Archive for February, 2008

Armenia: Presidential Election is Today

It is election day in Armenia and OneWorld Multimedia has the best coverage.

Unfortunately, most Armenians don’t have much expectations from the election with current Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan guaranteed to win and his main opponent being the former president.

And although the people are promised false hope all the time, there is nothing false – to borrow from the words of a wise man – about hope.

Armenia’s future is bright. Simon says so.

Turkey: Interview with Taner Akcam on His New Book on Genocide

Turkey’s Radical has interviewed historian Taner Akcam about his new book on the Armenian Genocide. Akcam’s book, only released in January 2008, is now in its second edition as the first one was sold out in 3-4 days. Below is the entire interview (translated from Turkish and originally published in The Armenian Reporter):

“The objective was to get rid of all Armenians”

Taner Akçam, the author of Ermeni Meselesi Hallolunmuştur [“The Armenian Issue is Resolved”] states: “We can comfortably assert that in light of these documents, the thesis that what was experienced in 1915 does not fit within the definition of genocide from 1948 is no longer credible.”


      It has been exactly one year since the assassination of Hrant Dink. Last Saturday, on this first anniversary, tens of thousands gathered once again “For Hrant, For Justice.” Taner Akçam, whose book, Ermeni Meselesi Hallolunmuştur [“The Armenian Issue Is Resolved”] opens up the debate about what occurred in 1915 with new documentation, has also just been published, and Akçam, who dedicates the book to “my brother Hrant, who will always represent the nobility and virtue of having a conscience… Dear Hrant, everything is as we had spoken…,” both memorialized his friend and brought a new viewpoint to the matter. By building connections, one by one, among new records he was able to obtain, Akçam brings new perspectives to the policies which were enforced against Armenians in 1915. In his book, subtitled Policies Against the Armenians During the War Years According to Ottoman Documents, while revealing each of the many telegrams sent by Talat Pasha, Akcam states that the deportation of 1915 was the last stage of the Turkification policies of that period. In particular, supported by primary sources, he explains how this project was personally developed well in advance by Talat Pasha and put into action through the efforts of the Teşkilat-I Mahsusa (Special Organization). One of the most crucial documents in the book, the one which gives the book its title, is a telegram from Talat Pasha: “The Armenian issue is resolved. There’s no need to stain the nation and the government with extra atrocities.”

Q: The events of 1915 are a huge controversy. The opposing sides of the controversy continually claim to possess and then publish important documents, and argue about whether or not to open up the Ottoman archives …On the other side, there are others who state that in writing about history a “document cult” shouldn’t be created and that the process shouldn’t be reduced to a war of documents. Meanwhile your book is completely based upon documentation…What and how can records tell us anything?

A: If you are being open and honest, historical records can easily provide a general framework for how events occurred. Still, you need to distinguish here between two separate points. First of all, the main issue is the frame, the model you are creating when you are gathering these documents. Secondly is the question of how much do the records you’re presenting truly reflect reality. If someone possesses an understanding of history that is nationalistic and racist, the history they write will reflect that, and by discriminating in the choice of records, they will try to prove that position. Additionally, the records you find and use are products of the ideological and political beliefs of the period in which they were produced. It is for that reason that the question “What is the truth?” is the subject of such serious argument in historical scholarship. One thing is certain, though. The thing called “the truth” is not a thing, not a treasure that is buried somewhere in the ground and it is up to us to dig it up. For example, if a hundred years from now, you were to research the bombing of the Umut Kitabevi (Umut Publishing House) in Şemdinli in 2005, you would find plenty of state documents asserting that the publishing house had been bombed by the PKK. [Translator’s note: The bookstore was bombed by army officers, but law enforcement forces produced some documents to claim that it was the PKK that bombed the bookstore.]

      Keeping these two things in mind, nevertheless the place to start is the historic records. You have no other choice. The important thing is to maintain a critical eye when examining any particular document or body of documents. First of all, in order to defend your thesis, you need to present a series of records that is both comprehensive and widespread. Secondly, there should be a continuous “balance and control” relationship between the records you are presenting and the argument you are trying to make. This is precisely what makes history a social science. The use of deep and varied sources of material along with total honesty are the two crucial elements of historical study.

Q: How important are the records in this book?

A: They are the records of a government and a party that managed to deport and kill Armenians in 1915. For the most part, they consist of coded telegrams that were sent by the Ministry of the Interior to the regional offices. When you consider the difficulty of communication in that era through postal services and the like, the importance of these records is even less in doubt. In order to maintain high volume and speedy communications with the regions, the government [at that time] had established a special bureau and by way of that office managed to send short and frank orders to the regional offices. For this reason, these records provide a primary source of information about a party and a state that planned a deportation and killings.

