House of Commons Debate
Vote on Account 2012-13 - Home Office: Foreign and Commonwealth Office -
UK-Turkey Relations (4 Jul 2012)
Stewart Jackson (Peterborough, Conservative)
I yield to no one in my enormous respect for my colleague in the Inter-Parliamentary
Union and his great love for Turkey and affinity for the country. I bear no malice as a
candid friend to the wonderful, decent people of Turkey but I quote Leo Kuper, who
was an eminent academic at the University of California, Los Angeles and said:
“The Armenian genocide is a contemporary current issue, given the persistent
aggressive denial of the crime by the Turkish government—notwithstanding its
own judgment in courts martial after the first World War, that its leading ministers
had deliberately planned and carried out the annihilation of Armenians, with the
participation of many regional administrators.”
My point is not that that series of events did not happen at the end of the Ottoman
empire in Anatolia, which is now part of modern Turkey, but that a key issue in
assessing the suitability and fitness of a country seeking to be part of a club
founded on the bedrock of legality, fairness and equality is the fact that it should
acknowledge past mistakes and crimes that took place almost 100 years ago. In
that respect, just as the Turkish Government have to move on the issue of Cyprus and
countenance the right of the Cypriot people to self-determination, democracy and
freedom, they must accept that the Armenian genocide happened. They have to
apologise and move forward, as happened in Northern Ireland, South Africa and
elsewhere, with a truth and reconciliation process to put to rest that disastrous,
despicable, appalling series of events almost 100 years ago.
We have had an interesting debate. I do not agree with everyone who has spoken,
but these issues are of such great importance and clarity historically that they must
For the full debate, click on
Hundreds Turn Up For Armenian Army Doctor's Funeral
Armenia - A soldier holds the picture of Vahe Avetian during the
military doctor's funeral in Yerevan, 2Jul2012.
Karlen Aslanian, Ruzanna Stepanian
Hundreds of people attended the funeral of an Armenian military doctor
on Monday amid continuing public outrage against a
government-connected businessman who employed the men accused of
beating him to death at a Yerevan restaurant last month.
The crowd comprising Armenia's top army general, opposition
politicians and civic activists silently walked behind Vahe Avetian's
body as it was carried in an open coffin through a Yerevan
neighborhood where he lived with his family. The procession was led by
a military brass band and soldiers holding four wreathes. A letter
from the 35-year-old's first name emblazoned on each of them.
Prominent political and public figures attending the funeral
reaffirmed their strong condemnation of the June 17 beating of Avetian
and two other military doctors at the Harsnakar restaurant.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior parliament deputy from the
opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), referred to it as
an act of `inhuman savagery.' `How can a person become a brainless
animal to do such a thing in our country?' she told reporters. `We
have gathered here to make such persons understand that they are not
privileged, that savagery and murder must not have sponsors.'
Still, unlike many other Armenians outraged by the violence, Zohrabian
was careful not to blame Ruben Hayrapetian, an influential businessman
who owns Harsnakar. She said law-enforcement authorities should
determine whether he is responsible for Avetian's death.
Zaruhi Postanjian another parliamentarian representing the
opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, said Hayrapetian must resign
as both parliament deputy and chairman of the Armenian Football
Federation. Postanjian also questioned investigators' ability and
willingness to solve the case.
Bagrat Yesayan, a prominent member of the opposition Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), said Hayrapetian should at
least be questioned in the ongoing criminal investigation into the
incident. `Thanks to journalists, it has emerged that his personal
bodyguard, rather than a restaurant security guard, was there,' he
said. `A personal bodyguard has to always accompany his boss. So it
must be clarified whether or not Ruben Hayrapetian was at the
restaurant compound and whether that disgraceful incident occurred
with his knowledge.'
For his part, Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, chief of the Armenian
army's General Staff, issued a stark warning to Hayrapetian and other
`oligarchs' that have long been linked with violent conduct. `I want
to warn everyone not to touch the army,' Khachaturov told RFE/RL's
Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during the funeral. `I'm saying that
for the last time. Those who have bodyguards, armed men must behave
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian sounded more cautious in separate
remarks to RFE/RL's Armenian service elsewhere in Yerevan. `I think
that we must create an atmosphere of mutual tolerance in our homeland
and people must understand that they must solve issues by means of
words, rather than fists,' he said.
Ohanian also disapproved of street demonstrations accusing Hayrapetian
of complicity in the doctor's death and demanding his punishment. `I
believe that we must not organize unnecessary public events,' he said.
The minister went on to criticize another army officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Vartan Samvelian, who was arrested on Sunday after
reportedly threatening to blow up Harsnakar. `In terms of strength and
military skills, the lieutenant-colonel is not the only person within
our armed forces,' he said. `If everyone takes such actions where will
they get us?'
