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30 March 2007

For Sean: Armenian church has been renovated, what more do you want?

Locals visit the renovated Armenian church, perched on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, March 29, 2007. Turkey spent USD1,5 million in the restoration of the ancient Akdamar church, one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture that will be converted in a museum.  
REUTERS/Umit Bektas


Anonymous said...

The Independent 30 March 2007

Turkish restoration of Armenian church leaves no room for apology
By Ian Herbert in Van, Anatolia, Turkey
Published: 30 March 2007
Across a blue salt lake on an island surrounded by snow-capped mountains in eastern Turkey, Armenian Christians were invited yesterday to witness how the Turkish nation has restored one of their most holy sites.

From the bas-relief etched out of red tufa stone, to the frescoes on the high conical roof, most of the ancient treasures were back on view again at the 1,000-year-old Church of the Holy Cross, on the island of Akdamar in Lake Van, eastern Anatolia. Except for the cross; the same cross which was visible in early sketches of the church and photographed in 1908, just before Armenians were rounded up, never to return, in the city of Van at the beginning of what they describe as their genocide at the hands of the Ottomans.

The church's restoration had been sold to the world - and specifically to the US, whose House of Representatives is about to consider a resolution labelling the Armenian deaths genocide - as proof that Turkey want to put things right with the Armenians. But, despite the protests of the restoration project's Armenian architect, a cross was ruled out - as is any immediate prospect of this Christian church being consecrated so Armenians might, occasionally at least, pray here again. "The church is reopening as a museum and doesn't need a cross," Yusuf Halacoglu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, insisted this week. "Around 22,000 Ottoman buildings have had crescents taken off when attacked. Other countries don't give as much attention to that."

The insensitivity set the tone for yesterday's ceremony which, despite the Turkish posters everywhere declaring Tarihe saygi, kulture saygi ("Respect the history, respect the culture"), was a painful and almost provocative statement of Turkey's national identity. The Armenian architect/bishop Manuel, who started building the church in AD 915, employed Armenian master carvers to create Christian reliefs of Adam and Eve, Noah's flood and David and Goliath. But Turkey has appropriated the holy site in a three-year, $2m (£1m) rebuild and was making no secret of the fact. The Turkish cresent and a giant Ataturk hung from the front of the church where, after a triumphal rendition of the Turkish national anthem, the culture and tourism minister, Atilla Koc, Turkey's most senior government representative, made his address. "We protect the cultural diversity and assets of different cultures," he proclaimed during a speech in which the word "Armenia" was not used once.

Perhaps it was just as well that only 29 people from Armenia had travelled here - by road, via Georgia, because the Turks would not open the borders to their cars or Van airport to their planes. But those who did make the journey bore witness to the most extraordinary man in the place.

Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan believes his people were the victims of genocide - he calls it medzegherm(the great slaughter) - and he would like the Turkish government to say "a simple sorry to my people to ease the tensions". But he was prepared to take the Turks' Akdamar gesture at face value in the hope that Armenians and Turks can live together. "The government ... has courageously completed the restoration project," he said when he clambered to his feet. "It is quite a positive move in Turkish-Armenian relations and I offer my profound thanks." His only request was that the Turks allow the church to become the site of annual pilgrimage, concluding in a Christian ceremony, once a year.

It remains to be seen whether Turkey's modernising Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan can let that pass. It is an election year and a rising tide of nationalism is being fuelled in large part by the EU's frostiness about Turkish accession. Antagonising those who consider further concessions to the Armenians an "insult to Turkishness" might be politically contentious. It might also explain why Mr Erdogan, a progressive who started the Akdamar project and has also launched a History Commission to investigate the events of 1915, thought it best not to attend yesterday's ceremony.

So desperate is Mr Erdogan's government to demonstrate its tolerance of Turkey's 70,000 Armenian minority that it took journalists around the country this week. The trip revealed more than the government might have intended: Armenian schools in Istanbul where only the Turkish version of history - ignoring 1915 - is taught; Armenian priests who need metal detectors at their churches because of the threat of extremists; and, at the newspaper offices of the murdered Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink, a stream of abusive emails from nationalists. (Dink's last article communicated his exasperation at the Turks' initial selection of 24 April - the day when Armenians mark the anniversary of the round-up of intellectuals in 1915 - as the day of the Akdamar church reopening. That date was later changed.)

