More than One April 24, 2015, in Istanbul

More than One April 24, 2015, in Istanbul

It was the evening of April 24, 2015, and I was sitting on the street in Istanbul, right near where Istiklal Avenue starts off from Taksim Square. The area had been closed off especially for us—a part of town usually bustling (bursting, really) with people. Those around me were holding placards, mostly of the Armenians who had been placed under arrest that day 100 years earlier. I got a placard with one Hagop Terzian on it. “I must look him up,” I thought, somewhat ashamed of the fact that I had not heard of him before, one of the many whose memory was being honored that evening.

The atmosphere was that of a quiet crowd. There was some music, some speeches. I thought it odd that my feet were crossed on the ground next to the tracks over which the tramway ferries tourists and locals from one end of this long, touristy shopping street to the other. The tramway incessantly rings its bell as a warning because, again, Istiklal Avenue is always teeming with people. (I had earlier noticed a favorite game of one of the unfortunate newcomers to this part of the world—young refugee children from Syria, hopping on and off the protruding parts of the tramway wagon. No ringing bell ever dissuades them.) I made a mental note of exactly where I was on the street, trying to figure out a line joining the track to the shops and buildings around me. Someday I would show off the specific spot where I was on the 24th of April, 2015.

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Սահմանադրական փոփոխություններ. «Սատանան մանրամասների մեջ է»

Սահմանադրական փոփոխություններ. «Սատանան մանրամասների մեջ է»

Անգլերենով այսպիսի ասացվածք կա. «սատանան մանրամասնություններում է գտնվում» (“the devil is in the details”): Այսինքն՝ խոսքերը սիրուն են, բայց երբ բանը կա բուն գործին, ամեն ինչ կախված է այդ բուն գործը անելու ոճից: Ահավասիկ եւ այսպիսի հակազդեցություն Հայաստանի Հանրապետության սահմանադրական փոփոխությունների վերաբերյալ:

Նախ, ի՞նչ է սահմանադրություն կոչեցյալը: Շատ չխորանալով քաղաքական տեսությունների (սատանայական մանրամասնությունների՞) մեջ, երկու գլխավոր դրույթ նշեմ: Առաջինը՝ սահմանադրությունը իրենից «հասարակական պայմանագիր է ներկայացնում. ժողովուրդը ինքը ինչ-որ մի մեխանիզմով իր ընդհանուր կամքն է արտահայտում այդ փաստաթղթին միջոցով: Ոչ թե որեւէ մենապետ կամ այլ օժտյալ անձ է քաղաքական կարգ հաստատում ու քաղաքական որոշումներ կայացնում, այլ՝ ընդհանուր ժողովուրդը: Երկրորդ՝ սահմանադրություններ իշխանությունն են բաշխում. ոչ թե մի անհատ կամ խումբ՝ անգամ քվեարկությամբ ընտրված, ամբողջ իշխանությունն են ձեռք բերում, այլ զանազան գործակալություններ, զանազան պաշտոնական մարմիններ զանազան գործառույթներ են իրականացնում՝ մեկը մյուսին հակազդելով, մեկը մյուսին հակակշիռ հանդիսանալով: Այդպիսով, ոչ մի անհատ կամ խումբ չի կարող լայնածավալ ազդեցություն ունենալ:

կարդալ մնացածը

Turkey’s Post-Post-Modern Coup and U.S. Foreign Policy

Turkey’s Post-Post-Modern Coup and U.S. Foreign Policy

Turkey is no stranger to changes in regime. The administration in Ankara has seen fundamental, abrupt shifts a number of times since the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. Following the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1938, the military perceived itself as the guardian of the secular, republican order established by one of its own. With that in mind, the army stepped in on three separate occasions—in 1960, in 1971, and in 1980—to remove certain elements from power. Turkey returned to democracy each time.

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Why Diplomacy and International Law Matter

Why Diplomacy and International Law Matter

The ongoing dispute over Crimea has led more than one person around me to welcome power politics and decisiveness in the use of force internationally, as opposed to negotiations. My own education leads me to believe that diplomacy and respect for international legal frameworks are not only highly valuable as such, they are the only means for stability and security in the long term. Here’s why.

Guns are important. They are very important, in fact. But no state would be willing to use them unless absolutely necessary. Troops are expensive, and every life counts, especially in those countries where there is accountability and free and fair elections: no-one is going to vote you back in power if you caused someone close to them to die. Ever since 1945, international use of force has been outlawed, except if approved by the UN Security Council, and in self-defence until the Security Council takes up the matter. Humanitarian intervention (the “Responsibility to Protect” or “R2P”) is a new category that has been slow to gain currency internationally, as opinions vary widely on recent cases, such as Libya. States as sovereign entities have thus agreed to ban the use of force by adopting the UN Charter. What is more, there is no provision to leave the UN in its charter. Almost all states signed on to this agreement after the Second World War, and new states ever since have been quick to join the UN. Statehood and UN membership are more or less synonymous today. Therefore, use of force has ceased to be a value in international affairs. War is no longer a glorious, patriotic undertaking, the way it was portrayed in centuries past.