Q: Is it possible to state that, in view of the records which the book brings to light, there is no longer any doubt that what happened was a genocide?

A: Yes, we can comfortably assert that in light of these documents, the thesis that what was experienced in 1915 does not fit within the definition of genocide from 1948 is no longer credible and can be dismissed. The officials of the Turkish government, who view the Ottoman records as the only reliable source, will see that our government records also show that the Union and Progress party followed a policy that endeavored to destroy the Armenians. Nevertheless, there are those who will deny this, and they will continue to deny it. There are many people today, still, who do not believe that the Jews were annihilated by the Nazis. I need to add this: In Turkey, particularly among those who defend the official state position and who claim to be historians, you will hear extremely ignorant comments like “Where is the document to show genocide? Prove it.” Genocide does not have [is not proved with] a single document. The holocaust against the Jews didn’t consist of a document here and a document there. What history and the social sciences do, or should do, is to illustrate the chain of events by way of an accumulated ball of knowledge from as detailed a record of documents as can be produced. As the documents which I published show, how to label the events that are described is a conclusion that you make based upon the documentation. In other words, genocide is identified by a certain picture that is revealed. You give the picture that name, which is why the picture you present has to be created by way of hundreds of tiny pieces of information. As I state in my book, in trying to understand and describe what occurred in 1915, I did not have a special purpose to “prove” genocide. I find this kind of approach to be deficient and wrong and more properly the duty of a prosecutor or judge. However, after the publication of these documents, I know that those who claim that what occurred in 1915 cannot be called a genocide do not have much more to say.

Q: Almost all of the documents you obtained reveal that the action, in your words “to cleanse Anatolia of Armenians,” was taken by the personal orders of Talat Pasha through the party apparatus, not the state government. Could this be the start of a new period for the Armenian problem?

A: It absolutely should start a new period. Still, you need to remember that these telegrams were sent to the regional offices by Talat Pasha under the aegis of the Ministry of the Interior. While some of the telegrams bear his signature, others do not. Those were signed by the director of the office. These are state documents, not party documents. Nevertheless, when it comes to 1915, I believe and defend the notion that it is extremely important to make the distinction between state and party. As much as the state was taken over by the [Union and Progress] party, the same party which defended a dictatorship had rendered many of the government functions impotent. Every action that the party took was taken by way of government channels. Still, within governmental organs, there were points of resistance against what the Party was doing. If you make a state-party distinction, you begin to see and understand that there were very many honest state officials during that period, who resisted and opposed the murders committed by the Union and Progress party. In fact, -some of the records are the results of the efforts of some honest state officials to have the events recorded within state documents.

Q: What sort of results, both negative and positive, can be expected if Turkey acknowledges the Armenian genocide?

A: There isn’t a single state that I know of or recognize that has been harmed by acknowledging past wrongdoings. Is there any country that you can name which was beset with problems because it faced its history? None! Quite the contrary, those regimes that had tried to cover up history, that had denied the cruelties and injustices that occurred in their past, ended up facing very serious problems and were even demolished. Turkey will only mature and gather praise once it has accepted a historical injustice. A Turkey that manages to face the historical injustices of its past will be able to take its deserved place among world nations with greater ease. So acceptance of the injustices in the past will not only not produce any negative result, it will do the opposite.

      I would like to add that there isn’t just one way to face history and acknowledge an injustice. I would like to point out here that there is a difference between scholarship and politics. As a social scientist you may not be very convincing if, in light of all the records and information available, you use some term other than “genocide” to identify the events of 1915, but a government has many alternatives at its disposal when confronting history and acknowledging historic injustices. At the top of the list would be to stop referring to those who discuss it as “traitors,” to stop killing them or dragging them through criminal prosecutions. Freedom of thought and democracy are the preconditions for acknowledging one’s history. Secondly, you will need to develop a language that describes what occurred as morally unacceptable. A language that denounces and condemns murders is absolutely crucial. After that, in harmony with this new language, you need to take some steps that heal this injustice, that work towards fixing it. Here there are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to go about this. Our politicians need to see that the matter isn’t just about getting stuck on one single word. They need to approach the problem from a rich and wide net of possibilities.

Q: If we look at the matter from the perspective of the [Armenian] Diaspora…in light of these new found documents, what kinds of steps might they take?

