Monday, 8 May 2017

Armenian News...A Topalian... Wiener Library London Talk: 14 June

Wiener Library

Talk: The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide 

Wed 14 Jun, 6.30pm-8pm 

This talk explores the British Empire’s response to the 1915 Armenian Genocide in which an estimated one million Armenians were killed. Using newly uncovered archival material on imperial policy, Professor Michelle Tusan will show why it proved impossible to stop the violence and prosecute those responsible for the atrocities.
USHMM Special Issue on the Armenian Genocide 

The Armenian National Institute is pleased is to bring to your attention that for a limited time - until July 15 - the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is providing free access to a special online issue on the Armenian Genocide of its academic journal, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, printed by Oxford University Press.

The special issue may be accessed here: . 

The volume is introduced by Professor Robert F. Melson and includes six articles published over the span of the past ten years on several aspects of the Armenian Genocide. The authors include Peter Balakian, Shaun O'Dwyer, Taner Akçam, Donald Bloxham, Jonathan Markovitz, and Katharine Derderian.

Per USHMM, “Between the onset of World War I and the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 approximately 1.5 million Armenians, or more than half of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population, died as a result of deportations, starvation, serial massacres, and mass executions. With the intent of informing, Holocaust and Genocide Studies offer this special edition reflecting on the Armenian Genocide, featuring selected articles from past issues. The six articles included in this virtual issue examine various aspects of the genocide, including its denial, and are available to read online for a limited time.”

RFE/RL Report
OSCE Forced By Azerbaijan To Close Yerevan Office
May 04, 2017
Emil Danielyan

Ignoring U.S. concerns, Azerbaijan on Thursday succeeded in forcing
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to close its
office in Yerevan that has promoted political reforms in Armenia.

The office has faced an uncertain future since Baku vetoed late last
year a further extension of its mandate, objecting to a humanitarian
demining program implemented by it in Armenia.

The Azerbaijani delegation to the OSCE headquarters in Vienna insisted
in a January statement that the program "can strengthen the capacity
and skills of relevant Armenian structures" in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. It accused Armenia of seeking to "misuse the OSCE Office in
Yerevan against legitimate interests of Azerbaijan."

Armenia shrugged off those allegations. It said that Baku is simply
keen to force the closure of the Yerevan office after having a similar
OSCE office in Baku shut down in 2015. OSCE decisions on opening such
missions and extending their activities have to be unanimously
approved by all 57 member states of the organization.

Baku did not drop its objections even after the Armenian government
agreed later in January to exclude demining from a wide range of OSCE
activities in Armenia. That prompted a stern warning from the United
States, with a senior U.S. diplomat saying in February that the
closure of the Yerevan office would "reflect poorly on Azerbaijan."

A representative of Austria, the current holder of the OSCE
presidency, told the OSCE's Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday
that the Azerbaijani government remains adamant in demanding the
office closure.

"The United States regrets the impending closure of the OSCE Office in
Yerevan," Kate Byrnes, the charge d'affaires of the U.S. mission to
the OSCE, said at the meeting. "We lament the loss of the last OSCE
field operation in the South Caucasus."

"Armenia, in the spirit of compromise, agreed that the Office in
Yerevan would end these [humanitarian demining] activities," she

The Armenian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Baku's uncompromising
stance on the issue. The ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said
Azerbaijan's authoritarian leadership is highlighting its dismal human
rights record and "deepening the gap between itself and the
international community."

Byrnes also praised the Armenian government's long-running cooperation
with the OSCE and its Yerevan office in particular. The office's
promotion of human rights, tax and police reforms, gender equality and
press freedom has brought about "positive results," she said.

The American diplomat went on to urge the organization's Austrian
chairmanship to "explore new ways of maintaining an OSCE presence in
Armenia and throughout the South Caucasus."

Balayan said in that regard that the authorities in Yerevan are open
to "new avenues of implementing OSCE projects in Armenia."

RFE/RL Report
Russian Troops In Armenia `Ready To Fight ISIS'
May 05, 2017

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Russian
troops stationed in Armenia and other former Soviet republics are
prepared to fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant

"Unfortunately, the ISIS has established itself in the Middle East and
north Africa and does not want to surrender yet, but we will
definitely finish it off," he told the Moscow-based MIR TV
channel. "But even at this stage it is becoming active in Afghanistan,
especially in its northern regions bordering our neighbors and

Lavrov said that a joint rapid-reaction force formed by Russia,
Armenia and other member states of the Russian-led Collective Security
Treaty Organization (CSTO) is in a state of "permanent readiness for
action" against the extremist Islamist group. "The Russian bases
stationed in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are also prepared to
act," he added.

The Russian military base in Armenia has up to 4,000 soldiers and
hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery systems in addition
to more than a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets. Moscow has bolstered it with
helicopter gunships and other military hardware in the last few years.

Armenian leaders have never publicly stated that the ISIS poses a
direct security threat to Armenia. The South Caucasus country has
closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan but maintains cordial
relations with its third Muslim neighbor, Iran. The latter is an
arch-foe of the ISIS.

Armenia contributes troops to the CSTO's Collective Operational
Reaction Forces (CORF) mentioned by Lavrov. They regularly participate
in military exercises held by the CORF. One such exercise involving
2,500 soldiers took place in Tajikstan, a Central Asian state
bordering Afghanistan, two years ago.

