Armenian Reporter

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Armenian Reporter

Number 35October 27, 2007NationalArmenia Fund is building the Armenian dreamone village at a time, chairperson saysEarlier this month Armenia FundUSA celebrated its 15th anniversarywith a gala banquet at the UnitedNations. It was a celebration andan acknowledgment of the fund’s15 years of crucial and creative developmentwork in Armenia andKarabakh. The evening’s keynotespeaker was Armenia’s foreignminister Vartan Oskanian.Armenian Reporter publisherSylva Boghossian sat down withRaffi Festekjan, the chair of ArmeniaFund USA, to discuss their accomplishmentsand the challengesahead. Through the Rural DevelopmentPlan the Armenia Fund willstrive to revitalize rural Armenia.Mr. Festekjian explains, “We needto make rural Armenia better. Weneed to create a more diversifiedcountry – and more balanced.”See story on page A6 mIn official visit to Armenia, Iran’s PresidentAhmadinejad fails to honor Genocide victimsInternationalArmeniaDuring an official visit to Armenia,Iran’s president MahmoudAhmadinejad was supposed to visitthe Armenian Genocide memorialcomplex at Tzitzernakaberd, lay awreath, and plant a tree. However,on the morning of October 23,while journalists were waiting forhim at the Genocide memorial,they were informed that he wouldnot be coming.Armenian officials said their guesthad decided to cut his visit to Armeniashort because of issues backhome. But in fact he left no earlierthan planned – and hours after theplanned visit to the Genocide memorial,Tatul Hakobyan reports.His predecessor, MohammadKhatami, did lay a wreath at themonument during a visit in 2004.During the visit, the presidents ofIran and Armenia discussed bilateralrelations and joint energy projects.A yoga studio opens its doors in YerevanRochester, New York, resident LindaBeshirians has opened a new yogastudio-spa in downtown Yerevan,Betty Panossian-Ter Sargssian reports.The studio, Shoonch (“breath,”)is the first of its kind in Armenia.Located in the heart of Yerevan,Shoonch invites residents and touristsalike into its serene and elegantArmeniaSee story on page A5 mAt a rally in Opera Square, Levon Ter-Petrossianannounces his candidacy for presidentAt a public rally in Opera Squareon October 26, the former presidentof Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian, announced that hewould run for president again.Elections are slated for February2008. Some five to seven thousandpeople were on hand to hearthe former president and otheropposition leaders.See related story on page A5 mstudio. Its instructors, trained inIndia and the United States, offerclasses in a variety of yoga styles.Ms. Beshirians, a frequent visitorto Armenia, said that establishingthe studio brings her a step closerto the country.See story on page A8 mthe armenianreporterSponsors suggest delay inGenocide resolution voteMeasure to come upagain “later this yearor in 2008”WASHINGTON – The Democratsamong the main co-sponsors of thecongressional resolution affirmingthe U.S. record on the ArmenianGenocide asked Speaker Nancy Pelosito postpone its considerationuntil “sometime later this year orin 2008.”Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.),Frank Pallone (N.J.), Brad Sherman(Calif.) and Anna Eshoo (Calif.)wrote: “We believe that a largemajority of our colleagues want tosupport a resolution recognizingthe genocide on the House floorand that they will do so, providedthe timing is more favorable.”The Bush administration andTurkey lobbyists jointly succeededin reducing the number of the resolution’sformal co-sponsors to lessthan the majority of 435 membersof the House of Representatives.They cited Turkey’s importanceto U.S. policies around the MiddleEast and U.S. forces in Iraq, andthreats to undercut both.Serge Sargsian: “External challengescannot bring us to our knees”In an interviewwith the Reporter,Armenia’s primeminister discussessecurity threats anddomestic problemsby Emil SanamyanWASHINGTON – U.S. and Armenianofficials held biannual talkson economic cooperation as PrimeMinister Serge Sargsian wrappedup a visit to the United States withmeetings with Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice, Senate leadersHarry Reid (D.-Nev.) and DickDurbin (D.-Ill.), National DemocraticInstitute president KennethWollack, and leaders of ArmenianAmerican organizations.On October 23, Mr. Sargsianand Undersecretary of State forEconomic Affairs Jeffrey ReubenA Turkish soldier gestures to a photographer not to take photos during a patrol inthe area near the Turkey-Iraq border, in the province of Sirnak, southeast Turkey,on Friday, Oct. 26. Turkey warned that U.S. objections will not stop its troopsfrom crossing into Iraq. AP Photo: Darko Bandic.In a letter to all House members,Aram Hamparian, executive directorof the Armenian NationalCommittee of America (ANCA),thanked congressional leaders andresolution co-sponsors for theirefforts, and expressed confidencethat, “as the confusion over thesethreats [from Turkey] lifts, an evenstronger bipartisan majority willPrime Minister Sargsian meets with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice onOctober 23, 2007. Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Armenia.signed an agreement on civil aviationsecurity and safety, a key stepin the effort to open a direct airlink between the United States andArmenia. Later that day, the primeminister’s delegation flew to Francefor an official visit there.In an interview with The AssociatedPress the previous day, Mr.stand up against Turkey’s intimidationand vote to adopt this humanrights resolution on its merits.”Mr. Hamparian added thatthe debate over the resolutionrevealed that Turkey is“an increasingly unreliable ally” andthat “the real danger is compromisingAmerican moral leadership”around the world.fSargsian said that while Armeniahopes the Armenian Genocideresolution would eventually passthe U.S. Congress, he did not lobbyU.S. officials on his visit, with theirtalks focusing on economic and securityissues.Continued on page A4 mABC’s Extreme Makeoverfeatures J.S. HovnanianMariam Matossian andthe songs that inspire herPage C5Page C6Vahe Berberian to directBaron GarbisPage C4


A2 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007NationalFrom Washington, in briefby Emil SanamyanU.S. tightens sanctionsagainst Iran, warns of“serious consequences”“The Iranian regime needs toknow that if it stays on its presentcourse, the international communityis prepared to impose seriousconsequences,” Vice PresidentDick Cheney told the pro-IsraeliWashington Institute for Near EastVice President Cheney speaks onOctober 21. Photo: WashingtonInstitute.Policy on October 21. “We will notallow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,”he added.On October 22, an Iranian delegationwas in Rome for talks over theissue with the European Union’sforeign affairs commissioner JavierSolana, with no significant breakthroughreported on the mainsticking point: Iran’s enrichmentof uranium, a process than can beused for both civilian and militarypurposes. Iran has rejected offersto abandon the technology in exchangefor acquiring nuclear fuelabroad, while the U.S. has refuseddirect talks with Iran unless it stopsenrichment.The vice president’s remarkscame just days before the UnitedStates issued additional sanctionsagainst the Iranian RevolutionaryGuards Corps (IRGC), the elitebranch of the country’s military,and several major Iranian banks,including Bank Mellat, which hasbranches around the world, includingone in Armenia.The United States first introducedunilateral sanctions against Iranshortly after the Islamic revolutionthere in 1979. Last summer, the U.S.government pledged to provide itsMiddle East allies with billions ofdollars worth of new weapons tocheck Iran’s influence.The tough rhetoric and new sanctionshave again led to speculationabout a military confrontationwith Iran. But with the U.S. at thistime having just one aircraft carriergroup in the Persian Gulf, a largescaleassault on Iranian facilitiesappeared unlikely in the near term.Israel has also hinted that itmight launch preventive strikesagainst Iranian nuclear facilities,unless the United States and theEuropean Union succeed in stoppingIran’s program.Turkish soldiers held by the PKK. Photo via Kurdshow.com.Border fightingbetween Turkish army,Kurds underwayTurkey bombed suspected Kurdishrebel sites and amassed up to100,000 troops in the vicinity ofIraqi Kurdistan, international newsagencies reported; but talks continuedin an effort to forestall a largescaleinvasion.While U.S. officials continued tooppose a major Turkish incursionin Iraq, concerned that it may leadto a larger war, Turkish leaders dismissedsuch concerns as “misplaced”and demanded concrete actions.On October 21, forces affiliatedwith the Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK) upped the ante in their decades-longconfrontation with Turkeyas they attacked, killing about12, wounding 16, and capturingeight Turkish soldiers. The Kurdishoperation was on a larger scale thanat any point since the mid-1990s,and resulted in widespread publicanger in Turkey and demands forretaliation.Turkey responded with aerialbombing, artillery barrages and,so far, small-scale ground operationsinside Iraqi Kurdistan, wheresome of the PKK forces are based.It claimed to have killed dozens ofPKK soldiers.Turkish officials said they wouldinvade on a larger scale unless the U.S.and Iraqi Kurds captured PKK leadersRep. Adam Schiff, on Fox, calls for moral courageand shut down their camps. Ankaraalso threatened to close its borderwith Iraqi Kurdistan and reroute itstrade with Iraq through Syria.Iraqi leaders went to Ankara onOctober 25 and 26 in an effort toagree on actions that would “pacify,isolate and disrupt” Kurdish forceswithout taking direct military actionagainst them, the New YorkTimes reported. Earlier, the Iraqigovernment ordered the closureof all PKK offices in Iraq, althoughother officials denied there weresuch offices to begin with.At the same time, Iraqi Kurdishleaders deployed their lightlyarmed forces closer to the borderwith Turkey and pledged to fight apossible Turkish invasion.Commentators in and out of Turkeyhave argued that Ankara wouldprefer not to invade, apprehensiveof a larger war with the Kurds. fOn Saturday, October 20, Paul Gigotinterviewed Rep. Adam Schiff, sponsorof House Resolution 106, whichreaffirms the United States record onthe Armenian Genocide on the “JournalEditorial Report” on Fox News.A transcript of the interview follows.Paul Gigot, host: This weekon the “Journal Editorial Report,”a congressional resolution condemninga massacre in Turkey acentury ago threatens to endangermilitary progress in Iraq today.. . . .