Diasporas; A New Sort Of Togetherness


May 20th 2010

With new technology and new concerns, emigres reinvent themselves

Circassians in Turkey: lonely no longer

AT A Hindu temple in Chicago, hundreds of people of Indian descent,
professing many faiths, turned up from across Illinois and farther
afield to hear a speaker from back home. But the meeting on May 15th
was not the usual style of diaspora politics, in which a nation’s
far-flung children are urged to cheer for the homeland.

The man they came to see was Jayaprakash Narayan, head of a movement
called Lok Satta which opposes corruption and wants electoral reform.

And the aim of his month-long American tour, which includes venues like
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Google headquarters
in California, is to get support from Indian-Americans for a drive
to correct some of India’s failings. That sounds a lot better than
passing round the hat for hardline Hindu nationalist causes, something
else that occurs in the diaspora.

Bad, sleazy government, Mr Narayan says, is holding India back,
crippling the country in its race with China. Having voted with
their feet by leaving the country, he adds, Indians abroad should
now help make their homeland worth staying in. Independent India’s
early rulers had picked up statist ideas when studying in Britain;
a new cohort of Indians, having thrived in economies like America’s,
are nudging the country towards a freer market. This transmission of
ideas, he notes, is easier in an electronic age.

All this is a long way from ethnic lobbying of the old school, in
which people from country A are persuaded to use their votes to tilt
their new homeland’s policies and make them less favourable to country
(or regime) B, their ancient bugbear. Or else they are urged to fight
old causes in an even more direct way-by sending money to extremist
groups. In almost every democracy that has received migrants from
troubled places, the influence (or at least, perceived influence)
of groups committed to particular national causes has been a feature
of political life, and of foreign-policy debates.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former American national security adviser, has
controversially described the Cuban-Americans, the Armenian-Americans
and the supporters of Israel as the three most effective groups in
Washington, DC-while agreeing that the lobby of his native Poland
"was at one time influential". A landmark in the efforts of ethnic
groups to affect American foreign policy was the arms embargo placed
on Turkey in the 1970s, under the sway of Greek-Americans angry over
the Turkish takeover of northern Cyprus.

Until recently at least, it seemed that the influence of ethnic
constituencies was doomed to fade. For one thing, the communities
on which they were based are blurring into wider societies. Gone are
the days when Irish-Americans looked mainly to fellow Hibernians to
socialise with; today’s Lebanese-Australian teenager is as likely to
hang out with youngsters from Vietnam as with other Levantines. In
America, meanwhile, support for Israel is no longer an especially
Jewish cause; the largest body of pro-Israel hawks are evangelical
Christians, while many Jews are critical of Israeli policies,

True, groups can hold together as long as there is one big woe to
be redressed. For Armenians, the big cause is recognition that the
mass killings of 1915 were genocide. Yet the power of a single
issue cuts both ways: once the great cause is achieved (as with
Baltic independence in 1991) or lost (as with Sri Lanka’s Tamils),
the reason for hanging together can fade away.

Life in the old dog

Despite all this, the latest signs are that diasporas have life in them
yet. As Mr Narayan shows, they are interacting with their homelands in
more creative ways. The American Ireland Fund has raised over $250m,
mainly from rich Irish-Americans, to promote charitable causes,
and above all inter-community relations; a lot better than giving
money for guns. A new breed of wealthy Greek-Americans is doing
more interesting things than counting congressional votes: funding
libraries, scholarships and university chairs in Hellenic studies
in the United States, for example. And this week George Papandreou,
the Greek prime minister, met successful businessmen of Hellenic
origin from five countries (such as Andrew Liveris, chief executive
of America’s Dow Chemical company), in the hope that they could lend
their struggling homeland some badly needed pizzazz.

But perhaps the main reason why diasporas are perking up is simply
the new ease of communications. With the internet and social networks,
people with a common origin or concern can stay in touch and pool their
efforts-with a flexibility and spontaneity that would amaze old-time
lobbyists, reliant on faxes, phones and foreign-ministry briefings.

Take a diaspora as obscure as the Indians are visible. The Circassians
descend from a Caucasus nation obliterated by Russia’s tsar in the
mid-19th century, losing around half its 2m population. Nine out of
ten Circassians now live in diaspora: survivors fled to all corners of
the Ottoman empire and beyond. Only 20 years ago, they were dwindling,
with moribund diaspora bodies under Soviet tutelage. The internet
is rekindling the cause. Facebook and Twitter link thousands of
Circassians, helping them raise the national profile. Facebook
groups and Twitter feeds enabled Circassians to co-ordinate the
protests held on May 21st in Berlin, Istanbul, New York, The Hague
and Washington, DC, to mark the 146th anniversary of what they term
a genocide. They plan to make their feelings known at Sochi-the site
of the killings-during the 2014 Olympics.

Politics is just one part of the diaspora’s e-revival. Reassembling
fragmented cultures is another. Circassians can find their long-lost
music and dance on YouTube. Information about history and culture that
was once obscure or falsified is now a click away. Online Circassian
dictionaries and language courses are emerging. Internet forums can
facilitate the search for a spouse.

