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#281 Yervant1

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Posted 29 December 2017 - 09:44 AM

Panorama, Armenia
Dec 28 2017
 
 
Turkey’s purchase of Russian missiles contains an element of political blackmail – Ruben Safrastyan

 

The opinion that Turkey may change its decision over the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia at some point are not groundless, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of Armenia's National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Ruben Safrastyan told Panorama.am, pointing out that Turkey’s decision to obtain Russian anti-aircraft missiles is not only based on military reasons, but also contains an element of political blackmail.

“Buying weapons from Russia, Turkey is posturing to show that it is capable of going elsewhere besides NATO for its weapons and its alliances. Once again, the country shows it is sovereign in making own decisions and finding alternatives. The deal between Moscow and Ankara can be cancelled should certain messages from the U.S and NATO are at place,” the analyst suggested.
 
To note, NATO and U.S. officials have repeatedly warned Turkey about the consequences of purchasing the S-400, saying the system would not be interoperable with NATO weapons systems.

Asked whether the NATO is that naïve to succumb to Turkey’s blackmail, Safrastyan noted the matter is not about naivety but rather the geography of Turkey.

The expert said he believed the purchase would not affect Turkey's cooperation within NATO and its participation in the alliance's activities. “Turkey is of high importance for both the alliance and the U.S. Bearing this in mind, both the U.S. and NATO can turn a blind eye on Turkey’s actions, since the stakes are too high here,” concluded the analyst.

https://www.panorama...rastyan/1885802



#282 Yervant1

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 10:24 AM

La Croix International, France
December 28, 2017 Thursday
 
 
Noose is tightening around Christian minority in Turkey
 
 
 
The Syrian Orthodox Church is condemning the Presidency of Religious Affairs in Turkey for seizing 50 churches and monasteries in the southeast of the country. This is happening in the context of a hardening of the policies of the ruling AKP party and is weakening, even more, the already fragile position of a Christian minority deprived of all legal rights.
  
 The ancient Syrian Orthodox Monastery of Mor Gabriel has been subjected to constant and unfair legal attacks since 2008. It has now fallen under the control of the all-powerful Diyanet, which governs Islamic Turkey (99.8% of the population).
 
The Mor Gabriel Monastery was founded in 397 by the ascetic Mor Shmu’el (Samuel) on the Tur Abdin plateau, “the mountain of the servants of God”, in southeastern Turkey.
 
This sacred site of Eastern Christianity is one of the 50 churches and monasteries that have been seized by the Diyanet, according to Kuryakos Ergün, the Chairman of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation.
 
“We are in the process of identifying the properties that have already been seized,” Ergün told the Turkish-Armenian newspaper, Argos. “We have so far filed lawsuits with regard to twenty property titles, and we’re going to do the same for thirty more.”
 
A legal marathon
 
This legal struggle goes back to 2008. In that year, an updating of the land registry requalified 250 hectares within the Monastery’s boundaries as “forests”, on the grounds that they were not “cultivated”.
 
What followed was a long series of lawsuits, each one lost because of false accusations: Christian proselytism, the supposed existence of a mosque under the monastery’s foundations - even though it was built well before the advent of Islam.
 
Now, it’s the administrative change of Mardin Province to a “metropolitan municipality” that is serving as the excuse for the seizing of property. The authorities set up a “Committee of Liquidation” in order to redistribute any property that no longer has a legal entity.
 
Initially transferred to the Treasury, the 50 churches and monasteries are now under the control of the Presidency of Religious Affairs.
 
The increasing harshness of the Islamic-Conservative authorities.
 
These developments are occurring in the context of an increasing hardening of the policies of the Islamic-Conservative President Erdogan and his AKP party, in power since 2002.
 
A law passed in 2002 supposedly opened the way for the recovery of about a hundred properties seized from minorities since the creation of modern Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923. This should have allowed the restitution of goods and properties confiscated by the State from non-Muslim minority foundations.
 
Since then, however, this has come to a dead end. Ever-decreasing Christian communities are increasingly oppressed by the State and by a society that is being re-Islamized.
 
In its 15 years in power, the AKP has thus ground away at the secular principles that were defended tooth and nail by the Kemalists, such as the prohibition of the veil in universities and government offices.
 
