Thursday, 14 May 2015

Armenian News - A Topalian

European Parliament debate on Armenian Genocide 

Link to the programme transmitted on Sunday 9th May on the BBC 
Parliament channel on the debate in the European Parliament on the 
subject of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide that which took 
place on Wednesday 15th April . 
Fast forward to 1 hour 41 minutes 

[Prof Schabas gave a speech at Southwark Cathedral] 

On the usage of the legal term 'genocide' and on other legal issues
related to the Armenian Genocide has asked the opinion
of renowned expert on international law and the law of genocide
William Schabas.

- Professor Schabas, is the argument used by some governments to
avoid coining the Armenian case as Genocide, namely that 'the word
Genocide cannot be applied to the Armenian case because in 1915 the
term did not exist' a valid one?

- The 1948 Convention '[r]ecogni[ses] that at all periods of history
genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity'. Two years earlier,
the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that
'[m]any instances of such crimes of genocide have occurred when racial,
religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely
or in part'. Thus, there is no doubt that the term 'genocide' may be
applied to events that occurred long before the word was actually
invented, contrary to what some governments have contended as a
justification for refusing to speak of the Armenian genocide.

- Can the Genocide Convention apply retrospectively to the Armenian

- The application to the Genocide Convention to events prior to
its adoption and entry into force is a different question. There
is a presumption in international law that treaties only apply
prospectively, unless the contrary is indicated in the Convention,
either explicitly or by implication. The matter was clarified on 3
February 2015 in the judgment of the International Court of Justice in
the case of Croatia v. Serbia. Paragraph 100 of that judgment states:
'The Court thus concludes that the substantive provisions of the
Convention do not impose upon a State obligations in relation to
acts said to have occurred before that State became bound by the
Convention.' Thus, the answer to the question is 'no'.

- In that case how was the crime of Genocide punishable prior to the
Genocide Convention, i.e. in 1915?

- Genocide is a crime under customary law and was at the time when
it was committed against the Armenians in 1915.

- How much recognition would be enough for Turkey to be obliged to
pay reparations for the Genocide? When it comes to international
recognition, is there a difference between recognition by parliaments
and by governments of leading countries?

- Because the Convention obligations cannot be applied to the 1915
genocide, in light of the ruling of the International Court of Justice,
this may be an entirely theoretical question. Certainly recognition
of the Armenian genocide by various governments, parliaments, etc.,
cannot change the situation concerning the claim that there exists
an obligation under law to provide reparations. It may be argued
that despite the inapplicability of the Convention, there is still
an obligation under customary law to make reparation for the 1915
genocide. However, there does not appear to be a court or jurisdiction
binding upon Turkey where such a claim could be made.

- What future steps would you advise the Armenian government to take
to push the issue forward? After all should the case be taken to ICJ
or any other international body or not?

- For the reasons explained above, I do not think there are presently
any international tribunals for similar bodies where there is a
realistic prospect of success with a claim. Germany's payment of
reparations to Jews following the genocide of the Second World War is a
positive example. Germany did not make payment because it was compelled
to do so as a result of legal obligation but because it considered
this to be the right thing to do. That will also be the way forward
with Turkey. Obviously the growing global consensus and recognition of
the Armenian genocide can help convince Turkey to change its position.

Professor Schabas is a professor of international law at Middlesex
University in London and the author of Genocide in International Law.

He calls genocide the 'crime of crimes' and has argued that it was
committed three times in the last century - with the Armenians,
the Jews, and the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Interview by Nvard Chalikyan 

[this is the third ambassador to be recalled for 'consultation': 
previous ones are The Vatican and Austria] 


The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, stated
that Turkey's decision on recalling its ambassador to Luxembourg was
not surprising for them.

Asselborn, speaking to theLuxemburger Wortnewspaper, noted that
recalling an ambassador is the most common diplomatic form of
expressing a protest.

"I don't think that Turkey-Luxembourg relations will substantially
worsen with this step," the Luxembourgish FM said. "Our [two] countries
are interdependent, and therefore we will continue to work with Ankara
to strengthen our strategic partnership."

Earlier commenting on Luxembourg parliament's decision, Asselborn
had said: "We bow our heads to the dreadful suffering of the Armenian

He had added, however, that the recognition of the killings of the
Armenians as genocide was not a "hostile act" towards Turkey, but a
call for reconciliation between the two countries.

The Turkish MFA had stated that it strongly condemns the Luxemburg
Chamber of Deputies' (parliament) decision that describes the killings
of the Armenians in 1915 as genocide, and it recalled Turkey's
ambassador to Luxembourg. 

