Monday, 28 July 2008

News from secular democratic aspiring EU member Turkey

The coming days

The week ahead

Jul 27th 2008

More political uncertainty in Turkey


•TURKEY'S constitutional court meets on Monday July 28th for final hearings in a case involving the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The party is accused of anti-secularism and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may be barred from office. The 11-member court could possibly reach a verdict within days. Mr Erdogan, anticipating a negative ruling, is rumoured to be drawing up contingency plans for an early election to let him put his case to the Turkish public. His party won 47% support in a general election last year.


Milliyet, Turkey
July 27 2008
Turkish daily summarizes military, intelligence response to Ergenekon probe

Istanbul Public Prosecutor Zekeriya Oz sent an official letter concerning the Ergenekon investigation to the General Staff, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and to the Police General Directorate (EGM). The opinions of these three institutions are included in the indictment as summarized:

General Staff: In the response by the Legal Affairs Office it stated, "There is no such organization within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) or within the General Staff." It was also stated that the "Ergenekon Structure" document dated 29 October 1999 and the document called "Antidote" dated 1 May 2000, which were asked about by the prosecutor, had nothing to do with the TSK. It was also noted that the contents of the written documents called Special Forces Message Form and Land Forces Message Form had nothing to do with the TSK, that the "Deep Ergenekon" document taken from Sevgi Erenerol, some documents by Cakir Pasa regarding Alevi Sympathy, Alevism and Armenians that were found on Tuncay Guney plus the writings and reports concerning MIT, Hezbollah and Susurluk did not belong to the TSK.

The documents printed to look as if they belonged to the TSK were regarded as a deliberate plan to undermine the TSK. It was said that these documents were written using computer techniques copying the formats used by the TSK. It was also emphasized that while these kinds
of incidents were being encountered more and more frequently, people posing as commissioned officers in judicial inquiries were in fact trying to further their self interests with various bodies and commercial organization using illegal means by pretending to be associated with the TSK. It was stated that just because these people used to wear the uniform did not necessarily mean they still had ties to the TSK and that these kinds of activities would be treated as outrageous by both the general public and the TSK.

MIT Under Secretary's Office: In its reply to the prosecutor it stated that the makeup of Ergenekon and the organizational documents taken from the suspects had nothing to do with MIT. In MIT's opinion about the documents found in subsequent searches it was noted that the
information contained in anonymous letters to sent to the MIT Under Secretary in 2002 and the attached CDs regarding projects called "Ergenekon and Lobby" together with other information of an accusatory nature were all sent to the Prime Minister and the General Staff HQ in a prepared booklet in 2003. The opinion forwarded by MIT stated that on the strength of current information it was not possible to say anything for certain but that the efforts being made under the name "Ergenekon" were efforts by a group with its sights on the regime and the state to get organized to further its own interests. It continued:

"This accusatory information all came from various separate channels that largely corroborate one another and this adds significance to the affair beyond simple gossip pointing to a directed organized activity. The current information is being treated as "a guiding cadre of military origin aiming to keep a clandestine watch on the civilian administration and create a new form of governance under a newstructure through the use of certain NGOs, political parties and media

EGM: The EGM made the longest evaluation of the questions asked by the prosecution. In the four-page report prepared by the Counterterrorism Office it stated that Ergenekon could be treated as a terrorist organization and said: "The opinion is that the organization known as
Ergenekon possesses a structure as detailed in articles 1 and 7 of Counterterrorism Law Number 3713. The report has a subheading "Coercion and Violence" that draws attention to the possession of weapons and explosives, the preparations for acts of terrorism and information linking the grenades. It was emphasized that the data regarding the use of violence obtained as a result of the entire investigation and the evidence found plus the fact that violence actually took place all points to "the organization being a terrorist organization." The EGM report states: "Up until the Ergenekon investigation began there is no information concerning any prior inves- tigation or follow up for any terrorist organization called 'Ergenkon' in any EGM records, therefore it may be understood that the organization in question is a newly emerged organization. The following is being considered: plans were made to assassinate some people, large sums of money were offered to people to carry out these assassinations, the carrying out of these acts would generate much outrage in the country and tarnish Turkey's international image." It also points out that Ergenekon was an organized structure with a political goal of bending the state authority to its own will.

"Deep State Image"

The three prosecutors running the investigation noted in their conclusions in the light of the information from the three institutions that Ergenekon had no connection to any state institution, that it had been set up in secret, that it gave itself a "deep state image," and that it had tried to run the state administration illegally using its own methods by infiltrating all the institutions of the state and using the for its own purposes. Contrary to the definition of deep state, the evidence seized during the course of the investigation shows that the Ergenekon organization was not pursuing the state's interests but its own ideological views and that it aimed to lean on the state using non-democratic means and intimidation terrorism methods.


Zaman Online, Turkey
July 28 2008
Obama and Ankara

Ã-MER TAÅ?PINAR Columnists

Last week, as I was watching Barack Obama on TV, giving his Berlin speech in front of 200,000 people, a disturbing question came to mind. What would happen if Obama gave a speech in Turkey? Would the crowds be as large and enthusiastic? One side of me says, "Yes, we can!" I can't help but think that the Turkish people must be really excited about the prospect of radical change in the United States. After all, the Bush presidency will not be remembered with nostalgia among Turks. There is plenty of evidence illustrating this. For starters, according to global opinion polls, Turkey is consistently the number-one country in terms of dislike for the Bush administration's policies. Logically, in a country like Turkey, there must be a lot of sympathy for a new American president who represents by the sheer facts of his name, race, ideas and overall demeanor a mind-blowing contrast to everything that George W. Bush has come to symbolize. Add to this the fact that Turkey itself is a country where the power struggle is often defined as one between the "white elite" and the "black masses" of Anatolia. Wouldn't black Turks embrace their American brother? Think twice before getting carried away. Yes, under normal circumstances such parallels between Turkey and America would strike a chord and yes, under normal circumstances Obama would be the favorite of the Turkish people, mainly because he would be seen as the underdog defying the American system.

Yet one needs to emphasize the term "under normal circumstances." An Obama visit to Turkey may not draw hundreds of thousands of cheering crowds to the street. The reason is simple and painful. Whenever Obama's presidency is discussed in Turkey, there is a big Turkish elephant in the room: the Armenian "genocide" issue. Obama's position is well known: He is committed to the Armenian cause and has promised the Armenian- American community that he will support recognition of the "genocide." Now that's a show-stopper for Turkey. The Turkish press picked up the story from day one and began to ring alarm bells. It did not take very long for Obama's name to become synonymous with the Armenian lobby in the eyes of Turks. Similarly, the Turkish-American community in the United States has become very uncom- fortable with the prospect of an Obama presidency. A senior Democratic member from the US Congress who happens to be a major Obama supporter told me last week that his staffers are already getting an earful from the Turkish community in his district. No wonder most Turkish-American organizations lined up to support Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.

