6th and was kept in the isolator of the National
Security Service.
The means of his detention was replaced on September 6th and he was
released, despite the case has not been closed. He is charged in
receiving illegally earned $150,000 from Sashik Aghazaryan, a citizen
of Russia.
Arzumanyan has refused to give evidence grounding it with the
necessity for the preliminary investigation to identify first whether
the sum was earned illegally and whether he [Arzumanyan] could know it
if that proves true. The right activists connect his imprisonment with
his oppositional stand.
Arzumanyan has been actively engaged in politics beginning last year,
has created a movement of disobedience against the authorities of
Armenia and now backs the former president of Armenia Levon

– Facing Up To The Challenges Of 2008:
A Strong Party Organization

By Toros Sarian

On November 10th a detailed article written by Hratch Tchillingirian
was published in Massis Weekly. This article underlined several
fundamental issues important to the future political direction and
development of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP).
120 years have passed since the founding of the Party and naturally
the experiences of this long period have to be closely evaluated. The
Party has gone through different phases over this time and each period
has brought with it totally unique challenges.
As the party was founded in 1887 there was an overwhelming conviction
that only a strong party organization based on a scientific and world
view, would be in a position to end the national and social
suppression of the Armenian people. The fact that the SDHP succeeded,
within a few years, in attracting numerous supporters in the Ottoman
Empire and was well prepared to begin the fight against the brutal and
despotic Turkish-Ottoman regime, is evidence of the correctness of the
founding members conviction.
To be sure the Armenian Genocide can be viewed as the most important
episode in the history of not only the Armenian people but also of the
SDHP and other Armenian parties. Despite the enormous human loss and
for the most part the loss of their historical homelands, the Armenian
people were able to create an existence in a small part of Armenia.
With great effort it was possible for the SDHP to create a basis for
the rebirth of a political organization and under severe conditions
party members and supporters were able to ensure the continuation of
the party organization.
When the SDHP proudly looks back on its 120 year history, it does so
always with the remembrance for the many party members and supporters
who with great sacrifice kept the party alive. The history of the
party is therefore also a history of the party members and supporters,
the well-known and also the countless unknown. At the end of his
article Hratch Tchillingirian wrote: "There is much to be learned from
the past and there is much to think and do in the present."
Historical analysis of political struggles and movements have shown us
that a Party which has not succeeded in surmounting these
organizational challenges cannot develop or progress. The practical
and historical experience of all parties and movements, not just of
the Armenian parties, has to be studied and evaluated. The lessons of
the past must be adopted by the political leadership. In practice a
party will only be successful when the organization is in a position
to implement those policies chosen as party political goals.
Therefore, not only an array of political and ideology questions need
to be discussed and clarified, but also simultaneously a strong party
organization structure has to be worked upon and created.
Armenians in the diaspora and also in the Republic of Armenia will
give their support to the SDHP if they see that the party is offering
the correct solutions for the national, social and economic problems.
But it is important that the people realize that they have a party
which is able to campaign for the implementation of policies meeting
their needs. An organizationally weak Party will not be able to
effectively attract the people even if it offers appropriate political
solutions. The development of existing structures is one of the major
tasks and requires the same dedication and effort of its members as
has been given over the past 120 years. Certainly, it is not easy to
motivate people. And as Hratch Tchillingirian rightly pointed out in
his article, the Party must not be allowed to be seen by the people as
"a historic national institution as precious museum like antiquities."
The success of future party politics is very much dependent upon
whether or not at least a few of the questions thrown up by Hratch
Tchillingirian can be addressed by the Party. The Armenian people
living in the Republic of Armenia and in the diaspora need a
progressive and modern party which is able to fulfil the demands for
democracy and social justice. It could become a real political
alternative to the other parties and it is time for the SDHP to work
with all its strength to create a strong party organization; a Party
organization which participates, within the diaspora and in Armenia
itself, in the moulding of the future of the Armenian people and
Armenia. The SDHP will only be able to win support when they follow an
up to date political platform and at the same time have a functional
Party Leadership and Party Organization. The Party has a long history
and has overcome difficult situations. Nevertheless, in the future
more effort and sacrifice will be demanded to meet the new challenges
of the 21st Century.