(NEWSBREAK)Gigot: Welcome to the “JournalEditorial Report.” I’m Paul Gigot.A House committee voted lastweek to condemn the mass killingsof Armenians in Turkey in WorldWar I as an act of genocide, despitewarnings it would strain relationwas an important Iraq war allies.Following the vote, Turkey recalledits ambassador to the U.S.and officials there warned if theresolution is approved by the fullHouse they will reconsider theirsupport for the American war effort,which includes permission tomove essential supplies throughTurkey into northern Iraq.Democratic Congressman AdamSchiff of California is the author ofthe Armenian genocide resolution.He has more than 70,000 ethnicArmenians in his Los Angeles district.Congressman, welcome. Goodto have you on the program.Rep. Adam Schiff: Thanks,Paul. Nice to join you.Antagonizing China,appeasing TurkeyGigot: This atrocity occurred 90years ago. Why bring it up now atthis delicate moment in the MiddleEast?Schiff: Well, Paul, you have toput it in perspective. We have triedto recognize the genocide really foryears, even decade. We introducedthis resolution before the Iraq warand the administration said nowis not a good time. We introduce itbefore the war in Afghanistan andthe administration said it wasn’t agood time, before 9/11 and said itwasn’t a good time.I stood yesterday in the capitolrotunda and watched the presidentbestow the Medal of Honoron the Dalai Lama and I was proudof him. I was proud of him doingthat notwithstanding the factChina protested that it was deeplyoffensive to our strategic partnerin China.Someone asked him, Mr. President,why do you risk antagonizingChina.The president earlier said thatpreventing Iran from getting anuclear weapon could be so importantit might stop World War III.Paul, you know whose vote weneed on the Security Council topre- investment Iran from gettingthe bomb? We need China’s vote.But, you know, the president saidwhen America stands up for humanrights and freedom, Americais always serving its national interest.The president was right then.But the president believes thatthe situation in Tibet, the invasionthat took place 50 years ago, it isimportant to recognize what tookplace in China but not what tookplace in Turkey, though it involvedthe murder of a million and a halfpeople. It doesn’t make sense tome.It’s not ancient historyGigot: Congressman, the currentdispute in Tibet is ongoing and it isabout human rights in Tibet now.This resolution is 100 years ago.Schiff: You know what, Paul?The dispute going on is importantnow as well. Just last week, Turkeybrought up on charges the son ofa murdered Armenian journalistin Turkey, who was killed thisyear, on charges of publishing hisfather words about the genocide.Is that freedom in Turkey to speakout about the genocide not important?Is the freedom of expressionthe freedom to talk about some ofthe darkest chapters in the historyof the world not important? Whyis freedom in China important butfreedom in Turkey of so little value?No scapegoats forTurkeyGigot: Congressman, let’s say Turkeydoes take offense, and they saythey will, and they decide to cut offsupplies, the supply route we have,an important airbase there. If theydecide to cut off supplies to Turkey,are you, as a member of Congress,willing to take responsibility forthe consequences of that?Schiff: Paul, we have to expectTurkey will act in their nationalinterests. They’re an importantally to us and we are pan importantally to them. The fact that theEuropean Union wants to makegenocide recognition a conditionof Turkey getting into the E.U.hasn’t stopped Turkey from wantingto be in the E.U.I have to expect Turkey will actrationally. But I also think, Paul,and maybe can you point to anexample of the contrary, that hasinform been the case, that we haveserved our national interest wellby denying the truth, particularlywhen it involves genocide. I don’tthink this will be the first timewhere it was advantageous to ourcountry to deny the truth.At the ceremony yesterday, ElieWiesel said that speaking truthto power gives power to the truth.That’s true with China. It is alsotrue with Turkey. And I think wehave to speak that compelling historictruth.Gigot: On the other hand...Schiff: Yes, I have an Armeniancommunity in my district. Ihave sat in their living rooms andheard stories about how their parentsand grandparents were wipedout. Paul, if it was your parentsand grandparents, you wouldbe screaming to the rafters weshould recognize what happenedto them. And the fact that it wasour neighbor’s family and not ourown shouldn’t matter.Secretaries of Statecomplicit in denialGigot: Congressman, there is along list of people on the otherside of this. General David Petraeus,head of American forcesin Iraq, eight former secretariesof state, including Madeleine Albright.When this issue came up in2000, President Clinton called theRepublican speaker of the House,then Denny Hastert, and askedhim to pull this so if wouldn’tcompromise our situation in theMiddle East. He did.Why shouldn’t the Democratsnow, at the request of an Americanpresident, decide to pull somethinglike this at a similar moment?Schiff: Paul, these eight secretariesof state you mentioned, thiswas their policy. They are defendingtheir policy during those – theadministrations of those eight secretariesthey were willing to denythe genocide and become complicitin Turkey’s denial.The last president, Paul, whohad the courage to recognize theArmenian genocide, was PresidentReagan. What would you have saidto President Reagan if you were hisadvisor? Mr. President, I know youtalk about the United States beinga moral beacon for the word but weare in the middle of the Cold Warthis was antagonize Turkey. Mr.President, you shouldn’t do it.But you know what? Ronald Reaganhad the guts to do it. He hadthe guts to say, no, this countrystand for something and I standfor something. And you know what,Paul? You applaud him for that. Youapplaud him for the courage. Whyshouldn’t we ask this president tohave the same courage? He likesto model himself after PresidentReagan. All Republican presidentslike to, but let’s have the couragethat Ronald Reagan had to speakthe truth.Presidential leadershipGigot: Congressman, what’s yourresponse to Dave Petraeus whosays this will make his missionmore difficult to achieve in Iraq?Schiff: I respect General Petraeus.I have been to Iraq three times.I met him in Mosul on one ofmy trips there. He is doing hisjob and he is, I think, a veryhonorable man. His mission isIraq. When he testified beforethe Senate and he was asked, iswhat we are doing in Iraq makingour national security better, is itimproving our national security.You know what he said? I reallycan’t answer that.The reason he couldn’t answerthat is his mission is only Iraq.I think the president needs tolook to the greater war on terrorand say what about our moralstanding in the world. What roledoes it have when we espousetruth about history in terms offighting this ideological strugglein the war on terror? That’s notGeneral Petraeus’ responsibility.It is the responsibility of thepresident.I think Ronald Reagan had itright and I think this presidenthas it wrong.Gigot: Congressman, you getthe last word. Thanks for beinghere.Schiff: Thank you.f


The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007NationalA3Prime minister meets community in Los Angelesby Paul ChaderjianBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Theluxurious Beverly Wilshire Hoteloff Rodeo Drive was the settingfor Serge Sargsian’s first officialmeeting with members of theSouthern California Armeniancommunity as prime minister ofthe Republic of Armenia.A banquet organized by the Universityof Southern California’sInstitute of Armenian Studies onFriday, October 19, hosted representativesfrom all local Armenianreligious, political, cultural, community,and charitable organizations.“What a wonderful and movingsight,” said Harut Sassounian,president of the United ArmenianFund, during his introductoryremarks. “All factions anddenominations of the Armeniancommunity are gathered here inthis beautiful hall, under the sameroof, breaking bread together, andwelcoming the prime minister ofArmenia.”The purpose of the prime minister’svisit to the West Coast duringhis visit to the United States wastwofold; Mr. Sargsian met withLincy Foundation officials, includingphilathropist Kirk Kerkorian,who according to the prime minister’smedia liaison, said he wasgoing to visit Armenia in the nearfuture.The second reason for the primeminister’s visit was to meet withlocal community leaders and callon them to take a more active rolein the Republic of Armenia.“I want you to follow the dayto-dayrealities of the homelandin minute detail,” said the primeminister in his speech. “You needto find ways to connect with thehomeland. We wish you to knowthe positive and negative, becauseboth the good and the bad areours.”The prime minister’s addressbegan with an acknowledgmentof the importance of the localcommunity, included his sinceregratitude, and ended with a call toaction.“I don’t want you to see Armeniathrough the eyes of a tourist,” hesaid. “I want you to discover Armeniaand know it inch-by-inch,bush-by-bush, to thrill, to worry,to encourage and complain. I wantyou to know the negative and thepositive.”Pageantry and prayerThe national anthems of theUnited States and the Republic ofArmenia, performed by vocalistAlenoush Yeghnazar and pianistVatche Mankerian opened theevening’s program at Le Grand Trianonroom of the Beverly Wilshire.The U.S. Air Force ROTC ColorGuard was also on hand for theformal presentation of the two nations’flags.Charley Ghailian, chair of theLeadership Council of the USC Instituteof Armenian Studies welcomedthe prime minister to thestate of “Saroyan, Tarkanian, Cher,and Agassi.”Thirty-seven local organizationswere represented at the banquet,and in attendance were WesternDiocese Primate ArchbishopHovnan Derderian and EasternPrelacy Prelate ArchbishopYeprem Tabakian, USC ExecutiveVice Dean, Dr. Michael Quick,Ambassador of Armenia TatoulMarkarian, and Consul Generalof Armenia Armen Liloyan.Many attending were surprisedto see a who’s who from the diaspora,including Lincy FoundationPrime Minister Serge Sargsian and guests at the banquet. Photos: Helena Gregorian.and United Armenian Fund boardmember Alex Yemenidjian and“Hayastan” All-Armenian FundBoard of Trustees member British-Armenian philanthropist VatcheManoukian.“We may not all live in Armenia,”said Mr. Ghailian, “but Armenialives in us.” The crowd agreed andresponded with great applause.“Your Excellency,” said Mr. Ghailian,“we are all here tonight to wishyou wisdom, patience, good health,as you guys elevate our nation inthe greater community of nations.God bless you, sir and we thankyou for coming.”Long day in L.A.“The main reason for the primeminister’s visit to Los Angeles wasto meet with the Armenian communityhere,” said Sevak Lalayan,Mr. Sargsian’s liaison. “The primeminister said this was not his firsttrip to the U.S., but his first visit asprime minister.”Mr. Lalayan said that as defenseminister, Mr. Sargsian had no officialreason to visit the local community;however, said Mr. Lalayan,as prime minister, Mr. Sargsianhad no right not to meet the community.The prime minister had arrivedin Southern California late Thursday,according to Mr. Lalayan.Mr. Sargsian had spent morethan 90 minutes at the Los AngelesTimes, meeting with the newspaper’sEditorial Board. (A fulltranscript of the prime minister’sdialogue with Times staffers isavailable online at the LATimes.com website.)Mr. Lalayan said Times editorshad asked the prime minister morethan a dozen questions rangingfrom why he was in Los Angeles tohis thoughts on Armenia-Turkeyrelations, Genocide recognition,and Armenia’s upcoming presidentialelections.“Times editors were familiar withArmenian geopolitical and economicissues and didn’t just focuson Genocide recognition,” said Mr.Lalayan to the Reporter. Some ofthe questions posed to the primeminister had also been submittedby Times readers.Mr. Lalayan said the prime ministermet with Lincy Foundationofficials Friday; during the meeting,Mr. Kerkorian had informedthe prime minister that he isplanning to visit Armenia in thenear future. Mr. Lalayan wouldn’t,however, provide details about thenature of Mr. Kerkorian’s upcomingvisit or the anticipated date ofthe visit.Call for unity“Armenia is one nation without itsdiaspora,” said the prime ministerto questions posed by the Reporterduring the dinner, “and it’s a differentnation with its diaspora.”Mr. Sargsian said that he hadcome to the community to say that,“we, together, have to build the Armeniathat we dream of having.“My pitch to the diaspora, especiallythe Armenian-Americancommunity,” said Mr. Sargsian, “isthat they should have a concreteparticipation with Armenia, sothat they think about all of Armenia,to be happy with Armenia, toget upset and angry at Armenia, tothink, to watch, to participate inthe process.”The prime minister said he isconfident that the growing relationshipbetween the communityin Southern California and thehomeland will benefit Armeniagreatly.To the Reporter’s question aboutthe House committee’s approvalof the Genocide resolution, theprime minister said that he doesnot see any reason that the resolutionwould have any negativeimpact on Armenia or Armenia’srelationships.The prime minister said that hecannot imagine one Armeniananywhere that would be opposedto the resolution.He said he believes the resolutionis greatly important; and thatthe great number of nations recognizingthe Genocide, the greaterpressure Turkey will feel to finda more constructive approach tothe issue.Celebrating theArmenian instituteDr. Richard Hrair Dekmejian,director of the USC Institute ofArmenian Studies began the afterdinnerprogram by saying, “Thisis truly an auspicious occasion forthe Southern California Armeniancommunity and for the USC Instituteof Armenian Studies.”Dr. Dekmejian listed all of theinstitute’s accomplishments sinceits inception in February 2005.“As a multidisciplinary centerfor Armenian studies, we havebecome a venue, a bridge betweenUSC and the Armenian community,”he said.The political science professorsaid the institute has sponsoredthree major funding banquets,five major symposia on law, religion,genocide, and philanthropy,two concerts, more than 25 speakersand a two-semester 8-credit researchseminar on the Armenian-American community.