Archive for March, 2008

Azerbaijan: Singer ‘Banned’ After Performing in Israel on Massacre Anniversary

A popular singer in Azerbaijan is no longer aired on radio or television in the ex-Soviet republic after returning from Israel where he performed on the day of a national Azerbaijani commemoration.

Image from Day.az:Azerbajani singer Nadir Gafardzadeh, de facto banned in his homeland for performing on a day of massacre commemoration

According to the Russian-language Day.az from Azerbaijan, singer Nadir Gafarzadeh “has been officially ‘prohibited’ [from appearing] in government events while citizens, shocked with the singer’s heartlessness and unprincipled [character], have stopped inviting him to [perform in] weddings.”

Gafarzadeh, on a February 2008 visit to Israel, had performed at a restaurant on the day when official Azerbaijan commemorates the 1990s killing of several hundred Azerbaijani civilians during the Armenian takeover of the town of Khojalu, Nagorno Karabakh.

Regarded as the “Khojalu Genocide” by official Azerbaijan, any challenge of the official account of the massacre has been violently suppressed in Azerbaijan. An independent Azerbaijani journalist who has suggested that Armenian forces left a humanitarian corridor for the civilians of Khojalu to leave, for example, is currently in jail with at least 10 more years to go.

Singer Nadir Gafarzadeh  has attempted to win back his audience amid the uproar. His effort to show good will by giving financial support to some Azerbaijani refugees from Khojalu, as reported by another Russian-language Azeri source, has apparently failed. Earlier, he was interviewed on a TV program in Azerbaijan in early March 2008 on his previous month’s performance in Israel, as seen in a YouTube video. During the short interview, the female host asks the singer about his performance on the anniversary of the “Khojalu genocide” to which Gafarzadeh passionately defends himself. After the host and the guest interrupt each other several times, the Azerbaijani journalist stands up and starts hysterically yelling at the singer.

At this time there are no criminal charges filed against Gafarzadeh.

Armenia and Azerbaijan: Youth Dialogue

Via ImagineDialogue:  

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Imagine 08
Azerbaijani and Armenian Student Retreat and Dialogue
June 3 – 11, 2008

If you are an Armenian or Azerbaijani student currently studying in the U.S. interested in engaging in a constructive dialogue with each other, please consider participating in the second Azerbaijani-Armenian Student Retreat and Dialogue program to be held in the United States from June 3-11, 2008 (specific location will be announced soon). Located in a serene natural setting the retreat employs a unique methodology that combines analytical dialogue and conflict resolution trainings with outdoor teambuilding and living together in a remote area.

The first Imagine Dialogue and Retreat program for Armenian and Azerbaijani students took place in May of 2007 with support from the US Department of State. The program brought together 12 young professionals from Azerbaijan and Armenia for a successful 8-day dialogue and retreat during which the participants explored their thoughts about the conflict and each other, as well as discussed the challenges Nagorno-Karabakh conflict poses for two societies. For more information on the program please visit Imagine website at http://www.imaginedialogue.com/

The aim of the Imagine Retreat and Dialogue is to lay a foundation for open communication by empowering Armenians and Azerbaijanis with conflict resolution skills. Though this experientially based retreat and dialogue focuses upon the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, it will do so in a non-political manner that promotes no political agenda or particular position. The workshop will be led by a three-person team of co-facilitators (one American, one Armenian, and one Azerbaijani) with significant academic and practical experience in conflict resolution. The program will also include periodic follow-up activities during the 2008-2009 academic year.

Twelve scholarships are currently available for this year: Six for Azerbaijani students, and six for Armenian students. All winners will receive meals, round-trip travel support, and accommodations for the weeklong workshop.

Students interested in applying please fill out the enclosed program application and send it together with your CV to [email protected] by the closing date of Monday, March 30, 2008.

California: Genocide Survivor Dies Not Seeing Congress Recognition

California’s News Blaze has a story on an Armenian Genocide survivor who died at the age of 106 - five months after her story was told in the U.S. Congress for a resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide that was soon killed by George W. Bush and the Turkish lobby.  Hayganous Markarian did not live to see a symbolic act of recognition of her survival. But she survived the worst international crime – genocide.

