Archive for April, 2008

NY Governor Remembers Greeks and Assyrians in Armenian Genocide Proclamation

America’s only legally blind governor, David A. Paterson of New York State, has proclaimed April 24, 2008 Armenian Remembrance Day in the Empire State.

In commemorating the Genocide, Paterson also remembered Greeks and Assyrians who were killed along with the Armenian nation.

Whereas, a global leader in human and social rights, the Empire State has a prominent role in highlighting humanitarian concerns and teaching future generations critical lessons derived from mankind’s past transgressions and intolerance, and we acknowledge the importance of discussing such events that contribute to our understanding of world history while promoting tolerance for people of all races, religions and points of view; and

Whereas, the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 was a catastrophic event during which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman authorities under whose imperial rule most Armenians lived; alongside their Greek and Assyrian imperial co-subjects, Armenian men, woman and children met their end in mass killings, organized death marches, starvation tactics and other brutal methods employed against civilians; and

Whereas, a deliberate effort to destroy people on a massive scale, the Armenian Genocide led academics to use the term genocide and it is believed that, had the Armenian Genocide been stopped through diplomatic or interventionist means, the resulting precedent for peace could have prevented the Holocaust that befell the Jewish people; and

Whereas, the Armenian Genocide caused the displacement of the Armenian people from their ancestral lands, the loss of two-thirds of the these lands and the orphaning of countless Armenian children; Armenians’ expulsion from their ancient territories was so extreme that almost every Armenian-American family can trace its immigration history to the Genocide and to the missionaries in the Middle East that housed children, the European continent, and ultimately to the United States; and

Whereas, New York recognizes that the number of survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 is dwindling and the memory of the elderly who experienced and witnessed its occurrence has led to courageous testimonials that have put a human face on this event; and

Whereas, it is fitting that all New Yorkers recognize the hardships Armenians faced, for the purpose of preventing tragedies such as the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 from recurring, and to appreciate the United State’s role as a refuge for all oppressed people […]

National Geographic Homepage to Feature Genocide Story

An employee at the National Geographic just informed me that the homepage of National Geographic Magazine will feature a map of Armenia and a short story on the Genocide on April 24, 2008 (in a few hours) amid worldwide commemoration of the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on the same day.

The link that will go live on April 24, 2008 (U.S. time) is

Genocide Museum Publishes Rare Turkish Article on Armenians

The Armenian Genocide Musem-Institute, based in Yerevan, has translated and posted an article by Turkish poltician Hasan Amca. Mr. Amca, who was an eyewitness to the Armenian Genocide, published an article in the Turkish “Alemdar” daily in 1919 condemning nationalist Turkish leaders for denying and justifying the Armenian extermination. He also wrote memoirs, now lost, on the same subject. Below are excerpts from the article.


Live away the words “extermination” and “deportation”. Proclaim that it is decision to “annihilation of the Armenian nation” and let there remain no place for dispute. That decision was made by the gang of robbers of Ittihat ve Terrakki. It made high ranked officials carry out those special measures. You deny it, is there any necessity to insist on it? I do not know.

I must leave this problem and proofs to future to clarify your article.

You state, “Country, because of war stipulation, had a necessity to deport a part of population from war regions and had to pass a law connected to it”.

That is all right. Do you find it lawful and justified advising to use the fact of deportation unequal to extermination. According to what right the government usurps house, family property and money of its own citizen?

What kind of war necessity made them deport the women to the unknown Der-Zor desert with suckling baby, taking by the arm of a three years old child, they grabbed money in the first station, which will be enough only to buy bread for a day.

Ponder a little before saying “leaving from war regions”, necessity to comprise war regions and also deportation of the Armenians from those regions expanded from Edirne to Basra.

All right, but don’t you understand that you close the danger by deporting Armenians from Kaisery to Der-Zor, which is the back of the 6th army, and approaching them to the back of the 4th army of Hauran.

Whole area of the country became stage of general war. The “necessity” arisen by the war was to move the Armenian nation from that region. It would be more logical if you supported it in following way, “there was left no place on the earth, the country became topsy-turvy, and thus we decided deporting and driving places”.

And also the law… Not only my, but in the name of the whole nation, please do not repeat that bloody and terrible word like Ittihat ve Terakki.