For some diasporas, any alternative to politics is welcome. In
Ukraine the diaspora is the biggest donor for the Ukrainian
Catholic University, the country’s main independent provider of
higher learning. Rigorous education is less glamorous than getting
Ukraine into NATO or keeping the Russian bear at bay. But the gains
are palpable, in contrast to the chaos and corruption of Kiev politics
which faze many emigres.

Such stories mark a big turnaround for diasporas, which over the
last century have often had to wage an uphill struggle against time
and geography. "One by one, all remaining links to our old life are
vanishing […] Our Baghdad, my Baghdad is gone for ever." So concludes
"Memories of Eden", Violette Shamash’s reflections on Jewish life
in that city. A community which a century ago made up almost 40%
of the city’s population now lives chiefly in fading memories. But
the people to whom memories are dear (if only because of things heard
from grandparents) can now cultivate and share them more easily.

E-communications provide some hope of keeping at bay all the forces
which threaten the existence of diasporas, especially small ones:
assimilation (seen in the decline of once-mighty tongues like Yiddish
and Latino) and the danger of irrelevance as the world moves on. But
that will only work if the will to keep old languages and cultures
alive really exists. In the easy-come, easy-go ethos of the electronic
age, virtual communities die as well as live.


W. Wilson Center Desecrates Namesake’s Legacy,Violates Congressional

David Boyajian


Is the Woodrow Wilson Center Seeking to Discredit the Treaty of
Sevres on its 90th Anniversary by Honoring Turkish Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu?

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th American president, is looking down in horror
at what the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWC;
WilsonCenter.org) is doing in his name.

Most Americans are not aware of the DC-based organization, or that
their taxes comprise one-third of its multi-million dollar annual

The WWC was created by Congress in 1968 through the Woodrow Wilson
Memorial Act to commemorate the late president’s "ideals and concerns"
and memorialize "his accomplishments."

The WWC has in several ways, however, violated its Congressional

The WWC itself claims that it "takes seriously his [Wilson’s] views."

In fact, it has knowingly disregarded many of his views.

And while it professes "to take a historical perspective," the WWC
often closes its eyes to history.

Case in point: In mid-June of this year, the WWC plans to travel to
Turkey to bestow its coveted Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service
on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Curiously, the WWC won’t provide this writer with a press release
about it. We know about the award only from the Turkish media and a
call to the WWC’s communications chief.

An Undeserved Award

The WWC’s President/Director, former Congressman Lee Hamilton (he
recently announced he would be leaving the organization), says that
Davutoglu "personifies the attributes we seek to honor at the Woodrow
Wilson Center" and has "catalyzed" Turkish policy.

It is appalling that the WWC would honor a top official of a country
that in so many ways is a major human rights violator. Moreover,
Davutoglu’s own record – including his much- ballyhooed "zero problems
with neighbors" policy – is undistinguished.

But even more to the point, Davutoglu’s policies are the very
antithesis of Woodrow Wilson’s "ideals and concerns."

Turkish Temper Tantrums

Let us start with Davutoglu’s eruption against America due to a
US House committee’s approval in March of a resolution (Res. 252)
that reaffirmed the factuality of, and historic US interest in,
the Armenian genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey.

Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador. Davutoglu then announced
that the House committee vote was an insult to his country’s "honour,"
as if Turkey’s continuing cover-up of genocide is somehow honorable. A
top official of Turkey’s ruling AK Party threatened the US with
"consequences." Turkey’s relationship with America, he warned, "would
be downgraded at every level … from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq
to the Middle East process … there would be a major disruption."

These were not just nasty overreactions by Turkey. They were also
nonsensical. The US has, after all, reaffirmed the Armenian genocide as
"genocide" at least five times: three resolutions passed by the full
House (1975, 1984, and 1996); an official proclamation (No. 4838) by
President Reagan (1981); and a US legal filing with the International
Court of Justice (1951).

More Tantrums

Davutoglu threw the same sort of tantrum a week later – withdrawing
his ambassador and making threats – when the Swedish Parliament
recognized the Armenian genocide.

Turkey has thrown similar fits when some 20 other countries, the
European Parliament, a UN sub-commission, the Vatican, and others
recognized the Armenian genocide.

No other alleged "ally" threatens the US as frequently and consistently
as does Turkey.

Thus, far from "catalyzing" Turkey’s policies, the foreign minister is
carrying on his government’s tradition of threats and genocide denial.

If such behavior "personifies the attributes" that the WWC "seeks to
honor," the Center’s standards must be low indeed.

Davutoglu’s Double Standards

"Turkey will not allow anyone else to evaluate its history," Davutoglu
blustered after the House committee and Swedish Parliament votes.

He seems unaware that countries constantly evaluate other countries’
histories. Davutoglu evidently thinks that Turkey should be uniquely
exempt from the judgments of others.

Davutoglu also seems blissfully unaware that the United Nations,
the US, and many other nations and international organizations have
condemned and continue to condemn various countries’ past (and present)
crimes such as the Holocaust, genocides, bloody revolutions, and crimes
against humanity. These include the genocide now taking place in Sudan.

Not surprisingly, Turkey and Davutoglu have a horrendous record
regarding Sudan.