RFE/RL Report
Tillerson, Nalbandian Praise U.S.-Armenian Ties
May 03, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Armenian Foreign Minister
Edward Nalbandian have exchanged letters in connection with the 25th
anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between their

In his letter to Tillerson cited by the Armenian Foreign Ministry on
Tuesday, Nalbandian said the United States and Armenia have had "many
remarkable achievements" in their "friendly relationship based mutual
trust and respect." The Armenian government intends to deepen it, he
wrote, according to a ministry statement.

"The Armenian foreign minister emphasized that the United States was
the first country that opened an embassy in Yerevan [in 1992] and
stood with our newly independent state, including through broad
assistance programs that proved particularly vital during the first
years of its independence," said the statement.

Nalbandian said that the U.S. and Armenia have also been "closely
cooperating" within the framework of various international
organizations. Yerevan also attaches "great importance" to
U.S. involvement in international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, he was reported to add.

According to the statement, Tillerson told his Armenian counterpart
that Washington will carry on with its contributions to Armenia's
security, democratization and economic development.He also hailed
recent years' sizable increase in U.S. investments in the Armenian

The U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Richard Mills, spoke of "considerable
progress" in U.S.-Armenian economic ties in February. He pointed to
multimillion-dollar U.S. investments in Armenia's energy and mining

Tillerson and Nalbandian discussed the bilateral agenda and the
Karabakh conflict in their first-ever phone call in early March. They
have yet to meet in person.

The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan gave a largely positive assessment of the
conduct of the April 2 parliamentary elections in Armenia. In an April
4 statement, it backed the preliminary findings of an OSCE-led
monitoring team which said that the vote was "well administered" but
"tainted by credible information about vote-buying" and pressure on
voters. But the embassy also said that electronic anti-fraud equipment
installed in the Armenian polling stations helped to prevent more
serious irregularities.

The U.S. government joined the European Union in financing the
purchase of that equipment earlier this year. 

Deviant World
May 6 2017
Denial of the Armenian Genocide should concern us all
Sossie Kasbarian , Lecturer in Middle Eastern Politics, Lancaster University 

April 24 marks the anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide , during which the Ottoman state murdered 1.5m Ottoman Armenians. But while it might have begun 102 years ago, in a sense, the genocide did not end; the inheritor Turkish state then embarked on a project of denial – the final stage of genocide . The Conversation

The Turkish state’s denialism continues to subvert and undermine the memories of the survivors and the claims of their descendants, now scattered throughout the globe. This denialism is a foundation of the Turkish state and a cornerstone of its foreign policy, extending to ever-more creative and expansive international campaigns and efforts international campaigns .

That only 23 countries currently officially recognise the genocide reflects Turkey’s geopolitical importance. It’s a crucial NATO ally and world player, and most of the international community is keen not to antagonise it. Each time a country acknowledges the Armenian genocide, Turkey is quick to retaliate, breaking diplomatic ties and tearing up trade deals while issuing harsh denouncements and threats.

The latest episode in the denialist game is the response to The Promise, the first mainstream Hollywood film about the genocide that was recently released in the US.

Despite only being shown to small festival audiences so far, the film has drawn vast numbers of negative online ratings , apparently thanks to an online campaign by Turkish denialists . Turkish funders, meanwhile, backed the production of The Ottoman Lieutenant , a film set in the same period, which critics have derided as “Turkish propaganda”.

One may legitimately wonder why recognising a genocide that took place more than a century ago remains controversial. All states are based on some history of violence, and collective amnesia; nations are understandably reluctant to face up to their violent past or acknowledge their part in crimes and injustices. It is always painful to deal with a less-than-glorious chapter of national history, whether it is done symbolically (like the US’s 2009 apology to Native Americans to Native Americans) or materially (like German reparations and restitution for the Holocaust).

But while the Turkish state’s efforts have used various tropes and approaches over the decades, its denialism remains undiluted. Under Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code, citizens and cultural luminaries are regularly prosecuted for “insulting” the Turkish nation or state or bringing “shame” on the republic by mentioning the genocide, even subtly. The narrative of denial of state genocide is pursued at all costs. Turn for the worse

In April 2015 the centenary of the genocide was marked in Turkey by a burgeoning civil society movement, that has been bravely engaged in these issues for more than a decade. Since then the situation in Turkey has deteriorated sharply. The Turkish state’s list of “enemies” is growing every day; it includes Academics for Peace , who dared to call on the government to stop its war against the Kurds in Anatolia, and anyone suspected of links to the Islamist Gülen movement , the ruling party’s former ally. The failed coup against the government in July 2016 was followed by purges of state employees, many from the education sector.

Then a majority of the Turkish electorate voted to grant President Erdoğan vastly expanded powers, which many regard as the building blocks of authoritarianism . Erdoğan won after a contentious campaign and by only a narrow margin, an indication of just how divided Turkish society now is, and how his government is exploiting these divisions to consolidate its power.

Erdoğan has repeatedly shown his willingness to crush anyone who opposes him, and his government is clearly closing up the space for dissent in the Turkish public sphere. Denying a historic genocide perfectly serves the interests of this regime, one that normalises state violence, relentlessly promotes its own narrative, and punishes any opposition.

It is crucial to remember that this phenomenon is far from confined to Turkey. Societies around the world witness it on a daily basis: state-sponsored genocide is repackaged as civil war, victims are recast as instigators, state violence is sold as national security, and fabrications or “alternative facts” are presented as news. If this is allowed to stand, this will not just be a post-truth world, but one without a moral compass.

Too often, the powerful are unrestricted and unaccountable for their actions, while weak are rendered invisible and irrelevant. For the sake of all victims of state violence all over the world, past and present, speaking truth to power has never had greater urgency.

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