Toros Sarian is a historian and
community activist in
Hamburg, Germany

– Sins of Our Fathers
The More Turkey Denies The 1915 Genocide Of Armenians,
The Less The World Believes It

By Mahvish Zehra

Watching movies can be an educational experience. I have come across
many interesting facts about history, different places, and life in
general from watching movies. And wittingly or otherwise, they have
left lasting impressions. Take the Jewish Holocaust for example; I
don?t think any person exposed to the media is ignorant of it. Every
person reading this will have knowledge about the Holocaust, and be
naturally against all the factors that brought it about.
For me, movies like ?Life is Beautiful? with the adorable Roberto
Benigni, and the ways he tries to conceal from his young son the
horrors of the concentration camp they are in, form a part of my
impressions of the Holocaust. The destitution of the Jewish people
captured by Adrien Brody in ?The Pianist?, and the ruthless and coldly
calculated extermination of the Jews shown in many other movies, form
the major body of Holocaust knowledge that people are exposed to.
While the Jewish people rightly deserve the sympathy of the whole
world, why may I ask, the same sympathy is not afforded to other
peoples similarly persecuted?
About two years ago, I stumbled upon a very interesting movie that I
have not been able to forget. It was about another holocaust, one that
happened around 1915, of a people I had not heard much about before:
the Armenians.
The film is titled ?Ararat?, after Mount Ararat where biblically,
Noah?s ark came to rest after the flood. The Armenians call it ?Our
Ararat? and see it as a symbol of their history and resistance. It is
located in eastern Turkey and since 1920, some claim, it has been
officially closed to the Armenians across the border from visiting it.
Armenians trace their history back to at least 2000 BC. They are one
of the oldest Christian nations in the world, and the first nation to
have adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. Only about
one-fifth of Armenians live in present day Armenia, the rest scattered
about the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Members of rock band,
System of a Down, and singer Cher, are some famous Armenians.
Preceding the genocide of 1915, the Turks and Armenians lived in
relative peace with each other. No doubt, the Armenians lived as
second-class citizens in the Ottoman lands due to their Christian
status. As the Ottoman Empire?s power was deteriorating, revolutionary
and nationalistic sentiments grew among its peoples. The Armenians, as
a major Christian majority, desired independence as other Christian
nations had received. They also clearly remembered the widespread
killings they had been subjected to in the 1890?s and in 1909, when
they had demanded more rights and security from the Ottoman government.
The Turks viewed the Armenians as getting in the way of their
nationalistic aspirations, and under the pretext of ?disloyalty?,
planned out the genocide of 1915. Ararat shows very graphically the
treatment meted out to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks, which
resulted in the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians. The Director,
well respected Canadian, Atom Egoyan, seems less concerned about
winning awards or being a success at the Box Office then about making
a lasting impression on his viewers. Scenes showing an Armenian woman
being raped by a Turk while her toddler daughter clings to her ankle,
or adolescent girls being burned alive, seem to scream out against the
silence around the genocide. A silence being borne by Armenian
descendants such as Egoyan, for more than 90 years.
Walking away from the film, one is not left untouched. It reminds one
of the Jewish Holocaust in many ways. The cold and calculated
extermination of the Armenians, and the brutal methods that were used
in the process, bring to mind the Jewish concentration camps and gas
chambers. Researchers have unearthed that Armenians were killed with
hammers and axes to save ammunition. There were mass drownings and
live burnings.
Internationally renowned expert on the Armenian genocide, Professor
Vahakn Dadrian, has produced a document written by General Mehmet
Vehip Pasha, commander of the Turkish Third Army, who visited an
Armenian village and found all the houses packed with burned human
skeletons. General Pasha wrote in the document, ?in all the history of
Islam, it is not possible to find any parallel to such savagery.? It
is not the point, of remembering and rehashing past events, to make a
show and drama out of misery. Or to carry out performing rituals of
our fathers we fail to understand anymore; it is to learn lessons. To
make a vow to ourselves not to let anything remotely close to that
event happen again. If we, people of today, have any reason at all to
claim to be better than those of yesterday, it is because we have
before us their mistakes and faults to learn from.
They say the similarities of the Armenian genocide with the Jewish
Holocaust are not coincidental. There were many Germans present in the
Ottoman lands who were witness to the mass killings and deportations,
and thus carried back accounts to the rest of the world. Hitler thus
had full knowledge of the genocide, and used it to learn from while
planning out his own. For example, while ordering the mass
extermination of the Polish, before the invasion of Poland, he is
known to have said: ?Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation
of the Armenians??
The Turkish government denies any genocide took place, and claims that
the Armenian killings took place during a time of political turmoil
and fighting during World War One. To call the mass killings
?genocide? or even to speak of them in Turkey could leave you facing
charges, as Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk discovered. In 2005, during an
interview with a Swiss newspaper, Pamuk said: ?A million Armenians and
30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I?m the only one who
dares to talk about it?. These remarks left him facing 3 years in
prison for ?public denigration of Turkish identity?.
Recently, Turkey finds itself embroiled in the Armenian genocide
issue, as the U.S House of Committee approved a resolution, calling
the 1915 Armenian massacres genocide. Turkey viewed the resolution as
an insult and threatened the U.S that ?great harm? would be done to
their bilateral ties. Turkey is a very important U.S ally in the Iraq
War, providing key logistical support to U.S troops in Iraq. Support
for the resolution has since faltered as the U.S is more concerned
about keeping good relations with Turkey, than taking the risk of
passing a resolution that only recognizes the genocide, and nothing
The point of accepting responsibility for past sins, I repeat, is not
to make a show out of misery. It is to learn lessons and better
ourselves, so that those mistakes may never be repeated: of causing
such misery, or letting it happen while we stand idly by. As Turkey
plans an offensive into Northern Iraq against Kurds, who have been
struggling for independence for years, it may seem poised to repeat
the sins it denies so vehemently. The worst kind of sin is the one we
refuse to acknowledge as a sin at all.

