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Turkish PhD Student – “I hear more interesting views from average Armenians than the intellectuals”

September 26, 2011 Armenia, Arts, Culture, Diaspora, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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An interview with Turgut Kerem Tuncel, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Trento (Italy).

Mr. Tuncel, native of Turkey, is in Armenia to do research for his thesis entitled “Mayr Hayastan, Im Hayrenik; The memory and politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”.

What prompted you to do your thesis on the Armenian experience?

Well, it all came out of my initial interest in Jewish studies and anti-Semitism. Then I decided to make a comparative study of the survival strategies of the Jewish and Armenian communities in Turkey. Then, I started to focus on the Armenian community there and the concept of the “diaspora”.

It was how the Republic of Armenia was portraying itself as the homeland of all Armenians that intrigued me, given that most Armenians in the diaspora derive from eastern Anatolia. This construct of the current Armenian identity was of interest to me.

What did this comparative study between the Jewish and Armenian experiences show?

Briefly, the two tragedies experienced by these two people resulted in opposite realities. In the Jewish case, the Holocaust, in many ways, resulted in the consolidation of the Jewish state, while 1915 resulted in the diasporization of the Armenian people.

Have you looked at the repatriation issue in Armenia during your research? The differences between Israel and Armenia in this regard are glaring?

Actually, the repatriation issue is a major component of my research. It directly ties in to this concept of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) as the homeland for all Armenians.

I’d say that what is being done here in Armenia can be best described a “lip service”. And there are many underlying reasons for this.

Many Armenians from the RoA actually want to leave for socio-economic and other reasons. So how can the government invite Armenians from Paris or Los Angeles, living relatively comfortable lives, to relocate? What will these people do here?

The economic, political and social infrastructure in Armenia is not sufficient to sustain any serious repatriation.

Here, I’d like to remind you of Theodore Herzl’s work “The Jewish State”. The second part of the book gives a very detailed approach to the repatriation of Jews to the land of Israel. Herzl lay down a very rational outline.

I don’t see the same thing in Armenia or in the diaspora press. For example, there is talk of creating a Pan-Armenian National Council but you won’t find any details on the website of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. Then there was the idea of creating a two-chamber parliament in Armenia to get the diaspora represented. This too seemed to me less than serious

You include the word ‘memory’ in the title of your dissertation. The memory of the traditional diaspora is that of pre-1915 western Armenia. If this collective memory of the past is a major component of the current identity of so many diaspora Armenians, how can the RoA redirect this focus and serve as a rallying point today?

This is a problematic aspect of the diaspora – homeland issue. When you look at some segments of the diaspora, you can say they live in a strange mental world. They live in the present day but their minds are always returning to the pre-1915 period.

The diaspora could be a real asset for Armenia and the country really needs all the assets it can attract. But the traditional diaspora, or let’s say the leadership of the traditional diaspora, they cannot grasp the reality of current Armenia due to this focus on an idealized past.

Thus, I believe young diaspora Armenians must establish real relations and ties with this Armenia in 2011. They must reach out to the Armenia of today and not with that of their grandparents in order to help solve the myriad problems now facing the RoA.

So, can we say that there are two ‘homelands’ competing for the hearts and minds of the traditional Armenian diaspora?

Well, I am sure there are some Armenians who say they do not identify with current Armenia but I would also say that after the creation of the third republic in 1991, more and more diaspora Armenians and organizations have realized that, on a practical level at least, the RoA should be the focus of their energies.

In a way, those talking about a return to western Armenia may be a convenient excuse to not doing more, or even relocating, to the Armenia of today. It would be a challenge for them to leave what they know and are comfortable with in France or the U.S. and move to an Armenia that faces many problems.

This is understandable. We are all human beings. But they have to face reality and not overlook the fact that the Armenia of today needs a lot of help.

You talk about “the politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”. Can we assume that the RoA government has a political agenda in mind – creating an image of an Armenia where the concept of “love it or leave it” holds sway?

Well let’s look at the official state discourse – the attempt to portray the RoA as the homeland for all Armenians. Of course it’s a political strategy to connect the diaspora to Yerevan and tap into its resources.

In this sense, it’s a very understandable strategy on the part of the RoA government.

This divide between the traditional diaspora and the RoA probably manifests itself most clearly on the Genocide issue. Many argue the Turkish government seeks to manipulate the issue and thus divide the hard-line diaspora with a more malleable RoA. What’s your view?

All I can say is that the general perception in Turkey is that the diaspora takes a more hard-line approach as compared to the RoA. Just look at the fallout resulting from the Protocol debate. But as to whether Ankara has adopted a policy to play one off the other, I can’t say.

What I would like to add is that the RoA government, in turn, has somehow manipulated the issue as well. By creating this bogeyman image of Turkey, it has made calls for national unity and greater support for Armenia. In a way, it has sought the “unquestioning” loyalty of the diaspora in the name of national unity. This too is a fact.

This is your third visit to Armenia and you’ve been here for two months now. Can you give me a few general impressions?

Well, I came here to do research for my thesis and have interviewed several diaspora Armenians who have relocated but I also wanted to get a feel for the country and the people.

On a personal level, I have had positive experiences and have encountered no hostility when people find out I am Turkish.

I find it interesting that the press in Armenia has daily articles on Turkey and developments there. Mostly the press focuses on the negative aspects and not on the recent changes for the positive. This isn’t to say that Turkey doesn’t have problems and that conditions for Armenians living there aren’t problematic. Not at all.

I rented an apartment here and would always go to the same small shop to get bread and some breakfast. The sales ladies would always smile and joke with me. One day they asked where I was from and I told them I was from Turkey. Then they asked if I was Armenian or Turkish. I said, Turkish .After that, their smiles faded.

Another time, I and a few friends were at a nightclub in Yerevan. I went out for a smoke and there was a security guard outside smoking as well. He asked me where I was from. I said, Turkey. He asked if I was an Armenian from Turkey in a kind of aggressive way. I figured I should answer that yes, I was. He then started to interrogate me. Was my father and mother Armenian? I guess he didn’t believe me. It was getting a bit heated. The guy then told me that “I have killed Turks in Karabakh” and repeated this. All I could say was “Ok” and then I left.

This was the only time I felt really uneasy in Armenia. I would like to say that I feel safer in Yerevan than I do in Istanbul. Armenians, I have found, are not an aggressive people.

