This week the Disaporan press focused attention on the Armenia-Turkey normalization process and Armenian-Turkish protocols. RA President Serzh Sargsyan is on a pan-Armenian tour to explain the details of the process and the position of official Yerevan.
On October 2, the Armenian leader arrived in Paris, where he laid flowers at the monument to the great Armenian composer Komitas, paying homage to the memory of the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Opponents of the Armenia-Turkey normalization process were holding a rally there. “Our concern is the points of the agreement that may call the fact of the Armenian Genocide in question,” said one of the demonstrators, Lourent Vardanian, a member of the Van partnership, an Armenian-French Association informing the public of the massacres of Armenians.
President Sargsyan had lunch in Paris with crooner Charles Aznavour, one of France's most famous Armenians, before meeting with members of the local Armenian community here, Associated Press reported, referring to RA Presidential Spokesman Samvel Farmanian.
Associated Press reported a clash between the police and the demonstrators. The Armenian President did not witness the incident.
After Paris, President Sargsyan is set to continue what is dubbed a “pan-Armenian tour” with visits to New York, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rostov-on-Don in Russia. In Los Angeles, California, USA, the Armenian leader is to hold a news conference.
Former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, during an international webcast of an Armenian National Committee of America town hall meeting Thursday, called the Armenia-Turkey protocols “flawed,” reported the Asbarez newspaper published by the Armenian Diaspora.
“This is a flawed document,” said Evans. “I think that the impulse to try to get diplomatic relations started and to get the border opened was a good impulse. In the execution there may have been, and there certainly were some shoddy work,” added Evans who prefaced his remarks by noting that he was speaking on his own behalf and not as a representative of any government or organization.
The diplomat was fired by the State Department for speaking honestly and calling the events of 1915 Genocide.
Ken Hachikian, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, today called upon Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to lift the unfair and heavy pressure the U.S. government is using to force Armenia to accept a set of highly controversial Protocols on the normalization of relations with Turkey.
In his letter, dated September 30, 2009, Hachikian expressed the Armenian American community's concern that “these one-sided agreements, which are being imposed upon a landlocked Republic of Armenia that remains blockaded by Turkey and that is still working to overcome the devastating demographic, economic and geopolitical legacy of the Armenian Genocide, would, if adopted, call into question the reality of the Armenian Genocide, threaten Armenia's security, jeopardize the freedom of Nagorno-Karabagh, and compromise the inalienable rights of all Armenians.”
It would be nice if the present FM Mr. Nalbandyan would listen to his long serving predecessor's words and heed them leaving aside any animosities that he might have. He can actually do that, especially since Mr. Oskanyan cannot be accused of being an ARF member, which seems to be regarded as a sin by the authorities in Armenia and some circles in the Diaspora, the analyst Jean Ipdjian writes in an article published by the Gibrahayer e-magazine published by Armenian community in Cyprus.
“Actually, the fact that, as FM E. Nalbandyan claims, the Protocols cannot be changed facilitates the work of El President Sargsyan and gives him a way out of a difficult situation…All he has to do is blame the FM for the fiasco, fire him and refuse to sign the accords,” the analyst writes.
President Barack Obama's National Security Advisor James L. Jones, in a letter sent recently to a bipartisan group of 82 U.S. Representatives, failed to meaningfully respond to the specific concerns raised by these legislators with the President regarding Turkey's ongoing efforts to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The letter from Jones, dated September 17, 2009, sidestepped concerns regarding Turkey's backtracking from the commitments it has made as part of its discussions with Armenia, and, most notably, Ankara's use of this dialogue to serve its longstanding interest in preventing Presidential commemoration and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide. In his letter, Jones used the very evasive and euphemistic terminology, in place of an honest and straightforward recognition of this genocidal crime, that President
Obama powerfully condemned as “inexcusable” while a U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate.
On July 30th of this year, 82 members of the U.S. House shared their concerns with President Obama about Turkey's efforts to manipulate the public perception of its dialogue with Armenia to block U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The legislators stressed in their letter, that, in light of Turkey backtracking from its commitments, it was especially important for the President to honor his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The 18th anniversary of Armenia’s independence was marked by various events, which arouse doubts concerning “our Homeland’s normal developments,” the analyst Jorge Rubén Kazandjian writes in an article published by Diario Armenia, a digital publication of the Armenian Diaspora in Argentina.