“In the space of two and a halfyears, the Armenian institute hasdone more than 25 events witha total attendance of just under5,000 people,” said Dr. Dekmejian.“Yet despite all these achievements,today is unprecedented inthe short history of the USC Instituteof Armenian Studies. Thepresence of Prime Minister SergeSarsgian of Armenia is indeed unprecedented.His presence bringsus joy. We are truly grateful forhonoring us with your presencetoday.”A community comestogetherMr. Sassounian, who is also thevice chair of the Lincy Foundationand publisher of the CaliforniaCourier newspaper, introduced theprime minister, thanking everyonefor attending the banquet.“Despite our tragic history,which has dispersed us to fourcorners of this planet, when thesons and daughters of the Armeniannation are united, aroundcommon goals and same aspirations,we become a formidableforced to be reckoned with,” saidMr. Sassounian.“Beyond having a common vision,we desperately need to bebetter organized, both in Armeniaand the diaspora,” he said, callingon the community to coordinateits national efforts within eachcommunity, across all Armeniancommunities throughout the diaspora,and with the governments ofArmenia and Artsakh (the Nagorno-KarabakhRepublic).“Each one of us has God-giventalents, valuable education, professionalexperience, and mostimportantly, a large network offriends, neighbors, and colleagues,”said Mr. Sassounian. “These arevaluable assets that can be utilizedto improve the economicconditions of our dear people inArmenia. Only through betterorganization, coordination, andcooperation, we can and we willovercome the many challengesfacing the Armenia nation.”An introductionMr. Sassounain provided thoseattending a brief biography of Mr.Sargsian, saying that he was bornon June 30, 1954, in the NagornoKarabakh Republic. He served inthe Soviet Army and graduatedfrom Yereven State University in1979.Mr. Sargsian worked in an electro-technicalfactory in Yerevanduring college and held variousposts from 1979 to 1988 includingassistant to the first secretary ofArtaskh Marz (regional) Committee.Mr. Sassounian said that from1989 to 1993, Mr. Sargsian was thechair of the Self-Defense Committeeof the Republic of Artsakh. In1990, Mr. Sargsian was elected intothe Armenian Parliament and heserved as defense minister from1993 to 1995.From 1995 to 1996, Mr. Sargsianheaded the National SecurityDepartment of Armeniaand became minister of nationalsecurity. From 1996 to 1999, Mr.Sargsian served as the ministerof interior, as well as minister ofnational security.Mr. Sassounian concluded hispresentation of the prime minister’sbiography by saying that Mr.Sargsian served as the secretaryof the National Security Councilfrom 1999 to 2007 and as defenseminister from 2000 to 2007.“In April of this year,” said Mr.Sassounian, “he was appointedprime minister of the Republicof Armenia. He and his wifeRita have two daughters and onegrandchild.”The prime minister’sspeechA standing ovation welcomed theprime minister to the podium,from where Mr. Sargsian spokein Armenian and had his wordstranslated through an interpreteron stage.“Whatever country of the worldI visit,” he said, “regardless of theaim of my visit, regardless of mystatus, regardless of the negotiationsI ponder, my eyes look for anArmenian, and my ears seek outan Armenian word.”Referring to Genocide recognition,the prime minister said thatas long as the pain of Genocide isnot relieved, Armenians will experienceuneasiness and tensions,and that this will hinder Armenia’sintegration into the family of nations.“That’s why we are all eagerlywaiting the international recognitionof the Armenian Genocide,”he said, expressing hisgratitude to the House ForeignAffairs Committee and all thosewho made the passing of the resolutionpossible.“At the end of the 20th century,”continued Mr. Sargsian, “armedwith our ancestors aspirations andwisdom, we managed to escapefrom an endless nightmare. Theprice of the victory of huge, andits outcome of independence wasimmense as well.”The prime minister received applausewhen he said that he believedthat together, Armenianseverywhere created Armenianstatehood.“This victory was cherished byMesrob Mashdotz, Yeghishe,” hesaid, “this war was led by VartanMamigonian and Zoravar Antranig,and in the liberation war NigolDuman and Kevork Chavooshstood by Monte Melkonian.”Mr. Sargsian said that the joy ofcreating an independent Armeniais equally enjoyed by Armenianbusinesspeople, teachers physicians,residing in different parts ofthe world.“This victory is just the beginning,”he said, “and it is our collectiveresponsibility to achieve biggervictories. We have somethingto say to the world, and we havesomething to give to the world.”The prime minister said thatthe question to Armenians everywhereis whether they are all capableof protecting, developing, andusing the opportunity presentedto them – the opportunity to createa homeland that all Armenianshave dreamed about.f


A4 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007NationalPrime Minister Serge Sargsian: “Externalchallenges cannot bring us to our knees”n Continued from page A1Asked about cooperation in intelligencesharing, Mr. Sargsianrecalled that his first official visitto the United States was in 1996 inthe capacity of Armenia’s nationalsecurity minister on an invitationfrom his counterparts from theCentral Intelligence Agency. Hesaid that both security and militarycooperation between the two countrieshave picked up since 2000.Also on October 22 Mr. Sargsiantalked with the ArmenianReporter’s Washington editor EmilSanamyan about Turkey’s genocidedenial, ways to deal with Azerbaijan’sthreats over Karabakh, relationswith Iran, and concerns overArmenia’s domestic developments.A translation of that conversationfollows.Does Turkey wantArmenia to demandterritory?Reporter: In your interview withthe Los Angeles Times on Friday [October19] you mentioned that thecampaign for Armenian Genocideaffirmation has two dimensions:one has to do with historical justiceand the other with Armenia’s securitytoday.Could you elaborate on how yousee the link between this processand Armenia’s security challenges?Does this process also relate to theKarabakh conflict?Sargsian: The unresolved natureof the Karabakh conflict is indeedthe biggest challenge to Armenia’ssecurity. And Turkey is certainlyplaying a role in that conflict.Denial of the fact of the Genocideis already a danger. The onlyway to achieve reconciliation isthrough admission of mistakes.We are not blaming today’s Turkey,the modern-day Turkish governmentfor the genocide. Therefore,the nonadmission by the Turkishgovernment of today of mistakesof past rulers contains an elementof danger for us.In a way, the [postwar] Turkishgovernment was on a right track,having condemned [the YoungTurks] and having sentenced themto severe punishments.Why would the [Turkish] governmentof today forget about that?Do they have certain hidden motives?That tells me that there is aproblem.I am also surprised by conclusionsof certain second-tier Turkishofficials that [recognition ofthe Genocide] would lead to someother claims. This is surprising, becauseit is unclear how one wouldlead to the other. How can any territorialor other claims be realizedanyway?Reporter: The latest issue of theEconomist [October 20] suggestedthat “Over the past few monthsthe Americans have been workingon a proposal calling for Turkeyto establish formal ties with Armeniaand to end its blockade. Inreturn, Armenia would recognizeits existing border with Turkeyand publicly disavow any territorialclaims, including the claim toMount Ararat, its national symbol.A deal of that sort might havehelped the Bush administrationhead off the genocide resolution,and could possibly have squashedit for good.” Are you familiar withsuch a proposal?Sargsian: No. And I would besurprised by something like this,because for years our policy hasbeen establishment of diplomaticArmenian and U.S. officials during a session of the US-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (USATF) in Washington on October 23, 2007. Photos: Embassy of theRepublic of Armenia in U.S.relations without any preconditions.Doesn’t that already mean that wehave no further claims? Establishmentof diplomatic relations is aform of mutual recognition. Whatelse might anyone want?Last April I was at NATO headquartersin Brussels, where we discussedthe progress of Armenia’sIndividual Partnership Action Plan(IPAP) with NATO. Naturally, Turkey’sambassador was there as well,and he hinted at this issue. In myresponse I said that I am getting animpression that Turkey wants us tohave claims against it.In reality, we have no claims and[Turkey] is saying, “No, they havethem.”This is hard to understand.Keeping peace througheconomic developmentand reliable defenseReporter: Both Azerbaijan’sthreats of war and Armenia’s defensecapabilities are well known bynow. At the same time, aggressivesteps from the other side cannotbe ruled out. What should Armeniado to further raise the cost of anypotential aggression for Azerbaijanand decrease its likelihood?Sargsian: The only way is to furtherdevelop Armenia’s economyand continue to care for the battlereadinessof the Armenian armedforces. It is no secret that shouldAzerbaijan launch provocationsover Nagorno-Karabakh, Armeniawould not remain indifferent.It is in fact the case that todayAzerbaijan has more funds than wedo. But money alone cannot producea battle-ready army, especiallyin a relatively short period of time.And we too are now forced and areable to spend considerable sums ondefense. I do not believe that a differenceof half a billion dollars canresult in Azerbaijan’s superiorityover Armenia.The experience of the early 1990sshows that Azerbaijan’s considerablesuperiority over us, in termsof funds, manpower, and weapons,could not be translated into superiorityon the battlefield.Reporter: Are you worried by recentacquisition of more advancedweapons systems by Azerbaijan,be that aircraft or long-range artillery?Could that tip the scales in apotential war?Sargsian: I don’t believe so. Wehave serious air defense systemsthat are capable of preventingAzerbaijani air forces, includingthe newly-acquired MiG-29s, fromreaching the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.Our objective is to use fewer resourcesto maintain parity withAzerbaijan and everyone knowsthat a jet costs much more than anair defense system.Reporter: But doesn’t thatprovide the other side with tacticalopportunities that Armenianarmed forces, with their relianceon defense systems, do not have?Doesn’t that leave the initiative intheir hands?Sargsian: That is not so muchabout initiative as it is about anarms race, and we would prefer notto engage in such a race and reallycannot afford one.Indeed, we do not have aggressiveintentions, but if we are forcedto defend ourselves this would notbe a static, but dynamic and activedefense.Reporter: Following your visitto Moscow in late September,Azerbaijani media claimed that theRussian military presence in Armeniawould be expanded to includea new base near Armenia’s borderwith Azerbaijan and Georgia. Isthere any truth to this?Sargsian: None at all. We alreadyhave a defense agreementwith Russia [concluded in 1995],which is very well respected there.That agreement governs the locationand size of Russian forces inArmenia.More importantly, we rely on ourown armed forces.Reporter: You mentionedto the Los Angeles Times that estimatesshow that Armeniansaround the world hold somewherebetween $100 and $300 billion inassets and cash. How much of thatcan support Armenia’s securityneeds in order to counter Azerbaijan’smilitary spending with itsgovernment-estimated oil revenueof more than $120 billion over thenext decade?Sargsian: When we talk aboutsuch large funds, we talk about“clean money,” and it is understandablydifficult for diaspora-Armenians to contribute for thebenefit of the armed forces of aforeign country, even if it is theirhomeland. So, I have never allowedmyself to discuss this subject withour major [Diaspora] businesspeople.Nevertheless, they are participatingindirectly. For example, earliertoday I met a businessperson whohas launched a high-tech companyin Armenia. If this company operatessuccessfully, employing localspecialists, this will mean that thewell being of their families in Armeniawould be secured, that theywould be paying their income taxes,and in the end some of this revenuewould be used for our defense.But certainly I do not rule outa possibility that should we everreach a critical point we would turnto our compatriots for their help toensure that we are successful.Reporter: With the return of Armenia’sformer President