Do not repeat that wild word to relax the conscience of nation, because of which hundred of thousands sons of the country were hanged, hundred of thousands were shot, hundreds of thousands innocent children and women were smashed to pieces with ax, thousands widows and orphans were starved to death. Protests addressed to “our statesmen supplying all the good” heard from the bravest mouths had only instant life and under the reign of those cruel people who perpetrated all these crimes, the population of the empire was drunk with that wild word giving them pompous.

I am sure that only few citizens can give the brightest and clearest explanation of the law except you. The law that makes you express called deportation by you must be carried out first of all for your family. At that time to realize the meaning of applying a law you will have strength to ponder on deep philosophy, to correspond the law to the God’s law, conscience and logic. You will be able to conclude that there exist several hundreds of ayats in the holy book and constitutional articles to reject and curse this crime.

And you consider it as a law adopted by four bloody and foolish people? As if that word has power to transform all those crimes into humanness and you think the statesman deserves to amnesty following that example. How should it be?


When you say there were officials in the deportation regions who carried out demand of the law reasonably and even “defended and were kind-hearted”, I do not know what you mean by saying the expression “defended and kind-hearted”.

Do you think that “defended and kind-hearted” man may take a woman with three-four children out of the house with “mealy-mouthed” and send them to the mountains, uninhabited deserts where even grass is not found or a place to meet death? Is that all?

That was “defended and kind-hearted” deportation that I saw. You say who passed “border of duty”, were dismissed by Talaat pasha in spite of his wish who is the most influential person in the government. I should ask the following questions with your allowance that Talaat pasha was a legal or an illegal person or was he a bastard?

There is another “border of duty” in this problem. I leave it for you to clarify.

In all cases defense and kind-heartedness were within border of duty of deportation. I recognize many people who rose with the ladder of service after having passed the normal border and being whipped. May Your Excellency point a punished person by that “positive” government? You accept not to show that “negative” persons were a progress in the war field for realizing the deportation.

Reshid vali, who left for Diarbekir with two suitcases after organizing a slaughter returned with wagons. Then he was appointed vali in Ankara as I think for punishment.

Believe me; the latter got the most severe punishment compared with others.

“Even if there is no official order for extermination and plunder, there will always be resigned and dismissed officials who will not keep silent”, are you speaking seriously?

If we keep silent, it is only to inspire crimes of several people. It is to honor wounded and bloody hearts for not piercing and breaking them once again. But if we speak on them, that will mean to sound something well-known to everybody.

If there are people who defended Armenians from extermination and massacre, their activity came from courage, humanness and conscience typical to them. Activities of such individuals as Bekir Sami, Hyusein Kyazim and Dr. Arif, personalities who deserve to be recorded in accounts of the government Ittihat ve Terakki, yesterday they were considered to be persons of high-treason, feeble, coward and mean.

They achieved that honorary goal acting opposite to the official orders of the government. Not the government gave legal orders and the honorary officials carried it out well. Your Excellency knows it very well.

But how can one not get surprised by wrong viewpoints and conscious instigating wrong defense?

The murderer Kemal from Yozghat says,

-The government has not carried it out.

An improvident member of Ittihat ve Terakki says,

-Ittihat ve Terakki has not made such decision; it even punished several people for abuses, – he is not ashamed of saying it, he does not avoid of it.

If we ask a poor Turk, he would answer,

I came back from war. My neighbor Avetis agha, a smith, Nikoghos Chorbadjin, I do not know many of my neighbors have been robbed; they have been drawn to Arabistan or elsewhere.

All right, we will not speak unless anybody asks. However, the God who is one for a Christian, Turk, and Armenian will ask with loud and ruthless voice.

That is all right, but who killed hundred of thousands Armenians?

“Alemdar”, April 5, 1919, Constantinople (Translated from Osmanli into Armenian by Arsen Avagyan)

US: Website Launched for Armenian Genocide Recognition

Take ActionThe Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has launched a new website,, for Armenian Genocide recognition.

APRIL 24: Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Turkey

Here is the press release for the only (open) Armenian Genocide awareness event in Turkey this year received in e-mail:






Today, 24th of April, is recognised worldwide as the date signifying the Armenian Genocide. Only in Turkey it indicates a taboo. The Turkish state mobilises all its resources to deny the meaning of this date.