The Turkey-Sudan Genocide Axis

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was invited to visit Turkey two years
ago while he was under indictment by the International Criminal Court
(ICC) for "war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, blasted Turkey for
inviting the Sudanese dictator. Turkey defiantly proceeded to welcome
al-Bashir with a red carpet, an honor guard, and a 21-gun salute.

True to Turkey’s tradition of genocide denial, President Abdullah
Gul downplayed the Sudanese mass killings, attributing them solely to
"politics … poverty and environmental conditions."

Then last year, after Davutoglu’s appointment, the Turkish government
once again invited al-Bashir, the target of an ICC international
arrest warrant. Only after a huge international outcry was the visit
eventually canceled. Davutoglu, like his country, has a blind spot
when it comes to genocides.

In the meantime, of course, Davutoglu’s Turkey has been busy accusing
other countries – notably China and Israel – of genocide. The hypocrisy
is incredible. Should not Turkey first acknowledge its own genocides
against not only Armenians but also Assyrians, Greeks, and Kurds?

Now we know why some have dubbed Turkey and Sudan the "axis of

But Davutoglu and Turkey’s failures involve much more than tantrums,
threats, genocide, and hypocrisy.

Davutoglu’s Other Failures

Despite Turkey’s so-called "zero problems with neighbors" policy,
Davutoglu has largely continued, not "catalyzed," his country’s
failed policies.

For example, there is no end in sight to Turkey’s 36-year long military
occupation of northern Cyprus. "Zero problems with neighbors"?

Turkey’s alleged rapprochement last year with Armenia, which Turkey
has blockaded since 1993, also disproves the WWC’s assertions about
Davutoglu. When he negotiated and signed a set of controversial
protocols with Armenia last year, Turkey said that these would open
a new chapter with its eastern neighbor.

Both countries’ parliaments were then supposed to quickly ratify
the protocols.

Though many Armenians believe that parts of the protocols are contrary
to Armenia’s interests, the Armenian Parliament has been ready to
ratify them.

Davutoglu, however, quickly reverted to his government’s old
precondition: Turkey would neither ratify the protocols nor open
its border with Armenia unless Armenians concluded an agreement with
Azerbaijan regarding Karabagh, the Armenian region that Stalin handed
to Soviet Azerbaijan and which declared independence from Azerbaijan
in 1991.

Turkey’s backpedaling was condemned by the parties that mediated the
protocols – the US, Russia, and Switzerland – as well as the European
Union. Due to Davutoglu’s duplicity, the protocols have stalled and
may die. "Zero problems with neighbors"?

And regardless of one’s views on American policy towards Iran and
Israel, it is known that Turkey’s overheated, undiplomatic rhetoric
is designed primarily to please a Muslim audience at home and in the
Middle East. Turkey’s intemperate language has simply poured oil on
fires and complicated American efforts in the region.

Turkey’s Kurdish problems, both within the country and across the
border in Iraq, remain unsolved. Raids into northern Iraq by Turkish
troops are not a solution.

Even Turkey’s offers to "mediate" regional disputes look rather
contrived given that Turkey has not faced many of its own problems
with neighbors.

"Zero problems with neighbors" is a hollow catchphrase. A more
accurate name would be Turkey’s longstanding "zero Armenians as
neighbors" policy.

Aside, perhaps, from improved Turkish relations with Syria, and a
lot of braggadocio and spin, Davutoglu has "catalyzed" essentially
nothing for the better. He is surely grateful, though, to Lee Hamilton
and the WWC for implying otherwise.

Let us now examine President Woodrow Wilson’s record to see how the
WWC has besmirched his name and violated its Congressional mandate.

Desecrating Wilson’s Ideals and Concerns

President Wilson advocated the right to self-determination of all the
nations, particularly Armenia, that suffered under Turkey’s corrupt,
violent yoke.

His and America’s support for Armenians – politically, financially,
and verbally – was immense and is well-documented. Yet the WWC chooses
to desecrate that record by honoring a Turkish official who denies the
Armenian genocide, threatens the American people, plays games with the
protocols it signed with Armenia, and continues to blockade Armenia.

Wilson enunciated his famous Fourteen Points, based on a just peace,
in 1918, before the end of WW I. Point Twelve left no room for doubt:
The non-Turkish "nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should
be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested
opportunity of autonomous development." He was referring to Armenians,
Arabs, Assyrians, Greeks, Kurds, and others.

Unlike the proposed award to Davutoglu, Wilson’s was well-deserved:
He received the Nobel Peace Prize of 1919 because of his Fourteen
Points and his advocacy of the League of Nations.

Reporting to Wilson during the genocide was his good friend and
ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, Sr. The ambassador cabled
Washington in 1915 that Turkey was engaged in a "campaign of race
extermination" against Armenians. The American Embassy served as a
channel for Armenian massacre reports arriving from various parts of
the Turkish empire. US Consul Leslie A. Davis, who actually witnessed
the genocide in the interior, wrote, "I do not believe there has ever
been a massacre in the history of the world so general and thorough."

At Wilson’s direction, Morgenthau gave to Turkish leaders the
British-French-Russian declaration of 1915 that dealt specifically
with the Armenian mass murders. "All members of the Ottoman Government
and those of its agents who are implicated in such massacres," read
the declaration, will be held "personally responsible" for "the new
crimes of Turkey."

