Saturday, December 15, 2001

When Raffi M and Shoosh from our �Diaspora log� wrote about the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Committee (TARC), I felt that what I have been keeping to myself should be finally said. I�ve never before in my life really had aspiration to get involved in politics until after I moved here. Even the politics I get involved with in the real world of politics could not really be considered much of anything. I guess being a student of �controversial� Armenian history and my direct way of thinking have always turned me off to the idea of standing up in public and sharing my ideas (Raffi had to pull teeth to get me to log light non-offensive stuff on Cilicia). I don�t belong or really support any Armenian political movements. I support the idea of a united Armenia and things that are good for the future of the Armenian nation. I guess the first real public political move I made, which still could not be considered anything close to real politics, has to be in connection with the TARC. Why I am telling you this now is that, though TARC has been disbanded, I think there are unresolved issues connected to that whole fiasco that really should be dealt with.

I didn�t really hear about the formation of TARC until quite some time following its birth. As soon as I did learn about what TARC was supposedly going to attempt to do and after discussing it with my intellectual friends here (they knew more about TARC then I did), I decided to write a letter to Van Krikorian. I know Van through a friend of mine in Armenia and felt that maybe if I wrote a non-offensive letter to him, not only would he reply (everyone I knew at the time that wrote only got nasty responses), but he would take my suggestions into consideration. I was interested in answers to questions that the press was not providing, and I was genuinely concerned of the possible outcome not only to the Armenian cause, but also to AAA and Van himself. I guess my answer from him reflects that he understood what I was trying to say (at least I thought). I want to share with you my correspondences with Van, which I didn�t post on Groong or send off to any papers, as I didn�t want to give the Turks any insight as to what was shared with him so they could be ready to counter what I was saying (not that I was really saying anything special). I�ve taken the liberty of editing out irrelevant parts to make it easer for you to read.

August 20, 2001

Dear Van,

I'm writing you in regards to the Reconciliation Commission, as you're the only person I personally know involved and wanted to ask some questions and share with you some very real concerns.

Not to say that I would be any less concerned, but now that I live here, I, along with the other people who are here, are the ones at the greatest risk of coming under fire from Turkey and Azerbaijan, and I feel we have the most to lose if things went wrong with the Commission's efforts. I would expect with that understanding that our interests would come first from your side of the Reconciliation Commission. Everything I have read from both sides so far don't really indicate this. Maybe I have not read everything, so please enlighten me.

My questions are as follows (if you don't have time to answer them, I'm okay with anyone on your behalf to answer them):

1. Whose idea was this commission?

2. How was it determined who would serve on the commission?

3. Is the Armenian government involved in any way? I get the feeling from what I have read that the Turkish government determined who would represent their side, but Vartan Oskanian's statement implies that Armenia's MFA has nothing to do with the commission. Logic would say that if the MFA has nothing to do with it, then the government has nothing to do with it, right?

4. Who are the members from the Turkish side? I'm sure this information was published someplace, but for some reason I guess not in anything I have so far read, other than Greg Arzoomanian's letter, where he mentions that those representing Turkey's interests are people that are " participants of the Turkish government's campaign of denial of
the Armenian Genocide." So I guess with that said, what can we expect to accomplish? Volkan sounds like really bad news and a hired gun, don't you think?

5. What is the mission of the commission?

This commission in a way reminds me of a story by the writer and political activist Shahan Natalie about the ARF's 9th General Congress, which convened in Yerevan from September 27 to the end of October 1919. On the Congress agenda was placed the issue of retribution against those principally responsible for the Great Atrocity. Natalie experienced here the first serious embitterment of his political life, when some of the delegates deemed this policy wrong, rationalizing that the newly created Armenian Republic needed Turkey's friendship (such justifications have proliferated today also, within the new Armenian Republic). Natalie had added that one of the reasons many of the Bureau members, specifically Simon Vratsian, Ruben Ter Minasian, and Ruben Darbinian, were in favor of this policy and didn't quite understand his strong objections to such a friendship with Turkey, was that unlike Natalie, and one other member (I believe Grigor Merjanov), they had not experienced and witnessed first hand what the Turks had done in Western-Armenia and didn't understand to what extent they (the Turks) would go to accomplish their goal.

To have even a better understanding today who the Turks are and how the Armenian people feel towards them, I've done quite a bit of research here in Artsakh on that subject. I can so far conclude from what families I've spoken with, who have for generations lived with the Azerbajani's feel, that they (Turkic people) will never admit to the genocide and echo Natalie�s warnings, that you can never trust a Turk as one of their national desires is to rid the earth of all Armenians. More so, there are people that really feel Armenians who negotiate with Turks are even more dangerous than the Turks themselves, as there has to date never come anything good and usually something very bad from such negotiations (maybe this sounds hard-core, but so far history has not been able to disprove these statements).
I hope and pray that this commission is not another attempt from Turkey and the US to weaken or delay our efforts to finally ascertaining true recognition of the Armenian Genocide that we have been working towards for so many years and have never been so close to accomplish.

I look forward to your reply,

Ara Manoogian

On September 7, 2001 Joan Abblet of the Armenian Assembly forwarded me a letter from Van.

Dear Ara,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, and I appreciate the personal nature of your letter.

I am recommending some background materials (see below) which will answer many of your questions and are on the Assembly's web site. Nobody is suggesting that our work is going to be easy or that there are any guarantees. But, all of our work toward international recognition of the Genocide is geared toward Turkey coming to terms with the Genocide and its consequences. If we did not think the Commission had a chance of helping to meet that goal, we wouldn't be there.

Best regards,

Van Krikorian

The following are available at:

I then replied to Joan Ablett (since it looked like she was the one doing all the writing for Van) on September 30, 2001:

Dear Mrs. Ablett,

I'm sorry to get back to you so late, but with the crisis in the US, my time has been occupied on my investments in the states. Now that they are somewhat under control, I've had time to visit your site and found that the available materials found there do not answer all my questions. Maybe you can find the time to sit down and answer them yourself.

1. Whose idea was this commission?

2. How was it determined who would serve on the commission?

3. Is the Armenian government involved in any way?

Ara Manoogian

I never received a reply from Joan or Van.

In closing what I would like to say echoes what Raffi Meneshian said in his log which is that Van and the others that were on the TARC need to give us some answers as to why they let this go as far as they did. I also feel that the lack of trust that people have towards their judgment makes them less effective than what is needed at the Assembly today. I personally feel that if those people who served on the TARC and are connected with the Assembly really are dedicated to the Armenian cause, then they would find it appropriate to take a vacation from their duties at the Assembly, and new people should be put in their place to aggressively get things back up to speed and on track. It would be unfair to say that the Assembly is responsible for the modifications made to 907, but it appears that they didn�t even try hard enough to prevent the changes that were made. If one day bullets, rockets and other American-provided projectiles rain down on us and threaten the lives of our people, you can be sure while were defending ourselves I�ll be cursing Van and the people at the Assembly for all their good intentions that went bad because they were misguided. I hope that this log didn�t offend anyone, but sometimes the truth does that.

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