At diplomatic platforms Turkish officials and their advocates claim that they recognise the “big tragedy” and they only object to its being named as  a “Genocide”. That’s not true. At every occasion in Turkey not only the Armenian Genocide, but also the great agony of the Armenian people is denied and attempts are made  to justify the genocide. 


It was only last month that during a Symposium on the Armenian-Turkish relations the denialist official theses were voiced one after another, offending the Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere and insulting the memory of their grandparents. Lies were told in the name of “science”,  like  “Armenians have always sold their masters”,   “deportation was a means of crisis management”, “death toll of deportation is comparable to the death toll of flu epidemic in England that time”, “there is no other people as noble as the Turkish nation in the world, it is impossible for them to commit a genocide” and many more,  humiliating a people who was one of the most advanced in science, art, literature, and in all other aspects. 


Denial  is an  constituent part of the genocide itself and results in the continuation of the genocide. Denial of genocide is a human rights violation in itself.  It deprives individuals the right to mourn for their ancestors, for the ethnic cleansing of a nation, the annihilation of people of all ages, all professions, all social sections, women, men, children, babies, grandparents alike just because they were Armenians regardless of their political background or conviction. Perhaps the most important of all, it is the refusal of making a solemn, formal commitment and say “NEVER AGAIN”.     


Turkey has made hardly any progress in the field of co-existence, democracy, human rights and putting an end to militarism since the time of the Union and Progress Committee. Annihilation and denial had been and continues today to be the only means to solve the problem. Villages evacuated and put on fire and forced displacements are still the manifestation of the same habit of “social engineering”.  There has always been bloodshed  in the homeland of Armenians after 1915. Unsolved murders, disappearances under custody, rapes and arrests en masse during the 1990’s were  no surprise,  given the ongoing state tradition lacking any culture of repentance for past crimes against humanity.


Similarly the removal of a public prosecutor and banning him from profession just for taking the courage to mention  an accusation against  the military, a very recent incident, is the manifestation of an old habit of punishing anybody who dares to voice any objection to the army.  And today’s ongoing military build up of some 250,000 troops in the southeast of Turkey is the proof of a mindset who is unable to develop any solution to the Kurdish question other than armed suppresion. 


Turkey will not be able to take even one step forward without putting an end to the continuity of the Progress and Union manner  of ruling.  No human rights violation can be stopped in Turkey and there will be no hope of breaking the vicious circle of Kurdish uprisings and their bloody suppression  unless the Turkish state agree to create an environment where  public homage is paid to genocide victims, where the sufferings of their grandchildren  is shared and the genocide is recognised. 


Today we, as the human rights defenders, would like to address all Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere in the world and tell them “we want to share the pain in your hearts and bow down before the memory of your lost ones. They are also our losses. Our struggle for human rights in Turkey, is at the same time our mourning for our common losses and a homage paid to the genocide victims”. 


And here is the program:



Human Rights Association

Istanbul Branch 




24th April 1915 from Human Rights Perspective


24th April – A milestone setting an example for the annilihation of intellectuals


Why Armenians Commemorate 24 April 1915 to Signify the Beginning of the Armenian Genocide: a Critical Examination.”


Historical Consciousness and Confronting the History

Thursday, 24thtApril 2008 

02:00 p.m.





Helsinki Commission Transcript on Armenia

The transcript of the April 17 U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing on post-election unrest in Armenia is here.

In his presentation, U.S. Department of State representative Mathew Bryza said in part:

Of course, that has to do with the human beings, the people, the proud members of the Armenian American diaspora, who have contributed so much to our society. But of course, it also has to do with our support of the basic human rights, liberties, democratic values that the citizens of Armenia rightfully deserve and in fact have enjoyed. And fundamentally, this is a question of human dignity.

Irregularities in the recent election and the violent aftermath marked a significant setback for democracy in Armenia, and I just sense from my visits there both a week ago today — in fact, when I was last there for the inauguration, seven and eight days ago, and a month before that — that there was a significant shock imposed upon Armenian society.

Unfortunately, tragically, the violence that ensued is unprecedented for the South Caucasus in a period after an election. And so, of course, it’s completely appropriate to do just what the commissioners did, which was express condolences for the victims.