106-year old Hayganoush Markarian was one of last two known Bay Area survivors

Hayganoush Markarian, one of only two known remaining survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide living in the Bay Area, passed away at the age of 106 on March 13.

Last October, Markarian’s story of survival was presented by Rep. Lynn Woolsey to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs during a hearing regarding a resolution officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide by Congress. Rep. Woolsey showed committee members Markarian’s photograph and urged her colleagues to pass the resolution. The resolution passed in committee and awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Markarian was born Hayganoush Azarian on January 24, 1902 in the city of Kharpert in current-day eastern Turkey. The area was the historic homeland of Armenians until the Ottoman Turkish government began a systematic campaign to exterminate the Armenian population in 1915, which culminated in the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children through massacres and forced deportations.

In Kharpert, Markarian lived with her parents, older brother, and four sisters. When the Turkish government began the Armenian Genocide, first through the conscription of Armenian men and boys into special army units, Markarian’s brother and father fled into hiding. Her brother, Karekin, dressed as a girl in order to safely cross dangerous areas. He made his way to Russia, then Sweden, and finally to the United States. Her father, Minas, who had been a successful businessman, hid among some of his Kurdish clients, moving from residence to residence to avoid detection. Meanwhile, Markarian’s mother found a way to keep the rest of the family together in Kharpert during the mass deportations, avoiding massacre until the end of WWI when they were reunited with Markarian’s father. Unfortunately, Minas suffered an early death as the result of the difficult conditions he had faced hiding in water wells for long periods of time.

In 1923, Markarian’s mother moved the family to Aleppo, Syria, where Hayganoush married Markar Markarian in 1925. They remained in Aleppo, raising five children, until 1956 when the entire family moved to Lebanon. In the meantime, their eldest son, Armen, migrated to the United States to pursue an education, and remained in America to teach. In 1969, the rest of the Markarian family followed Armen to the United States.

In both Syria and Lebanon, Markarian was an active member of the Armenian Relief Society, the oldest Armenian women’s organization operating in the world. The organization was established in 1910 in New York City to provide humanitarian assistance to Armenians in need. Markarian continued her membership until her death this week.

Hayganoush Markarian’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, March 19, at 11 am, at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco. She is survived by Armen and Victoria Markarian, Arsen and Alice Gregorian, Zohrab and Elizabeth Markarian, Sinan and Seta Yazejian, Constantine and Nayiri Bouboussis, and six grandchildren. [And ten million Armenians around the world.]

Armenia: Internet Boom

The recent post-election unrest in Armenia and the state of emergency that has banned much of the media activities has given an unprecedented Internet boom. Blogs and websites are literally being created every time, such as http://www.freearmnews.com/, http://www.lifeinarmenia.com/, and http://marti21.blogspot.com/, while existing websites are getting record visits from Armenian users.

My own blog, which in the past was visited only by a handful of visitors from Armenia every day, has received most hits from Armenian host servers in the last two weeks.

Even before the state of emergency, and on March 1, 2008, it was impossible to visit Armenian websites such as www.hetq.am and www.a1plus.am due to record visits.

The Internet is, undoubtedly, contributing to Armenia’s democratization and society’s engagement. No wonder why the government has started blocking this or that website. 

Turkey: Banned Circassian Researcher Given Official Explanation

The Turkish Ministry of Interior has officially responded to Circassian researcher Sait Uluisik’s inquiry in regards to the his recent deportation from Turkey. Uluisik had visited Turkey to research the archives on the Armenian Genocide and his people’s possible participation in it. He was deported to Germany from the airport before even getting to the archives. The official answer to Mr. Uluisik says that he has reportedly “engaged in research about genocide in connection with Armenian and Circassian activities.” Below is the (translated from Turkish) official letter that the Circassian researcher has received:

