US, France and Russia Call for Peaceful Settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
MEXICO -- The United States, France, and Russia have issued a joint statement calling on Ar- menia and Azerbaijan to take "decisive steps" to resolve the long-running conflict over Nagorno- Karabakh.
The statement issued by the three presidents, Barack Obama, Vladimir V. Putin and François Hollande, at the Group of 20 meeting in Mexico, faulted the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan for not following steps toward an agreement urged last year. The statement called on them to move swiftly to make “the important decisions necessary to reach a lasting and peaceful settlement.”
The three countries are the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, which is charged with finding a negotiated settlement.
“Military force will not resolve the conflict and would only prolong the suffering and hard- ships endured by the peoples of the region for too long,” the presidents said. “Only a peaceful, ne- gotiated settlement can allow the entire region to move beyond the status quo toward a secure and prosperous future.”
Also on June 18, the ambassadors of the three Minsk Group countries met in Paris with the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group reiterated deep concern over recent incidents along the front lines and stressed the need to respect the 1994 ceasefire agreement. The Foreign Ministers expressed their determination to continue working with the Co-Chairs to reach a peaceful settle- ment, and their readiness to carry out confidence-building measures that could improve the atmos- phere for negotiations.
Serzh Sarkisian: New Government Must Deliver 7 Percent Economic Growth
YEREVAN -- President Serzh Sarkisian chaired the first meeting of his new but mostly un- changed government on Monday, telling its members to ensure that economic growth in Armenia is well above earlier government projections this year.
Sarkisian finished the cabinet’s formation on Saturday, more than one month after parliamen- tary elections that were controversially won by his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
As expected, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and 13 of the 18 ministers in the previous cabi- net retained their posts. Four of the five new ministers were appointed to positions that were until now occupied by members of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the election runner-up that de- cided to pull out of the ruling coalition.
Sarkisian and his HHK will now share power only with the Orinats Yerkir Party of Artur Bagh- dasarian, secretary of the presidential National Security Council. Orinats Yerkir will run the minis- tries of agriculture, emergency situations and urban development.
“As you can see, we haven’t made revolutionary changes in the government,” President Sark- isian said at the cabinet session. “That is conditioned by our intention not to break up the momen- tum in programs and reforms that are already in progress. But this doesn’t meet that we will not be expecting revolutionary results from the work of the executive.”
Sarkisian stressed that the government must deliver on sweeping changes in the socioeconomic and political domains that were promised by him during the parliamentary race. “The primary ex- pectation from the government’s work in 2012 is to ensure a 7 percent economic growth,” he added.
The Armenian authorities had forecast a GDP growth rate of only 4.2 percent for this year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have come with slightly more modest
9growth projections in recent months, repeatedly warning of the fallout from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the Armenian economy expanded by 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
Presenting the government’s five-year program, Prime Minister Sarkisian said the growth rate will stand at between 5 and 7 percent in 2012-2017. He said the policy document also commits the government to creating 100,000 jobs and doubling the minimum national wage during that period.
According to Gagik Minasian, a senior HHK lawmaker, the government will also step up its declared fight against “oligopolies” that control key sectors of the domestic economy and are be- lieved to hamper its steady growth. “Internal resources [for economic growth] are still far from be- ing exhausted, and one of them is a higher level of competition and the absence of abuse of domi- nant positions [in business,]” Minasian told a news conference.
In particular, he said, the State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC) will be given new powers to detect and punish such abuses. Minasian insisted that the SCPEC has already taken significant ant-trust over the past year.
Hrant Bagratian, an outspoken deputy from the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), dismissed these assurances. “The share of oligopolies in GDP and tax revenues has increased in the last five years,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Like many other government critics, Bagratian pointed out that the HHK’s parliamentary fac- tion comprises many wealthy businessmen linked to the “oligopolies.” “They will find ways of cheating,” he claimed. “Therefore, I think we should discuss not this kind of statements but a con- crete set of measures planned by [the government.]”