Two of them were police officers. Eight of them were civilians not associated with the security services. Obviously, every single one of those deaths pains all of us in this room, and there are so many friends. Everyone’s a friend of Armenia in here today. And I also welcome my friend Vigan and also my fellow graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy here.

A special personal welcome to you, Vigan. Thank you for being here with us.

We simply deplore the killing. And we may never know, and probably will never know, who started it, how it began, how a peaceful protest devolved into this level of violence.

We do know, though, that generally in the international community, we, the international community, hold governments responsible for the use of violence against civilians and for the use of violence under such political circumstances.

We are deeply disappointed that dialogue that was ensuing between the government and the opposition lost out — lost out in this case to force and to violence. So as I said, it’s a tragedy for all of Armenia.

Our goal now is to work with the government of Armenia and President Sargsyan to help elicit dramatic steps that will restore a sense of democratic momentum in the control, not to please us, not to sustain our assistance, but because, well, we believe it when we hear the elected president of Armenia say this is what he wants to do.

And we believe it, and we know, that this is the ambition of the people of Armenia. I felt that overwhelmingly this time during this trip. So many people came up to me — be it the wives of detainees or common people on the street — urging us to be as clear and constructive as possible in eliciting those sorts of dramatic steps to restore democratic momentum.

As we think about looking ahead, first it’s useful again to place our relationship with Armenia in a context, the context of our strategic interests with Armenia. We have security interests. We have regional economic interests.

And we have, of course, a deep interest in seeing democratic and market economic reform continue so that all citizens of Armenia have the freedom to exercise and enjoy their internationally recognized human rights.

On security, we are deeply grateful for Armenia’s contributions in Iraq, where it has 46 soldiers on the ground, serving with our soldiers in the coalition, as well as in Kosovo, where Armenia has contributed 35 soldiers.

We would welcome even greater contributions. We’ve had discussions. We hope we can move forward in a way that only deepens our security partnership.


The central question of security matters in Armenia is indeed, as Congressman Smith pointed out, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh. I speak in my capacity also as ministry co-chair, and I have spent so much effort and love on this issue over the last couple of years.

I can say, following our meetings my fellow co-chairs and I had in Bucharest two weeks ago with Presidents Sargsyan and Aliyev, we hope that there will soon be a meeting between those two presidents to rejuvenate a negotiation process that has made, I would argue, a dramatic amount of progress in the last two and a half years toward finalizing a set of basic principles that would essentially become a framework agreement for the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

Again, this would be a framework agreement. It’s not the final agreement. That would have to be negotiated in the form of a peace treaty that will take some time — hopefully, not too much time — but if and when these basic principles are agreed, Armenia and Azerbaijan together will have made a dramatic step forward — in fact, changed the political, diplomatic and economic map in the Caucasus and in Europe in a profound way. Officially, our policy is to support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but to hold that a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires a negotiated compromise on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh’s future status.

In a broader strategic sense, Armenia is obviously at a crucial crossroads, situated as it is between Russia in the north, Iran in the south, and then between Azerbaijan and Turkey to the east and west, where Armenia suffers from closed borders.

So in our second set of interests, regional economic cooperation and integration of Armenia into regional economic structures, I emphasize how much we look forward to and work toward full normalization of Armenia’s relations with Turkey, and of course, then with Azerbaijan.

We’re focusing a lot on the Turkey-Armenia relationship now. We hope there will soon be restoration of full diplomatic relations, opening of borders, restoration of electricity and transportation links, and greater access to regional markets that that will bring for Armenia.

There are questions about the possibility of commissions to take another look at the tragic, horrible historical questions of 1915, which I know we’ll get into in the question and answer session.

In summary, we know that all of these issues are interrelated and are of profound importance to Armenians and all of their friends around the world, whether we’re talking about history or about the current plight and current conditions of our Armenian friends in Armenia today.

Eventually, and hopefully quickly, we will see normalization of Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan, and as that happens, or when that happens, we hope that that will provide Armenia an impetus to scale back its energy cooperation with Iran.

Armenia finds itself in a very difficult situation when it comes to energy. It is cut off from the energy flows from the Caspian region, beginning in Azerbaijan. It is largely dependent on flows of natural gas from Russia and has expanded its natural gas flows to include Iran.