By proposing to honor a genocide denier, the WWC’s Lee Hamilton is
implying that Ambassador Morgenthau and American consuls were liars.

Referring to Turkey’s crimes against humanity, Wilson spoke these
words in Salt Lake City a year after WW I: "Armenia is to be redeemed
so that at last this great people, struggling through this night of
terror … are now given a promise of safety, a promise of justice."

America and Armenia

In the spring of 1920, under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres,
the European Allies asked Wilson to arbitrate the boundary between
Turkey and Armenia within the four Armenian provinces of "Erzerum,
Trebizond, Van, and Bitlis." Wilson agreed. He had already sent 50
American researchers to survey the people and land.

In November, the president delivered the US decision: Armenia would
include more than 40,000 square miles within those four provinces and
a Black Sea coastline. Europe also asked America to accept a mandate
over Armenia – that is, physical protection from Turkey while Armenians
got back on their feet.

Though Congress, in a post-war isolationist mood, eventually declined
his appeal for the Armenian mandate, Wilson’s written request noted
that "the hearings conducted by the subcommittee of the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations have clearly established the truth of
the reported massacres and other atrocities from which the Armenian
people have suffered."

The Senate report, Wilson went on, embodied his "own convictions and
feelings with regard to Armenia and its people." Americans, he said,
"have made the cause of Armenia their own" and had responded with
"extraordinary spontaneity and sincerity." These were understatements.

Turkey signed the Treaty of Sèvres but later repudiated it.

Incidentally, had Turkey fulfilled its obligations under Sèvres and
Wilson’s binding arbitration, much of the Kurdish issue would have
been resolved 90 years ago. The treaty stipulated an autonomous
Kurdish zone – just below the Armenian provinces – in southeastern
Turkey and, conditionally, in northern Iraq that may eventually have
become independent.

Under Turkish and Soviet attack, in December of 1920 independent
Armenia was forcibly Sovietized, cut to a fraction of its size,
and became landlocked. The Armenian provinces remain under Turkish
occupation to this day, while Turkey blockades what remains of Armenia.

The WWC Defies Congress

The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Act of 1968 was unambiguous: The WWC
was meant to express the 28th president’s "ideals and concerns"
and memorialize "his accomplishments."

If it proceeds with its award to Davutoglu, the WWC will be reaffirming
its disregard for Wilson’s "ideals and concerns" regarding the
genocide, America’s support for Armenians, and liberating their land
from Turkish rule. Similarly, Wilson’s "accomplishments" – securing
aid for Armenian survivors,US arbitration of Armenia’s boundaries under
the Sèvres Treaty, and more – are being ignored and mocked by the WWC.

The WWC is insulting Armenian Americans and all those who survived
the Turkish nightmare.

If Lee Hamilton’s own claim that WWC takes "a historical perspective"
were true, it would not honor a man – and by extension the Turkish
government – who unashamedly negate the historical record.

Is the Wilson Center seeking to discredit the Treaty of Sèvres on
its 90th anniversary by honoring Davutoglu?

Massacring History

The WWC may try to claim that it has dealt substantially and fairly
with its namesake’s views and accomplishments regarding the Armenian

As near as can be determined from a search of the WWC’s public records,
however, that claim would be false. This writer has found very little
about the genocide, and most of that is from a Turkish revisionist

Two years ago, the WWC’s Southeast Europe division did host a scholar
who discussed Turkish policy and the Armenian genocide. And twenty-four
years ago, the WWC’s Wilson Quarterly had a one-page piece about an
article published elsewhere that discussed the genocide.

In contrast, four years ago, the Wilson Quarterly published a
sycophantic review praising a widely criticized book by a notorious
genocide denier. And two years back, a former US State Department
official who dealt with Turkey (and is presently an advisor for the
Turkish Policy Quarterly) wrote a mere two sentences about the Sèvres
Treaty – solely from the Turkish perspective – in a WWC-sponsored paper
about Turkey. The Wilson Center’s website contains a nine-year old
article written by a former US Army officer who denies the genocide.

This is a disgraceful record.

A year ago, the editors of the journal Genocide Studies and Prevention
initiated a symposium that critiqued the report of the US-sponsored
Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF). While the symposium used the
WWC’s facilities, the WWC was not a cosponsor, reportedly took little
or no part, and thus cannot claim credit for it.

In any case, nothing can justify the Wilson Center’s proposed award
for Davutoglu.

The question begs to be asked: Does the WWC have any questionable
links to Turkey or Armenian genocide deniers?

Turkish-Tainted Corporate Cash

A look at WWC’s funding sources reveals that it is up to its neck in
corporate cash, including Turkish-tainted cash.

One major corporation – Boeing – that is a member of the WWC’s
so-called WilsonAlliances wrote a letter to Congress asking it to
defeat the Armenian Genocide Resolution (Res. 252).

Two other WilsonAlliances members – BAE and Chevron – have reportedly
lobbied Congress to defeat the Armenian resolution.

Four WilsonAlliances members – Alcoa, Boeing, Bombardier, and Honeywell
– are dues-paying members of the Aerospace Industries Association
(AIA), which has asked President Obama and Congress to ensure that
Res. 252 "doesn’t go to the House floor for a vote." AIA refers to
the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians as merely "the events."

