Friday, 8 May 2015

Armenian News ... A Topalian ... Eight-letter word!...

from Righteous Turkish intellectuals

Hurriyet, turkey
April 29 2015

At this pace of events (so probably in a couple of decades), several 
Turkish ambassadors across the world will have to take forced spring 
vacations in Ankara. April 2015 was fairly smooth, with only two 
ambassadors (in Vatican City and Vienna) recalled - they probably 
bought return tickets, not one-way. The ambassadors in Berlin, Moscow 
and Paris can stay; the countries they reside in happen to be outside 
of Turkey's barking range. 

As is customary, the capital that mattered the most was Washington. 

And, as is customary, the American way to portray the tragedy of 
1915-1920 contained every violent word except "genocide," as President 
Barack Obama's annual statement to commemorate the victims mentioned 
"the first mass atrocity of the 20th century," "deportation," 
"massacre" and "a march to deaths." So our noble ancestors did not 
commit genocide but last century's first mass atrocity; they merely 
massacred the Armenians; they just marched them to their deaths. All 
is fine, then. 

In 2007, this column likened the Turkish-American modus vivendi on the 
Armenian genocide to a fabricated joke: "The American tells everyone 
that his Turkish friend's wife sleeps with everyone, but meticulously 
avoids calling her 'a prostitute.' The Turk hears every word of 
his American friend's gossip but keeps silent because 'the American 
hasn't called my wife a prostitute.' One day, while the two men are 
sipping their drinks at a bar, the American calls the Turk's wife a 
prostitute. The Turk then turns around and shoots him." ("What happens 
if Pelosi breaks US-Turkish modus vivendi," Hurriyet Daily News, Jan. 
11, 2007). 

In the years ahead, Americans will probably have to find more creative 
ways to avoid the word genocide: "What the Ottomans did to their 
Armenians citizens undoubtedly amounted to an eight-letter word that 
starts with a 'g' and ends with an 'e.'" 

"Gamodeme!" an important man in grey suit in Ankara would smile 
and scream happily. "Yes, the president of the United States meant 
'gamodeme!'" "Gladsome!" another would suggest. "Geniture" might be 
a closer guess. 

Another big crisis between strategic partners Turkey and America 
would be averted. The Turkish Foreign Ministry would express content 
that the president of the United States did not portray the undesired 
incidents at the beginning of the 20th century as genocide. The Turkish 
ambassador to Washington would not be forced into an unwanted spring 
vacation in Ankara. All would be well. 

Fast rewind to 2015: meanwhile, in Ankara, a top Islamic official 
said Pope Francis's portrayal of the 1915 "geniture" as "genocide" 
would only accelerate the reopening of the Hagia Sophia church in 
Istanbul for Muslim prayers. It's fine that the Hagia Sophia was first 
dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360 and served as 
the Greek Patriarchal Cathedral of Constantinople until 1453, when 
the Turkish conquest, according to the Islamist Turkish narrative, 
was greeted with extreme joy by a local population that was desperate 
to embrace Islam. And the fact that the Pope is the leader of the 
Catholic world, not the Orthodox, should not undermine a very important 
Turkish imam's threat to retaliate with absurdity. The Pope's remark 
could have well prompted the Turks to retaliate by converting the 
country's few synagogues into mosques all the same. 

But watch out, Professor Mehmet Gormez, head of the powerful and 
wealthy Religious Affairs Directorate! You have an emerging rival who 
may have his eyes on your prestigious office and luxurious official 
car. The grand mufti of Ankara, who predicts a faster conversion of 
Hagia Sophia into a mosque because the Pope thinks 1915 was genocide, 
must have scored some points and may be racing ahead to replace you - 
unless a rival grand mufti matches him by launching a campaign for the 
"immediate" conversion of the church. 

What miracles an eight-letter word that starts with a "g" and ends 
with an "e" can make in Turkey... 

Zaman, Turkey (in Turkish)
May 27 2015
by Ali H. Aslan
[translated from Turkish] 

Turkey, a country that is going through a huge crisis of governance 
and rising internal instability during the past few years, is losing 
power in every field. 

On top of the list of things lost is the power of persuasion in the 
international arena. 

A state's power of persuasion is made up of the combination of soft 
and hard power. It has intellectual, social, cultural, democratic, 
economic, and military components. It is in direct proportion to the 
methods and means used to promote and present one's country to the 
world. History throws up cases to test states' power of persuasion. 