And we understand the difficult situation that Armenia finds itself in due to these restrictions — energy imports and general trade — that it suffers from the East and West.

At the same time, though, we hope Armenia will continue to work with us to fulfill the international community’s demands that Iran abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that Iran ceases its nuclear enrichment programs.

Finally, the third area that is clearly the most germane to today’s discussion and really is at the foundation of everything we do with Armenia is our effort and our assistance and our commitment to helping Armenia advance its democratic and market economic reform to strengthen individual rights, human rights, and political and economic freedoms.

Our assistance programs, working with the government of Armenia, have made some important progress over the years. And we are grateful to the United States Congress for always being so generous and encouraging us and helping us and facilitating our work with Armenia that has produced some significant results.

For example, there has been strong reduction in rural poverty. We have now seen again Armenia restore double-digit economic growth, which it enjoyed back in the late 1990s. We have worked very actively with civil society to promote democracy and protect fundamental rights.

And maybe garnering the most attention in the last few years has been Armenia’s successful completion of an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to launch a compact that should come to a total of $235 million over the next few years.

In President Bush’s administration, I think it’s fair to argue that when a country enters into the Millennium Challenge program, it has received in many ways the ultimate seal of approval or commendation from our government that the country is on the right track, because the program aims to reward commitment to reform and is sustained if that commitment to reform is sustained and demonstrated through progress.

So let’s go back, then, for a little while, then, to the elections, now that I’ve painted a broader picture in the context for our relations with Armenia.

In the lead-up to the February 19th presidential election, we did see some initial positive signs. We encouraged then Prime Minister Sargsyan to invite observers from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE to come to Armenia to observe the election. And he did that. And they came.

We also encouraged the parliament and the government to advance electoral reforms, and some of those were passed. And we welcome those.

At the same time, already in the pre-election period, our concerns began to increase about the overall electoral environment. We observed that the media environment was definitely not free from bias, to put it gently. We sensed that independent media outlets faced intimidation and harassment in many cases, unfortunately.

Examples of that include Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Gala TV. And there were widespread allegations of misuse of administrative resources, a problem that is not unique by any means to Armenia. In fact, none of these problems are unique to Armenia in an election context. But they were there and began to raise our concerns.

As you noted, Mr. Chairman, the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of OSCE initially assessed that the February 19th election was conducted mostly in line with OSCE standards. Those were initial reports based on initial flows of information.

Unfortunately, as more information came in over ensuing days, we saw there were credible claims of ballot stuffing and intimidation, some reports of beatings of poll workers and proxies, and significant reports of vote buying and other irregularities.

Again, these are not problems that are unique to Armenia by any means. Many friends here of Armenia in the room have helped me remember how similar things have happened elsewhere in South Caucasus countries in recent elections. But nonetheless, we’re talking about Armenia today.

Speaking of which, there were recounts in Armenia, in which, as the OSCE observed, there were discrepancies and mistakes, which raised questions over the impartiality of the electoral commissions. And OSCE observers reported there was harassment against them.

In the wake of these sorts of concerns, we saw mass protests for 10 days in Armenia in Yerevan. As I noted in the beginning, we in the U.S. government and others in the international community and in Europe pressed the government of Armenia to maintain the negotiations, refrain from violence, allow the protest to continue on Opera Square.

On March 1st, however, the police and military forces entered the square. We, again, will never know what exactly happened, but the police entered the square, as then President Kocharian told me, to collect weapons that the government of Armenia had believed were being gathered in some of the tents there on the square.

Clashes broke out — some, perhaps, there on the square, it appears, although many in the government of Armenia will deny that any clashes took place on the square. I don’t know. We weren’t there. We did not have witnesses there on the square.

But we do know that later in the day near the French embassy in the environs, there was a truly tragic clash, as we said, that left 10 dead, two of them police and eight of then civilians. Again, we express our deepest condolences.

Former president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian appeared to be under conditions of de facto house arrest, although that’s disputed by the government. I myself visited Mr. Ter-Petrossian at his residence.

When we drove the security — it was heavy security — there was no way to tell whether or not Mr. Ter-Petrossian was free to leave or not, but there was very heavy security. And I did talk to then Prime Minister Sargsyan about the appearance of such heavy security outside Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s residence, and I understand that that level of security was subsequently reduced.