T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorGeneral Directorate of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                         [stamped 15 Feb. 2008]To the Presidential Office of the 7th Administrative Court of Ankara                                                                                                                        Base No:  2008/21PLAINTIFF                             : M. Sait ULUІŞІKREPRESENTATIVE               : Attorney Murat BÖBREK                                                Sezenler St., No:  3/7 Sihhiye ANKARASUBJECT OF LAWSUIT       : Regarding the demand for cancellation of the processing of prohibited entry into Turkey.CAUSE OF ACTION & 1st DEFENSE          : Upon the demand by representative Attorney Murat BÖBREK on behalf of the plaintiff M. Sait ULUІŞІK that the processing of prohibited entry of his client into Turkey be cancelled, the application of the lawsuit initiated against this Ministry was evaluated:     According to the information and documents received from the Presidential Office of Foreigners Border Asylum    The facts which have been confirmed by this Ministry about Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, son of Alaettin-Fatma, born in Eskişehir on July 10, 1959 are listed below:1)       By the statement of EGM (Presidential Office of Intelligence) dated July 17, 2007, number 155318, the individual Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, a German citizen of Turkish nationality, engaged in research about genocide in connection with Armenian and Circassian activities,After ascertaining the intentions of the plaintiff who was engaged in research at the Ottoman Archives located in Istanbul/Sultanahmet during the months of April-May 2007 for the purpose of finding support for theses that during the periods of the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the Party of Union and Progress and the Turkish National Struggle for Independence (Milli Mücadele), “the last Ottoman administrations provoked the peoples of the Caucasus, particularly the Circassians, against the Armenians,  that they instigated mutual killings between  T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           the Circassians and the Armenians and therefore caused the genocide of the Circassians as well as the Armenians” and that he was able to further his research with financial support received from the “Konrad Adenauer Foundation” and the “Goethe Institute” which are active and located in Germany,  the investigation revealed that,             Not knowing whether the individual identified above was the same person as the plaintiff, it was confirmed that an individual named Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, son of Alaettin-Fatma and born in Eskişehir on July 10, 1959, lost his Turkish citizenship, while registered at the Bilecik/Bozüyük office of vital statistics, by decision number 1956 of the Cabinet Ministers, dated June 7, 1991, based upon Turkish Citizenship Statute 403, Article 25/ç, for failing to perform his military duty. 2)      Based upon this, in accordance with the 5682 Passport Law supplementary 5th article which applies to this situation, and supporting the “Proper” decision of the Office of the Ministry dated Nov. 1, 2007, for the purpose of monitoring the entry and exit from our country,  on Nov. 6, 2007, by statement numbered 181368 a decision to prohibit entry by this individual was made. 3)      With that same statement, information was to be forwarded to your office’s records to determine whether the German citizen of Turkish nationality, Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK who was engaged in genocide research regarding the activities of the Armenians and Circassians was the same Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK whose entry to the country had been prohibited and in the event they were not the same,  notices were sent to the interested offices that ID information regarding the individual performing genocide research should be forwarded as soon as possible.  4)      Later, by statement dated Nov. 9, 2007 and numbered 09.11.2007, the undersecretary to the MIT [Abbreviation for: National Intelligence Organization] gave notice that based on their information it was confirmed that the German citizen of Turkish nationality, Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK, who was engaged in genocide research regarding the activities of Armenians  T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           and Circassians was the same Mehmet Sait ULUІŞІK whose entry into the country had been prohibited .  Wherefore:a)      Wherefore, the provisions of Passport Law  5682, 8th Article 5th paragraph, “Those who intend to disturb the security and public order of the Republic of Turkey or who it is suspected have arrived in order to be involved with or aid those who intend to and have disturbed it” b)      And the provisions included in the supplementary 5th Article of the same law, “Anyone who has lost Turkish citizenship, for whatever reason, may travel to Turkey so long as the Ministry of the Interior permits it upon a determination that there are no impediments.  Based upon the Turkish Citizenship Law, Title 403, Article 26, those who have lost Turkish citizenship but nevertheless wish to travel to the country as a tourist may do so for a period of up to four months total in one year”,c)      The provisions of Title 5683 of the Law on Residency and Travel of Foreigners in Turkey, 1st Article, “Foreigners whose entry into Turkey has not be prohibited and who  have entered according to the rules of the Passport Law, have the right to reside and travel in Turkey in accordance with the prevailing registration and conditions set by law.”,d)      The provisions of the same law, Article 19, “Foreigners whose stay in the country has been determined by the Ministry of the Interior to be a threat to general safety or are against political or administrative needs will be asked to leave Turkey within a stated period of time.   Those who do not leave by the end of that period may be deported.”e)      Whereas the provisions of the 21st Article of the same law state “The Ministry of the Interior has the authority to make decisions in support of deportation in accordance with this law”   T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                               In light of this: The processing of the plaintiff by this ministry is, in accordance with Passport Law number 5682, supplementary Article 5, a legal action for the purpose of monitoring entries and exits from this country and making them subject to permission. In addition, based upon information which the plaintiff acquired from study and research it is clear that the plaintiff engaged in research on Armenian and Circassian activities that is against the interests of our country and in view of this, according to the provisions of Passport Law number 5682, Article 8, Paragraph 5 “Those who intend to disturb the security and public order of the Republic of Turkey or who it is suspected have arrived in order to be involved with or aid those who intend to and have disturbed it”  it is necessary to place this individual in the category of those whose entry into Turkey is forbidden.              