With the Armenian government unwilling to join Mr Erdogan's History Commission, Patriarch Mutafyan invokes the memory of Levon Ter-Petrossian, Armenia's former president, and his search for common ground. Mr Ter-Petrossian wanted a monument on the countries' border with the inscription, in Armenian and Turkish, of the words "I'm sorry". It was never built.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday that a request by Patriarch Mutayfan that the cross be returned to Akdamar was being referred to the culture ministry. "I'm praying that one day it will be there," another Armenian church leader, George Kazoum, said before the ceremony.

For now, the Armenians can only take comfort from the crosses which no one can take from them. They were bathed in sunshine yesterday, away from all of the Turkish stage-managed razzmatazz, on gravestones in the Akdamar churchyard which have stood here through 1,000 years of snow, storms, earthquakes and human carnage.

Anonymous said...

The so-called ‘Akdamar museum’
Friday, March 30, 2007

Cengiz Çandar

This is the day of the opening of a "church-museum," which the Minister of Cultural Affairs turned into a mess. Whatever the intention was, it looks like a "cultural genocide." Today is indeed the day of the opening of the Ahtamar Church, which has been just restored, to "tourism," and which is expected to attract many tourists to Eastern Anatolia.

However the Ministry has renamed the 1000-year-old Armenian capital "Ani" as "Anı" (which means "memory" in Turkish), and also removed the cross and the bells from the Ahtamar Church, which it renamed as "Akdamar" (which means "white vein" in Turkish.) This obsession with renaming, the cultural and religious intolerance shown towards the cross and the church bell, might well be perceived in the world as a "cultural genocide"; nobody should be surprised if that turns out to be the case.

The obsession with renaming:

The name Akhtamar comes from a myth about the lake Van. It is about the story of a young man, who was looking forward to reunite with his lover, Tamar, who was on the island along with the church in question. The man yelled "Ah, Tamar" while he was drowning. Why in the world we change that name into "Akdamar"?

What kind of a lack of imagination is that? We have renamed many historical areas within Turkey with completely made-up names like "Güzelyurt" (Beautiful Home), "Yeşilyurt" (Green Home), "Yeşilköy" (Green Village), "Gündoğan" (Rising Day). And now, "Ani" turned into "Anı", and "Akhtamar" into "Akdamar."

You restore a historical church and find absurd reasons for not putting a cross and a bell onto it? Who will believe that you are secular, or that you "respect all faiths," or that you represent "the alliance of civilizations against the clash of civilizations."

What you do is simply "cultural genocide." How come you have the right for that? And why?

Here is an excerpt from a news story published in the weekly Agos on March 23, and which tells about the letter sent by a group of intellectuals from the Istanbul Armenian community to Minister of Culture, Atilla Koç:

“…Emphasizing that the church on the island is named “Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church” and that it gets its name from the Sourp Haç festival celebrated on the second Sunday of every September, the intellectuals say: ‘This is an important day and an important festival for Armenians. This is also the reason for the existence of that church. Therefore, we think it would be appropriate to have the name of the church, just like the name of the island, to be changed to fit the its religious and historical significance… If required, the ownership of the property can be given to the community and the operation right to the relative state body. However, if this site will also be [serving as] a church, then it needs to be blessed and open to prayers'.”

Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II says: “Is it possible to have a church without a cross at the top? Furthermore, religious services will not be conducted at its opening. If I will not have a role there as a [man of] religion, there will not be a point in my going there.”

Appear righteous and benefit politically:

What do you think “our set” are trying to do? If you ask me, they would like “to appear righteous and benefit politically.” And naturally they make a mess out of it. The initial plans were for the opening of Ahtamar to take place on Apr. 24. A real cunning idea... As it is known to be the “Armenian genocide remembrance day in the world,” a trump for propaganda would have been used on that day.

Then the date became Apr. 11. According to the ancient Armenian calendar, Apr. 11 coincides with Apr. 24. They probably knew this also. They were still pursuing another cunning idea. At the end, it was decided that the opening of Ahtamar, now “Akdamar,” would take place on Mar. 29, as a restoration opening of a museum-church, without a cross or a bell.

What a disgrace. The cross a symbol for the Christian world that represents Jesus Christ's suffering for all humanity. Even if Muslims do not believe in the cross, and even if there are negative connotations of the cross throughout history for Muslims, would it not be necessary to “show respect toward everyone's faiths” in a secular country in 2007? Would such an attitude not glorify a Muslim Culture Minister and his government?