Six WilsonAlliances members – BAE, Bechtel, Boeing, Chevron, Coca
Cola, and Exxon-Mobil – are also dues paying members of the American
Turkish Council (ATC). The ATC calls itself a "business association."

Its membership includes over 100 major Turkish and American
corporations. Among its leadership team of some 100 Turks and
Americans, it is nearly impossible to find even one person who is
not a top corporate executive, former military officer, or former
government official. The ATC has long lobbied against Armenian
genocide resolutions. Former Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, chairman of
its Executive Committee, once told Congress that what happened to
Armenians is "widely disputed."

ATC member Lockheed-Martin Corp., which penned a letter opposing the
Armenian resolution, has also contributed money to the WWC.

DLA Piper and Other Turkish Lobbyists

DLA Piper is a gigantic, worldwide legal and corporate services firm
that has registered with the US government as a foreign agent for
Turkey. The firm is well-known for having lobbied against Armenian
Americans and is currently setting up an office in Istanbul.

Ignacio Sanchez is a lawyer employed by DLA Piper. He "represents
national and international clients on a broad range of issues
… before Congress" for his firm.

Sanchez also happens to sit on the Wilson Center’s Board of Trustees.

DLA Piper’s contract with Turkey states that its "services shall
include … preventing the introduction, debate and passage of
legislation and other U.S. government action that harms Turkey’s
interests and image."

DLA Piper has partially subcontracted its Turkish role to The
Livingston Group. Headed by former disgraced House Speaker Robert
Livingston, who denies the Armenian genocide and lobbies against
Armenian genocide resolutions, it has been a registered agent of

DLA Piper also has what it terms a "strategic alliance" with The Cohen
Group (TCG), headed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen. TCG
represents large corporations who do business with Turkey. It is an
ATC member, and two of its employees sit on the ATC Advisory Board.

TCG’s Vice President, Marc Grossman, was the US ambassador to Turkey
from 1994-97. Among former diplomats, he is probably Turkey’s biggest

He has opposed passage of Armenian genocide resolutions. A few years
ago, Grossman reportedly joined Ilhas Holding, a Turkish firm.

It is also known that whistleblower and former FBI translator Sibel
Edmonds has made very serious allegations about the ATC, Grossman,
and Turkey. These have not yet been adjudicated in a court of law.

And whom did the WWC recently select to be one of its "Public Policy
Scholars"? Marc Grossman.

The WWC seems to be quite fond of corporations (and their money),
lobbying firms, and people strongly affiliated with Turkey that in
many cases oppose acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide.

The above barely skims the surface of the Wilson Center’s cozy
financial relationships with huge corporations.

Playing with Genocide Inquiries

We must digress briefly for an example of how former government
officials work their way into genocide inquiries that are best left
to those more suitable.

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen (of the Turkish-affiliated TCG)
and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright chaired the Genocide
Prevention Task Force mentioned above.

As private citizens, Cohen and Albright opposed the Armenian Genocide
Resolution. Their appointment to the GPTF was thus justifiably
criticized as incompatible with its very purpose.

The GPTF was jointly convened by the Congressionally-funded,
so-called US Institute of Peace, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum,
and the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD).

The latter is composed of former high-level US State Department
officials. AAD’s chairman is retired ambassador Thomas Pickering. He
was formerly a VP of Boeing, the same company that has beseeched
Congress not to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

The GPTF’s final 147-page report (Preventing Genocide: a Blueprint
for US Policymakers) contained just two miniscule references to the
Armenian genocide. Sure enough, they used the terms "forced exile"
and "atrocities", not genocide. The report was also widely criticized
by scholars.

Incidentally, who sits on the AAD’s Board? If you guessed the
ubiquitous Marc Grossman of the Wilson Center and pro-Turkish TCG,
you’d be correct.

Corporate Perks

The WWC provides many benefits to corporations that contribute money
to its WilsonAlliances. For example, they receive "complimentary use"
of the WWC’s facilities, the Reagan Federal Building, blocks from
the White House. They also get "private customized meetings with
[WWC] staff and scholars to discuss policy issues that are specific
to your business interests."

Did WWC/Turkish-affiliated corporations use "private customized
meetings" to urge the WWC to honor Davutoglu, perhaps in expectation
that it would enhance their "business interests" with Turkey?

Did any WWC/Turkish-affiliated lobbying firm or person ask the WWC
to give Davutoglu an award?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. Only those corporations,
lobbyists, and other figures, together with Lee Hamilton and WWC
personnel, can answer them, preferably under oath.

In a phone message, Sharon Coleman McCarter, WWC Communications
Director, said that the Center is honoring the Turkish Foreign Minister
because of "public service to his country and the world."

Turkey, or some Turks, may like its foreign minister, but, as this
writer has shown, he has certainly done nothing to benefit "the world."

McCarter also claimed that Davutoglu "is in the Wilsonian tradition"
because, like Wilson, he has been in academia and government. If
you teach and then enter government service, you’re automatically
"Wilsonian" and thus a candidate for the WWC award? This is

Insulting Previous Awardees

Who have the nearly 150 previous WWC awardees been? Mostly Americans:
philanthropists, doctors, members of Congress, former diplomats,
architects, actors, and the like.

