Saturday, 11 June 2016

Armenian News...A Topalian... Hoorah for Germany, now maybe the Royals will encourage parliament to follow suite.
German genocide vote inflames tensions with Turkey
By Jenny Hill BBC Berlin correspondent

A few metres from Berlin's Brandenburg gate, a huge red Turkish flag obscures the summer sky. There are several thousand protesters. There is music, shouting. An old man grins, front teeth missing, and waves a placard: "Germany's Turks reject the accusation of genocide!" 

But Germany's MPs do not. 

The "genocide" in question happened more than 100 years ago in a corner of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. 

Its forces rounded up the Armenian Christians living in Eastern Anatolia and either killed them or drove them into the desert and left them for dead. 

Armenia says 1.5 million people died. 

To this day, the Turkish government disputes that figure and denies an organised programme of ethnic cleansing. 

But, to Ankara's fury, Germany has joined a list of more than 20 countries which, in effect, officially disagree. 

Last week, the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, voted through a resolution that declared the killings an act of genocide. 

German MPs recognise Armenian 'genocide' amid Turkish fury 

Death threats amid Germany-Turkey 'genocide' row 

It has outraged some here - bear in mind Germany is home to almost three million people of Turkish descent. People in Ottoman costumes protest against the German parliament decision to adopt a resolution on the Armenian Genocide in front of the German Consulate in IstanbulImage copyright EPA Image caption Protests against the German decision were also held in Turkey 

Eleven of the MPs who voted for the motion have Turkish origin. 

Already, a group of Turkish lawyers has reportedly filed a complaint accusing them of "insulting Turkishness and the Turkish state". 

It has also ignited an extraordinary diplomatic row. 

Following the vote, Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador to Germany (not so unusual: it recalled diplomats from both France and Austria under similar circumstances). 

But it's the Turkish president, Reycep Erdogan, who has dominated German headlines. 

Those MPs of Turkish descent? They should, he said, be given blood tests to "see what kind of Turks they are". 

He has accused them of being terrorists and of having tainted blood. 

At least one of those politicians has received death threats - Cem Ozdemir, the co-chairman of Germany's green party, is now under police protection. Cem Ozdemir MP speaking in Bundestag, 24 Apr 15Image copyright AFP Image caption Green MP Cem Ozdemir is under police protection 

The German parliament is horrified; its speaker, Norbert Lammert, declared that an attack on an individual MP was an attack on the whole institution. 

And the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has written formally to Ankara, condemning Mr Erdogan's comments as "absolutely taboo". Merkel under fire 

The timing, for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, looks terrible. 

She championed the EU's deal with Turkey (the EU has offered 6bn euros in return for Ankara holding back asylum seekers) and needs it to hold if she is to keep her promise of reducing migrant numbers (the "closure" of the Balkan route may not be enough). 

Just before the Bundestag vote, Mr Erdogan warned her that, if her MPs voted for the resolution, there would be consequences. 

No wonder, perhaps, she absented herself from the vote. Angela Merkel and Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyright AP Image caption Mrs Merkel needs a working relationship with President Erdogan 

But she hasn't held back from responding to Mr Erdogan's comments now, describing them as "inexplicable". 

Mrs Merkel is still smarting from her decision to allow the prosecution of a German comedian who insulted President Erdogan. 

There was widespread outrage here at her decision to take action against Jan Boehmermann apparently at the behest of the Turkish leader. 

It was perceived in Germany as not just an attack on press freedom but as capitulation to Turkey in order to keep the migrants deal on track. 

Many Germans are uncomfortable doing diplomatic business with Turkey full stop. 

Not for the first time since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Mrs Merkel's popularity wobbled. 

The question now? How damaging will this row be to long-term relations and the EU deal itself? It's hard to say. 

The language is fiery and Mr Schulz's intervention significant. 

As one German broadcaster remarked, "the visa liberalisation for Turkey moves far into the distant future". 

But here's what the new Turkish Prime Minister, Binaldi Yildirim, is reported to have said: "Germany and Turkey are very important allies. 

"Turkey will find an appropriate response to the resolution. 

"But it will not risk or jeopardise the close relationship." TurkeyImage copyright AP Image caption Turkey's Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, blamed a "racist Armenian lobby" for the resolution 

After all, commentators point out, Germany is Turkey's most important trading partner. 