This year, just before Easter, the Turkish President even planned to pray with members of his Party and Islamic clerics at Saint-Sophia. This great Christian Basilica, built in 537, became a mosque under the Ottoman Empire’s rule. It was transformed into a museum by Ataturk in 1935.
 
Now, it is a symbol that is increasingly coveted by Erdogan’s Islamist government.
 
More recently, on Thursday 22 June, Mehmet Görmez, the President of the Diyanet, participated in a Muslim prayer service that was broadcast by State television.
 
Christians deprived of legal status
 
Most Christians in Turkey (0.1% of the population) do not have any legal status. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which gave rights to non-Muslim minorities, recognized only minority groups of Armenian, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish origin.
 
Syrian Orthodox Christians (whose numbers have fallen from 70,000 in the 1970s to about 2,000 today) and Roman Catholics (between 10,000 and 15,000) are therefore excluded. They can only battle the courts to try to keep or to recover property confiscated from them by the State.
 
Similarly, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, has been fighting for the Greek-Orthodox Seminary of Halki to be re-opened, forty years after it was closed.
 
The collapse of Christianity’s presence in Turkey over the last century
 
At the beginning of the last century, Turkey itself was home to the largest Christian population in the Middle East: 20% of the population. Now, there are only 80,000 Christians (of all denominations).
 
The Armenian genocide of 1915 and departure of a huge number of Greek Orthodox Christians in the early 1920s largely account for the collapse of Christianity’s presence in Turkey.
 
Although the Christian minority in this country is not being subjected to the same degree of violence as in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, Christians and intellectuals have nonetheless been assassinated during the past few years.
 
Those killed include the Catholic priest, Andrea Santoro in 2006; the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, and the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, Mgr Luigi Padovese, in 2010.
 
Needless to say, investigations into these deaths are going nowhere.
  
 


#283 Yervant1

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 08:38 AM

Armenian Weekly
Jan 12 2018
 
 
Greece and Turkey Playing Nice?

By Garen Yegparian on January 12, 2018 in Garen Yegparian

 
 

So, a Turk walks into a bar…

Oh wait, I’m not telling a joke. Rather, I’m writing an article. But that’s difficult to remember when the Turk in question is Erdoğan and the “bar” is Greece.

yd-20171207-yunanistan-85-serefdefteri.j

Turkey’s First Couple signing the book of honor as the Greek President looks on (Photo: Press service of the President of Turkey)

A friend recently sent me a BBC news item reporting on an historic visit by a Turkish President to Greece, the first in 65 years. You won’t be surprised to learn that Erdoğan played the boorish guest almost as soon as he arrived. Fortunately, he was put in his place. Too bad he wasn’t shown the door right back out of the “bar!”

On the first day of his visit, Erdoğan was whining about insufficient “support…in terms of investments” for and “discrimination” against Turks in Greece. He also asserted that some points of the Treaty of Lausanne lacked clarity.

The temerity and unmitigated shameless brazenness of this latter day wannabe Sultan is more breathtaking then a kick in the gut. Supposedly, Athens appointed a mufti (leader, Islamic expert) for the Turks living in the country rather than allowing them to choose their own. I don’t know what the rules are regarding the filling of this position, but for the purposes of this discussion, they are not relevant.

Aside from the fact that this probably only means the guy Erdoğan wanted didn’t get the job, the hypocrisy manifested is astounding. Does Erdoğan have multiple personalities? Is one of those unaware that the other is jerking around Turkey’s Armenian community around, preventing the election of a new Patriarch of Bolis? And, in this case, there are well established rules dating back to the adoption of the constitution governing such procedures back in 1863.

The discrimination complaint is equally hypocritical. I suppose there’s yet another Erdoğan personality in charge of jailing and murdering Kurds, one more for mistreating Alevis, a fifth for discriminating against Jews…

The funniest Erdoğan “plaint” is the one about the lack of clarity in the Treaty of Lausanne. He wants to rejigger it to make it even more favorable to Turkey, I suppose. Perhaps we, along with other signatories, should propose a deal, the mother of all deals (to make President Trump happy). We’ll agree to reopen the Lausanne Treaty if Turkey first accepts and re-signs the Treaty of Sèvres (I would bet the Greeks would jump at the opportunity to sign, which they refused to do at the time, since they would do much better territorially). Then, it would only make sense to rework Lausanne. How about it, Mr. Erdoğan? Let’s trade treaties.