On one hand, they constantly pronounce Fatih Sultan Mehmet's name, yet on the other, they cannot even come near what he has done 550 years ago or his tolerance. They have learned nothing from him.

Hrant Dink foretold it:

A reminder, just in case you have forgotten, that Hrant Dink was treacherously murdered with a shot in the back on Jan. 19. During the time of his murder, the last Agos newspaper he prepared, Agos's 564th issue has just hit the newsstands. The headline of the newspaper was on Ahtamar and so was the editorial, which Hrant wrote and signed as “Agos.”

Here's what Hrant Dink wrote in his editorial:

“The opening of the restored Surp Haç Armenian Church of Ahtamar Island has turned into a comedy. It could only be possible to put a right job on a wrong course so successfully. The impossible-to-hide hidden motive could not be more revealing. A real comedy… A real tragedy… The government hasn't still been able to formulate a correct approach to the “Armenian question.” Its real aim is not to solve the problem, but to gain points like a wrestler in a contest. How and when it will make the right move and defeat its opponent. That's the only concern. This is not earnestness. The state calls on Armenian historians to discuss history, but does not shy from trying its own intellectuals who have an unorthodox rhetoric on the Armenian genocide. It restores an Armenian church in the Southeast, but only thinks, “How can I use this for political gains in the world, how can I sell it?”

They shot Hrant on the day this article was published. It lost its charm in entity. There has been no charm ever since that day. Bad smells come from the Hrant Dink murder investigation.

And today, they replace the cross with the icing on the cake, when they open the Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church as “Akdamar.” Then the “alleged genocide” and “alliance of civilizations” rhetoric will follow.

Anonymous said...

03/28/2007 17:13

The Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on lake Van reopened but only as a museum

by Mavi Zambak

Built in the X century it lies in one of the country’s most beautiful areas, the very site of the Armenian genocide occurred. The journalist Hrant Dink, killed a months ago, had asked for the churches restoration and reopening. For years the ancient frescos had been used for target practice; the sacred building blackened by barbecue smoke for picnics. Armenian religious authorities protest. Patriarch Mesrob II refuses to participate in the ceremony.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – Tomorrow March 29 the Turkish government will reopen – as a museum – the ancient Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akdamar island in the middle of lake Van, on eastern Turkey’s border with Armenia. The date had been moved over 4 times. Tomorrow Turkish authorities will be present at the ceremony, including prime minister Erdogan, but the Armenian spiritual authorities will not be present. In fact the Ankara authorities have denied the use of the building as a Church and has also refused to place a cross at the summit of the dome, as the original Church once had.

Frescos destroyed and blackened

Lying in a splendid salt water volcanic lake, this suggestive church is reached by a short 15 minute baost trip. It is one of the most precious examples of Armenian tenth century art in existence, an architectural creation of rare beauty (view the photo album at following address: ).

In the past the Turkish journal Milliyet, had denounced the alarming story that the bas relief which decorate the facade of the Holy Cross and depict scenes from the New and Old testament, were being used as target practice. In order to prove the damage caused they published photos illustrating the extent of the bullets destruction. Moreover, on hearing of a hidden treasure present on the island, local residents became "hunters" in search of the presumed riches, committing untold acts of vandalism in the process.

As if that was not enough, the island, a popular destination for holiday picnic makers, was literally invaded by barbeques some even installed within the church itself, with the tragic consequence that the frescos on the church interior were blackened beyond recognition.

In 2004 the newspaper Zaman also raised the alarm about the degraded state of Holy Cross Church, despite the fact that it is a tourist location of renowned popularity among visitors from all over the world, above all the Armenian Diaspora. In fact it is widely known that this area – among the most beautiful landscapes in Turkey – is sadly infamous for having been one of the sites of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Today for many Armenians, wherever they may be, Akdamar remains a place dear to their hearts, so much so that many try to visit it before they die. The sight of elderly Armenians falling to their knees in prayer as they set foot on the sacred island is not a rare one.

A year and a half ago, the Turkish authorities decided to restore this artistic patrimony, a plan to preserve the historic identity of the church was laid out and after 15 months of intense work the restoration– which cost over 2 million euros and was carried out by the Turkish architect of note Zakerya Mildanoglu –has finished.

But not without controversy.