It is also no wonder that both the government in Ankara and the Turkish state apparatus (Note for dummies: government and state can mean different things in Turkish politics, especially these days¦) appear to be on the same page about Obama: They prefer his opponent Republican candidate Senator John McCain. There is no major surprise here. The Turkish establishment has always had a deeply rooted love affair with Republicans. The roots of this martial romance -- which appears to have survived the Bush years -- go back to the good old days of the Cold War era, when there was no daylight between the Turkish military and the Pentagon. Iraq was of course a major bump in the road. But there are still ongoing financial reasons for this marriage of convenience to continue. For some mysterious reason (!)Turkey's best friends in Washington are always the defense companies; and the best friends of the defense companies are the Republicans. You get the picture, right? (Note for dummies No. 2: Republicans never cut America's defense budget.) Anyways, I digress. The crux of the matter for Turkey is the following: Obama is a Democrat who supports the Armenian cause whereas McCain is a Republican who values Turkey's strategic importance much more than the votes of Armenian-Americans. This is how Ankara perceives the situation.

As a result, Turkey is once again out of tune with the rest of the world. The whole world is going nuts about Obama while Ankara is stuck in history. Is there a way to remind Turkey that there are more important things in Turkish-American relations than the Armenian issue? This may be an uphill battle. But one way to do so is to focus
on Obama's popularity in Europe. Imagine both McCain and Obama lobbying on Turkey's behalf with EU leaders. To whom do you think Europeans would prefer to listen? Take a second look at the crowd listening to Obama in Berlin.


The Economist - the moment of truth

Religious conversions

The moment of truth
Jul 24th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Illustration by Garry Neill
Illustration by Garry Neill

In many parts of the world, the right to change one's beliefs is under threat

AS AN intellectually gifted Jewish New Yorker who had reached manhood in the mid-1950s, Marc Schleifer was relentless in his pursuit of new cultural and spiritual experiences. He dallied with Anglo-Catholicism, intrigued by the ritual but not quite able to believe the doctrine, and went through a phase of admiration for Latin American socialism. Experimenting with lifestyles as well as creeds, he tried respectability as an advertising executive, and a more bohemian life in the raffish expatriate scene of North Africa.

Returning from Morocco to his home city, he was shocked by the harsh anonymity of life in the urban West. And one day, riding the New York subway, he opened the Koran at a passage which spoke of the mystery of God: beyond human understanding, but as close as a jugular vein. Suddenly, everything fell into place. It was only a matter of time before he embraced Islam by pronouncing before witnesses that “there is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

Some 40 years on from that life-changing moment—not untypical of the turning points that many individuals experience—Abdallah Schleifer has won distinction as a Muslim intellectual. Last year he was one of 138 Muslim thinkers who signed an open letter to Christian leaders calling for a deeper theological dialogue. The list of signatories included (along with the muftis from Cairo, Damascus and Jakarta) several other people who had made surprising journeys. One grew up as an English nonconformist; another as a Catholic farm boy from Oregon; another in the more refined Catholic world of bourgeois Italy.

Sometimes conversion is gradual, but quite commonly things come to a head in a single instant, which can be triggered by a text, an image, a ceremony or some private realisation. A religious person would call such a moment a summons from God; a psychologist might speak of an instant when the walls between the conscious and unconscious break down, perhaps because an external stimulus—words, a picture, a rite—connects with something very deep inside. For people of an artistic bent, the catalyst is often a religious image which serves as a window into a new reality. One recurring theme in conversion stories is that cultural forms which are, on the face of it, foreign to the convert somehow feel familiar, like a homecoming. That, the convert feels, “is what I have always believed without being fully aware of it.”

Take Jennie Baker, an ethnic Chinese nurse who moved from Malaysia to England. She was an evangelical, practising but not quite satisfied with a Christianity that eschews aids to worship such as pictures, incense or elaborate rites. When she first walked into an Orthodox church, and took in the icons that occupied every inch of wall-space, everything in this “new” world made sense to her, and some teachings, like the idea that every home should have a corner for icons and prayer, resonated with her Asian heritage. Soon she and her English husband helped establish a Greek Orthodox parish in Lancashire.

In the West it is generally taken for granted that people have a perfect, indeed sacred, right to follow their own religious path, and indeed to invite—though never compel—other people to join them. The liberal understanding of religion lays great emphasis on the right to change belief. Earlier this year, a poll found that one in four Americans moves on from the faith of their upbringing.

America’s foundation as a refuge for Europe’s Christian dissidents has endowed it with a deep sense of the right to follow and propagate any form of religion, with no impediment, or help, from the state. In the 1980s America saw some lively debates over whether new-fangled “cults” should be distinguished from conventional forms of religion, and curbed; but in the end a purely libertarian view prevailed. The promotion of religious liberty is an axiom of American foreign policy, not just in places where freedom is obviously under threat, but even in Germany, which gets gentle scoldings for its treatment of Scientology.

But America’s religious free-for-all is very much the exception, not the rule, in human history—and increasingly rare, some would say, in the world today. In most human societies, conversion has been seen as an act whose consequences are as much social and political as spiritual; and it has been assumed that the wider community, in the form of the family, the village or the state, has every right to take an interest in the matter. The biggest reason why conversion is becoming a hot international topic is the Muslim belief that leaving Islam is at best a grave sin, at worst a crime that merits execution (see article). Another factor in a growing global controversy is the belief in some Christian circles that Christianity must retain the right to seek and receive converts, even in parts of the world where this may be viewed as a form of cultural or spiritual aggression.

The idea that religion constitutes a community (where the loss or gain of even one member is a matter of deep, legitimate concern to all other members) is as old as religion itself. Christianity teaches that the recovery of a “lost sheep” causes rejoicing in heaven; for a Muslim, there is no human category more important than the umma, the worldwide community of believers.

But in most human societies the reasons why conversion causes controversy have little do with religious dogma, and much to do with power structures (within the family or the state) and politics. Conversion will never be seen as a purely individual matter when one religiously-defined community is at war or armed standoff with another. During Northern Ireland’s Troubles a move across the Catholic-Protestant divide could be life-threatening, at least in working-class Belfast—and not merely because people felt strongly about papal infallibility.

And in any situation where religion and authority (whether political, economic or personal) are bound up, changes of spiritual allegiance cause shock-waves. In the Ottoman empire, the status of Christians and Jews was at once underpinned and circumscribed by a regime that saw religion as an all-important distinction. Non-Muslims were exempt from the army, but barred from many of the highest offices, and obliged to pay extra taxes. When a village in, say, Crete or Bosnia converted en masse from Christianity to Islam, this was seen as betrayal by those who stayed Christian, in part because it reduced the population from which the Ottomans expected a given amount of tax.

In the days of British rule over the south of Ireland, it was hard for Catholics to hold land, although they were the overwhelming majority. An opportunistic conversion to the rulers’ religion was seen as “letting the side down” by those who kept the faith. Similar inter-communal tensions arose in many European countries where Jews converted to Christianity in order to enter university or public service.

In most modern societies, the elaborate discrimination which made religious allegiance into a public matter is felt to be a thing of the past. But is this so? In almost every post-Ottoman country, traces exist of the mentality that treats religion as a civic category, where entry and exit is a matter of public negotiation, not just private belief. Perhaps Lebanon, where political power is allocated along confessional lines (and boat-rocking changes of religious affiliation are virtually impossible) is the most perfectly post-Ottoman state. But there are other holdovers. In “secular” Turkey, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish minorities have certain poorly observed rights that no other religious minority enjoys; isolated Christians, or dissident Muslims, face great social pressure to conform to standard Sunni Islam. In Greece, it is unconstitutional to proselytise; that makes life hard for Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. In Egypt, the fact that building a Christian church requires leave from the head of state is a direct legacy of a (liberalising) Ottoman decree of 1856.

