Hammargren between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Bitte Hammargren

Bitte Hammargren is a correspondent for Svenska Dagbladet who writes about Middle East countries like Turkey, Armenia and Georgia (sense the irony?). Recently, she wrote an article titled A big conflict around a small enclave, which I do not find neutral, which the Western press strives to be, right?

It is not only Armenians that see mountain Ararat as the Armenian national symbol, though it is situated in the present-day Turkey. My dear mother, for example, a much more relevant representative of the Soviet era than I, would agree with me that even from childhood, the “Soviet people” associated Ararat with Armenia. And probably duly.

Even though in the article, she includes photos from and reports from Nagorno-Karabakh, which “regular Armenians and occasional foreigners” can access by one route, according to Hammargren, and one route only, the article seems a bit one-sided and implicitly in favour of Azerbaijan. (Btw, as far as it is known, there are two, not one, routes to Nagorno-Karabakh, one of which has indeed, as Hammargren reports, been funded by the Armenians in the Diaspora.)

Skärmdump av artikeln Stor konflikt runt liten enklav

Very interesting to me seemed the SvD editors’ choice of captioning the bannerimage of the article. The image shows a wall of twenty-seven black-and-white photographs with some flowers in front and the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh and a line of text above. In the paper edition of the article the image is captioned Place of honour for the Armenian casualties in the war. Online, the same image is captioned Armenian casualties in the war against Azerbaijan 1993-94.

To me, both captions, especially the one published online, frame in the twenty-seven casualties as the only ones on the Armenian side between 1993 and 1994. By the way, the war was not a one year, but a six year long war (between 1988 and 1994). The caption seems to say, “There were only 27 casualties on the Armenian side,” while “hundreds of thousands of Azeris count themselves as war refugees,” according to Hammargren.

A simple look at Wikipedia.org article on Nagorno-Karabakh War, however correct or incorrect the data there is, makes it clear that the number of casualties was almost proportional to the number of war-participants involved in each of the war-waging countries.

It is a shame really that these kinds of subtleties were not noticed by the editors of Svenska Dagbladet (or maybe the editors were behind them?). Bitte Hammargren received a great prize from the Publicist Club (SEK 30000 = EUR 2911 = USD 4334) for the coverage of the Middle East. Well deserved! (sense the irony?)

(The photo of B. Hammargren is taken from SvD.se)

Real estate tax to increase?

Swedish Minister for Finance Anders Borg is satisfied with the pressure on Latvia. The government are apparently talking about raising the real estate tax in Latvia. As if the population have a huge money storage to pay from.

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis announced that the pensions are not going to be cut by the new measures to consolidate the fiscal deficit. Nor will the progressive tax be raised or VAT increased. Thank God! How about the real estate tax, though, Valdis?

“Shushi breathes new life”

Recently, I read another interesting article that touched upon the conflict on Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The story is about the city of Shushi. It is written by Daniel Bardsley for The National. This is not the first article about Armenia or Karabakh that Daniel writes for this UAE newspaper. Here’s the excerpt:

Shusha, or Shushi as Armenians call it, is on the brink of the kind of renewal that has transformed Stepanakert, the enclave’s capital that lies 16km to the north. Since a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, with Armenia in de facto control, Stepanakert has turned into an attractive and leafy city with a string of new hotels, a modern assembly building and countless street cafes, even though Armenia and Azerbaijan are officially still at war over the region…

For a more detailed account of what kind of renewal Shushi is facing as well as for an overview over the past years in Shushi, read the whole article at The National.

The Madrid principles analysis

I came across an interesting analytical article by Karine Ter-Sahakyan (PanARMENIAN.net) about the the Madrid principles, concerning the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:

Armenia, that has no control over Stepanakert, in the eyes of the world community loses the moral right to conduct negotiations, and the political competence as a negotiating party is reduced to zero…
Read the whole article at PanARMENIAN.net

Curious that the Azeri side does not address the issue of the Madrid principles to the same extent that the Armenians do. Just search for the query madrid + principles in Google news.

