June 29, 2007


It might be that I'm wrong in asserting that a large percentage of what appears to be able-bodied males in Yerevan spend their waking hours in an imaginary pursuit of "unearned income". This process involves constant cell phone conversations with who knows whom that mostly take place with their cronies at some cafe or such place. It's an endless series of meetings and conversations leading to???? Your guess is as good as mine.

It seems that the need to appear as if one is a "player", whether imagined or real is more important than actually achieving something. God forbid, actual work was involved or their hands were dirtied or their shoes scuffed.

No wonder it takes so long for simple road work or other repairs to the infrastructure to be completed. There's one poor soul in the ditch digging away and ten guys in suits watching and talking on their cell phones. It appears that when it comes to "public works projects" ANYTHING GOES!!!!! The picture is reversed when it comes to constructing a store or another private establishment. You'll see people at the work-site till late into the night making sure that all progresses correctly.

And you'll never see, or mostly never see, guys working at the various cafes in town. It's all women and young girls. At the larger establishments there's usually a guy walking the floor keeping an eye on things.

Maybe i'm just not with the times...But sometimes I long for the days when there were civilian work brigades DOING ACTUAL, PRODUCTIVE, TANGIBLE WORK. But that would be described as a violation of one's civil rights, or some such nonsense......

June 19, 2007


Yesterday in the Presidential palace in Yerevan awards were handed out by President Kocharian to those who have accomplished high levels of work in their professional fields.

One very emotional moment was when Rakael Dink accepted a posthumous award on behalf of her late husband Hrant Dink for his work in improving relations between Turks and Armenians in the spirit of mutual cooperation based on the acceptance of historical realities.

All in attendance rose to their feet and warmly applauded this brave woman. President Kocharian's words were equally evocative and he promised that the Republic of Armenia would always be a "home" for the Dink family and that Hrant's death was a irreplacable loss for the Armenian people.

Also presented an award for their work in the cultural field were the Taviani brothers for their film "Skylark Farm" based on the events of 1915. Only one of the two elderly brothers could make the trip to Armenia but he was deeply moved by the award.

On a personal note, I cannot fail to mention the award given to an old friend, Raymond (Harutiun) Kevorkian from Paris for his groundbreaking and scholarly reserach in the field of modern Armenian history, notably the Genocide. His recently published 1,000 page tome is the definitive work on the subject and he expressed hopes that the work would be translated into English in 2008. It is not a inexpensive undertaking and we can only hope that he finds a degree of financial assistance within the diaspora. The book entitled "Le Genocide de Les Armeniens" is available on Amazon.com.

June 18, 2007


On June 15th, the Bush Administration's official representative in Armenia, Charge d'Affaires Anthony Godfrey, bluntly warned Yerevan that the United States would not kindly look on Armenia strengthening its relations with neighboring Iran, especially in the economic sphere.

It would appear that the United States forgets that it ally in the region, Turkey, continues to close its border with Armenia. Thus Iran, despite its internal political shortcomings, remains Armenia's only outlet to markets and products from abroad, aside from Georgia. Currently, Armenia's border with Georgia is still under a health watch due to the outbreak of a strain of swine flu in Georgia. All pork products from Georgia are confiscated and vehicles are sprayed down.

Getting back to Godfrey's remarks, they've stirred up some resentment here in Yerevan. And rightly so. Iran is Armenia's neighbor. Why shouldn't Armenia be on friendly terms with Tehran and explore all possibilities to circumvent its blockade by Turkey?

Furthermore, what is Washington afraid of? That Armenian specialists in the field of nuclear energy will assist Tehran in the development of atomic bomb-making capabilities? It's absurd.

It's about time that the Armenian government categorically outlines its intention to foster mutually beneficial relations with its Iranian neighbor and that such a policy in no way threatens United States interests, either real or perceived.

June 16, 2007


According to a June 14th INFO-TURK news article Arat Dink, son of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, faces jail time if convicted for slander against the Turkish state according to the now infamous Article 301.

It appears that he reprinted in AGOS a 2006 interview in which his father describes the events of 1915 as genocide.

Arat is quoted as telling the court at his arraignment that it is "primitive, absurd and dangerous for the true history of these events to remain a taboo subject in Turkey."

Along with Arat Dink, Serkis Seropyan, a deputy editor at Agos also faces the same charges.

