7 April 2005
The New Anatolian / Ankara
Amid increasing tension between Turkey and Armenia due to continued efforts by Armenians to urge world recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide claims, Armenia yesterday asked Ankara to allow flights between Antalya and the capital Yerevan.
Private Armenian airline Armavia currently has flights between Yerevan and Istanbul twice a week, and asked permission to add a Yerevan-Antalya route.
Antalya is the nearest vacation destination for Armenians, and those who choose to come to Turkey on holiday can stay in Turkey for up to one month by paying only $10 at the point of entry to the country. The number of visiting Armenians is now 20,000 during the winter, reaching 50,000 during the summer.
Foreign Ministry examines request
The Foreign Ministry is considering the Armenian request to begin flights between Antalya and Yerevan. If approved, the flights will begin this year.
Turkey also permits Armenian planes to use Turkish airspace.
Armenian lobby push over 'genocide'
On March 16 the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) started efforts to push U.S. President George W. Bush to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide claims on April 24, the 90th anniversary of the so-called Armenian genocide. As a part of its campaign, ANCA has been sending a constant flow of letters and faxes to the White House.
ANCA claims that President Bush promised that he would urge the U.S. administration to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide claims during the 2000 presidential election campaign and wrote in a letter to the White House, "It's time for the U.S. to revise its narrow-minded policy directed by Turkey's denial of the genocide."
The second attempt came when American-Armenian Assembly Chairman Ross Vartiyan announced last week that the Armenians will present a new proposal to the U.S. Congress on April 20 stating that the Armenians were the Ottoman Empire's victims of genocide.
Vartiyan claimed that the new proposal might pass the U.S. Congress since its neoconservative wing is angry about Turkey, reported Turkish daily Milliyet.
The Armenian lobby has also been successful in gaining the support of U.S. Congress members. This came to light when 90 congressmen presented a letter to Bush urging him to recognize the so-called genocide claims.
On April 24 U.S. presidents traditionally make statements of recognition of the pain Armenians faced at the end of World War I. But this year, in its letter, the Armenian lobby asked Bush to explicitly recognize the so-called Armenian genocide claims.
Even as the Armenian lobby called for U.S. recognition, on March 10 Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan rejected a Turkish proposal for a "joint working" plan to gather Turkish and Armenian historians to investigate the controversial problem.
Turkish Parliament discusses the issue
A multifaceted discussion on the so-called Armenian genocide took place at the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday. European Union Harmonization and Foreign Relations Commission members discussed the problem, as well as bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia, with Armenian authors and historians.
Armenian author Etyen Mahcupyan claimed that U.S. historian Justin McCarthy, who recently visited Turkey at the invitation of the the Republican People's Party (CHP), is not a reliable historian.
Mahcupyan also stated that instead of the Armenian diaspora, Turkey should take Armenia and its citizens into consideration. "We should deal with the future, not the past. We won't find a solution if we keep dealing with mass graves," he said, adding that the Armenian problem could be likened to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) problem.
CHP Deputy Sukru Elekdag grew angry at these claims, and said that the truth about history will only come to light when the archives are opened. Elekdag also claimed that "The Blue Book" was written during a war and for that reason does not reflect reality.