You have met with repatriates and average citizens here. What about your meetings with officials and the academia? Did you encounter any problems in getting them to sit down and talk with you?

I tried to arrange interviews with the major political parties but only two agreed to talk with me – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage. The others declined but never told me why.

I also spoke to a number of intellectuals and university professors. To be honest, I heard more interesting views and ideas from ordinary people than from the intelligentsia in Armenia. I don’t want to sound over judgemental, but the role of intellectuals is to bring forth new approaches and concepts – in a way to make us angry and challenge us.

What I heard from most, not all, were the same old stories and prejudices regarding the Armenia-Turkish issue.

Maybe a majority of intellectuals in Armenia are too conformist or opportunist when it comes to opening new doors. It makes me somewhat less optimistic regarding the future.

What about preconceived notions of Armenians in Turkey, amongst average citizens?

Let me give you a concrete example. Several years ago there was a quantitative study conducted jointly in Armenia and Turkey about their views of the other.

What the research showed was that the average Turkish person knows very little about Armenians. But, recently, amongst university students and some intellectuals, there’s a growing interest in Armenia and the culture. Again, it’s a new process of learning.

Armenians, on the other hand, have a certain knowledge and understanding of Turkey. This is another asymmetry between the two peoples.

There’s less coverage in the mainstream Turkish press about Armenia than the other way around.

Armenia isn’t a top priority when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. In the end, though, relations between the two neighbouring states must be normalized and this will require more dialogue and understanding of the other.

 

 

 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Are Turkish-Armenians Diaspora?: Istanbul journalist says Turkey’s Armenians live in their historical lands
  2. Serzh Sargsyan will hear out Diaspora’s opinion on RA-Turkish protocols
  3. Turkish Intellectuals Call on Turkish Society to Commemorate Victims of The Armenian Genocide
  4. More than Turkish Armenians, Ethnic Turks have Interest in Business with Armenia: Expert
  5. Seven Armenians Seek Seats In Turkish Parliament

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An interview with Turgut Kerem Tuncel, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Trento (Italy).

Mr. Tuncel, native of Turkey, is in Armenia to do research for his thesis entitled “Mayr Hayastan, Im Hayrenik; The memory and politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”.

What prompted you to do your thesis on the Armenian experience?

Well, it all came out of my initial interest in Jewish studies and anti-Semitism. Then I decided to make a comparative study of the survival strategies of the Jewish and Armenian communities in Turkey. Then, I started to focus on the Armenian community there and the concept of the “diaspora”.

It was how the Republic of Armenia was portraying itself as the homeland of all Armenians that intrigued me, given that most Armenians in the diaspora derive from eastern Anatolia. This construct of the current Armenian identity was of interest to me.

What did this comparative study between the Jewish and Armenian experiences show?

Briefly, the two tragedies experienced by these two people resulted in opposite realities. In the Jewish case, the Holocaust, in many ways, resulted in the consolidation of the Jewish state, while 1915 resulted in the diasporization of the Armenian people.

Have you looked at the repatriation issue in Armenia during your research? The differences between Israel and Armenia in this regard are glaring?

Actually, the repatriation issue is a major component of my research. It directly ties in to this concept of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) as the homeland for all Armenians.

I’d say that what is being done here in Armenia can be best described a “lip service”. And there are many underlying reasons for this.

Many Armenians from the RoA actually want to leave for socio-economic and other reasons. So how can the government invite Armenians from Paris or Los Angeles, living relatively comfortable lives, to relocate? What will these people do here?

The economic, political and social infrastructure in Armenia is not sufficient to sustain any serious repatriation.

Here, I’d like to remind you of Theodore Herzl’s work “The Jewish State”. The second part of the book gives a very detailed approach to the repatriation of Jews to the land of Israel. Herzl lay down a very rational outline.

I don’t see the same thing in Armenia or in the diaspora press. For example, there is talk of creating a Pan-Armenian National Council but you won’t find any details on the website of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. Then there was the idea of creating a two-chamber parliament in Armenia to get the diaspora represented. This too seemed to me less than serious

You include the word ‘memory’ in the title of your dissertation. The memory of the traditional diaspora is that of pre-1915 western Armenia. If this collective memory of the past is a major component of the current identity of so many diaspora Armenians, how can the RoA redirect this focus and serve as a rallying point today?

This is a problematic aspect of the diaspora – homeland issue. When you look at some segments of the diaspora, you can say they live in a strange mental world. They live in the present day but their minds are always returning to the pre-1915 period.

The diaspora could be a real asset for Armenia and the country really needs all the assets it can attract. But the traditional diaspora, or let’s say the leadership of the traditional diaspora, they cannot grasp the reality of current Armenia due to this focus on an idealized past.

Thus, I believe young diaspora Armenians must establish real relations and ties with this Armenia in 2011. They must reach out to the Armenia of today and not with that of their grandparents in order to help solve the myriad problems now facing the RoA.

So, can we say that there are two ‘homelands’ competing for the hearts and minds of the traditional Armenian diaspora?

Well, I am sure there are some Armenians who say they do not identify with current Armenia but I would also say that after the creation of the third republic in 1991, more and more diaspora Armenians and organizations have realized that, on a practical level at least, the RoA should be the focus of their energies.

In a way, those talking about a return to western Armenia may be a convenient excuse to not doing more, or even relocating, to the Armenia of today. It would be a challenge for them to leave what they know and are comfortable with in France or the U.S. and move to an Armenia that faces many problems.

This is understandable. We are all human beings. But they have to face reality and not overlook the fact that the Armenia of today needs a lot of help.

You talk about “the politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”. Can we assume that the RoA government has a political agenda in mind – creating an image of an Armenia where the concept of “love it or leave it” holds sway?

Well let’s look at the official state discourse – the attempt to portray the RoA as the homeland for all Armenians. Of course it’s a political strategy to connect the diaspora to Yerevan and tap into its resources.

In this sense, it’s a very understandable strategy on the part of the RoA government.

This divide between the traditional diaspora and the RoA probably manifests itself most clearly on the Genocide issue. Many argue the Turkish government seeks to manipulate the issue and thus divide the hard-line diaspora with a more malleable RoA. What’s your view?