Levon Ter-Petrossian to active politics, the debateon whether Armenia is capableof developing without serious compromisesto Turkey and Azerbaijanis likely to be rekindled. What isyour argument today vis-à-vis thisthesis voiced by the ex-president in1997–98 and one that he appears tocontinue to endorse today?Sargsian: I don’t want to buildmy case on disputing views of others.And I view presidential electionsas an opportunity to presentto the electorate my vision and myplans.But how can this thesis hold trueif to this day Armenia has not fallenbehind either Azerbaijan or Georgiain economic terms? This meansthat we do have development opportunities.I am not one of those to arguethat it doesn’t matter if relationswith Turkey and Azerbaijan remainunresolved and borders closed andthat the [status quo] does not interferewith our development. Ofcourse it does and this has been myview for 15 years.At the same time, I believe thatthese challenges cannot bring us toour knees. I don’t want to soundpretentious but this is the heart ofthe matter.Certainly we should continue toseek a peaceful resolution to theconflict with Azerbaijan. We shouldseek to establish normal relationswith Turkey and resolve our outstandingissues directly rather thanthrough statements for mass media.But such efforts cannot meanthat we just give up on our core interests.Our opponents’ impressiveeconomic figures cannot result inour capitulation. Any such capitulationwould be truly devastatingfor Armenians and may even sealthe fate of our nation.Armenia mustmaintain Iran relationsReporter: The issues related toIran continue to dominate internationalheadlines. I would imaginethe issue came up during yourmeetings in Washington, whichoverlapped with the Iranian president’svisit to Yerevan. How canArmenia strike the right balancebetween concerns raised by theUnited States and others and thefact that Iran is a very importantneighbor?Sargsian: I think that Americansunderstand our situation. ForArmenia, Iran is a very importantcountry. For us, it is one of just twocountries that serve as conduitsto the rest of the world. Iran is anenergy-rich country and that helpsus address our economic securitychallenges.For these reasons, we are notready for any other approaches.And I believe we will continue ourrelations with Iran.No one in Armenia isabove the lawReporter: Earlier this year, theFinancial Times reported that yourgovernment “will put economic developmentahead of human rightsimprovements.” Is this accurateand do you think greater democracymight somehow hinder economicdevelopment?Sargsian: This is not what I toldthe Financial Times. What I toldthem is that when [a government]is unable to provide its citizens withnormal economic opportunities, itis hard to talk about other rights.This certainly does not mean thateconomics trump democracy, notat all.I don’t think the World Bank orthe International Monetary Fund,with whom we are implementingPoverty Reduction programs, aredisinterested in democracy. But itis simply the case that the right toa decent life is the most inalienableright for any individual.Reporter: The president justfired Judge Pargev Ohanian. Thatcame after he ruled unfavorably ina case brought by the government.Do you not see a contradiction betweenthis decision and the government’sstated goal of strengtheningjudicial independence?Sargsian: How can a firing of asingle judge lead you to such conclusions?God forbid. We are advisedto be strict with our judges [whenthey violate the law]. So, why is theofficial motivation behind this decisionbeing questioned? I absolutelydisagree with such an approach.Reporter: Also, it appears thatlast year and earlier this year therewas a spike in criminal activity inArmenia. Do you share the perceptionthat the situation with crimein Armenia is getting worse?Sargsian: I completely disagreethat there has been an increase incrime in Armenia. There are officialstatistics readily available thatContinued on page A5 m


The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007ArmeniaA5In official visit to Armenia, Iran’s Ahmadinejadfails to honor Genocide victimsOfficial Yerevanseeks to justify theIranian president’ssnubby Tatul HakobianYEREVAN – On October 23 atTehran’s Mehrabad InternationalAirport, President MahmoudAhmadinejad of Iran indirectlydenied official Yerevan’s announcementthat he had ended his twodayofficial visit to Armenia withoutmaking a planned visit to theArmenian Genocide Memorial atTzitzernakaberd because he hadto return home early. According toIran’s official news agency IRNA, Mr.Ahmadinejad insisted that insteadof staying 22 hours in Armenia, asplanned, he had indeed stayed anhour and a half longer.On the morning of October 23,journalists were waiting for thepresident of Iran at the GenocideMemorial. According to the officialagenda, at 9 a.m. Mr. Ahmadinejadwas supposed to lay a wreathat the memorial complex honoringthe memory of 1.5 million victimsof the Armenian Genocide, planta tree, and tour the Genocide museum.Shortly after 9, journalistswere informed that the visit to thememorial, as well as a planned visitto the Blue Mosque in downtownYerevan, had been taken off Mr.Ahmadinejad’s official agenda.President Robert Kocharian’spress secretary, Victor Soghomonian,stated that the Iranianpresident’s visit had been cut shortdue to “unforeseen circumstances.”Mr. Soghomonian told the ArmenianReporter that Mr. Ahmadinejad,during his official meeting withMr. Kocharian on October 22, hadinformed Mr. Kocharian that heIran’s PresidentMahmoudAhmadinejadwith Armenia’sPresident RobertKocharian inYerevan. Photo:Photolure.Journalists assaulted, detained, and released in YerevanOr how to make ahero out of LevonTer-PetrossianNews analysis by TatulHakobyanYEREVAN – On October 23, nearmidnight, a group of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s close associates andcolleagues cheered and applaudedas he arrived at Yerevan’s policeheadquarters, where hundreds ofcitizens had gathered.Surrounded by bodyguards,Armenia’s first president – whoon October 26 would go on to announcehis candidacy in the presidentialelections slated for early2008 – broke through police lineswould be leaving Armenia soonerthan expected for pressing reasons.Mr. Soghomonian stressed that theIranian president’s change of planshad nothing to do with the discussionsbetween the two presidents.The formal discussions on bilateralrelations had been completed.Gegham Gharibjanian, adeputy minister of foreign affairsand former Armenian ambassadorto Iran, told journalists thaton the morning of October 23amendments had been made tothe official agenda at the requestof the Iranian administration. Mr.Gharibjanian said that the officialvisit had not been terminated, butthat amendments had merely beenmade to the agenda of the visit, relatedto domestic issues that hadarisen in Iran.The Iranian Embassy was notavailable for comment. “Since theemployees of the embassy workedon Saturday and Sunday, in connectionwith the visit of the Iranianpresident, today the embassyis closed and those responsible arenot here,” they explained to the Reporteron Oct. 23.According to his agenda, on October23, apart from visiting theGenocide Memorial and the BlueMosque, Mr. Ahmadinejad was alsoscheduled to meet with National Assemblyspeaker Tigran Torossian,address the National Assembly, andalso meet with Iranians residing inArmenia. The last meeting did takeplace, during which Mr. Ahmadinejadspecifically spoke about Iran’snuclear program.Visits to the Armenian Genocidememorial are part of the state protocolfor all visiting heads of stateand high officials. According to ourinformation, during Armenia’s 16years of independence, not a singlehead of state or high official has refusedto visit the memorial before.At the scheduled time for thevisit to the Genocide memorial, Mr.Ahmadinejad was having a breakfastmeeting with Speaker Torossianat the government receptionhouse. Also present at the meetingwere foreign ministers VartanOskanian and ManuchehrMottaki and the ambassadors ofthe two countries.After this meeting Mr. Ahmadinejadhad an hour-long meetingwith Iranians residing in Armenia.He departed Armenia at 1:15 p.m.on October 23, as planned in theofficial agenda.On October 22, during a meetingwith the faculty of Yerevan StateUniversity, Mr. Ahmadinejad wasasked why Iran does not condemnthe Armenian Genocide. Mr. Ahmadinejadsaid, ‘’We condemn anyact of exploitation in the history ofhumanity, wherever and by whomeverit is implemented by. Ourstance toward historical events isclear.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also emphasizedthat Armenians living inIran annually organize large ralliesand express opinions ‘’about thementioned fact.”This is the second official visitof an Iranian President since Armeniagained its independence in1991. Mohammad Khatami visitedArmenia in September 2004, whenhe was president. He did visit theGenocide memorial and placed awreath.Bilateral relationsdevelopMr. Kocharian and Mr. Ahmadinejadmet for the third time on October22. Last autumn the Armenianpresident visited Tehran, and onMarch 19 of this year, the presidentsof the two countries met onthe left bank of the River Araks,after the inauguration of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline.During this visit, four memorandaof mutual understanding weresigned.“Iran is a very important partnerfor us and we have rich relations,”President Kocharian said. “We reinforcedour positive approach towardthose major programs thatare being implemented jointly. Iwould like to specifically mentionprojects in the energy sphere. Theconstruction of the Iran-Armeniagas pipeline continues,” he added,referring to the Kajaran-Ararat sectionof the pipeline in Armenia.“We discussed and reconfirmedthe possibility of constructing anoil refinery and a possible railway,”Mr. Kocharian continued. “I updatedMr. Ahmadinejad on the currentpace of negotiations on the Karabakhconflict and we discussed variousregional issues. We had veryhonest and open discussions.”“After Armenia’s independenceour relations have continually developedand they are strong and stable,”Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “The developmentof bilateral relations benefitsboth nations and the region.We believe that an independent anddeveloped Armenia benefits the securityof the region. We are againstany kind of tension in our sensitiveregion and we believe that themost complex issues can be solvedthrough negotiation, on honest bases.I beseech the Lord Almighty forthe health, success, development,and well-being of the Armenian nation,”added Mr. Ahmadinejad. fSerge Sargsian: “External challenges cannot bring us to our knees”Nikol Pashian,editor of theoppositiondaily HaykakanZhamanak. Filephoto: Photolure.without incident and entered thepolice station. He was accompaniedby Khachatur Sukiasian, a memberof parliament and businesspersonwho made his fortune during theTer-Petrossian presidency.Inside, two newspaper editorsand dozens of Mr. Ter-Petrossian’ssupporters were being held after beingbeaten and taken into custody.After a while, the former presidentcame out of the police stationand appealed to the crowd to maintaincalm. Almost four hours later,all those who were being held bythe police were released. Mr. Ter-Petrossian departed calmly – andvictoriously.Among those in custody for almostseven hours at the police stationwere the editors of the largestopposition newspapers in Armenia,Haykakan Zhamanak’s Nikol Pashinianand Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’sShogher Matevosian, leaders of theDemocratic Homeland and Conservativeparties, and other oppositionleaders. Four of them werecharged with interfering with thepolice and battery and assault.Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s likely candidacyrepresents a challenge to thegoverning authorities.On the night of October 24, Mr.Ter-Petrossian took advantage ofthe first opportunity to become ahero. That day in the center of Yerevan,a scuffle took place betweenhis supporters and the police. Thepolice had tried to disband a peacefulmarch, during which demonstratorswith megaphones wereappealing to people to participatein a public rally on October 26. Aviolent confrontation emerged, inwhich four police officers were injuredand force was used againstthe demonstrators.Deputy Police Chief Ararat Mahdessianand the head of Yerevan’spolice commission, Nerses Nazaryan,said that those participating inthe rally had disrupted traffic, disturbedthe peace, instigated unrest,and verbally abused police officers.Opposition leaders and the editors,on the other hand, insist thatit was the police who tried to stoptheir march which they claim wasnot prohibited by law. fn Continued from page A4contradict such views. Anythingelse is just political spin.My good acquaintance in Californiaasked me why the ArmenianPublic TV satellite transmissionsinto the United Statesinclude [the Armenian versionof the Most Wanted] program. Itleaves people with an impressionthat there is a major crime problemin Armenia, which is not atall the case.Sure, we are not capable of resolvingevery single crime. But showme a country which is. In fact therehas been an overall decline in crime,and there are no forces in Armeniathat can act with impunity.Reporter: But there is widespreadperception that certain figuresin government and in businesscan do exactly that.Sargsian: There is a differencebetween perception and reality. Istate with all responsibility thattoday in Armenia there are no individualsor groups that are abovethe law.The tax collection targets thatour government has set for 2008will also help dispel such perceptions.If we are able to meet ourtargets it will become clear to everyonethat no so-called oligarch isabove the law.We have a complex approachto corruption that includes introductionof stricter legal punishmentsfor economic crimes,such as tax evasion; highersalaries for state officials; moretransparent administrativemechanisms. Perhaps in thisissue we are lacking a publicrelations campaign that wouldshowcase punishments for corruptofficials.That is not to say that we do nothave shortcomings, we have plentyof them. And I appreciate all criticismof such shortcomings. It iscriticism for the sake of criticismthat I reject.f