[oh dear! But is it an accurate report?] 
VideoNewsUS, Turkey
May 8 2015
by Enver Faruk GUNEY 

Independent panel to review WWI events in Anatolia, says Sweden's
foreign minister.

STOCKHOLM - Sweden will establish an independent commission into
the 1915 Armenian deaths and "act accordingly" to its results, the
country's foreign ministry has said.

National news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyra cited Foreign Minister
Margot Wallstrom, who spoke in parliament on Friday, saying that an
independent commission of experts, politicians and historians would
be established in order to investigate the 1915 events.

The result of the commission was to be then evaluated in the framework
of international law, Wallstrom added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Erik Boman added that the Swedish government
had put aside the country's decision from 2010 describing the 1915
killings as "genocide" and would act accordingly to the commission's
results, TT news agency reported.

Turkey has called for the establishment of a joint commission of
historians and the opening of archives to study and uncover what
happened between the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian citizens.

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of
the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the
invading Russians and revolted.

The relocation by the Ottomans of Armenians in eastern Anatolia
following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey does
not dispute that there were casualties on both sides, but rejects
the definition of "genocide

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia made calls
for remembering the Armenian Genocide victims as he delivered as
speech at centennial commemoration mass in Washington.

"The centenial of the Armenian Genocide is defined by three key words,
and these are: remember, remind and to claim. These three dimensions
and challenges of these landmark events are closely interconnected.

First, we remember the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. In fact, we
always remember our Genocide - in our reflections and actions. Our
martyrs are integral, inseparable and existential part of our dear
life. They are living present in all aspect, spheres and expressions
of our individual and common life. With their spiritual and moral
values and with their human ideals, they sustain our life. And they
become the guiding poles, the guiding lines of our common life in
this world. Indeed, our martyrs are the blood of our church and the
sustaining power of Armenian life." he said.

The liturgy, held at the Washington National Cathedral, was attended
by President Serzh Sargsyan, US Vice President Joe Biden, US 
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and other guests.

Highlighting the importance of a just treatment, the catholicos
further condemned all attempts to deny the big tragedy.

"In commemorating and remembering our martyrs, we remind the world
of the sacred legacy of our martyrs." he said.

"What happened in 1915 was a genocide. Even if the term 'genocide'
was not yet part of the vocabulary of the international law in 1915,
what happened against the Armenian people was by its very intent and
methods a genocide. And genocide is a crime against humanity."

"Last but not least, in remembering our martyrs and reminding their
sacred legacy to the world, we claim justice. In fact, I believe that
according to the teachings of all religions, justice is a gift of
God and rejection of justice is a sin against God. Justice is also
the core of human rights. Respecting human rights means rejecting
injustice and promoting the values of injustice. Any government, any
society that is not sustained by values of justice becomes a source
of evil, a source of intolerance. As Christians, we believe that
reconciliation is integral part of our Christian fate and vocation.

But cheap reconciliation generates further injustice. True
reconciliation implies accountability. True reconciliation means
recognition of genocides and reparation," added the patriarch.
11 May 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Under the patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in
Lebanon, and the Armenian Genocide Centenary Central Committee of
Lebanon, and His Holiness Nercess Bedros 19th Patriarch of theArmenian
Catholic Church in Beirut Lebanon, Octopus Team diving club owned by
Antranig or Toni Haddad a descent of the Armenian Genocide survivor,
organized the placement of an Armenian Genocide Memorial Cross beneath
the sea, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
on Sunday, the 10th of May, at 10 am, near Green beach resort, in
the gulf of Junieh, north of Beirut, reports.

The Armenian cross has been placed 35 meters deep in the Mediterranean
Sea, dedicated to the Memory of those Armenians who perished drowning
in rivers and seas during the Armenian Genocide, escaping rape,
abduction and torturous death by Turkish officers in 1915.

Also present and invited were, members of other diving clubs, as
Vahe Bayrakdarian, who had placed a Memorial Banner underneath the
sea on the 26th of April, 2015. He participated with Hrag Gulumian,
and Maya Samaha, and thanked Octopus Team diving club, the Armenian
Embassy in Lebanon for inviting them and having them share in the
exceptional event dedicated to the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide. 

Today's Zaman, Turkey
May 12 2015

The centennial for the Armenians of the 1915 events on April 24 came
with a bang and is gone with a whimper. What did the two sides have
in their rosters for the day after? What awaits them in the crumpled

Turkey was clearly unprepared for the onslaught of parliamentary
resolutions and declarations in support of the Armenian claims of
genocide. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government acted
as if no matter what happened, it would not matter for Turkey. There
was no strategy -- except for some window-dressing and futile public
relations gimmicks -- and no effort to galvanize civil society and
little lobbying abroad. It is fair to state that the AKP did not
really care enough and thus shirked its responsibility to counter
Armenian efforts.