The debate over 1915 is without a doubt the most challenging test of 
all for Turkey. 

Turkish state has a certain official policy and narrative about 
the events of 1915 when over a million of Anatolian Armenians, 
who were Ottoman citizens, perished, lost their homeland, and were 
massacred as a result a decision taken by the wartime officials to 
deport them to Syria. The goal is to ensure that the international 
community does not define the events as "genocide" and consequently, 
Turkey will not have to pay any legal reparations, and the country's 
international reputation remains intact. To large extent, the state 
"succeeded" in convincing its own people of the validity of its story 
by indoctrinating them, through the generations, with a historical 
perspective devoid of empathy and by filling their minds, directly 
and indirectly, with data and perceptions backing this official policy. 

However, one cannot say that the state was equally "successful" 
in convincing the international community. 

Propaganda by Turks for Turks 

Using a historical graph, one can see that the persuasive quality of 
the Turkish Republic's theses on the 1915 events has been gradually 
sliding in eyes of the international community. On the centennial of 
the tragedy, the slide in the graph naturally became more evident. 

Vatican, Germany, Russia as well as the European and Austrian 
parliaments joined the already long list of those who acknowledge 
the genocide. As for US President Barack Obama's statement regarding 
24 April, he almost gave the coordinates of the genocide, stopping 
short of marking the point. For the past weeks, Turkish Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs has been busy sending memorandums to foreign countries, 
reproaching them, and recalling its ambassadors. In short, it is not 
a very bright picture. 

It was already known that 2015 would be a challenging year for Ankara 
and that Armenians and their friends were making huge preparations. 

However, it is certain that the factors outside the centennial of 
1915 also played a role in Turkey's power of persuasion waning and 
the alienation of the country. The widespread reaction felt around the 
world against the regime change in Turkey, de facto carried out under 
Erdogan's leadership was also influential. Non-existent neighbourly 
relations, offended big states, and insulted nations... With its 
lack of respect for boundaries, its self-opinionated attitude, and 
foul language, the novice regime frustrate many not only at home but 
also abroad. 

One of the prominent elements of power of persuasion is deterrence. 

The countries that wield strong deterrent powers because of their 
economic and military might are not challenged or cannot be challenged 
even when they are in the wrong. If so many foreign countries can 
afford to upset Ankara because of the 1915 question, mainly a moral 
issue that does not have huge priority in terms of their national 
interests, one has to pause and think. It means they are not very 
apprehensive of Ankara. Only the uneducated native masses buy the 
populist spin-doctoring around "world leader" and "global state" 
[terms used by the government to refer to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and 
the Turkish state]. 

States sometimes get their national theses accepted through soft 
power of their countries. However, the 1915 question is not one that 
can be covered up with soft power. Besides, the intellectuals and 
artists in Turkey, who represent the country's soft power and enjoy 
international reputation, do not usually share the ultra-statist 
narrative. If democratic diversity grows, the soft power factor will 
work even more against the state's stance. 

Is Street Action Solution? 

This year mass street action took place in the United States, organized 
underhandedly by the units of the Turkish state. Obama and Armenian 
groups were the targets. Even though at first glance it looks like a 
contribution by soft power, such moves will be inadequate in winning 
over the Americans. In fact, they may have the opposite effect. In 
the eyes of the US state and public opinion, this may put Ankara into 
a category of regimes that indoctrinate their people and use them for 
the regime's interests, and seek to design a civil society. Besides, in 
a predominantly Christian society that does not believe in the Turkish 
theses, to take the Muslim Turkish minority out to the street may lead 
to various security risks. The Turkish diaspora should be encouraged 
to engage in dialogue not to have a tussle with Armenians and the US 
state. It should step in with a focus on cultural perspective rather 
than a political one. 

Ankara is not the only one that displays a morally disingenuous 
stance. Even though previous US administrations and Congresses 
generally believed that genocide took place in 1915, they always 
kept their moral concerns in the background because of Turkey's 
geostrategic value. Why? As far as the United States is concerned, 
Turkish and Armenians peoples, even when put together, are less 
valuable than the military base in Incirlik in Turkey. Self-interests 
such as Incirlik lead the White House, while working to integrate Iran 
into the international community, to watch Turkey from the sidelines 
as the country slides into a regime with a similar mentality and be 
hypocritical about 1915. 