Samvelian, who is a deputy commander of an army regiment
headquartered in Yerevan, is kept under arrest on suspicion of illegal
arms possession, suggesting that he will not face a lengthy prison
sentence if put on trial.
`I don't think he really wanted to blow up [the restaurant,]' Vladimir
Gasparian, chief of the Armenian police, told RFE/RL's Armenian
service (Azatutyun.am). `I think he was drunk and took an
initiative. I think the investigation will evaluate everything.'
Gasparian agreed that the Harsnakar assault highlighted the need to
rein in the notoriously violent bodyguards working for wealthy
entrepreneurs. He said the Armenian parliament will soon debate a
government bill aimed at strictly regulating armed protection of such
Meanwhile, street protests against what their participants see as
impunity enjoyed by Hayrapetian and other tycoons continued on
Monday. About a hundred civic activists marched to the Office of the
Prosecutor-General from a Yerevan cemetery where Avetian was
buried. They chanted `I am Vahe' and warned against a cover-up of the
JULY 29 IS AN ARMENIAN FESTIVAL DAY IN LONDON
2 July, 2012
YEREVAN, JULY 2, ARMENPRESS: In the capital of Great Britain after the
opening of Olympic Games Armenian festival which will be held on July
29, will become a national holiday. Armenpress was informed from the
head of Armenian delegation in London Olympic Games, Vice President of
Armenian National Olympic committee Derenik Gabrielyan that Armenian
community of Great Britain wished to organize Armenian festival in
London during the Olympic Games in cooperation with Armenian embassy
to Great Britain and National Olympic committee.
At the same day in the framework of Olympic Games will be organized
Armenian Day, which will introduce to the world Armenia with its rich
history and culture, national traditions, sport, life-style, cuisine.
It will be held in the territory of Armenian Church in the centre
The holding of the event is already agreed with the municipality of
London. At present Antional Olympic committee actively discuss with
the organizers the last preparation details of this event in order
to make it as nice and unforgettable as possible.
YEREVAN BUS STOPS TO HAVE ELECTRONIC SCHEDULES
July 02, 2012 | 14:53
YEREVAN. - Armenian capital city Yerevan's public transport stops will
be installed with European standard electronic schedules, which will
enable the commuters to get information on the arrival of and the
intervals between their expected public transport vehicles. Yerevan
Mayor Taron Margaryan stated during the Municipality's working
consultation on Monday.
Also, he instructed that, in parallel with the implementation of
the new route network, the respective plan for these schedules be
And the Transport Committee Chairman reported that the new tenders
were conducted for Yerevan's public bus and minibus commuting routes.
In addition, it was reported that the improvements being carried
out at the frontal parts of the capital's buildings will end ahead
HOW IS ARMENIA'S TOP TAX OFFICIAL, AND WIFE, MAKING THEIR MILLIONS
00:17, July 2, 2012
Gagik Khachatryan, who heads Armenia's State Revenue Committee,
would have people he leads a modest life.
Official figures from the income disclosure statements Khachatryan
has filed present another picture and have gotten his face plastered
in the Armenian press.
According to his 2009 disclosure, the high ranking tax official only
had assets of 53.8 million AMD. That figure went up slightly to 58
million the following year.
In 2011, his assets soared to 278 million AMD and $2.9 million. His
only income, however, was his 8.4 million AMD salary as the head
Khachatryan's wife, Laura Yepremyan, wasn't far behind that year,
reporting 188 million AMD and $765,000. Lo and behold, her only income
was her 671,740 AMD salary.
Press reports say that Khachatryan owns the fancy "Chronograph" watch
and jewellery store on Northern Avenue in Yerevan. An average watch
can set you back several hundred thousand Drams.
Khachatryan is also to own internet provider Ucom.
Polish Aid to Armenia: Opening of a Water Pipeline in Norashen Village
13:21, July 4, 2012
On 3 July, the Ambassador of Poland to Armenia Zdzislaw Raczynski
opened a water pipeline in Norashen, Aragatsotn Province which had
been constructed within the Polish Aid to Armenia programme.
The water pipeline will enable Norashen inhabitants to water all the
fields and gardens located in the lower part of the village which
could not have been effectively cultivated so far because of the lack
of water. The village inhabitants and vice governor of the Aragatsotn
Province Aram Arsenian also attended the opening.
This is the second project realised by the Embassy of Poland in the
Aragatsotn Province within the Polish Aid programme. Last year the
embassy financed renovation of the medical care station in the
neighbouring village of Geghadir.