Let's start with the AKP's choice of April 24 for the commemoration
of the centennial of the Canakkale victory. That was a cheap ploy
unbecoming of the dignity of Turkey. The memories of the fallen were
abused because the AKP must have thought that they could "steal the
show" from Yerevan by organizing the Canakkale event on that very day.

It did not really work. Attendance was sparse and the presidents of
critical countries such as France and Russia chose to go to Yerevan.

The deluge started with the pope, followed by the European Parliament
(EP), Germany, Russia, Austria and lastly Luxembourg, all with callous
impunity accusing the Turkish side of the crime of genocide against
Armenians. As there is no ruling by a competent international court
on the matter, not even a consensus on the nature of the 1915 events
among scholars, we need not put much value into these declarations and
resolutions. However, these acts are a huge, unfair and uneducated
affront to historical truth that still needs to be uncovered and
fully established through documentary research.

The issue of recalling ambassadors

What did the AKP government do? Nothing of consequence. Our ambassadors
to the Vatican, Austria and now Luxembourg have been called back for
consultations, but not those to the EU, Germany or Russia. By the way,
recalling ambassadors is a mostly outdated diplomatic practice in
our times except in cases of dire security concerns and/or a complete
break­-up of relations. But even at this, the AKP has failed to be
consistent by incredulously proposing that since France and Russia have
passed resolutions about genocide before, our ambassadors in Paris and
Moscow were not recalled! Then what about Germany? No consistency,
is there? Be that as it may, recalling ambassadors does not do us
any good and does not at all hurt the other side. The inconsistency
in recalling the ambassadors also reflects how mismanagement still
damages Turkish foreign policy-making under the AKP.

What the AKP has chosen to do is to placate emotions at home by
hollow rhetoric and to take the much-travelled road of "I didn't
do it" defensive discourse in reacting to developments abroad. This
puts Turkey in a predicament: Armenians continue to build political
support for their claims while we remain fixated on a defensive stance.

We could and should have done better. In 2005, at the initiative of
Ambassador Å~^ukru Elekdag, then a Republican People's Party (CHP)
deputy, Parliament adopted a declaration calling on the Armenian side
to agree to dialogue in a joint commission with a view to arrive at
the truth of the matter. In early April this year, I proposed -- in
fact, prepared -- a draft of a statement to be issued by Parliament
modeled on the 2005 declaration. I believed Parliament did not have
to remain and should not have remained silent on the centennial of
1915 events. Parliament could have called for the initiation of a
constructive dialogue between the two neighboring countries. We
could have told the world that we are ready to face the truth
and that the Armenians should do the same. Had such a declaration
been made on behalf of Parliament, we would have been able to say,
"Turkey's constructive and forward-looking position calling on the
Armenian side to resolve this issue through dialogue is embodied in
our declaration!" Unfortunately, developments overtook the initiative
and it came to nothing. Instead, the speaker of Parliament made a
perfunctory statement in response to the EP resolution. The result:
Turkey missed an opportunity to hold out an olive branch and played
the game as set by the Armenian side.

In conclusion, Turkey has lost a lot of political ground to the
Armenians. In the future, this could help the Armenians push forward
their claims of reparations and the return of their properties and
perhaps increase their chances of winning court cases against Turkey.

But at the end of the day, Armenians are still the bigger losers. They
have condemned their country and their people to continual self-fed
enmity, poverty and to the whims of the diaspora. Their unhealthy
dependence on Russia continues. Armenia still is kept deprived of
the benefits of regional cooperation and the advantages of opening
up toward Europe through Turkey. And Armenians, at the behest of
the diaspora, remain imprisoned in the syndrome of restricting the
definition of their identity to the single and negative dimension
of claimed victimization by genocide. In this connection, one must
remember that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in its
decision on "Perincek v. Switzerland" in December 2013 stated that
the Armenian claim of genocide could not be substantiated.

Feuding has not resolved the controversy, now a century old.

Therefore, it is high time to change course for both sides and to
engage together in an effort to reclaim their centuries-old friendship,
kinship and solidarity.

*Faruk Logoglu is a CHP deputy and former Turkish ambassador to the US.

[see what we up against?]

Ha'aretz, Israel
By Dogan IÅ~_ık
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.

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.

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.

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