It is no wonder that these days one of the ideas strongly suggested 
to the US administration by the strategy community in Washington 
is to seek other military bases as an alternative to Incirlik. Most 
recently, the same point was made in a report by Bipartisan Policy 
Centre. Experts are convinced that as long as it remains dependent 
on Incirlik, the United States will not be in a position to take 
a stand against the negative state of affairs in Turkey. The new 
authorities in Ankara, like their predecessors, are making good use 
of the Incirlik card to legitimize their regime. I am certain that 
the biggest trump card Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu 
held in the meeting with his counterpart John Kerry was whether to 
let the United States use Incirlik against ISIL or not. 

Turkey's ability to persuade the world depends on it becoming a 
democratic and civilian country, having a strong economy and a 
military. Angry words will not cut it anymore. 

May 4 2015
Author: Kadri Gursel 

Every year on April 24, the day commonly accepted as the beginning
of the Armenian genocide, Ankara vehemently refuses to recognize the
1915 massacre and deportation of Ottoman Armenians living in Anatolia
as genocide, and focuses on Washington and whether the US president
will use the word "genocide" in his April 24 message. As this year
was the centennial of the Armenian genocide, Ankara and the Armenian
diaspora as well as Yerevan paid special attention to the matter. The
general expectation was that even though it is the centennial,
President Barack Obama would not want to damage bilateral ties with
Turkey. This is in fact what happened, and Obama did not say the word.

>From Ankara's viewpoint, Obama's refraining from saying "genocide"
meant that the campaign for international recognition was over without
inflicting heavy damages to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis did use the word in the mass observing the
centennial at the Vatican's San Pietro Basilica, and the European
Parliament accepted by a vast majority a resolution defining the
April 1915 events as genocide.

In Yerevan, where I spent the week with a group of journalists as
guests of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Al-Monitor looked into what kind
of an agenda now awaits Turkey on the Armenian issue. The foundation,
set up in memory of the Armenian-origin journalist assassinated by a
Turkish right-wing extremist, lists among its objectives developing
a culture of dialogue, peace and empathy in relations between Turkey
and Armenia.

The common point of the answers I received to my questions from
key university, media and political figures in Yerevan was that
the focus of the days to come will be the restitution of properties
and compensation to the grandchildren of the victims and deported
Armenians. Historian Vahram Ter-Matevosyan of the American University
of Yerevan told Al-Monitor April 22, "Talk of restitution rather than
condemnation is becoming a trend. This trend will grow after April 24,
2015." Ter-Matevosyan said Armenians could go to Turkish courts to
recover their properties. He explained that research by The American
Worcester State University calculated that restitution and reparation
claims could reach $43 billion.

Hayk Demoyan, the director of the Armenian Genocide Institute and
Museum of Yerevan, confirmed in our April 2 meeting that claims for
compensation and property restitution will be increasingly on the
agenda in the coming days. He said priority is expected to be given
to the return of church real estate. Demoyan said, "Many Armenians
have land deeds, and these must be returned to their owners," and
asked for the opening of Ottoman property registries.

Back in Istanbul, it was no surprise to read an April 28 New York
Times report that lawyers for the Armenian church had gone to Turkey's
supreme judicial venue, the Constitutional Court, about the return
of the church property confiscated in Kozan, Adana province, in 1915.

This was the first such litigation and probably a precursor of others
to follow.

In addition to initiatives for compensation and restitution of
properties, Yerevan will continue to pursue other means to re-establish
diplomatic ties with Turkey. The protocols signed by the two countries
in October 2009 had stipulated mutual steps to normalize bilateral
relations. Unfortunately, these documents, although still legally
valid, are politically dead and will continue to remain so for the
foreseeable future.

The blame for this distressing situation lies with President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Before the protocols were signed, when he
was still prime minister in May 2009, he linked the normalization
of Turkish-Armenian ties to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Today, the
chances for a normalization initiative to succeed are weaker than in
2009. The political and psychological conditions are worse than they
were pre-2009.

Why such a bleak outlook? There is no strong economic or political
reason for Ankara to give up a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh as a
precondition. Normalization of ties with Armenia will not enhance
Turkey's relations with the West, as was the case before 2009. The
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) used the prospect of
normalization to obtain the West's support for its struggle to end the
military tutelage in the country. Today, Turkey's application process
for EU membership seems to be in a coma and the AKP leadership has
no intention of resuscitating it as Turkey continues to distance
itself from the West. As Azerbaijan's investments in Turkey grow,
Baku's influence over Ankara is becoming more tangible.

