Armenian Reporter – 1/26/2008 – front section


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January 26, 2008 — From the front section

To see the printed version of the newspaper, complete with photographs
and additional content, visit and download the pdf
files. It’s free.

1. Hrant Dink is remembered

2. Democratic presidential hopefuls all issue strong statements in
support of Armenian-American issues (by Emil Sanamyan)
* Reach out ahead of Super Tuesday

3. Washington briefing (by Emil Sanamyan)
* American nuclear energy official visits Armenia
* Top U.S. diplomat to retire "for personal reasons"
* Members of Congress urge "Genocide prevention task force" to learn
>From Armenian experience
* European Parliament wants "more effective" Caucasus policy
* President inaugurated in Georgia as opposition protests
* Corrections

4. Jackie Speier: A life steeped in public service (by Lory Tatoulian)
* The American-Armenian, women’s advocate, author, and former state
senator, and the foundation she created

5. Hrant Dink remembered in Istanbul as new revelations and trials
emerge (by Talin Suciyan)

6. Vladimir Kazimirov: "In Karabakh, the overriding priority is to
prevent a new war" (interviewed by Tatul Hakobyan)
* Veteran mediator criticizes OSCE for hands-off attitude

7. Karabakh’s role in peace process is emphasized (by Armen Hakobyan)

8. The Candidates: Vahan Hovhannesian seeks to restore checks and
balances in Armenia’s governance (by Vincent Lima)
* Calls for an Armenian-Georgian union

9. Savings, brokerage accounts in Armenia allow investors to help
build the economy, earn returns
* An interview with Cascade Capital CEO Jonathan Stark

10. Living in Armenia: The kings of Armenia might hold the secrets (by
Maria Titizian)

11. The murder of Hrant Dink: one year later
* A Symposium — continued from last week
* Rachel Goshgarian
* Margaret Ajemian Ahnert
* Zarminé Boghosian
* Dennis R. Papazian
* Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.
* Rep. Ed Royce

12. Editorial: Get involved in election campaigns

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1. Hrant Dink is remembered

PARAMUS, N.J. — Memorial events around the world this week marked the
first anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink.

Armenians and others in Europe, the United States, the Middle East,
and Armenia held solemn gatherings to remember the slain editor of
Agos, who was gunned down on the streets of Istanbul on January 19,
2007. Events took place on the anniversary date itself and during the
subsequent week, with a number of events scheduled to take place in
the weeks to come.

A January 18 panel in Frankfurt, Germany, explored "Freedom of
Expression and Association, Article 301, and the Murder of Hrant
Dink." That same day, in Washington, a speech by historian and Dink
friend Taner Akçam followed a memorial service.

The following day, Budapest’s Central European University remembered
Mr. Dink with a screening of Swallow’s Nest, a film featuring
interviews with Mr. Dink. The same film was shown at an event in
Ottawa, Canada.

In Berlin, a vigil was held in front of the city’s Turkish consulate.
In Tbilisi, Georgia, writers and others gathered for a memorial event
called "Journalists: Victims of the Freedom of Speech."

The mayor of Lyon, France, led a ceremony renaming a city street in
honor of Hrant Dink. Meanwhile, in Paris, community leaders joined
Armenia’s ambassador to France for a wreath-laying ceremony before the
statue of Komitas.

Paris was also the site of an exhibit of newspaper caricatures
dedicated to Mr. Dink’s memory; the exhibit will run through February
1. An exhibit in Frankfurt focusing on the writer/editor himself ran
throughout last week.

At London’s Westminster Abbey, January 19 was marked with a
commemoration in front of the "Monument of Innocents."

The same day, Armenians in Moscow gathered for a requiem liturgy, and
later picketed the city’s Turkish embassy.

In the Netherlands, several commemorative events, including one
featuring a Dutch member of parliament, met at points throughout last

New York City’s Saint Vartan Armenian Cathedral held a special
requiem for Hrant Dink on Sunday, January 20, followed by a multimedia
memorial program. (See the story in the Community section of this

The occasion was marked by formal religious services in Armenian
churches throughout the United States and abroad.

* 40,000 gather in Istanbul

The epicenter of the anniversary was Istanbul itself, where an
estimated 40,000 people gathered on January 19, at 2:00 p.m. outside
of the offices of Agos, to mark the exact moment and place that Mr.
Dink had died one year before. People in the crowd carried signs
reading, "For Justice, for Hrant," in a gathering organized by various
civil society organizations, trade unions, vocational institutions,
and political parties. (See the story in this section.)

Meanwhile, the anniversary was an occasion for Turkey’s mainstream
press to revisit the murder, and the subsequent developments, amid new
revelations that Turkish gendarmes knew of the assassination plot in
advance of the killing.

Relatedly, late in the week Turkey announced the arrest and detention
of 35 people — including high-ranking retired military officers,
journalists, lawyers, and former criminals — who are accused of
conspiring to kill ethnic Kuridsh politicians as well as Nobel
laureate Orhan Pamuk, among others.

As we go to press, several memorial events are scheduled for the
coming days and weeks. A major gathering in Burbank, Calif., will take
place on Friday evening, January 25 (and will be covered in next
week’s Reporter). In Paris, on January 26, the screening of a
televised discussion of the Dink case and a live roundtable panel is
planned under the title, "Six Hours for Hrant Dink."

Two events in Germany will meet on January 27.

Personal recollections of Mr. Dink and readings from his writings
will be the substance of a program in Boston titled, "To Remember is
to Keep Alive," on February 2. And a public forum assessing Hrant
Dink’s life and legacy will take place in Hackensack, N.J., on
February 15.


* * *

For information for these and other events, consult this paper’s
Calendar of Events listings, and also the online listing posted at

*** ************************************************** **********************

2. Democratic presidential hopefuls all issue strong statements in
support of Armenian-American issues

* Reach out ahead of Super Tuesday

by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON — Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who is seeking the
Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States, last
weekend issued a comprehensive statement in support of
Armenian-American concerns. Fellow Democratic hopefuls Sen. Hillary
Clinton of New York and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina
issued similar statements during the week. (See full texts below.)

This week in South Carolina and Florida, and on February 5 in 22
other states, voters will have an opportunity to help choose the
candidates for president. Democrats looking to reach out to
significant Armenian-American communities in several of the primary
states have issued these timely statements to highlight their
positions on issues of interest to Armenian-American voters.

Referring to "one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage
in the United States," Mr. Obama pledged to support Armenia’s
development, and to work toward "a lasting and durable settlement" in
Karabakh "that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s
founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self

Although he has not officially signed on to the Armenian Genocide
resolution in the Senate, he pledged to support its passage, adding,
"as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

In her statement, Ms. Clinton highlighted her past support of
Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress and, like Mr. Obama,
promised, "as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide." She
also wrote that she would "work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia
relations" and support "a fair and democratic resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabagh conflict."

Mr. Edwards wrote that he supports the Genocide resolution in
Congress, noting, however, that it is not directed at "our friends in
Turkey." Referring, like Mr. Obama, to "our nation’s one and a half
million Americans of Armenian heritage," he wrote that as president he
would "prioritize our special relationship with Armenia and the goal
of a lasting peace to Nagorno Karabagh and the entire region."

As a senator, Mr. Obama has repeatedly spoken out on the need to
affirm the Armenian Genocide, including in letters to the president
and secretary of state. He protested the firing of John Evans as
ambassador to Armenia for using the word "genocide." As a member of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he voted, however, over
Armenian-American objections, to affirm the president’s ultimately
unsuccessful nominee to replace Mr. Evans. Mr. Obama’s advisors
include Harvard Professor Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning
author of the Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, who
has repeatedly spoken out in favor of a congressional resolution on
the Armenian Genocide, most recently in a Time magazine article last

An opponent of the war in Iraq, Mr. Obama opposes a potential
military confrontation with Armenia’s southern neighbor, Iran. He has
called for a diplomatic solution there. Mr. Obama enjoys the support
of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Adam Schiff of
California, who has the largest Armenian-American constituency
nationwide, as well as the Turkish caucus co-chair Rep. Robert Wexler
of Florida.

Ms. Clinton is a co-sponsor of the Genocide resolution in the Senate.
In mid-October she told the Boston Globe editorial board that in view
of Turkey’s strong opposition, Congress should proceed with caution.
But she did not withdraw her co-sponsorship. Like Mr. Obama, she has
repeatedly spoken out on the need to affirm the Armenian Genocide,
including in letters to the president and secretary of state.

Ms. Clinton’s range of supporters in Congress includes national
campaign chair Sen. Bob Menendez, a strong supporter of
Armenian-American issues, Rep. Brad Sherman of California, who has a
significant Armenian-American constituency, and Rep. Frank Pallone,
Jr., of New Jersey, who is co-chair of the Armenian issues caucus in
the House.

As a senator, Mr. Edwards co-sponsored the Armenian Genocide
resolution. He also supported Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act,
which restricted U.S. aid to Azerbaijan because of its blockade of
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Democratic Party primaries will be held on February 5 in Alabama,
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma,
Tennessee, and Utah. Kansas will hold caucuses on that day.

* * *

Alexa Millinger contributed reporting for this story.

* * *

* Barack Obama on the "importance of US-Armenia relations"

January 19, 2008 — I am proud of my strong record on issues of
concern to the one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage
in the United States. I warmly welcome the support of this vibrant and
politically active community as we change how our government works
here at home, and restore American leadership abroad.

I am a strong supporter of a U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances
our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy. As President,
I will maintain our assistance to Armenia, which has been a reliable
partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. I will promote
Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani
blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the
Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based
upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and
self determination. And my Administration will help foster Armenia’s
growth and development through expanded trade and targeted aid, and by
strengthening the commercial, political, military, developmental, and
cultural relationships between the U.S. and Armenian governments.