But the Ottoman empire is by no means the only semi-theocratic realm whose influence is still palpable in the governance of religious affairs, including conversion. In an odd way, the Soviet Union continued the legacy of the tsars by dividing citizens into groups (including Jews or some Muslim ethnicities) where membership had big consequences but was not a matter of individual choice. In post-Soviet Russia, the prevailing Orthodox church rejects the notion of a free market in ideas. It seeks (and often gets) state preference for “traditional” faiths, defined as Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. This implies that other forms of Christianity are “poaching” if they seek to recruit Russians.

Illustration by Garry Neill
Illustration by Garry Neill

But issues of conversion are also painful in some former territories of the British empire, which allowed its subjects to follow their own communal laws. Take India, which once aspired to be a secular state, and whose constitution calls for a uniform civil code for all citizens. That prospect is now remote, and the fact that different religious groups live by different family laws, and are treated unequally by the state and society, has created incentives for “expedient” conversion. A colourful body of jurisprudence, dating from the British Raj, concerns people who changed faith to solve a personal dilemma—like men who switched from Hinduism to Islam so as to annul their marriage and wed somebody else. In 1995, the Supreme Court tried to stop this by saying people could not dodge social obligations, or avoid bigamy charges, by changing faith. What India’s case law shows, says Marco Ventura, a religious-law professor, is the contrast between conversion in rich, liberal societies and traditional ones, where discrimination tempts people to make tactical moves.

And in many ways religious freedom is receding, not advancing, in India. Half a dozen Indian states have introduced laws that make it hard for people to leave Hinduism. These states are mostly ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But last year Himachal Pradesh became the first state led by the more secular Congress party to bring in such legislation: such is the power of Hindu sentiment that even non-religious parties pander to it.

The state’s new law is billed as a “freedom of religion” measure, but it has the opposite effect: anyone wishing to switch faiths must tell the district magistrate 30 days before or risk a fine. If a person converts another “by the use of force or by inducement or by any other fraudulent means”, they can be jailed for up to two years, fined, or both. Local pastors say “inducement” could be taken to mean anything, including giving alms to the poor.

Supporters of such laws say proselytisers, or alleluia wallahs, are converting poor Hindus by force. It is true that Christian evangelism is in full swing in parts of India, especially in its eastern tribal belt, and that it enjoys some success. Officially, fewer than 3% of India’s 1.1 billion people are Christian. But some Christians say the real total may be double that. Christian converts, most of whom are born as dalits at the bottom of the Hindu caste system, often hide their new faith for fear of losing their rights to state jobs and university places kept for the lower castes.

But it is unlikely that many Hindu-to-Christian switches are forced. In states with anti-conversion laws, credible allegations of conversion under duress have very rarely been made.

Anyway, India’s arguments have more to do with politics than theology. Hindutva, the teaching that India is a Hindu nation and that Christians and Muslims are outsiders, has been a vote-winner for the BJP. Even in Himachal Pradesh, voters were unmoved by the Congress party’s attempt to ride the religious bandwagon; the BJP still won the latest elections.

The contest between theocratic politics and a notionally secular state looks even more unequal in another ex-British land, Malaysia, where freedom of choice in religion is enshrined in the federal constitution, but Islamic law is imposed with growing strictness on the Muslim majority.

Until the mid-1990s, say Malaysian civil-rights advocates like Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, the federal authorities enforced religious freedom; the National Registration Department, a federal agency, would comply when anybody asked to record a change of religion. More recently, both that agency and Malaysia’s top judges have deferred to the sharia courts, which enjoy increasing power in all 13 states of the Malaysian federation; and those courts rarely let a registered Muslim quit the fold. A recent exception was an ethnic Chinese woman who was briefly married to an Iranian; a sharia court let her re-embrace Buddhism, but only on the ground that she was never fully Muslim, so the idea of “Once a Muslim, always a Muslim” remained intact.

A more telling sign of the times was the verdict in the case of Lina Joy, a Malay convert from Islam to Christianity who asked a federal court to register the change on her ID card. By two to one the judges rejected her bid, arguing that one “cannot, at one’s whims or fancies, renounce or embrace a religion”. Too bad, then, for any Malaysians who have a moment of truth on the subway, especially if the faith to which they are called happens not to be Islam.


Contrast the British Canon and the Turkish Newspaper

Listen to Canon Patrick Thomas on BBC Radio 4 for his latest visit to the Matenadaran,
including the story of how a manuscript was transported from Moush to Echmiadzin in 1915.
then scroll down to select the 26 July version of Prayer for the Day
Then read the latest from Turkey:

Turkish Daily News
July 26 2008
An open letter to Senator Obama
Saturday, July 26, 2008

You are in a position to help make history on this difficult and highly emotive issue: Ask the Turks and the Armenians to talk and to listen to each other

O. Faruk LOÃ?Â?OÃ?Â?LU, Turkey

Senator Obama, your inspiring march to the White House has fired the imagination not just of Americans voters, but of many millions more around the world. The promise of change, the willingness to engage and the readiness to hear and listen have succeeded in creating a truly global community of believers in your message. If you are elected the next American president, your choices and decisions will interplay with the hopes of men and women everywhere. It is an
unprecedented, huge responsibility, but also a historic and unique opportunity never before had by any of your predecessors. To bring about positive, beneficial change, you will need to properly
understand the challenges before you, be impartial, creative and possess a sense of justice and balance. You amply project these qualities. In your memoirs, you identify among the values you hold dear "honesty," "fairness," "straight talk" and "independent judgment." These are admirable references.

Getting Armenian claims right:

This is why I felt addressing this letter at this time might be helpful to you on an issue of tremendous importance to the Turkish people. I refer to the Armenian claims of genocide. So far, you have taken a nearly categorical stand in support of the Armenian views on
the matter. Some may attribute your stance to the exigencies of election politics.
Nevertheless, the insistent nature of your attitude on the Armenian claims suggests that you have arrived at your considered opinion after obviously giving some thought to the matter. I wish only to remind you of a few key facts in this
connection and invite you to reflect on them
. First, the veracity of the claims of genocide is profoundly contested. The Turks and the Armenians have diametrically opposed versions of the same set of events that occurred nearly a century ago. Their narratives are different and seemingly incompatible. Both sides challenge the authenticity of the documentary evidence offered by the other. Moreover, there is wide discrepancy over the number of lives lost on each side. The disagreement on what happened in 1915 is, however, not just between the Turks and the Armenians.
Historians and other scholars of third parties are also deeply divided over the issue. Both sides can come up with long lists of names in support of their
views. Notwithstanding the Armenian claims to the contrary, it is therefore a matter far from having been settled in favor of either party.
Second, the internationally accepted standard for establishing the act of genocide beyond challenge is missing in the Armenian case. This is the absence of a ruling from an authorized legal tribunal.
The Armenians have never proposed to take their case to court.
No court has addressed the case or found the Turks guilty as charged. Clearly, resolutions of parliamentary bodies or pronouncements of eminent personalities, including politicians, cannot serve as substitutes for court judgments.
Third, historical issues that have divided nations have ultimately always required for their resolution dialogue and conciliation. The Armenian Diasporas are trying to dictate their particular version of history to the international
community as the truth. The Turks are defending their own truth. The various attempts at dialogue so far have been to no avail because for the Armenians the only legitimate purpose of these exercises is for the Turks to admit to the crime of genocide. So long as the two sides fail to come together, the wounds between these great peoples will not be healed. Finally, the Turkish government, with the unanimous backing of the Turkish Parliament, has formally proposed to the Armenian government the establishment of a joint commission of scholars and researchers to delve into the matter, examining all the relevant documentation and evidence. The Commission is open to the participation of third party representatives. It would work in transparency. The Turkish government has committed itself to the a priori acceptance of the findings of such a commission. This is a brave and honest proposal.
Only recently and in a remarkable first by any international body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE endorsed the validity and importance of the Turkish initiative.