When examining the matter from the viewpoint of International Agreements, the administrative action is determined to be apropos.             The provisions of the European Human Rights Convention, 4th protocol, 2nd Article state “Everyone who is legally within the boundaries of a nation state has the right to freely travel and choose a residency there.”             From the European Human Rights Convention titled “Prohibition on the Abuse of Rights”             The 17th Article whose language includes, “None of the provisions of this Convention can be interpreted to give a state, a society or an individual the right to engage in an activity or action that would destroy a right or freedom granted by this Convention or broaden a limitation on them that was not foreseen here.”              T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                          The Supplementary 4th Protocol of the aforementioned Convention titled “Freedom to travel”; “1.  Everyone who is legally within the boundaries of a nation state has the right to freely travel and choose a residency there.            2.  Everyone is free to not abandon a country, including their own.             3.  In a democratic society, these rights may be limited only for the purposes of protecting national security, public safety and order, the prevention of crimes, the protection of health and morality or others’ rights and freedoms, and as necessary precautions under the stipulations of the law.              4.  The rights enumerated in the 1st paragraph of this Article, may, as indicated in the 2nd Article,  have limitations enforced by law in a democratic society, for the purpose of promoting public good.”  Based upon these limiting precautions which have been reserved for use by countries to ensure safety and public order, it is clear that the action taken against this individual is supported by International Agreements.             Additionally, our Constitution,  Article 12 titled “The Quality of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” provides that;            “Based upon their humanity, everyone possesses inalienable, nontransferable, immune fundamental rights and freedoms.  Fundamental rights and freedoms also contain duties and responsibilities of each individual to their society, their family and others. “            The 13th Article titled “ Limitations on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” states,            “ Fundamental rights and freedoms may be limited by law in harmony with the language and spirit of the Constitution, for the purposes of protecting the indivisible whole of the state’s country and nation, national sovereignty, the Republic, national safety,  public and general order, public welfare, general morality and health, and also for special reasons as foreseen in  indicated Articles of the Constitution.            The general and special limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms indicated shall not be in opposition to the necessities of a democratic society’s organization and shall not be used beyond the purpose that was stipulated.            T.R. (Turkish Republic)Ministry of the InteriorPublic Director’s Office of SecurityNumber:   B.05.1.EGM.0.61.03.03                                                                                 K-Q                 996/08-235                                                                                               TSE-ISO-ENSubject:     M. Sait ULUІŞІK                                                                                          9000 (Prohibited Entry to country – 1st defense)                                                           The reasons for a general limitation described in this Article are applicable to all rights and freedoms.”  This language emphasizes the authority of the administration to impose limitations that are in accordance with the law.              Accordingly, the supplementary 4th protocol to the European Human Rights Convention, stipulates that states may impose certain limitations for the purpose of ensuring national safety, public order and public security.            Additionally, the right to impose certain restrictions on the entry of foreigners into a country is part of states’ sovereignty rights, and the natural result of these rights is that every state may impose registration and rule requirements regarding the travel of foreigners.              In addition:              Since the start of 2004, Article 25/ç of Law number 403 has not been enforced.  Those who do not submit to military duty are no longer being removed from citizenship.             For this reason, those who lost their citizenship prior to 2004, may request and have their citizenship reinstated, without being subject to the conditions described in Law number 403.              In this way, the military files of those who have their citizenship reinstated are reactivated in accordance with Military Law number 1111, regardless of their age.            Additionally, the orders that prohibit entry for those individuals who have their Turkish citizenship reinstated are being lifted.             Having expended absolutely no effort in this regard up until now, and failed to show good faith, the action taken against this individual is determined to have not violated the regulations.  The information and documentation in support of the defense to be made in the Court indicated is comprised of this material. CONCLUSION:  In view of the fact that no violation of the regulations was found in connection with the action whose cancellation is demanded, I request a judgment that the lawsuit be dismissed and that the costs of prosecution and attorney fees be imposed on the plaintiff.                                                                                    [illegible signature]                                                                                    Osman KARAKUŞ                                                                                    In the name of the Minister                                                                                    1st Legal Counselor