A6 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007InternationalinterviewArmenia Fund builds the “Armenian Dream”one village at a time, chairperson saysAn interview withRaffi Festekjian,chair of ArmeniaFund USAby Sylva BoghossianNew York – Armenia Fund USA’s15th anniversary gala at the UnitedNations earlier this month wasa fitting acknowledgment of thefund’s decade and a half of crucialand creative development workin Armenia and Karabakh. (Anarticle on the event appeared inthe Reporter’s October 13 edition.)The evening’s keynote speakerwas Armenia’s foreign minister,Vartan Oskanian. Also speakingwere Hirair Hovnanian, an ArmenianFund founder 15 years ago;AGBU president Berge Setrakian;and the present and former headsof Armenia Fund USA: currentchairman Raffi Festekjian, hispredecessor Kevork Toroyan, andchairman emeritus Hagop Kouyoumdjian.At the October 6 gala, the Reporter’spublisher Sylva Boghossianconducted the following interviewwith Mr. Festekjian, who took overas the chairman of Armenia FundUSA’s Board of Directors last January.Sylva Boghossian: What doyou feel is the greatest or most importantachievement AFUSA hasaccomplished in the past 15 years?Raffi Festekjian: Over the last15 years we have been able to, Ithink, bring the entire Armeniandiaspora together to invest overa $170 million dollars in Armenia.That’s no small task, consideringwe have about 18 affiliates onfive continents -- and if you thinkabout Armenians, if you put threeArmenian diasporans in one room,you’ll have about five differentopinions. So for us to get togetherand to accomplish this task overthe last 15 years is in itself an accomplishment.And the $170 million dollarsthat we raised, I would say, is theWestern equivalent to about $5billion in infrastructure investments.So it’s a huge amount ofimprovement, which has affectedhundreds of thousands of lives inArmenia.SB: What attracted you to ArmeniaFund, and what made youaccept the position of chairman?RF: What attracted me to thefund was that I was a board memberthere. One of the key ingredientsfor me is that each affiliateoperates as an independent affiliate,and that we are able to makesure that the funds we raise actuallygo where they need to go. Weare not just a channel for fundraising,that would take the moneyand give it to someone else. Weactually monitor the project; wehave the ability to control the projectswe want to endeavor; so it’svery important to me that we dohave control over what we do….Actually, I think the diaspora isin a transition. We’re moving intoa different diaspora, a new diaspora.Not necessarily a better one ora worse one, just different. And weneed to recognize it, and we needto evolve with it. And that’s whyI think the new generation needsto be involved with all these neworganizations and new directions,and bring a new sense of responsibilityto these organizations.SB: What was the greatest challengeArmenia Fund has addressedso far, and what will be the greatestchallenges or obstacles ahead?What concerns you?RF: What concerns me most isthe core constituency. ArmeniaFund in the past 15 years has relieda lot, more than I would haveLeft: RaffiFestekjian, chairof Armenia FundUSA’s Boardof Directors.Right: Galachair KhorenBandazian,and master ofceremonies HaigAriyan.Left to right: Berj Setrakian, AGBU president and former AFUSA co-chair; Hagop Kouyoumdjian, AFUSA’s chairman emeritus; Kevork Toroyan, former AFUSA chairman.Mark Gabrellian, Levon and Aline Kassabian, Stephen and Arda Haratunian, AniGabrellian.Huguette Pagoumian, Carolyn Pagoumian-Bowen, George Pagoumian, KevorkToroyan.liked, on the largest donors. Oneof the things I’d like to changeis the core constituency, the coresupporters of the fund: to enlargeit [the base of supporters], withoutrelying so much on the “megadonors.”So the biggest challenge andworry I have is that can we communicatewhat we have accomplished.Our accomplishments are extraordinary,if you think about it. Manypeople do not know this. We builda school every two months. Everysix months we build a health-carefacility. Every 15 days we build ahousing project. It’s a significantaccomplishment that many peopleare unaware of, because we don’tadvertise as such. But it’s an importantaspect to relate to the community.So those are really the challengesin the future: to help create bettercommunication and to attractthe younger generation into theorganization.


The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007InternationalA7Sara and Daniel Mushegian, Zaven Tachdjian.Hagop Kouyoumdjian, Joseph and Jacqueline Basralian.Can-do organization fora can-do nationSB: Is there one aspect of the fundthat you look forward to, or makesyou excited to be working withAFUSA at this time? Is there oneparticular project that’s near anddear to your heart?RF: There is one project that I’mreally excited about: the ability torevitalize rural Armenia -- the bordervillages. I think we have beenneglecting those villages, concentratinga lot more on villages [thatare closer to Armenia’s cities], butwe really need to concentrate onthose [border] villages and reallycreate the “Armenian Dream” --similar to the American Dream. Tobe able to empower the Armeniansto believe in their future -- thathard work and sacrifice will pay off.If you can instill that capability inthem, we can accomplish wonders.My excitement is that we are in agood position and we can do this.Armenia Fund is a “can-do organization”to build a “can-do nation.”And for us, we need to create thatfeeling among our younger generation.A lot of people complain thatthis generation is less than acceptingof [the idea that Armenia’s]future should work according toWestern standards. But I believethat the new generation is readyto embrace that, and that’s what Ifeel most passionate about.SB: I can sense your passionabout all this. It’s important whenleaders believe in what they’re doing.That’s what people respond to.RF: I am very passionate aboutwhat I’m doing.One capital does notmake a countrySB: What do you think is thegreatest opportunity for the future,now that Armenia Fund USAhas 15 years of experience underits belt?RF: We are uniquely qualifiedto be able to accomplish what weset out to the accomplish – which[right now] is to revitalize ruralArmenia. Because just one strongcity in a nation – like Yerevan,which is a great capital city and isexploding in it’s capabilities – thisdoesn’t make for a strong nation.We need to make rural Armeniabetter. We need to create a morediversified country – and morebalanced. That’s how we can makethis country great; we can makeit safe; we can make it secure. Wecan’t just have one capital that’sseeing this explosion [and thereforesay that Armenia is] morphinginto a significant Western country.Because one capital alone doesn’tmake a whole country.That’s what I want to do: to takeall that we have done in the last 15years and to approach this morein a “clustered” environment --not to only focus, as we used todo in the past, on building thelatest needs: building a road inthis village, a school in anothervillage, a health-care facility inanother. What we need to do isconcentrate on one cluster ofvillages at a time. So we need tofinish up the cluster and build everythingwe need for their school[for example], work with otherphilanthropic organizations andoperate together to complete thejob, and then move to the nextcluster. That’s what I think ourjob is about.(Front row) Elza and Haig Didizian, Kevork and Sirvart Hovnanian; (back row)David Melian, Joseph Basralian, Hagop Kouyoumdjian.SB: When you came on board, itwas clear that the leadership of ArmeniaFund USA was being takenon by a new generation. But whenit comes time to pass the torch toyour children’s generation, whataccomplishments would you liketo pass on?RF: I’m humbled to see whatthey’ve accomplished over the past15 years. The next generation isnot only about Armenia, it’s alsoabout the diaspora, it’s about makingsure the younger generationhas linkages to the generation inArmenia.We need to create that linkagein order to be able to survive as adiaspora, as a nation. I feel likeone of my responsibilities is notonly to be able to build Armenia,but to build an Armenian nation:to create this bridge between thediaspora and Armenia. I feel that[Armenia Fund], as an institution,as an organization worldwide, isuniquely positioned to accomplishthat.It’s a very challenging thing,because there’s a new generationhere looking at things in differentways. As we were sayingbefore, as [AGBU president] BerjSetrakian said, people are takingfor granted that we are in Armenia,doing all these things, anda lot of people are becoming lessinvolved than they would be inthe past. So we need to be able toempower them: to let these peopleknow that there have to bethese linkages between our workin Armenia and the future healthof the diaspora.And if we accomplish that, thenthat’s one more mission for ArmeniaFund. It’s not only aboutlooking outwards; it’s also lookinginwards.SB: Thank you very much. f


A8 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007ArmeniaFirst-ever yoga studio opens in ArmeniaDiasporan-Armenian LindaBeshirians seeks toraise the standard ofyoga in Armeniaby Betty Panossian-TerSargssianYEREVAN – As of this September,a new yoga and pilates studio andspa is functioning in Yerevan.Shoonch (“breath”) is the firstin its kind in Yerevan. Located onAmirian Street, in the heart of thecapital, Shoonch invites residentsand tourists alike into its sereneand elegant studio, where clients ofall fitness levels are welcome to experiencea wide range of yoga stylesand pilates.Shoonch was conceived by LindaBeshirians, a resident of Rochester,New York, with the aim of introducinga variety of yoga styles toYerevan.Ms. Beshirians, who serves asmanaging director of Shoonch, wasintroduced to yoga four years ago,when she moved from London toRochester.“Before I started practicing yoga Iwas somehow prejudiced against it,”says Ms. Beshirians. She startedout with meditation. However, shedid not care much for it. “I soon realizedthat meditation was not forme. I was too dynamic for that.”A few months later a friend guidedMs. Beshirians into vinyasa yoga and,to her surprise, she found it “very interestingand exciting. I soon startedenjoying the benefits and satisfactionsof yoga. It was very enlighteningfor my body and soul. Yoga hasbecome a way of life to me, guidingme into a healthier lifestyle.”On her frequent visits to Armenia,Ms. Beshirians realized thatYerevan did not have what she waslooking for in yoga. There weresome sports clubs that had yogaclasses and yoga centers. But theylacked the mood and the professionalismof western yoga studios.