May 31, 2007


Well...we thought we heard it all. But no....

Here's what passes as ACADEMIC RESEARCH in a Turkish think-tank with the ornate name of: Center for Eurasian Studies:Institute for Armenian Research.

They have reprinted an article that appeared in the May 29 issue of the Turkish Weekly entitled: Armenian Atrocities Against Jews in the Ottoman Empire, written by Belma Buzcan.

Here's just a portion of that article:

The Ottoman experience vividly proves that anti-Semitism is an 'old Armenian habit'. The first reason for anti-semitism among the Ottoman Armenians was mainly religious biases. Then the economic competition was added to the reasons. The Armenians together with the Greek Ottomans attacked the Jewish bankers, doctors and businessmen in the Ottoman Palace and main cities. It is unfortunate that the Armenian attacks continued during the First World War and the armed Armenian groups targeted not only the Turks and Kurds but also the Jewish people in the Eastern Ottoman State. The Dashnaks blamed the Jewish people of being supporter of the Turks. Even today some Armenians in Armenia and diaspora believe that the 1915 Relocation Campaign (tehcir) was a Jewish-made plan to destroy the Armenian nation. The San Fransisco Chronicle's report clearly show how the Jewish people was target of the Armenian attacks during the First World War:

"We have first hand information and evidence of Armenian atrocities against our people (Jews). Members of our family witnessed the murder of 148 members of our family near Erzurum, Turkey, by Armenian neighbors, bent on destroying anything and anybody remotely Jewish and/or Muslim... Armenians were in league with Hitler in the last war, on his premise to grant themselves government if, in return, the Armenians would help exterminate Jews. Armenians were also hearty proponents of the anti-Semitic acts in league with the Russian Communists." (San Francisco Chronicle_ (December 11, 1983).

To read the entire article, click

May 29, 2007


Both Radio Free Europe and the International Herald Tribune, among others, report that Jean-David Levitte, chief international advisor to newly-elected French President Nicholas Sarkozy, flew to Turkey over the weekend to discuss French-Turkish relations, including Turkey's European Union membership bid.

While a candidate for the Presidency Mr. Sarkozy expressed strong reservations regarding Ankara's drive to enter the E.U., arguing that most of Turkey's territory is in Asia and that the idea of a united Europe would be diluted if its borders stretched that far. Sarkozy's opponent in the election, Ms. Segolene Royal, a Socialist Party candidate, favored Turkey's admittance into the E.U.

Most E.U. member nations also are in favor of Turkey's admittance to the organization.


We at Sassna Dzrer believe it's instructive to occasionally refer our readers to what is appearing in the so-called mainstream Turkish press when it comes to efforts undertaken by these "moderate and rational" sources to counter the historical reality of what happened to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century.

What follows is an article that appeared in the May 27th on-line edition of the Turkish Weekly, entitled: Unarmed Armenians, The Photos Say the Reverse, by Belma Sankaya

Dr. Nilgun Gulcan said "the Armenians committed genocide against the Turks of the Ottoman State and the testimonies, archives and the photos prove it."

Dr. Gulcan continued further:

"The radical Armenians say that the relocated Ottoman Armenians in 1915 were unarmed and innocent people. However the photos and the official documents say the reverse. The New York Times reported that hundreds of thousands Armenians were armed and ready for a war at that time. The following testimony of Russian Lt. Colonel Toverdohleyov also shows the clear fact:

"More than 800 unarmed and defenceless Turks have been killed in Erzincan. Large holes were dug and the defenceless Turks were slaughtered like animals next to the holes. Later, the murdered Turks were thrown into the holes. The Armenian who stood near the hole would say when the hole was filled the corpses: "Seventy dead bodies, well, this hole can take ten more." Thus ten more Turks would be cut into pieces". (Gunter, p. 18-19)."

Mrs. Gulcan also showed a photo to our correspondent about the Ottoman Armenians:

(The photo in question is of a band of ARF fedayees; the year and location of which remains uncertain)

The above Gunter book notation refers of course to one Michael Gunter, a historian of questionable credibility who is a favorite of the forces who wish to bolster their allegations that the Armenian Genocide never took place. The book quoted is entitled, "Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People"; A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism. It was published in 1986

May 23, 2007


There is an interesting article in the current issue of KarabakhOpen that deals with the topic of who exactly is representing the wishes of the people of Karabakh in the ongoing negotiations process to reach a political settlement after a decade of " No Peace-No War".