The restauration and the Armenian genocide

Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink – killed in Istanbul on January 19th – wrote an article for the Turkish paper Birgun which was republished by Milliyet the very day of his assassination: “Ten years ago I first appealed to the Van authorities. “Instead of inventing a monster in the lake to attract tourists why don’t you take care of the work of art which lies right under your nose. What need is there to waste your time on stupidities? Van is a veritable treasure from an Artistic point of view. Why do you not act seriously and sit down to ask yourselves: What if we restore the region? – And even if then Armenians did arrive, let them come to visit the birth place of their forefathers, what harm could they possibly do? “ And I even added: “If you need help we are ready. Turkey’s Armenians and those of the Diaspora are ready to volunteer their services, we are at your orders, let this be known! Come let us restore not only the Church but also our disenchanted souls”. Finally after a long wait restoration on Akdamar are completed (…) we are deeply indebted to Cahit Zeydanli for his meticulous work, he consulted experts from Armenia and also with architect Zakarya Mildanoglu, and Armenian from Turkey. They did their best and they have created something splendid. The did great things, but alas then politicians and bureaucrats became involved and the inauguration could not take place. Once the opening was put of from November 4th 2006 for reasons of inclement weather to April the 24th, as explained by Culture Minister Atilla Koc. Reactions were not short in coming. The Armenian Patriarch Mutafyan made known that in the case the inauguration actually happened on April 24th no Armenian should attend. Last week the question even arose in Parliament. CHP (Peoples Republican Party) deputy Erdal Karademir asked if the date of April 24th, the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, was a reflection of the politics of AKP (Justice and Development Party). For its’ part the nationalist press presented the event as “the inauguration of the Van vendetta”. They succeeded in transforming something positive into an error, a farce, a disaster. The government still has not taken up a clear position regarding the Armenian question. It is not concerned with resolving the issue, but in scoring points in a political battle, in basis of their opponents moves. They lack all credibility. The invite Armenian historians to the discussion table but then show no scruples in putting people on trial who have a different view point to the official line on the question. The restore the Armenian Church to attract tourists to the western Anatolia region, at the same time showing no sahme in scoring political points from it”.

After hypothesising over April 11th, now it has been decioded: tomorrow there will be the opening ceremony with the presence of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Minister for Culture and Tourism Attila Koc, the Minister for Armenian Culture Hasmik Poghosyan has also been invited. But the problems persist.

It is well known that the Border between Turkey and Armenia is closed, thus after various attempts to have a conduit opened, or a special airfield made available for the special occasion, so the Armenian authorities could make their way to Van directly from the Armenian capital, following Turkey’s repeated no, the group of Architects, historians and journalists today set out on an arduous 15 hour journey overland through Georgia, when Van lies a few hundred miles from Erivan.

A museum without a cross or religious ceremonies

The Armenian Patriarch Karekin Katolikos II has joined Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II in refusing to attend. Why? This historic Church has been transformed into a museum, a request for a cross to be put in place at the summit of the dome has been refused, there will be no bells and the opening ceremony will be equal to that of any secular museum.

“Seeing as it is not considered a Church, seeing as no religious celebration will mark this reopening, my presence there is really insignificant”, affirmed Patriarch Mesrob II, adding: “I pleaded with the President and Prime Minister to see that a cross be placed on the dome, I invited them to establish an annual Armenian festival in the area, but I have yet to receive an answer. Therefore my presence there on March 29th really has little sense”.

And the delicate relationship between the Patriarch and the Turkish authorities do not end here.

Days ago Mesrob II travelled under heavy police escort following death threats to Iskenderun, in ancient Alessandretta, a maritime city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, to celebrate the 225 anniversary of the local Armenian Church. Well, there in that very city which is also home to the Catholic Vicariate to Anatolia, the mayor decided to erect a monument to the Turks killed by French and Armenians during the French occupation of 1918-38.

The Patriarch, could only comment on this gesture as a further provocation by nationalists to divide the population : “Instead of building a bridge of dialogue between peoples, in this way they heighten tensions, this can only be the work of nationalists”, he sadly commented to journalists.

Even regarding Hrant Dink’s assassination, nothing clear has so far emerged: “If we still cannot find the true perpetrators of this crime, it means that they are well protected and from on high”, is the Patriarchs embittered response.

Litmus said...

the transparency of the petty calculations that are being made, as Candar's Turkish Daily News article and Hrant Dink's last few observations note, is retardation par excellence

Sean said...


