Sunday, 2 April 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... [another example of Turkish readiness to abuse Armenians]
Turkish MP: If coup had been successful, Armenian state was to be established in eastern Turkey

Mehmet Erdoğan, an MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey, stated that had last year’s coup attempt succeeded, four states were to be established in the country.

Erdoğan noted that he had seen the map, in which the boundaries were to be drawn of the countries to form in the present-day territory of Turkey, if the coup had succeeded, according to Olay Medya (Event Media) news website of the country.

The AKP deputy stressed that according to this plan, Istanbul was to become a city-state, an Armenian state was to be created in eastern Turkey, a Marxist-Leninist Kurdish state—in the southeast, and a Turkish state—in inner Anatolia.
Nor Zartonk Calls Against Turkey’s ‘Racist, Sectarian, Unilateral Dictatorship’ ahead of Constitutional Referendum

The Nor Zartonk movement calls against Turkey’s ‘racist, sectarian, unilateral dictatorship’ ahead of April 16 constitutional referendum (Photo: Nor Zartonk)

ISTANBUL—The Nor Zartonk movement on Sunday issued a statement on Sunday calling against the constitutional referendum to take place in Turkey on April 16.

In their statement, Turkey-based Nor Zartonk calls on the Armenians who will vote during the constitutional referendum elections to oppose the “racist, sectarian and unilateral regime of dictatorship” and to collectively rise for “the demands of equality, freedom, peace and justice.”

A translated version of their statement can be read below.


Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, the constitutions have not been drafted as texts based on social consensus, but were prepared as a means of legitimacy and continuity of those in power. The constitution did not satisfy most sectors of society except to those of the ruling class, causing serious victimization and dissatisfaction in the long term. Constitutional amendments have been made more frequently in Turkey than in any country of the world, perhaps because of this reason. New constitutional debates have always been on the agenda.

Likewise, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) insisted on a “New Constitution” from the day it was first established. The 1982 constitution, which emerged as the result of the fascist military coup of 1980, was certainly far from being able to meet the needs of a very large segment of society. In this respect, the AKP’s new constitutional pronouncements directly served its own agenda than for a wider audience.

Of course, the main demands of all these social sectors were more in the context of democracy and freedoms. During the 15-year AKP government, a couple of changes were made to the 1982 constitution. Through referenda held in 2007 and 2010, fundamental changes toward the executive and judiciary powers were accepted. But as a result of these changes, a more libertarian, egalitarian and democratic constitution could not be reached, and important tension has emerged at the point of judicial independence and separation of powers.

The AKP is seeking to impose a new coup constitution after the July 15 coup attempt, which is described by the president himself as a “grace of God.” The principles such as separation of powers, judicial independence and rule of law that have not been implemented since the June 7 elections will be constitutionally abolished and a single man power will be established in the country.

The conflicts and cracks in the ruling party, which were unfolding after July 15, are expected to be overcome by one man.

Throughout history, the power of one man has brought war, blood, poverty and tears to the peoples all over the world. The economic and social consequences of the one man order that our country has experienced since June 7 coincide with these historic experiences.

Turkey today with its 15-year AKP ruling is isolated from the world, has no freedoms, the economic crisis is felt more and more, unemployment is steadily increasing; education, health and life quality are getting worse day by day.

The same AKP government has plundered nature and natural wealth, public institutions and organizations and institutions from prosperity, and has made great strides in corruption in world history.

AKP, based on an obedience principle rather than merit during recruitment, filled state officials with their supporters. With the bribery and torpedo wheels setup to grow in size, the society has suffered a great moral/ethical erosion.

Turkey has become a country where people are imprisoned for dissenting comments through social media, let alone newspapers, radio, television and internet sites and where opposition lawmakers are imprisoned, journalists and academics are arrested or fired for doing business, similar to every dictatorship today.

In Turkey, by the order of one person, dozens of Kurdish cities have been demolished, thousands have been displaced, and hundreds of people have been massacred.

The question asked in the referendum on April 16 is whether we will say yes or no to all these corruption, massacres, oppression, and corruption.

We, the Armenians, call against racist, sectarian and unilateral regime of dictatorship!

We call against the patriarchate and foundation elections, which have not been held for nine years, as a reference to all the dirty interests of the Armenian people.

We say NO to those who deny the Armenian Genocide at every opportunity and who want to secure their power by raising the polarization in society by ceaselessly alienating us!

The constitutional referendum on April 16 may be the beginning of this dark period. Let us call on the Armenians to raise the demands of equality, freedom, peace and justice, to answer all these AKP policies–let’s organize. NO/ՈՉ/VOÇ.
Arsinee Khanjian: Violations start long ago before Armenia elections

YEREVAN. – Violations started long before the parliamentary elections. A vivid example of such violations was the well-known story with the principals of Armenian schools and kindergartens that made lists for the Republican Party of Armenia, Canadian-Armenian actress Arsinee Khanjian said in Yerevan.

