Turkish embassy wants Swedish channel to withdraw film on Armenian Genocide

Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm has asked Sweden’s TV4 television network to pull a documentary on the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, urging the channel to “reconsider” because the film “will fail to serve the principle of objectivity,” reports.

Ahead of Sunday evening’s scheduled broadcast of a documentary titled “Seyfo 1915 – The Assyrian Genocide,” TV4 said it received an email from Turkish embassy press officer Arif Gulen, in which he opposes the film’s use of the term “genocide,” used to describe the tragic death of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks during WWI.

The letter, which was subsequently  on TV4’s official website, asks the station to “reconsider your decision on broadcasting of the… documentary film with a balanced and sensible attitude,” while cautioning that “only a competent international tribunal can determine whether a particular event is genocide.”

His statement provoked a sharp reaction from the broadcaster, which denounced Gulen’s attempt to pressure the channel to cancel its broadcast, while promising to air the documentary on Sunday despite the warning.

“We can never accept this. We will protest against any attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression,” said TV4’s program director, Viveka Hansson, in a written statement on the company’s website.

Speaking to Expressen, Gulen  that he had “full respect for freedom of expression and for the channel,” but refused to retract his plea to TV4 to withdraw the documentary piece.

“These are my feelings. It is their decision. I don’t know if they will change it. They can transmit it, if they want. But I can say what I feel, too,” he said, as cited by Expressen.

Hanson said that the message’s polite tone should not deceive the public, pointing out that while “the email is polite, the message cannot be mistaken.” She sees the request as an attempt to prevent a Swedish media outlet from broadcasting an opinion that “the Turkish embassy would not appreciate,” according to Expressen.

Swedish MP and Left Party chairman Jonas Sjöstedt also weighed in on the mounting controversy, urging the Swedish government to fend off Turkey’s attack on the national media.

“It is unacceptable that the country [Turkey] is seeking to silence media in Sweden and it [the government] must take a hard stance against such actions,” he said, adding that Stockholm should recall its ambassador from Turkey “to make clear that what you are doing in Turkey, which is very bad for the media, you cannot do in Sweden,” according to Expressen.

Hansson also pointed out in her statement that the attack on TV4 comes just days after Sweden’s Green Party tried to hush up another Swedish station, SVT, which broadcast a story critical of Sweden’ former housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan, who is a Green Party member of Turkish origin. The party’s press officer, Magnus Johansson, reportedly called on SWT to drop the coverage of Kaplan’s case, while offering to provide the station with access to the party’s top bosses for a story on Green Party candidate Yasri Khan, who is under fire for his unwillingness to shake hands with a female host from TV4.

“I did not actually believe my ears. I have never seen anything similar from a representative of a political party in Sweden,” Anders Holmberg, an SVT presenter.

Kaplan resigned last Monday amid allegations that he has ties to the Turkish ultra-nationalist Gray Wolves movement and the retired head of the Turkish National Association of Sweden, Barbaros Leylani, who has previously called on the Turkish people to kill “Armenian dogs.”

Meanwhile, an orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide.

The name of the event is “Aghet,” a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is “catastrophe.”

The Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey’s delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC’s official website. While the Commission declined to withdraw the €200,000 ($224,500) it had pledged to the musicians, it did remove the announcement of the concert.

“Due to concerns raised regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew it,” a spokesperson for the Commission said.

The orchestra’s director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey’s bold interference as an “an infringement on freedom of expression.”

“You have to call it what it was,” said the director. “We cannot quibble when it comes to genocide,” he added, as  by Die Welt.

The project premiered in Berlin last year to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Robert Kocharyan not planning a meeting with Serzh Sargsyan

Second President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan is not planning a meeting with incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan.

“I do not plan to initiate such a meeting,”Robert Kocharyan told

“In light of the events and taking into consideration the experience acquired at a heavy price it is more important now to resolve the issue of providing the army with modern weapons without delay,  to adapt the combat and tactical training of personnel to the new conditionsas as soon as possible, ” he said.

According to Robert Kocharyan, the meetings of the incumbent president with the ex-presidents are unlikely to contribute to the resolution of urgent practical issues.

“It is gratifying that the Armenian society  proved once again that in case of a serious external threat it can unite to confront the aggression. It is also clear that the patriotic capacity doubles when backed by modern efficient army and effectively functioning institutions,” said the ex-President of Armenia.

Incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan and first President Levon Ter-Petroyan to discuss the situation established as a result of the recent Azerbaijani aggression against Karabakh.

French lawmakers, politicians call for Karabakh’s return to the negotiating table

A group of French MPs, Senators and politicians have come forth with a joint statement on the recent escalation at the Nagorno Karabakh Line of Contact. The translation of the statement published by French newspaper is provided below:

It is now six days that the South Caucasus is ablaze again. Encouraged by international indifference, Azerbaijan under the rule of Ilham Aliyev attempted to regain by force its former colony, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. This deadly offensive was concluded by a fragile cease-fire. It must be noted that this attack brought nothing to anyone, since the balance of power and the front line remain unchanged.