Please read the article posted above by Anonymous called "The so-called ‘Akdamar museum’" by Cengiz Çandar. Here is a link to the original article:

What more do I want? The Turkish government is trying to cover the eyes of EU & US, right before a vote in Congress and the problems facing Turkey in EU. This is not a good gesture. This is a good old "Turkish Trick". Armenians and Greeks can recognize it from a mile away. (Most) Turks recognize it too, but they just chose to pretend that it's not there.

Cengiz Çandar is not one of those Turks. Turks must open their eyes, minds and hearts. When the current Turkish lies & tricks end, life will be better for both Turks and Armenians.

Sean said...

What more do I want?

I want why this was allowed to happen:

Who is going to provide them to me?

Anonymous said...

Start by calling it by its rightful name - Akhtamar. Then put a cross on the top. Then return it as the rightful property of the Patriarchate in Istanbul for it to be used as a church. Then apologize for having taken so long to do it.

gamze said...

There is NO satisfying Sean or the likes of him.

We can give them the WHOLE of Turkey and all the $$$$ in the world, but they'll continue to spew their hatred of Turks no matter what we do for them. The glue that holds them (and their national identity) together is their shared hatred of Turks around the globe. AND THAT WILL NEVER CHANGE.

Turkey wasted it's money in making this nice gesture. Why even bother!?

Sean said...

Gamze, you are right, YOU can NEVER satisfy me.

For the most part, all I do is post articles, published in Turkish and International papers, written by Turks or others. How does that amount to HATE?

Here is another article, from a TURKISH paper, written by a TURK. You should all read it to get to the TRUTH. Not my truth, not your truth, but one Turkish writter's truth.

If anything, I am suggesting that more Turks should read what's written about Turkey. I am enlightening your people, and anyone else who visits these sites.

Sean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean said...

Here is another article, also by a Turk, which I really enjoyed reading.

Please, stop hating the Armenians and start learning the Truth. "The Truth shall set you free."

The selection pasted below is from this article:


The ‘Akdamar' story:

Some of the weird things that took place around the re-opening of the Ahtamar Church will be better understood within this context. It is of course a kind and nice move to restore and open the 1000-year old sanctuary, but the steps taken in order to Turkify — and de-churchify — it are absurd. First, it was renamed in Turkish as “Akdamar.” Second, it was opened not as a church but as a “museum.” It was also denied the right to have a cross at the top. In the opening ceremony, giant posters of Atatürk and huge Turkish flags were more visible then any thing else. No wonder some Armenians have felt unhappy about all that.

Why do we feel the need to show our dominance on a little building? How do we have the right to define it as a “museum,” whereas it was built in order to worship God? And what do we gain by all that?

These are questions the Turkish authorities should ask themselves. It was a good step to reopen the Ahtamar Church, but it is only a half step. The Armenian community should be allowed to worship and organize services in the church, as Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan has demanded. Again, as he demanded, the Turkish Foreign Ministry should return the cross of the temple to its original place.

We should understand that Ahtamar is not a government building; it is a sanctuary built to worship God and by people who were living in this land many centuries before the Turkish Republic ever existed. It should be treated as such.

Anonim said...

Yeah, renaming the place as Akdamar from Ahtamar is pointless and unnecessary. The cross, I hope, will be installed one day to complete the museum as a museum should be.

But those who take offense from the Turkish flag on Turkish soil can bang their heads on the wall all they want. As for the place opening up as a church instead of a museum, that's a moot point, too, as it would have been a church without a congregation. Yet, Mutafyan's demand for it to be used for service on set occasions annually is both reasonable and practical.

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting web site showing info on other Armenian churches and historical sites in Anatolia:

Sean said...

Turkey Undermines Its Own Propaganda By Desecrating Armenian Church
The Turkish government finally carried out last week its much touted but ultimately failed public relations effort for the reopening of the Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island . It was a textbook case of how not to carry out a propaganda campaign.

By orchestrating such a high profile show, Ankara intended to impress the international community by trying to make the point that while Armenians are accusing the Turks of having committed genocide against them, the Turkish government was so magnanimous and gracious as to spend $1.5 million of its own money to renovate an ancient Armenian Church.