Senator Barbara Boxer Expresses Concerns Over Azerbaijan's Hostile Actions
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Tuesday to approve a number of Ambassadorial nominees, including Richard Morningstar, whom the Obama Admini- stration designated to serve as Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
Morningstar's nomination comes amid Azerbaijan's brazen June 4th cease-fire violation. Sena- tor Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stated today that it was "absolutely critical that Ambassador Morningstar use his position to respond to and counter the Government of Azerbaijan's escalating acts of aggres- sion and threats against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh." Responding to Senator Boxer's question submitted for the record, Ambassador-designate Morningstar pledged that "if confirmed, I will make the case that irresponsible rhetoric is unacceptable and undermines our efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict. I will urge the Azerbaijani government to show restraint in its rhetoric and to prepare its people for peace, not war."
During last week's confirmation hearing, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) also raised serious concerns about Azerbaijan's cease-fire violations that coincided with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's June visit to the South Caucasus region, and asked Ambassador-designate a series of pointed questions about the resulting escalation of tensions and U.S. policy to restrain Azerbaijan's bellicosity.
Ambassador-designate Morningstar stated in response that there is no higher U.S. priority in the region than "the peaceful solution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict." In addition, the nominee pledged: "I will do everything that I can to discourage" inflammatory language or any "actions that bring about loss of life," and create increased tensions or instability.
Other Senators have also expressed concerns whether U.S. policy is tilted toward Azerbaijan in view of its oil resources, which finances its mounting purchases of offensive weapons. Both Morn- ingstar and his predecessor designee, Matthew Bryza, have been active in facilitating negotiations over pipeline deals transporting Caspian oil to the West.
Having cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the next step in the nomination proc- ess is for the full Senate to approve Morningstar's nomination.
Election Campaign Kicks Off in Artsakh
STEPANAKERT -- The election campaign launched in Artsakh today and will last till July 17. The next day, July 18, will be day of silence. The presidential election in Artsakh will take place on July 19 and will be the fifth one.
The Central Electoral Commission of the NKR convened today a session to discuss the drawing to be conducted by the CEC.
The participants approved the timeframe of paid and free air time on Artsakh State TV and Public Radio, Tatev Ghevondyan, advisor to chairman of the NKR CEC Rashid Petrosyan told Tert.am.
Four candidates are running for presidency in Artsakh – non-party Vitaly Balasanyan, incum- bent president Bako Sahakyan, non-party Arkady Soghomonyan and non-party pensioner Valery Khachatryan.
Intellectuals Concerned About the Security of Armenians in
YEREVAN -- A group of intellectuals have expressed their concern over the security of Arme- nians living in Syria. They demand from the government to create a council to coordinate the sup- port to Syrian Armenians and work out a rapid-reaction action plan.
Presenting the text of the statement, publicist Karine Hakobyan said not only the government, but also the Armenian Apostolic Church, the traditional parties functioning in Syria representatives of the civil society should participate in the work.
Armenian MFA’s Response to Los Cabos Statement on Karabakh
YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued remarks commenting on the statement released by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states on Nagorno- Karabakh.
In his statement Nalbandian said Armenia appreciates the efforts of the heads of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states – the presidents of Russia, the United States and France - aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict.
“The statement on the Karabakh conflict, adopted in Los Cabos by Presidents Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande, is the fourth statement of the heads of the three co-chairing states which can provide an impetus for the negotiations,” he said adding Armenia is determined to achieve resolution of the Karabakh conflict only through peace talks.
“Just as Russia, the United States and France, we also regret that despite the calls contained in the statement adopted on May 26, 2011 in Deauville, the progress was not reached at the Kazan summit due to non-constructive, maximalist position of Azerbaijan.
Armenia, remaining committed to the arrangements which are reflected in the statement issued by the Presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on January 23, 2012 in Sochi, will continue the efforts aimed at finalizing the basic principles for the settlement,” Nalbandian said.
Armenian FM also reiterated calls to respect the ceasefire agreement reached in May 1994 and avoid hostile rhetoric.
He added that Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, continues to reject co-chairs’ proposal on with- drawal of snipers from the contact line, creation of mechanisms to hold investigation into ceasefire violations and incidents.
“For the last time it was done a week ago during a visit of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to Baku. Azerbaijan not only rejects these proposals, but also violates the ceasefire regime, constantly organizing provocations.
Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, repeatedly stated its readiness to continue negotiations on the ba- sis of the statements issued by the heads of the co-chairing states in L’Aquila, Muskoka, Deauville, and I might add, in Los Cabos, in order to achieve settlement of the conflict,” he concluded.