Last year, Turkey exported goods worth 14.4bn euros to Germany, which is also, incidentally, the biggest foreign investor in the country. 

Mrs Merkel may need Turkey's cooperation in the migrant crisis. But Turkey benefits from the deal too. 

There is a sense here in Berlin that the parliamentary resolution catalysed an unfortunate yet predictable row that is largely about sabre-rattling. 

It is shocking stuff nonetheless. And it is a painful reminder of Germany's past and its present. 

The Bundestag resolution also acknowledged that this country - at the time an ally of the Ottoman Empire - did nothing to stop the genocide. 

And, after the war, some of those who directed the killings may have been granted asylum in Germany. 

At least two men - who were later assassinated on German soil by Armenian hit-men - are buried here. 

A mosque - called the martyrs' mosque - now stands over the site of the old cemetery. 

So don't expect the ire from Ankara - or the indignation from Berlin - or the protests from some German Turks to die down quickly. 

The Bundestag vote was supposed to be about confronting the past, acknowledging guilt and laying ghosts to rest. 

Instead, their voices howl, louder than ever, through Europe. Grey lineArmenian genocide dispute: 

• Hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians died in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, whose empire was disintegrating 
• Many of the victims were civilians deported to barren desert regions where they died of starvation and thirst. Thousands also died in massacres 
• Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed. Turkey says the number of deaths was much smaller 
• Most non-Turkish scholars of the events regard them as genocide - as do more than 20 states, including France, Germany and Russia, and some international bodies such as the European Parliament 
• Turkey rejects the term "genocide", maintaining many of the dead were killed in clashes during World War One, and that many ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict 

If a US court acknowledges the Armenian genocide, the Government must follow suit 
There is no arcane historical legal argument but an embarrassing political case, in which three named Armenians – who are full US citizens – will assert their rights to land under the Incirlik Nato base in Turkey

Robert Fisk
Tuesday 7 June 2016

Incirlik is America’s forward air base in Turkey, take-off point for the US air battle against Isis. But in less than two months, a group of Armenians, all descendants of the 1915 genocide of one-and-a-half-million Christians massacred by Ottoman Turkey, will claim in a US court that the land on which America’s jets take off to bomb Syrian and Iraqi targets belongs to them, and must be returned to their families.

As an increasing number of European nations acknowledge the most appalling crime against humanity of the First World War as a genocide, which the US Government still refuses to accept for fear of upsetting Turkey, the ghosts of the dead, it seems, are returning to haunt even America’s latest Middle East war.

This is no arcane historical legal argument but a potentially deeply embarrassing political case, in which three named Armenians who are full US citizens will, in a California court, assert their rights to land under and around Incirlik, seven miles from Adana, where around 1,500 members of the 39th US Air Base Wing are based in Nato’s southern command.

The Pentagon’s own war-speak propaganda describes how Incirlik is “a strategic location… close to many of the world’s trouble spots”, where US personnel help “protect US and Nato interests in the southern region by providing a responsive [sic] staging and operation air base, ready to project integrated, forward-based air power” with “excellent facilities”.

Unfortunately for the Americans, in that other war a century ago, the very lands below these “excellent facilities”– and their two runways and aircraft shelters – belonged to the doomed Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. They included farms, houses and a village church and school, summer homes to the Armenian Christians who lived in the nearby city of Adana and grew fig tree plantations at Incirlik, whose very name in Turkish means ‘the place of figs’.

Almost all these Armenians were exterminated in the genocide by the Ottoman Turkish Government, not long after the Allied landings at Gallipoli, victims of the first industrial holocaust of the 20th century. They were slaughtered with knives and thrown into mass graves, shot down by militia firing squads, tied together and hurled into rivers, their women gang-raped and their children burned alive, hundreds of thousands dying on death marches into what is now northern Syria.

Their suffering is now acknowledged as a genocide by more than 20 nations, including Russia, France and now Germany. The US, fearful of losing the Incirlik air base and other military facilities by angering Turkey, is one of the few advanced Western nations that still refuses to acknowledge the genocide – itself accepted as a historical fact by hundreds of international and even Turkish historians, but sadly not by the Turkish Government, which provided the Nazis with the inspiration for the Jewish Holocaust of the Second World War.