I also share with Armenian Americans — so many of whom are descended
>From genocide survivors – a principled commitment to commemorating and
ending genocide. That starts with acknowledging the tragic instances
of genocide in world history. As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the
Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgement of
the Armenian Genocide. Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of
State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after
he properly used the term "genocide" to describe Turkey’s slaughter of
thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice
my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an
allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a
widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical
evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on
diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a
senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide
Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will
recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Genocide, sadly, persists to this day, and threatens our common
security and common humanity. Tragically, we are witnessing in Sudan
many of the same brutal tactics – displacement, starvation, and mass
slaughter – that were used by the Ottoman authorities against
defenseless Armenians back in 1915. I have visited Darfurian refugee
camps, pushed for the deployment of a robust multinational force for
Darfur, and urged divestment from companies doing business in Sudan.
America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian
Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that

I look forward, as President, to continuing my active engagement with
Armenian American leaders on the full range of issues of concern to
the Armenian American community. Together, we will build, in new and
exciting ways, upon the enduring ties and shared values that have
bound together the American and Armenian peoples for more than a

* * *

* Hillary Clinton "on the U.S.-Armenia relationship"

January 24, 2008 — Alone among the Presidential candidates, I have
been a longstanding supporter of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. I
have been a co-sponsor of the Resolution since 2002, and I support
adoption of this legislation by both Houses of Congress.

I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire
against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice
written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian
Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I
will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our
nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to
ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the
Congress and the President of the United States.

If the mass atrocities of the 20th Century have taught us anything it
is that we must honestly look the facts of history in the face in
order to learn their lessons, and ensure they will not happen again.
It is not just about the past, but about our future. We must close the
gap between words and deeds to prevent mass atrocities. That is why I
am a supporter of the Responsibility to Protect. As President, I will
work to build and enhance U.S. and international capacity to act early
and effectively to prevent mass atrocities. The Bush administration’s
words of condemnation have not been backed with leadership to stop the
genocide in Darfur. I support a no-fly-zone over Darfur. I have
championed strong international action to ensure that the government
of Sudan can no longer act with impunity, or interfere with the
international peacekeeping force, which is essential for the
protection of the people of Darfur.

I value my friendship with our nation’s vibrant Armenian-American
community. This is in keeping with my dedication to the causes of the
Armenian-American community over many years. I was privileged as First
Lady to speak at the first-ever White House gathering in 1994 for
leaders from Armenia and the Armenian-American community to celebrate
the historic occasion of Armenia’s reborn independence. I said at the
time that America will stand with you as you realize what the great
Armenian poet, Puzant Granian, called the Armenian’s dream "to be left
in peace in his mountains, to build, to dream, to create."

I will, as President, work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia
relations in addressing the common issues facing our two nations:
increasing trade, fostering closer economic ties, fighting terrorism,
strengthening democratic institutions, pursuing our military
partnership and deepening cooperation with NATO, and cooperating on
regional concerns, among them a fair and democratic resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. As President, I will expand U.S. assistance
programs to Armenia and to the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.

I look forward, as President, to continuing to work with the
Armenian-American community on the many domestic and international
challenges we face together, and to build on the strong foundations of
shared values that have long brought together the American and
Armenian peoples.

* * *

* John Edwards on the Genocide resolution and Turkey

January 25, 2008 — Thank you for contacting me regarding my positions
on issues of importance to Americans of Armenian descent. I am proud
of my record in the U.S. Senate fighting hard for the concerns of our
nation’s one and a half million Americans of Armenian heritage. In the
Senate, I stood against threats to Armenia’s security, including the
blockades it continues to endure. As President, I will prioritize our
special relationship with Armenia and the goal of a lasting peace to
Nagorno Karabagh and the entire region.

I strongly believe that the United States must stand for telling the
truth about all genocides. I support the Congressional resolution
declaring the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire
in 1915 a genocide. We must also continue to strengthen our
relationship with Turkey, an important democratic ally against the
forces of tyranny in the region. The resolution should therefore be
integrated with a comprehensive diplomatic effort to make sure that
our friends in Turkey today understand that the resolution is not
aimed at them but instead at atrocities committed almost a century ago
by the Ottoman Empire.

In addition, I have recently come to know the family of Nataline
Sarkisyan, a young woman who died after her family was denied funding
for a liver transplant by her insurance company. The Armenian American
community has embraced the Sarkisyan family, and it has been a
privilege to work with Americans of Armenian descent in sharing
Nataline’s tragic story and in emphasizing the desperate need to
establish a universal health care system in the United States.

Thank you for the opportunity to address these important issues.

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3. Washington briefing

by Emil Sanamyan

* American nuclear energy official visits Armenia

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Lyons was in Armenia
January 21-22 to discuss the Armenian government’s plans to build a
new nuclear power plant to replace the existing one at Metsamor before
2016. The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan reported that Mr. Lyons’ talks
focused on how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "can help Armenia to
develop the regulatory infrastructure needed in order to license a new
nuclear power plant."

Last November, the United States agreed to fund a $2 million
environmental impact and technical feasibility study that would help
the Armenian government choose the best technical solutions and
project logistics.

During a visit to Armenia last April, Russia’s chief nuclear energy
regulator Sergei Kirienko offered assistance with both construction
and funding for the new nuclear power plant. (See this page in the
December 15, 2007, edition of the Armenian Reporter.) Russia has been
the sole nuclear fuel supplier to Armenia and its electricity monopoly
RAO UES currently manages Metsamor.

The Armenian energy minister, Armen Movsisian, has said that he
anticipates involvement by several countries in what is variously
estimated to be a $1 to $2 billion project.

* Top U.S. diplomat to retire "for personal reasons"

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns intends to
retire this March "to go back to family concerns," the State
Department announced on January 18. The administration intends to
nominate the current ambassador to Russia, Bill Burns (not related),
to replace him.

Since 2005 the outgoing undersecretary has been the U.S. diplomat in
charge of negotiating international sanctions against Iran, the future
status of Kosovo, mending of U.S.-Turkish relations, as well as a
U.S.-India agreement on nuclear energy. Mr. Burns, 51, is due to
continue to deal with the India issue after his retirement, when he
intends "to pursue other ventures outside the government."

The Los Angeles Times noted on January 19 that the move came "amid
signs that U.S. efforts on key issues have been losing momentum."

As undersecretary, Mr. Burns was the public face of the department,
frequently announcing and articulating U.S. foreign policy
initiatives. Last September, shortly before taking a trip to Ankara,
he acknowledged difficulties in U.S.-Turkish relations since 2002 and
spoke on the need to "restore" bilateral ties, particularly through
"mechanisms" to clamp down on anti-Turkey Kurdish forces in northern

He said at the time that while the Bush Administration has repeatedly
acknowledged and condemned the "mass killings and forced deportations"
in Ottoman Turkey, it opposes "the passage of the U.S. House of
Representative’s Resolution 106, which would make a political
determination that the tragedy of 1915 constituted genocide."

That pronouncement was followed by aggressive administration lobbying
against the Armenian Genocide resolution in October, a Turkish prime
minister’s visit to Washington in November, and provision of U.S.
intelligence to help Turkish military operations in northern Iraq
since last December.

* Members of Congress urge "Genocide prevention task force" to learn
>From Armenian experience

Four lead co-sponsors of the congressional resolution on the Armenian
Genocide wrote to the co-chairs of the recently launched antigenocide
initiative on January 17 "to ensure that the lessons of the Armenian
Genocide are used to help prevent future genocides."

The letter, co-signed by Reps. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.), Joe
Knollenberg (R.-Mich.), Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), and George Radanovich
(R.-Calif.), was made available to the Armenian Reporter by Mr.
Pallone’s staff.

"When addressing U.S. policy on genocide," the representatives
argued, "no serious discussion can take place that does not cover the
extensive U.S. record documenting the American response to the
Armenian Genocide, as well as the modern-day impact of the ongoing
denial of this crime."

The "Genocide prevention task force" is co-chaired by Madeleine
Albright and Bill Cohen, former Clinton Administration secretaries of
state and defense, respectively. They intend to issue a report on the
subject by December of this year.

As former secretaries launched the "task force" last November, they
repeatedly heard questions, including from this newspaper, about their
credibility on the issue. (See this page in the November 17, 2007,
edition of the Armenian Reporter.) Ms. Albright and Mr. Cohen have
advocated against congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide
while both in and out of government.

* European Parliament wants "more effective" Caucasus policy

The European Union (EU) was urged to "develop a clear profile and
stronger presence" in the Caucasus in a resolution passed by the
European Parliament on January 17, the European Armenian Federation
(EAF) reported. The resolution expressed support for "an inbuilt
differentiation in the application of the [EU] policy towards the
countries concerned… according to their individual merits".

The resolution particularly welcomes "internal political and
institutional reforms undertaken by Armenia" since 2005 and urges
further progress; it is also generally supportive of Georgia, although
expressing concern over its government’s crackdown on opposition last
November; and it is critical "of the deterioration of the human rights
situation and media freedom in Azerbaijan."

The EAF criticized the resolution for avoiding a mention of the
Armenian Genocide, instead referring to "past events," and failing to
clearly condemn Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian policies and rhetoric.
Moreover, the original text prepared by MEP from Luxemburg (and its
former foreign minister) Lydie Polfer also included a line endorsing
"internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan."

The final version retained that reference while also expressing
support for "the right to self-determination, in accordance with UN
Charter and the Helsinki Final Act" and claiming "that the
contradiction between the principles of self-determination and
territorial integrity contributes to the perpetuation of the
unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus region," Armenpress

* President inaugurated in Georgia as opposition protests

Mikhail Saakashvili was inaugurated for a second term as Georgian
president on January 20, local media reported. The inauguration was
attended by presidents of the three Baltic States, Poland, and
Romania, as well as ministerial delegations from the U.S., Russia,
Armenia, and elsewhere. The inauguration went ahead while many
thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Tbilisi to protest it as

In his inaugural address, Mr. Saakashvili pledged to focus on
overcoming poverty in Georgia’s provinces and improving relations with
Russia and the political opposition, which accuses him of rigging the
vote to avoid a runoff. Mr. Saakashvili was certified the winner of
January 5 election with over 53% of the vote, roughly 70,000 votes
above the fifty percent plus one vote threshold.