                                                                                    1st Class Security Director

Armenia: Joint Washington Post Column by President-Elect and an Opposition Leader

The Washington Post, apparently, has a group of Armenian columnists and they all happen to be high profile political leaders. After last week’s column by opposition leader and former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan(Ter-Petrossian), now president-elect Serzh Sargsyan (Sargissian) and one of the opposition leaders, Arthur Baghdasaryan (who didn’t participate in the protests), have published a column on the post-election unrest in Armenia:

Moving Forward In Armenia

By Serzh Sargsyan and Arthur Baghdasaryan
Monday, March 17, 2008; A17

washingtonpost.com 

Armenia‘s reputation as a stable, democratic country in a troubled region has taken a battering recently. Although international observers gave an overall positive rating to the conduct of last month’s presidential election, opposition forces took to the streets, seeking to overturn the people’s will. Riots and armed demonstrations left more than 100 injured. Tragically, seven protesters and one police officer died.

Public faith in our economy and political institutions has been undermined. Simply put, we had a competitive election. Dragging this crisis on, literally through the streets, only hurts Armenia. For almost a decade — since then-President Levon Ter-Petrosyan resigned — our country has avoided civil uproars and armed violence, allowing for a period of internationally recognized democratic and socioeconomic progress.

But after he lost his bid to reclaim the presidency in February, Ter-Petrosyan resorted to a dangerous and profoundly undemocratic form of populism. He radicalized a part of the opposition and guided it into a standoff with the state, which led to the March 1 riots in which armed demonstrators confronted police. It was clear to all moderate political forces — pro-government or supporters of the opposition — that declaring a state of emergency was the only possible option to protect our citizens. We have until Thursday, when the state of emergency is lifted, to find political solutions and ensure that Armenia does not slide back into chaos.

The two of us were competitors in the presidential election. But we are united in our desire to end the current crisis and put Armenia back on track. Cooperation is the way forward.

The political alliance we have created, between the president-elect and the Rule of Law Party, is an effort to do things democratically and through compromise. Between us, we represent 70 percent of the votes of the Armenian people. This is a serious and solid mandate. On this basis, we will pursue ambitious but realistic reforms that will strengthen our democracy and our nation’s socioeconomic progress. In this moment of crisis, we have agreed to assume responsibility for joint governance.

This form of government has not been imposed upon Armenia; we have chosen it as the best way forward. This new, grand coalition will guarantee that the people’s will is reflected.

We insist, however, that continued progress is possible only through dialogue and reform. Violence has no place in democracy. Therefore, we ask those who are still promoting instability on the streets to join us in political dialogue and to help us guide our country toward prosperity.

Armenia faces a series of external challenges that we hope to address. First among them is the long-standing conflict over who should control the Nagorno-Karabakh region between our country and Azerbaijan; second is the normalization of relations with Turkey. Only a government with wide popular support, not one created through street violence, can successfully resolve these problems. We will also continue to ask the international community to recognize the Armenian genocide, though this issue should not prevent us from moving forward.

We do not assume that all of our country’s ills will be solved through a coalition government. And we will certainly address the expectations of the several thousands of voters who are dissatisfied; we must do so to build consensus. But we must also recognize the expectations of the many more thousands of voters who chose the government that is in power. We will do our utmost to restore public trust in the electoral process and to unite the nation again.