Conciliation and dialogue:

Our times call for conciliation and dialogue. Perfunctory dismissal of the Turkish viewpoint would certainly please the Armenian lobby in America. However, it would hurt the Turkish people immensely and deal a serious and lasting blow to the all-important Turkish-American
relationship. Upholding the values of fairness and independent judgment you and so many of us so dearly cherish should lead you to review the Armenian question in a broader context. You are in a position to help make history on this difficult and highly emotive issue: Ask the Turks and the Armenians to talk and to listen to each other. That is the road to change. That is the road to conciliation between Turks and Armenians.


Protest Reuters

Dear Friends,

The Reuters news agency has a tradition of misrepresenting the Armenian Genocide as a debate between Armenia and Turkey, instead of a well-documented, accepted historical fact that is being denied by the Turkish government. The news service did it again on Monday, in an article about Turkish-Armenian relations, saying "Yerevan says that 1.5 million ethnic Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923. Turkey strongly denies the accusations and says that both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in the fighting."

Please send Reuters your feedback, urging them to correct their approach to articles about the Armenian Genocide. Your message should be short and simple. It's important that your feedback arrive at Reuters quickly.

Here's the link to the feedback page (click on "Contact Our Editors"):

Ideas for feedback:

- The Armenian Genocide must not be characterized as a legitimate debate between Armenia and Turkey.

- The Armenian Genocide is recognized unequivocally by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, as well as all respected genocide and Holocaust studies institutes and historians.

- Respectable editors would never allow the Holocaust to be described as a an event which the Jews say was true, but that some deny (the government of Iran, neo-Nazis)

- It is not a proper journalistic practice to simply state two sides of an argument without giving readers more information about the extent of the evidence.

- Genocide denial, revisionism, and Turkish government propaganda should not be bolstered by Reuters news service.

- Urge Reuters to refer to the Armenian Genocide in a more journalistically correct, fair, and truthful way, to tell it like it is.

Here's the link to the article and the article itself:

Armenian leader calls for better ties with Turkey

Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:19pm BST

YEREVAN, July 21 (Reuters) - Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan called on Monday for closer ties with Turkey, 15 years after the two nations severed diplomatic relations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

They are also at odds over the question of whether ethnic Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks during World War One were victims of genocide. Armenia and Turkey broke off diplomatic links in 1993, when Ankara closed the border and backed Azerbaijan during its war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.

"The improvement of ties between Armenia and Turkey is mutually beneficial," Sarksyan told a news conference on Monday. "I think we should improve our relations."

"The important thing is that in relations between Armenia and Turkey a trend is taking shape for being ready to start a healthy discussion of the existing problems," he said.

Sarksyan said earlier this month he had invited his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to visit Yerevan and watch a football match in September.

"The visit of Gul to Armenia could turn this trend into a stable and positive movement," Sarksyan said, adding that Armenian diplomats had recently met Turkish colleagues.

Armenian forces control the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia and Azerbaijan are involved in a long-running peace process but are still officially at war over the mountainous area.

The tiny ex-Soviet republic of Armenia is sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan in a region that is emerging as an important transit route for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets, though Armenia has no pipelines of its own.

Armenia also wants Turkey to recognize what it calls a systematic genocide during World War One. Yerevan says that 1.5 million ethnic Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.

Turkey strongly denies the accusations and says that both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in the fighting. (Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan, writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Armenian National Committee
San Francisco
- Bay Area
51 Commonwealth Avenue
San Francisco
, CA 94118
Tel: 415-387-3433
Fax: 415-751-0617


Isolated Armenia leans on Iran

By Robin Forestier
BBC News, Yerevan

Iran does not have too many friends these days, but in a far corner of the Caucasus, on the edge of Europe, it is forming a special relationship.

Wine-tasting cellar in Armenia
Noy Brandy's wine-tasting sessions are popular with Iranian tourists
Deep in the cellar of the Noy Brandy factory in Yerevan, Armenia, there is a pungent, but not unpleasant smell of ageing, fortified wine.

On an upturned wooden cask sit a dozen glasses, and a bottle of 1944 sherry. The company's wine-tasting sessions are popular with tourists and most of them, according to tour guide Anna, come from Iran.

"Ten metres underground, they think Allah is out of range," she smiles. "They don't want to taste the wine, they want to drink it."

Across town, Omid Mojahed is one such Iranian looking for more than just a taste of Armenia. He is a 28-year-old student and an entrepreneur at heart.

We attach great importance to our relations with Iran. One can choose one's friends but not one's neighbours
Armen Movsisyan
Armenian minister

He spends most of his time away from his books, working on his businesses, which include a travel agency working exclusively in the Iranian market.

"In summer I think that 90% of tourists are Iranian. Armenia is so close by and has attractive things - cafes and nightclubs, and beautiful Lake Sevan."

Omid has also just opened a Persian restaurant, catering for locals as well as Iranian expats, keen for some home cuisine.

Gathered at the bar around a smoking pipe, a group of Iranian students are relaxing after their exams.


Twenty-year-old Mehdez explains that Armenia is popular with thousands of young people who cannot get a place in Iran's over-subscribed higher education system.

"I chose to study in Yerevan because it's an easier situation. Here we have more freedom," she says.

"But of course anything that we do here, we can do in Iran - just not in public."

Geographic isolation

Part of that freedom includes an increasingly liberalised economy, and that makes Armenia attractive to foreign investment.

The Armenian capital is hardly an international economic powerhouse, but there are signs that Iranian investors sense an opportunity.

On one street, many of the stores are Iranian-run. One of them is owned by Muhammad Rahimi.

Muhammad Rahimi, trader in Yerevan, Armenia
Muhammad Rahimi benefits from Armenia's dependence on Iran

He started trading household goods 10 years ago. Business, he says, gets better and better. Practically every item he sells - from pots and pans to air-fresheners - has been imported from Iran.

Like many of his compatriots, Muhammad benefits from Armenia's geographical isolation.

War with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s led to the closure of its borders with Azerbaijan and an unsympathetic Turkey.

That leaves landlocked Armenia looking towards Georgia to the north, and Iran to the south.

"Georgia, economically, is worse than Armenia," says Alexander Iskandarian, director of the Caucasus Media Institute.