Recently there has been a rash of statements emanating from Karabakh refuting any possible deal that includes a return of the "liberated territories" that surround the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Even NKR President Ghukasyan has recently declared that Kashatagh, the region sandwiched between the Republic of Armenian and the NKR that included the Lachin Corridor, will never be returned to Azerbaijan hegemony.

The writer of the article advances the theory that an agreement has already been reached in the tri-party negotiations that include Armenia, Azerbaijan and the international community, most notably the OSCE Minsk Group. The alleged deal includes a withdrawal of Armenian forces from the "liberated lands", a gradual return of displaced refugees and a public referendum to be held down the road to finalize the status of the NKR.

What the article implies is that the recent Parliamentary elections in Armenia were given a satisfactory "nod" by the international election observers mainly due to the fact that a "legitimate" government is needed in Armenia to sign on to the existing agreement; an agreement that the Minsk Group believes is the best option for all parties involved.

However, the KarabakhOpen commentary points out that Karabakh government is not a participant in these talks and the wishes of the people who fought and survived the war are not taken into account.

May 22, 2007


Sassna Dzrer just came across two items in the Azeri-Press Agency's (APA) website that deal with the alleged recent arrests of Armenians in the United States due to their past and present criminal actions. It goes without saying that these reports have yet to be verified.

1) The first APA report states that a certain Vigen Patatyan, described as a former lieutenant in the Armenian army who participated in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, was recently detained in San Diego by U.S. Immigration and Customs officials and later returned to Armenia.

The APA report states that Patatyan confessed to the Customs officials that he delivered weapons to soldiers fighting against Azeri forces in Karabakh and that these Armenian soldiers committed terrible massacres against the local Azeri civilian populace.

According to the APA a certain Alan Rabinovich, of the U.S. Customs Enforcement group, stated that his agency, " will not allow criminals who committed terrible massacres against civilians during conflicts to hide in the United States."

The APA does report that Patatyan tried to enter the United States for a second time with forged documents but rather attributes his extradition to his past "criminal activities".

2) The second APA item reports on the arrest of Murad Topalayan, described as the Chief of the Armenian National Committee, by U.S. law enforcement officilas. The APA alleges that Topalayan was caught planning to bomb various offices of Turkish and Azeri diaspora organizations in the United States.

May 21, 2007


The photo to the right shows Turkey's Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and the United States Ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, announcing an agreement regarding technology transfers to Turkey that will help modernize its fleet of F-16 fighter planes.

In the immortal words of Ambassador Wilson....

“This program and others of its type demonstrate what our alliance and US-Turkish collaboration mean in very practical terms. Turkey obtains advanced equipment necessary for its defense, jobs are created…and our countries together advance their operational ability to work together for their common defense.” (Read entire speech)

Isn't it nice to know that your taxpayer dollars (if you reside in the United States) are going to a worthy cause, namely the Armed Forces of Turkey. It's a grand gesture with a long history dating back at least to the end of WW II. Since then the United States has assisted in building up the Turkish military to the tune of at least some 1 billion US dollars.

Good luck Nancy Pelosi and her Armenian cheerleaders. By the way what ever happened to the much touted GENOCIDE RESOLUTION in the U.S. Congress???

And please a bit more political maturity to those Armenians, some of them naive bloggers, who spout nonsense about GENOCIDE REPARATIONS without a political ideology and concept of struggle.

May 20, 2007


According to the Turkish Daily News, a boat that has partially been funded by the European Union will soon begin ferrying tourists across Lake Van to the island of Akhtamar.

It appears that indeed the recent renovations of the Holy Cross Church there and its much heralded "reopening" as a cultural museum was intended to serve as a tourist magnet for the region and a source of income rather than any goodwill gesture on the part of Turkey.

Hikmet Deniz, manager of the boat project and general director of Grand Deniz Tourism hopes that the boat will, "carry all domestic and foreign tourists, particularly Armenians, to the island."