Armenia's national team still falls in FIFA ranking
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) announced
its new world ranking for the national teams. And in line with the
standings, Armenia's national squad fell four spots and is currently
There is also a change in the world's top-three teams, as Germany
leapfrogged Uruguay and is now ranked 2nd. The world's top-ranking
national team is still Spain.
Armenia's 2014 World Cup qualifier opponents Italy is ranked 6th,
Denmark is 10th, the Czech Republic is 18th, Bulgaria is 93rd, and
Malta is 145th.
And Armenian national football team's next opponent Belarus is 77th in
the current FIFA ranking.
Investigation launched against Turkish city mayor for
Armenian-language road signs
July 04, 2012 | 10:01
Turkey's Ministry of Internal Affairs opened an inquiry against Mayor
Abdullah Demirbas of Diyarbakir Province's Sur city, for posting road
signs which read `Welcome' in several languages.
Demirbas harshly reacted to the launching of this investigation and
stressed that this is a setback for peace, democracy, friendship and
liberty, Radikal daily of Turkey informs.
Also, the Diyarbakir Provincial Hall recently opened an inquest
against Abdullah Demirbas for launching three-month Armenian-language
To note, the Mayor of Sur had also published several Armenian tales in
Turkish and Armenian. Demirbas also launched the Armenian-language
tourist guide for Diyarbakir. And the signs placed on the roads
entering Sur include `Welcome' in Armenian.
Turkey and its neighbours
Turks fret about Syria, but few of them really want a fight
Jul 7th 2012 | ANKARA AND ISTANBUL | from the print edition
HOW to strike a balance between morality and strategic interest? The question
has long vexed Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister and architect of
a newly muscular foreign policy. Never more so than over Syria’s president,
Bashar Assad. No country has gone as far as Turkey in trying to topple
Mr Assad. It has opened its doors to over 35,000 Syrian refugees, spearheaded
the establishment of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), provided a
haven (and maybe arms) for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and quietly lobbied
America for military intervention.
The Turks feel they cannot stand by and watch the bloodletting of innocents
in a former Ottoman domain. The civil war in Syria is threatening to spill over
and destabilise the region, including Turkey. The downing of a Turkish fighter
jet by the Syrians might have led to intervention. Yet an emergency NATO
meeting urged restraint. NATO’s secretary-general says intervention is not under
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has hinted that Turkey might take
matters into its own hands. He told parliament that “any military element from Syria
moving too close to the Turkish border that is deemed a security risk will be seen
as a threat and will be a military target.” Turkey’s wrath could be “devastating”,
he roared, to thunderous applause from members of his mildly Islamist Justice
and Development (AK) party. This week Turkey continued to mass troops along the
Is Turkey preparing to attack? Few believe it could do so alone. Polls find most Turks
opposed to war. Many argue that since Turkey is bogged down in a 28-year-old war
against rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it cannot afford military adventures
elsewhere. Although millions of Turks protest against Israeli behaviour in Gaza, there
has yet to be a mass rally in support of the Syrian opposition. The Muslim right believes
Turkey is being used by America and Israel against Syria, and that the real target is Iran.
“Their plan is to have Sunni Muslims fight Shia Muslims, and Turkey has become the
chief pawn in this dirty game,” says one commentator.
It hardly seems to matter that America is opposed to Turkish intervention. Unnamed
Pentagon officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal suggested that the Turkish fighter
may have been shot down in Syrian airspace while it was testing Syrian air defences.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has jumped in to offer “objective information”
on the incident.
Another option is a buffer zone to offer safety for civilians fleeing the violence and a base
for the FSA. This is not being encouraged by Western allies, either. Loud objections
also come from the Kurds, who believe that Turkey is bent on suppressing the Syrian
Kurds (many of whom support the PKK). There are reports that Mr Assad has allowed
PKK fighters to cross into Syria from Iraq so as to fend off the FSA in the north, where it
is gaining ground.
The appointment of a Kurd, Abdulbasit Sida, who has called for constitutional guarantees
for Syria’s Kurds, as the SNC’s new head, has been shrugged off as a Turkish ploy. Syria’s
ethnic Armenians, descendants from survivors of the Ottoman massacres in 1915, are
also queasy. Mr Erdogan’s secular critics echo Mr Assad’s claims that he is playing a
sectarian card by propping up Islamists across the Middle East.
Turkey’s Syrian policy is failing to win public support. Mr Erdogan has labelled his media
critics “sell-outs”. Gurcan Balik, an adviser to Mr Davutoglu, chose to vent over Twitter.
“I read almost everything that is written about Syria carefully. I feel like jumping in forcefully
but then I tell myself the best response to a fool is silence,” he tweeted. “That would be you,”
shot back Ihsan Yilmaz, a columnist for Zaman newspaper. In truth, most Turks prefer the
war with Syria to stay one of words.