Saturday, 30 June 2007

Meeting on Darfur & Denial of the Armenian Genocide in the UK Parliament

Armenia Solidarity
British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group
Nor Serount Publications

Armenian Genocide Trust

Meeting on Darfur and Denial of the Armenian Genocide in the UK Parliament (in the context of an ethical foreign policy)

Police Take an aggressive attitude to Armenian Lobbyists

In London yesterday, 27.06.2007, on Tony Blair's last day as Prime Minister, British-Armenian activists lobbied parliament all day in support of Early Day Motion 357. This motion, recognising the Genocide, has now been signed by 144 Members of Parliament. Police took an unwarranted intolerant attitude, tearing a large "Recognise the Genocide" banner and detaining the director of Armenia Solidarity for half an hour under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for holding the banner too close to Parliament. The distribution of leaflets was continued throughout and the banner redisplayed where it could still be noticed by those entering the Houses of Parliament.

A meeting on Darfur and Armenia was organised by Armenia Solidarity, the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group, Nor Serount Publications & the Armenian Genocide Trust in the House of Commons, in the evening, in conjunction with, the Genocide Prevention All Party Parliamentary Group and the Aegis Trust.

In the meeting in the House of Commons, Dr James Smith of The Aegis Trust, in a major speech on Ethical Foreign Policy emphasised the parallels between Armenia and Darfur where the Turkish model of the 20th century is being successfully repeated. Ruth Barnett spoke on the psychological effects of denial and introduced the concept of reducing the present "Genocide Footprint" by addressing the issues of past genocides. The Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, Dr Vahe Gabrielyan, emphasised the political dimensions of genocide recognition which could not be addressed by any commission of historians however eminent. The meeting was chaired by John Bercow MP of the Genocide Prevention All Party Parliamentary Group, and attended by several other parliamentarians including Lord Avebury, Lord Alton of Liverpool David Burrowes MP as well as David Drew MP, the sponsor of the meeting.

The present Armenian Genocide Recognition effort in the UK is an ever expanding coalition which is gathering momentum involving more and more Armenian and UK supporters. "Genocide recognition is a human, not merely an Armenian, issue" said Eilian Williams, a spokesman for the organisers. "We urge all Armenians to continue lobbying to obtain further parliamentary support as well as to consider joining the Aegis Trust in their Genocide Prevention Campaigns."

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Petition Requesting UK Government to Recognise the Armenian Genocide of 1915

If you are a British citizen or UK resident, please add your name to this online petition requesting the Prime Minister to recognise the Genocide. The closing date for signatories is 16th November 2007.

There are already nearly 1000 names and every extra one counts!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Hrant Dink Finally Acquitted!!!

Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, slain in January, was officially acquitted in two court cases concluded yesterday at an Ýstanbul court.

Three other defendants who were facing charges of "insulting Turkishness" and "attempting to influence the judiciary" were also acquitted, though a third similar case opened at a later date will continue.

The two court cases were sent back to a criminal court in the Þiþli district after the Court of Appeals ordered a retrial. Retrial of the cases was originally scheduled to begin in February but it was postponed to yesterday, June 14, following Dink's Jan. 19 assassination by a teenage gunman in downtown Ýstanbul. Dink, who was the editor of the bilingual Agos daily, was facing charges of insulting Turkishness under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and of attempting to influence the judiciary's functioning under Article 288 in those two cases.

Two of the defendants, Dink's son Arat Dink, and Agos editor Serkis Seropyan, appeared in the court for a retrial session of the cases.

Lawyers for the defendants demanded acquittal, saying elements of the crime were not in place. The court agreed and acquitted all the defendants in the case.

A similar case in which Dink and other defendants face the same charges of insulting Turkishness was postponed to a later date to allow defense lawyers to prepare their plea.

Dink had become a hated figure for ultranationalists for his comments over an alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire. He called for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and was a sharp critic of the Armenian diaspora for its uncompromising stance against Turkey.

Before his death, Dink had complained that the charges of "insulting Turkishness" against him made him a target of nationalist anger.

Sarkozy Firm on Recognition of Armenian Genocide

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated Friday his support for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. "I believe the recognition of the genocide by Turkey is a moral responsibility. You can be certain that I will continue to speak out and work on this issue with full commitment," he said in a letter to the Armenian Orthodox Catholicos of the House of Cicilia, Aram I Keshishian. Sarkozy also reiterated France's support for Lebanon. "In the name of the French-Lebanese, centuries-old friendship that binds the two countries together, France will always defend Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and integrity."