Arsinee Khanjian arrived in Armenia as a part of the “Justice in Armenia” initiative to carry out an observation mission during the parliamentary elections.

“Nevertheless, despite all this, if Armenians want changes, they must necessarily go to the polls, because elections are the only opportunity to change something in the country without violence and blood,” she said.

Even if there are no 100% ideal groups among opposition groups, they still open up the possibility of change, Khanjian believes. The actress urged to vote for “lesser of two evils”.

She added that in no country there are completely fair elections, but the participation of every citizen is a contribution to the future of the country. Of course, these changes will not be visible on April 3, just after the elections. The country has been following the current path for 25 years, and nothing can be changed in a day, it will take time, she said.

“Your voice really matters. If your vote did not matter, there would be no pre-election bribes. If there are bribes, this already means that your votes are important,” the actress said, adding that we should not forget that the voices of those who do not go to the elections can be used for various kinds of violations.

A number of artists from the Diaspora, including Serj Tankian, director Atom Egoyan and actress Arsinee Khanjian arrived in Armenia to carry out an observation mission during the parliamentary elections as part of the “Justice in Armenia” initiative.
Representatives of Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul meet with deputy governor of Istanbul
18:16, 31 March, 
General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Chairman of the Religious Council of the Patriarchate Bishop Sahak Mashalyan, and Father Trdat Uzunyan have met with the deputy governor of Istanbul Aziz Mercan. It was Mercan who sent a writ to the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul on March 15, the day of the election of the locum tenens, claiming that the election was unlawful, “Armenpress” reports Istanbul-based “Agos” informs.

Mercan reminded the clergymen about the announcement of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made in a meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Holy Savior hospital Petros Sirinoglu, saying that the election process of the Patriarch can kick off only following the constitutional referendum scheduled on April 16.

In addition, the deputy governor of Istanbul said that they have not receives any writ about the retirement of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Mesrop Mutafyan and a decision has been made about starting the process of the elections of the Patriarch.

In a notice sent to the patriarchate by the deputy governor, it was stated that it is “legally” impossible to start the process of the elections of locum tenens.

The notice was handed out by Archbishop Ateşyan who lost the election.

The Religious Council kicked off at 15:00, March 15 to elect the locum tenens, but the writ of the governor’s office was sent to the Patriarchy at 13:47.

Aram Ateshian promulgated the writ only after it became known that he has lost the election.

Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Germany Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan has been elected locum tenens of the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul.

RFE/RL Report
Sarkisian Promises European-Style Democracy In Armenia
March 30, 2017

President Serzh Sarkisian has told the leaders of Europe's main
center-right political parties that his administration is committed to
turning Armenia into a European-style democracy.

Addressing a congress of the European People's Party (EPP) in Malta on
Wednesday, Sarkisian also reiterated that the Armenian authorities
will do their best to ensure that Sunday's parliamentary elections are
free and fair.

"Given the specificities of the country's development, we have set
ourselves the goal of taking a resolute step towards building a
European model of democracy and reinforcing democratic institutions,"
he declared.

"We are committed and doing everything to hold elections conforming to
high international standards," he said.

Under a landmark deal with the Armenian opposition, Sarkisian's
government enacted last fall a set of legal amendments meant to
prevent serious fraud in the April 2 parliamentary elections. The
European Union and the United States hailed those changes, allocating
about $10 million for the purchase of anti-fraud electronic equipment
that will be installed in Armenian polling stations.

While acknowledging the importance of the amendments, Armenian
opposition groups say that Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) is
illegally using government resources and buying votes to win the
polls. The HHK denies that.

The HHK, which has the status of an EPP "observer member," claimed to
have been endorsed by Joseph Daul, the EPP president, circulating a
translated video message from him earlier this month.

The reported endorsement prompted strong criticism from opposition
leader Raffi Hovannisian, whose Zharangutyun (Heritage) party is also
an EEP observer member. "If the message is truly yours, it translates
into a flagrant self-breach of European moral and legal benchmarks,"
he wrote to Daul last week.

"You have not let Heritage down. You have let down the Armenian voter,
civil society, the EPP and its system of values, the very definition
and meaning of what we have known as Europe," charged Hovannisian.

Sarkisian has sought to deepen Armenia's ties with the EU even after
unexpectedly deciding to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union
in 2013. Armenian and EU officials initialed an EU-Armenia
Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in Yerevan on
March 21.

In his speech at the EPP congress, Sarkisian said the agreement will
likely be signed during the EU's next Eastern Partnership summit due
in November.

Chatham House, UK
March 30 2017
Time to Honour Commitments to Armenian-Azerbaijani Peace
30 March 2017
Laurence Broers
Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme 

One year on from a major outbreak of violence, the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process is again in peril. The international community can either hang back and wait for war, or opt for diplomatic shock therapy.

On the Nagorny-Karabakh line of contact. Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.On the Nagorny-Karabakh line of contact. Photo via Getty Images.