And finally, there was a state of emergency imposed that was the most serious step — suspended freedom of assembly, suspended freedom of the media — and in that vacuum the government of Armenia filled that vacuum with all sorts of news reports that, well, attacked the opposition.

There afterward, there were large numbers of arrests, mass arrests of opposition activists and demonstration organizers. Well, there are 100 to 110 people or so still in prison. Many people went into hiding and fled. And many people were imprisoned on charges that seemed to have a political tint.

We don’t know exactly why all the people were arrested, but the point to keep in mind is under such circumstances, such political tension and allegations of irregularities in the election, the standard is very, very high, when people are arrested, to make clear that the arrests were committed for non-political reasons, for truly criminal reasons.

In response, our charge was very actively engaged with all of the political leaders. I myself made a couple of trips to Yerevan, spent several days initially in March, meeting with everyone I could find, with the then president, with the president-elect, with all of the opposition leaders.

The goal was to stimulate a dialogue that would restore of speech and freedom of assembly and secure the opposition’s pledge that their protests would remain lawful and peaceful. We remain clearly sharply critical of the steps the government of Armenia took in restricting freedoms, suspending freedoms. And we then, and we do now, call for the immediate release of all those people detained for any political charges.

Also, Ambassador Danilovich, the CEO of the MCC, issued a public letter to then President Kocharian, warning that absent the resumption of democratic momentum and democratic reforms, Armenia was putting it in a position that called into question the ability to sustain the Millennium Challenge program in Armenia.

That’s a decision, obviously, that the board of MCC will take, which is chaired by the secretary of state. I’m not here to issue empty threats or to sound threatening, but the reality is MCC is a performance-based program. The indicators that are not compiled by the U.S. government reflect performance.

And so the best point to make is that we hope to see Armenia and President Sargsyan take dramatic steps that restore the democratic momentum so that the Millennium Challenge program can continue.

We saw some progress in that the state of emergency was expired 20 days after it was imposed, in accordance with Armenia law. And we saw the re-establishment of most media freedoms in the lead-up to the inauguration of President Sargsyan.

At the same time, however, we still see that the law on demonstrations and parades and protests is restrictive. It has prompted an outcry from the Venice Commission and from the OSCE ODIHR.

We, unfortunately, have seen tax authorities of Armenia conducting investigations of four opposition newspapers that those newspapers find intimidating.

And we have seen some very surreal scenes on Yerevan streets in recent weeks, large numbers of people gathering, not doing anything, talking to each other in a silent protest, and then subsequently getting arrested by the police.

The good news is the military presence has reduced. The bad news, though, is that some arrests have continued of opposition activists.

So, finally, in this context how do we move forward? Number one, I think it should be clear how sharply the United States government has condemned the March violence, by whoever committed that violence. It’s difficult to tell, as I said before, who started it. And we would roundly criticize and condemn anybody who would use violence for political gain.

But at the same time, the burden of responsibility in such situations rests on the shoulders of elected governments.

Therefore, it’s important that there be an impartial investigation and prosecution of anyone who used violence on March 1st, on either side, whether they’re in the opposition or whether they’re in the government.

Now, we hope to see full restoration of all basic freedoms, both in law and in practice. We hope there will be further investigations and prosecutions of those people who violated election law.

And we very much hope to see a national dialogue between the government, opposition, civil society, that pursues some sort of an agreement or a contract for democracy, again, that allows and ensures full freedom of assembly in exchange for a pledge that all protests will be lawful and non-violent. We call on our friends in the government of Armenia to release all of those people, as I’ve said, who have been incarcerated for political reasons. And we urge the government to restore those democratic reforms that President Sargsyan has talked so eloquently about in the past and even during his inaugural address, despite those comments about the possible need for restrictions on some freedoms.

To wrap it all up, we observe that banning demonstrations will not quell the anger of the aggrieved people in Armenia. Silencing the votes of dissent will not achieve unity of opinion. And undermining the institutions of democracy will not achieve lasting stability.

And in the long run, stability comes from legitimacy, which can only derive from democracy and democratic freedom.