All I can say is that the general perception in Turkey is that the diaspora takes a more hard-line approach as compared to the RoA. Just look at the fallout resulting from the Protocol debate. But as to whether Ankara has adopted a policy to play one off the other, I can’t say.

What I would like to add is that the RoA government, in turn, has somehow manipulated the issue as well. By creating this bogeyman image of Turkey, it has made calls for national unity and greater support for Armenia. In a way, it has sought the “unquestioning” loyalty of the diaspora in the name of national unity. This too is a fact.

This is your third visit to Armenia and you’ve been here for two months now. Can you give me a few general impressions?

Well, I came here to do research for my thesis and have interviewed several diaspora Armenians who have relocated but I also wanted to get a feel for the country and the people.

On a personal level, I have had positive experiences and have encountered no hostility when people find out I am Turkish.

I find it interesting that the press in Armenia has daily articles on Turkey and developments there. Mostly the press focuses on the negative aspects and not on the recent changes for the positive. This isn’t to say that Turkey doesn’t have problems and that conditions for Armenians living there aren’t problematic. Not at all.

I rented an apartment here and would always go to the same small shop to get bread and some breakfast. The sales ladies would always smile and joke with me. One day they asked where I was from and I told them I was from Turkey. Then they asked if I was Armenian or Turkish. I said, Turkish .After that, their smiles faded.

Another time, I and a few friends were at a nightclub in Yerevan. I went out for a smoke and there was a security guard outside smoking as well. He asked me where I was from. I said, Turkey. He asked if I was an Armenian from Turkey in a kind of aggressive way. I figured I should answer that yes, I was. He then started to interrogate me. Was my father and mother Armenian? I guess he didn’t believe me. It was getting a bit heated. The guy then told me that “I have killed Turks in Karabakh” and repeated this. All I could say was “Ok” and then I left.

This was the only time I felt really uneasy in Armenia. I would like to say that I feel safer in Yerevan than I do in Istanbul. Armenians, I have found, are not an aggressive people.

You have met with repatriates and average citizens here. What about your meetings with officials and the academia? Did you encounter any problems in getting them to sit down and talk with you?

I tried to arrange interviews with the major political parties but only two agreed to talk with me – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage. The others declined but never told me why.

I also spoke to a number of intellectuals and university professors. To be honest, I heard more interesting views and ideas from ordinary people than from the intelligentsia in Armenia. I don’t want to sound over judgemental, but the role of intellectuals is to bring forth new approaches and concepts – in a way to make us angry and challenge us.

What I heard from most, not all, were the same old stories and prejudices regarding the Armenia-Turkish issue.

Maybe a majority of intellectuals in Armenia are too conformist or opportunist when it comes to opening new doors. It makes me somewhat less optimistic regarding the future.

What about preconceived notions of Armenians in Turkey, amongst average citizens?

Let me give you a concrete example. Several years ago there was a quantitative study conducted jointly in Armenia and Turkey about their views of the other.

What the research showed was that the average Turkish person knows very little about Armenians. But, recently, amongst university students and some intellectuals, there’s a growing interest in Armenia and the culture. Again, it’s a new process of learning.

Armenians, on the other hand, have a certain knowledge and understanding of Turkey. This is another asymmetry between the two peoples.

There’s less coverage in the mainstream Turkish press about Armenia than the other way around.

Armenia isn’t a top priority when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. In the end, though, relations between the two neighbouring states must be normalized and this will require more dialogue and understanding of the other.

 

 

 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Are Turkish-Armenians Diaspora?: Istanbul journalist says Turkey’s Armenians live in their historical lands
  2. Serzh Sargsyan will hear out Diaspora’s opinion on RA-Turkish protocols
  3. Turkish Intellectuals Call on Turkish Society to Commemorate Victims of The Armenian Genocide
  4. More than Turkish Armenians, Ethnic Turks have Interest in Business with Armenia: Expert
  5. Seven Armenians Seek Seats In Turkish Parliament

New Children’s Picture Book From Armenian Folklore

An interview with Turgut Kerem Tuncel, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Trento (Italy).

Mr. Tuncel, native of Turkey, is in Armenia to do research for his thesis entitled “Mayr Hayastan, Im Hayrenik; The memory and politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”.

What prompted you to do your thesis on the Armenian experience?

Well, it all came out of my initial interest in Jewish studies and anti-Semitism. Then I decided to make a comparative study of the survival strategies of the Jewish and Armenian communities in Turkey. Then, I started to focus on the Armenian community there and the concept of the “diaspora”.

It was how the Republic of Armenia was portraying itself as the homeland of all Armenians that intrigued me, given that most Armenians in the diaspora derive from eastern Anatolia. This construct of the current Armenian identity was of interest to me.

What did this comparative study between the Jewish and Armenian experiences show?

Briefly, the two tragedies experienced by these two people resulted in opposite realities. In the Jewish case, the Holocaust, in many ways, resulted in the consolidation of the Jewish state, while 1915 resulted in the diasporization of the Armenian people.

Have you looked at the repatriation issue in Armenia during your research? The differences between Israel and Armenia in this regard are glaring?

Actually, the repatriation issue is a major component of my research. It directly ties in to this concept of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) as the homeland for all Armenians.

I’d say that what is being done here in Armenia can be best described a “lip service”. And there are many underlying reasons for this.

Many Armenians from the RoA actually want to leave for socio-economic and other reasons. So how can the government invite Armenians from Paris or Los Angeles, living relatively comfortable lives, to relocate? What will these people do here?

The economic, political and social infrastructure in Armenia is not sufficient to sustain any serious repatriation.

Here, I’d like to remind you of Theodore Herzl’s work “The Jewish State”. The second part of the book gives a very detailed approach to the repatriation of Jews to the land of Israel. Herzl lay down a very rational outline.

I don’t see the same thing in Armenia or in the diaspora press. For example, there is talk of creating a Pan-Armenian National Council but you won’t find any details on the website of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. Then there was the idea of creating a two-chamber parliament in Armenia to get the diaspora represented. This too seemed to me less than serious

You include the word ‘memory’ in the title of your dissertation. The memory of the traditional diaspora is that of pre-1915 western Armenia. If this collective memory of the past is a major component of the current identity of so many diaspora Armenians, how can the RoA redirect this focus and serve as a rallying point today?