“They were more like gyms,” shesays. “I wanted to offer others inParos Chamber Choir performs in VandazorYerevan what I knew and what Ihad experienced in yoga.”Ms. Beshirians says that shethought she could take on the challengeherself and open her ownyoga studio in Yerevan. She andher husband always had the desireto reside in Armenia. Opening thestudio could bring that wish closerto reality.Vanadzor, Armenia – On October16, the Yerevan-based ParosChamber Choir performed at theVanadzor Museum of Fine Arts, ina concert organized and sponsoredby the Paros Foundation.The concert, titled “Autumn Songs,”attracted more than 250 guests tothe museum’s second-story exhibitionhall – a location that proved idealboth aesthetically and acousticallyfor the choir. Amid a sampling of themuseum’s collection of paintings,the audience was treated to musicalselections from Komitas, Altunian,Ter-Ghevorkian and Kara-Murza.Vanadzor’s Museum of Fine Artsis one of the prominent culturalcenters of Armenia’s Lori region.Established in 1974, it houses morethan 1,700 works of art.“It was quite exciting to listen to suchbeautiful music surrounded by the impressiveartwork of the Vandazor museum,”said Roger Strauch, who chairsthe Paros Foundation. “I am delightedthat we were able to bring these twoorganizations together to produce theevent for Vandazor.”Since 1993, the Paros ChamberChoir has dazzled audiencesthroughout Armenia, the MiddleEast and Europe with its repertoireof classical chamber musicand ethnic folk music by Armenian,Russian, and Western composers.The choir’s most notable feature– which has made it a beacon ofhope for people with disabilities inArmenia – is that most of its membersare individuals with spinal cordinjuries, and are wheel-chair bound.Its dual mission is to strive formusical excellence while raisingawareness of the conditions of thedisabled in Armenia and elsewhere.The choir entertains worldwideaudiences, participates in internationalcompetitions, and encouragespeople with disabilities to livefull and active lives.The Paros Foundation, based inBerkeley, Calif., supports NGOs inthe Republic of Armenia, includingthe Paros Chamber Choir, the UNI-SON NGO-Supporting People withSpecial Needs, Manana Youth Center,and the Vanadzor Museum ofFine Arts. Founded by the StrauchKulhanjian family, the foundationtakes a special interest in organizationsthat nurture and harnessArmenian artistic talent.Information on the Paros ChamberChoir and the Paros Foundationcan be found at www.paros.am. fLeft: The staffat Shoonch:administratorNanor Petrossian(l.), yogainstructor BellaMachkalyan,managingdirector LindaBeshirians, andyoga instructorShushanHovhannisyanBottom left:Opening day atShoonch.Below:Experiencingyoga in the heartof Yerevan.That was in August 2006.In the following months, whilethe first-ever yoga/pilates studio/spa in Yerevan was coming to lifeas Shoonch, a professional staffof trainers was being assembled.Months before opening up itsdoors, Shoonch sent young anddynamic individuals residing inArmenia to be trained as certifiedinstructors in a number ofyoga styles in the United Statesand India. The studio also gathereda group of experts in fitness,and body and skin care. In thecoming months Shoonch will hostguest yoga teachers from abroad.“I wanted to launch in Yerevan themodern yoga, as it is practiced in theWest,” says Ms. Beshirians. She addsthat she had decided to include everypopular style of yoga, ranging fromhatha yoga, to vinyasa, prenatal/postnatal yoga, and yoga for kids.While setting up her studio inYerevan, Ms. Beshirians hasn’t encounteredany unsolvable difficulties.“However, we are still at thebeginning of the road,” she saysand adds that due to her friendsin Armenia and the staff gatheredaround her, she has managed to accomplishall that she has. “I couldhowever mention a general lack ofprofessionalism and inadequatetime management as problems onedefinitely faces while trying to opena business in Yerevan. Besides, onehas to take into account that in thereal Armenian market everythingends up costing more,” she says.With its welcoming air, comfort,high-quality service, and professionalapproach, Shoonch is aimingto attract residents and touristsalike with its monthly registrations,as well as drop-in classes. “Manyin Armenia are familiar with yoga.The youth are especially interestedin it,” says Bella Machkalyan, oneof the certified yoga instructors atShoonch.Ms. Machkalyan started practicingyoga five years ago when shewas studying in London. In 2007,after becoming a member of theShoonch team, she attended aWorld Conscious Yoga Family yogateacher training course in Indiaand obtained her Yoga Alliance registered200-hour certificate.Ms. Machkalyan says that asShoonch is the first-ever yoga centerin the country, it will no doubthave a lot of introductory work todo, focusing more on the physicaland health benefits of yoga. “Wewill try to provide as much informationas we can and clarify what yogareally is,” says Ms. Machkalyan.“Our activities will aim at exploringyoga and informing peopleabout it. We want people in Armeniato understand and loveyoga. We want them to appreciatehow yoga allows someone tohave control over the mind, body,and the spirit,” says Ms. Machkalyan.fconnect:www.shoonch.comThe Paros Chamber Choir – comprised of artists who have suffered spinal chord injuries – gave a special performance thismonth at Vanadzor’s museum of fine arts.


The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007CommentaryA9The history of the Armenian Genocide Museumand Memorial in WashingtonPart 1 of 4 – The initialacquisitionby John J. Waters, Jr.The purchase of a site in Washington forthe proposed development of an ArmenianGenocide museum and memorial was announcedwith much fanfare in March 2000.In the seven years that have passed sincethat announcement, the project has failed tomove forward, and the Armenian-Americancommunity wonders why.Over the next few weeks, I will tell thestory of this project: the history, the hopes,the visions, and the frustrations that haveimpacted this noble dream, now mired incontroversy.Mr. Waters is the vice president of the CafesjianFamily Foundation (which owns this newspaper)and trustee of the Armenian Genocide Museumand Memorial, Inc.The seedsThe desire to build a major museum in theUnited States to honor the memory of thevictims of the Armenian Genocide has beendiscussed in the Armenian-American communityfor many, many years. The seeds ofthe proposed project in Washington came in1996 from the minds of two individuals, Ms.Anoush Mathevosian and Mr. Gerard Cafesjian.Inspired by the proposal for the creationof the Armenia National Institute (ANI), andin honor of her parents, Ms. Mathevosianproposed the development of an ArmenianGenocide museum in Washington, andpledged to contribute $3.5 million dollars insupport of a museum.Ms. Mathevosian is an active philanthropistwho has funded a variety of projects insupport of the Armenian community. Shehas made significant contributions in supportof the Armenian American WellnessCenter in Yerevan, and through donationsto the Armenian Church Endowment Fundand the Fund for Armenian Relief, she hasfunded scholarships and several other educationalprograms in Armenia and Karabakh.The ANI concept was introduced by the ArmenianAssembly of America in March 1996.Established with a $1 million donation fromMr. Hirair Hovnanian, ANI was launched inJanuary 1997 as an affiliate of the Assembly.Mr. Cafesjian – entrepreneur, philanthropistand former West Publishing executive–established the Cafesjian Family Foundation(CFF) shortly after the sale of West Publishingin 1996. In 1997, Mr. Cafesjian reada story announcing the formation of ANI inthe Armenian Reporter. Subsequently he metwith ANI executive director Rouben Adalianin New York. During that initial visit, Mr.Cafesjian outlined several ideas for advancingthe effort toward universal affirmationof the Genocide, and his idea for the developmentof a significant memorial commemoratingthe victims of the Genocide.As a result of that meeting, in the summerof 1998, Mr. Hirair Hovnanian and Mr.Robert Kaloosdian traveled to Minnesotato meet Mr. Cafesjian. During that initialmeeting, they discussed the Assembly andits mission, recruiting him to join. They alsodiscussed ANI and the ongoing effort thoseorganizations had undertaken to identify asuitable site in Washington to house botha genocide museum and ANI. Mr. Cafesjianintroduced CFF and its mission, and spokeof his vision for a Genocide memorial thathe hoped to install in a prominent locationsomewhere in the United States.At the conclusion of that initial meeting,the parties agreed to explore the possibilityof a museum and memorial in Washington.From the inception of their site search, aperiod approaching two years, the Assemblyand ANI had been looking at properties with5,000 to 7,000 square feet of space, focusingmostly on existing town homes and rowhouses. For the balance of 1998 and through1999, the Assembly, ANI, and CFF jointly consideredseveral different sites in Washingtonfor a collocated museum and memorialinstallation. Finding a suitable site provedchallenging, as the anticipated space requirementsfor the museum, memorial, and ANIwere greater than the planned-for budgetwould support.In 1998 Mr. Cafesjian joined the Assembly.In March of 1999, in response to the Assembly’scapital campaign, Mr. Cafesjian becamea Life Trustee and contributed over $1 millionto the Assembly endowment.The breakthroughIn early 2000 a new site came on the market.It was the former National Bank of Washingtonsite, strategically located in the heart ofour nation’s capital on the southeast cornerof the intersection of 14th and G Streets, justtwo blocks east of the White House.In mid-January, just a few days before thethree-day Martin Luther King, Jr., holidayweekend, the Assembly contacted CFF to seeif there was any interest in taking a look at thesite. Although it was significantly larger andsubstantially more expensive than any sitethat had been considered up to that point, itappeared to be an opportunity worth investigating.And, if things weren’t complicatedenough, we would need to move quickly if wewere interested, as the properties owner wasalready in negotiations with another party.Two days later, on Friday, January 14,2000, with Mr. Cafesjian’s blessing, I flew toWashington. After touring the site for severalhours, I phoned Mr. Cafesjian and toldhim, “I think this is the one.”The challengeThe property owner was already in negotiationswith another potential purchaser.The other purchaser had already conductedhis investigation of the property, and wasknown to have the financial resources necessaryto purchase the property.The property owner lived in France. It wasalready late on Friday. We phoned, we pleaded,we got five days. Five days to conduct duediligence that would normally take a monthor two. Five days, three of which were a holidayweekend. When I phoned Mr. Cafesjianto give him the news, he said, “Waters, stayuntil you get it done.”I convinced the seller’s local representativeto stay in town for the weekend. I then talkedthem into keeping their office open, so thatI would have access to all of the files anddocuments. We needed to review everythingwe could in three days – engineering reports,architectural studies, environmental studies,surveys, title reports, legal opinions, etc. – sothat when business reopened on Tuesday, wecould use our two remaining days to consultwith the engineers and lawyers and titlecompanies to make certain that the propertyand title were clean and suitable for the intendedpurpose.On Wednesday, January 19, I spoke directlywith the seller. He wanted to emphasizethat a letter of intent to purchase was expectedthe next day. It was an offer with nocontingencies, with a closing in less than twoweeks, and it was for over $7 million.On Thursday, January 20, we submitteda letter of intent to purchase. $7.25 million.All cash. No contingencies but a clean titlepolicy. To close within 25 days.On Friday, January 21, the property ownercalled. He accepted our offer. Why? As itturned out, the two offers were nearly identical.So why did he accept ours? It turned outthat the owner was Jewish. His family wasimpacted by the Holocaust. As a child, hehad lived in Israel and attended an Armenianschool. He knew about the Genocide, and theproposal to use the property as a memorialto the Genocide resonated with him.To closingThe last remaining challenge? To raise $7.5million in three weeks or less to get to closing.Mr. Cafesjian agreed to match Ms. Mathevosian’spledge of $3.5 million. He thenpledged an additional $1.5 million to coverthe cost of the installation of a memorial.Ms. Mathevosian had her pledge for $3.5 million,but her funds would not be availableThe National Bank of Washington, two blocks from the White House. AP photo.TRUSTEE CONTRIBUTIONSContributions by former and current members of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian GenocideMuseum and Memorial, Inc., toward the purchase of the National Bank of Washington.Financial contributions by former and current members of the Board of Trustees of AGMMfor the benefit of the AGMM as of September 2006.until shortly after the closing was scheduledto take place.When closing day arrived, Mr. Cafesjiandonated $3.5 million. And to insure that thepurchase would close as scheduled, he madea short-term advance of an additional $4 million.Ms. Mathevosian funded her pledgeshortly after closing, and $3.5 million wasthen returned to Mr. Cafesjian. To date, theremaining $500,000 advanced to the Assembly,interest free, has not been repaid.Less than 35 days passed by from my firstsite visit to closing. Neither Ms. Mathevosiannor Mr. Cafesjian had the opportunityto visit the site before closing. It was anamazing show of confidence by two importantvisionaries.As I reflected on the accomplishment andcontemplated the opportunity that wasahead, I found myself recalling what Mr. HirairHovnanian had said to Mr. Kaloosdianas I drove them back to the airport after theirfirst meeting with Mr. Cafesjian. He said, “Idon’t know why I had to fly halfway acrossthe country to meet this guy. We will neversee anything from him.” I wonder what theysaid about Ms. Mathevosian after their firstvisit.f