We believe Armenians should be organizing tours of their own to flood the site and in essence make all understand who the real owners and guardians of Akhtamar are. Light candles!!! Recite prayers!!!! Sing songs!!!!! Let the Armenian language once again reverberate within its hallowed stone walls!!!!

May 18, 2007


TODAY.AZ has published an interview with Gideon Sa'ar, chairman of the Likud faction in the Israeli Knesset.

We've pulled several comments from the interview where the Israeli politician comments on Armenia, Karabakh and the growing Israeli-Azerbaijan relationship. We urge our readers to read the entire interview here.

1)I myself was very pleased to see that Muslim country Azerbaijan is liberal European country and keeps friendship relations with Israel and Jewish nation. We have common interests with Azerbaijan. Today Azerbaijan is the leader in Caucasus and initiator of all big geopolitical projects. I think Azerbaijan is a true friendship bridge between Europe and Asia. Most Israelis have no idea about Azerbaijan , but I want to tell them that prosperous Azerbaijan is a country where Jewish people are loved.

2)Within your visit to Guba you also visited the mass graves which are the result of Armenians' genocide committed against Azerbaijanis and against Jewish people of Guba. What are your impressions?

We got thorough information about this tragedy and were given a lot of materials concerning this issue. But it is difficult for me to express an objective position on the issue. I think that historians should clarify it. I want to mention that Knesset has recently rejected the proposal of Merets Party member Khaim Oron on debating the problem of 'Armenian genocide.' This fact demonstrates the official position of the Israeli government on the problem called Armenian genocide. I consider Knesset's decision right. It could ruin strategic relations between Turkey and Israel.

3)What is Israel's position on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and occupation of Azerbaijani lands?

I want to say that Israel does not ignore interests of friendly Azerbaijan and hopes that official Baku will also take into account Israel's interests. Azerbaijan is a strategically important country for Israel. We understand the country’s problems and interests


According to TODAY.AZ, the 34th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) ended its deliberations in Islamabad, Pakistan with a call to Armenia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from "occupied" Azeri territories.

The ICFM passed two resolutions regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. These condemn the Armenia occupation of Azeri lands and the destruction of Azeri cultural monuments by Armenians



On May 21 the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs are scheduled to visit Nagor-Karabakh. They will also travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to arrange a meeting of the presidents of both nations scheduled for June 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

May 08, 2007


The trial of those responsible for the murder of Hrant Dink, editor of the Istanbul-based Agos weekly news magazine, is scheduled to begin in that city on July 2.

A total of 19 people, the actual gunman and 18 others charged in aiding and abetting in the January 19th shooting of Hrant Dink outside the offices of Agos, will go on trial.

The prosecution will demand a prison term of between 18 to 24 years for Ogun Samast, a 17 year-old jobless secondary school graduate who confessed to the shooting. Samast also faces an additional prison term of between 8 1/2 to 18 years for being a member of a terrorist group.

It is the claim of the prosecution that Hrant Dink was targeted by this terrorist organization based in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, a bastion of Turkish nationalism.

The indictment call for life sentences for two alleged ringleaders of the group for instigating the killing. Both Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal, the two in question, also face additional prison terms for being "leaders of a terrorist organization."

May 05, 2007


Let's start our round-up of news from Nagorno-Karabakh with the following quote of the week from President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan... (see entire Azeri Press Info article)

I have stated several times that the conflict can be solved in the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Armenian people already achieved their self-determination, they have their own state. If the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh again want self-determination, they should go to Armenia…

Regarding the ongoing peace negotiations , we read in PanArmenian Net that President Robert Kocharian of Armenia told students at Yerevan State University that he expects to see his Azerbaijani counterpart, President Aliyev in St. Petersburg on June 10th. According to the Azeri Trend News Agency, officials in Baku have not yet officially confirmed their readiness to attend. On that day a informal summit of CIS member states will take place in St. Petersburg.

A report in TODAY.AZ quotes President Aliyev as saying that...

A principal demand consists in that all seven occupied area of Azerbaijan, including Kelbajar and Lachin must be freed. There is already an agreement about that.