Our priority is to run a transparent government and have a clear agenda, which we will announce. We will fight corruption head-on. We are confident that with the world’s help, reason and responsibility will regain the upper hand in Armenia. We have no time to waste — there is a lot of work to do. Despite recent events, our country is still moving forward. The international community has everything to gain through supporting a stable, transparent and elected government in Armenia.

Serzh Sargsyan, prime minister of Armenia, is chairman of the Republican Party. He is the country’s president-elect. Arthur Baghdasaryan, a former speaker of Armenia’s parliament, represented the opposition Orinats Yekir (Rule of Law) Party in the February election; he placed third.

I am from Nagorno Karabakh

[gharabaghci-em.gif]

Archuk’s Blog suggests fellow Armenians to post a banner that reads “I am Karabakhi” amid some anti-Nagorno Karabakh sentiments among opposition activists in Armenia. The latter often overemphasize the current administration’s roots in the indigenous Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh that has been a de facto independent country after breaking away from Soviet Azerbaijan followed by a war in the early 1990s.

While I have largely protested the current administration’s handling of the March 1, 2008 post-election unrest, I do join Archuk’s call because it hits the real problem that Armenia is facing – intolerance, polarization and disrespect within the society.

In short, I am from Nagorno Karabakh.

Armenia: Catholicos Rejection Rumor Confirmed

[Levon1_Liberty+sq.jpg] 

Image: Armenian opposition leader and former president Levon Ter-Petrossian at Yerevan’s Liberty Square on March 1, 2008 after the police has chased the rest of the protesters. Via unzipped

The rumor that opposition leader and Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrossian did not receive Armenia’s spiritual leader – Catholicos Garegin II – has been confirmed to be true. The Catholicos of All Armenians and head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, according to Armenia’s current president Robert Kocharian’s official website, advised with the administration before paying a visit to the former president in an apparent attempt for political reconciliation.

Kocharian told reporters:

His Holiness called me when the events had already taken a dangerous turn, he said that he was very concerned and wanted to meet with Levon Ter- Petrossian and asked my opinion. I said that we would welcome such step even thought we were somewhat skeptical that it could yield any results. But we welcomed the idea of such meeting even if it had a small chance of success.

As it turned out His Holiness went there but Levon Ter- Petrossian did not receive him. I was astonished; I cannot imagine that anywhere in the world anyone can close the door in front of the Catholicos.

The impression is that at the moment he believed that the events were unfolding in a manner, which made the authorities to panic. It is possible that he thought I had sent the Catholicos. But I hadn’t, it was his initiative, and this initiative of the Catholicos was perceived as a sign of panic on behalf of the authorities and in that case, certainly, he assumed that the meeting would not be to his benefit. It was not the case whatsoever since we were bringing in additional force, and the restoration of law and order was a matter of time. Not meeting with the Catholicos Levon Ter- Petrossian lost an opportunity of facesaving.

Although the current Catholicos is sometimes rumored to be involved in world mafia, he is generally much more respected among Armenia’s society than the current or the former presidents. At the time when the Armenian nation has not had a state, the Church has been the keeper of Armenian identity and survival.

It is interesting that the former president is eager to accept foreign journalists but not the Catholicos. According to photojouranlist Onnik Krikorian, Ter-Petrossian took an hour to show his certificates and books to foreign media in his mansion before he started to interview. Perhaps he could have spared an hour for the Catholicos?

Unfortunately, some anti-Ter-Petrossian activists may use the Catholicos rejection to further their conspiracy theories. As the former president’s wife is Jewish, some anti-Semites in Armenia accuse (in YouTube.com  comments) the Petrossian group of being sponsored by Jews. Needless to say, some anti-Kocharian protesters call the current administration ‘Turkish’ – with a racist reference to Kocharian’s roots in the Armenian breakawy region of Nagorno-Karabakh from Soviet Azerbaijan (a Turkic country).

In any case, Ter-Petrossian has demonstrated poor judgment in the recent weeks – further alienating some who thought that he might deserve a second chance.

United Nations: Azerbaijan and 38 Others Pass Anti-Armenian Resolution

It is rare when France, the Russian Federation and the United States are part of a small group that vote the same way in the United Nations.