The August hearing at the 9th Circuit Court of California will involve three named Armenian descendants of genocide victims and survivors – Alex Bakalian, Anais Haroutounian and Rita Mahdessian – who are formally asking for the return of 122 acres of land in and around the Incirlik air base.

Another 13 Armenians may also be added to the complaint, which would then cover the entire territory of the air base whose “sparsely populated terrain and uncongested airspace”, to use the Pentagon’s words, is now home to the 728th US Air Mobility Squadron.

Their transport aircraft carry 70 per cent of all cargo entering Afghanistan, where American troops continue training missions in their war against the Taliban.

The base is also home to Turkish fighter squadrons in their ferocious bombing campaign against Kurdish rebels. It provides housing for at least 2,000 Turkish and US service family members. Thus the American hospital, dental clinic, chapel and Starbucks and Pizza Hut outlets on the base have been erected – unknown, no doubt, to almost all the Americans who work there – on the wreckage of one of the 20th century’s most terrible war crimes, land for which the US Government has paid millions of dollars in rent since the 1950s.

The original lawsuit, referred to in court as Bakalian versus the Republic of Turkey, was filed in December 2010 in the Central District Court of California by the three named descendants of Armenian victims who claimed that the defendants confiscated and then profited from land at Incirlik illegally seized during the genocide.

The case was officially brought against the Turkish Government-owned Central Bank of Turkey and TC Ziraat Bankasi, a state-owned agricultural bank. The Turkish state never appeared before the court, although the Armenians’ lawyers say they were “validly served with the complaint”.

At first, the two banks asserted ‘sovereign immunity’ and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. In the First World War, the Ottomans appointed their national banks as holders of abandoned Armenian property – holders, of course, who for the most part had already been murdered.

But according to independent Armenian-American researcher Missak Kelechian, who has investigated the history of the Armenian-owned land and is helping Vartkes Yeghiayan and Kathryn Boyd, lawyers representing the three plaintiffs – he has already researched the deaths of Armenian orphans in Turkish hands in Beirut during the First World War – the case could force American courts to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in law.

For, in March 2013, the district court determined that the banks could be held to answer for the expropriation of property of Ottoman and Turkish nationals when this action was associated with human rights abuses, including genocide.

“Following long-established rules of immunity recognised by all nations, US law abrogates the immunity from legal action in US courts traditionally afforded to foreign states in a few limited and specific situations,” Mr Yeghiayan says.

“The district court found that the Foreign Service Immunities Act denies immunity to the Turkish banks in this case because the banks are doing business in the United States and therefore the lawsuit falls within one of the sovereign immunity exceptions. But the district court ruled that the case must still be dismissed because it involves a political question.”

Bakalian, Haroutounian and Mahdessian, however, appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of California and the case was transferred from the district court; the next hearing is scheduled for August this year.

Lawyers for the three Armenians have seized on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent remarks – that the acts committed by Isis against Christians, Yazidis and Shi’ite groups constituted genocide, which “must [still] be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal”. They say their three clients have always believed their case should be judged on its legal, not political, merits.

There can be little doubt, however, that this far distant and historically based case contains an explosive political message: if the Armenian genocide is acknowledged by a US law court, it can only be a matter of time before the government in Washington is forced to use the very same word for the mass killings of 1915.

The Times (London), UK
    June 6, 2016 Monday

    Hope for humanity
    Letters to the Editor

    Sir, Germany's decision to recognise the Armenian genocide (leader,
    June 3) serves as an inspiration to the victims of all crimes against
    humanity. Germany has sent a powerful message to the world: you can't
    rewrite history, but you must learn from it.

    For my family this is an emotional moment. My grandfather and great
    uncle owed their survival to two German officers who defied orders and
    saved many Armenians during the First World War while working at the
    Belemedik rail station (part of the Berlin-Baghdad railway then under

    This has inspired me to work with Armenian philanthropic leaders to
    create the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a global prize that
    honours those individuals on the front lines who put themselves at
    risk to advance humanitarian causes. Beyond being important to
    descendants of Armenian survivors, through Germany's recognition of
    the Armenian genocide, the descendants of those heroic German officers
    have also received affirmation of the heroism of their ancestors. dr
    noubar afeyan, co-founder of 100 LIVES and Aurora Prize

    Sir, Your leader on the need to put pressure on the Turkish government
    to own up to the Armenian Massacres a century ago is commendable. The
    massacre of some 500,000 Indonesians during the Suharto regime 50
    years ago (1965-66) is another example where commiseration by
    present-day heirs to the perpetrators and commemoration by the world
    at large is sorely notable by its absence.