Of course, we’ve reiterated these fundamental truths to President Sargsyan. I’ve done it myself. Our charge in Yerevan has done it. Ambassador Danilovich has done it. Other senior officials have done it as well.

I did attend President Sargsyan’s inauguration in a spirit of our shared values and commitment to doing everything we can with all of Armenia to help it get through this difficult period and get back on the track of democratic reform.

We hope Armenia’s new president will hear and address the grievances of his citizens. He has said many of the right things in the past, and again at his inauguration, so we look forward to working with him and all the people of Armenia to make sure that the democratic foundation of the country is solid and therefore provide the only real foundation for long-term stability.

Thank you again. I apologize for going on so long. It’s a very complex question, and I look forward to your questions.

Answering a question on Karabakh, Bryza told that Aliyev’s anti-Armenian hysteria is a reflection of the society:

Now, let’s get to the question that you first asked about the rhetoric. I myself have a couple of times, in my capacity as the coach here, raised this issue with President Aliyev. One time, in fact, even Congressman Knollenberg asked us to do it, and I happened to be meeting with President Aliyev that very day and was able to deliver Congressman Knollenberg’s points. In fact, twice I was able to do that.

Leverage bargaining is a part of the negotiation. Belligerent military threats are something nobody wants to hear. We complain about them. We urge President Aliyev to reduce tension to make it easier for there to be a solution.

His statements reflect politics in Azerbaijan. There are a large number of Azerbaijani citizens who favor potentially armed conflict to regain Nagorno-Karabakh. Whether we like that or not, people think that way. And many of the statements of President Aliyev reflect that sentiment.

We are committed to doing everything possible publicly to counter any belief that there’s a military solution and privately to make sure that we do all we can to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

Elaborating on the issue and responding to the Kosovo precedent, Bryza answered:

We didn’t know exactly how that reaction would manifest itself. But what we’re looking for in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh is not a legal agreement. It has to be a political agreement. There’s a legal principle of territorial integrity of states. There is a political principle of self-determination of peoples.

Both of these principles are enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act, along with non-use of force, and what we’ve been trying to do as mediators is to help the parties come up with a compromise between that legal right of territorial integrity and that political right or principle of self-determination of states.

So we thought about Kosovo in that light, but our ultimate decision makers nonetheless decided to proceed with Kosovo as we did, understanding that it will create difficult for us in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also Abkhazia and South Ossetia conflicts in Georgia, for which I also carry some mediating authority.

Life has gotten more complicated as a result of the Kosovo outcome. I very much agree with you.

One more point I’d like to make about military force and maybe time or intentions. It’s impossible to know exactly what the intentions are of all these leaders — impossible. But what is clear is that time really is not on either country’s side.

If you are in Armenia, you might express the concerns that you raised about a large-scale military build-up in Azerbaijan and statements about the possible use of force. You wonder could that ever happen. So I would hope that the leaders of Armenia realize, “OK. We need to move forward expeditiously towards a settlement.”

The same goes for Azerbaijan, though. As we’ve seen all of this concern manifested about territorial integrity, following up Kosovo, in Azerbaijan people are very anxious, impatient. They want to make sure that they’re able to influence the negotiations in a way that does as much as it can to preserve Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

And unless the parties get together and reach that political compromise as quickly as possible, then the dangers of these large-scale exchanges of fire, and the danger of a larger exchange will simply smolder out there until potentially something terrible happens.

So we have to move forward.

I will write more about the government and opposition representatives’ response later.

Armenia: Independent TV Station Closed

The Armenian government has taken an independent TV station in the north of the Republic off the air following an unprecedented fundraiser in the former Soviet country where citizens helped GALA TV pay off taxes that the authorities had attempted to use for silencing the station.

Although the government claims the closing to be temporary – it is actually requiring GALA TV to take its main broadcast dish off a tele-tower owned by the city of Gyumri – many see this as continous oppression against freedom of expression.  The report about the closure is available in Armenian at

Wow, the new president really wants to piss people off.

U.S. Elections: Hillary Accused of Playing the Race Card

From Chicago Sun-Times:

A disturbing trend has emerged from the long Democratic primary. Whenever Sen. Hillary Clinton is trailing in the polls, a racially divisive issue pops up.

Clinton loses 11 consecutive races, and the photograph of Sen. Barack Obama in Somalian garb shows up.