“Every time on September 21, we, the Armenians all over the world, congratulate each other on the existence of our independent state in spite of all the difficulties it encounters because of its geographical location and enmity on the part of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, under the circumstances, we manage to preserve our moral values and survive, contributing to the country’s development in peace and harmony,” writes the author. Addressing the Armenian-Turkish Protocols, he stressed that they aroused most serious concerns, specifically over some points – concerns even the greatest enemies of Armenia did not dare dream of. Kazandjian does not rule out that, with respect to the Armenian state and people, the Armenian President has goodwill. However, goodwill alone is not to be relied on, the author writes.
The Lebanon-based Armenian mass media reported that the Armenian-Turkish protocols announced on August 31 and further developments made three political parties of the Armenian community in Lebanon (Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Ramkavar-Azatakan Party and Hnchakyan Social Democratic Party) issued a joint statement:
“The recent developments in the Armenian-Turkish relations in connection with the Armenian-Turkish protocols aroused concern of the Armenian communities in Lebanon, as well as in other countries. The preconditions set by Turkey cannot be figured out from the text of the protocols. However, the following points arouse great concern and opposition:
- One of the intergovernmental subcommittees set up to study the historical events and archives may regard the fact of the Armenian Genocide as a subject of analysis thereby delaying the recognition process.
- The initially approved point on the territorial inviolability of Turkey is tantamount to renouncing territorial claims and ratifying the Kars Treaty.
- The readiness to actively support the international community’s actions to avert any threats to the global and regional stability and security means Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, which, in turn, means accepting Turkey’s precondition in relations to the Artsakh problem. All the official declarations of Ankara contain a demand for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The authors of the statement insist that the protocols contain Turkey’s preconditions in a disguised form and have combined their efforts to get them invalidated.
Armenia will lose if reconciliation is prevented, the analyst Semih Idiz writes in an article published by the Hürriyet newspaper (Turkey).
”The opposition in Armenia, aided by the Armenian Diaspora around the world, is intensifying its efforts to stymie the normalization of ties between Ankara and Yerevan," writes the author.
“The argument of the Armenian opposition is that the two protocols – which provide a road map for the normalization of ties – amount to a &‘sellout to the Turks.’ They maintain that this sellout involves both Nagorno-Karabakh, and the genocide issue. The opposition on the Turkish side is doing much the same and arguing the same, except that it is talking about a ‘betrayal of Azerbaijan by the Erdoğan government.’”
“In short, feelings on both sides among the ‘naysayers’ are so intense that there is no indication that the two protocols will in fact move forward once they have been signed. According the road map worked out by the two governments a signature is not enough. The protocols have to also be ratified by both parliaments. If the two protocols do not move forward then it is clear that both sides will lose, since a unique opportunity for some kind of reconciliation between these two estranged nations will have been squandered. But if we put the losses on a scale to see who comes out worse as a result of this reconciliation process being scuttled, the answer does not require much mulling,” the author says.
“While the Armenian opposition and the Diaspora – including Turkish ‘rejectionists’ — will have won in that event, it is clear that the loser will be Armenia, whose isolation is already a serious obstacle to its development,” Semih Idiz says.
At a recent briefing at the UN General Assembly, Philip H. Gordon Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, summed up the meetings U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had with the Armenian, Turkish and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, reported State.gov.
Philip Gordon then answered journalists’ questions. As regards the details of the Armenia-Turkey normalization process, he said that “we’re leaving – this is a Swiss-mediated process between Turkey and Armenia, and it’s for them to announce details on signings and so on.”
As regards the “reasonable timeframe”, Gordon said “this is a difficult process that faces some political opposition in both places…And so when we say reasonable timeframe, we mean…it’s not just the process that we want to see…but we also want to see a conclusion to the process…”
Asked to “spell out preconditions”, namely “that the Armenians don’t stipulate that the Turks recognize the genocide,” Gordon said that “no preconditions means no preconditions on either side. There are lots of things that one could try to link this process to, and what we are saying is that the process is inherently valuable…it shouldn’t wait for other things to get done or be linked to other things.”
The Armenian community in Lebanon is the “life and soul” of the Diaspora, and the present attempts to transfer the Diasporan center from Beirut to any other city are immoral, Sepuh Galtakian, a member of the Social Democratic Party Hnchakyan who represents the Armenian community in the Lebanese Parliament, told a press conference.