"But Iran has a population of 70 million and it has oil and gas. It's rich by regional standards, so you should have normal relations with them. It's dangerous not to do so."

Yet trade turnover between the two countries remains modest, at just $200m (£100m) a year, according to the economic department at the Iranian embassy.

US disapproval

That has not stopped the United States from expressing concern about Armenia's ties with its neighbour. Those ties include the new Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, frequent bilateral talks and state visits, not to mention a sizeable Armenian minority in northern Iran.

In this year's Country Reports on Terrorism, the US state department said warming relations between the two countries made Armenia "reluctant to criticise publicly objectionable Iranian conduct".

The little country courts the Americans, Europeans and Russians. It is a difficult balancing act to follow.

Iranian students in a Perisan restaurant in Yerevan
Iranian students say they enjoy more freedom in Armenia

But Armenia's unique relationship with the regional power - Iran - is one it cannot afford to abandon.

Moreover, the two countries are united by a shared sense of isolation from the rest of the world.

"Let's not forget that Armenia is in a virtual blockade. We attach great importance to our relations with Iran. One can choose one's friends but not one's neighbours," says Armen Movsisyan, Armenia's minister of energy.

For those Iranians who have chosen to make a home in Armenia, geopolitics may not be foremost in their minds, but they are equally as pragmatic as the politicians.

"I'm no expert in international relations. All I know is we always had good relations with Armenia and that's why I like working here," says the trader Muhammad Rahimi.

Back in his restaurant, Omid Mojahed has no plans to leave while the going is good.

"Everything will be okay for me here, that's why I prefer to stay," he says.

"I like Armenian people, and it's difficult for me to want to leave my friends. When you come to Yerevan for a month, you will stay in Yerevan forever!"


PACE Chief In Stark Warning To Yerevan
By Ruzanna Stepanian

The Armenian authorities will risk `catastrophic' consequences if they fail to release all political prisoners and meet other Council of Europe demands by next October, the president of the Strasbourg-based organization's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) said on Thursday.

Lluis Maria de Puig issued the stark warning on the second day of his visit to Armenia aimed at assessing its government's compliance with the PACE resolutions on the dramatic post-election developments in the country.

The PACE demanded in April that the authorities immediately release all opposition members arrested on `seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges,' restore freedom of assembly and allow an independent inquiry into the March 1 clashes in Yerevan. In a follow-up resolution
adopted late last month, the 47-nation assembly reiterated these demands, giving the admini- tration of President Serzh Sarkisian six more months to satisfy them in full.

In an interview with RFE/RL, de Puig warned that the PACE could impose political sanctions on Yerevan at its next session due in October if it finds no major progress on the question of opposition detainees. `We need guarantees by September 11 that resolutions can be implemented in this country,' he said. `If we conclude on September 11 that no important progress has been made in Armenia, there will be a very scandalous situation.'

September 11 is the day when Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner on human rights, is expected to report to the PACE's Monitoring Committee on whether Yerevan is complying with the resolutions. `The response to our recommendations is still unsatisfactory,' Hammarberg said at the end of a fact-finding trip to Yerevan on July 15.

According to de Puig, Hammarberg's failure to report major progress would create a situation that `can be catastrophic for the country.' `Armenia can not wait until January because things will perhaps be decided before January,' he said. `That is why it is important that Armenia shows very quickly that it is complying with the PACE resolutions.'

President Sarkisian clearly did not share the PACE chief's sense of urgency as he spoke at a news conference on Monday. He indicated that the Armenian authorities are not anxious to free the individuals considered political prisoners by the opposition and to fully comply with the PACE resolution by January.

`If a certain provision [of the resolution] is not implemented by January, I don't think we will have a calamity as a result,' said Sarkisian. `Of course, it is desirable to solve our problems as soon as possible. But it is a bit wrong to set some deadlines and say that all those problems must be solved by then.'

Meeting with de Puig on Thursday, Sarkisian insisted that no oppositionist has been or will be jailed on baseless charges and that Armenia is `determined' to implement the PACE resolutions. `I strongly believe that there is no alternative to Armenia's democratization, and we will consistently follow that path,' he said.

De Puig also expressed concern about the fate of several dozen opposition supporters remaining in prison on charges mostly stemming from the March 1 unrest in Yerevan as he met with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian on Wednesday. According to the Armenian government's press office, he said the Council of Europe can not tolerate the existence of political prisoners in any of its member states.

`This does not apply to individuals who committed violent crimes,' de Puig was quoted as saying. `Those detainees who have nothing to do with those crimes should be released,' he added.

Prime Minister Sarkisian assured him that the Armenian authorities `fully understand the seriousness of the issue.' `It is obvious to everyone that politicization of trials is extremely dangerous for the country,' he said. `Therefore, everything is being done to ensure that no legal norm is violated in Armenia.'

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian claimed the opposite when he met de Puig later on Wednesday. He accused the authorities of doing nothing to address the PACE concerns.

`Thus, the authorities have no intention to restore democracy in Armenia and are treating the Council of Europe demands with disdain,' Ter-Petrosian's Popular Movement said in a statement on Thursday. `In this situation, the Armenian people are left with no choice but to mount a powerful wave of protest and defiance with the aim of reclaiming their trampled rights.' The statement urged Armenians to `actively' participate in Ter-Petrosian's next Yerevan rally scheduled for August 1.

In a related development, law-enforcement authorities released on Thursday a well-known opposition supporter accused of plotting a coup d'etat and inciting `mass disturbances.' Arshak Banuchian, deputy director of Yerevan's famous Matenadaran institute of ancient manuscripts, was not cleared of what he sees as trumped-up charges and may still go on trial.

Another, more prominent, opposition figure, Ararat Zurabian, was transferred from a Yerevan prison to a heart clinic the previous night after being diagnosed with a serious cardiac disease. Zurabian is the chairman of the Armenian Pan-National Movement, a party that governed the country from 1990-1998.


Armenian Ombudsman Concerned About `Witness Torture'
By Karine Kalantarian

Armenia's human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, said on Thursday that he is receiving growing complaints from citizens claiming to have been intimidated and mistreated by law- enforcement agencies to give alse incriminating testimony against arrested opposition members.

`We can't say whether or not that is true,' he told RFE/RL. `But the fact is that such complaints have increased.'

Harutiunian said he has sent letters to the chiefs of the Armenian police and the Special Investigative Service (SIS) to investigate the claims and, in particular, to look into the case of one man, identified as Gagik Avdalian.

In a letter to the ombudsman, Avdalian claimed that he went into hiding after being tortured to testify against parliament deputy Miasnik Malkhasian and several other oppositionists arrested in connection with the March 1 clashes in Yerevan between opposition protesters and security forces. He said local courts should therefore not use the testimony as evidence.

Under Armenian law, the police and SIS chiefs have to reply to Harutiunian within 10 days.

Harutiunian's letter is the latest example of the human rights defender of questioning the legality of the Armenian authorities' post-election crackdown on the opposition that followed the March 1 unrest. His criticism of the use of lethal force against opposition protesters was rejected by Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian and other Armenian officials.