In Washington, long-time Georgia analyst Dr. Charles Fairbanks of the
Hudson Institute argued on January 16 that at least 80,000 votes were
added to Mr. Saakashvili’s total and his re-election in the first
round was therefore invalid. The opposition claimed days after the
election that as many as 110,000 votes were stolen. (See this page in
the January 12 edition of the Armenian Reporter.)

But Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Bryza told RFE/RL
earlier this week that the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi concluded that
while "there were irregularities of concern, there was no systematic
attempt we saw to use massive fraud to change the result of the

President Bush called to congratulate Mr. Saakashvili on January 14.

Mr. Bryza urged the opposition to "move forward… accept the results
and prepare for parliamentary elections," which he said should be
conducted "better."

* * *

* Corrections

Last week’s column misidentified Rep. Robert Wexler as the Azerbaijani
congressional caucus co-chair, while he in fact co-chairs the Turkish
caucus. We should have also noted that Alexa Millinger contributed to
last week’s columns. We regret the errors.

***************************************** **********************************

4. Jackie Speier: A life steeped in public service

* The American-Armenian, women’s advocate, author, and former state
senator, and the foundation she created

by Lory Tatoulian

LOS ANGELES — Former California State Senator Jackie Speier announced
last week that she will run for the House of Representatives seat
being vacated by 14-term congressman Tom Lantos. If elected, Ms.
Speier will represent California’s 12th Congressional District, which
includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo. In early January, Mr.
Lantos, chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, announced
that he has been diagnosed with cancer and would not seek reelection
after his current term ends next year.

Ms. Speier has devoted herself to public service for the past 28
years. She decided to run for public office in 1978, after she
survived a shooting in Jonestown, Guyana. As a staffer for
Representative Leo Ryan, Ms. Speier was part of a fact-finding mission
to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Reverend Jim
Jones and his People’s Temple followers in Jonestown. The
congressional investigators were shot at by Mr. Jones’ followers. Five
people, including Mr. Ryan, died. Ms. Speier was shot five times. She
was left for dead and survived after waiting for more than 22 hours
for medical care.

Ever since her miraculous recovery, Ms. Speier has fulfilled a
mission of giving back to her community. She has served as a member
and subsequently chair of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
(1980-86); a California State Assembly member (1986-96); and a
California state senator (1998-2006). As a state senator, Ms. Speier
served on numerous committees and chaired the Senate Insurance

In addition to spearheading many far-reaching public programs, Ms.
Speier is the founder of Professional BusinessWomen of California

Based in northern California, the nonprofit helps meet the
leadership, skill-development, and network needs of professional
businesswomen by providing training, seminars, and other programs. The
organization has reached more than 75,000 women since its inception 18
years ago.

PBWC CEO Helen Mendel said working with Ms. Speier is an extremely
"inspiring experience" because she has seen how Ms. Speier has
prompted positive change in her life and those around her while
overcoming personal adversity. "She is a student of really knowing the
issues and has a very honest and thoughtful approach to her work," Ms.
Mendel said. "The reputable qualities she possesses are sometimes hard
to find in other politicians."

Ms. Mendel added that she was impressed by the fact that Ms. Speier
is an effective, eloquent, and knowledgeable speaker. "She is an avid
reader and has extensive knowledge about many, many things," Ms.
Mendel noted. "It’s just so inspiring to see a woman who has been
though so much misfortune transform her tragedy into a positive."

Ms. Mendel also had high praise for Ms. Speier’s book, This Is Not
the Life that I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When
Life Keeps Dragging You Down (Conari Press, 2007). The motivational
book is a collection of stories written by Ms. Speier and three other
women authors who have faced extraordinary life changes. The stories
impart wisdom and practical advice to readers who are seeking
empowerment and positive transformation.

The book’s concept was born when Ms. Speier and three friends, who
met for "kitchen-table coaching sessions" to talk about their lives,
decided to put their conversations down on paper. As the women
gathered every week for over ten years, they realized that their
no-nonsense advice for each other could help other women struggling
with a wide range of issues, including work, family, and love.

"I learned so much from this book," Ms. Mendel said. "It really
changed my perspective."

Ms. Speier has drawn inspiration from her life experiences to help
develop the PBWC. The organization’s main public-outreach forum is its
annual conference. The event provides opportunities for mentorship and
collaboration, allowing members access to a large network of
professionals and promoting upward career mobility.

"Jackie is just truly amazing, and she is the kind of woman you can
trust as a politician, leader, and friend," Ms. Mendel said.


******************************* ********************************************

5. Hrant Dink remembered in Istanbul as new revelations and trials emerge

by Talin Suciyan

YEREVAN -On January 19, the first anniversary of the murder of Agos
editor Hrant Dink, tens of thousands of people gathered in front of
the newspaper’s offices in central Istanbul to commemorate and show
their determination to seek justice.

Three days later, in Trabzon, the trial of two gendarmerie officers
started. The two are accused of breach of duty. Coskun Igci, who is a
relative of the suspect Yasin Hayal and is a gendarmerie informant,
was heard as witness. He confirmed that at least two gendarmerie
officers knew about plans for the murder 3-4 months before it was
carried out. He said the two officers visited him after the murder,
saying he should not give any information to anyone about the subject.

On the same day, police detained 35 additional people, accusing them
of planning to kill ethnic Kuridsh members of parliament like Ahmet
Türk, Sabahat Tuncel, Diyabakir mayor Osman Baydemir, as well as Nobel
laureate Orhan Pamuk, journalist Fehmi Koru and others.

The detainees include retired military officers like Veli Kucuk,
whose name has come up on various occasions in Mr. Dink’s murder case
and is associated with many other unresolved crimes. Another detainee
is Kemal Kerincsiz. Advocates of ultranationalist ideas, Mr. Kerinçsiz
and his friends initiated cases against many writers and intellectuals
under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which makes it a crime to
insult "Turkishness."

Two more court cases are on the way. The Court of Cassation made a
decision that opened the way for the prosecution of Nobel laureate
Orhan Pamuk for a statement given to a Swiss newspaper. Mr. Pamuk had
said, "30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these
lands." The second case is against writer Temel Demirer, who last year
said "Hrant Dink was killed because he explained to us the reality of
the genocide." It is under Article 301 as well as Article 216, which
criminalizes "insulting the Turkish state" and "inducing people to
hatred and antagonism."

* Commemoration of Hrant Dink

On January 19, people gathered in front of the Agos office from the
early hours. They left flowers and lit candles. At 2 p.m, around
40,000 people started to pour in from all directions. "For Justice,
for Hrant" was the main slogan written on posters that people carried
in their hands. The gathering began with a moment of silence at the
exact time Mr. Dink was shot last year.

The commemoration was organized by a group of civil society
organizations, trade unions, vocational institutions, and political
parties united under the name of "Coordination of 19 January."

* "What did my country’s justice do…"

Rakel Dink, Hrant’s widow, gave a speech addressing the mechanism of
justice in Turkey. She said, "What did my country’s justice do for the
ones who put a Turkish flag in the hands of the murderer and took
pictures with him?" What did they do, she asked, "for the ones who
screamed in stadiums, ‘We are all Oguns’?" referring to Ogun Samast,
who has confessed to shooting Mr. Dink. What did they do, she
continued, "for the deputy governor and his so-called acquaintances,
who warned my husband" to watch what he said? What did they do "for
the gendarme officers who knew even the brand of the gun used, before
the murderer was arrested."

* Incident at Taksim Square

The assembled crowd shouted "murderer state will be held accountable"
and "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism." After the gathering, a
group of people walked toward Taksim, which is one of the biggest
centers of the city. There, the group met a group of nationalists. A
clash occurred, and 14 people were detained. Most of the detainees
were carrying Mr. Dink’s picture. One person who was passing by was
injured by a police bullet.

Lawyers who went to defend the 14 detainees were violently impeded
>From seeing the detainees. According to their statement, once they got
in, they saw that detainees too, had ben subjected to violence. One of
the lawyers said he had not seen such violence, in such a case, in a
very long time.

On the evening, at Lutfu Kirdar Congress Hall, a well-organized
commemoration was held; around 2,000 people attended. Another 300
people could not get into the hall because they did not have

None of the artists was called to the stage by name. At the end of
the night, Rakel Dink thanked the organizers and all the performers.
She said their names were not used because "all of you are Hrant Dink

***************************** **********************************************

6. Vladimir Kazimirov: "In Karabakh, the overriding priority is to
prevent a new war"

* Veteran mediator criticizes OSCE for hands-off attitude

interviewed by Tatul Hakobyan

Editor’s note: As Russia’s envoy for Nagorno-Karabakh from 1992 to
1996, Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov played a key role in securing the
May 1994 cease-fire agreement. Born in 1929 in Moscow, Mr. Kazimirov
served in the Soviet and later Russian Foreign Ministry since 1953,
including at embassies in Europe, Africa and Latin America. His last
posting was as Russia’s ambassador to Costa Rica; he retired in 2000.
Mr. Kazimirov is deputy chair of the Association of Russian Diplomats.
He has remained concerned about the Karabakh conflict and comments on
the subject frequently.

REPORTER: Mr. Kazimirov, you have criticized international mediators
working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) for their lax attitude toward Baku’s militant rhetoric.
In your keynote address at the conference organized by the Armenian
International Policy and Research Group (AIPRG) in Yerevan on January
14 you made similar arguments. What can and should the OSCE and its
Minsk Group mediators do?

KAZIMIROV: The priorities of Yerevan, Stepanakert, and Baku are well
known. For Armenians this is about [achieving an internationally
recognized] status for Nagorno-Karabakh; for Azerbaijan, it is
liberation of the [Armenian-] controlled territories and return of
internally displaced persons.

And what is the priority of the international community? It is to
prevent a new war! There are a number of reasons for this, but I will
focus on two of the most significant.

First unlike many of the "one-time" conflicts, the conflict in
Karabakh has a tragic prehistory. Challenges here are more complex:
not just to resolve the current conflict, but to put an end to the
entire sequence of bloodletting between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
Secondly, nowhere else is there such a desire for a new war, such
vocal thirst for revenge, as there is in Baku.