They range from James Baker, Dr. Denton Cooley, Betty Ford, Frank
Gehry, John Glenn, and Amb. Howard Leach to Janet Napolitano, Dolly
Parton, Gen. Colin Powell (and his wife), Andrew Lloyd Webber, and
Andrew Young.

There are also some foreign political honorees, such as former Indian
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, and some relatively non-controversial
figures from Brazil and South Korea.

The threatening, blustering, genocide-denying Davutoglu, from a
country with a wretched human rights record, would stand out in the
Wilson Center’s Public Service roster like a sore thumb.

It would be an insult to previous awardees.

For its Public Service Award, the WWC had its pick of thousands
of principled individuals from the US or elsewhere doing vital
humanitarian work, including the recognition and prevention of
genocide. Instead, the WWC has engaged in the worst kind of political
pandering by selecting Davutoglu.

The Smithsonian and the ATC

The rot may go even higher, up to the WWC’s parent, the famed
Smithsonian Institution, three-quarters of whose annual $1
billion budget comes from taxpayers. It, too, is a member of the
genocide-denying American Turkish Council.

The Smithsonian is supposed to be respectful of America’s multi-ethnic
heritage and pay homage to our country’s history, part of which
is Wilson’s support of Armenians and condemnation of Turkey for
committing genocide. There is no good reason for the Smithsonian to be
a member of the ATC, which is primarily a lobby for Turkish-affiliated
corporations. It should withdraw from the ATC.

And what must the WWC do to return to its Wilsonian roots?

Reforming the WWC

The WWC must abandon its plans to honor Davutoglu. Those who care
about Wilson’s legacy – members of Congress, ordinary Americans,
and those whose relatives were lost to Turkish genocidal acts –
must contact the WWC and insist on this.

Congress and the Attorney General must launch investigations into
possible conflicts of interest at the WWC, particularly regarding
its corporate and Turkish connections. The WWC director and staff
must testify under oath.

Wilson Center personnel, and those affiliated with it, particularly
scholars, must speak out publicly against pandering to corporations
and lobbying organizations.

Those whose business or personal interests may conflict with their
WWC role should resign.

The WWC must reject all tainted corporate cash.

Recognized genocide scholars should be invited to speak at the Wilson
Center and write in its Wilson Quarterly. The WWC should create a
principled program on genocide.

The WWC must establish a meaningful, ongoing dialogue with those
persons and their descendants who have been victimized by Turkey’s

The WWC must return to its Congressional mandate by truly rededicating
itself to Wilson’s "ideals, concerns, and accomplishments" and by
advocating against genocide and for the human rights and dignity of
all people.

# # #

*The author is an Armenian American freelance journalist. He recommends
that readers contact the following to protest the WWC’s proposed
award to Davutoglu, and the WWC’s overly close relationships
with Turkish-affiliated corporations, lobbying organizations,
and individuals:

Quick form letter to Congress:

Woodrow Wilson Center: President/Director:
[email protected] Executive VP:
[email protected] Outreach VP:
[email protected] Public Affairs:
[email protected] Asst. to the Director:
[email protected] Special Asst. to the Director:
[email protected]

Also: Linda St.Thomas, Spokesperson, Smithsonian
Institution: [email protected] For your US Senator:
For your US Congressman:


Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey’s Diplomatic Dynamo


The National
rticle?AID=/20100522/WEEKENDER/705219882/1041/FORE IGN
May 22 2010

His straight talking may at times have been a liability, but with a
solid base behind him, he has whipped his country’s foreign policy
into shape, wooing the Middle East and catching his traditional allies
off balance. Yigal Schleifer assesses a mercurial prime minister.

It has been a busy couple of weeks for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the
Turkish prime minister. There were visits from Bashar al Assad, the
Syrian leader, and the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to deal with,
strategically significant trips to Greece and Azerbaijan to get out
of the way, and even a jaunt over to Spain to receive an honorary

And, oh yes, there was that short stop in Tehran on Monday to sign
the nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil with Iran.

Turkey’s mercurial leader is clearly a man on the move – and he
is taking his country along for the ride. A decade ago a somewhat
cautious American ally and Nato member, Turkey today is becoming a
force to contend with, particularly in the Middle East, a region it
had kept at an arm’s length for decades.

Much of this change can be attributed to policies pursued by Erdogan
(pronounced "erdo-ahn") and his Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Since being formed in 2001 by Erdogan and other members of the
reformist wing of one of Turkey’s veteran Islamist parties, the AKP has
become a significant force in Turkish politics, winning two national
elections decisively and becoming the first single-party government
to rule in almost two decades.

The years preceding the AKP’s first election, in 2002, were
particularly difficult ones for Turkey, marked by a severe economic
crisis and the after-effects of the 1980 military coup.

The AKP’s success in righting the country at home appears to have
provided Erdogan with opportunities in the foreign arena.

The troubles before the AKP came to power "created a major political
vacuum in Turkey. Those were really horrible years and Turkey lost big
time," says a senior foreign policy adviser. "The AKP came to power and
proved to the world that it could run this country much better than all
the other governments before. The more successful AKP became, the more
new possibilities in foreign policy emerged. It’s no longer a narrow
nation-state agenda. It’s a regional agenda. It’s a global agenda."