A10 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007EditorialWelcome, Mr. Prime Ministerthe armenianreporterSerge Sargsian came to the United States for the first time as Armenia’s prime ministerlast week. He met with Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and congressional leaders. He also held meetingsat the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. He met in Washington with leadersof Armenian-American organizations, and traveled to Los Angeles, to meet with a largernumber of Armenian-Americans. He also met with the Editorial Board of the Los AngelesTimes and granted interviews to The Associated Press and the Armenian Reporter.The United States–Armenia relationship is an essential one for Armenia. It needs constantcultivation and tending. The relationship is also significant for the United States:Armenia is a friendly, democratic nation in a difficult region, and there are vibrant connectionsbetween the peoples of the two countries through the Armenian-American communityand through U.S. outreach efforts.We are happy to see the prime minister in the United States. As we have said before,we hope that he and other high-level officials will become more frequent visitors to thenation’s capital and to the Armenian communities across the land. With such visits, policymakers in the United States are reminded of Armenia’s bilateral value, as well as Armenia’sconstructive role in the region.fIn for the long haulThe Armenian Genocide has been a prominent story in U.S. and international news overthe last few weeks as Turkey and the Bush administration have sought to defeat the resolutionreaffirming the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide.President Bush and his national security team have argued that passage of the resolutionat this time may lead Turkey to retaliate in ways that would harm U.S. interests inIraq and beyond. Instead of telling Turkey in no uncertain terms that its threats are notappreciated, the administration has chosen to show weakness.Most members of Congress are ready to vote in favor of the Armenian Genocide resolution.But many are concerned that in doing so they may be blamed by the Bush administration,its mainstream media friends, and ultimately their constituents for Turkey’s actions,ironically taken in defiance of the same Bush administration’s appeals.It is our job as Armenian-Americans to show these members of Congress and their constituentsthat passage of the Genocide resolution in fact strengthens the United States. Inaffirming its moral authority and in standing up to Turkish blackmail, the United Stateswill regain credibility internationally and preclude Turkey’s incessant threats against U.S.interests and military personnel.We must also fight the perception that Turkey’s defiance of U.S. interests and the Genocideresolution are somehow linked. Quite clearly, they are not. Members of Congress andtheir constituents were warned: if the resolution passed, Turkey would bring war to theone relatively peaceful part of Iraq; it would attack Kurds and go after oil fields in northernIraq. The resolution has not yet passed, and Turkey is proceeding anyway. It is attackingnorthern Iraq; it continues to threaten even deeper military incursions; and it remainswilling to shut down air rights and a vital air base to U.S.-led forces.When we succeed in all these tasks, it will be time for the resolution to come to a vote.We can do it, and we will.fIt’s plain wrongYerevan State University on October 22 bestowed an honorary doctorate and a gold medalon Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. In doing so, it disgraced itself.It is right and proper for Armenia to maintain good relations and develop bilateralrelations with all its neighbors, including Iran, which is home to a significant Armeniancommunity.That does not, however, require an Armenian university to honor Iran’s president. Inconferring an honorary degree, a university looks at the honoree’s merits. Mr. Ahmadinejaddenies the Holocaust, and has refused to affirm the Armenian Genocide. The very dayafter receiving the honor, he snubbed the Armenian people by skipping his previouslyagreed-upon visit to the Armenian Genocide memorial at Tzitzernakaberd where his predecessor,Mohammad Khatami laid a wreath just over three years ago.The leadership of the university showed an utter lack of judgment in choosing to honorMr. Ahmadinejad.fTell us what you think. Write toletters@reporter.amCommentaryHonesty is the best policyby Samantha PowerNinety-two years ago, the “young Turk” regimeordered the executions of Armeniancivic leaders and intellectuals, and Turkishsoldiers and militia forced the Armenian populationto march into the desert, where morethan a million died by bayonet or starvation.That horror helped galvanize Raphael Lemkin,a Polish Jew, to invent the word genocide,which was defined not as the exterminationof an entire group but rather as a systematiceffort to destroy a group. Lemkin wanted theterm--and the international legal conventionthat grew out of it--to encompass ethniccleansing and the murdering of a substantialpart of a group. Otherwise, he feared, theworld would wait until an entire group hadbeen wiped out before taking any action.But this month in Washington these historicaltruths--about events carried out onanother continent, in another century--areigniting controversy among politicians as ifthe harms were unsubstantiated, local andrecent. At stake, of course, is the question ofwhether the U.S. House of Representativesshould offend Turkey by passing a resolutioncondemning the “Armenian genocide”of 1915.All actors in the debate are playing the rolesthey have played for decades. Turkish GeneralYasar Buyukanit warned that if the Houseproceeds with a vote, “our military ties withthe U.S. will never be the same again.” Havingrecognized the genocide while campaigningfor the White House, President George W.Bush nevertheless followed in the footstepsof his Oval Office predecessors, bemoaningthe euphemistic “tragic suffering” of Armeniansand wheeling out men and women ofdiplomatic and military rank to argue thatA scene in Istanbul on Jan. 23, the day of HrantDink’s funeral. Photo: Vincent Lima.the resolution would harm the indispensableU.S.-Turkish relationship. In Congress, Representativesin districts populated by Armeniansgenerally support the measure, whilethose well cudgeled or coddled by the Presidentor Pentagon don’t. Official pressure hasled many sponsors of the resolution to withdrawtheir support.One feature of the decades-old script isnew: the Turkish threats have greater credibilitytoday than in the past. Mainly thisis because the U.S. war in Iraq has dramaticallyincreased Turkish leverage overWashington. Some 70 percent of U.S. aircargo en route to Iraq passes through Turkey,as does about one-third of the fuelused by the U.S. military there. While Turkeymay react negatively in the short term,recognition of the genocide is warrantedfor four reasons.First, the House resolution tells the truth,and the U.S. would be the 24th country toofficially acknowledge it. In arguing againstthe resolution, Bush hasn’t dared disputethe facts. An Administration that has shownlittle regard for the truth is openly urgingCongress to join it in avoiding honesty. Itis inconceivable that even back in the dayswhen the U.S. prized West Germany as a bulwarkagainst the Soviet Union, Washingtonwould have refrained from condemning theHolocaust at Germany’s behest.Second, the passage of time is only goingto increase the size of the thorn in the side ofwhat is indeed a valuable relationship withTurkey. Many a U.S. official (and even theoccasional senior Turkish official) admits inprivate to wishing the U.S. had recognizedthe genocide years ago. Armenian survivorsare passing away, but their descendants havevowed to continue the struggle. The vehemenceof the Armenian diaspora is increasing,not diminishing.Third, America’s leverage over Turkey isfar greater than Turkey’s over the U.S. TheU.S. brought Turkey into NATO, built up itsmilitary and backed its membership in the EuropeanUnion. Washington granted most-favored-nationtrading status to Turkey, resultingin some $7 billion in annual trade betweenthe two countries and $2 billion in U.S. investmentsthere. Only Israel and Egypt outrankTurkey as recipients of U.S. foreign assistance.And fourth, for all the help Turkey has giventhe U.S. concerning Iraq, Ankara turned downWashington’s request to use Turkish bases tolaunch the Iraq invasion, and it ignored Washington’sprotests by massing 60,000 troopsat the Iraq border this month as a prelude toa widely expected attack in Iraqi Kurdistan.In other words, while Turkey may invoke thegenocide resolution as grounds for ignoringU.S. wishes, it has a longer history of snubbingWashington when it wants to.Back in 1915, when Henry Morgenthau,the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, protested theatrocities to the Turkish Minister of the Interior,the Turk was puzzled. “Why are youso interested in the Armenians anyway?”Mehmed Talaat asked. “We treat the Americansall right.” While it is essential to ensurethat Turkey continues to “treat the Americansall right,” a stable, fruitful, 21st centuryrelationship cannot be built on a lie. fSamantha Power, the author of “A Problem fromHell”: America and the Age of Genocide, is the AnnaLindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadershipand Public Policy at Harvard University. This articleappeared in Time magazine on Oct. 18, and is reprintedwith permission.An independent newspaper, published by Armenian Reporter llcGerard L. Cafesjian, President and ceoPublisher Sylva A. BoghossianOffice manager Lisa KopooshianWestern U.S. operations managerNyree DerderianCopyright © 2007by Armenian Reporter llc.All Rights ReservedArmenian Reporter P.O. Box 129Paramus, N.J. 07652Editor Vincent LimaManaging editor Christopher ZakianFeatures editor Paul ChaderjianWashington editor Emil SanamyanAssociate editor Maria TitizianAssistant to the Editor Seda StepanyanArt director Grigor HakobyanLayout assistant Nareh BalianThe views expressed, except in the editorial, are not necessarily those of the publishers.The Armenian Reporter is your newspaper. We urge you to send us your news and yourviews.News. Please send your news to . If you are organizing an event,let us know — and invite our correspondent — well in advance. Please send books, cds,and other materials for review to our mailing address, below.Letters. Please send your letters to Letters should be no morethan 250 words long and may be edited for clarity. Please include your mailing addressand daytime telephone number.Commentary. Please send your essays to Essays and articlesnormally should be no longer than 900 words. They will usually be sent back to you witheditorial suggestions.Photos and artwork. We require high-resolution originals. All photos and artworkmust include a credit to the photographer and a signed statement granting us permissionto publish.You may also reach us by telephone at 1-201-226-1995, by fax at 1-201-226-1660, and bymail at Post Office Box 129, Paramus, New Jersey 07652.Advertising and subscriptions. Please direct questions to orcall us at 1-201-226-1995.