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Տավուշի խնդրով ՀՀ-ն ՄԱԿ-ի ԱԽ-ին կարող է, պետք է դիմի | Armenia Can and Should Appeal to UN Security Council Re: Azerbaijani Firing on Tavush

Տավուշի խնդրով ՀՀ-ն ՄԱԿ-ի ԱԽ-ին կարող է, պետք է դիմի

Տավուշի մարզի ուղղությամբ կրակելով՝ Ադրբեջանի Հանրապետությունը միջազգային իրավունքի կոպիտ խախտմամբ է հանդես գալիս, ու Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունը՝ որպես միջազգային իրավունքի սուբյեկտ, լիիրավ օժտված է ՄԱԿ-ի Անվտանգության խորհրդին դիմելու այս հարցով:

Միջազգային իրավունքի առանցքային կետը պետությունների միջեւ ուժի կիրառման կարգավորումն է: Երկրորդ աշխարհամարտի դաժան իրականությունից ելնելով, ՄԱԿ-ի Կանոնադրությամբ արգելվեց պետությունների ուժի կիրառումը մեկը մյուսի նկատմամբ:

կարդալ մնացածը

Armenia Can and Should Appeal to UN Security Council Re: Azerbaijani Firing on Tavush

The Republic of Azerbaijan is in clear violation of international law by firing on the Tavush region on Armenia, and the Republic of Armenia, as a subject of international law, is in its full rights to appeal to the UN Security Council on this matter.

The essence of international law lies in the regulation of the use of force between states. Following the horrors of the Second World War, the UN Charter prohibits the use of force by states on other states.

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The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

For many in the US and fans of its pop culture, the expression ‘the final frontier’ is immediately associated with TV shows and movies set in the future, following the adventures of a spaceship on its explorations of the far reaches of the galaxy. Today, and on this very planet, a kind of frontier exists that has not quite reached its finality and that finds itself drawing more than one line — the border between Armenia and Turkey.

That the Armenian and Turkish peoples have historical baggage between them is not news. One reason for that phenomenon is the fact that different pieces of territory that have over the course of millennia been referred to as “Armenia” are located in areas that make up present-day Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, even Syria and Iraq, apart from the Republic of Armenia itself. But, for the most part, the places that bear some Armenian heritage or other fall within Turkey today — and that heritage is almost entirely ignored, incessantly facing disrepair or purposeful destruction. The neglect becomes more evident when contrasted with the care given to the rich Ottoman heritage present in the country.

It is the past century in particular that has generated and sustained friction between Armenians and Turks. This is unsurprisingly accounted for by the historical legacy of the massacres and deportations of Armenians and other Christians of Asia Minor and Anatolia that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century, as the Ottoman Empire was drawing to a close and the Republic of Turkey was entering the arena of history. The qualification of that time period is disputed. Referred to as the Armenian genocide by most outside of Turkey and Azerbaijan, the characterization of “genocide” is disputed within the Turkish narrative. Continue reading

Why the Armenian Genocide Matters for America

Why the Armenian Genocide Matters for America

It’s that time of the year again. The run-up to the 24th of April – Armenian Martyrs’ Day – usually sees a slew of activity in Washington with one of the nation’s most persistent ethno-national lobbies clashing with the millions spent in counter-advocacy efforts by an active long-time member of NATO and close ally of the United States. It is not a balanced battle, but even though American citizens of Armenian descent have been a presence in Washington since the 1970s, all the political and financial clout coming out of Turkey has managed to stop short a presidential acknowledgement of “the g-word” (even if it was sort of slipped in a speech by President Ronald Reagan to commemorate the Holocaust). And even though the US Congress has twice, in 1975 and 1984, gone ahead with condemning “man’s inhumanity to man,” the recognition and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at the national level has never been implemented as a federal policy.

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Song and dance moves to Armenia

Song and dance moves to Armenia

BOSTON – There has lately been some activity surrounding the cause of what’s called “repatriation”, of having Diasporan Armenians move to the Republic of Armenia or to Artsakh. Not that that cause is new by any means, it’s just that a couple of concerted efforts over the past months has highlighted some points that seem worthy of reflection.

A youth group in the Los Angeles area, for instance, held a seminar recently that brought together interested parties and organisations that do work in Armenia. Such activities are truly informative and helpful to the community out there. But the sort of effusive representation of life and times in Armenia that comes up and of “repatriation” can sometimes be a little over the top. Continue reading

Armenian Parliamentary Elections 2012: The Fletcher Connection

Armenian Parliamentary Elections 2012: The Fletcher Connection

Armenians go to the polls to elect their fifth National Assembly on Sunday, May 6. Since its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has suffered from rampant corruption and bureaucratic ineptitude in addition to larger economic issues and a devastating 1988 earthquake. Moreover, a territorial dispute involving neighboring Azerbaijan and a troubled historical legacy with Turkey have sealed shut a majority of the landlocked country’s borders.

Suffice it to say, then, that the Republic of Armenia has more than its fair share of domestic and international issues. Unfortunately, national and local voting has proven to be among them. The credibility of most Armenian governments has been wanting due to lackluster elections. Most politicians likewise fail to inspire confidence in the people.

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Genocide Politics and People Power

Thoughts from Ahmet Altan’s Lecture at ALMA

On Saturday evening, Jan. 28, the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown hosted Ahmet Altan, the editor of the liberal Turkish newspaper Taraf, well known in Armenian circles as it often publishes material pertinent to and resonating with our cause. The event was organized by the Friends of Hrant Dink, in the memory of that seminal figure gunned down five years ago. After remarks by Barbara Meguerian and Harry Parsekian, noted historian Taner Akcam of Clark University praised the speaker for his work and went so far as to refer to Taraf as something of a political party, since it serves as a powerful outlet for the voice of the opposition in Turkey.

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