Armenia on the Edge of Demographic Disaster

The specialists often argue and raise an alarm regarding the fact that the abrupt changes in Armenia's demographic situation have turned into a serious threat faced by the state and the national security. But nothing more is done on this occasion besides raising the alarm.

Mortality rate of the population has got a special place in the number of the factors; such as emigration, sharp decrease of birth rate, reduction of marriages and growth of divorces, influencing the demographic situation.

According to the specialists the number of Armenian population in 1990 used to be more than 3.5 million, 22.0 thousand death cases have been registered, that is to say 6.2 per 1000 inhabitants. And in 2005, due to the emigration it has reduced to 3.2 million, 26.4 death cases or 8.2 per 1000 inhabitants.

The specialists consider these statistics to be natural and regular. It came clear that the before mentioned data is conditioned not only by the increase of death cases but mostly by the reduction of birth cases and massive emigration. That is to say the migration and the flow of the individuals of reproductive age has indirectly influenced the growth of mortality rate in Armenia.

Thus we can say that in 90s most of the people survived at the expense of their physical and psychological strength. The wide spread poverty and need couldn't remain without consequences, and after some period of time it brought to the increase of mortality rate including mostly the youth.

Not Only Physical But Also Psychological

In addition to the physical death, today the deterioration of families and moral values, religious and genetic problems are common in our reality.

Today, they often contradict national-religious issues to that of the human rights, while the idea of civil society must be sated with national motives.

In this respect the national responsibility toward the destiny of the people becomes a super task.

The specialists propose certain prescriptions on this occasion - such as - the strengthening of traditional Armenian families and restoration of national values.

Search for Survival

According to different studies, if before 1999 people emigrated because of unemployment, beginning from 1999 the search for survival was added to the before mentioned necessity. This change can probably be explained by the reduction of supply of labor force due to emigration.

In the condition of poverty, corruption, economic monopoly and unfavorable demographic situation, these issues are doomed to remain unsettled. Thus, it is very important to consider them as super tasks and to find ways to withstand them.

What Should Be Done?

From the point of view of overcoming demographic challenges, the issue of the growth of Armenia's population, that is to say the balanced proportional gender-age structure and the formation of the healthy society, the stable and territorial proportional development of the country is of vital importance. To pursue these goals it is indispensable to promote increase of birth rate, decrease of mortality rate, prevention of emigration and promotion of immigration.

We should mention that the negative demographic tendencies are viewed among the challenges of RA national security strategy.

Of course it is good that they came to a consciousness on the state level that the demographic disaster is going from bad to worse. But consciousness must be followed by actions. But unfortunately nothing is done on this occasion.

Two Families Hold 12 per cent of Armenia's GDP

The German Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Armenian Agreement Center held a round-table meeting in the series "Armenia 2007" on June 14.

The main speaker was the former prime minister of Armenia Hrant Bagratyan.

He entitled his speech: "Build democracy, get dictatorship."

Before speaking about Armenia Hrant Bagratyan enumerated some phenomena which are typical of almost all the post-Soviet states: the economic reforms are ahead of the political reforms, first structural then institutional reforms were implemented, two-digit growth is reported everywhere, reforms are slow in countries which have mineral reserves. For Armenia, "these developments cannot sustain evolution, it will blast one day, like it has been the case throughout our history." Hrant Bagratyan said his analysis is based on the official statistics, but he does not trust these statistics because "they are exaggerated three or four times."

In the United States 400 families hold 10 percent of the GDP of Armenia, in Russia 40 families hold 26 percent of the GDP, in Armenia 44 families hold 55 percent of the GDP and two families hold 12 percent of the GDP. "This affects governance and elections." "One cannot run a bank and be the vice president of the Central Bank. One cannot run a hospital and be in charge of the health sector. One cannot run a sphere 35 percent of which belongs to them. There cannot be neutrality or independence," Hrant Bagratyan said.

According to Hrant Bagratyan, centralization of the capital hinders economic reforms. On the other hand, business owners try to become oligarchs, participate in the public administration, and again prevent the reforms. As a result, it is difficult to separate property from government, public administration from economic activities.

If we take into account the enterprises we gave to the Russians in return for the Diaspora and debt, Armenia is the third in the Caucasus by the correlation GDP-foreign investments. Georgia's foreign investments total 38 percent of the GDP, in Azerbaijan 70 percent, in Armenia 20 percent.

According to official statistics, over the past 5 years jobs have decreased by 400 thousand. In addition, return on tax has decreased. "Black economy grows. The economic growth is harmful rather than useful to the country."