This is a problematic aspect of the diaspora – homeland issue. When you look at some segments of the diaspora, you can say they live in a strange mental world. They live in the present day but their minds are always returning to the pre-1915 period.

The diaspora could be a real asset for Armenia and the country really needs all the assets it can attract. But the traditional diaspora, or let’s say the leadership of the traditional diaspora, they cannot grasp the reality of current Armenia due to this focus on an idealized past.

Thus, I believe young diaspora Armenians must establish real relations and ties with this Armenia in 2011. They must reach out to the Armenia of today and not with that of their grandparents in order to help solve the myriad problems now facing the RoA.

So, can we say that there are two ‘homelands’ competing for the hearts and minds of the traditional Armenian diaspora?

Well, I am sure there are some Armenians who say they do not identify with current Armenia but I would also say that after the creation of the third republic in 1991, more and more diaspora Armenians and organizations have realized that, on a practical level at least, the RoA should be the focus of their energies.

In a way, those talking about a return to western Armenia may be a convenient excuse to not doing more, or even relocating, to the Armenia of today. It would be a challenge for them to leave what they know and are comfortable with in France or the U.S. and move to an Armenia that faces many problems.

This is understandable. We are all human beings. But they have to face reality and not overlook the fact that the Armenia of today needs a lot of help.

You talk about “the politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”. Can we assume that the RoA government has a political agenda in mind – creating an image of an Armenia where the concept of “love it or leave it” holds sway?

Well let’s look at the official state discourse – the attempt to portray the RoA as the homeland for all Armenians. Of course it’s a political strategy to connect the diaspora to Yerevan and tap into its resources.

In this sense, it’s a very understandable strategy on the part of the RoA government.

This divide between the traditional diaspora and the RoA probably manifests itself most clearly on the Genocide issue. Many argue the Turkish government seeks to manipulate the issue and thus divide the hard-line diaspora with a more malleable RoA. What’s your view?

All I can say is that the general perception in Turkey is that the diaspora takes a more hard-line approach as compared to the RoA. Just look at the fallout resulting from the Protocol debate. But as to whether Ankara has adopted a policy to play one off the other, I can’t say.

What I would like to add is that the RoA government, in turn, has somehow manipulated the issue as well. By creating this bogeyman image of Turkey, it has made calls for national unity and greater support for Armenia. In a way, it has sought the “unquestioning” loyalty of the diaspora in the name of national unity. This too is a fact.

This is your third visit to Armenia and you’ve been here for two months now. Can you give me a few general impressions?

Well, I came here to do research for my thesis and have interviewed several diaspora Armenians who have relocated but I also wanted to get a feel for the country and the people.

On a personal level, I have had positive experiences and have encountered no hostility when people find out I am Turkish.

I find it interesting that the press in Armenia has daily articles on Turkey and developments there. Mostly the press focuses on the negative aspects and not on the recent changes for the positive. This isn’t to say that Turkey doesn’t have problems and that conditions for Armenians living there aren’t problematic. Not at all.

I rented an apartment here and would always go to the same small shop to get bread and some breakfast. The sales ladies would always smile and joke with me. One day they asked where I was from and I told them I was from Turkey. Then they asked if I was Armenian or Turkish. I said, Turkish .After that, their smiles faded.

Another time, I and a few friends were at a nightclub in Yerevan. I went out for a smoke and there was a security guard outside smoking as well. He asked me where I was from. I said, Turkey. He asked if I was an Armenian from Turkey in a kind of aggressive way. I figured I should answer that yes, I was. He then started to interrogate me. Was my father and mother Armenian? I guess he didn’t believe me. It was getting a bit heated. The guy then told me that “I have killed Turks in Karabakh” and repeated this. All I could say was “Ok” and then I left.

This was the only time I felt really uneasy in Armenia. I would like to say that I feel safer in Yerevan than I do in Istanbul. Armenians, I have found, are not an aggressive people.

You have met with repatriates and average citizens here. What about your meetings with officials and the academia? Did you encounter any problems in getting them to sit down and talk with you?

I tried to arrange interviews with the major political parties but only two agreed to talk with me – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage. The others declined but never told me why.

I also spoke to a number of intellectuals and university professors. To be honest, I heard more interesting views and ideas from ordinary people than from the intelligentsia in Armenia. I don’t want to sound over judgemental, but the role of intellectuals is to bring forth new approaches and concepts – in a way to make us angry and challenge us.

What I heard from most, not all, were the same old stories and prejudices regarding the Armenia-Turkish issue.

Maybe a majority of intellectuals in Armenia are too conformist or opportunist when it comes to opening new doors. It makes me somewhat less optimistic regarding the future.

What about preconceived notions of Armenians in Turkey, amongst average citizens?

Let me give you a concrete example. Several years ago there was a quantitative study conducted jointly in Armenia and Turkey about their views of the other.

What the research showed was that the average Turkish person knows very little about Armenians. But, recently, amongst university students and some intellectuals, there’s a growing interest in Armenia and the culture. Again, it’s a new process of learning.

Armenians, on the other hand, have a certain knowledge and understanding of Turkey. This is another asymmetry between the two peoples.

There’s less coverage in the mainstream Turkish press about Armenia than the other way around.

Armenia isn’t a top priority when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. In the end, though, relations between the two neighbouring states must be normalized and this will require more dialogue and understanding of the other.

 

 

 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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  2. Serzh Sargsyan will hear out Diaspora’s opinion on RA-Turkish protocols
  3. Turkish Intellectuals Call on Turkish Society to Commemorate Victims of The Armenian Genocide
  4. More than Turkish Armenians, Ethnic Turks have Interest in Business with Armenia: Expert
  5. Seven Armenians Seek Seats In Turkish Parliament

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

An interview with Turgut Kerem Tuncel, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Trento (Italy).

Mr. Tuncel, native of Turkey, is in Armenia to do research for his thesis entitled “Mayr Hayastan, Im Hayrenik; The memory and politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”.

What prompted you to do your thesis on the Armenian experience?

Well, it all came out of my initial interest in Jewish studies and anti-Semitism. Then I decided to make a comparative study of the survival strategies of the Jewish and Armenian communities in Turkey. Then, I started to focus on the Armenian community there and the concept of the “diaspora”.