Due to sheer incompetence and no small degree of malice, Ankara botched just about every aspect of this ceremony. Here is a short list of the many missteps of the Turkish authorities which undermined their own objectives and interests:

Changed the date of the opening ceremonies 3 or 4 times, thus making it obvious to the world that Turkey was trying to find the most politically opportunistic time to score the maximum possible propaganda effect.

The Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles sent a large number of invitations to Armenians less than two weeks before the "Akdamar" (sic) ceremony. This mailing list was recently acquired from a "moderate" Armenian and the invitations were sent out in cheap brown envelopes, similar to the paper bags used by grocery stores.

Leaked to the Turkish media a fake list of the names of Diaspora Armenians who were supposedly attending the reopening ceremony, while in reality, not a single one of them was at Akhtamar.

Labeling the Armenians that were invited by Ankara to Akhtamar as "moderates," served to undermine their credibility and standing in the Armenian community.

Forced the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople to attend the ceremony without allowing him to say even a prayer.

Invited Armenian Church leaders to the reopening of a sacred Armenian Church, and then told them that it would be a museum and not a church, and that there would be no religious ceremony, no cross on the Church's dome and no affiliation with the Armenian Patriarchate. No wonder not a single Armenian Church leader showed up at the ceremony either from Armenia or the Diaspora, except for the Patriarch.

Invited high ranking Armenian government officials and then not allowed them to cross the border, thus forcing them to drive 15 hours to get to Lake Van via Georgia, rather than the 4 hours needed directly from Armenia.
Invited to the ceremony Israeli and American diplomats whose governments have refused to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide

Rejected the offer from a world famous Armenian-American pianist Shahan Arzruni, formerly of Istanbul, to perform at the opening ceremony on Akhtamar Island . Instead, they arranged for a Turkish pianist who played Turkish, Jewish and Armenian music.

Hoisted huge Turkish flags all over Akhtamar Island , including a large one on the church wall itself along with a massive banner of Ataturk.

When a couple of pious Armenian visitors lit candles inside the church, Turkish security agents quickly put out all the candles and confiscated them.

When Atilla Koc, the Minister of Culture of Turkey, was asked if mass could be held at the renovated Church once a year, he responded by saying that he is waiting for a decision from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus making it perfectly clear that the whole ceremony was a big political charade.

If Turkey wanted to impress international public opinion and win over Armenians everywhere, it should have done the exact opposite of what it actually did. As an Armenian Church leader recently told this writer, if the Turks truly desired to befriend the Armenians, they should have placed crosses all over the Holy Cross Church, instead of Turkish flags and posters of Ataturk. Rather than impressing Armenians, Turkey actually ended up insulting them by desecrating their historic Armenian Church!

Cengiz Candar, in his commentary published in the Turkish Daily News, had very harsh words for the Turkish authorities. He described their actions at Akhtamar as a "disgrace" and even "cultural genocide."

One can always count on Turkish officials to undermine their own state interests. That is why they are often referred to as "the gang that cannot shoot straight!"

cem said...

RFE/RL: How is the human rights situation in Armenia, which has tilted more to Moscow than the West since the breakup of the Soviet Union?

Krilla: We've got an election coming up in Armenia this year in April, but I think the human rights conditions continue to remain poor. There are credible reports that law enforcement officials engaged in arbitrary arrests [and] detention and abuse of detainees. There's a lot of concern, from our perspective, of rule-of-law issues in Armenia. And certainly media freedom is not what it could be. The government has restricted freedom of speech and the press, and I might even note -- through a very unusual move -- lawmakers rejected a government-sponsored bill that would have further restricted media activities.

There is still an opposition, in that we see having some sort of force to try and keep the checks and balances in the government in place. But overall media freedom and rule-of-law issues are of concern to us.

I will also add two other areas of concern. Religious freedom. Government and overall Armenian society continue to view minority religious groups with suspicion. Although they are allowed to operate, I think this is something that bears watching. And secondly, trafficking in persons. Trafficking in persons for purposes of sexual and labor exploitation continued to be a problem in 2006, although the government did pass legislation that toughened penalties for trafficking -- something else that bears attention, I think, in the future.


Will Armenians ever change?

MURAT perhaps it time you consider changing the name of your blog to Seans Little Turkish Bitch. 301 that. Harsh yes, but he is running this blog and in a very disrespectful manner.

sean, i find you repulsive, it is people like you who fuel the fires of hate and lessen humanity.

Bolsa Hye said...