Baku Rejects Calls for Sniper Withdrawal
Azerbaijan effectively rejected on Thursday renewed international calls for the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to unconditionally withdraw snipers from “the line of contact” and agree to joint investigations of growing truce violations there.
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, the chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, voiced such calls when visited Yerevan and Baku this week. He report- edly insisted on the need for a concrete mechanism for such investigations after talks with his Azer- baijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov on Thursday.
News reports quoted Mammadyarov as saying that Baku agrees with the idea, advanced by in- ternational mediators, in principle. “But that mechanism could work only when Armenian troops start withdrawing from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories,” he said, according to the APA news agency. “Only in that case can the mechanism be put into action.”
“If we start applying that mechanism now, that will only mean reinforcing the status quo, which is unacceptable,” Mammadyarov told a joint news conference with Gilmore.
“If Armenia does not want its soldiers to die, then it must liberate Azerbaijan’s lands. If this happens, there will be no need for snipers,” added the Azerbaijani foreign minister.
The Armenian side has voiced support for both sniper withdrawal and joint investigations. For- eign Minister Edward Nalbandian reaffirmed this stance after his meeting with Gilmore on Tuesday.
Armenian to Conduct Special Military Exercises to Simulate Response to War
YEREVAN -- Armenia’s armed forces and other state structures will simulate a general mobi- lization for a full-scale war in unprecedented exercises that will take place later this month, De- fense Minister Seyran Ohanian announced on Thursday.
Ohanian said the command-and-staff exercises scheduled for June 25-27 will test the country’s combat-readiness through mock decrees to be issued by President Serzh Sarkisian. Top military and civilian officials will practice “the launch of the state-military state system at a time of war and the organization of resistance to aggression,” he said during a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian.
“I would ask all governing bodies to issue appropriate instructions, to prepare relevant offi- cials because we will be practicing Armenia’s placement on high military alert,” Ohanian told fel- low ministers.
“Against that background, we will prepare, after evaluating the situation, corresponding de- crees on the declaration of martial law, conduct of mobilization, resistance to aggression and the Armenian president’s appeal to the [Collective Security Treaty Organization] leadership for sup- port,” he added without giving further details.
Ohanian implicitly linked the drills, the first of their kind, with unfolding preparations for CSTO military exercises that will be held in Armenia in September. They are expected to bring to- gether troops from a rapid-reaction force that was set up in 2009 by the Russian-led military alli- ance of seven ex-Soviet states.
The minister made no mention of the recent upsurge in deadly fighting in the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict zone which left at least nine Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers dead. The au- thorities in Baku and Yerevan have blamed each other for the escalation amid mounting interna- tional concerns about a renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
Armenian leaders say that the Azerbaijani government, which regularly threatens to end the conflict by force, provoked the armed incidents to step up pressure on Armenia and international mediators. Sarkisian warned last week that further Azerbaijani “provocations” on the frontline would meet with a “tough” response from the Armenian side.
Some observers in Yerevan therefore see a clear link between the Karabakh escalation and the announced exercises. Ruben Mehrabian, a military analyst, suggested that Yerevan is sending a message to Baku ahead of fresh peace talks planned by the U.S., Russian and French mediators.
“The essence of this message is as follows: ‘Don’t you dare think that you can impose unfavor- able solutions or unilateral concessions on us,’” Mehrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Azeri POW Sent to ‘Third Country’
YEREVAN -- An Azerbaijani soldier who reportedly surrendered to Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed forces in January has been deported to “a third country,” Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), a ministry spokesman refused to name that country. He said only that the 21-year-old Sergeant Mammadbagir Akhundzade did not want to return to Azerbaijan.
Akhundzade was detained by Karabakh Armenian forces on January 23. Military authorities in Stepanakert said at the time that he deserted an Azerbaijani army unit deployed northeast of Kara- bakh and deliberately crossed into the Armenian-controlled disputed territory.
Akhundzade is not the first Azerbaijani prisoner of war deported to a third country from Arme- nia. Some of the Azerbaijani soldiers captured by Armenian troops in the past also chose not to re- turn to their homeland, apparently for fear of prosecution.
Earlier this year, Azerbaijan likewise deported three Armenian POWs to an unknown country. According to the Defense Ministry in Baku, they surrendered to Azerbaijani forces in February 2009, claiming to have been mistreated by their commanders. The conscripts -- Hrant Markosian, Artush Sargsian and Alik Tevosian -- reportedly asked the Azerbaijani authorities not to repatriate them.