A: There is a very misguided belief in Turkey. Unfortunately, both the state and politicians as well as some progressive and democratic intellectuals spread this mistaken belief and information. According to them, the Armenian Diaspora consists of a uniform, monolithic block, and there are some serious differences between the Diaspora and the state of Armenia. According to the beliefs of those who hold this position, the real problem is with the Diaspora; the Armenians of Armenia take a different position on things. This is simply not true. There is no singular, homogeneous, monolithic Diaspora , nor are there any serious differences between the Diaspora and Armenia regarding this subject. The Armenians of the Diaspora are as diverse in opinion as Turkey is divided into thousands of positions. …Among them there are dozens of opinions and positions. I believe that my book in Turkish will not only positively affect Armenian circles but also will have a positive effect in increasing the numbers of those in Turkey who will want to resolve our differences in a peaceful and brotherly way through direct contact.

Q: At the end of the book you state, “What we need is to recognize the reality that we are face to face with an action that is morally, conscientiously unacceptable and to develop a language that expresses that.” What do you mean by this new language?

A: The language of conflict differs from the language of friendship, mutual respect and peace. The language that dominates the administration and mainstream media in Turkey today is one that views the Armenians as the enemy, as a traitor and the Other. It’s a racist and aggressive language. The administration and mainstream media continue to conduct the discourse around what happened in 1915 with a wartime mindset. For that reason, historians like me, who think critically, are branded as traitors, and they organize campaigns against us. Hrant Dink was murdered as a direct result of this language and this mindset.

      First of all, we need to put an end to this wartime mindset and to this aggressive language. There are many within Armenian circles who see the problem with the same point of view and use the same aggressive language. We have to establish and develop a humane language that doesn’t view Armenians and Turks as enemies, which doesn’t brand the other as a traitor, doesn’t demean the other, and views Armenians and Turks with respect. Armenians and Turks will be able to construct their future upon this foundation of mutual respect and friendship.

Q: Another of way asking this is, what steps need to be taken so that the matter in question is resolved through democratic means?

A: Prior to anything else happening, the borders between the two countries need to be opened without any preconditions, and diplomatic relations should be initiated. It is very difficult to explain how Turkey can have no objection to maintaining diplomatic relations with Syria, a country with a population of 10 million which has protected Abdullah Öcalan for years and depicts Hatay as falling within their own borders, and yet reject diplomatic relations with Armenia, a country of 3 million. First unconditional diplomatic relations, then the opening of the borders, and then the rest will come. Additionally, Turkey has to see that this matter isn’t just about history. Turkey has to see that it has everything to do with how [Turkey] behaves towards minorities today.

Q: How do you evaluate the Hrant Dink assassination’s effect on resolving the Armenian issue? In particular, would you characterize the way society embraced Dink after the assassination, and the way it lead to openly discussing the Armenian issue, as a positive thing?

A: Hrant Dink was the most beautiful gift that Turkey could present to Armenia and the Diaspora. Hrant was the most important person who could bring these two countries, these two peoples, together. When we were in Yerevan in 2005, I used to tease Hrant that if I were the Turkish government, I’d have him appointed the symbolic, spiritual ambassador to Armenia. Turkey killed its ambassador; it broke the olive branch that it could have extended. What’s worse is that the ones who broke this olive branch are organized within the police and gendarmerie forces. Those officials who knew about the assassination, who planned and directed it, have not only not been punished, they have been rewarded and promoted.

      I can’t state enough how important it is for society to embrace Hrant Dink. Within him they [Turkish society] have discovered a dynamic, a potential to bring these two nations together. Both the Armenians in America, who are cursed as “Diaspora” in Turkey, and the people in Istanbul shed tears for Hrant. Hrant brought everyone with a heart together. He’s become the symbol for what needs to be done to resolve this problem. We must build a monument for him and memorialize him.

Q: Could the policy taken by the AKP (Justice and Development Party of Turkey, now in control of the Administration) to act in harmony with an EU framework be a positive step towards resolving this problem?

A: I don’t believe that the AKP has any thoughts on this subject. They don’t give even the slightest indication of having any thoughts. Either they don’t know anything about the subject, or they think it is enough to continue promoting the traditional lies. In fact, if the AKP actually followed their Islamic roots, they could make some serious headway on the subject. There’s only one thing I could ask of the AKP, and that’s to take their Islamic roots seriously.