The last year has demonstrated the resilience of Armenian-Azerbaijani deadlock in resisting movement in the direction of either war or peace. On 2 April it will be one year since a major escalation, widely referred to as the four-day ‘war’, that claimed more than 200 lives. Yet while pundits warned plausibly of contagion, the violence quickly subsided as Moscow brokered a ceasefire.

A few weeks later at talks in Vienna brokered by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan gave their formal assent to long called for confidence building measures. These included an expanded ceasefire monitoring mission and an incident investigation mechanism. They also committed to moving to comprehensive negotiations. Catering to respective Armenian and Azerbaijani priorities, these formal agreements appeared to set the stage for progress.

One year later the situation resembles that of exactly one year ago. No substantive progress has been achieved on the commitments made in Vienna, it is business as usual with violent incidents resuming along the Line of Contact (LoC), and the peace process is suspended in a perilous void.
Key differences

But there are three main ways in which today’s situation differs from one year ago.

First, today’s situation is more dangerous than it was a year ago. If we accept, which most analysts do, that Azerbaijan was behind last April’s escalation, Baku now risks demonstrating that what it sees as its primary source of leverage over the peace process is ineffective. This learning curve coincides with heightened domestic expectations around Azerbaijan’s ability to effectively use its newly acquired weaponry to regain territory.

Second, fluidity in the regional politics surrounding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has seen it increasingly wedged in behind other regional (in-)security complexes. Russia’s power play in Syria, the anticipated dissolution of ISIS and possible consequences for the North Caucasus, consolidation in Crimea and continuing conflict in Donbas are reshaping the South Caucasus as a strategic bedrock behind the frontlines of Russian power projection elsewhere. The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is becoming ever more embedded within a Russian-dominated space in ways that simultaneously militarize and de-prioritize the conflict in the light of other first-order imperatives.

Yet while Russia appears to be the consistent tactical beneficiary of its engagements in the wider area, profligate militarization of Armenia and Azerbaijan is eroding its local political standing. This is evident not only in rising ‘Eurasia-scepticism’ in Armenia, but in the apparent sidelining of Russia’s recent mediation initiative led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Reformulating rather than replacing the OSCE Minsk Group’s proposals, whatever incentives offered by the ‘Lavrov Plan’ have been outstripped by the grandstanding permitted by Russian arms deliveries. In September what are thought to be newly acquired, long-range Iskander-M missiles were displayed on the streets of the Armenian capital. Azerbaijan responded with the reported purchase of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system in December.

A third significant development is the acceleration of regime consolidation strategies across the conflict. To be sure, these are long-term. But April’s escalation effectively consolidated regime support bases and weakened their opponents. Armenia’s dubious transition to a parliamentary system is being preceded by a campaign for elections on 2 April already scarred by violence. In September 2016 Azerbaijan rushed through a constitutional referendum prolonging already unlimited presidential terms, making elections an ever more occasional and symbolic concession to democratic norms. In the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the secessionist entity at the heart of the conflict, a new constitution has likewise removed presidential term limits.

These hurried consolidations of power curtail the capacity of already superficial reforms to temper the socio-economic frustrations of many ordinary Armenians and Azerbaijanis. They deepen the vulnerability of Armenian and Azerbaijani states to external shocks, and in turn, to scenarios where military alternatives to dealing with domestic problems can become attractive.
Articulating a peace strategy

Strategies of conflict are clearly visible across the divide. Deafeningly absent is a strategy of peace. The agreements reached in Vienna in May 2016 show that when international attention is focused and coordinated, the parties can cooperate. Had those pledges been implemented the dynamic on the ground would be different today. But the rapid relapse in international attention, combined with domestic pressures of the national leaderships’ own making, has led to a familiar collective default by belligerents and mediators alike.

One way to revitalize the Minsk Process would be to hold the Minsk Conference. Mandated by the OSCE Council of Ministers on 24 March 1992 to promote a peaceful resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, this conference has never actually convened. Possible rebuttals to this idea are many: a new Minsk Conference would be no more than a talking shop, regional and global power backing is absent, the parties are not ready, appetite is lacking. The mantra of reinvigorating the Minsk Process is met with weary lip-service, but no more than that.

All of these arguments have held for many years already, and constitute part of the perceptual and political lethargy enabling and embedding the escalatory dynamic across the conflict today. Unless the OSCE is ready to see and manage a second major international conflict in its area, a significant international effort is urgently required to envision and articulate a peace strategy as an alternative. This must include serious evidence of international commitments to post-settlement security: who will do what to secure the post-settlement future. This is indispensable for the de-securitization of vital issues of displaced community return and territorial status determination. It would also require a complex mediation structure capable of addressing multiple issues simultaneously, a capacity precluded by today’s negotiating format.

Significant momentum would be needed to focus the necessary international attention and resources on a conflict with which all have become comfortable. That momentum could come from a major new war. Or it could come from a major new multilateral initiative, preventing rather than rewarding violence.

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