– Mahvish Zehra is a student
with the University of London,
residing in Pakistan

2007 Review:
Foreign Policy And The Pursuit Of Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement

By Aris Ghazinyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

In the sphere of foreign policy affairs and prospects for the
settlement of the Karabakh problem, 2007 was a chronicle of
alternating events, some of which had not been forecast at all. In
particular, the new year began on January 19 when editor-in-chief of
the Istanbul-based Turkish-Armenian language newspaper ?Agos? Hrant
Dink was shot dead in the center of Istanbul by a Turkish nationalist.
This unforeseen event immediately overshadowed the expected start of
the ?foreign policy? year, i.e. the winter session of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that had on its
agenda Armenia?s fulfillment of its commitments to the Council of
A corresponding PACE resolution was adopted at the plenary session on
January 23. The document stated progress achieved by Armenia in
fulfilling its obligations. Armenian Parliament Speaker Tigran
Torosyan evaluated that document as an ?unprecedented positive
resolution ever passed by the PACE on Armenia?s fulfillment of its
obligations to the Council of Europe.? Nevertheless, despite even the
seriousness of the meeting in Strasbourg, it was Hrant Dink?s murder
that marked the start of the year and outlined one of its major
characteristics ? aggravating tensions in Armenian-Turkish relations.
The start of the year was marked by another surge of optimistic moods
among influential Armenian organizations regarding the possible
adoption of a resolution on the Armenian genocide by the U.S.
Congress. The optimism had first of all been conditioned by the
victory of Democrats in the latest congressional elections as well as
the statement of the newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that a
draft resolution would be taken to the House floor until April 24,
2007. Resolution 106 was submitted to the House for consideration on
January 30. The whole year has been impregnated for Armenians around
the world and Armenia?s foreign policy department with expectations
for the resolution to be passed.
The foreign policy aspect of 2007 from the very beginning implied two
phases of boost, and they were separated from each other by the period
of holding parliamentary elections in Armenia. However, the first
phase ended earlier than expected in connection with a new unforeseen
circumstance ? a sudden death of Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan on
March 24.
During the first two months of 2007, Armenia?s president met with the
heads of Russia and France ? two of the three states that co-chair the
OSCE Minsk Group on the settlement of the Karabakh problem. Robert
Kocharyan met with Vladimir Putin in the Russian resort town of Sochi
on January 24, and with outgoing Jacques Chirac in Paris on February
19. It is demonstrative that in-between these two meetings the region
of the Karabakh standoff was visited by the OSCE Minsk Group
mediators. In particular, on January 27, cochairmen Yuri Merzlyakov
(Russia), Mathew Bryza (USA) and Bernard Fassier (France) visited
Stepanakert and met with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Arkady
Ghukasyan. The news was the statement by the Russian diplomat that
?there is a common opinion?, but at the same time Merzlyakov refused
to reveal details citing confidentiality of the talks.
Not much information was reported about the meeting of the presidents
of Russia and Armenia. Apparently, the sides discussed not only the
Karabakh problem, but also Russia?s stronger economic presence in
Armenia and prospects of forming a vertical geopolitical axis
Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran. Remarkably, the supply of Iranian gas to