He goes on to say that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be determined only after the occupied territories are returned and all the displaced refugees allowed to go home. Even then, however, any status given Nagorno-Karabkh must be within the framework of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. President Aliyev says he is flexible on the use of the Lachin corridor as a conduit between Armenia and Karabakh.

According to PanArmenian Net, Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia's newly appointed Prime Minister responded by saying, "Let him speak what he wants". The Prime Minister underlined the fact that he has no notion what objectives Aliyev pursues by making such statements.

We then read in a DeFacto news item that Seyran Ohanian, the Defense Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), during a press conference in Stepanakert stated that the territories surrounding the NKR had historically belonged to Armenia and he considered them to be liberated. According to Ohanian these areas constitute a security zone and cannot be returned until the conflict is finally settled. We should also note that Lieutenant General Ohanian will soon be appointed Chief of the General Staff for the Republic of Armenia's Armed Forces. Possible candidates as his successor have not yet been put forth.

And finally, here's a list of the five likely candidates to run in the July 2007 NKR Presidential election. May 5th is the last day for nominations to be officially registered with the Central Electoral Commission.

Armen Abgaryan - Member Of Parliament

Vania Avanesyan - Professor at Artsakh State University

Masis Mayilyan - NKR Deputy Foreign Minister

Hrant Melkumyan - First Secretary of NKR's Communist Party

Babko Sahakyan - Chief of NKR's National Security Service

May 04, 2007


We just read that the documentary film "A Story of People in War and Peace", directed by Vardan Hovhannisyan , has won the Best New Documentary Filmmaker Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The buzz regarding this hard-hitting but poignant film, the first for Vardan Hovhannisyan, has really been positive from mostly all who have seen it. It is not a documentary about the war itself, but rather it weaves a narrative around the experiences of a few individuals who fought in the war on the Armenian side and how their lives were forever changed as a result.

The Tribeca Film Festival web page describes the film as:

A deeply personal meditation on the horrors of war and its effects is shown through the eyes of Armenian journalist Vardan Hovhannisyan. Weaving together footage from his country's 1994 conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno- Karabakh region, Hovhannisyan creates a devastating portrait of lasting damage inflicted by the battlefield. In English and Armenian.

The film was produced by Bars Media, an independent film studio company in Yerevan, Armenia. Mr. Hovhannisyan, the film's director, is also the founder and president of the company.

In the film we learn that in the early 1990's with the war in Karabakh in full swing, Vardan went to the front lines as a journalist and cameraman. His 70 minute documentary shows only a tiny portion of the images he witnessed and the people he met while there. He was also taken hostage twice during the conflict.

An extended version of the film is in the works and should be out by year's end. The producers also say that the current version of the film will premier in Armenia sometime this summer.

What a one-two knockout punch. First "Screamers " and now "A Story of People in War and Peace".

May 03, 2007


On a way lighter note. We just had to pass along this link.

It's STAR TREK in Turkish. And we're not talking Turkish dubbed over the original sci-fi classic. No, this is an original Turkish production that's wacky and wild.

Anyone who speaks even some Turkish will find the dialogue really "out of this world".

"Hic Vulcan'ya gittiniz mi?"

"Evet, iki yil once ordayim...cok zevkli..."

May 02, 2007


May 1st is International Workers Day and it is celebrated in much of the world as a day of solidarity and renewal in the struggle for workers rights. Despite having been born in the United States during the labor movements of the 1880's it is notably absent as a national holiday in that country today. But not in Armenia....

Yes, comrades, even in the depoliticized Republic of Armenia, where an unregulated free market of labour and production is in full swing, some 2000 die-hard supporters of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) rallied in Yerevan, waving the red banners of the Soviet Union and chanting "Long Live May 1st" and "Long Live the Communist Party".

Some of us who were in Armenia during the Brezhnev era remember the throngs of people who marched through Lenin Square proclaiming the supremacy of the Soviet state and the ruling Communist Party.

True to form, the Stalinists of that era betrayed the lofty ideals of May 1st. Soviet Armenia was no "workers democracy"; far from it. Perhaps a tiny minority actually believed the official Soviet rhetoric of the time, but for the vast majority of workers it was a day when they were obliged by local party officials and party apparatchiks in the factories to attend these gratuitous state-sponsored manifestations of alleged workers' power and ideological purity.