Five Foreign Banks Express Wish to Start Business in Armenia

YEREVAN, June 15. /ARKA/. Five foreign banks expressed wish in 2007 to start a business in Armenia, Tigran Sargsyan, chairman of the Central Bank of Armenia said Friday.

He told journalists that five foreign banks from Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Lebanon and Russia applied to the CBA for entering Armenian banking area.

Sargsyan called these banks experienced financial organizations having professional traditions.

"Their appearance in Armenian banking sector will considerably intensify competition", he said.

The CBA head also said that only those banks whose management enables them to deepen the knowledge they possess and obtain new will be able to survive amid growing competition.

The Central Bank's figures show that Armenian banking system's actual authorized capital has grown 32.9% or by AMD 19809.7mln over 2006 toAMD 80107.6mln.

Non-residents' participation in Armenian banks' capital grew 16% and reached AMD 35670.2mln by late 2006. Their participation made 44.52% of the Armenian banks' aggregate authorized capital.

According to the information, Armenian banking system's aggregate authorized capital reached AMD 82907.5mln by late March 2007 and non-residents' participation in Armenian banks' capital has risen 8.3% (by AMD 2956mln) over a period between January and March 2007 to AMD 38626.2mln.

Non-residents' quota in Armenian banking system's capital made 46.59% by late March 2007 against 44.53% earlier this year.

21 banks function in Armenia now. ($1 - AMD 347.73).

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Number of UK Members of Parliament recognising the genocide rises three-fold

Armenia Solidarity
British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group
Nor Serount Publications
The Armenian Genocide Trust
c/ o The Temple of Peace, Cardiff, Wales
07876561398 07718982732
Number of UK Members of Parliament recognising the genocide rises three-fold
Another milestone was passed on the road to UK Recognition today when the 132nd Member of Parliament signed "Early Day Motion" 357 recognising the Armenian Genocide. This is three times the total for 2006, (when 46 MPs signed the motion by Jeremy Corbyn). It is also more than double the previous highest total of 63, which was acheived in 2003.
It is expected that many more will sign around the 27th June when a major speech on "Darfur and Armenia" will be delivered by James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, in Committee Room 10, of the House of Commons at at 5 p.m. on that day. The new Prime Minister Rt Hon. Gordon Brown, himself a historian, will be challenged on "Genocide Denial and the UK government's Ethical Foreign Policy" at this event.
Parliament also lobbied on the 20th of June
Armenians who wish to help with the lobbying are invited to contact us urgently as parliament will break-up for the summer in five weeks time.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

A warm invitation from:

Armenia Solidarity

British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group

Nor Serount Publications

The Armenian Genocide Trust

Genocide Prevention All Party Parliamentary Group

The Aegis Trust

"Genocide Denial and the UK government's "Ethical Foreign Policy"

A meeting to extend a challenge to the new Prime Minister

In Committee Room 10 - in The House of Commons

on Wednesday - 27th June at 5.00 p.m.

Speakers : Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust

with a major speech on "Darfur and Armenia"

David Drew MP

John Bercow MP

Ruth Barnett on the Psychological effects of the Denial

The meeting is sponsored by David Drew MP

(supported by John Bercow MP, and Andrew George MP)

Please forward this invitation to your MP as well

RSVP to or

Tel : 07718982732 or 07876561398

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Turkey and its army - Military manoeuvres

Military manoeuvres (secular democracy as practised by Armenia's neighbour)

The Turkish army continues to play a big role in the country's domestic and foreign politics—too big, say its critics

Get article background

THIS week's flurry of stories about a purported Turkish invasion of northern Iraq confirmed again the special position the army has in Turkey. The reports turned out to be exaggerated, but troops and armour are massing on the border (see picture), and fears of a large-scale intrusion into Iraq remain (see article). For now, though, attention will revert to the army's part in domestic politics.

It is brought home over tea in Istanbul's posh Galata district by Tayfun Mater, a left-wing activist, as he describes being tortured after the coup in 1980. “The worst bit was when they hung me from the ceiling by the arms and applied electric shocks to my penis and testicles,” says Mr Mater, who spent five years in prison. By the time the army handed back power to the civilians in 1983, over half a million Turks had been put in prison; 50, including a 17-year-old boy, were executed.

Until recently most Turks believed the days of coups were over. But that belief was shattered late on April 27th, when a threat to intervene against Turkey's mildly Islamist government was posted on the general staff's website, touching off a political earthquake that still reverberates.