With the agreement of the parties to the conflict, the OSCE, a
pan-European organization, has taken on the mediation in this
conflict, and it should duly confront all obstacles to its mission.
Certainly the mediators are not judges, but neither should they
compromise the very mission entrusted in them by the conflicting
parties and the international community. Why should they remain silent
while developments that undermine a peaceful settlement take place?

It is crystal clear that all this war rhetoric does not contribute to
peaceful settlement, and on the contrary promotes hatred and mutual
distrust. Why should mediators then remain silent?

They should either drop their careless attitude or drop their mission

And [confronting obstacles to settlement] should not be interpreted
as pressure on the sides! This would be a form of counter-pressure and
an effort to neutralize negative pressure that one of the conflicting
parties is seeking to apply on another and, indirectly, on the

The mediators themselves are typically ambassadors and certainly, in
terms of diplomatic hierarchy, there is a level of discomfort in
criticizing a sitting president of another country, even if all three
mediators would do it together. But there are higher institutions to
do this.

There is the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. War rhetoric is a
sufficient basis to raise concerns there in the form of a declaration.
And while OSCE decisions require consensus by all members and such a
declaration would not be formally adopted over Azerbaijan’s
objections, discussion itself would have a tempering effect.

There is the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, who is of course only a foreign
affairs minister of a certain country, but who does have higher
responsibilities entrusted in him or her by all 56 OSCE member-states
and could afford to make statements. This could be done both publicly
and by sending private communications to [Azerbaijan’s President]
Ilham Aliyev or [Defense Minister] Safar Abiyev.

But is this being done? No. [Perhaps] they are waiting for more serious crises.

There are four developments [that are already occurring and] that
require not just discussion, but condemnation. First, the war rhetoric
of officials in Baku, their hate-mongering against Armenians. Second,
the increases in military budgets and the arms race. Third, the
hypocritical approach toward cease-fire violations along the Line of
Contact. And fourth, [Azerbaijan’s] refusal to engage in
confidence-building measures with Armenians.

REPORTER: In your articles you frequently mention the February 1995
agreement on mechanisms for strengthening the cease-fire regime that
all three sides signed under the OSCE aegis. You note that the sides
are not fulfilling the responsibilities they took on under that
agreement. What is the essence of that agreement and what can it do
safeguard the cease-fire along the Line of Contact (LoC)?

KAZIMIROV: In principle, the situation has not changed since 1995.
The LoC is still there, and incidents [violating the cease-fire]
continue to occur as before this agreement. That document includes a
mechanism for dealing with such incidents, to prevent a possible

It is because such incidents along the LoC were already taking place
at that time, I proposed such an agreement to Swedish diplomats, who
along with Russia were then co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. The
Swedes agreed and we developed the text.

The mechanism is as follows: As soon as there is an incident, the
aggrieved side immediately contacts their opposites across the LoC and
also informs the Minsk Group co-chairs. And the other side, within six
hours of receiving the protest is mandated to investigate the incident
and offer explanations. Both sides would then offer assurances that
measures are taken to prevent further escalation.

In other words the agreement would demand direct contacts between
commanders in the field.

That document was signed by three defense ministers upon direct
approval by then-Presidents Heydar Aliyev, Levon Ter-Petrossian, and
Robert Kocharian.

Unfortunately, the sides have long ago stopped fulfilling the agreement.

REPORTER: But was this agreement ever implemented since it was signed?

KAZIMIROV: The sides did exchange telephone numbers of their
respective military and political leaders and they promised to inform
each other and the mediators were the incidents to occur. But while I
was still a co-chair until 1996 we did not receive any such reports of
incidents. Either no incidents occurred at the time or the sides
sought to cover them up and thus violated the agreement.

Unfortunately, as mediators we had no eyes on the ground. In 1995
there was still no mission of the Permanent Representative of the
Chairman-in-Office. Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk took on that mission
of monitoring the cease-fire [in 1996].

But unfortunately even Mr. Kasprzyk was unaware of the agreement
until I published an article, "Mediators are not Nannies," in a Baku
newspaper in 2003 that mentioned it. I was amazed when I received an
e-mail from Mr. Kasprzyk wondering what that [1995] agreement was all

The Armenian side says that it is ready to return to the agreement’s
implementation, should the Azerbaijani side do the same. Apparently,
Baku is unhappy that Nagorno-Karabakh is party to that agreement and
the need for close contacts with it for the agreement’s
implementation. But if Azerbaijan is unhappy with the agreement, it
could propose revisions, additions or the conclusion of a new

The OSCE meantime is not pushing for its implementation, which is, by
the way, the only agreement that the OSCE has managed to reach so far!
[Editor’s note: the May 1994 cease-fire agreement was reached with
Russia’s mediation.]

But it is time to raise this issue: what is the need for signing
agreements, if one of the sides fails to implement it [and the issue
goes unaddressed]?

REPORTER: An arms race is under way, and although Azerbaijan has more
money than Armenia, both sides are arming. Azerbaijan’s war rhetoric
continues almost on a daily basis. And in the meantime, mediators make
optimistic statement about an alleged "window of opportunity." What is
your reaction?

KAZIMIROV: [The issues you mention] are serious problems, warning
signs that must be confronted. Baku argues that it is spending more
money on its military budget because they now have more revenue from
oil. But this spending does provoke an arms race, just as threats,
psychological and information war go on. The sharp growth in military
spending is directly linked to calls for revanche and other
preparations. Everything is directed toward achieving military
superiority and certainly draws Armenians into an arms race as well.

So far the OSCE has largely avoided this subject, but its voice must be heard.

Calls by [President] Aliyev and his team for a military revanche are
intended to mislead his own nation and blackmail the Armenians and the
international community. The real balance of forces does not offer an
opportunity to overcome [Armenian defenses] through a quick war
(Blitzkrieg) any time soon. But Baku’s militarist threats are
nevertheless damaging and should not be dismissed just because they
may not be implemented at this time. They must be confronted
ideologically, and now, not later.

A serious basis for mutual compromises can only appear when the
threat of resumption of fighting is removed. The sides should have no
alternative to peaceful settlement.

Look, the occupation of Azerbaijani districts is Baku’s main argument
in its political, diplomatic and propaganda war. But Baku is silent
about how this occupation really came about — that it was a direct
result of the war. [Former presidents] Abulfaz Elchibey and Heydar
Aliyev should have thought of the consequences of their policies when
they refused to stop the fighting. If the fighting had ended [before
1994, as was called on by the mediators], there would be fewer
districts under Armenian occupation today. But Baku is still hoping to
prevail by force. And now they are hiding the causes behind the

REPORTER: Since last December Russia suspended its participation in
the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. What can this lead to,
considering that Baku has long sought to obviate the limits on weapons
holdings that CFE mandates?

KAZIMIROV: All states that are party to this agreement must ratify
its latest version and implement it. [Editor’s note: The U.S. and many
European states have refused to ratify the renegotiated CFE
agreement.] No one should expect that just four states, Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, would implement it and others would

Certainly some of the states, particularly those that have more money
and appear to be drunk on oil, would prefer not to have restrictions
placed by the CFE.

REPORTER: Is it reasonable to expect progress in the Karabakh
settlement this year, considering that negotiations are essentially

KAZIMIROV: I cannot give a "yes" or "no" answer to this question.

First of all, what we have today is difficult to call negotiations —
these are just occasional consultations by the co-chairs, the foreign
ministers, and even less frequently by the presidents. These
consultations aim at drawing the parties’ positions closer together.
This is not about two delegations sitting down and negotiating.

One of the drawbacks of this approach is that the focus is on the
countries’ leaders, while the respective publics have no willingness
to compromise. Responsibility for peace must be diluted [throughout
the public] and not concentrated solely with the presidents. In that
case, the perceived "guilt" for the compromise would be shared and
more easily digested.

This year is particularly difficult, of course. Presidential
elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia and U.S.,
the [anticipated declaration of independence] by Kosovo all make it
unlikely that there will be progress on Karabakh settlement before
2009 or 2010. There may have been such a chance, most recently in
2006, but it was missed.

This year, the priority should be given to such long-ignored issues
as strengthening the cease-fire, restoration of people’s diplomacy,
and neutralizing militarist hysteria and the arms race.

******************************************* ********************************

7. Karabakh’s role in peace process is emphasized

by Armen Hakobyan

YEREVAN — On January 17, at a joint press conference of the co-chairs
of the OSCE Minsk Group, French co-chair Bernard Fassier declared, "As
often before, we repeated in Nagorno-Karabakh that the sooner they are
included in the negotiation process, the better. I would like to
stress once again that the fact that Karabakh is not the part of the
negotiations was not the decision of the co-chairs."

So whose decision was it? Mr. Fassier responded that after Robert
Kocharian became the president of Armenia in 1998, it was decided that
Armenia would better represent Karabakh. He was asked whether Armenia
would keep representing Karabakh after the end of Mr. Kocharian’s
term. "I don’t know what the next leader of Armenia will decide," he
responded. "Maybe he will decide to make Nagorno-Karabakh a
negotiating part. We will see. Please, forward that question to the
Armenian authorities, it is up to them to decide."

Asked whether the co-chairs received assurances from Azerbaijan that
they would not oppose Karabakh’s inclusion, Mr. Fassier said, "The
fact that Armenia is representing Karabakh and that this decision was
made after multiple mutual agreements will make it rather complicated
to get back and involve Karabakh as a negotiating party. However, it
is not impossible. It will become the subject of a number of detailed

* Karabakh remains in the process

Mr. Kocharian, commenting on Mr. Fassier’s statements on January 18,
denied that a decision had been made to exclude Karabakh from the
negotiations. "It was not that way," he said. "If you remember, there
was a dead end, and an active negotiation process was started between
Heydar Aliev and me, which almost culminated at Key West with the
signing of documents. And before that, the negotiations were frozen;
we were at a dead end.

"But there never was a special decision, and Karabakh remains in the
process, because when the same co-chairs visit the region, they go to
Karabakh and negotiate with them," Mr. Kocharian continued. "It is our
desire to see Karabakh involved in the presidential meeting format.
And once a document is ready, we insist that without the signature of
the Karabakh authorities it cannot stand; and right after that,
Karabakh will participate in that style."