We also remember, with much amusement and a bit of resentment, how even diaspora Armenians studying in Yerevan at the time were organized into "foreign solidarity contingents" and urged to march as well or else been seen as trouble makers.

But it was an ideology empty of any real content and devoid of any mechanisms for workers to exercise their democratic rights in a so-called "workers state".

Some in Armenia today recollect those days with a fond nostalgia bordering on collective amnesia. Those in power back then cared little for the plight of workers and peasants, and nothing much has changed today. At least those in power today don't conceal their true convictions in further developing an undemocratic market economy.

One wonders whether the "left" in Armenia has anything to offer the people, especially those segments who ask themselves whether a true alternative exists, or might arise, to counter the free market forces running amok today. Devoid of any overarching national collective ideal (something that briefly appeared after the Karabakh victory but long since squandered), perhaps there is an opening for those who envisage a need to rally those sectors in Armenia that are being left behind in the wake of the monopolization of the means of production and the absolutist political power it affords a tiny minority of oligarchs and business king-pins.

Ruben Tovmasian, the Armenian Communist Party's First Secretary stated the following at the party's May Day rally in Yerevan...

At a time when the whole country is unemployed, when the worker sits idly at home, when blood rather than tears drop from his eyes, I call on all of you to be with the Communist Party on May 12th (He refers here to the date for parliamentary elections)

Comrade Tovmasian, if he is a good student of history, especially that of his own party's sordid past, must realize that it will take more than patriotic rhetorical exhortations to stir the m,asses to seek a real alternative to the representatives of the economic oligarchs and their political cronies who run the country today.

The socio-economic contradictions appear to exist in Armenia for such a movement to take hold. What is visibly lacking is the political leadership, ideological conviction, and clarity of purpose needed to transport this potential into the realm of possibility.

May 01, 2007


Recently, Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (see photo) has made a series of optimistic statements regarding an impending settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh question.

According to Mammadyarov, a basis for a negotiated settlement has been reached in principle by both Azerbaijan and Armenia. The broad outlines of the understanding is a phased withdrawal of Armenian troops from the "occupied territories" surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh proper, the deployment of peace-keeping troops and the eventual return of displaced Azeris and others.

The Azeri Foreign Minister also stated that the best Nagorno-Karabakh could hope for is a high-level of autonomy within the framework of Azerbaijan proper.

This would appear to contradict statements made by Armenia's Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, who, while during a recent workingtrip to Austrai, commented that the issue of the Lachin Corridor has not been discussed as yet during the negotiations. If correct, this would seem to be a major unresolved issue in the talks that Mamadyarov seems to have neglected in his optimistic analysis of the talks.

What Oskanian did say however is that, "This corridor is a guarantee of free and unhampered communication between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. But it must be viewed as part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic."
Someone else who has commented on the state of negotiations between the opposing sides in the conflict is Matthew Bryza, a United States Assistant Secretary of State and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. In a recent interview given to the Voice of America after the recent round of talks Bryza made the following comments...

These principles will be the formal essence of agreement. We hope if the presidents reach an agreement on the basic principles soon, it will be followed by intensive stage of negotiations when the final peace treaty will be debated. In other words, basic principles are the main terms of these negotiations. These main principles envisage withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the five regions adjacent to Nagorno Karabakh, returning them to Azerbaijan, deploying peacekeepers and bringing IDPs back to their original places. The negotiations on the conditions of releasing of Kalbajar and Lachin still continue. We are close to the agreement on this issue. The principles also cover providing a corridor uniting Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia that will be used for trade and civil purposes. Following this, the status of Nagorno Karabakh will be determined by negotiations and referendum.

It must be remembered that the Azeri Foreign Minister has been known to make such optimistic observations of the negotiations process in the past, which have been proven to be unfounded. This time it would appear that there might be some substance to his claims. But with Armenia embroiled in a heated parliamentary election campaign and a presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh scheduled for this July, one might have some reason to doubt such claims. Only time will tell.