    James Allan

The Calvert Journal
June 7 2016
First Armenian smartphone goes on sale
7 June 2016

The first ever smartphone to be manufactured in Armenia went on sale yesterday.

The Armphone, made by joint American-Armenian venture Technology &
Science Dynamics (TSD), is a touchscreen Android mobile phone and
features a 5.1-inch, full HD-screen. The phone retails for between
US$100-$300, depending on the specific features selected.

As the first Armenian smartphone, the company specialists felt it
important to ensure that the Armphone had an Armenian Android
interface and Armenian keyboard. The manufacturers have chosen the
slogan “It's time for Armenian products” to promote the phone,
infusing the marketing of the product with more than a hint of
national pride.

"The buyers will be pleasantly surprised by the choice of ringtones
based on music pieces by famous Armenian composers," TSD added.

The Armphone is accompanied by Armpad, a tablet produced by the same company.

Names have now been proposed for the four new chemical elements 
added to the periodic table in January. 
Nihonium refers to the Japanese name for Japan. The atom was discovered at the RIKEN Nishina Centre for Accelerator Science.

Moscovium was named after the Moscow region, the location of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna.

Tennessine recognizes the State of Tennessee & the local contributions made to the discovery by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory & Vanderbilt University.

Oganesson honours the nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian, who has played a leading role in the search for new elements including the one that will now bear his name. 

The Sun (England) June 8, 2016 Wednesday
Henrikh's Door open

ARSENAL are stepping up their pursuit of Dortmund ace Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

That is despite growing uncertainty over landing Leicester striker Jamie Vardy.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is looking to wrap up a quick deal for
Borussia Dortmund's £25million-rated Armenia midfielder.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are also keen on Mkhitaryan, 27.

The German side are ready to sell the player, who only has one year
left on his current contract.

Wenger has already secured the £30m signing of Swiss midfielder Granit
Xhaka, 23, from Borussia Monchengladbach.

And the club are set to announce the capture of Nigerian midfield ace
Kelechi Nwakali this week on a five-year deal.

Nwakali, who turned 18 on Sunday, joined from the country's Diamond
Football Academy for a fee in the region of £3m.

[a most depressing article] 
June 7 2016
Israel's selective memory on Armenian genocide
Author: Akiva Eldar
Translator Ruti Sinai
Posted June 7, 2016

News broadcasts on Israeli TV June 2 were dominated by two stories.
The first reported that the German parliament had voted to recognize
the World War I massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as
genocide. The resolution was approved by a majority of lawmakers from
all parties, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
In response, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Berlin “for
consultations.” The second news report heralded a breakthrough in
negotiations between Israel and Turkey on settling the 2010 Mavi
Marmara flotilla crisis and easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Officials in Jerusalem predict the Turkish ambassador, who was
recalled back to Ankara at the time, will soon be reinstated in Tel

Reacting to the German Bundestag’s decision, Turkish Foreign Minister
Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Germany of an “irresponsible and groundless”
stance vis-a-vis the history of another nation. He wrote on Twitter
that Germany’s decision was motivated by a desire to “close the dark
pages” of its own history. The state of the Jewish people, whose blood
is saturated with German history, prefers the more noncommittal term
“tragedy” — in official communiques — in describing the disaster that
befell the Armenian people. Not only that, but Israel mobilized
American Jewry in a campaign to thwart US recognition of the genocide
carried out by the Turks against the Armenians.

In October 2007, several weeks before the vote in Congress, the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the most prominent Jewish
organizations in the United States, announced a change in its position
on this sensitive issue and agreed that the massacre of up to 1.5
million Armenians was a genocide. The Turkish prime minister at the
time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, picked up the phone to then-President
Shimon Peres and asked him to intervene. Following Peres’
intervention, the ADL recanted and issued a toned-down version of its
original announcement.