Taner Akçam, Iletişim Publications, 2008, 339 pages, 19.5 YTL

Turkey: A Tourist Map in Armenian

An article in the New York Times Magazine mentions of a tourist map in Turkey published in Armenian:


It was Demirbas’s interest in others that led me to seek him out. I had heard from a friend in Istanbul that the mayor of the central neighborhood of Diyarbakir had published a map of the city in Armenian. One hundred fifty years ago, Armenians and other Christians made up about half of Diyarbakir’s population, but as an ethnic Armenian myself, I was astonished that a mayor in a Turkish town had done something to acknowledge this history. Most old Armenian sites in Turkey are either abandoned altogether or labeled with signs and explanations that offer roundabout explanations without ever mentioning that a particular site was Armenian. (Even the much-lauded official renovation of an Armenian church in Van relied on the geographical term “Anatolian.”) In Turkey, the “Armenian question” — whether the massacre of the Ottoman Armenian population during World War I was a state campaign — is at least as taboo as the Kurdish issue.

When Demirbas learned of my ethnic background, he took out a stack of about a hundred tourist brochures describing Diyarbakir, printed in Armenian, and handed them to me. “Please give these to Armenians in the United States,” he said. He also showed me the same brochure in Assyrian, Arabic, Russian and Turkish. “Why is it,” he asked by way of example, “that tourists who visit Topkapi Palace in Istanbul can get an audio listening guide in English, French, Spanish, German or Italian, but when I publish a small tourist brochure in Armenian, as a welcoming gesture to Armenian tourists who want to visit their ancestral home, I am accused of committing a crime?” (The brochures are among the many projects for which Demirbas has been accused of misusing municipal resources.) We spent the rest of the afternoon touring an area that Demirbas calls “the Streets of Culture Project.” Tucked among a cluster of alleyways in his district, several ancient structures remind visitors of the Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Jews and other groups who once populated a neighborhood that is still known locally as the infidel quarter. Demirbas calls it the “Armenian quarter,” at least while talking to me, and has drafted a proposal to undertake a major renovation of the area and its monuments.

“So many civilizations lived in the Sur district over millennia,” he says. “Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Nestorians, Jews, Turks, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Alevi, Yezidi, traces of Sabihi” — occasionally he lengthens his list by repeating groups he has already named — “all these different beliefs coexisted in the Sur district of Diyarbakir. The more we lose this multicultural side of ourselves, the more we become one another’s enemies.”

Listening to him, I felt sure that he meant it, but also sure that he knew he was undermining the nationalist foundations of the Turkish Republic. At first, I wondered if he was using Diyarbakir’s other ethnicities to somehow soften the blow of his support of Kurdish cultural rights. But supporting the Armenian issue would hardly win him friends in Turkey, at least not friends with power.


RE: Turkey: Genocide Researcher Denied Entry

Commenting on my post on the Turkish ban of Circassian researcher Mehmet Sait Uluışık who is studying his people’s role in the Armenian Genocide, a website called “Worldwide Circassian Brotherhood” has posted an article in Russian saying the scholar’s ban is being used for “lobbying [sic] by Armenian nationalist websites.”

Deliberately ignoring my own mention that Mehmet Sait Uluışık is careful not to use the word “genocide,” the “Worldwide Circassian Brotherhood” states that the Circassian professor is not researching the Armenian “extermination” but the general history of the Circassians in Turkey.

Although the website’s response comes as nationalistic, it, nonetheless, seems to attempt making a well-taken point that not all Circassians were involved in the Genocide:

Истории известны имена видных черкесов и даже одной черкешенки, которые в Гамидие, Карсе, Хаджине, Геклуне, Шардере, Азизие и др. пунктах не только не принимали участия в грабежах, но спасли много христиан, иногда и с опасностью для себя. Известно так же, что Каймакам Феки (Вакке), по происхождению черкес – единственное влиятельное административное лицо, в районе которого не было пролито человеческой крови.

[It is known in history the names of important Circassians – and even of one Circassian woman – who not only didn’t participate in lootings in Hamidye, Kars,  Hajin, Gyoklun, Serder and Azizye but saved many Christians [Armenians] sometimes putting their own lives at risk. It is known that Kaymakam Fekki (Vakkı) – from Circassian background – was the only influential administrative official whose region wasn’t shed by human blood.]

The article is right to point out that there were Circassians who saved Armenian lives – just like there were Turks and Kurds who did the same. These Circassians must be honored and remembered for their bravery.

Nonetheless, the “Worldwide Circassian Brotherhood” shouldn’t freak out because a Circassian scholar has decided to find out the role of some of his people in the Armenian Genocide. Instead, they should be proud of him and remind the rest of us – as they already did – that there were also Circassians who helped the Armenians.