U.S. co-chair Matthew Bryza on January 17 said, "We understand that
any decision concerning Karabakh must get the approval of the people
of Karabakh, of Artsakh. We have a great respect for them and for that
beautiful place."

Speaking to the Armenian Reporter, political scientist Alexander
Iskandaryan said that the return of Karabakh to the presidential
summits is unlikely. "I don’t see any reasons, why Azerbaijan would
have to change its position all of a sudden. Azerbaijan persistently
resisted such a negotiating format," he said.

The fact that Nagorno-Karabakh is excluded from the summits has
nothing to do with Mr. Kocharian being from Karabakh, Mr. Iskandaryan
added. "It was only used as a pretext, I believe, and not a serious
one, to justify the absence of Karabakh from the negotiating table."

Political scientist Suren Zolian, who was the secretary of Armenia’s
parliamentary committee on Karabakh in 1990-95, also doubted that
Karabakh would be able to return to the table.

Mr. Zolian, who is a university rector and was a member of Armenian
delegation in the Minsk Group negotiations in 1992-93, said the
co-chairs raise this issue whenever "they are dissatisfied with the
behavior of Azerbaijan."

Mr. Zolian said the absence of Karabakh gives Armenia tactical room
to maneuver, since Karabakh can resist agreements reached by Armenia.
But in Karabakh’s absence, he said, the Azerbaijani side is better
able to treat the problem as a territorial dispute between Armenia and

********************************* ******************************************

8. The Candidates: Vahan Hovhannesian seeks to restore checks and
balances in Armenia’s governance

* Calls for an Armenian-Georgian union

by Vincent Lima

YEREVAN — "Guaranteed changes in a politically stable environment."
That’s what Vahan Hovhannesian promises to bring about if he is
elected as Armenia’s next president. It’s not a promise, however, he
insists; it’s a contractual obligation. His major commitments are
listed in a short contract that he has signed; as of January 20, some
120,000 citizens have countersigned, according to the candidate.

Mr. Hovhannesian, 50, is a member of the Bureau, or global executive
body, of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) and is
his party’s nominee. He spoke to the editor of the Armenian Reporter,
Associate Editor Maria Titizian, and correspondent Armen Hakobyan on
January 7. Armenia’s presidential election is slated for February 19.
[See also profiles of candidates Artashes Geghamian, Vazgen Manukian,
and Levon Ter-Petrossian in earlier editions of the Armenian Reporter
at ]

"There’s one extreme that sees no need for change," he had said in
Glendale on December 15, referring to Prime Minister and presidential
candidate Serge Sargsian. "’All is well, everyone is smiling, there’s
construction throughout the city, what need is there for change?’ they
say. We see the need for change. But the other extreme, the former
authorities, that have set out to demolish everything, are
unacceptable to us too," he had continued, referring to presidential
candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian.

This middle position may seem odd to some, who have long seen
Dashnaktsutiun as a hard-line force in Armenian politics. But
"balance" appears to be the new watchword for the party, which has
been part of the government and a critic of government policies at the
same time. Even on foreign policy, where Dashnaktsutiun traditionally
has taken a maximalist position, the soft-spoken Mr. Hovhannesian
speaks of a peaceful process of regional integration.

"Under the constitution, the president’s basic responsibility —
besides the obvious responsibilities to maintain national security and
the constitutional order — is to maintain balance among the arms of
government," said Mr. Hovhannesian, who is a deputy speaker of
Armenia’s National Assembly. "It is that balance that is upset in
Armenia today. The Constitution lives a separate life; real life is
something else entirely."

Mr. Hovhannesian said he seeks to bring "the Constitution and real
life into the same plane."

* Supervising judges

To do so, and to restore faith in government, Mr. Hovhannesian would
start with "the places where the citizen comes into contact with the
state" and above all, the courts. Judges would come "under very strict
oversight on the part of the president, and all intervention in
judicial processes by other state entities, other officials, or ‘the
strong’ in general" would be "out of the question."

Asked whether strict presidential oversight would not be a form of
intervention by the strong, Mr. Hovhannesian said there is "an
established mechanism for oversight of the judiciary. It is not the
personal phone calls and pressure of the president. There is a Council
of Justice, which has the right to really review the performance of
judges. What we need is to plug this mechanism in and use it. I’m not
talking about some sort of extraconstitutional intervention."

Mr. Hovhannesian was asked about the recent dismissal, through that
constitutional process, of Judge Pargev Ohanian, who had rendered a
rare not-guilty verdict in a criminal case brought against
businesspeople who had confronted the state Customs Service. In this
case, as in the case of member of parliament Khachatur Sukiassian,
whose businesses were audited and heavily penalized after he announced
his support for Mr. Ter-Petrossian, there were elements of corruption,
Mr. Hovhannesian said. But punishment came only when their activities
"became politically sensitive."

An official openly violates the rules and the laws and his or her
violations are overlooked, he said, because that makes officials more
manageable. "And only when they try to come out of this environment of
manageability" are the violations acted on. "This practice must come
to an end. You messed up, you must be held accountable: you’re loyal,
you’re disloyal, that should not matter," he said.

* Independence and justice

How does he hope to reach this point? "The solution is very simple,
and at the same time, very difficult. Very simple because I can see
it. Difficult because making it happen will create certain tensions.
One of our slogans, and the most important, is ‘guaranteed changes in
a politically stable environment.’ All these solutions must avoid
bringing about upheaval."

His first step, Mr. Hovhannesian said, would be to change the way
elections are carried out in Armenia.

"The strong, who are able to circumvent the principles and rules of
justice and apply pressure on the judge, the police chief, the tax
inspector, the customs agent: Where does their power lie?" Mr.
Hovhannesian asked. It lies, he said, in the fact that the authorities
need them in order to win elections. "’You must bring me votes; I
don’t care how,’ they are told. ‘If you want, buy them; if you want
use your powers of persuasion. You are necessary to me for this
purpose. And in return for that, I will turn a blind eye to certain
deficiencies in your carrying out of your tax obligations, and in
general in your relations with the law. I will be more tolerant toward
you. You will be more equal than the others, as Orwell would have it.’
These are the relations."

As president, Mr. Hovhannesian said he would invite "the strong" and
say, "Guys, ‘there shall not an hair of your head perish,’ but
henceforth… you will go pay all your taxes, you will provide all the
services prescribed by law, you will not interfere with the ship of
state, the court process, etc. You will live like everyone; no one
will touch your wealth: go enjoy it. But I owe you nothing because I
was not elected thanks to your intervention; I was elected by the

Asked how he hopes to get elected in this context, Mr. Hovhannesian
said the ruling circle has three reserves through which it perpetuates
its power: These are outright fraud, the poor, or rather "those among
the poor whose votes can be bought," and the "administrative reserve:
urban district heads, village heads, provincial governors, and the
like." They, "in large part — but I would not say in its entirety —
provide for the perpetuation of that circle and thereby for their own

He said he plans to do all he can "to minimize the negative
consequences of the use of these three reserves by the authorities."

* Uneven development

Asked about Armenia’s economic growth and the distribution of wealth
among the people, Mr. Hovhannesian said, "Armenia’s economic
development is obvious and cannot be denied. We, too, with our
participation in the coalition government, have helped the government
take some of the right directions. And the progress is obvious."

He noted that certain sectors have grown especially fast. Others have
not. "Let’s factor out the reasons that are out of the hands of
Armenia’s government: blocked export routes. But there are also other
reasons: Armenia’s tax and customs laws do not support the local
producer. They are more supportive of the importer. For that reason,
imports grow constantly, and our trade balance is always negative, and
that gap is growing."

Mr. Hovhannesian was particularly critical of the terms of Armenia’s
membership in the World Trade Organization. In the absence of
protectionist tariffs, local producers have to compete with cheap
imports from abroad, such as cheap tomatoes from Iran, he said.

* Fighting in Karabakh

"When the ARF started its first underground operations in Armenia, I
was among the first who joined," Mr. Hovhannesian said when asked
about his role in the Karabakh Movement. "It was clear to us that
standing in public squares with our fists in the air, appealing or
making demands of this or that international forum, the Karabakh
question would not be resolved. For us it was clear that a
confrontation was unavoidable. And we prepared for that physical

With Azerbaijani massacres of Armenians in Sumgait and with attacks
on Armenians all across Azerbaijan, especially in Mountainous
Karabakh, the "violent, bloody stage of the Karabakh struggle began.
It was clear that the only possible response to that was armed
rebellion. Which is what our battalions did — in northern Artsakh, in
Hadrut," Mr. Hovhannesian said, adding that he "participated from that
stage. I participated because having served in the Soviet Army in the
Special Forces, on the border with China, I had gained knowledge that
was necessary to our young people at the time."

Asked how he sees the future of Karabakh, Mr. Hovhannesian said,
"There are political forces that look at the Karabakh issue as a
separate question, the resolution of which brings regional stability
once and for all. For us the Karabakh question is only one of the
components of the permanent struggle for the Armenian Cause. So any
resolution today is a stage after which we must prepare for the next
stages, which may take decades.

"We understand very well that what has been lost over 700 years will
not be restored through one miracle or one stroke," he continued. "The
ARF will never go to any adventure to put the people or the state at
risk. But, conscious that this is one of the stages, you must gain the
most you can, to help the future development of your country. Because
you can reach the other stages only after a certain amount of time in
peaceful, normal conditions, of strengthening your country, making
your people a nation."

In this context, Mr. Hovhannesian said he welcomes the continued
efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group to achieve a peaceful resolution of
the Karabakh conflict. "We salute all those approaches that have the
idea of a peaceful resolution at their core," he continued. "We must,
yes, insist and work on a peaceful resolution. And a peaceful
resolution unavoidably requires mutual concessions. It doesn’t work
that in a peaceful resolution one side gains the maximum. Armenia has
repeatedly announced its willingness to engage in mutual concessions.
This approach is not alien to us. (I mean to the ARF and to me

He did not, however "find it useful for Armenia’s president to get
ahead and speak of the content of our concessions when we have not
heard a word from Azerbaijan about its concessions." He noted that top
Azerbaijani officials tell their people that they will concede
nothing; "they speak of restoring the Soviet reality in its entirety.
This is naturally unacceptable."