Armenian Genocide

For Armenians, the 24th of April is a special date. Today they mark 94 years since the massacres in the Ottoman Turkey, which started with the mass arrests and killings of Armenian intellectuals as well as religious, cultural and political elite.

The mass killings of the Armenian population during the WWI are referred to as “genocide” in many Western countries. Contemporary Turkey though refuses to label the killings as “genocide”, claiming that during the WWI many people died, both Armenians and Turks and that the massacres occurred on both sides due to the inter-ethnic strife and general violence during the war. Turkey avoids tagging the massacres as “genocide” and objects to anyone making a statement of their responsibility.

Probably the most vivid factor of disappointment these days was the statement by the President of the USA Barack Obama, when he twisted his promises to acknowledge publicly the massacres of nearly 1.5 million Armenians as “genocide” and chose instead to “pause to remember … one of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century“. His pre-election campaign statements were too far-stretched or good to be true, one can infer. Here are some excerpts from his statement in January 2008:

“As a U.S. Senator, I have stood with the Armenian American community in calling for Turkey’s acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide … I shared with Secretary (Condoleezza) Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy … As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” (Associated Press)

Needless to say, the Armenian community worldwide was let down by Obama’s decision to refrain from calling the massacres “genocide”. The Turkish community, too, were not happy with his statement on 24th of April calling his expressions unacceptable.

Even though many countries agree on the seriousness of the extensive massacres, calling them the first genocide of the 20th century, among those Russia, France, Argentina, Greece, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, as well as 42 of 50 states of the USA, there are still those who choose not to recognise the killings as “genocide”.

For more information and a detailed timeline of the massacres, please, visit the information site, with a chance to sign the petition to support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Сегодня отмечают день памяти жертв геноцида 1915

24 апреля — день памяти жертв геноцида армян 1915-го года. На портале genocide.ru есть немного истории геноцида:

Дата 24 апреля 1915 года занимает особое место не только в истории геноцида армян, но и в истории армянского народа в целом. Именно в этот день в Константинополе начались массовые аресты армянской интеллектуальной, религиозной, экономической и политической элиты, что привело к полному уничтожению целой плеяды виднейших деятелей армянской культуры.

В списки подлежащих аресту попали люди разных политических взглядов и профессий: писатели, артисты, музыканты, учителя, врачи, юристы, журналисты, бизнесмены, политические и религиозные лидеры; единственное, что их роднило — национальная принадлежность и положение в обществе. Аресты видных фигур армянской общины продолжались в турецкой столице с небольшими перерывами до конца мая, при этом никаких обвинений задержанным не предъявлялось… Читать дальше

А информационное агенство РИА Новости сегодня опубликовали статью о геноциде:

РИА Новости
Эчмиадзинский кафедральный соборВ Армении отметят День памяти жертв геноцида армян в Османской Турции


Османская Турция в конце XIX — начале XX веков осуществляла регулярные преследования и гонения армян. В частности, в 1915 году было уничтожено более 1,5 миллиона человек… Читать дальше

РИА Новости опубликовали так же и справку о геноциде 1915-го года:

В 1914 году, до Первой мировой войны и геноцида, во всем мире было около 4 миллионов 100 тысяч армян. 2 миллиона 100 тысяч жили на территории Османской империи, 1 миллион 700 тысяч — в России (на территории Восточной Армении, входившей в Российскую империю, жили 1 миллион 300 тысяч армян ), 100 тысяч — в Персии, и 200 тысяч — в других странах мира.

Геноцид армян был осуществлен в 1878‑1922 годах на территориях Османской империи (Турции), исторически именуемых Западной Арменией (ныне Восточная Анатолия), населенных в то время преимущественно армянами (они составляли 65‑75% населения).

Политика, приведшая к геноциду армян, была обусловлена, прежде всего, господствовавшей в Османской империи идеологией пантюркизма, отличавшейся нетерпимостью к нетюркским народам… Читать дальше

Retrial for The Pirate Bay possible

The judge who sentenced four men to jail for their involvement with The Pirate Bay is also a member of the same copyright protection organisations as a number of the main entertainment industry representatives in the case.