Armenia started on March 19. The ceremony of opening the
trans-boundary section of the gas pipeline was attended by the
presidents of Armenia and Iran, Robert Kocharyan and Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. In order to increase the volumes of import of Iranian gas
ArmRosgazprom launched the construction of a 197-kilometer gas
pipeline? Kajaran-Ararat.
On the whole, 2007 was marked by the increased Russian capital on the
Armenian market. In particular, Russia?s number one wireless operator
Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), purchased 80 percent of shares of
International Cell Holding which is a 100 percent owner of the
K-Telecom (brand name VivaCell) and also signed an option agreement
for the purchase of the remaining 20 percent. In the ending year
Armenia also made a decision to shut down the Metsamor Nuclear Power
Plant whose term of operation ends in 2016 according to technical
requirements. But by signing the New European Neighborhood Policy
Action Plan, Armenia undertook to close the station within the
shortest possible term. Russian Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Head,
former Prime Minister Sergey Kiriyenko stated his agency?s readiness
to render assistance to the Armenian side not only in building a new
block, but also in taking a financial part in the project. The
strengthening Russian presence in Armenia indeed became one of the
characteristics of the ending year.
But the most important foreign policy event of the year for Armenia
was the meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers? Council in Madrid, Spain.
On November 29, the countries mediating a Karabakh settelement
(Russia, the United States, France) gave the foreign ministers of
Armenia and Azerbaijan so-called ?fair and balanced basic principles
of a peaceful settlement of the conflict?. It is not concretely known
what the provisions imply, but the following statement of US
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns in this connection is
demonstrative: ?Any agreements that will be reached on Kosovo cannot
be applied to other conflicts. The situation in Kosovo is specific and
I do not think that any parallels can be drawn between the situation
in Nagorno-Karabakh and a possible solution in Kosovo.?
It is demonstrative that the parties to the conflict were urged to
complete the current stage of negotiations by the approval of the
basic principles and immediately pass on to a new phase ? development
of a draft comprehensive peace treaty. Besides, they were also asked
to prepare their populations to peace and stop issuing any statements
admitting the option of war as a means of solving the conflict. In
this connection, the OSCE Foreign Ministers? Council issued a
statement on Nagorno-Karabakh. ?It is with pleasure that we point out
that Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to continue the current
negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the
coming electoral year. We demonstrate support for the OSCE Minsk Group
Co-Chairs? effort to forge together with the party basic principles of
a peaceful settlement of the conflict. We strongly urge both parties
to overcome the last remaining differences that they have thereby
approving the general concept of settlement and get down to the
development of a comprehensive peace agreement on that basis.?
In this aspect, it should be pointed out that the upcoming year
promises not only internal political activity connected with the
presidential election slated for February but also foreign policy
activity to a much greater extent. As it was unequivocally stated at
the meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers? Council, the international
diplomatic community intends to solve the Karabakh problem in the
visible future.

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