* A Caucasian Union

The program of the Dashnaktsutiun calls for an integral Armenia that
includes the historically Armenian territories now in Turkey and
Georgia. What would Mr. Hovhannesian, as president, do to further that

"I would, as president, propose to the Georgians to take the example
of the European Union and to create a common customs and economic
zone: Georgia and Armenia," he said. "Yes. They would freely use our
rail facilities and our routes to Iran, etc., and we would freely use
their ports. The investments that came to us would encompass Georgia
as well."

In this case, he continued, "there could come a moment when the
Armenian-Georgian border would lose its essential meaning." He said
that the Armenian and Georgian peoples, "after a few thousand years of
being neighbors, live side-by-side only in the Javakheti area today.
In all the remaining areas, a Turkish belt has inserted itself between
us like a wedge. And today, with the Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad,
various energy programs, Turkey and Azerbaijan seek to close off the
neighborly relations of the Georgian and Armenian peoples, inserting a
Turkish-speaking wedge.

* Peace with Turkey

"Turkey is another matter," Mr. Hovhannesian continued. "We understand
very well that the geopolitical reality that has taken shape over
decades cannot be changed easily. And our issue today is not to snatch
something from Turkey. Our issue is to have our just cause recognized.
When it is recognized, and first of all Turkey recognizes the
Genocide, this will bring us unavoidably to the idea of reparations.
The idea of reparations can develop in various ways. Our issue, then,
because we’d like to resolve these issues peacefully, is to develop
the idea of reparations in the right direction."

Mr. Hovhannesian argued that Turks as well as Armenians could benefit
>From a just resolution of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. Armenians
must, he argued, "operate in such a flexible and smart manner with the
powers of the world and with Turkey, so that the Turkish people and
the Turkish state begin to understand that warming relations with the
Armenian people and the Armenian state also benefits them.

"The future will show which points of the ARF program can be achieved
in what order and at what time as part of those reparations," he
continued. "The position of Armenia in recent years, efforts toward
the recognition of the Genocide worldwide, are having very positive
results. But if the next president is not Dashnaktsakan," he warned,
"we cannot be sure what direction these processes will take and
whether we will not experience retreat, which can take us to a

Mr. Hovhannesian also noted that the "president takes an oath, upon
inauguration, to serve the security of the Republic of Armenia." He
added that he would have to work closely with other political forces
in Armenia’s National Security Council.

* The lessons of history

What keeps Mr. Hovhannesian up at night? "There are the issues of
today. And then there are the mistakes that have been made in history
and what Armenia’s destiny would have been if in the 18th century we
hadn’t done this, and in the 19th century we hadn’t done that, and in
the early 20th century we had done this, etc. But history is worth
nothing if you don’t take lessons from it. I take one big lesson from
all this: All our shortcomings come from a lack of faith in our own
power, and from a lack of willingness to fight for our own rights.

"The difference between a people and a nation is not well understood
among us," Mr. Hovhannesian said. "The people are those who live
today. The nation is also those who came before, with all the values
they created, their legacy, and those who have not yet been born. The
nation is the people in history."

He said he would like to see his National Security Council, or a
similar body, take the long view. "We, unfortunately, live with
today’s problems. We don’t have a clear picture of tomorrow’s
challenges because there isn’t in Armenia the forum for looking to
that future.

Not all the problems in Armenia "have to do with errors in the high
echelons of government. Some are rooted in our mentality," he said.
"But we will be able to make a difference over five years: a new
political culture, greater respect for the self. We have a nation that
has constantly been divided into communities artificially; every
citizen continues to live for the interests of his community: his
family, his extended family, perhaps his village, his compatriotic
union. But the consciousness of a common interest is what you must
give the people, helping them understand that your personal interest
can be realized only when the common interest is moving forward."

* * *

* Vahan Hovhannesian

Vahan Eduardi Hovhannesian was born on August 16, 1956, in Yerevan.

After graduating from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute in 1978, Mr.
Hovhannesian served in the Soviet Army for two years. From 1980 to
1989, he was a researcher and section head at Yerevan’s Erebuni
museum, while earning a Ph.D. in history and archeology from the
Moscow Institute. From 1989 to 1990, he was a researcher at the
Armenian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology and Ethnography.

From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Hovhannesian volunteered to fight for
Artsakh’s self-defense. At the same time he became a member of the
ARF’s Armenia Central Committee; in 1992 he became a member of the ARF

Following a government ban on ARF’s activities in Armenia in late
1994, Mr. Hovhannesian was in August 1995 charged with attempting to
overthrow the government of Levon Ter-Petrossian. Those politically
motivated charges were dropped shortly after Mr. Ter-Petrossian
resignation in February 1998, and Mr. Hovhannesian and other ARF
leaders were released from jail.

From 1998 to 1999, Mr. Hovhannesian was an advisor to President
Robert Kocharian. Following his election to the National Assembly in
May 1999, Mr. Hovhannesian served as chair of its Defense and Security
Committee; since his re-election in May 2003, Mr. Hovhannesian has
served as deputy speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly. He was
re-elected again in May 2007.

Mr. Hovhannesian is married and has two children.

*************************************** ************************************

9. Savings, brokerage accounts in Armenia allow investors to help
build the economy, earn returns

* An interview with Cascade Capital CEO Jonathan Stark

Jonathan Stark is the CEO of Cascade Capital Holdings. The company is
wholly owned by the Cafesjian Family Foundation, with which this
newspaper is affiliated. He spoke to Vincent Lima on January 21.

Vincent Lima: We ran an editorial last week saying that Armenia is
welcoming investors with open arms. Embrace it. What we didn’t say is
how readers can go about doing that. Tell us the about the

Jonathan Stark: For the last 15-20 years, Armenia has been recovering
>From the devastating effects of the earthquake, the breakup of the
Soviet Union, and the Karabagh conflict. During that period,
charitable contributions from the Armenian diaspora played a major
role in Armenia’s survival.

In the last ten years, the time I’ve lived here in Armenia, the
situation has improved. The evidence is all around us. The improvement
is reflected in the recent Heritage Foundation report [featured in
last week’s Reporter, page A1]. The Millennium Challenge Corporation
has advanced Armenia into the next highest category — from low-income
to lower-middle income.

There’s enough empirical evidence out there from reasonably neutral
third parties to suggest that yes, all the indicators and signs show
that Armenia’s economic situation is getting better. And it’s a
regional issue as well. You see Georgia, you see Azerbaijan: their
economies are becoming stronger. And they should be. We happen to be
going in the right direction.

To continue moving forward, Armenia will need even greater
investments in its economy. Now the Armenian diaspora has an
additional potential role to play in Armenia: that of investor.

Many individuals that would like to invest in Armenia’s future do not
have the time and energy, nor the people and resources on the ground
in Armenia, to feel comfortable making investments.

One of the goals for Cascade Capital Holdings was the creating of a
financial services company that could assist the Armenian diaspora
with investments into the Armenian economy. We want to let small and
large potential investors know that there are investment vehicles in
Armenia that they can trust. There are trustworthy stewards and
intermediaries, like Cascade, for your finances.

Cascade Investments offers investors the opportunity to buy and sell
a variety of local securities. State securities and quality local bond
issuances are yielding 9.5 to 10 percent per annum. Deposits at
Cascade Bank yield up to 8 percent.

* Cascade Bank lending programs

At Cascade Bank, we work hard to attract and serve entrepreneurs
engaged in growing businesses, together with their families and
employees. Small and medium enterprises drive the largest share of job
growth, and we want to be there to help.

Cascade Bank is a small bank with tremendous opportunity for growth.
In the last six months, we’ve doubled our loan portfolio. We’ve gone
>From 2 to 4 billion drams, which is $12-13 million in today’s money.
Our target is to double that again in 2008.

We’ve been quite innovative. Cascade Bank introduced some specific
women-oriented products a few months ago, offering discounted loan
rates and other programs tailored to women.

In the mortgage market, Cascade Bank is offering some of the lowest
rates and longest repayment periods. We have made a special effort to
appeal to new families under the age of 35. Our programs are having a
positive impact on the market, as other banks and institutions are
reducing their rates and increasing their repayment periods. We’ve got
at the moment something like 40-45 new applications in process,
probably 8-10 new applications a week for this SME [small and medium
enterprise] and mortgage lending. Our average loan size is around $40

Lima: Mortgage or business loans?

Stark: Both.

Folks in Armenia face many challenges. Finding secure, reliable
financing for the purchase of a home or the expansion of a business is
one of them. We work hard to identify and work with customers that are
committed to Armenia and to its future.

We work hard to provide better customer service. We try to treat our
employees well. We invest in people and resources. We have zero
tolerance for corrupt practices. We have found this to be a successful

Cascade has been adding customers — growing by almost 70 percent in
2007. We doubled the loan portfolio; we’ve doubled the deposits in the
bank. And our deposit rates are not the highest in the market.

* Ten years in Armenia

Lima: Let’s talk about you, Jonathan, for a moment. You came here 10
years ago, obviously not with Cascade, since it started in 2004.

Stark: No, no, I came here with HSBC. I started in the insurance
business in 1976; I’m going to be 50 in February. I came here in 1998,
having done 22 years in Lloyd’s of London. HSBC, who had a bank here,
were looking to set up an insurance company and sent me. So it was a
significant change, on a personal basis, from dealing largely with
Greek shipping.

Before arriving in Yerevan, I spent time in the Mediterranean,
Aegean, and Eastern Europe; I got up into Russia in ’91, started
working in the Baltics in ’92, went through all of those Eastern
European countries that had any kind of trading and shipping
orientation. I worked for a while with some folks in Istanbul. Spent
time in Athens, some in Cyprus, so I knew this area fairly well,
having grown up fascinated by it.