Coming to Prof. Uluışık’s particular research and his interest in the Armenian Genocide, I am not at liberty to disclose the sources of my information.

A Phone Call to God

I received this from my friend Vahe:

An American decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.
On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘$10,000 per call.’

The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Europe. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.

A nun told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God.
‘O.K., thank you,’ said the American.

He then traveled to Africa, Australia, ….

In every church he saw the same golden telephone with the same ‘$10,000 per call’ sign under it.

The American, traveled to Armenia to see if Armenia had the same phone.

He arrived in Armenia, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read ’40 cents per call.’

The American was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign.

‘Father, I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I’m told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in the price was $10,000 per call.

Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiled and answered, ‘You’re in Armenia now, son – it’s a local call.’

Who Made the First Chocolate?

According to The New York Times:

THIS may be one of the biggest chocolate weeks of the year, but a shortage of bonbons isn’t likely in these parts. There are at least 15 chocolate producers in the state, from tiny artisanal boutiques to companies that started small and grew over several generations.

One of the first chocolate makers was Peter Paul Halajian, an Armenian immigrant, who began making chocolates at home in the Naugatuck Valley in the early 20th century. In 1919 he started a wholesale candy business — the Peter Paul Manufacturing Company in New Haven — and soon was producing Mounds and Almond Joy. […]

Armenia: Plane Crashes

Via Yahoo from AP:

YEREVAN, Armenia – A plane carrying 21 people has crashed on takeoff from Armenia‘s capital, but there were no deaths reported, the head of the country’s civil aviation authority said.

The plane, a Canadair CRJ-100, was heading for Minsk, Belarus, when it flipped over on the runway at Zvartnots Airport and burst into flames, Avtiom Movsesian said. He said there were 18 passengers and three crew members aboard.

He did not immediately know the airline to which the plane belonged, but Russian news reports said it was a plane of Belarus‘ Belavia Airlines.

Multireligous Disneyland in Argentina

According to, the faithful in Buenos Aires don’t have to travel to Jerusalem to see the history of the world’s largest religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In a Disneyland-style attraction park, the website says, visitors can see history and beliefs recreated in front of their eyes. Every 45 minutes, for example, the “resurrection” of Christ takes place in the park that has registered 3 million visitors since 1999.

Buenos Aires offers the first multireligious theme park in the world, advertised as an escape to Jerusalem in the age of Jesus Christ. Although Christianity plays the leading role, people of other faiths, including Muslims and Jews, would also get their money’s worth at Tierra Santa, unlike in purely Christian parks, its managers said. Inside the facility, there is a mosque, a Jewish temple and even a Mahatma Gandhi statue.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, although the weather forecast had predicted rain, the stands were full before a replica of Mount Golgotha. People looked up to the sky, waiting for a mechanical interpretation of a miracle. Eventually, an 18-metre-tall statue of Jesus rose slowly from the fake rock.


Its first day was timed for historical reasons. “We wanted Argentina to contribute something special to the 2,000th jubilee of the birth of Jesus,” said Maria Antonia Ferro, director and co-founder of Tierra Santa.

So far, 3 million people have visited the park.

“Apart from what visitors learn about culture and history, the park also has a very particular mysticism,” she said. “People come back because they find inner peace here.”

At the 7-hectare facility, built for 7 million dollars, there are now more than 30 replicas of historic places aimed at giving visitors a glimpse at everyday life in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago as well as representations of biblical scenes.

With the help of more than 500 life-sized figures and scores of actors and artists, the ancient world comes alive. Restaurants offer Armenian and Lebanese food, and visitors can buy little busts of Nefertiti as souvenirs.

“I have already been here several times,” said a woman named Carla, a Catholic with her two children and mother-in-law at the park. “We are very religious, and since we are not in a position to travel to Israel, this is a good alternative.”

Florencia, 20, just wanted “to enjoy the good weather” with her friends. She complained that religion is often put forward in boring ways.

“That is not the case here,” said the woman who defines herself as religious.

Although the park director described Tierra Santa as “a sort of Disneyland,” individual religions are supportive of the enterprise.

“Without the support of the [Catholic] Church, it would have been impossible to set up the park,” Ferro said.

There, children can experience biblical history under the guidance of lay preachers. Some even have their first communion at the park.

“Muslims pray here at the mosque, and the ‘Western Wall’ is an important place for Jews,” Ferro said.