The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007CommentaryA11The freedom to navigateby Maria TitizianI often wonder what would happen if we hadaccess to the sea. Let me state for the recordthat I ask this not from an economic, political,or strategic point of view. However, likemany others I obviously do wonder how itwould positively impact exports and imports;how it would no longer make us rely on thegood grace and behavior of our neighbors;how business and tourism would flourish;how we could have access to larger marketsand integrate into the global economy; howit would impact transportation costs; howwe could import goods for much lower prices.We are not only cut off from access to seabornetrade, but are also cut off from theresources of the sea – alas, sushi restaurantsare not in my top 10 picks of places to eat inYerevan.Facts show that coastal regions tend to bewealthier and more heavily populated. Accordingto the World Bank, landlocked developingcountries pay on average about 50percent more in transport costs than coastalcounties and have up to 60 percent lowervolumes of trade. In terms of transportationcosts, typically 1,000 km on land translatesto 10,000 km of sea freight – but delays andunpredictability is more of a problem sometimesthan costs. Add into the equation thattwo of Armenia’s four borders are closed andyou wonder how it is that this country hasregistered double-digit economic growth forthe last several years running.And then imagine the possibilities of seaaccess...What I wonder about, however, is howbeing landlocked impacts our state of mind,our flight of mind, our ability to breatheand think and move. One of the first thingsfriends who had moved here from the diasporatold us was that in order to live inArmenia and retain your sanity, it would benecessary to exit its borders at least onceevery year, for at least a week. I thought itwas a rather silly suggestion, taking into considerationthe long list of things in Armeniathat could drive any normal person over theedge. The argument was that the size of thecountry ultimately would begin to take itstoll, and we would feel stifled.I lived in Toronto, a sprawling metropolisby Canadian standards (actually it’s thefifth most populous municipality in NorthAmerica), covering an area of approximately7,125 square kilometers. With all its highwaysand byways, its recreational facilities,theaters, restaurants, shopping malls, parks,and sporting events, I lived, worked and existedin approximately 20 square kilometers.So for all that it offered me, Toronto andCanada, yes were big, yet I existed in a verytiny part of that great vastness. So what didit matter to me how big or small Armeniawas at the end of the day? I wouldn’t physicallyfeel it. I wouldn’t be bumping up againstbarriers, walls, and boundaries. And besides,I loved the mountains that surround thiscountry.The Armenian highland (or Armenian Plateau),is part of the Transcaucasian Highlandand constitutes the continuation of the Caucasusmountains. Mountain ranges rising upfrom the valleys, appear to be leaning againstone another as mists and clouds surroundtheir snow-capped peaks. Stunning, breathtaking.And ultimately so overpowering thatyou feel as though they are cutting you offfrom the rest of the planet. In every directionthere are layers upon layers of mountains...stretching up toward the sky. But there is noview. There is no unending horizon againstthe crystal blue of an ocean. How I yearn forit. The ocean. The waves rushing up to theshore and then receding in a clash of whitefroth. The total, absolute sense of freedomand space that you feel when you stand onthe edge of the earth and there before youlies limitless skies and possibilities.I never saw the ocean in Canada, but I knewthat we were buttressed by the Pacific, Atlanticand Arctic oceans. As a result I never feltclosed in, blocked, or stifled – even though Icontinued to exist in a 20 sq km radius.So it’s not only the area that the countryoccupies on the planet that can cause discomfort,as my friends so many years agowarned me. It’s the fact that we are landlocked.It’s the feeling of being closed in andshut out from the rest of humanity with noaccess to the seas.There are of course countries that are justas small or smaller than Armenia, such asLebanon and Israel. These two countries havehad and continue to have their share of troubles.Peace eludes them. I would even arguethat life is far more difficult there than it ishere. Yet, when I was in Lebanon a few yearsago, even among the intermittent bombings,the security checks at shopping malls, andthe political tension, people seemed heartier,happier, more buoyant than here in Armenia.Back in the mid-1990s, when I first cameto Armenia, there was exhaustion and animpatience, a tension, an unyielding frustrationthat was written all over the expressionsthat people wore. It was overwhelming andinescapable. Today, a decade later, thingsThe Black Sea – and the horizon.have improved but there continues to be thispeculiar weight that people seem to be carrying.So it really does make you wonder.All someone living in Lebanon has to dois to look out toward the sea and intuitivelysense that there is the great vastness of theplanet beyond the horizon. Limitless possibilities,freedom, the ability to breathe andthink and have flight of mind.I once asked a friend of mine, who hadgone to Cuba for a holiday, what her impressionsof the country were. She said that Havanareminded her of Yerevan, except thatthe people were happier.The sea, of course is not a panacea, but itis a gateway to the rest of the world, bothphysically and psychologically. Our geographypresently doesn’t grant us the privilegeor the pleasure. We must mentally dismantlethe mountains that surround and engulf usand go in search of the sea.fBy caving in to Turkish threats, U.S. is held hostage to foreignpowersby Harut SassounianThe Armenian Genocide resolution has nowturned into a major tug of war between truthon one side and the combined might of theBush administration, some American-Jewishorganizations, Israeli leaders, the Turkishgovernment and its high-powered lobbyistson the other side. The U.S. Congress hasbecome the battleground for the hearts andminds of Americans.While it is disturbing to read the daily barrageof denial by descendants of those whocommitted mass murder against the Armeniannation, it is much more upsetting towitness the leaders of the United States, thebastion of democracy and human rights, actingas spokespersons for liars and deniers.It is absolutely appalling that the Bush administrationis caving in to the pressures andblackmail of a quasifascist state, rather thanrejecting Turkey’s threats and urging its leadersto face up to the truth and admit the factsof history. It is astounding to see how U.S.officials are groveling in front of Turkish denialists,instead of mustering the courage totell them to get lost. After all, Turkey needsthe United States much more than AmericaMr. Sassounian is the publisher of the CaliforniaCourier.needs Turkey. Should the Turks take anypunitive action against American interests,they would end up losing much more thanwould the United States.While Turkey has poured millions of dollarsinto high-powered lobbying and publicrelations firms to inundate the mass mediawith denialist propaganda, it has lost its mainargument that there was no genocide. Eventhe staunchest congressional opponents ofthe genocide resolution have acknowledgedthat Turks did commit genocide against theArmenians.Moreover, a handful of American-Jewishorganizations that still oppose the resolutionhave stated that they do so out of fear forthe lives of the Jews in Turkey – not exactlya ringing endorsement of human rights inthat so-called democracy! Sooner or later,Turkey’s Islamist leaders are bound to takeactions that contradict American and/or Israeliinterests, thereby weakening the oppositionto the genocide resolution.Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) has bravelystood her ground despite the recent onslaughtof media criticism against her andthe betrayal of some of her own Democraticcolleagues. She is neither intimidated bymassive Bush administration pressures norby Turkish threats. Incidentally, the Incirlikairbase in Turkey, which the Turks havethreatened to close should Congress adoptthe Armenian Genocide resolution, is actuallynot so vital for the U.S. war effort in Iraq,according to a top American commander.U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General MichaelMoseley stated in a Feb. 21, 2007 briefing: “Iwouldn’t say that we have to [use] Incirlik toconduct operations in Iraq.”A core group of Democrats and Republicans,who probably constitute more than halfof the House members, are still backing theSpeaker’s stand on this morally just issue, despitethe heavy-handed tactics of powerfuland well-financed opponents of the resolution.In addition, there are many RepublicanHouse members who support the resolution,but have not publicly endorsed it in order toavoid being pressured by the administration.Armenian-Americans need to rally to thesupport of this core group while providingpolitical cover to the Speaker’s valiant effortsby blanketing the media with letters tothe editor, op-ed columns, interviews withjournalists, and full-page ads in newspapersand magazines. Such a massive campaignis necessary in order to counter all the liesthat were spread through the media in recentdays by well-connected public relationsfirms hired by Turkey at a cost of more than$300,000 per month. The negative articlesand TV talk shows have created the false impressionthat the American public is againstthe genocide resolution, causing some congressionalsponsors to go back on their wordand remove their names.While the Turks, due to their obsessiveopposition to any and all references to theArmenian Genocide, have unwittingly globalizedthis issue, it is important that theArmenian community’s efforts continue unabateduntil this resolution is approved bythe full House.In next year’s primaries and general elections,the Armenian-American communityshould remember some of these turncoatsand target them for defeat. Other ethnicgroups have successfully practiced this methodof making an example of politicians workingagainst their interests.This controversy carries an importantlesson for U.S. policymakers. One needs toremember that appeasing Turkey would encourageother countries to also blackmail theUnited States, holding American policies hostageto foreign interests. Two recent examplesof other countries lifting a page from theTurkish book of threats would suffice: Japan’sdemand that Congress not pass a resolutionto condemn the abuse of Korean “comfortwomen” by Japanese soldiers during WorldWar II and Chinese threats to dissuade theWhite House from honoring the Dalai Lama.By buckling under Turkish pressure, theU.S. government has left the door open notonly for major powers like Japan and China,but also to lesser states to force the UnitedStates to take positions contrary to its valuesand interests.fLettersArmenians’ Duty to the PastThe Washington Post, Wednesday, October 24, 2007; Page A18Fred Hiatt’s Oct. 15 op-ed, “Armenians WhoNeed Help Today,” leads the debate over recognitionof the Armenian genocide in thewrong direction.The difficulties that Armenia has encounteredduring its successful democratic andeconomic transition are not taboo subjectsfor genuine discussion. And members of ourdiaspora have always provided economic assistanceand been actively involved in issuessuch as the environment, civil and politicalliberties, and security. But this activism hasnot come at the expense of the quest forgenocide recognition, a moral duty for allArmenians and all of humanity.In addition, the Turkish state’s denial ofthe Armenian genocide translates into itscontinuing refusal to normalize relationswith Armenia, leading us to believe that ouronly choice is to pursue both historical andcontemporary justice.The fact that Armenia’s democratic transitionis not yet complete should not preventArmenia from condemning crimes againsthumanity, especially a genocide that killed1.5 million of our ancestors, took their historicalhomeland and destroyed a millenniums-oldculture. The suggestion that Armenia’sroutine transition problems and thegenocide carried out by Ottoman Turkey canbe weighed on the same scale is ill-founded,to say the least.Tatoul MarkarianAmbassador, Embassy of ArmeniaWashington


A12 The Armenian Reporter | October 27, 2007

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