Growing up in Great Britain 40 years ago, we were taught to be afraid
of the folks on the other side of the curtain. Folks would say, "when
you see the big white flash, hide under the bed, hide under the desk.
The evil people in Eastern Europe are going to drop bombs on us." And
of course, we have come to learn that people in Eastern Europe were
told exactly the same thing about us. So it’s always been a
fascination for me — to interface, to be able to cross that divide.

After arriving in Armenia, I met the lovely lady who’s now my wife.
We got together in 2000. We set up our own insurance brokerage
company, which she now runs very successfully. And, in 2004 I got
picked up by Mr. Cafesjian to come in for six weeks as a consultant in
setting up an insurance company. I’ve stayed here ever since, which
obviously I’m very happy about.

* A force for good

Lima: I know Cascade Capital is 100 percent owned by the Cafesjian
Family Foundation, which is a nonprofit. And here is a financial
services business — banking, credit, insurance, investments. Is this
a for-profit, is it a force for good, or is it both?

Stark: It’s both. The shareholder’s vision is of a profit-sustained
but strongly development-oriented, humanitarian-assistance-oriented
financial services group, which genuinely offers Western standards of
customer service and internal ethics. It’s a showcase, a laboratory
for how things can be done. That is the intention.

We have 165 staff, of which 164 are local Armenians. So the success
that Cascade has and demonstrates is a tribute to the Armenian staff’s
ability to adopt some new attitudes and to flourish in a new
environment. I can only mentor, guide, and lead. I cannot force. The
willingness of the Armenian local staff to adopt these attitudes is I
think a tremendous reinforcement of the message we’re giving.

The initial financial services concept from which Cascade evolved was
developed by the Cafesjian Family Foundation in close collaboration
with USAID. Cascade continues to work closely with a number of
international financial institutions to further its mission.

For example, Cascade Credit has a very significant renewable
resources program: an eight-year program where we’ve engaged with EBRD
[the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] and World Bank
to provide financing to renewable energy projects Cascade Bank was
awarded the Millennium Challenge Account sole handling bank status
last year in a competition with 19 other local banks.

We have developed a great relationship with the EBRD. In addition to
partnering on the renewable energy project, EBRD owns 35% of Cascade
Insurance, a subsidiary of Cascade Capital Holdings.

We appreciate the confidence that these institutions have placed in
Cascade and their support of our mission in Armenia.

Lima: On the bank, what distinguishes your loan portfolio from others?

Stark: Our goal is to offer our customers better terms and better
service. We try to offer lower rates, and quicker decisions. We try to
treat our customers with respect, not as just another source of

We’re constantly working on our customer service skills. It does take
something to introduce a customer service orientation to a society
that hasn’t had one for decades. You walk into Cascade Bank, you will
be greeted, you will be treated properly, you will be advised and
informed, and you will be guided.

Right up front, loan applicants are given a timeline for a loan
decision. Many customers come to banks expecting to spend a month,
three months, six months negotiating their loan. Experience taught
them the loan process was not clean and clear-cut; there were various
people who wanted to be paid for influencing decision making.
Absolutely none of that is tolerated at Cascade.

The word is getting out.. People are coming to Cascade because of the
qualitative difference of how they’re actually treated, as well as the
fact that we’re offering some of the lowest rates and the longest
repayment periods and are probably the most flexible in terms of
recognizing the human element of our customers.

Let me give you an example. On the mortgage side, for example, we get
a mortgage last Thursday or Friday, a guy who is a university
professor, his wife is a doctor, desperately poorly paid of course
under the state system; they have two children who are working. We
were willing to pull all that together and say, "Here’s a family for
the first time in its history is going to be able to purchase its own
property." These are decent human beings and they want to come to us,
we’ll give them a loan. If we took each of those individuals and said,
based on a single salary, we wouldn’t be able to give them a loan, but
>From our point of view, these are the kind of folks who need and
deserve our assistance.

Lima: The flexibility is looking at them as a family?

Stark: It is bringing the human element into it. We don’t necessarily
need to lend a lot of money to folks who have already got a lot of
money. That’s not our mission. We want to serve a broader range of
customers, folks who are genuinely decent human beings who need that
element of support and farsightedness from us as a lender.

Here’s a genuinely good case where the family is really trying to
bring itself to a level of acceptability that all of us and all of
your readers would consider to be a normal way of life for a family.
So we’re very happy to help in those circumstances.

Lima: How about business loans?

Stark: We focus on existing small- and medium-size companies with
committed, hands-on owners with strong management that are looking to
grow. What we will do is go a little bit further and be more flexible
with people who have good ideas. Particularly companies engaged in
high-tech, information technology, communications, this sort of thing.
We will be as flexible as we possibly can. If there’s a way we can
make a loan, we will endeavor to do it. We’re getting folks referred
to us from other banks, which is a very curious thing.

* Funding the investment

Lima: So this is the money going out. This is where you’re investing.
And you get the money to invest through deposits.

Stark: Yes, we get money to invest through deposits. We also have
significant shareholder capital and money advanced by international
financial institutions like EBRD and the World Bank.

We are attracting an increasing number of customers from the Armenian
diaspora, especially from the United States. Our strong Western
orientation and transparent business practices are very appealing and
reassuring to our customers.

Lima: So how does one make a deposit or open a brokerage account?

Stark: Come to the bank or our office, go to the customer service
reps, open an account, drop in your money. As of right now, for the
bank, you have to come in. One can always telephone us ahead of their
visit and we will make sure we have everything ready and waiting.

**************************************** ***********************************

10. Living in Armenia: The kings of Armenia might hold the secrets

by Maria Titizian

I once read somewhere that it took Europe 14 centuries to achieve
relative stability after the collapse of the Roman Empire. To expect
peace and stability in the Middle East today when the collapse of the
Ottoman Empire happened less than a century ago then is to be overly
idealistic and optimistic.

Why I want to impart this piece of interesting information has to do
with an exchange of letters I have been having with a friend abroad.
He was complaining about life in North America and I was complaining
about having to go to the OVIR (Passport and Visa Office) in Yerevan.
It had been a particularly frustrating day and any dealings I need to
have with any government agency or office in Armenia plays havoc with
my patience and good grace, which I fear I am fast losing.

The service industry in Armenia has been steadily improving. There
isn’t anyone who used to come to Armenia in the early 90s who can deny
that today we are experiencing a whole new set of improved standards
in the service sector. However, as with all countries, the state
apparatus in Armenia is lagging far behind the private sector in terms
of improvements of services to customers.

I do my best to avoid any government office, agency, building, or
even official, unless absolutely necessary. Rudeness, lack of
professionalism, and mediocrity seem to be the prerequisite to
conducting business in most government offices in Armenia.

For me it all began many years ago with the customs department when I
was working for a Canadian-Armenian business enterprise and was trying
to import/export merchandise. Back then the bureaucratic red tape,
lack of standardized forms, and laws which were left up to the
interpretation of individual customs agents meant that to process a
single transaction could take days and a significant amount of funds.

I then moved on to the taxation department when I was working for a
charitable foundation and found similar tendencies. You had to go from
one office to the next to file a simple tax remittance and oftentimes
you would go from floor to floor, door to door, to find the
appropriate agent to negotiate with, cajole, or persuade that all your
papers were in order.

The first week after arriving in Armenia, we went to the OVIR to
apply for our 10-year special residency passport. We went up to the
second floor where the office responsible for foreign nationals was
located. We were then directed back to the first floor, where a woman
sitting behind a small window would write your "timum" for a fee of
500 AMD. A "timum" is not an application form. It is a letter you have
to write for every single transaction. (I once even had to write a
timum, which must be written in a very specific way and always, always
with blue, never black ink, so that my children could take part in art
classes one summer when we were visiting Armenia).

With our timum in hand we proceeded back up to the second floor only
to be told that now we had to go and get photocopies of our Canadian
passports and pictures for our new Armenian passport; we could get
those once we exited the building and walked across the courtyard to
another office.

That done, we went back up to the second floor. Now we were told to
go down the hall to another office and fill out another application.
All of this would have been digestible if there weren’t line ups which
weren’t really line ups but crowds of people pushing and shoving to
move ahead of you.

While trying to figure out where to go, whom to see, and what to do,
we had to deal with state officials who were, as a rule, rude or
indifferent and very sparing with their instructions. It was almost as
though they wanted to confuse you so that you would keep asking them
for help so that in the end when all your papers were finally in order
you would be so relieved that you would give them a little something
on the side for all their gracious assistance.

My son’s OVIR experience last week was no less frustrating, except
that this time I wasn’t the one with him. At the tender age of 15, my
son quickly learned, perhaps he already knew anyway, that nothing is
ever easy in Armenia. He was told he needed a letter confirming that
he was a student here from his school. This is the sixth time we have
applied for an annual residency card for him (one needs to be 18 to
receive the special residency passport in Armenia) but this time
around they requested school records. The school transcribed his name
in a way that the OVIR didn’t agree with, so the very same Daron
Titizian, aged 15, Canadian citizen, couldn’t have been the same child
because in one document his name is spelled Daron and in the other,
Taron. A process that should have been completed in one hour has yet
to be resolved after three days of coming and going to the OVIR.

It was in this frame of mind that I wrote to my friend complaining
about life in Armenia. However his response made me stop and think
about the 14 centuries it took for Europe to evolve and become Europe
and the geopolitical mess left behind in the Middle East after the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire. So why is it that I, with my North
American attitudes still fully ingrained, demand so much from a
country that has been independent for less than 2 decades; which
hasn’t had statehood for the last six centuries with the exception of
two short years back at the turn of the century; a country which is
still learning to take its first steps; a country which is trying to
understand how to govern itself; a newly formed nation that is trying
to understand what it means to have statehood?

We have a long and painful journey ahead of us. We will make many
mistakes, trip and fall along the way, and our judgment will be
clouded by decades of Soviet rule for some generations to come. Once
we wipe out the Soviet experience, we will then have to reach further
back and wipe out the Ottoman experience. If we can find the fortitude
and integrity, perhaps we can reach back far enough to the time when
Armenian kings ruled over the Armenian highlands. Maybe only then will
we be able to discover the pride and ownership of our nationhood.