The fact remains that again the people of Karabakh paid with their lives for the vengeful impulses of the despot of Baku. Civilians were deliberately targeted by shelling and murdered by commandos, children were killed in the courtyard of their school.

This new aggression carries lessons. Who would dare ask the people of Karabakh to integrate with a regime that wants their physical annihilation? For the people of Karabakh independence and the establishment of the Republic have never been an objective, but a means; the way to live in peace and security, the way to build a democratic state that respects its citizens, open to the world and looking towards the future.

Azerbaijan is in turn a rich country but Azerbaijanis are poor. For the Aliev clan, regularly cited in the lists of “Swiss leaks” and “Panama Papers,” the war against Nagorno-Karabakh remains a good way to divert the attention of his countrymen from his material and moral corruption, which impoverishes its people.

The international community, fully aware of this, must take responsibility. We propose that the Minsk Group of the OSCE develops further negotiations on the following bases that will certainly be more fruitful.

On the one hand the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh that has over twenty years proven its viability and credibility must now be recognized for Baku not to continue to use the pretext of lack of recognition for attacking civilians.

On the other hand, the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh should be readmitted to the negotiating table: the twenty-first century negotiating the fate of a people with their representatives absent  is a meaningless process.

Finally, it’s necessary to impose effective measures for monitoring the cease-fire, measures already agreed by Yerevan and Stepanakert, and only Baku stubbornly refusing. In this context and considering the serious events that have just taken place, we call on the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to initiate an inquiry which will establish the facts and responsibilities. It will become possible to apply a system of political and legal sanctions on warmongers, as is the case in many other regional conflicts in the world.

The signatories: François Rochebloine (UDI), MP (Loire); Guy Teissier (LR), MP (Bouches-du-Rhône), René Rouquet (PS), MP (Val-de-Marne), Nicolas Daragon (LR) Mayor of Valencia, Luke Carvounas (PS), Senator (Val François de-Marne), André Santini (IDU) deputy (Hauts-de-Seine)Michel Amiel (RDSE), Senator (Bouches-du-Rhône) Roland Blum (LR), Deputy Mayor of Marseille; Valérie Boyer (LR), MP (Bouches-du-Rhône) François Pupponi (PS), MP (Val d’Oise); Hugues Fourage (PS), MP (Vendée); Bernard Fournier (LR), Senator (Loire); Sophie Joissains (LR), Senator (Bouches-du-Rhône) Arlette Grosskost (LR), MP (Haut-Rhin); Jean-Jacques Guillet (LR), MP (Hauts-de-Seine) Christian Kert (LR), MP (Bouches-du-Rhône) Patrick Labaune (LR), MP (Drôme); Philippe Marini (LR), Honorary Senator (Oise) and Mayor of Compiègne; François-Michel Lambert (EELV), MP (Bouches-du-Rhône) Richard Mallié (LR), mayor of Bouc-Bel-Air; Emmanuel Mandon (UDI), Regional Advisor (Rhône-Alpes Auvergne); Christophe Masse (PS), general counsel (Bouches-du-Rhône) Marlene Mourier (LR), Mayor of Bourg-lès-Valence; Jacques Remiller (LR), former MP, honorary mayor of Vienna; Alain Neri (PS), Senator (Puy-de-Dôme) Rudy Salles (UDI), MP (Alpes-Maritimes)

Markedonov: Escalation in Karabakh was predictable

 

 

 

The aggravation of the situation in Karabakh conflict zone was quite predictable, Russian political scientist Sergey Markedonov told .

“What’s happening today could be expected. The increased number of incidents in Nagorno Karabakh and the aggravation of the situation have been taking place over the past few years, but the clashes of the past two days were the worst ever since the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement,” Markedonov said.

According to the political scientist, there are several reasons behind Azerbaijan’s decision to escalate the situation at this point. “First, Baku was trying to ‘test’ the military solution of the issue, after which they will resume the peace talks. The second option is more pessimistic – the negotiation process has failed and the military logic is starting to work,” he said.

Markedonov is confident that there are opportunities for a diplomatic solution, but the Co-Chairs should stop inaction as soon as possible.

He political scientist believes that Russia could take up a more decisive role in the conflict settlement and is confident that unlike Donbas or South Ossetia, the United States will not mind.

According to Segey Markedonov, the de-escalation of the Karabakh conflict  can be very dangerous for Russia, as well. He considers Russia should protect the interests of its strategic ally in the conflict, but Azerbaijan is an important partner for Moscow, and the latter will hardly opt for breaking ties with Baku.

The further development of events is hard to predict, the political scientist says. He does not link the current escalation to the Russian-Turkish relations, but does not rule out that the tension  creates some background.

Hungarian students visit Nagorno Karabakh

On March 25, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Karen Mirzoyan received students and lecturers of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University of Hungary, Press Service of the NKR Foreign Ministry informs.