It was how the Republic of Armenia was portraying itself as the homeland of all Armenians that intrigued me, given that most Armenians in the diaspora derive from eastern Anatolia. This construct of the current Armenian identity was of interest to me.

What did this comparative study between the Jewish and Armenian experiences show?

Briefly, the two tragedies experienced by these two people resulted in opposite realities. In the Jewish case, the Holocaust, in many ways, resulted in the consolidation of the Jewish state, while 1915 resulted in the diasporization of the Armenian people.

Have you looked at the repatriation issue in Armenia during your research? The differences between Israel and Armenia in this regard are glaring?

Actually, the repatriation issue is a major component of my research. It directly ties in to this concept of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) as the homeland for all Armenians.

I’d say that what is being done here in Armenia can be best described a “lip service”. And there are many underlying reasons for this.

Many Armenians from the RoA actually want to leave for socio-economic and other reasons. So how can the government invite Armenians from Paris or Los Angeles, living relatively comfortable lives, to relocate? What will these people do here?

The economic, political and social infrastructure in Armenia is not sufficient to sustain any serious repatriation.

Here, I’d like to remind you of Theodore Herzl’s work “The Jewish State”. The second part of the book gives a very detailed approach to the repatriation of Jews to the land of Israel. Herzl lay down a very rational outline.

I don’t see the same thing in Armenia or in the diaspora press. For example, there is talk of creating a Pan-Armenian National Council but you won’t find any details on the website of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. Then there was the idea of creating a two-chamber parliament in Armenia to get the diaspora represented. This too seemed to me less than serious

You include the word ‘memory’ in the title of your dissertation. The memory of the traditional diaspora is that of pre-1915 western Armenia. If this collective memory of the past is a major component of the current identity of so many diaspora Armenians, how can the RoA redirect this focus and serve as a rallying point today?

This is a problematic aspect of the diaspora – homeland issue. When you look at some segments of the diaspora, you can say they live in a strange mental world. They live in the present day but their minds are always returning to the pre-1915 period.

The diaspora could be a real asset for Armenia and the country really needs all the assets it can attract. But the traditional diaspora, or let’s say the leadership of the traditional diaspora, they cannot grasp the reality of current Armenia due to this focus on an idealized past.

Thus, I believe young diaspora Armenians must establish real relations and ties with this Armenia in 2011. They must reach out to the Armenia of today and not with that of their grandparents in order to help solve the myriad problems now facing the RoA.

So, can we say that there are two ‘homelands’ competing for the hearts and minds of the traditional Armenian diaspora?

Well, I am sure there are some Armenians who say they do not identify with current Armenia but I would also say that after the creation of the third republic in 1991, more and more diaspora Armenians and organizations have realized that, on a practical level at least, the RoA should be the focus of their energies.

In a way, those talking about a return to western Armenia may be a convenient excuse to not doing more, or even relocating, to the Armenia of today. It would be a challenge for them to leave what they know and are comfortable with in France or the U.S. and move to an Armenia that faces many problems.

This is understandable. We are all human beings. But they have to face reality and not overlook the fact that the Armenia of today needs a lot of help.

You talk about “the politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”. Can we assume that the RoA government has a political agenda in mind – creating an image of an Armenia where the concept of “love it or leave it” holds sway?

Well let’s look at the official state discourse – the attempt to portray the RoA as the homeland for all Armenians. Of course it’s a political strategy to connect the diaspora to Yerevan and tap into its resources.

In this sense, it’s a very understandable strategy on the part of the RoA government.

This divide between the traditional diaspora and the RoA probably manifests itself most clearly on the Genocide issue. Many argue the Turkish government seeks to manipulate the issue and thus divide the hard-line diaspora with a more malleable RoA. What’s your view?

All I can say is that the general perception in Turkey is that the diaspora takes a more hard-line approach as compared to the RoA. Just look at the fallout resulting from the Protocol debate. But as to whether Ankara has adopted a policy to play one off the other, I can’t say.

What I would like to add is that the RoA government, in turn, has somehow manipulated the issue as well. By creating this bogeyman image of Turkey, it has made calls for national unity and greater support for Armenia. In a way, it has sought the “unquestioning” loyalty of the diaspora in the name of national unity. This too is a fact.

This is your third visit to Armenia and you’ve been here for two months now. Can you give me a few general impressions?

Well, I came here to do research for my thesis and have interviewed several diaspora Armenians who have relocated but I also wanted to get a feel for the country and the people.

On a personal level, I have had positive experiences and have encountered no hostility when people find out I am Turkish.

I find it interesting that the press in Armenia has daily articles on Turkey and developments there. Mostly the press focuses on the negative aspects and not on the recent changes for the positive. This isn’t to say that Turkey doesn’t have problems and that conditions for Armenians living there aren’t problematic. Not at all.

I rented an apartment here and would always go to the same small shop to get bread and some breakfast. The sales ladies would always smile and joke with me. One day they asked where I was from and I told them I was from Turkey. Then they asked if I was Armenian or Turkish. I said, Turkish .After that, their smiles faded.

Another time, I and a few friends were at a nightclub in Yerevan. I went out for a smoke and there was a security guard outside smoking as well. He asked me where I was from. I said, Turkey. He asked if I was an Armenian from Turkey in a kind of aggressive way. I figured I should answer that yes, I was. He then started to interrogate me. Was my father and mother Armenian? I guess he didn’t believe me. It was getting a bit heated. The guy then told me that “I have killed Turks in Karabakh” and repeated this. All I could say was “Ok” and then I left.

This was the only time I felt really uneasy in Armenia. I would like to say that I feel safer in Yerevan than I do in Istanbul. Armenians, I have found, are not an aggressive people.

You have met with repatriates and average citizens here. What about your meetings with officials and the academia? Did you encounter any problems in getting them to sit down and talk with you?

I tried to arrange interviews with the major political parties but only two agreed to talk with me – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage. The others declined but never told me why.

I also spoke to a number of intellectuals and university professors. To be honest, I heard more interesting views and ideas from ordinary people than from the intelligentsia in Armenia. I don’t want to sound over judgemental, but the role of intellectuals is to bring forth new approaches and concepts – in a way to make us angry and challenge us.

What I heard from most, not all, were the same old stories and prejudices regarding the Armenia-Turkish issue.