Israel Government Officially Calls on Knesset to Recognize the
Armenian Genocide An In-Depth Report and Analysis of the Political Process by Genocide
Prepared by Israel W. Charny
The GPN report describes many of the nuances of the deliberations that you will not find in conventional news reports, presents an “Explanation and Analysis,” as well as a section of direct quotations of many of the speakers. The GPN report concludes: “In spite of the clear risks of being very wrong, GPN’s editor-reporter now predicts that the bill to recognize the Armenian Genocide will go the full route and will be approved by the Israeli Knesset.”
In an historic session of the Israeli Knesset, a wide ranging spectrum of members of the Knes- set, from 7 different political parties, overwhelmingly endorsed recognition of the Armenian Geno- cide. The session was led firmly and inspiringly by the Chair of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin , who himself spoke with profound feeling of both a Jewish and an Israeli imperative to extend a long overdue recognition. The issue is a moral one, he emphasized over and over again.
"We must make our voices heard when other nations are targeted for destruction," Rivlin stated. "Those who drafted the Final Solution for the Jews figured the world would be silent as they were when the Armenians were murdered. The Knesset cannot ignore this episode that is factual. We cannot forgive nations who ignore our disaster and we cannot ignore the disaster of other," the Knesset Speaker added.
Although several speakers also reconstructed briefly familiar parts of the traditional Israeli rhetoric of past years of realpolitik -- e.g., a chorus line that the government of Turkey in our time is not the Ottoman Empire that perpetrated the genocide -- the old excuses were as if album memo- ries of the language that prevailed in the past to explain and justify Israel's failure, and in all cases but one soon gave way to clear-cut affirmations of the validity of the Armenian Genocide and sup- port for its recognition by the current government of Israel.
This reporter had to hold his breath during the beginning of the remarks by the official spokesman of the government before it became clear how positive the official position had become for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide at long last.
There was only one notable effort at a counter-proposal by a member of the Knesset, Robert Tiviaev, who made a disingenuous effort to call for a commission of historians to research 'what really happened,' and he pledged that if the commission then concluded that there had been a geno- cide, "I will be the first to call for recognition." Knesset Chair Rivlin made short shrift of the speaker and ruled that there was no point in generating a formal counter proposal and voting on it because it was obvious from all the earlier speakers that an overwhelming majority of the Knesset adamantly confirmed the historical authenticity of the Armenian Genocide.
Rivlin also concluded there was no point in calling for a vote on the resolution to recognize the genocide since the Knesset already had voted last year, unanimously, in favor of recognition. It was on the basis of that vote that the measure had been referred to the Knesset's Education Commit- tee that held a several hour session in December 2011.
Knesset Chair Rivlin also said that today's session was a confirmation and extension of the original full Knesset resolution to recognize the genocide, and he then added forcefully that he now expected a continuation of deliberations in the Education Committee and a vote on the resolution.
The government was officially represented at the hearing by MK Gilad Erdan, a member of the National Union Party and currently Minister of Environmental Affairs, who is described by some press as a close friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was Erdan's role to present the government's position (that will be described shortly) and to answer officially on behalf of the gov- ernment proposed parliamentary motion not to recognize the genocide.
Erdan said clearly that the government had decided to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and even used what is normally the code word 'holocaust' in his remarks to describe what was done to the Armenian people. "I think it is definitely fitting that the Israeli government formally recognize the holocaust perpetrated against the Armenian people," Erdan, Israel's environmental affairs minis- ter said.
For this reporter, Erdan's remarks also reflected the struggles of the long-since denialist Israeli government that is now coming around dramatically in a welcome move to recognize the Armenian Genocide. At first, Erdan made at least one totally inaccurate remark in defense of the State of Is- rael when he said, "The State of Israel has never denied the [Armenian Genocide]. On the contrary, we deplore the genocide." Erdan also temporized briefly about the meaning of the word 'genocide' when he noted that, "Not everyone uses the same dictionary when they refer to 'genocide'..." Yet in the end - though this reporter thought somewhat nervously and hurriedly - Erdan announced unam- biguously that he was conveying the government's official position. First of all, he said on behalf of the government that, "One must support full open discussion of the issue." He also went on to refer to a deeper meaning of the Armenian Genocide for mankind and to link the meaning of the Arme- nian Genocide to the Holocaust of the Jewish people: "The government notes that mankind has not learned the full meanings of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust." And finally Erdan an- nounced the Israeli government calls for formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide which, as noted earlier, Erdan now characterized with the word 'holocaust:'
GPN Explanation and Analysis
Unlike the procedure in the US Congress, the Israel legislative sequence calls first for a vote in the plenum, and given a positive vote then the proposed resolution is referred for a hearing in one of the Knesset committees. Now, given a further positive vote in the committee, the measure returns once again to the plenum for three readings and a vote on each reading. At the successful conclu- sion of this process, the resolution becomes a legal decision of the Knesset.