I think it is extremely interesting to note that virtually every newspaper article criticizing the way Akhtamar Church was reopened was written by Turkish journalists and published in Turkish newspapers. This is very suggestive of the growing enlightment of the Turkish people as it relates to the Armenian "situation".

Sean said...

cem, I am not surprised that you find me "repulsive". If you hate this blog so much, why do you visit it?

I am sure there are many Turkish websites for people like you, who do not post comments left by people like me. Why aren't you reading those blogs instead, with a smile on your face that no one disagrees with your views? Isn't that what you want?

Sean said...

cem, by the way, thanks for the interesting article about Armenia. I really enjoyed reading it.

If you have any ideas of how Armenia can be improved, please don't be shy. Excercise your freedom of speech. I am sure you don't get to do that very often.

cem said...

sean, I am sure there are many Armenian websites for people like you, who do not post comments left by people like me. Why aren't you reading those blogs instead, with a smile on your face that no one disagrees with your views? Isn't that what you want?

cem, I am not surprised that you find me "repulsive". If you hate this blog so much, why do you visit it?

Why would you be surprised? You're not stupid, you know that about yourself. I don't want to just be a part of the consensus, I would like to help you stop being the repulsive person that you are.
Maybe we can get you in a 12 step program. I'm here for you, I would like to be the wind beneath your wings.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article, I did not know that you cared about Armenia after all not many people do. If you like I can enlghten you to Armenian hypocrisy on a daily basis. Turkey at the moment is a little messy, true, but Armenia, well let me be blunt and just say that it is one filthy home that needs to be thoroughly cleaned and in need of urgent attention.

sean said:
If you have any ideas of how Armenia can be improved, please don't be shy. Excercise your freedom of speech. I am sure you don't get to do that very often.

I don't live in Armenia and like the majority of Armenians neither do you. Thank God we don't need to watch what we say.

Sean said...

cem said "Maybe we can get you in a 12 step program".

I will be happy to join the program.

Step 1: Turkey stops using oil & $$ as a threat against countries who are recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Read this article:

Step 2: Turkey stops murdering prominent Armenians in Turkey and using the reaction of Moderate Turks and Armenians to those tragedies as a propaganda tool to show the world that it cares about the minorities.

Step 3: Turkey stops using Armenian religious sites as museums for tourists and allows them to be used as intended.

Step 4: Turkey recognizes the Armenian Genocide and apologizes to the victims, to their families, to the Armenian people and the entire world.

Step 5: Turkey acknowledges that for the past 92 years, its denial campaign was based on lies and fabricated evidence.

Step 6: Turkey investigates the title ownership of each property that was taken from Armenians (and others) without just compensation. Turkey agrees to return those properties to the heirs of the rightful owners, or, as an alternative, if they prefer, they could take compensation, plus interest.

Step 7: Turkey pays compensation for all the lives taken.

Step 8: Turkey opens the border with Armenia and starts diplomatic relations.

Step 9: Turkey does away with 301.

Step 10: Turkey holds public trials for the people accused of being involved with the murder of Hrant Dink.

Step 11: Turkey restores minority rights.

Step 12: Sean stops being "repulsive", to the satisfaction of cem.

Bolsa Hye said...


I don't think Sean is repulsive to rational, sympathetic and kind people who have a conscience. Perhaps to those who can't stand hearing the truth, he may appear vile. Perhaps to those who cannot defend their position without dispensing personal insults that are irrelevant to the topic, he may seem "repulsive" as you put it. But to the rest of us, he is anything but repulsive.

As for your thoughts on Armenia; all it does is show us that you are a hateful and prejudiced person. Otherwise, how could you make such comments about a place you've never been.

cem said...

Bolsa Hye said...

I don't think Sean is repulsive to rational, sympathetic and kind people who have a conscience.

On the contrary my dear Bolsa Hye, it is my rational, sympathetic and compassionate nature that finds sean so repulsive and ignorant.

I must say bravo to you and all the other Armenian ultra-nationalist who visit this blog, for constantly defending each other. I have yet to see any Armenian criticize another of their ilk for being harsh or indecent.
Good for you guys and girls.
Apparently it is not in the Turkish nature do so. Perhaps that Armenian gang mentality that lead to the murder of my grandfather's younger brother, his wife, two children and sister in law still runs in your psyche.

Cry me a river with your false crocodile tears.