Earlier this month, Harutiunian described as illegal SIS chief Andranik Mirzoyan's March directive to regional prosecutors to round up participants of the opposition rallies in Yerevan, wire-tap their conversations and interrogate their neighbors. Mirzoyan insists that the order was legal and justified.

Harutiunian said he shared his concerns with the visiting president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Lluis Maria de Puig, at a meeting earlier on Thursday. `[De Puig] noted that not everyone in Armenia understands the gravity of the situation,' he said.


More articles on Armenia-Turkey relations

Interfax News Agency
July 21 2008

Contacts between Armenia and Turkey never ceased, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan told a press conference on Monday."Contacts between Armenian and Turkish diplomatic circles never ceased and there is nothing sensational about Armenian and Turkish representatives meeting
in Bern," he said.

"Both Armenia and Turkey will gain from established relations.

Certainly, in both countries there are people who think the opposite but this does not mean that we must sit idly by," Sargsyan said.

"The Turkish president's visit to Armenia may have a positive effect on the discussion of the existing issues between our countries.

It is very important that there is an emerging trend among the Armenian and Turkish public toward healthy discussion of the existing problems," said the Armenian president.

Asked how long he is willing to wait for the Turkish president's reply to the invitation to visit Yerevan, Sargsyan said: "When it comes to a neighboring country, one does not speak about deadlines, one has to wait as long as it takes."

There are still no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey.

The 1915 events in the Ottoman Empire remain a stumbling block in the relations between the two countries. A number of nations recognized the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Turkey in 1915, which claimed more than 1.5 million lives. Armenia wants Turkey to recognize the
genocide, but Turkey refuses to do so.

For its part, Ankara demands that the Karabakh conflict be resolved on the basis of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.


Agence France Presse -- English
July 21, 2008 Monday 12:32 PM GMT

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said Monday he detected a thaw in relations with Turkey, confirming that diplomats from the two neighbours had held meetings in Switzerland.

Sarkisian earlier this month invited Gul to watch a football World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan in September. Gul, who has also said he wants greater cooperation, has yet to reply.

"A readiness to begin healthy discussions on existing problems in Armenia-Turkey relations has appeared," Sarkisian told journalists in Yerevan.

"A visit by Gul to Armenia could transform these tendencies into a stable and positive movement," he said.

Ankara has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia since its independence in 1991 because of Armenian efforts to secure international recognition of Armenian massacres under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Sarkisian's latest comments came after diplomats from the two countries, which have no formal diplomatic relations, met in Switzerland this month to discuss normalising ties.

Turkish media reported that the talks were held in secret and marked an important step in reconciling the two sides.

But, like Turkish officials, Sarkisian downplayed the significance of the talks.

"There was no secret or reason to be surprised. Such contacts between Armenian and Turkish diplomats never stopped. They have always taken place," he said.

In 1993, Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, then at war with Armenia, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished ex-Soviet nation.


AZG Armenian Daily

On July 18 "Hurriet" newspaper stated without any details that Armenia-Turkey secrtet talks have started in Bern, Switrzerland. Later the fact was confirmed.

Nevertheless is most interesting are neither the responses nor the confirmation. The most interesting are the details of the meeting.

Some details were provided by the Turkish New York website ( This is what they write, "the friendly gestures of Serge Sarkisian encouraged Turkey, which has had unofficial contacts with Armenia for almost 10 years. It turns out that Foreign Ministry Councilor Rtugrul Apakan and his assistant on Caucasus and Central Asia Unal Zevikoz had two series of meetings with the Armenian delegates in May and July.

Although Ali Babacan confessed time to time contacts between Armenia and Turkey, he refused to provide any details. According to information received, Ankara is aware of Azerbaijan's opposition in case Armenia-Turkey contacts become public.

As far as Turkish Daily News came to know, Apakan's and Zevikoz's meetings with the Armenians in Bern were successful in sense of coming to agreement on the strategy and methods of resolving the present problems.

It also came out that instead of discussing the establishment of one commission, the Armenian and Turkish sides discussed the opportunity of founding four joint commissions, one for the borders, the Genocide, reparations and Karabakh respectively.

Previous President of Armenia Robert Kocharian denied Recep Tayyip Erdogan's proposal to establish a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians to study the 1915 events. Kocharian insisted that an intergovernmental, not scientific commission must be established. This time, according to diplomatic sources, measures are taken to meet the requirements of both the sides.

Most attention during Apakan's and Zevikoz's meetings was paid to the question of opening the Turkish-Armenian border. It is a long time since the EU and the USA have started persuading Ankara that opeing the border with Armenia is the best way to weaken Armenia's positions on the Genocide".

In the end mentions Serge Sarkisian's invitation of Abdullah Gul to Armenia on September 6 and says about the possibility of having the third round of talks this year before the possible meeting in Yerevan.


Cohen Takes Credit for Killing Genocide Resolution

From: Aram Hamparian (

Dear Reader

This is your chance to kick-out a top enemy of Armenian Genocide recognition and see him replaced by a friend of the Armenian people.

The battle lines are drawn.

The showdown will be on August 7th.


On one side is Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, who's fought the Armenian Genocide Resolution tooth and nail, even holding a press conference against this legislation. Just last week, in his local paper, he bragged that among his "biggest accomplishments" was unraveling a "resolution to condemn Turkey for the Armenian Genocide almost a century ago."

On the other, you have Nikki Tinker, a principled community leader who has pledged to fight for Armenian Genocide recognition, to help Nagorno Karabagh, and support Armenia. She has received broad backing, including strong support from the African American community that makes up roughly 60% of the District, and nearly 80% of its Democratic Party.

What makes this race so vital is that Cohen is an extremely vulnerable candidate.

Recognizing this historic chance to send a powerful message across Capitol Hill, Armenians from around the country have rallied on-line to help tip the scales for Tinker.

Over 190 individual on-line donors have given her campaign more than $14,000, on top of other Armenian American donations totaling $5,000, plus local help from ANC-Tennessee volunteers.

Be part of this nationwide effort by sending your secure on-line donation today. In an election this tight, every dollar counts.


Aram Hamparian
Executive Director

P.S. The election is only days away. Your chance to make a difference is now. Please send your secure on-line donation today to the Nikki Tinker campaign.

Prefer to send a check? Please mail your donation to:

Nikki Tinker for Congress
4230 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116

Checks should be made out to "Nikki Tinker for Congress." Please be sure to include "Armenians for Nikki Tinker" in the notes section.

1711 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918 ~ Fax: (202) 775-5648 ~ ~

Hantiboum Iraq-i Temi Arachnort Ker. D. Avak Ark. Asadourian-i Hed

RAG Mamoul (


Rep. Berman Reiterates Support for Armenian Issues

Rep. Berman Reiterates Support for Armenian Issues

Tiburon, CA, July 20, 2008 - Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told an audience at a fundraiser for Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) that the United States should press Turkey for accountability regarding the Armenian Genocide. Berman said he wanted the U.S. to have good relationship with Turkey, but that the U.S. should lead Turkey in recognizing the history of the Armenian Genocide. "It's part of what friends do," Berman said.

In an earlier discussion with Bay Area ANC representatives, Berman said, "I'm from a background where you don't brush things under the rug. You deal with them and move on."