Maybe a majority of intellectuals in Armenia are too conformist or opportunist when it comes to opening new doors. It makes me somewhat less optimistic regarding the future.

What about preconceived notions of Armenians in Turkey, amongst average citizens?

Let me give you a concrete example. Several years ago there was a quantitative study conducted jointly in Armenia and Turkey about their views of the other.

What the research showed was that the average Turkish person knows very little about Armenians. But, recently, amongst university students and some intellectuals, there’s a growing interest in Armenia and the culture. Again, it’s a new process of learning.

Armenians, on the other hand, have a certain knowledge and understanding of Turkey. This is another asymmetry between the two peoples.

There’s less coverage in the mainstream Turkish press about Armenia than the other way around.

Armenia isn’t a top priority when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. In the end, though, relations between the two neighbouring states must be normalized and this will require more dialogue and understanding of the other.

 

 

 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Are Turkish-Armenians Diaspora?: Istanbul journalist says Turkey’s Armenians live in their historical lands
  2. Serzh Sargsyan will hear out Diaspora’s opinion on RA-Turkish protocols
  3. Turkish Intellectuals Call on Turkish Society to Commemorate Victims of The Armenian Genocide
  4. More than Turkish Armenians, Ethnic Turks have Interest in Business with Armenia: Expert
  5. Seven Armenians Seek Seats In Turkish Parliament

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

An interview with Turgut Kerem Tuncel, PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Trento (Italy).

Mr. Tuncel, native of Turkey, is in Armenia to do research for his thesis entitled “Mayr Hayastan, Im Hayrenik; The memory and politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”.

What prompted you to do your thesis on the Armenian experience?

Well, it all came out of my initial interest in Jewish studies and anti-Semitism. Then I decided to make a comparative study of the survival strategies of the Jewish and Armenian communities in Turkey. Then, I started to focus on the Armenian community there and the concept of the “diaspora”.

It was how the Republic of Armenia was portraying itself as the homeland of all Armenians that intrigued me, given that most Armenians in the diaspora derive from eastern Anatolia. This construct of the current Armenian identity was of interest to me.

What did this comparative study between the Jewish and Armenian experiences show?

Briefly, the two tragedies experienced by these two people resulted in opposite realities. In the Jewish case, the Holocaust, in many ways, resulted in the consolidation of the Jewish state, while 1915 resulted in the diasporization of the Armenian people.

Have you looked at the repatriation issue in Armenia during your research? The differences between Israel and Armenia in this regard are glaring?

Actually, the repatriation issue is a major component of my research. It directly ties in to this concept of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) as the homeland for all Armenians.

I’d say that what is being done here in Armenia can be best described a “lip service”. And there are many underlying reasons for this.

Many Armenians from the RoA actually want to leave for socio-economic and other reasons. So how can the government invite Armenians from Paris or Los Angeles, living relatively comfortable lives, to relocate? What will these people do here?

The economic, political and social infrastructure in Armenia is not sufficient to sustain any serious repatriation.

Here, I’d like to remind you of Theodore Herzl’s work “The Jewish State”. The second part of the book gives a very detailed approach to the repatriation of Jews to the land of Israel. Herzl lay down a very rational outline.

I don’t see the same thing in Armenia or in the diaspora press. For example, there is talk of creating a Pan-Armenian National Council but you won’t find any details on the website of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. Then there was the idea of creating a two-chamber parliament in Armenia to get the diaspora represented. This too seemed to me less than serious

You include the word ‘memory’ in the title of your dissertation. The memory of the traditional diaspora is that of pre-1915 western Armenia. If this collective memory of the past is a major component of the current identity of so many diaspora Armenians, how can the RoA redirect this focus and serve as a rallying point today?

This is a problematic aspect of the diaspora – homeland issue. When you look at some segments of the diaspora, you can say they live in a strange mental world. They live in the present day but their minds are always returning to the pre-1915 period.

The diaspora could be a real asset for Armenia and the country really needs all the assets it can attract. But the traditional diaspora, or let’s say the leadership of the traditional diaspora, they cannot grasp the reality of current Armenia due to this focus on an idealized past.

Thus, I believe young diaspora Armenians must establish real relations and ties with this Armenia in 2011. They must reach out to the Armenia of today and not with that of their grandparents in order to help solve the myriad problems now facing the RoA.

So, can we say that there are two ‘homelands’ competing for the hearts and minds of the traditional Armenian diaspora?

Well, I am sure there are some Armenians who say they do not identify with current Armenia but I would also say that after the creation of the third republic in 1991, more and more diaspora Armenians and organizations have realized that, on a practical level at least, the RoA should be the focus of their energies.

In a way, those talking about a return to western Armenia may be a convenient excuse to not doing more, or even relocating, to the Armenia of today. It would be a challenge for them to leave what they know and are comfortable with in France or the U.S. and move to an Armenia that faces many problems.

This is understandable. We are all human beings. But they have to face reality and not overlook the fact that the Armenia of today needs a lot of help.

You talk about “the politics of the construction of the Armenian homeland”. Can we assume that the RoA government has a political agenda in mind – creating an image of an Armenia where the concept of “love it or leave it” holds sway?

Well let’s look at the official state discourse – the attempt to portray the RoA as the homeland for all Armenians. Of course it’s a political strategy to connect the diaspora to Yerevan and tap into its resources.

In this sense, it’s a very understandable strategy on the part of the RoA government.

This divide between the traditional diaspora and the RoA probably manifests itself most clearly on the Genocide issue. Many argue the Turkish government seeks to manipulate the issue and thus divide the hard-line diaspora with a more malleable RoA. What’s your view?

All I can say is that the general perception in Turkey is that the diaspora takes a more hard-line approach as compared to the RoA. Just look at the fallout resulting from the Protocol debate. But as to whether Ankara has adopted a policy to play one off the other, I can’t say.

What I would like to add is that the RoA government, in turn, has somehow manipulated the issue as well. By creating this bogeyman image of Turkey, it has made calls for national unity and greater support for Armenia. In a way, it has sought the “unquestioning” loyalty of the diaspora in the name of national unity. This too is a fact.

This is your third visit to Armenia and you’ve been here for two months now. Can you give me a few general impressions?

Well, I came here to do research for my thesis and have interviewed several diaspora Armenians who have relocated but I also wanted to get a feel for the country and the people.