The experts, one of them “high profile attorney Leif Silbersky”, say retrial is possible. Other experts say they would have never taken the case in the given situation. Judge Tomas Norström denies the relevance of the expert charges:

“My view has been that these activities do not constitute a conflict of interest,” Norström told Sveriges Radio.

Now, this is very interesting. Frankly, I cannot see the point of being a member of an organisation that protects copyright protection (which clearly represents a conflict of interest) and providing an objective decision on the Pirate Bay trial.

One of the original lay judges in the case was forced to step down from his position when his involvement in a music rights group made him vulnerable to charges of bias.

By thelocal.se and sr.se (via @brokep)

Latvia buys weapons from USA

Telegraf reports that the USA sell weapons and ammunition to Latvia.

U.S. State Department published a report on sales of American weapons abroad in 2007. The report states that the States earned 24,531 billion dollars on arms sales last year. Though the countries of the former Soviet Union are not among the major customers, the volume of their purchases is constantly growing. According to the report, Latvia purchased more than any other Baltic country – guns, ammunition, electronics, aviation equipment, total cost amounting to 4.4 million. Lithuanians’ bill was 2.5 million, and Estonians’ – 2 million dollars.

For other than political reasons, why does Latvia seem to prefer American weapons to Russian? Is that some kind of a childish game they are playing, to see how many countries can stand against the “almighty” Russia? Probably.

Kosovo: Screw Russia

Mr. Sejdiu has been more than clear about what their newly proclaimed independent state stands for.

BELGRADE, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – The fact that Kosovo’s independence has been acknowledged by some 50 countries does not justify Russia’s decision to recognize Georgia’s breakaway regions, the Kosovan president said.

“We have always said and will continue to insist that Kosovo is a special case which cannot be treated as a precedent for other conflict zones, territories and regions,” Fatmir Sejdiu said in Pristina late on Tuesday.

Kosovo – which was a UN protectorate after the 1999 NATO bombings ended clashes between Serbs and Albanians – unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Belgrade in February, and has been recognized by the United States and most European Union countries.

And why wouldn’t they refuse to back Russia, when it was Russia, that was against their independence, which was recognized by the West? Once again, it seems that there are those who are against Russia, those who are for the West and those who are against everyone. It so seems.

How Latvia reacted on Russian recognition

While official Riga “harshly” condemns the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence by official Moscow, I wonder whether official Tbilisi in any way appreciates or commends on the feeble support of a feeble country, that is joining in song of its new host against its former host, which they unequivocally call “occupants”.

RIGA, Aug 27 – RIA Novosti. The President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers made a joint statement with the Foreign Minister of Latvia Maris Riekstins, in which they condemned the decision of Russia to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“This decision is contrary to the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, recognized by the UN and OSCE. Latvia supports the territorial integrity of Georgia within its existing borders and calls on the parties to find a political solution. In turn, the decision made by the Russian side, in no way solves the issue”, as outlined in the joint statement of the President and the Minister.

(Translation by Artiom Pereverzev of the original article by Yury Guralnik)

Valdis Zatlers also says official Riga is supporting and is going to continue to support the territorial integrity of Georgia and the people’s desire to see their country as a full-fledged NATO and EU member. But I wonder how a people’s desire (and even right) for self-determination is not an eligible factor for any kind of grace from Mr. Zatlers.

The Latvian officials refer to going against the UN and OSCE, when they talk about the “crime” committed by Mr. Medvedev. But the UN seem more neutral on the issue. Here is what the UN are saying about the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon believes that the UN has no power to recognize or reject the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, since only the UN Member States can recognize or reject the independence, said on Tuesday UN official spokesman Terry Michelle Montas.

She also reported that Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly addressed the topic of recent developments in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, calling for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilians affected by military actions.

However, according to Montas, “today’s development of the situation could have a greater impact on the security and stability in the Caucasus”, according to RIA Novosti.

She also indicated that Secretary-General regrets that the work in the UN Security Council to find a common solution to the crisis in Georgia can complicate.”

(Translation by Artiom Pereverzev of the original article by Newsarmenia.ru)