In Yerevan, journalists were told that the Armenians had lost their
confidence in the AKP government for not implementing the protocols.

This means that the Yerevan government will not have an easy time
of persuading its public to support any normalization with the
AKP's Turkey.

If the protocols had been implemented, the dynamic that would have
blossomed could have kept the Armenian diaspora out of Turkey-Armenia
relations. But now the diaspora appears to have become more of a direct
party to bilateral relations, and this further complicates the issue.
Armenian Genocide Commemorated in Diyarbakir
By Gulisor Akkur
May 1, 2015 

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey 'Hundreds gathered to commemorate the
Armenian Genocide in Diyarbakir on April 24.

The commemoration began with a march from Mardinkapı Street to the
Surp Sarkis Armenian Church, where the co-chair of the leading
pro-Kurdish party, Selehattin DemirtaÅ?; Diyarbakir Mayor Gültan
KıÅ?anak; chair of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, Tahir Elçi; chair of
the Human Rights Association Diyarbakir chapter, Raci Bilici; and
director of the Gomidas Institute, Ara Sarafian , spoke.

Speaking in Armenian, Sarafian noted that as the Turkish state's
denial continues, Kurds have taken meaningful steps in the right

Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples'
Democratic Party, joins the commemoration (Photo: Gulisor Akkum)

DemirtaÅ? challenged those who question the Armenian Genocide. He noted
that when it's expedient, the Turkish government attacks the Committee
of Union and Progress (CUP) that carried out the genocide, but when it
comes to the Armenian Genocide, it becomes the Committee of Union and

KıÅ?anak noted that Armenians chose the forget-me-not flower as a
symbol of the Armenian Genocide Centennial, and said, `We will never
forget it, and we are ready any time to stand with you in your pain.'

Elçi, in turn, called on Turkey and the world to recognize the
Armenian Genocide.

Bilici demanded an apology and reparations for the Armenian Genocide
from the Turkish state.

The evening before, Raffi Bedrosyan gave a piano recital at the Surp
Giragos Church in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. 

The official Turkish defence of the indefensible

Ha'aretz, Israel
By Dogan IÅ~_ık (see his title at the end)
May 7 2015

The only way to build a peaceful future for Turks and Armenians is
via dialogue.

By comparing the events that took place in Anatolia in 1915 to those
of the Holocaust, Mr. Israel W. Charny and Mr. Yair Auron, in their
article "Would Israel tolerate calling the Holocaust a 'massacre?'"
(Haaretz, April 30), consciously ignore the facts on the ground.

1915 was a year of disasters. Back then, the Western press was
describing the Turks as ignorant and unworthy of residing on European
soil, while the most powerful and supposedly civilized countries were
making secret agreements to share the remaining pieces of Turkey. In
April 1915, the advancing Russian army already occupied a large part
of Anatolia. In Gallipoli, British and French warships were fiercely
bombarding the Turkish defense lines, and an army of the entente was
landing to open the way to take Ä°stanbul from the Turks. In Istanbul,
15-year-olds were being sent to hold the lines in Canakkale. Armenian
armed forces, gearing up for a nation state of their own in eastern
Anatolia, where they constituted a minority of the population, were
leading the Russian troops and attacking the supply lines of the
Turkish army. So the Ottoman Empire decided to apply relocation.

The Ottomans would never have opted for relocation had there 
never been a Russian occupation supported by Armenian armed 
forces. All Turks and Armenians would have continued to live exactly 
as they did for the previous 800 years, sharing their cities, life, music,
food and friendship. War brought heavy losses for all in Anatolia.

[what about the Hamidian massacres and Adana?]

Today, Turkey remembers all these losses of Anatolia and seeks a
path of unity going forward. A religious ceremony was held at the
Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul on April 24 to commemorate the
Armenian losses in 1915. The ceremony was attended by Turkish Minister
of European Union Affairs Volkan Bozkr, and a message from Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was read out. In the message, Erdogan
commemorated all the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives in World
War I and extended his condolences to their children and grandchildren.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in a message earlier this year,
said "Having already underscored the inhumane consequences of the
relocation policies essentially enforced under wartime circumstances,
including that of 1915, Turkey shares the suffering of Armenians
and, with patience and resolve, is endeavoring to re-establish
empathy between the two peoples." In a separate statement, Davutoglu
emphasized that "our common responsibility and calling today is to
heal century-old wounds and re-establish our human ties once again."