Luckily, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is also one of Greece’s foremost law experts, shut down his visiting counterpart’s absurd proposal, saying: “This treaty, to us, is not negotiable, this treaty does not have any gaps, does not need a review nor an update. This treaty is valid as it is.”

Clearly, despite the view of analysts that Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras share a warm relationship, there is no spillover of “warmth” into the overall relationship between the two countries. Nor, rightly, should there be, for so long as Turkey continues to violate Greek air and sea space, oppress the few thousand Greeks remaining in Turkey, continuing its occupation of Cyprus, and generally being a bad neighbor and destabilizing force in the region.

Perhaps we Armenians must take it upon ourselves to remind Greece that making nice with Turkey under these circumstances will only lead to more losses. Should we start a campaign to write letters to Greek ambassadors worldwide? Maybe by taking them to a bar…

https://armenianweek...y-playing-nice/



#284 Yervant1

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 11:20 AM

The Guardian, UK
Jan 13 2018
 
 
Elif Shafak: ‘Nations don’t always learn from history’
 
When The Bastard of Istanbul was published in Turkey in 2006, the author was accused of insulting her homeland. Sadly, things have been getting worse since then …
 
 
 2464.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&f

 

When BBC Radio 4 asked to feature my novel The Bastard of Istanbul in its Reading Europe season this month, I found myself reflecting on the cultural and political journey that my motherland, Turkey, has undergone in the years since the book was published.

The novel came out in Turkey in 2006. It tells the story of a Turkish family and an Armenian-American family, mostly through the eyes of four generations of women. It is a story about buried family secrets, political and sexual taboos, and the need to talk about them, as well as the ongoing clash between memory and amnesia. Turkey, in general, is a society of collective amnesia.
 

Shortly after publication, I was sued for “insulting Turkishness” under Article 301 in the Turkish criminal code, although nobody quite knows what either “Turkishness” or “insulting” means in this context. The ambiguity of its wording allows the article to be interpreted to stifle freedom of speech and the freedom of the press; and for the first time, a novel, a work of fiction, was put on trial under the article. The words of the Armenian characters in The Bastard of Istanbul were plucked out of the text, and used as “evidence” by the prosecutor’s office. As a result, my Turkish lawyer had to defend my Armenian fictional characters inside the courtroom. The whole thing was surreal and I was acquitted.

What I remember of those anxiety-ridden days today, however, is neither the trial process nor the ultranationalist groups organising protests on the streets and spitting at my photo and the EU flag, but the amazingly heart-warming, uplifting and inspiring feedback I received from readers. The majority of fiction readers in Turkey are women – Turkish, Kurdish, Alevi, Jewish, Armenian, Greek … women of all ethnicities, cultures and classes . In Turkey, if women like a book, they pass it on to other women. A book is not a personal possession. The same copy is read on average by five or six people, underlining different sentences with different coloured pens. Even though Turkey’s written culture, media and publishing industries, especially as you move up the ladder, remain male-dominated, it is mostly women who are the bearers of memory and it is mostly women who keep multiple traditions of storytelling alive.

Nonetheless, although words were dangerous in Turkey in mid-2000s, the situation for writers and publishers was never as dire or dark as it has become today. Over the past decade Turkey has been sliding backwards, at first gradually and then at a bewildering speed. Authoritarianism, Islamism, nationalism, isolationism, and sexism have all been on the rise, systematically feeding and encouraging one another. It has not helped that the prospect of Turkey’s EU membership was shattered.

As the country became more and more distanced from Europe, the growing gap was exploited by nationalists and Islamists. The ruling elite began to talk about joining the Shanghai Pactinstead of the EU. Today Turkey’s relations with the EU are at their lowest point. The AKP government has become increasingly undemocratic, inward-looking, illiberal and intolerant. In April 2017, a controversial referendum and a narrow (51% to 49%) vote means Turkey will change from a parliamentary democracy to a state in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds an absolute monopoly on power.

Turkey has become a shocking example that the ballot box in itself is not enough to sustain a democracy. If there is no rule of law, no separation of powers, no media freedoms, no academic freedoms and no women’s rights in a country, democracy cannot thrive or survive.