On a personal level, I have had positive experiences and have encountered no hostility when people find out I am Turkish.

I find it interesting that the press in Armenia has daily articles on Turkey and developments there. Mostly the press focuses on the negative aspects and not on the recent changes for the positive. This isn’t to say that Turkey doesn’t have problems and that conditions for Armenians living there aren’t problematic. Not at all.

I rented an apartment here and would always go to the same small shop to get bread and some breakfast. The sales ladies would always smile and joke with me. One day they asked where I was from and I told them I was from Turkey. Then they asked if I was Armenian or Turkish. I said, Turkish .After that, their smiles faded.

Another time, I and a few friends were at a nightclub in Yerevan. I went out for a smoke and there was a security guard outside smoking as well. He asked me where I was from. I said, Turkey. He asked if I was an Armenian from Turkey in a kind of aggressive way. I figured I should answer that yes, I was. He then started to interrogate me. Was my father and mother Armenian? I guess he didn’t believe me. It was getting a bit heated. The guy then told me that “I have killed Turks in Karabakh” and repeated this. All I could say was “Ok” and then I left.

This was the only time I felt really uneasy in Armenia. I would like to say that I feel safer in Yerevan than I do in Istanbul. Armenians, I have found, are not an aggressive people.

You have met with repatriates and average citizens here. What about your meetings with officials and the academia? Did you encounter any problems in getting them to sit down and talk with you?

I tried to arrange interviews with the major political parties but only two agreed to talk with me – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage. The others declined but never told me why.

I also spoke to a number of intellectuals and university professors. To be honest, I heard more interesting views and ideas from ordinary people than from the intelligentsia in Armenia. I don’t want to sound over judgemental, but the role of intellectuals is to bring forth new approaches and concepts – in a way to make us angry and challenge us.

What I heard from most, not all, were the same old stories and prejudices regarding the Armenia-Turkish issue.

Maybe a majority of intellectuals in Armenia are too conformist or opportunist when it comes to opening new doors. It makes me somewhat less optimistic regarding the future.

What about preconceived notions of Armenians in Turkey, amongst average citizens?

Let me give you a concrete example. Several years ago there was a quantitative study conducted jointly in Armenia and Turkey about their views of the other.

What the research showed was that the average Turkish person knows very little about Armenians. But, recently, amongst university students and some intellectuals, there’s a growing interest in Armenia and the culture. Again, it’s a new process of learning.

Armenians, on the other hand, have a certain knowledge and understanding of Turkey. This is another asymmetry between the two peoples.

There’s less coverage in the mainstream Turkish press about Armenia than the other way around.

Armenia isn’t a top priority when it comes to Turkish foreign policy. In the end, though, relations between the two neighbouring states must be normalized and this will require more dialogue and understanding of the other.

 

 

 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Are Turkish-Armenians Diaspora?: Istanbul journalist says Turkey’s Armenians live in their historical lands
  2. Serzh Sargsyan will hear out Diaspora’s opinion on RA-Turkish protocols
  3. Turkish Intellectuals Call on Turkish Society to Commemorate Victims of The Armenian Genocide
  4. More than Turkish Armenians, Ethnic Turks have Interest in Business with Armenia: Expert
  5. Seven Armenians Seek Seats In Turkish Parliament

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10:24, March 14, 2014

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Arts & Culture, Commentary, Politics, Civil Society, Interviews…

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Source: HetqOriginial Article

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For Better or For Worse: Nature Protection Ministry Proposes Amendments to Water Use Laws

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16:44, February 14, 2014

With the goal of providing a systematic solution to issues of effective use of water resources in Ararat valley, the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is proposing amendments and additions to the RA Water Code, and the RA laws on the Republic of Armenia’s National Water Program, on Licensing, and on State Tax.

The proposed legislative package has been sent to the relevant state agencies for their input.

Head of the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Water Resources Management Agency Volodya Narimanyan told Hetq, said that with this amendment package his ministry is attempting to clarify the ideas and the ambiguous commentary, as well as introduce new requirements. For example, one of the main points of the proposed amendments is if water use permit conditions are not met, the water use permit might be annulled.

“In the past, if water use conditions weren’t met, we couldn’t void the permit, but now we’re making that clear. If the state gives you a water use permit with this condition, be kind and meet this condition; otherwise, we will make the permit null and void,” he explained.

A new requirement in the proposed package concerning the execution of drilling operations stipulates that a drilling company or individual must obtain a license so that the state can supervise its activities. “Those companies that execute drilling must have a license for drilling. That is, we are proposing to license activities,” he added.

After the relevant state bodies discuss and submit their opinions regarding the amendments, Narimanyan says, the package will be sent to the RA Ministry of Justice, the government, then finally to parliament.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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2013 in Civil Society: Protests and more protests

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The struggle of civil movements this year has been comprehensive and diverse with limited success in certain fields due to unified efforts and active involvement of the civil society.

Despite the rather passive start of the year in terms of civil movements, the second half of 2013 turned out to be tense with active developments.

Some analysts believe that especially after the February 18 presidential ballot, when current president Serzh Sargsyan won a decisive victory over his opponents and was re-elected for a second term, despite the widespread poverty and atmosphere of injustice in the country, people became even more aware of the fact that is it impossible to achieve changes via elections and started practicing their constitutional rights to civil protest and disobedience more frequently.

Karabakh war veterans’ civil standoff has been unprecedented. Although, every now and then on different occasions they had complained of their social conditions and of being neglected by the state , however never before had they come out to hold systematic rallies and sitting strikes. Retired army colonel Volodya Avetisyan initiated the civil standoff in May and in October found himself behind the bars, with charges of “swindling …in large amounts”. Avetisyan’s and his comrades-in-arms claim that by bringing charges the authorities are trying to silence him. The war vets demanding increase of their pensions and various privileges have now focused their struggle on various acts of protest in Avetisyan’s support. There is another group of Karabakh war veterans presenting political demands to the government. Every Thursday they hold small rallies in Liberty Square and demand that the government resign.

Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan’s decision to raise public bus fare by 50 percent made the hot Yerevan summer even hotter.

The decision was immediately followed by a civil movement when numerous young activists held a variety of acts of protest during five consecutive days relentlessly struggling, rebelling against the bus fare increase and made the municipal government in the Armenian capital heed the people’s voice, forcing them to understand they would not pay more for using the overloaded, worn-out and hardly functioning minibuses.