June 14, 2007


Monte Melkonian, a prominent player and leader of the reemerged Armenian national liberation movement of the past 30 years, was killed in battle on June 12, 1993 in the Aghdam region of Artsakh.

Our heartfelt condolences to his family, comrades and friends.

His presence is sorely missed even today, after so many years, but his legacy lives on, especially through the good work being carried out by the Monte Melkonian Fund in Artsakh.

Hetq Online has several articles relating to Monte. Click Here


More than 10 years after the Karabakh cesaefire it appears that officials in Armenia and Karabakh are just now starting to seriously talk about the need to resettle the seven regions under Armenian control that surround the NKR.

Lately, there appears to be no scarcity of bureaucrats, political commentators and ideologues that have taken up the banner to urgently tackle the resettlement issue. They're all over the media. It would appear that since the meeting between Kocharian and Aliyev in St. Petersburg was a bust, there is some empty space to fill with all type of conjecture and hyperbole.

The other day we attented a public meeting where the Kashatagh issue was debated and discussed by Baghdasaryan of Hetq and the Editor of the ARF Droshak publication, Khanlaryan. As to be expected the ARF mouthpiece wasn't able to cite what his party has accomplished in Kashatagh when he was pointedly asked to do so. As Baghdasaryan noted, its mostly been the diaspora that's involved in working in the liberated lands. And this is mostly thru non-traditional organizations like the Monte Melkonian Fund and others.

It seems that all this talk is 10 years too late and too little!!!!!

June 13, 2007


I am not one to nit-pick when it comes to how people wear their hair or their style of dress . My credo is live and let live.

But I must say something about what I find to be a very artificial and Western-influenced trait among a large segment of female TV reporters here in Armenia.

It seems they all have shaved their Armenian eyebrows and in place have taken a pencil and drawn in a narrow line where their eyebrows should be. Not only does it look artificial and the result of some distorted sense of what a professional female broadcaster should look like, but its a reflection on the dimunition of Armenian genetic characteristics as well. Well defined eyebrows are out and pencil-thin ones are all the rage.


June 10, 2007


Just to let our thousands of readers know we are now in Armenia. We have been here a week, crossing the border from Anatolia, via Georgia.

Here's an abridged update of some activities and news from the ROA.

1) It appears the recent meeting of OSCE co-chairs with the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Karabakh have proves fruitless. We were especially struck with the strong statement of President Ghoukasian of the NKR on Armenian TV where he stated without a prior settlement of the status of Karabakh proper, talk of other issues, most notably the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the "liberated lands" and the gradual return of those lands themeselves, is pointless. Watching the OSCE co-chairs (from France, USA and Russia) on TV we can understand why most people are saying....here we go again. Bryza, the US co-chair, exudes a great deal of optimism which doesn't seem to be shared by any one else. The news from Azerbaijan on the talks appears to be just as pessimistic.

2) Had a chance to visit Goris for two days on personal matters. Our driver, Davit, really floored his Mitsubishi and some of us were biting their nails. Goris is really picturesque but its needs are great as we were told. Tourists really need to stay for a few days on their way to Artsakh. There's much to see in the region, the monastery of Datev, etc. Unfortunately, there's only one hotel, Mirhav, and a small B&B. The friends we stayed with were gracious to a tee, like most in the small towns and villages. A favorite pasttime seems to be sitting on the balcony in the evening and watching the comings and goings on the street below. Both on the trip there and back our driver stopped a few times to pick up hapless and helpless people on the highway walking to their destination. Whether young woman with their kids or school pupils, they were grateful for the lift and complained about the lack of inter-city transport. And it's understandable. One more thing, someone needs to compile a dictionary of the Goris dialect-lovely, but incomprehensible to most, even Yerevan.

3) It's been three years since our last visit to Armenia. Changes? Where to begin. Much of North Avenue is completed or under construction. The central part of Yerevan is congested during the week and the air quality, at least during midday, is stifling. It seems like 70% of the population is under 25 years old. Something which makes most of us feel ancient when you think some of us studied here back in the Brezhnev "era of stagnation".

4) What is also interesting is the amount of news regarding diasporan matters. We heard an article about some Armenians entering the Parliament in Turkey. And one is the GREY WOLVES party-a pretty rabid nationalist bunch. The radio program interviewed a guy from the Marmara paper in Bolis and he said none of the four had any real dealings with the Armenian community, but it was an advantage to hasve some "minorities" in the parliament. Don't hold your breath.