Many place pieces of paper with their wishes in the wall’s cracks. Once a year, employees of the Israeli embassy pick up the notes and send them to Jerusalem to the real Western Wall, the last remaining wall of Jerusalem’s ancient temple, which was destroyed by the Roman Empire.


A Descendant of ‘Turkish Father’ Ataturk’s Milk Mother

A Seattle-based young Turkish lady who, as I have reported, courageously writes about the Armenian Genocide has been compelled to tell her family story after a fellow Turk indirectly but publicly questioned her “Turkishness.” The blogger’s response, as summarized in a comment, was direct:

My education, upbringing and cultural exposure has always been in Turkey and amongst Turks. My name is Turkish. My religion is Islam. My mother tongue was and still is Turkish. My beginning years and life began in Turkey. I have had little elementary exposure to much else, regarding my own ethnicity, save for my experience in the university. My parents always saw the Turkish girl in me and it was always very clear I was Turkish, it is what I feel and where I feel most comfortable defining myself. There has been no argument in regards to this. There is still none, so I am not entirely sure how else I should answer your question.

And in the actual post talking about her roots – that date back to 1345 – the Turkish blogger gives details of her ancestors. One of them, she says, was the first milk mother of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

My great great grandmother, Aziz Haydar Hanim, was a ferocious figure to be reckoned with! In Pars Tuglaci’s book, Tarih Boyunca Istanbul Adalari (found in Robinson Crusoe bookstores in Istanbul), he writes of her fiery speeches alongside Ataturk. She championed the causes of women’s rights and immigration rights for those coming into the new Republic from the Balkans and even her hometown of Selanik, that of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

On the night of Ataturk’s birth, a ragged and tired Zubeyde Hanim, came to my great great grandmother. She came because she had no way to nourish her new born. Because Aziz Haydar Hanim was not only a school teacher/professor but a nurse by trade, she was the first milk mother of Ataturk. Ataturk always treated her like a second mother and until her final days, the albums my family has preserved show a smiley faced Ataturk hugging and embracing her, like one does a dear old aunt. Those old, dusty, torn photographs always brought a smile to my face.

Wow, a descendant of Ataturk’s ‘second mother’ challenging the ‘sacred’ establishment defended in the very name of Ataturk.

The story of the Turkish lady from Seattle is almost surreal. And her story is just another example of hope for lasting Armenian-Turkish friendship. Hrant Dink didn’t die for no reason; I can feel him smiling. 

Armenia: U.S.-Born Politician Endorses Former President in Elections

Onnik Krikorian at OneWorld Multimedia reports that Armenian-American repatriate Raffi Hovhannisian, a politician seen as uncorrupted by many, has endorsed presidential candidate and former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan (LTP), under who Hovhannisian worked in the early 1990s.

In the most important news of recent weeks so far, it was today announced that the Heritage Party of U.S.-born former foreign minister, Raffi Hovannisian, has decided to back former president Levon Ter-Petrossian in the presidential election next week. Such support was considered vital for Ter-Petrossian by some observers and certainly makes the 19 February vote more likely to be held in two rounds.

Although Heritage only polled 81,048 votes during last year’s parliamentary election, some believe it actually attracted twice as much. However, more importantly for Ter-Petrossian, perhaps, is that Heritage’s support affords him a certain amount of credibility with a significant number of voters who were confused, undecided or wavering before.

Although Hovhannisian’s support will undoubtedly help the former president in the elections, the same support may harm Hovhannisian’s credibility in the eyes of many Armenians who see LTP accountable for the extreme poverty and violence that swept newly independent Armenia in the 1990s.

My two cents to LTP’s campaign – not that I am going to vote for their candidate – is to have someone else write LTP’s speeches. I mean “speeches” and not academic lectures with luxurious terminology some of which are coined by the former president.

Here is an outline that may be of help (all candidates invited to use).

Start you speech with an attention getter – a quote or even a joke (being funny may help to).

Smile sometimes when you talk – not in a way that it shows like you are happy or laugh at the people but that you are smiling because you enjoy talking to the people who have gathered to listen to you.

After the attention getter hit to the topic and review what you will be talking about.

Each paragraph should make sense and support one main point which will itself support the very main point hinted to in the introduction.

Don’t use academic terms – use words that ordinary people will understand but talk politely and grammatically.

Talk to the people who you are talking to. Giving an academic lecture in the Liberty Square is ignorant and arrogant and shows disrespect. Now, most people won’t complain about the lectures (and some will be surprised and happy that they didn’t understand any word – so they are voting for a smart guy!) but something in them will make uncomfortable about the speech.

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