The unified effort yielded results and on July 26 the mayor suspended the application of his decision temporarily, meaning that the buses and minibuses continued operating for the same 100 dram fare (around 24 cents). The mayor, however, stated that if residents of Yerevan wanted to have decent public transport services, they have to be ready to pay more. Municipal officials and transport companies running the routes have repeatedly stated after the summer civil standoff that the rise of bus fare is unavoidable, grounding it by the fact that everything else has become more expensive except for public transport services, hence their expenses have grown and they are operating at a loss.

The departing year has turned out to be rather active also in terms of public protests against controversial construction projects. In August, residents of 10 and 12 Sayat-Nova Avenue and 5 Komitas streets, in Yerevan, rebelled against construction in their neighborhoods. These people claim that the construction licenses in densely populated zones of the city are illegal, violate the seismic resistance norms, and block their light. Despite the variety of measures the residents have resorted to, even lying down in front of construction machines to block their way, no tangible results have been achieved; their struggle is ongoing (h).

Despite a drawn-out battle to preserve unchanged Yerevan’s Pak Shuka (“Covered Market”), on the list of historical-cultural heritage and belonging to businessman MP Samvel Alexanyan, opened its doors after two years of repairs, but now as a fashionable supermarket, rather than the produce market it used to be. Although ruling Republican MP Alexanyan kept the fa

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Armenian Foreign Policies 2013: Customs Union, U-turn on EU accord, Karabakh, Turkey, regional developments

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2013 became a milestone year for Armenia not only in its foreign, but also domestic politics. After nearly four years of negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an association agreement on September 3 Armenia unexpectedly announced its intention to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This decision has had its influence not only on Armenia proper, but also on the processes elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Inspired by Armenia’s decision, Russia stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, which suspended the process of signing of the Association Agreement with the EU one week before the Vilnius summit of Eastern Partnership. As a result, on November 29 such agreements were initialed only by Moldova and Georgia.

During the year there has been an ongoing debate in Armenia and other post-Soviet countries about whether it is expedient “to revive a new Soviet empire” under the name of a Eurasian Union. But at the end of the year plans to create such a union remain relevant – in May 2014 Armenia is going to be one of the six founders of the Eurasian Union (along with Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan).

Before September 3, Armenia was actively engaged with Europe, stating about shared values and ‘civilizational’ approaches. Armenia even dared reproach Russia for selling offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

After September 3, however, Armenia suddenly remembered its centuries-old friendship with Russia as well as Russia’s ‘salutary’ role. Pro-Russian rhetoric increased and some even stated the readiness to return to the Russian Empire. In particular, publicist Zori Balayan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, mentioning the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, according to which, as a result of the Russian-Persian war, Persia renounced claims to Karabakh that went under Russia’s control.

The Russia-West struggle for post-Soviet countries, including for Armenia, in 2013 came out of its passive phase and acquired the character of an open confrontation. In the course of this battle all methods were employed – from economic blackmail to high-level visits. In particular, the visit by Putin to Armenia on December 2, as some analysts say, marked Armenia’s losing another portion of its sovereignty and security to Russia.

There have been some new developments in the Karabakh settlement process as well. In particular, on November 19, in Vienna, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, met for the first time in almost two years. During the meeting some new proposals were apparently discussed. The talks were confidential, but on the basis of available information experts assume that Russia and Turkey are promoting the project of opening the Turkish-Armenian border at the expense of Armenia’s concessions on two districts around Karabakh. The U.S. and Europe appear to insist on settlement and opening of communications while maintaining the current status quo in Karabakh.

Partially this version was confirmed on the eve of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Yerevan on December 12 (he was attending a regional organization’s forum in the Armenian capital). The Turkish press openly reported the offer from Turkey, but President Sargsyan did not receive Davutoglu, while Minister Edward Nalbandian stated that preconditions are unacceptable in Armenian-Turkish normalization.

The sudden change in the policy of Armenia, according to analysts, could lead to some adjustments in the positions of Armenia on relations with Turkey. At the beginning of 2013 Yerevan set up a commission to study possible legal claims to Turkey. The body was headed by the then Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepyan. It was followed by assumptions that in 2015, when the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be marked, Armenia, with the support of the West, intends to advance serious claims to Turkey. However, the commission has not yet taken any public steps, and after September 3 decisions on claims to Turkey may already be made through Moscow.

Turkey has made no secret of its concern, especially in connection with the probability of combined Kurdish and Armenian claims. In this regard, Turkey has launched a wide-ranging process of reconciliation with the Kurds. 2013 became auspicious also for the Kurdish movement as the prospect of establishing Kurdistan became even closer.

The agreement on the conflict in Syria became an important event of the year also for Armenia in view of the sizable ethnic Armenian community in this Middle Eastern country. In accordance with this agreement, the world power centers decided not to support any side in the Syrian conflict, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and lead the country to democratic elections in 2014.

An even more significant agreement was reached by the end of the year on Iran’s nuclear program, which immediately led to the lifting of a number of sanctions that had been imposed on the Islamic Republic by the West and its activation in regional politics. In particular, Iran immediately tried to offer natural gas to Armenia that would apparently be less expensive than Russia’s. Projects in energy and communication sectors have also become more relevant in view of the recent developments and Armenia may play an important role in them.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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Heritage reshuffle: Postanjyan becomes new leader of parliamentary faction

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Zaruhi Postanjyan has been elected new head of the opposition Heritage faction in parliament. The change comes after Ruben Hakobyan announced his decision to resign as faction leader earlier today.

Talking to media in parliament Hakobyan said Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian had been notified about his move well in advance. He left questions about reasons for his step without commentary, only saying that he had decided to step down as faction leader before the recent scandal around Postanjyan in the wake of her controversial question to President Serzh Sargsyan about his gambling habit at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg on October 2.

Unlike a majority of Heritage members Hakobyan then was critical of Postanjyan’s behavior. Representatives of the ruling party in Armenia called her statement in Strasbourg slanderous and the parliament speaker threatened to expel her from the Armenian delegation to the PACE.

Postanjian, meanwhile, would not be drawn into speculation about the reasons for Hakobyan’s decision either.

Source: Armenia NowOriginial Article

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