At a special July 2015 session of the Knesset’s Committee on
Education, Culture and Sports to mark the 100th anniversary of the
massacre, the panel’s chairman, Knesset member Yaakov Margi of the
Shas Party, said, “It is incumbent on the Jewish people to commemorate
the murder carried out against the Armenian people in order to educate
future generations and understand the historic processes so as to
prevent an additional genocide.”
 The Shas Party lawmaker called on the
government to recognize the Armenian genocide and urged the Knesset to
adopt a historic resolution in keeping with Jewish values. Knesset
Speaker Yuli Edelstein of the Likud Party promised to “make an effort
to promote the issue, and I sincerely hope the members of Knesset will
know how to vote at the moment of truth.” That moment has yet to
arrive and is unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future
. To quote
Oded Yosef, the Foreign Ministry representative who took part in the
Knesset committee’s debate, “focusing on terminology is political and
it diverts us from relating to the issue.”

True, everything is politics. The blueprint for extracting and using
Israel’s natural gas reservoirs is a good example. At a December 2015
debate by the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee on this
politically, socially and economically charged issue, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We have had contacts with Turkey. A personal
envoy of mine spoke with a very senior Turkish government official.
They discussed the possibility of Israeli gas exports to Turkey and
through Turkey.” Netanyahu took a long and convoluted path for the
sake of his gas plan. To open up the Turkish market to Israeli gas
exports, he would not hesitate to let Erdogan get his foot in the door
of the Israeli-Arab peace process — Turkey has stipulated that
normalization with Israel would be conditioned on lifting the blockade
on Gaza, for instance — and by doing so he stepped on the toes of
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who views Turkey as a bitter

The “collateral” benefit of the reconciliation with Ankara will be
ensuring that Hamas does not get any credit for the easing of
restrictions on the residents of Gaza. After all, Israel does not talk
with Hamas, let alone compromise with them. And when all is said and
done, Israeli gas is not likely to be heating the homes of Turkey’s
inhabitants. Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Netanyahu is
seeking to curry favor, is adamantly opposed to the transfer of gas
from Turkey to Europe. The Cypriot administration has rejected the
idea of laying an underwater pipeline from Israel’s offshore Leviathan
gas field through its territorial waters, not to mention the technical
challenge of installing a 485-kilometer (301-mile) deep water

Israel also has political interests in Muslim Azerbaijan, Armenia’s
enemy. According to reports, Azerbaijan supplies Israel with 40% of
its oil consumption and buys from it billions of dollars’ worth of
military and other equipment
. A display of empathy for the Armenians
risks angering the Azeris, who conducted heavy fighting with the
Armenian army along their front line in the secessionist region of
Nagorno-Karabakh April 2. You might say that it is only natural for
states to act according to their interests and not be guided by moral
considerations, such as identifying with the tragedy of another
nation. That said, why should Netanyahu complain that the powers
supported the nuclear agreement with Iran in accordance with their
interests and did not heed his warnings of a “second Holocaust”?

The focus on the atrocities committed by Turkey in 1915 and 1916
diverts attention from its cruelty in 2015 and 2016. While demanding
that Israel compensate families whose loved ones were killed in a
pointless and negligent military operation, when Israeli commandoes
boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel, Turkey is deliberately
bombing Kurdish population centers in the country’s southeast. That
same country that is so concerned about the blockaded residents of the
Gaza Strip has for months been preventing food and medical supplies
from reaching Kurdish towns. The Turkish government is not allowing
Turkish and international media access to the flattened towns. In an
investigative report, The New York Times dubbed the humanitarian
crisis in the region “the hidden war” of Turkey against the Kurds.

Germany’s recognition of the Armenian genocide, over Turkey’s furious
objections, despite Berlin’s interests in ties with Ankara,
underscores, justifiably so, the double standard of a state that
lashes out at Holocaust deniers. Israel’s courting of Turkey’s
tyrannical leader even as it ignores the bitter fate of the Kurds is a
forceful illustration of the above.

Akiva Eldar is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He was
formerly a senior columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz and also
served as the Hebrew daily’s US bureau chief and diplomatic
correspondent. His most recent book (with Idith Zertal), Lords of the
Land, on the Jewish settlements, was on the best-seller list in Israel
and has been translated into English, French, German and Arabic.

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