In the case of the bill to recognize the Armenian Genocide, it is known that if the government maneuvers to send the bill to the secretive Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security, the bill will most likely be killed - and no information on who said what and 'who done it' may ever be forth- coming. When the present resolution was sent last Fall to the Education Committee, whose hearings are public, it was a major step toward a possible recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The De- cember hearing in the Education Committee was widely hailed in Israel as the first-ever extended consideration of the genocide in Israel's legislature.
However - a very big however - as reported by GPN at the time, after several hours of a rich and quite moving session, the Chair of the Education Committee at the time, Alex Miller, a member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beitenu Party that is headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (the Foreign Ministry continued in its traditional opposition to recognize the genocide) as if broke the spell of the session that overall would clearly have produced a vote for recognition, and announced preemptively that the session was over. Bang! Miller then promised that there would be a con- tinuation session in the future, but in fact has never made a move to schedule such a session, and GPN has learned privately over these months from the leaders of the Armenian community in Israel that Miller has said that he refuses to convene such a session.
It now remains to be seen whether the government will act on its newly announced support of the recognition by working to have the Knesset send the measure once again to the Education Com- mittee for a continuation of the hearing - there will be a new Chair of the Education Committee in the coming weeks.
What is clear is that Knesset Chair Reuven Rivlin will do everything in his power in the be- hind-the-scene decision-making process to have the bill referred back to the Education Committee, but we do not know how to evaluate the range of his influence.
If the government arranges for the bill to go to the secretive committee where it is likely to be killed or in any other way stops the unfolding of the full process, we will know that the statement made by the government's spokesman on June 12 was still another maneuver in the history of Israeli
realpolitik - notwithstanding the fact the even this statement itself represents a major precedent in the tortured process that has taken place in Israel over so many years.
One puzzle for this reporter in the day following the hearing is that so much of the press in Is- rael and in the U.S. too failed to report loudly and clearly what for us is the very big news - and therefore GPN's headline. The Government of Israel did state officially that it supports recognition. Wow. As I reviewed press today, I discovered to my amazement that most missed the point. Haaretz in Hebrew didn't even report the story of the hearing. The English edition of Haaretz this morning featured the hearing as its lead Page One story but still didn't convey the main point of the victory. Neither did the Jerusalem Post or the Los Angeles Times in their fairly full stories. One minor new service in israel, Arutz Sheva, did publish a small statement that the Minister Erdan "spoke for the government..." and quoted him saying in the first person (which could be one source of the confusion that has been showing up as to who he represented), "I believe it would be appro- priate for the government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide." In Istanbul, the newspaper Today's Zaman got it more correctly than some of the major Israeli papers and quoted the minister basically correctly, BUT added that he said Israel's government had not changed its policy, and in general erred very badly in saying the hearing was initiated in response to this minister's remark rather than that the minister came as the official government representative to the hearing initiated by the Knesset. The one source we have found so far that got it really right was the Chicago Tribune which clearly credited Erdan as speaking for the government.
Why so much clouding of information? At the moment GPN's analysis is that it's a whopper of a correction for Israel to make after so many years and its hard to believe. As we reported, even the minister seemed nervously unsure!
In spite of the clear risks of being very wrong, GPN's editor-reporter now predicts that this bill to recognize the Armenian Genocide will go the full route and will be approved by the Israeli Knesset.
Armenia Fund International Board Meeting in Armenia
YEREVAN -- On May 30, 2012, the Board of Trustees of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund held its 21st annual meeting, at the Government Reception Hall in Yerevan. The plenary event was presided over by Serzh Sarkisian, President of the Republic of Armenia. Representing Armenia Fund U.S. Western Region at the meeting was its Chairman, Ara Aghishian, Esq.