Clinton falls behind in pledged delegates and gets caught in a lie about her Bosnia adventure, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. story reignites.

The fallout over Obama’s “bitter” comment fits that same pattern.

He’s quoted as saying: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Obama was apparently referring to rural voters, a demographic he has had difficulty reaching.

The comment is being characterized by some pundits, Clinton and the GOP nominee John McCain as “elitist,” and evidence that Obama is “out-of-touch” with ordinary Americans.

But during his bus tour through Pennsylvania two weeks ago, Obama made the same point at several town hall meetings and crowds applauded.

Although he may not have used the exact same words that have caused such a furor, he offered the same assessment: When people believe they are getting a raw deal, they become bitter.

Here we go again

With polls showing that Obama has begun to narrow the gap in Pennsylvania — a state Clinton was predicted to win by double digits — Clinton is stirring up a backlash that her campaign hopes will net her some swing voters.

“Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them,” Clinton told a crowd in Philadelphia.

Her campaign has fueled the controversy, with supporters passing out “I’m not bitter” stickers in North Carolina.

But Clinton and McCain’s outrage has more to do with the demographic Obama called bitter than the words he used.

Indeed, neither of them said a word when Obama used harsher language to tell a predominantly black audience in Beaumont, Texas, that they needed to do a better job parenting.

“We can’t keep on feeding our children junk all day long, giving them no exercise. They are overweight by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, and then we are surprised when they get sick,” Obama said, drawing loud applause.

Obama also chided parents for letting their kids eat “potato chips for lunch or Popeye’s for breakfast.”

He gave a similar speech at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, and black people applauded along with everyone else.

Obviously, it is tough for African Americans to be called out on a subject that is rarely discussed publicly, let alone in mixed company.

But blacks in the audience took the attitude that Obama wasn’t talking about them — he was talking about their cousin.

At least one expert, Bart Landry, a sociology professor of the University of Maryland, criticized Obama for his remarks, saying he gave black parents a “bum rap.”

But there wasn’t anywhere near the blowup that happened after angry sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, were looped on the Internet.

Obama takes the high road

Indeed, given that Gov. Ed Rendell, who is leading Clinton’s campaign in Pennsylvania, has said publicly that “conservative whites” would not vote for Obama because he is black, Obama could have had a lot more to say about the mind-set of rural voters in that state.

Instead, throughout his campaign across Pennsylvania, Obama took the high road. He left race out of the conversation, and focused on the issues that voters raised during town hall meetings.

Clinton, who not once has challenged Rendell’s disgraceful stereotype of Pennsylvania voters as racist, has consistently seized upon polarizing issues in an effort to boost her campaign.

Obama has tried to end this latest battle of words, saying: “If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that.”

He had no reason to apologize.

In attacking Obama as “elitist” and “arrogant,” Clinton is again appealing to the lower nature of voters.

She has once again proved that she is willing to feed the ignorance of voters like the ones Rendell has described.

But worst yet, Clinton is now communicating to these voters that she that can put an “uppity” black man in his place.

Iran: Divide et Impera?

Iran claims the United States supports anti-Iranian groups in the Islamic Republic, while America argues that a recent move to start Azeri-language broadcasts in Iran is not a provocation. Quite ironically, the Bush administration – unable or unwilling to capture Osama Bin Laden – seems to have benefited from no. 1 terrorist’s criticism in Iran.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Some Iranians blamed Sunni Arab radicals for an explosion Saturday [in Shiraz, Iran] that killed 12 and injured 202 at a gathering where a preacher criticized the Wahhabi form of Islam that inspires Osama bin Laden.”

Although allegations that the U.S. is supporting bombings in Iran are broad and likely untrue, the U.S. is planning to launch a propaganda war among ethnic minorities in Iran later in Fall 2008. “The US government is planning to beam Azeri-language radio broadcasts into Iran.”

Istanbul: Historic Roma District Faces Destruction

Turkey’s Prime Minister has called a historic Roma (Gypsy) district in Istanbul “ugly” as the government plans to evict its ancient residents in the name of development.


A U.S. government agency has sent a letter of protest to PM Erdogan urging to reconsider planned destruction of Sulukule, one of the oldest Romani settlments in Europe.

A petition is available for your signatures.

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