But today they joined the states of Angola, Armenia, India, and Vanuatu in voting against a General Assembly resolution by the Republic of Azerbaijan that calls on Armenian forces to withdraw from the Armenian indigenous region of Nagorno Karabakh – a de facto but internationally unrecognized republic in the ex-Soviet world.

According to Reuters:

The U.N. General Assembly on Friday demanded [on March 14, 2008] that Armenian forces withdraw from all occupied territories in Azerbaijan, but key mediators in the Azeri-Armenia dispute rejected the non-binding resolution.

[...]
There were 100 abstentions and many other countries chose not to participate in the vote, which Western diplomats said was a reflection of the fact that most people felt the Azeri resolution was not a balanced picture of the problem.

“This resolution was not helpful,” said a diplomat from one of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group — Russia, the United States and France.

The Minsk Group is a committee of countries working to bring about a peaceful resolution of the disagreement over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed Caucasus mountain enclave. The group was established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1992.

A U.S. statement on the resolution said the three Minsk Group co-chairs all voted against the resolution because they agreed it represented a “unilateral” view of the dispute.

[...]

Last week Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Kosovo’s newly declared independence from Serbia had emboldened Armenian separatists in Azerbaijan’s mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of stoking the recent violence there.

The resolution passed by 39 countries voting in favor of Azerbaijan’s ‘territorial integrity,’ while 100 states chose to abstain or not show up at all. The Azerbaijani resolution, which calls for “the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” was largely voted for by Muslim countries including Armenia’s historic enemy Turkey (where the indigenous Armenian population was eliminated during WWI), Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and others. Among others, the ex-Soviet states of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – all in somewhat similar situation like Azerbaijan with breakaway regions – supported the resolution. From other former Soviet “Turkic” countries only Uzbekistan supported the resolution while the rest of Central Asian countries voted abstain or were not present. Serbia, which is still protesting the U.S.-backed breakaway of Kosovo, joined Azerbaijan in defending the latter’s “territorial integrity.”

Announcing support for the resolution on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Pakistan’s representative quoted Azerbaijani allegations of “destruction of Azerbaijan’s cultural and historical heritage, including Islamic monuments.” Ironically, Azerbaijan has continuously denied the European Parliament investigation of material heritage destruction in the South Caucasus – raising questions of its sincerity in protecting heritage. And needless to say, Azerbaijan’s rhetoric of “Armenian vandalism” only started in late December of 2005 – after an eyewitness videotape from the Iranian-Azerbaijani border showed servicemen of Azerbaijan’s army reducing the world’s largest Armenian medieval cemetery to dust.

According to the official United Nations website, Armenia’s representative argued that the Azeri-drafted resolution would undermine the peace process and contribute to Azerbaijan’s militant position in dealing with the indigenous population of Nagorno Karabakh:

The representative of Armenia said it was unprecedented for a draft resolution to be put to the vote without there having been any consultations on it, in cynical disregard of the foundation of the United Nations and every other organization.  The purpose of the drafters had never been to encourage or facilitate discussion.  It was simply a way for Azerbaijan to list its wishes on a piece of paper.  If the intention had truly been to contribute to the success of ongoing negotiations, Azerbaijan would have put its energy into the existing Minsk Group negotiation format.

He said that, after Azerbaijan had militarized the conflict 20 years ago, there had been a full-scale war between Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan.  The result was thousands dead, nearly 1 million refugees and lost territories on both sides.  Today, there was a self-maintained ceasefire and negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group.  Despite that and attempts by Azerbaijan to divert from the peace process, the talks were indeed moving forward.  There was now a negotiating document on the table that addressed all fundamental issues, security being foremost among them.  The Minsk Group co-chairs had presented the latest version to the two sides at the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Madrid.

Yet, Azerbaijan risked sabotaging that process by presenting a draft that ignored fundamental international norms and the real issues, which must be addressed, he continued.  In short, the draft was counterproductive.  It called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces, while ignoring the security vacuum that would result.  Who would be responsible for the security of the population of Nagorno Karabagh, which was already vulnerable, in the absence of “international cover” safeguarded by those very armed forces?