Armenia Fund affiliates from around the world with Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan.
Prior to addressing the agenda, Sarkisian congratulated the attendees on the 20th anniversary of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. “We have come a long way together,” he said. “It would be impossible to list all the projects that were realized during those 20 years. Given a portfolio of ac-
complishments so numerous and diverse, it suffices to note that Armenia and Artsakh would be in- conceivable today without the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. While its jubilee inspires us with joy and pride, it also motivates us to continue building on the fund’s work with renewed vigor and en- thusiasm.”
20th Anniversary Commemorative Medals of Achievement were awarded to members of the Board of Trustees, chairpersons of the fund’s worldwide affiliates, and several members of the Ex- ecutive Board, in recognition of their far-reaching contributions to the development of Armenia and Artsakh.
During the meeting, the Fund’s activities in various realms and ongoing projects were dis- cussed. The meeting participants viewed a video report of the fund’s accomplishments in 2011. The screening was followed by a presentation of the Executive Board’s annual activity report, delivered by Ara Vardanyan. The executive director’s report, as well as the ensuing presentations of the an- nual financial and audit reports, were approved by the Board of Trustees.
Prior to the meeting, affiliates of the Fund visited various completed and on going projects of the Fund in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. In addition to the project visitations, the Fund’s affili- ates also met with Minister of Diaspora, Hranush Hakobyan.
While in Armenia, Ara Aghishian was the guest of several television programs. He was inter- viewed on Or Vecerord, a prominent program on Shoghakat TV, the official channel of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
Dersim Massacre’s Armenian Survivors Testify in Turkish Parliament
ANKARA — A Turkish parliamentary sub-committee conducting an inquiry into the fate of the Dersim massacre survivors has invited several “lost daughters” to hear their stories about the trag- edy.
Fatma Yavuz, who concealed her Armenian origins for 57 years, was also among the invitees.
Exiled from Konya at age five and learning her real surname 78 years later, the woman pre- sented her recollections to the Turkish legislators.
She told how soldiers were lining up the people on the edge of the river, killing them and throwing the bodies to the river. She was either 4 or 5 years old. “I was saved by a person who cov- ered me with a blanket. Later I was taken by an officer. His family adopted me. I was beaten there a lot and even had my finger broken. Later, another family took me, but there too, I was subjected to violence. When I was 13, I was finally married to a man of 35, who converted me to Islam. I was still a child, homeless, jobless and without anyone to take care of me. And I raised my children in such conditions,” she said.
Later, after continuous attempts to reveal her past, she has found out that her father’s name was Hakob and mother’s Havas.
The other adopted girl after Dersim massacres is Halazur Gevis. “Let such things never happen again, leaving children orphans and mothers crying,” she said, starting her speech. She told how her stepfather took away her mother’s property, and she was like a prisoner forced to live in camps. “I was forced to live as a slave. How can people be so bad?!” she said.
The offspring of a family that survived Dersim massacres Erdak Karakoc said for many years he has been searching for his sister Sakine and uncle’s daughter Semsi.
He said his father was searching them until he died without finding his daughter.
“We knew that they are alive. We had a document dating back to 1941. However, the more we were coming closer to them, the more they were moving away from us. I think, it was a step di- rected toward annihilation of Alevis of Dersim,” he noted.
Erdak Karakoc said if the “lost daughters” are alive he wants to find them, if they have passed away he wants to know where their grave is.
Luther Simjian an Armenian grew up in Antep, Tur- key, but he left his family, he went first to Beirut, later Marseille. In 1920 he immigrated to the USA, where he found shelter with relatives in New Haven, Connecticut. Beginning at the age of 15, he worked there as a photographer. He gave up his initial plans of studying medicine when he was engaged as a laboratory photographer by the Yale School of Medicine. Later, in 1928, he became director of their photography department, and invented several machines such as a projector for micro- scope images.
In 1934 Simjian moved to New York City, where he in- vented a self-posing portrait camera, with which the photographed person could see and optimize their own image in a mirror before the photo was actually taken. In order to manufacture and distribute the camera, which became a success for use in department stores, he founded the company Photoreflex. Years later, after selling the invention and the trade name, the company was renamed Reflectone, a name drawn from another of Simjian's inventions, a kind of cosmetic chair with movable mirrors, where one could see their own body from all perspectives.