Berman, who recently met with Armenia's Foreign Minister, said the U.S. also should do more to help end the Turkish blockade of Armenia, which cuts off a major avenue for manufactured goods to reach Armenia through Turkey. The result is not good for the U.S., he said. "We're pushing a friend into the hands of Russia and Iran."

Berman is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and a co-sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he recently held a hearing questioning administration officials about U.S. policies towards the Caucasus region, including Turkey's blockade of Armenia.

Rep. Woolsey and Rep. Berman spoke about their work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seeking to broaden U.S. assistance programs to Africa, as well as improve US policy towards Iraq, Iran, and the rest of the Middle East.

"Our committee will have an effective, balanced, progressive, coherent approach," Berman said, who said he believed the U.S. cannot be effective around the world when its policies produce world-wide hatred and violate international law.

This month, President Bush signed into law a measure by Rep. Berman eliminating a government-imposed stigma against association with the African National Congress of South Africa. As a result, the United States will remove from its databases any notation characterizing the ANC and its leaders -- including Nobel Laureate and former South African President Nelson Mandela -- as terrorists.

Berman has also recently introduced legislation devoting more high-level attention and funding to the plight of Iraqi refugees, as well as a bill calling on the government “to strengthen its leadership role” in response to the genocide in Darfur and urging the departments of State and Homeland Security to facilitate the resettlement in the U.S. of Darfuri refugees.

Berman was a member of the California State Assembly from 1973 to 1982, when he was elected to Congress representing parts of the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area.

Armenian National Committee


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

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Nicosia 23 July - Gibrahayer - Catholicos Aram I is in Cyprus for a three day official visit. During his stay he met the President of the Cyprus Republic Demetris Christofias, the President of the Cyprus House of Representatives Marios Garoyian and the leader of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos.
Picture above from left to right: Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Armenian Church Dr. Antranik Ashdjian, Chairman of the Administrative Council of the Armenian Church Sebouh Tavitian, Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, President of the Cyprus Parliament Marios Garoyian, Armenian MP in the Cyprus House Vartkes Mahdessian.

for more images from the visit of Catholicos Aram I to Cyprus, click on the above image or click here


GIBRAHAYER e-magazine

Financial Mirror - Cyprus has protested to the UN new violations of its national airspace by military aircraft of the Turkish Air Force during yesterday's celebrations in the Turkish- occupied areas of the Republic, on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus.
According to a spokesman of the Cyprus Defence Ministry, the violations were recorded on Sunday noon when four military aircraft F5 that took off from the illegal airport of Lefkoniko, initially headed south, then they turned north and finally landed back at Lefkoniko airport.
"They flew provocatively over the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, at a depth of approximately one kilometer", the Spokesman said.

Famagusta Gazette - President Demetris Christofias has condemned the illegal visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Cyprus areas occupied by Turkey since 1974.
Speaking during a ceremony for the missing persons in Cyprus, Christofias said that he denounces the presence of the Turkish Prime Minister especially during these days that the people of Cyprus feel deep pain and sorrow for what happened on July 20, 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of the island’s territory.


GIBRAHAYER e-magazine

Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church Choir in 1963 - Source: Bedelian Family Album: from left to right: Ani (Yenovkian) Karaguezian, Mayda Megerditchian, organist Mary Kazandjian, Zaroug Darakdjian, Diana Demirdjian, Madiana Kerkyasharian, Sourp Asdvadzadzin Choir Master Vahan Bedelian, Hasmig (Eodjourian) Nearchou, Anahid (Tourian) Eskidjian, Asdghig Karabeyikian, Ani Koushian, Anayis Boghossian, Elsie (Geukdjian) Utudjian, Haigoush (Assilian) Der Avedissian.

Professor Pilikian's open Letter to Democratic candidates Obama and Clinton

I am delighted to publish Professor Pilikian's Open Letter to the presidential Democratic candidates in America as a world-exclusive.
The Letter contains an innovative theory of History - that History advances by 'Mindset-shifts' - radical but scholarly interpretations of History, albeit quite shocking -- that Wars reflect the Macho/Masculinist tendency to rape everything in its path - but most importantly, our Professor has come up with the most humane and positive archetype yet, to produce a new mindset and affect a quiet revolutionary social change with a great potential to save the planet from destruction.
What is that archetypal solution for the problems of the world?
I will let my readers find out by reading the Letter ... on www dot gibrahayer dot com in the section: Our online Community
Simon Aynedjian - Gibrahayer e-magazine - Chief Editor

Other than the e-magazine that you have just received in your inbox,
there is always something new on www dot gibrahayer dot com

  • Home Page - Latest results from Pyunik - Anorthosis
  • Home Page - On the occasion the 34th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, read Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra's article on
  • Classifieds - Greek Theater company looking for choreographer and actors for their US tour
  • Section: Our online Family - Sub-section: Omphalos Tis Gis - Round up of events in Cyprus - Review of Sunday's papers
  • Section: Our online Family - Sub-section: Professor Pilikian - Open Letter to Democratic senators Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton
  • Article of the week - Nouritza Matossian - A powerful mind recreates the lives of two powerful icons through film
  • Article of the week (2) - Talk of War from Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh - Economist.Com, July 17, 2008


Gibrahayer - Nicosia Wednesday July 15, 2008 - Armenia's champions Pyunik FC will be trying to organise a meaningful attack against Cyprus champions Anorthosis to turn around the slim 1-0 in favour of the Cypriot team. However, they will need identical luck to survive the barrage of near misses and a heroic performance by the ALL-Armenian team's goal-keeper Krikor Meliksetyan, to survive another Anorthosis tsunami.
Anorthosis left for this afternoon's match on Monday night.
The match will be televised from Alfa Sports and it begins at 4:30 pm Cyprus time (6:30 pm Yerevan time) in Abovyan, as Pyunik's stadium in Yerevan is undergoing renovations. Tonight's result will be posted on at the 90 minute mark.


News in Brief - by Sevag Devledian
  • Serge Sargsyan said he wants to see a quick solution to domestic problems while addressing Armenian citizens on 18 July on the occasion of his first 100 days in office. "I also want to see positive results of the fight against injustice, indifference, corruption and poverty as soon as possible," Sargsyan said.
  • The U.S. parliament's House Foreign Operations Subcommittee overturned the proposal by the U.S. administration to cut aid to Armenia from 58 million USD to 24 million USD and voted to allocate the country 52 million USD for 2009. It also approved a special package for aid to Nagorno-Karabakh. The only measure pro-Armenian lobby was not able to push through is to reduce the amount of military aid to Azerbaijan.
  • Inspectors from the Turkish Interior Ministry asked for a state governor's permission to bring a colonel and a captain before the court for failing to act on information received prior to the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Milliyet daily reported.
  • Turkish President Abdullah Gul is going to visit the ruins of Ani on Armenian-Turkish border. Gul will leave for Kars today, during which he will visit the ruins of Ani. On July 24 (tomorrow), Gul together with Georgian and Azeri Presidents Saakashvili and Aliyev will take part in the ceremony of laying the foundation of Turkish part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan railway.