Today my motherland is a polarised and bitterly politicised country where thousands of intellectuals have lost their jobs. There is an increasing number of court cases against academics, journalists, writers, thinkers and commentators. One of the country’s most celebrated cartoonists, Musa Kart, has spent five months in prison and even though he was released under judicial supervision, still faces up to 29 years in jail. The Cartoonists Rights Network International has issued a statement describing the trial as “an embarrassing effort on the part of the Turkish government to further disappoint its own people”.

The most difficult profession in Turkey is journalism. Since the bloody coup attempt in 2016, more than 160 media outlets have been shut down and a widespread purge was introduced. With more than 150 journalists in prison, Turkey has surpassed China’s sad record, becoming the world’s leading jailer for journalists. Many more have been blacklisted, sacked, stigmatised, or had passports confiscated.

The cases against academics are equally worrying. Academic freedoms are being destroyed one by one. More than 4,000 academics have been expelled from universities throughout the country. Those who were signatories to a peace declaration in 2016 have lost their jobs, with no chance of finding a job at another Turkish university; many are being prosecuted and prevented from travelling abroad. One of the most disturbing arrests was of Osman Kavala, a leading human rights and peace activist, businessman and philanthropist who is greatly respected by democrats, liberals and minorities in Turkey.

With self-censorship increasingly widespread, there is far less civil public debate. Across social media and mainstream media almost every week someone new is being targeted, attacked, lynched. The International Press Institute (IPI) is looking into more than 2,000 separate cases of online abuse in Turkey directly targeting journalists.

The impact of all this on women’s rights is enormous. When countries go backwards and slide into populism, authoritarianism and nationalism, women have more to lose than men. Today some of Turkey’s biggest fights for democracy are carried out by women.

In 2016 the Turkish government put forward a bill that pardoned child rapists if they agreed to marry their underage victims. The MPs who came up with this abominable idea were clearly more interested in preserving an abstract notion of “family honour” than the lives of millions of women and girls. In the face of widespread reaction from the public, the bill was put on the backburner.

But the same MPs were eventually able to pass another bill that allowed muftis, religious officials, to perform civil marriages. In a country where one out of every three marriages involves a child bride, this is a very dangerous development. It will increase the number of child brides and cases of polygamy. It will enable conservative/religious families to marry off their daughters at a younger age and without any supervision. When multiple women’s organisations expressed their concern about the bill, and women took to the streets to protest, President Erdogan said that it would be passed “whether you like it or not.”

Women’s rights have been melting away. Meanwhile Islamist newspapers are running pieces against women’s shelters

Domestic violence against women is escalating at a frightening rate and there is no investment in women’s shelters. The government’s rhetoric is based on the sanctity of motherhood and the sanctity of marriage. Under the AKP, women’s rights have been melting away. Meanwhile Islamist newspapers are running pieces against women’s shelters and some organisations are launching petitions to make women travel in “female priority” carriages on trains. Women-only pink buses are already running in several cities.

Gender segregation will neither lessen sexual harassment nor provide a solution to the cycle of violence. “When women go to police or the prosecutor for protection, they are either sent back home, they try to reconcile [couples] or they receive a protection order only on paper,” says Gulsum Kav, of the We Will Stop Femicide organisation.

Equally alarming are the changes in the education system: in the new curriculum Darwinism will not be taught. In the early 2000s around 60,000 students attended imam hatip schools, designed to train Muslim preachers. Today that number is 1.2 million. In order to avoid the Islamicisation of the national education system, the families who can afford it send their children to private schools. and the percentage of children in private education has increased from 7% to 20 %. There is also a sad exodus under way, and Turkey is experiencing a brain drain like never before.

Many academics, intellectuals, activists, journalists, liberals and secularists are leaving the country. But many more remain. And they try to keep their spirits up. Turkey’s civil society is far in advance of its government and Turkey’s women are clearly not giving up the fight for their rights.

This is still a country of mesmerising contrasts, brave and beautiful souls. But now, more than a decade after The Bastard of Istanbul was first published, it is heartbreaking to see that nations do not necessarily learn from their mistakes. History does not necessarily move forward. Sometimes it goes backwards. Turkey, once regarded as a glowing bridge between Europe and the Middle East, and a role model for the entire Muslim world, has become an undemocratic and an unhappy country.