“Although the long-lasting hostilities reduced the number of the Armenian community members from 300,000 down to 100,000, it remains the most active community that thinks of the Armenians’ interests, as no restrictions on national minorities’ activities are in effect in Lebanon,” Galtakian said. Unlike other countries, Lebanon practices religious freedom, centers of culture and Armenian schools are working. “And it is just immoral to transfer the capital of the Diaspora from Beirut to Washington, Paris or Moscow for pure reasons of the community’s financial prosperity. After the hostilities neither Armenia nor any other Armenian community extended a helping hand to the Armenians in Lebanon. However, the community has almost regained a foothold and continues its normal life,” Galtakian said.
The Armenian Diaspora’s position on the Armenian-Turkish protocols is clear — the overwhelming majority is in question. However, the Turkey-based Agos newspaper reports the opposite opinions. Specifically, Lerna Kuyumcu, a 67-year-old housewife, voiced her pleasure over the protocols, saying she believed they would serve for the good of both countries, while Tabita Toparlak, an 18-year-old student, reflected her enthusiasm over the developments.
“Open the borders so that both of the countries can breathe fresh air. We have gradually become rusty, since we remained closed [to one another],” Toparlak was quoted as saying by Agos.
Vartkes Hergel, 43, says: “As a Turkish Armenian, I consider the signing of these protocols as a beautiful start, though I'm not very hopeful. Despite dragging their feet, supporters of the status quo on both sides will not be able to block the rapprochement of the two peoples… My dream is to cross the border one day together with my Turkish friend Şafak, hand in hand. Even if Şafak and I cannot do this, our children will make it happen.”
The Armenian Culture Development Fund plans to apply to the RF Ministry of Culture for the establishment of an all-Armenian cultural center, reported the Yerevan newspaper published by the Armenian community in Russia. The newspaper quotes President of the Fund Metso Iguityan, who said:
“The initiative will first of all allow us to resolve the problem of premises for the Armenian Theater in Moscow,” Iguityan told a press conference at the international press center Novosti. He pointed out that the theater is currently renting premises at various theaters of the Russian capital. Iguityan said that the all-Armenian cultural center will host Armenian theaters during their Moscow tours, as well as exhibitions, presentations and other cultural ceremonies.
Two important figures of Turkish and Armenian folk music, Erdal Akkaya and Ara Dinkjian, were together recently on the same stage in İstanbul, performing at a special charity concert at the Hagia Eirene Museum, reported Today’s Zaman (Turkey).
“We have been working on this project with Dinkjian for a year, and we started this initiative in order to maintain the humanism, love and memory of Anatolia,” said Akkaya.
“We're here to see what we have in common and respect our differences,” Dinkjian said in turn.
Ara Dinkjian is a member of a family that migrated to the United States from the southeastern Anatolian province of Diyarbakır in the 19th century and son of Armenian folk musician Onnik Dinkjian.
David Nalbandian, a professional tennis player of Italian and Armenian descent, has announced the terms of his return on his official website. He plans to take part in an exhibition tournament in Buenos Aires on December 17. He also plans to play in the tournament in San Juan on December 12-13. However, before making a final decision, the tennis player has to consult his doctor. Nalbandian is now taking a course of rehabilitation after an operation on the thigh bone this May.
Armenian football coaches are not at the head of the teams of premier leagues in other countries.
The only pleasant exception is Poghos Galstyan, the former player of Yerevan Ararat team of the Soviet times. He is residing in Russia now and was invited to the Krasnodar-based Kuban team to save the cub from being “knocked out” of the Russian football elite. In his interview with the Football 365 weekly, Galstyan said that he “returned to the club experiencing hard times. I am a person that likes overcoming difficulties.”
As regards the development of Armenian football, he expressed regret he cannot watch all the matches the Armenian national team plays. “However, thanks to mass media and my friends from Armenia I am well-informed of all that is going on with Armenian football. I should say that the team played quite a worthy elimination game with the Belgian team. We at last proved our ability to win. I think that it is the first two defeats that account for the team’s unhappy plays in the knockout tournament – that was a psychological breakdown for the boys… As regards the forthcoming matches with the Spanish and Turkish teams, the footballers should not focus on results. They should just come out and show adventurous football. Then we can think of dividends,” Galstyan said.
The professional boxer Arthur Abraham, IBF Middleweight World ex-champion, is training hard before his fight with Jermain Taylor in Berlin on October 17, as part of the first round of the Showtime super tournament.
“Jermain is a great champion. He is a legend. But he will not defeat me before my fans. He is strong enough. I am sure it will be a thrilling fight. I should say that it is not a strong boxer, but a clever one, that wins,” Abraham said.