For the past several years, Erdogan – with the help of Ahmet Davutoglu,
his foreign minister – has been shaking up Turkey’s foreign stance:
recalibrating relations with its traditional allies, the United States
and Israel, re-engaging with the Arab and Muslim countries of the
Middle East, and positioning Turkey as a global soft-power broker.

Relations with Syria and Iran have improved dramatically. From being
on the verge of war a decade ago, Ankara and Damascus are now on the
road to becoming close allies.

In October, Turkey and Armenia signed a historic set of protocols
that lays the groundwork for the two countries to restore relations
and examine their difficult past. Although currently stalled,
the reconciliation process with Yerevan still represented a major

Turkey has also been involved in mediation efforts between Israel
and Syria, between Fatah and Hamas, between rival groups in Lebanon,
between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now between Iran and the West.

This new-found diplomatic activism has left many of Turkey’s
traditional allies off balance. In Washington, Ankara’s increasingly
strained ties with Israel and warming relations with Iran have raised
question marks about its future orientation.

In the Middle East, meanwhile, Turkey’s assertive reappearance has
created a stir. Erdogan’s regional popularity – at street level,
at least – skyrocketed after his 2009 performance at Davos, where he
stormed off the stage he was sharing with Shimon Peres, the Israeli
president, after angrily berating him for his country’s actions
in Gaza.

Erdogan returned a hero, crowned the "Conqueror of Davos" by a crowd
of cheering supporters waiting at the airport. The drama also helped
introduce him to a Middle Eastern public.

For Turks, meanwhile, Davos was very much about Erdogan simply being
Erdogan. The prime minister came of age in the streets of Kasimpasa,
a scruffy working-class neighbourhood with a rough reputation near
the heart of old Istanbul, and he maintains a straight-talking,
no-holds-barred style. While out on the hustings a few years ago,
he famously told off a farmer who was complaining about his economic
situation with words that would have made a sailor blush. His lawyers,
meanwhile, have made something of a cottage industry out of suing
cartoonists and others who the PM feels have insulted his dignity.

His family migrated to Kasimpasa from the Black Sea coast when he
was a young teen, and in the winding streets that lead off from
the neighbourhood’s main mosque, locals still consider Erdogan one
of them. "He was just a typical guy, with two suits and a Tofas" –
a boxy Turkish-made Fiat, is the way one local put it.

Many in the neighbourhood remember him as an outstanding footballer
who might have gone pro had his conservative father not forbidden it.

(Kasimpasa today has a gleaming new government-built football stadium,
named after the prime minister.) Many also remember the political
ambition he showed early on.

At 16, Erdogan joined the youth branch of the Islamist National
Salvation Party, a precursor to the Welfare Party, which governed
Turkey for a shaky 12 months until it was forced out of power by
the military in 1997. Erdogan quickly rose through the party ranks,
becoming chairman of its Istanbul branch by the mid-1970s. A military
coup in 1980 put his political aspirations on hold, but in 1994 he
was back, successfully running for mayor of Istanbul.

Erdogan’s tenure as mayor was, by all counts, a success. He improved
the city’s infrastructure, installing water and sewage lines and
upgrading public transport. But he also caused serious concern when
he banned the serving of alcohol at city-owned establishments and
issued statements such as: "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim
at the same time."

In 1998, at rally in the south-eastern Turkish town of Siirt, Erdogan
read a poem as part of a speech. "The minarets are our bayonets;
the mosques are our barracks; our believers are our soldiers," he
told the crowd. The Turkish authorities, looking for a way to muzzle
Erdogan, charged him with "religious incitement", an accusation that
got him banned from holding political office and earned him four
months in prison.


Nkr President Hosts Consultation On Elimination Of Heavy Hail Conseq


May 19, 2010 – 19:08 AMT 14:08 GMT

On May 19, NKR President Bako Sahakyan hosted a consultation on
elimination of May 17 heavy hail consequences.

The President emphasized the necessity of urgent damage assessment
to undertake measures for its partial reparation.

Following Agriculture Minister Armo Tsaturyan’s situation report, Bako
Sahakyan gave clear instructions to the heads of structures in charge.

Vice Prime Minister, NKR Finance Minister Spartak Tevosyan, Control
Chamber Chairman Arthur Mosiyan, Cabinet members and heads of regional
administrations partook at the consultation, Central Information
Department at NKR President’s Office reported.

NKR President: Democracy Together With Independence And Sovereignty


2010-05-19 15:53:00

ArmInfo. On 19 May President of the Artsakh Republic Bako Sahakyan
convoked a working consultation on the issues related to the May 23
National Assembly elections.

Head of Central Election Commission of the Artsakh Republic Sergey
Nasibyan delivered a report. The Head of the State mentioned that
lections are politically responsible events for the republic and
pivotal components of democracy, human rights protection and civil
society. Bako Sahakyan underlined that democracy together with
independence and sovereignty is considered an exclusive value, which
has no alternative. The President expressed confidence that everyone
was fully aware of the significance this process for the republic and
within their competence stipulated by law they would do everything
possible to hold the elections on a proper level.