The draft also called for self-governance within Azerbaijan, he noted.  That had become impossible 20 years ago and was not possible today, when the security of the Armenian minority was clearly endangered.  The international community had demonstrated that it understood that, in various conflicts around the world.  The Government of Azerbaijan had forfeited its right to govern people it considered its own citizens when it had unleashed a war against them 20 years ago.  Armenians would not return to such a situation.  Just as victims of domestic violence were not forced back into the custody of the abuser, the people of Nagorno Karabagh would not be forced back into the custody of a Government that sanctioned pogroms against them, and later sent its army against them.

Noting that the draft also asked for commitment by the parties to humanitarian law, he questioned their commitment to the non-use of force, the peaceful resolution of disputes and all the other provisions of the Helsinki Final Act.  The draft talked about territories and refugees, but not how the consequences of the conflict would be resolved if the original cause was not addressed.  Refugees and territories had been created by an Azerbaijan that had “unleashed a savage war against people it claims to be its own citizens”.  Only when the initial cause was resolved would the fate of all the territories and refugees in question be put right.

The draft was a “wasted attempt” to predetermine the outcome of the peace talks, he said.  That was not how responsible members of the international community conducted the difficult but rewarding mission of bringing peace and stability to peoples and regions.  The co-chairs had found that today’s text did not help the peace talks.  Armenia also knew it would undermine the peace process and asked other delegations not to support it.

European Parliament Resolution on Armenia Unrest

From the European Parliament website:

Human rights: Armenia, Russia, Afghan journalist and Iranian homosexual

Human rights – 13-03-2008 – 17:11

In four human rights resolutions adopted at the end of this week’s Strasbourg session, MEPs deplored the violence used by the authorities against opposition demonstrators following presidential elections in both Armenia and Russia, and demanded reprieves for a journalist condemned to death in Afghanistan and for a gay Iranian who could be in grave danger if forced to return to his home country.

Violence following the elections in Armenia
 
In the wake of the presidential elections in Armenia on 19 February, a police crackdown against opposition supporters who were peacefully contesting the results left eight dead and dozens injured. A state of emergency was declared on 1 March and media freedom has been restricted.  Parliament’s resolution, adopted by 60 votes to 1 with 2 abstentions, deplores the loss of life, urges all parties to act responsibly and calls on the authorities to investigate the violence and take other measures.
 
The International Election Observation Mission stated that the elections were “administered mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards” but also identified a number of concerns, in particular concerning the media’s commitment to providing impartial information.
 
In the resolution, Parliament “expresses its concern at recent developments in Armenia” and “calls on all parties to show openness and restraint, to tone down statements and to engage in a constructive and fruitful dialogue aimed at supporting and consolidating the country’s democratic institutions”.
 
Call for inquiry, with punishment for perpetrators of violence
 
It also calls “for a prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation of the events of 1 March” and “for all those responsible to be brought to justice and punished for misconduct and criminal acts of violence”.  The Council and Commission should offer EU assistance to help with the investigation.
 
The Armenian authorities are asked to lift the state of emergency, restore media freedom and take all measures necessary to ensure a return to normalcy. In addition, they are urged “to release citizens detained for exercising their right of peaceful assembly”.
 
EU support for Armenia to improve democracy and rule of law
 
Parliament points out that the EU’s Action Plan with Armenia under the European Neighbourhood Policy covers the strengthening of democratic structures and the rule of law. In this context, it urges the Commission “to focus its assistance to Armenia on the independence of the judiciary and the training of police and security forces” and calls on the Armenian authorities “to implement swiftly all the remaining recommendations made by the International Election Observation Mission”.
 
MEPs urge the Armenian authorities “to cooperate fully with the international community on finding an agreed solution” and they express support for the EU Special Representative to the South Caucasus and the OSCE’s Special Envoy.
 
Turning to Armenia’s conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the resolution “deplores the recent loss of life on the ‘line of control’ during fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces” and “calls on all sides to refrain from further violence and to return to the negotiating table”.
 
Lastly, MEPs reiterate “the clear EU commitment to building closer ties with Armenia and the South Caucasus countries” but emphasise that “closer cooperation with the European Union must be based on real and tangible progress and reforms and a full commitment to democracy and the rule of law”.

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