5) Went to the Soorb Katoghike church off Abovian. It seems like the surrounding houses facing te street are being demolished. During the services, workmen were throwing their collected rubble into a huge pile that has almost reached the church entrance. Some tourists, probably Russian, were almost struck by the rolling stones.

OK. That's it for now. We'll keep in touch with new submissions at least once a week. Stay Well

June 02, 2007


First it was Kosovo, then Afghanistan, then Lebanon...

Now there is speculation that if NATO peacekeepers are called to Karabakh as part of a negotiated peace deal, Turkish troops might be included in their ranks.

As reported in the Azeri-Press Agency, Vahit Erdem, the Turkish Parliament's NATO Group Chairman and member of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) stated that:

“If NATO decides it, Turkey will join this campaign as Turkey has close historical links with the Caucasus too. So deploying Turkish soldiers to Nagorno -Karabakh conflict zone will be useful for everyone."

That's like the fox guarding the hen house. We're sure Ankara would like nothing better to get its troops in the conflict zone. They've never really given up their Pan-Turkic ambitions of extending their influence eastwards.

June 01, 2007


This is the headline of an interesting article that appeared in today's New York Times regarding the growing divide between the segments of Turkish society popularly described as "secularists and Islamicists and the political ramifications these divisions are giving rise to.

Here are some excerpts:

At the heart of the issue is a debate about the fundamental nature of Islam and its role in building an equitable society. Turks like Mr. Zeybekci contend that their country has come a long way since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s secular revolution in 1923, and that it no longer needs to enforce controls like preventing women from wearing head scarves in public buildings. “It’s like locking everybody in a stadium, when you know that only three are thieves,” Mr. Zeybekci said, in his office, which has pictures of Mr. Erdogan and Ataturk.

But secular Turks contend that Islam will always seek more space in people’s lives, and therefore should be reined in. They look to the military as secularism’s final defender.
“Islam is not like other religions,” said Kadim Yildirim, a history teacher in Denizli from an opposition labor union. “It influences every part of your life, even your bedroom.”

Perhaps the most sensitive point for teachers like Mr. Yildirim are the changes they say are occurring in textbooks. Changes were already under way, part of an upgrade needed to join the European Union, but some officials say that as the nationalism is taken out, a new conservatism is being put in. One of the country’s primary eighth-grade science books, for example, “Science Knowledge,” has lost its detailed description of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and gained a reference to a theory that holds that living beings did not evolve but came into being exactly as they are today, attributed to several ancient Asian scholars. The reference was not there before, nor was the word Islamic to describe the originators of the theory.

It is still unclear where today’s changes will lead the country. Mr. Oran says that although the ideology of Mr. Erdogan and his allies “is inevitably Islam,” they are workers and tradesmen who are ultimately motivated by profit. “They are very rapidly becoming bourgeois.”

Mr. Yildirim draws hope from a recent exchange among his students he overheard. One posed a question: If you were rowing a boat with only one extra seat and passed by a deserted island with the Prophet Muhammad and Ataturk, whom would you save?

Another answered: “Ataturk is resourceful. He can save himself. Take Muhammad.”

Pokr Mher: Secularists or Islamicists...You won't be reading about the Armenian genocide in any Turkish school textbooks anytime soon....


Turkey, Azerbaijan's prime military and economic ally in the region, seems dubious that a breakthrough will result in the Karabakh peace talks to be held June 9 in St. Petersburg. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will be attending these talks.

According to a report in the June 1 edition of the Turkish Daily News:

The settlement may help normalization but this would not be sufficient in itself,” a well-placed Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. Turkey additionally insists on Armenia giving up claims of an alleged genocide, and dropping claims on Turkey's lands.

“If they agree on the settlement, then Turkey has to give an award by opening its border which was closed in 1993,” said Ömer Lüthem, retired ambassador and chairman of the institute for Armenian Research at ASAM.

OK..Now we get it. Turkey, a historic colonizing nation, which by the way in the fall of 1920 invaded the Republic of Armenia and was able by threat and military intimidation to annex Kars, Ardahan and the lands around Mt. Ararat, are now demanding that the people of Karabakh, who waged a war of liberation, now turn around and hand back those very same regions that are the only thing standing between them an a resurgent Azeri military machine.
It all makes sense...right???