The Foreign Minister welcomed the guests and noted that the visits of the Hungarian University students would allow them to get a true and comprehensive picture of Artsakh and establish contacts with representatives of Artsakh’s university circles.

During the meeting Karen Mirzoyan briefed on the main directions of the NKR’s foreign policy, touched upon the process of international recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and emphasized that the achievements in that direction contributed to the NKR’s international integration, as well as to the development and consolidation of cooperation in various spheres.

The NKR Foreign Minister answered the questions of the participants. While touching upon the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement process, Karen Mirzoyan noted that the reason for the lack of real progress was the destructive policy of the Azerbaijani authorities aimed at undermining the negotiation process at all costs.

Australian MP remembers and condemns Sumgait massacre of Armenians by Azerbaijan

On Wednesday, 16 March 2016, the Federal Member for Bennelong, Mr. John Alexander, spoke in the Federation Chamber of Australia’s Parliament to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Sumgait Pogroms that took place in February 1988, the Armenian National Assembly of Australia reports.

During his address, Alexander spoke of the oppressive history of the region towards Armenians, stemming from the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 by the former Ottoman Empire, to the anti-Armenian Sumgait Pogroms, and how Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record has continued today.

Alexander talked about the history of the Sumgait Pogroms and how peaceful demonstrations held by the Armenian people living in Azerbaijan and in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh to re-unite with Armenia, turned sour as violence broke out “as an act of collective punishment”. He then went on to mention the manner of which destruction was brought about by Azerbaijani mobs, through systematic attacks and assaults on the Armenians of Sumgait, as well as brutal murders, tortures, burning, and rape of women and young girls.

Alexander stressed that the crimes committed in Sumgait “were never adequately prosecuted by the then Soviet or Azerbaijani authorities” and led to his explanation of Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record, and specifically mentioning the case of Ramil Safarov.

“This year the world will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, and next month we will commemorate 101 years since the start of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Alexander.

In the conclusion of his speech, Alexander mentioned the lack of attention these cases have had in the media, in Parliament and in the history classes of schools. He then commented on how Armenians have been able to “flourish” and have been able to “proudly celebrate their cultural traditions”.

ANC Australia’s Executive Administrator, Arin Markarian said: “We thank Mr. Alexander for the heartfelt speech he made, remembering the innocent Armenian victims of the Sumgait Pogroms, while highlighting the chain effect that has occurred as a result of not condemning human rights violations and anti-Armenian behaviour by the Azerbaijani government.”

NKR President meets with Flemish MPs

On 15 March Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan received a group of Flemish parliamentarians of the Kingdom of Belgium at the head of deputy chairman of the Belgian Senate Karl Vanlouwe to discuss a range of issues related to the development of bilateral relations.

President Sahakyan highlighted the deepening of the Artsakh-Flanders ties from economic, political and humanitarian perspectives, pointing to the presence of favorable conditions for expanding cooperation.

During the meeting President Sahakyan awarded Heghine Evinyan, EU officer of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy with the ”Gratitude” medal, rating high her patriotic activity.

Deputy chairman of the NKR National Assembly Vahram Balayan, foreign minister Karen Mirzoyan, head of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy Gaspar Karapetyan and other officials partook at the meeting.

Cross-stone dedicated to Armenian Genocide unveiled in Aix-en-Provence, France

A cross-stone dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims was unveiled in the French city of Aix-en-Provence on February 28.

The opening of the cross-stone became possible thanks to the joint efforts of the City Hall, the local Armenian community and the Hays Club with support from the Armenian Embassy in France and the Armenian Consulate General in Marseille.

Mayor of Aix-en-Provence Maryse Joissains-Masini noted in her opening remarks that the monument aims to honor the memory of the innocent victims and inform the future generations about the genocide perpetrated against Armenians in 1915.

President of the Hays Club organization Michele Der-Kevorkian thanked the Mayor for the installation of the khachkar and praised her pro-Armenian activity.

Armenian Ambassador to France Vigen Chitechyan referred to the friendly relations between the two countries, the cooperation between the Armenian community and the local authorities of Aix-en-Provence. He noted that the existence of any cross-stone or memorial shedding light on the pages of history is one of the best means to educate the coming generations.

Arms deliveries to Azerbaijan account for 4.9 per cent of all Russian exports

The volume of international transfers of major weapons in 2011–15 was 14 per cent higher than in 2006–10, a from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows.

The five biggest exporters in 2011–15 were the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany, and the five biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia.

With a 33 per cent share of total arms exports, the USA was the top arms exporter in 2011–15. Russian exports of major weapons increased by 28 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. However, exports in the years 2014 and 2015 were substantially lower than in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and were more in line with the levels seen in 2006–10. In 2011–15 Russia delivered weapons to 50 states.

Supplies to Europe increased by 264 per cent, mainly due to deliveries to Azerbaijan, which in 2011–15 accounted for 4.9 per cent of all Russian exports as against 0.7 per cent in 2006–10