The “cyber coup” eventually led the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to call an early general election on July 22nd. Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, had to withdraw his bid to replace President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who was due to step down in May. Yet the polls suggest that Mr Erdogan's AK Party may return with even more than the 34% that, thanks to most other parties missing the 10% threshold for seats, catapulted it to sole power in 2002. What might the generals do then?

The question echoes around the Ankara cocktail circuit, but it raises a host of others. Was the ultimatum delivered under pressure from hot-headed junior officers threatening to take matters into their own hands? Does the army really believe that the AK government is steering Turkey away from Ataturk's revered secular republic towards religious rule? Was it all a crude stab at wrecking Turkey's chances of joining the European Union? And, again, will the army invade northern Iraq?

The diary of Ozden Ornek, a retired naval chief, leaked in late March to Nokta, a Turkish weekly, suggests several factors may have been involved. Excerpts include details of two separate planned coups concocted in 2004 that were quashed by the then chief of the general staff, Hilmi Ozkok. Conversations between the plotters show suspicions of both AK and General Ozkok. Indeed, his enthusiasm for democracy and the EU leads them to conclude that he is an “Islamist” too.

Mr Ornek insists the diary is fake and is suing Nokta for libel. But General Ozkok has hinted otherwise, saying that the claims “needed to be investigated”. Meanwhile, military prosecutors have filed separate charges against Lale Sariibrahimoglu, a respected military analyst, for her comments to Nokta (which has since been closed down). She could spend two years in jail if convicted on charges of “insulting members of the military”.

The notion that “the army knows what is best for the people and that they cannot be trusted to govern themselves lies at the heart of their continued meddling in politics,” observes Umit Kardas, a retired military prosecutor. It was such thinking (drilled into young officers early on) that led the generals to enshrine a right to intervene in the regulations that they drafted for themselves in the 1980s.

The EU insists that any such right must be scrapped if Turkey is ever to join its club. So must the system of military courts, which shield soldiers from prosecution by civilians. The chief of the general staff should be answerable to the defence minister, not the other way round. Not surprisingly, the generals' feelings towards the EU are now mixed. Joining the EU would crown Ataturk's dream of cementing Turkey's place in the West. Yet they want this “only if it can be on their own terms—and that means retaining all their privileges,” according to Ali Bayramoglu, a long-time observer of the army.

Mr Erdogan became the first political leader to have trimmed the army's powers, when his government reduced the National Security Council (through which the army barks orders) to an advisory role. This and other dramatic reforms helped to persuade the EU to open membership talks with Turkey in 2005.

Fears that their influence might be watered down even more have transformed some generals into the EU's fiercest critics. None more so than Yasar Buyukanit, who took over from General Ozkok last year. His salvoes against creeping Islamisation are often accompanied by veiled claims that the EU is trying to dismember Turkey by supporting Kurds and other minorities.

The army's sense of vulnerability has been heightened by a deepening rift with America over Iraq. During the cold war, the generals (in charge of NATO's second-biggest army) were America's chief interlocutors, which bolstered their influence at home. Anti-American feelings exploded among Turks in 2003, when American soldiers arrested 11 Turkish special-force troops in northern Iraq, on suspicion of plotting to murder a Kurdish politician. Most Turks saw the move as punishment for Turkey's refusal earlier that year to let American troops cross its territory to open a second front in Iraq. Trust between the two armies has yet to be restored. Tuncer Kilinc, the last general to head the National Security Council, told an audience in London recently that Turkey should pull out of NATO and make friends with Russia, Iran, China and India instead.

The army's anti-Western stance resonates well with ordinary Turks, who are disgusted by America's behaviour in Iraq and by the EU's dithering over Turkish membership. The army is still rated as the country's most popular institution. To the millions of urban middle-class Turks who staged anti-government protests last month, the army remains the best guarantor of Ataturk's secular republic.

Yet, as Mr Ornek reportedly noted in his diary, the deliberate isolation of officers from civilian life has confined them to an artificial world in which civilians are “unpatriotic, lazy and venal” and the armed forces are “industrious, selfless and worthy”. As he then mused, “What can we achieve with such thoughts?” Yet if the army is to continue to command the affection of its citizens it needs to change with the times. The generals could not have missed the many placards during last month's protests that read “No to sharia, No to coups.” A drive to weed out corrupt officers launched under General Ozkok is an encouraging sign that the army is prepared to be more self-critical. But respecting the election result, no matter what it is, remains the biggest challenge of all.