Within its commitment to a just memory, Turkey called for the
establishment of a joint historical commission to study the tragic
events of 1915. Remembering and narrating the history in an unselective
and objective manner based on archival documentation is the way to
overcome the historical controversy that has arisen due to different
national narratives and the personal memories of Turks and Armenians.

[what about all the academic books and articles that conclude genocide?]

Armenia, carried away by a one-sided narrative, still occupies a fifth
of the internationally-recognized territory of Azerbaijan. One must not
forget that this occupation has caused one million Azerbaijan Turks
to leave their homes. Azerbaijan, despite this military occupation,
endeavors to develop and uphold contemporary Western values in a very
difficult region.

Allegations of the Republic of Armenia do not change the fact that
genocide is a crime that is well defined by the Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

Under this convention, "genocide" is a legal term that can only be
applied when established under the law by a competent court. The
Genocide Convention is also not retroactive, thus cannot be applied
to earlier periods. In the case of Perincek v. Switzerland, the
European Court of Human Rights made a distinction between the clear
establishment of the Holocaust by an international court and the lack
thereof as regards the events of 1915.

A peaceful common future between Turks and Armenians can only be
built through dialogue.

As the article of Mr. Charny and Mr Auron mentions the Holocaust,
it is necessary to emphasize that during the Holocaust, many European
Jews found refuge in Turkey, and Turkish diplomats in Europe rescued
hundreds of Jews from the hands of the Nazi regime. Today, Turkey
is an observer country at the International Holocaust Remembrance
Alliance. Speaker of Turkish Grand National Assembly Cemil Cicek
attended the official Holocaust Memorial Day event in Ankara, and
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut CavuÅ~_oglu attended the ceremony
in Auschwitz. The annual ceremony to commemorate the victims of the
Struma was attended by Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik. The
Grand Edirne Synagogue, a masterpiece belonging to the Turkish Jewish
community descending from Jews that took refuge in the Ottoman
Empire back in 1492, was reopened by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent
Arınc on March 26, after an extensive restoration, with a joyous
ceremony attended by local dignitaries and members of the Turkish
Jewish community from both Ä°stanbul and Tel Aviv.

These events reflect the Turkish attitude to the memory of the
Holocaust in particular and the Jewish people.

The writer has been the second secretary and charge d'affaires a.i. of
the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv since September 2011. Prior to that,
he served as third secretary in the Turkish Embassy in Prishtina and
at the Balkans Department of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara.
05 May 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

"If Turkey acknowledged the genocide, it would not lose anything. It
would become a country that faced its dark history," editor-in-chief
of Turkey's Agos newspaper Yetvart Danzikyan said in an interview
with Al Jazeera.

"In the government's view, Turkey's ancestors would never conduct
a genocide - other countries do. What happened to Armenians fits
with the definition of genocide. The fact that there was no defined
concept of genocide in 1915 doesn't mean it wasn't one. No one actually
blames Turks or Turkey as a country; the state itself internalizes
it. Nobody is saying Turks or Turkey's ancestors did it. However, the
Committee of Union and Progress government of the time planned 
the genocide and carried it out. This is what we are saying. It wasn't
an aspect of the war going on back then as the government claims,
it was planned. Name by name, district by district, Armenians were
taken away. Even the number of Armenians to stay and to be taken 
away were clear," Danzikyan said.

"Facing these would put Turkey in another [higher] league of 
countries in the world. Turkey should stop seeing the issue as 
an insult to the state, religion, and nation," he added.

Speaking about the messages of condolences that government officials
have sent to Armenians in the last two years, Danzikyan said: "It
is a positive development. However, if you look at the content of
the messages, you will see that the Turkish government wants 
1915 to be memorialized the way it defines it. They refer to the war
conditions of the time, implying responsibility also on Armenians,
etc. As long as Turkish Armenians are okay with these arguments,
they are the government's friends. Others are the foes."

"The messages are also unbalanced. One day [President Recep Tayyip]
Erdogan criticizes the commemoration ceremony in Yerevan. The next day
he releases a message and has it read at the Armenian Patriarchate,
sending his condolences to Armenians. He also changed the commemoration
of the Gallipoli battle to April 24, making it a rival ceremony. He
was in Canakkale himself [at the Gallipoli commemoration]; his message
is at the patriarchate. What are we supposed to do with this?"

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