Bako Sahakyan underlined that the government should do everything
for the citizens to avoid facing any problem during the elections,
namely those of legal, political, technical or of other character. In
case of facing such problems necessary measures should be taken to
solve them immediately.

Vice-premier, finance minister of the Artsakh Republic Spartak
Tevosyan, heads of state and local self-government bodies partook at
the consultation, the Central Information Department of the Office
of the Artsakh Republic President reported.

Microsoft Holds Days Of Programming In Armenia


2010-05-19 12:25:00

ArmInfo. On May 18-19 Microsoft is holding Days of Programming
in Armenia.

Microsoft Armenia Country Manager Grigor Barseghyan told ArmInfo
correspondent that the given event has become a tradition and it
is held twice a year. "Information technologies are developing in
the world very rapidly. In Armenia, despite certain progress in this
sphere, the problem of raising the local specialists’ professionalism
is not resolved yet. The Microsoft Days of Programming aim to resolve
this problem",- stressed Barseghyan and added that all persons
interested in IT sphere may participate in the given training free
of charge. He also pointed out that the given event will constantly
be held in the future within the frames of the Microsoft Innovation
Center being currently set up in Armenia. The Center will be opened
before the end of 2010 at the State Engineering University of Armenia.

Within the frames of the Days of Programming, Sergey Baydachny, a
high-skilled specialist from Ukraine, who has been a licensed trainer
of Microsoft for 10 years, will present the up-to-date technologies,
as well as development trends of IT industry in the world.

To recall, Microsoft office has been functioning in Armenia since
2006. The net profit of Microsoft grew by 34% – up to $4,006 bln in
the 1Q 2010 as against $2,977 bln in the 1Q 2009. Its revenues grew
by 6% over the reported period and amounted to $14,503 bln against
$13,648 bln in the same period of 2009. The operating income of the
Microsoft Yerevan office grew by 16% in the 1Q 2010 – up to $5,173
bln against $4,438 bln in the 1Q 2009.

RPA: Azerbaijan Should Withdraw Its Troops From Shahumyan And Getash


May 18, 2010 – 21:14 AMT 16:14 GMT

Secretary of the Republican Party of Armenian parliamentary group
Eduard Sharmazanov said that the statements of the Turkish-Azerbaijani
tandem that Armenia should make some territorial concessions in the
Karabakh conflict settlement are ridiculous.

As for the Azerbaijani President’s statements concerning withdrawal
of the Armenian troops from the so-called "occupied" territories,
NKR has never been and will never be within Azerbaijan’s composition,
Sharmazanov said in the Armenian parliament.

"To achieve peace settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan
should first of all withdraw its troops from the annexed territories
of Shahumyan and Getashen, as well as create conditions for return
of Armenian refugees," he said.

Armenia: Parliament Shooting Convict Dies


May 17 2010

A man convicted of helping to plan the 1999 shooting massacre in
Armenia’s parliament died in prison on May 15.

Hamlet Stepanian, who was found dead in his bunk, died halfway though
his 14-year prison term. Police reported no traces of foul play.

Armenia Now reported that officials assume that a heart attack was
the cause of death, but noted that some human rights activists cast
doubts on that explanation.

Stepanian was not in the parliamentary building during the attack that
killed top-ranking officials and left a deep scar on Armenian politics
for years to come. But the court found him guilty of conspiring with
the gunmen who opened fire in Armenia’s National Assembly. The five
attackers were sentenced to life in prison. One of them, Vram Galstian
committed suicide in his jail cell.

BAKU: Armenia ‘Close To Collapse’

Tamilla Sencaply

May 17 2010

Bayram Safarov ‘The separatist regime cannot hold any legal elections’,
Bayram Safarov said.

Head of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh, chief of
executive powers of Shusha Bayram Safarov has commented on the decision
of Karabakh separatists to hold ‘parliamentary elections’ on May 23.

He noted that Nagorno Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan and the world
recognizes the territorial integrity of our country.

‘It is possible to hold elections in Karabakh only in line with
the laws of Azerbaijan. The separatist regime holds a show called
elections. However, the occupation regime is nearing its logical
completion. Armenia is close to the collapse. There is almost no
people in Karabakh as the majority have left this area due to the
hard economic state.

In this case, which elections are implied? The people in Karabakh will
be able to live well only after introduction of Azerbaijani laws. And
the ordinary people of Karabakh are looking forward this day’, Safarov
said, according to the website of the ruling party of Azerbaijan.

Computer Classes For Teachers And Pupils Of Berdzor


MAY 17, 2010

On May 5-16, the moving internet-computer station of the National
Center for Educational Technologies subordinated to the Armenian
Education and Science Ministry conducted classes for teachers and
pupils in Berdzor, Artsakh.

Arthur Miribyan, specialist of the conduction of the classes told
Armenpress that 8-10th grade 18 pupils and 24 teachers from Berdzor
schools participated in the classes.

"As we stayed in Berdzor for 12 days, we decided to involve more
teachers in the classes in order they convey the knowledge they gained
to as much pupils as possible," A. Miribyan said.

According to A. Miribyan, before being in Berdzor, the moving
internet-computer station has traveled for a year in different
provinces of Armenia. The computer classes of "Word", "Excel",
"Internet" and "Windows" were involved in the classes.