I don’t doubt that every Armenian wants to see the Republic of
Armenia achieve a fair and just society, where all citizens are equal
under the law, where human rights are protected, and where peace
prevails. But it will take time. All of us must reach out to one
another across the vastness that separates us physically and
spiritually and walk forward together.

There is a beautiful saying in Bantu philosophy, "I am because you are."

I am because you are. You are because I am.

Let us not forget that building a country takes more than good will.
It takes understanding, patience, hard work, sacrifice, and unity.

****************************************** *********************************

11. The murder of Hrant Dink: one year later

* A Symposium — continued from last week

The Reporter was overwhelmed by the number and quality of replies to
its request for contributions to last week’s symposium on the
anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder. Space considerations did not allow
us to run all of the responses in that single issue, and a few others
arrived, or were brought to our attention, in the succeeding days. We
are pleased to continue last week’s symposium here.

Our gratitude goes to everyone who took the time to contribute.


* Rachel Goshgarian

The musician Arto Tunboyaciyan played a song [his lament for Hrant
Dink] for the first time at the Harvard commemoration in honor of
Hrant Dink last February. In retrospect, I want to share what I found
most moving about that commemoration:

(1) The hall was filled (with at least 500 people), even though we
were only able to publicize it about 10 days in advance;

(2) The hall was filled with Armenians and Turks;

(3) The concert was paid for by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
at Harvard;

(4) The concert was organized primarily by Turkish students (and
myself), and with a great deal of publicity help from Sevag

(5) Arto entered the concert singing in English, then in Armenian,
and then in Turkish… the entire audience responded to him — as a
group — singing in all three languages ("Hello hello"; "Parev parev";
"Merhaba merhaba").

(6) The after-party for the concert consisted of a large number of
Armenians and Turks eating, drinking, and talking until 5 or 6 in the

Bizler Hrantlariz bizler insanlariz ["We’re (all) Hrants, we’re human
beings," a quote from the song]…

I have nothing to write that can possibly describe how I feel one
year later. Midemde bir tas var sanki ["It’s as if there is a stone in
my stomach"].

I hope people will look for Arto’s song, enjoy it, and pass it on.

* Rachel Goshgarian is the director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab
Information Center of the Eastern Diocese, in New York.

* * *

* Margaret Ajemian Ahnert

I was aboard the Costa Fortuna cruise ship January 13 to 20 [2007]
with 1600 Armenians celebrating our existence with joy and sadness. I
spoke about my mother Ester to an eager audience. I know she was

On Saturday, January 19th, a 9 a.m. service honoring Hrant Dink drew
crowds of tearful Armenians of all ages. His presence was felt by all.
He is truly a fallen hero and his deeds must not be forgotten, lest he
fall into the "Forgotten Genocide" abyss.

We must remember all heroes of the past, thus encouraging a new breed
of heroes to evolve.

* Margaret Ajemian Ahnert is the author of The Knock at the Door.


* Zarminé Boghosian

What Stands out Most Vividly in Your Mind?

I saw it
On the Internet
Just at the beginning of a brand new year 2007.
January 19th
Three colors on the black asphalt
A white cover over a body
White as pure as his heart was
A pool of red blood
Vibrant red as his heart
Full of hope and faith to justice

And … A pair of black soles …
Stood there looking at me.

Took me back with my childhood memories
My Genocide survivor Cilician grandmother
Who spoke only Turkish
(I wonder why?)
The naughtiest of her children/grandchildren
Would receive the deadliest treat
"Close your mouth now! Or else…."
That "else" meant the bitter taste of a smack
With grandpa’s heaviest slipper’s sole.

Rachel Dink announced on January 19, 2008
"Justice Wants Bravery"
My brave grandmother is long gone
Who is now to lift the pair of Hrant’s soles
To awaken justice in this world’s soul?
* Zarminé Boghosian is the principal of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Day
School, in Bayside, N.Y.


* Dennis R. Papazian

Hrant Dink’s assassination set off a mighty struggle for Turkey’s soul
which may last for decades. Clearly, Dink’s assassination was aided
and abetted, if not outright prearranged, by the ultra-nationalists
who, unfortunately, are still in control of Turkey’s army, police,
bureaucracy, and courts. When I first heard of his cold-blooded
murder, I was absolutely sick at heart. For me, the tragic murder
dashed any hope for Genocide recognition and Turkish-Armenian

As I see it, Hrant attempted to do two things: first, to mainstream
the Armenians in Turkey as Turkish citizens and full participants in
Turkish society; and secondly, to explain the Armenian ethos to
Turkish society to further reciprocal understanding. Despite Hrant’s
efforts through Agos, his bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper, I
believe that the Armenians of Turkey continue the struggle to maintain
their unique identity in the face of the forces, natural and imposed,
of assimilation. I also believe that the nationalists of Turkey still
refused to recognize Armenians as true citizens of Turkey with full
human, civil, and legal rights.

As most observers, I was absolutely amazed to see the public
outpouring of sympathy represented by the hundreds of thousands who
marched in the streets and who followed the cortége in the funeral.
For a moment, I had a vision that the promise of 1908 was finally
being realized. I had high hopes that Turkish civil society had
finally come of age and was expressing its refusal to live in the
shadow of the old Turkish reactionary elites, and that they were ready
to establish themselves as the arbiters of Turkey’s future. Subsequent
events, however, dashed my hopes and brought me to the somber
realization that the battle for Turkey’s soul would not be an easy
one. The more things change, the more they remain the same; Turkey has
a long road ahead of it to become a true democracy and to realize the
beneficent advantages of true multiculturalism.

* Dennis R. Papazian is professor emeritus and founding director of
the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.


* Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

One year ago, Hrant Dink was brutally gunned down outside his office
in Istanbul, Turkey by a self-proclaimed Turkish nationalist. The
world lost a great human rights advocate and his tragic death was an
attack on democratic ideals and values.

Dink was first charged with treason for upholding an irrefutable
historical fact about the Armenian Genocide. He was convicted for his
writings in 2005 for violating article 301, a law that makes it a
crime to "insult” the Turkish state. This law continues today to be
used to persecute, prosecute, and incarcerate those who attempt to
exercise their universal human right of freedom of speech.

… I remain deeply concerned with Turkey’s failure to adopt standards
and practices of both domestic and international conduct that would
reverse and overturn the climate of intolerance, prejudice, and
repression, as exemplified by article 301 of the Turkish penal code.
It was this penal code that precipitated Mr. Dink’s murder.

Hrant Dink was guilty of nothing more than having the courage to
defend freedom of the press and promote human rights and tolerance in
Turkey. He was a man of conviction and principle who believed in
democratic ideals and peaceful change. I urge Turkey to honor his name
and repeal article 301.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., U.S. Representative from New Jersey, is
co-chair of the House Caucus on Armenian Issues. The above is an
extract from comments read into the Congressional Record on January


* Rep. Ed Royce

On January 19, 2007, freedom of speech suffered a setback as Dink was
shot outside his office in Istanbul. As a Turkish citizen of Armenian
descent, Dink had gained notoriety in Turkish society for the court
cases brought against him in which he faced jail time for simply
talking of the Armenian Genocide.

While many will give speeches to remember Hrant Dink, the most
meaningful tribute would be a rescinding of article 301 of the Turkish
penal code that outlaws "insults to Turkishness.”

Under this law, journalists like Dink and Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk
continue to be persecuted by draconian laws that seek to stifle debate
or discussion on matters that could be seen as insulting to Turkish
identity. It is my sincere hope that the Turkish government will use
this occasion to reflect upon this restrictive article and rescind it
before it does more harm.

Rep. Ed Royce, U.S. Representative from California, is a member of
the House Caucus on Armenian Issues. The above is an extract from
comments read into the Congressional Record on January 22.

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12. Editorial: Get involved in election campaigns

As Armenian-Americans, we have seen our political clout grow over the decades.

The overall trend in the United States has been for citizens’ groups
to cede power to large moneyed interests. Some $4 billion was spent in
the 2004 national elections. It is not easy to compete when that sort
of money is at play.

And yet, we compete.

We do so in part by constituting cohesive voting blocks in key
states. Here our community organizations and community media have a
fundamental role: There can be no cohesive "Armenian-American vote"
unless Armenian-Americans are made aware of what they can do about the
issues they care about and unless they’re motivated to act.

The most obvious step is to vote. But there’s a lot more to do both
before and after voting.

Volunteering time or donating money to support the campaigns of
elected officials and candidates who work with us is, of course,
important. This applies also to the campaigns of worthy candidates
running against elected officials who work against our collective

In volunteering time and donating money, we help the campaigns of our
allies, but we also create opportunities to educate the candidates and
their key advisors on issues that matter to us. (To do so effectively,
we must, of course, educate ourselves.)

And some of us can become those candidates and advisors.

In increasing our effectiveness as a community, we must look beyond
our community. This means forming alliances with other groups that
share some of our collective concerns. But it also means reaching out
to the American mainstream.

And we can all play a role: donors of sums large and small; the rock
sensation System Of A Down, which urged its fans to support Armenian
Genocide resolutions; the writer of a letter to the editor; the author
Antonia Arslan, who wrote Skylark Farm, which was transformed into a
moving film; the amateur filmmaker who posts a good clip on YouTube;
the people who picket the appearances of Genocide resolution
flip-flopper Jane Harman; the people who publish books to document the
Armenian experience.

As the high-profile U.S. presidential primaries continue, campaigns
for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as state
offices are taking shape. Their campaigns offer excellent
opportunities for Armenian-Americans to get involved in shaping our
government and its future policies. Let’s hurry up and get involved.

One by-product of our involvement is campaign pledges. Elsewhere in
this edition are statements from Senator Clinton, former Senator
Edwards, and Senator Obama. Of course, we know that office seekers
make so many commitments during the long course of a campaign that
honoring all would be impossible. By staying active after the election
as volunteers, donors, and as vigilant members of our community’s
advocacy organizations, we increase the chances for our particular
promises to be kept. The responsibility lies with us as much as it
does with the successful candidate.

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