YEREVAN (RFE/RL) - Armenia and Turkey have held confidential negotiations to discuss a new opening for the normalisation of their strained relations, a leading Turkish newspaper reported on Friday.
A senior US official, meanwhile, expressed hope that Turkish President Abdullah Gul will accept his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian's invitation to arrive in Yerevan on September 6 for a World Cup qualifier match between the two countries' national football teams.
The daily "Hurriyet" said senior diplomats from the two countries met in the Swiss capital Berne on July 8 and held talks for several days. It quoted the unnamed head of the Turkish delegation in the talks as saying that "the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere." No details were reported.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan did not deny the report, saying the two countries have contacts "from time to time" and stressing that Ankara favours dialogue with its northeastern neighbour. "We have contacts with Armenian colleagues from time to time," Babacan told reporters at a joint news conference with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. "It is important to discuss how relations between the two countries can be normalised through dialogue
Sports - by Sevag Devledian
  • UEFA CUP ROUNDUP: FC Salzburg, with former Porto boss Co Adriaanse now in charge, were too strong for Armenia's Banants, running out 7-0 winners.
  • UEFA CUP ROUNDUP: Swiss Super League debutants Bellinzona earned a 1-0 win on their European debut against FC Ararat, with their counterattacking style proving crucial in Yerevan.
  • 20-year-old Meline Daluzian (63kg), who won a gold medal in the previous two European Women's Weightlifting Championships, will present Armenia in Beijing.
  • On August 2, in Takoma city, USA, boxers Vik Darchinyan and Dimitry Kirilov will meet. Kirilov will be defending the title of champion in the IBF 52.2kg category.
  • Four junior Armenian weightlifters, Ala Samvelian - 48 kg, Smbat Margarian - 50 kg, Vardges Karapetian - 62 kg and Gagik Grigorian - 85 kg, will compete for the medals of the European Junior Championship that starts in Amiens in France.

Bingo Night at AYMA
every Wednesday at 9:00pm

Come and win super prizes in a family environment.
If you want to begin the night with delicious specialities
please call Hamo on 22499889 for dinner arrangements

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NOW OPEN - This new, modern space, located on 23d Armenias str. in Nicosia (tel. 22105586) is dedicated to children’s clothing and shoes for the ages of 6 months to 7 year-olds... because style is not just for grown-ups! The main brands imported are Ralph Lauren and Converse.
There's also a parents' corner where one can find Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts and Polo’s so that you and your beloved offspring can have matching outfits for your favourite summer excursions!


The Greek theatre production of the classical tragedy “BACCHAE” (VAKHES) under the auspices of the Greek ministries of Foreign affairs, Tourist Development, Transportation and Communications, the Organisation for the Promotion of the Greek Culture of the Ministry of Culture is looking for five local actors or dancers, aged 25-35 years old, to be included in the chorus of the tour that will be given in New York on 16 and 17 of September 2008.
The theatrical production "BACCHAE" will be presented in several states of America, under the auspices of WORLD COUNCIL OF HELLENES ABROAD (SAE, USA REGION), as follows:

September 16,17 New York, USA Grand Opening (Premier)
September 18 Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT
September 20 University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
September 21 University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
September 23 Hyannis High School, Hyannis, MA
September 24 Portland Museum of Fine Arts, Portland, ME
September 25 University of New Hampshire, N.H.
September 27 Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
October 2 University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC
October 5 University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
October 8 Hellenic Cultural Center, Houston, TX
October 11,12 San Francisco (UHAS),
October 17 Philadelphia
October 18 Boston
October 19 Pittsburgh, PA
October 22 Chicago
October 25 Detroit

This theatrical production will also be transferred to a film.

For further information,please contact with John Fiotodimitrakis - tel: 16463024191 and 1718 3884717. e-mail: iapetofioto at yahoo dot com

Letters to the Editor
Very beautiful the Sipan Dance Ensemble's videos.
We travel the Armenians regions through our Armenian dance.
Maria Cristina Koutoudjian - Sao Paulo - Brasil
Where is last week's picture taken that Barouyr Sevag was in?
Armen T. Hamamdjian

Last week's picture was taken 42 years ago, during the summer of 1966 during a trip to Armenia of Armenian teachers from the diaspora. This is one of the last pictures of poet Barouyr Sevag - who died soon after - in a car accident in Armenia, under suspicious circumstances...


Gibrahayer - Nicosia July 16 - As part of its plans to expand its online activities, Gibrahayer e-magazine will be launching an online Trivia Game, that parallel to providing prizes to its winners, will provide an educational forum on important historical and political happenings of Armenian reality.
A team across Armenia and the diaspora has already started working on the project and the Game will be officially launched this autumn.
More than 100 major prizes have been donated and will be given out to our winning subscribers.
We urge our subscribers to support our new online activities by financially contributing to the team that will be working on the project, by calling the below number and contributing to the below account.


909 - 35037

Thank you for extending Gibrahayer e-magazine's lifeline and providing us with the opportunity to constantly bring innovation to our online services.
Each call costs 7.86 euro for Cypriot subscribers.

International subscribers can make contributions to:
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Stavrou Avenue 96-I, 2034 Nicosia - Cyprus
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Paphinia is offering special rates to all our readers both in Cyprus and abroad. Call Elena on 26-954088 or email baffinia at cytanet dot com dot cy , to get your super rates by saying you are a Gibrahayer subscriber. Visit www dot paphinia dot com
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Gibrahayer Calendar

  • Every Wednesday 9:00pm - BINGO Night is back at AYMA. Come and win super prizes in a family environment. If you want to begin the night with the delicious specialities of Hamo, please call him on 22499889 for dinner arrangements.
  • Every Saturday from 7:00 pm - midnight - Marie Louise (vocals) and Armen (guitar and vocals) perform at The Golden Bay Hotel Bar in Larnaca
  • Every Thursday (starting from 17 July) and every Sunday after 10:30 pm - Hovig (vocals) and Argyro (piano) perform at Pralina Bar on Stasikratous Avenue in Nicosia
  • Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday night, and every Sunday afternoon DJ Greg Mak at TIMES in Larnaca.
  • Sunday 27 July - Commemoration of Khanasori Arshavank in Troodos at the Picnic Ground of Loumata Ton Aeton (last year's venue - before Pasha Livadhi Picnic site turn left and follow the tricolour flags), by ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Cyprus Gomideh and affiliate organisations. Cultural program by the AYF. Speaker of the day: unger Kevork Keoshkerian
  • 13-27 July in Yerevan -Hamazkayin Forum for Armenian students in Yerevan.
  • 18 – 25 July in Aghavnatsor - "Hayasdanaknatsoutiun" - ARF Dashnaktsoutiun's Badanegan Pan-Armenian Summer Camp at Aghavnatsor Homes (55 km from Yerevan). Eight-Day educational program filled with excursions, discussions, games. Open to youth from 14-18 years old.
  • 10 - 17 August - Summer Camp in Troodos, organised by the Armenian Youth Federation of Cyprus. For ages 10-20 including separate sections for Badanegan and Youth. The programme will include trips and expeditions, games, physical exercises, quizzes and interesting discussion topics. Sign up with members of Varich Marmin. For more information. Call Kevork Keoshkerian on 99817806. Parents may visit their children on Wednesday 13 August from 3:00 - 7:00pm. Lunch for all and Pagman hantisoutiun on Sunday 17 August at Camp.