 Reading Europe – Turkey: The Bastard of Istanbul is on Radio 4 on 21 and 28 January at 3pm.

https://www.theguard...rn-from-history



#285 Yervant1

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:01 AM

Maybe the rats are turning against each other!

Lragir, Armenia

Jan 14 2018
 
 
Erdogan Gave Away Azerbaijan: Putin's Stunning Statement
 
Hakob Badalyan, Political Commentator
 Sunday, 14 January 2018, 00:13
 
Turkey is not standing behind the drone attack at the Russian military base in Syria, the Russian president Putin said. He said they know who attacked, who were the sponsors, who produced the drones.
 
The attack on the Russian military base Khmeimim was on December 31, causing victims, as well as destruction of jets and helicopters. The Russian military announced that on January 5 and 5 they confronted an attack.
 
Earlier, at the end of the past year the Russian president visited the Russian military base in Syria and the withdrawal of personnel from Syria started. Afterwards Putin left for Turkey. And before the withdrawal of troops there was the Trump-Putin statement on their commitment to stability in Syria.
 
After this statement the Turkish president left for a meeting with the Russian president, and a few days later the presidents of Iran and Turkey met with Putin in Sochi. A few months earlier Iran, Turkey and Russia started the three-party Astana process to stabilize Syria involving Assad’s government and armed opposition. An agreement was reached in the Astana process to create demilitarized zones.
 
Did the joint Trump-Putin statement and agreement contradict the agreements of the Astana process? It is hard to tell. However, afterwards the presidents of Turkey and Iran left for a meeting with Putin, either to demand or to learn more.
 
Afterwards Putin announced about victory in Syria and withdrawal of troops, left for Syria to start the withdrawal and immediately left for Turkey.
 
At the same time, the strike on the Russian military base on December 31 overran with the unrest in Iran that started on December 28 for which the Iranian government blamed the United States and Israel. The United States and Israel supported the demonstrators in high-level statements.
 
Along with the developments in Iran the Russian military base was hit in Syria. In addition, the Russian ministry of defense confirmed the strike much later than it had appeared in the Russian press. The news was published by the Kommersant.
 
The Russian military base was stricken from the demilitarized zone agreed with Iran and Turkey by the Astana process.
 
In addition, on January 1 the spokesperson for the Russian president Peskov announced that the Russian president and the Israeli prime minister agreed to meet and discuss important issues soon. Peskov did not tell other details. Was this agreement of the Russian and Israeli leaders determined by the developments in Iran or the strike to the Russian military base in Syria? Or maybe both?
 
Who needed or who might need to strike Russia in this situation? Information came that the Russian military base was stricken from the area controlled by Turkey. On the eve there was a telephone conversation between the presidents of Russia and Turkey and today Putin announces that Turkey did not strike. He says they know who did but they do not say who. In addition, Ankara made another gesture to Moscow, arresting the person who organized the murder of the Russian ambassador. When the Russian plane was stricken at the border of Syria and Turkey, Putin announced, at the start of the Russian-Turkish reconciliation following the breakup that it was not Ankara but a hand that wished to harm the Russian-Turkish relations and friendship.
 
Moscow said almost the same thing when the Russian ambassador was killed in Ankara. It was not Turkey. Did Erdogan bring forceful arguments to Putin or has the Russian president appeared in Erdogan’s trap? Or maybe Putin catches Erdogan in a trap by way of accepting all the strikes directed at Russia, demanding some expensive concessions in return for silence.
 
The situation is strange. At the same time, it is interesting that Putin says to know the “producers” of drones. The point is that a limited number of countries produce combat drones: the United States, Israel, China, Canada.
 
Of course, the list of buyers of combat drones is longer. Among them is Azerbaijan which has bought drones from Israel. By the way, it is known that Azerbaijan supplies ammunition to the Syrian militants, including ISIS. The scandalous investigation was published in the Bulgarian press.
 
Of course, Putin would hardly hint to Azerbaijan but after the conversation with Erdogan the Russian president makes an interesting statement without a visible target. It will be interesting if it turns out that Erdogan has given away Azerbaijan. By the way, the Putin-Netanyahu meeting announced on January 1 has not taken place yet.
 

 






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