In 1939 Simjian had the idea to build the Bankmatic Automated Teller Machine, probably his most famous invention. Despite the scepticism of the banks, he registered 20 patents for it and developed a number of features and principles that can still be found in today's ATMs, including their name. He finally persuaded the City Bank of New York, today Citibank, to run a 6-month trial. The trial was however not continued — surprisingly not due to technical insufficiencies, but to lack of demand. It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn't want to deal with tellers face to face, Simjian wrote. Hence Simjian missed out on not only the commercial success, but also the fame associated with inventing the ATM. This credit is often attributed to John Shepherd-Barron (who invented the first true elec- tronic ATM) and Donald Wetzel (who directed a 5 million US-$ project to build upon Shepherd-Barron's invention in the late 1960s).
Simjian gained commercial success during World War II with another invention, his Optical Range Estimation Trainer, a kind of simple flight simulator, made from mir- rors, light sources and miniature airplanes, used to train US military pilots in estimating the speed and distance of airplanes. Simjian sold over 2000 of these devices. Today's
successor of Reflectone (after a number of mergers and acquisitions), CAE, is still mak- ing its money with flight simulation and control technology.
Simjian founded several other companies in the following years and invented a number of very different devices and technologies, e. g. a teleprompter, medical ultra- sound devices, a remote-controlled postage meter, a golf simulator and a meat tender- izer. He never ceased inventing in his laboratories in Fort Lauderdale. At the age of 92, he got his last patent on a process for improving the sound of wood for musical instru- ments, seven months before his death in 1997.
The income of the charity concert to be transferred to Armenian schools
YEREVAN, JUNE 21, ARMENPRESS: Geneva “Victoria Hull” concert hall hosted famous pianist Sergey Babayan charity concert, organized jointly with Armenian Embassy in Switzer- land, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency.
As Information and Public relations Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry informed Ar- menpress the amount of the money gathered as a result of charity concert is set to be trans- ferred to Armenian schools for launching WFP in Armenia, to ensure free food in Armenian schools.
Armenian Ambassador in Switzerland Charles Aznavour , Armenian Diaspora Minister Hra- nush Hakobyan , World Food Programme as well as Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency leaders came forth with the welcoming speeches within the framework of the pro-
Mayor of Geneva, Switzerland and the UN Geneva office accredited diplomatic mission repre- sentatives , as well as numerous compatriots of the Armenian community were present at the programme.
Each and every year WFP provides with hot food for 22 million pupils in 60 countries. By the assistance of Armenian Government over 50 thousand pupils are included in the program, mostly from poor families.
Yerevan church dome cracks
June 21, 2012 YEREVAN. – Armenia’s Rescue Service received a call, on Wednesday at 11:02am, inform- ing that the facing stones could fall from the dome of capital city Yerevan’s Holy Trinity Church.
And the Araratian Pontifical Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church was made informed of this development, the Rescue Service told Armenian News-NEWS.am
It was found out, however, that there are cracks on the stones but there is no danger of falling.
NKR Medals for Courage to 51 freedom fighters
For personal courage shown in the course of the combat actions defending the Nagorno Kara- bakh Republic and in connection with the Day of Perished Soldiers and Missing in Action, on 21 June President of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan signed a decree on post- humously awarding 51 freedom fighters of the “Arabo”, “Artsiv-13” and “Zeytun” voluntary detachments with the medal "For Courage," Central Information Department of the Office of the NKR President informed.
Israel Has One Good Reason For Recognizing the Armenian Genocide
By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The CaliforniaCourier Israel’s Parliament -- the Knesset -- held “an historic session ” on June 12, during which
“seven different political parties overwhelmingly endorsed recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” according to Dr. Israel Charny, Executive Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem. He cautiously predicted that the Knesset would complete its legislative procedures leading to recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
While acknowledging the Armenian Genocide would be salutary, Israel should have done so long ago. In fact, the Jewish State should have been the first country to recognize the genocide, in view of the awesome legacy of the Holocaust -- Shoah. Who should empathize more with the victims of genocide than those who have suffered a similar fate themselves? As Knesset member Nino Abesadze pointed out during the hearing: “It is precisely because we have been a victim people that we do not dare fail to identify with another victim people.” Another influential Knesset member, Zeev Elkin, Chair of the Likud Caucus stated: “We are one of the last nations in the world that has still not recog- nized the Armenian Genocide. It is our moral responsibility that we have still not met.”
During the June 12 hearing, Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin spoke “firmly and inspiringly” with “profound feeling of both a Jewish and an Israeli imperative to extend a long overdue recogni- tion,” Dr. Charny reported. Chairman Rivlin announced that there was no need for a new vote to rec- ognize the Armenian Genocide since the Knesset had already voted unanimously for its recognition last year. Dr. Charny explained that unlike the US Congress, Knesset resolutions first go to the plenary session before being considered by one of its committees. The next step for the Armenian Genocide resolution is the Education Committee, after which it would be sent back to the Knesset for a final vote. Only then it could be said that the Knesset has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide.
One of the unexpected developments at the June 12 hearing was a statement by Minister of Envi- ronmental Affairs Gilad Erdan who announced that he was speaking officially on behalf of the gov- ernment. He stated unambiguously that Israel had decided to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Fur- thermore, Minister Erdan claimed that “the State of Israel has never denied it, on the contrary, we de- plore the [Armenian] genocide.” This was a surprising statement, since it is well known that, under Turkish pressure, Israel has persistently opposed recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Nevertheless, in defiance of Israeli state denialism, on April 24, 2000, Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin and Minister of Education Yossi Sarid acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, prompting the government to repudi- ate their statements. Beilin had also recognized the genocide in 1994, while serving as Deputy Foreign Minister.
The fact that serious discussions on the Armenian Genocide are now taking place at a time of deteriorating relations between Turkey and Israel raises troubling questions about the motives of the Is- raeli government. It would be morally repugnant to see the mass murder of a nation being exploited for crass political calculations. Yet, one has to realize that international relations are rarely based on moral principles. Were it not for economic and political considerations, the whole world would have long ago recognized the Armenian Genocide.
While critics may be displeased that Israel is considering recognition of the Armenian Genocide at a time of discord with Turkey, the greater wrong, in my view, was not doing the right thing for all these years. Even now, despite efforts to rectify the past and uphold the truth, some Israeli officials are concerned that raising the Armenian Genocide issue would further exacerbate relations with Turkey. Knesset member Arieh Eldad dismissed such objections by pointing out the illogical stance of the nay- sayers: “A few years ago, people said we couldn’t talk about it because of our good relations with Tur- key. Now people say we can’t talk about it because of our bad relations with Turkey.” Eldad added that when people are reluctant to address moral and ethical issues there is always a claim that the timing of such a discussion is wrong.
There is, however, one red line that no Armenian should cross. Israeli officials have sought to obtain political concessions from Armenia and Armenians in return for genocide recognition. Such demands should be rejected outright since Armenians do not owe anything to Israel for recognizing the genocide -- a universally acknowledged historical fact. Israel should recognize the Armenian Genocide simply because it is the right thing to do, reflecting the sentiments of all righteous Jews worldwide.
On Wednesday, June the 13th, the Liberal interim leader Mr. Bob Rae announced in Ottawa that he will NOT seek the permanent leadership of the Liberal Part of Canada.
Today, I join many Liberals across Canada to congratulate him for the job well done as an interim leader of the Liberal party and wish him well for many years to come.
My position on Mr. Rae's intent was very clear. I was concerned about his position on many issues (in- cluding his stance on the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians - resolution passed and approved in the House of Commons 2004, and his position on Nagorno Karapakh) from the very beginning and it was clear to me that he should NOT seek the permanent leadership position of the Liberal Party for many reasons that were discussed in the Canadian media for a long time. I made my point very clear on many occasions and to as many individuals as I could. Last week, in Ottawa I spoke with CTV News,Thomson Reuters in Ottawa as well with Ms. Chantal Hebert a columnist (Ottawa) with the To- ronto Star.
I would like to share with you her column on this subject published in The Toronto Star on June 16th, 2012.
You can view this story at: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1212097--hebert-jean- charest-s-hand-has-once-again-been-weakened
In the future, I would like to keep you informed -and hope to receive your input- on this issue as much as possible and hope that you will get engaged with this nation-building democratic process as well. Again, I wish Mr. Bob Rae and his family all the best. Hope to hear your comments.
Best Regards, Sarkis Assadourian
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