Shame in the Sun

Keghart.com Team Editorial, 1 September 2010

Another summer expires, and another vacation season starts to wind down, except for citizens of Armenia heading to Antalya, where the season continues well into October.

In 2009 some 50,000 such Armenians vacationed in Turkey, many of them in Antalya on the Mediterranean. In 2010 that embarrassing statistic soared by 30% for tourists headed to Antalya. Next year’s expected increase in the number of Turkey-bound Armenian tourists will be even more painful and incomprehensible to people who see the vacations as an insult to the Armenian nation.
 

Keghart.com Team Editorial, 1 September 2010

Another summer expires, and another vacation season starts to wind down, except for citizens of Armenia heading to Antalya, where the season continues well into October.

In 2009 some 50,000 such Armenians vacationed in Turkey, many of them in Antalya on the Mediterranean. In 2010 that embarrassing statistic soared by 30% for tourists headed to Antalya. Next year’s expected increase in the number of Turkey-bound Armenian tourists will be even more painful and incomprehensible to people who see the vacations as an insult to the Armenian nation.
 

At least two charter flights per week served the Yerevan-Antalya route in July and August. The aircraft were leased from Armavia, Armenia’s national airline. Ani Tour, one of the Armenia tour packagers, is planning to offer next year additional Turkish destinations such as Bodrum.

These shameful vacations by citizens of Armenia are a knife into the heart of the Armenian nation. Let’s consider why they are wrong, wrong, and wrong.

It’s immoral for an Armenian to vacation in Turkey, including the “pilgrimage” to Aghtamar in mid-September.

These selfish vacationers, who are opting for Turkish destinations, are sabotaging the Armenian campaign to persuade Turkey to recognize the Genocide, and to make reparations.

These unconscionable tourists send the wrong signal to the government of Turkey and to governments around the world, making them believe that we have conceded defeat in our struggle against Turkish intransigence and denialism.

These sunny vacation destinations are located in areas where Armenians inhabited for thousands of years, and where they were either slaughtered or driven out by the Turkish government barely a century ago.

These outrageous vacations help boost the economy of our enemy—the same enemy which is blockading Armenia and is aiding Azerbaijan (Turkey Jr.) politically, diplomatically and militarily.

Impoverished, cash-strapped Armenia can’t afford the outlay of millions of dollars, via these abominable vacations.

A typical one-week Yerevan to Antalya vacation costs $750, while other vacations can have a price tag as high as $2,000. According to global economic surveys, the average annual income of an Armenian citizen is 101,700. This is about $2,700 per year or $225 per month. In other words, the price of an Antalya vacation is equal to three months of wages for the average Armenian. Imagine a North American, with an annual income of $50,000, spending $17,000 for a week’s vacation.

So who are these citizens of Armenia who are spending $750 for a week’s vacation in the enemy’s resorts? Obviously, not the average citizen of Armenia, but the financial elite who have swallowed the Western Dream (the divine bottom line, the focus on the pleasure principle, taking care of numero uno first and foremost) and don’t give a dram for the national interests of Armenians.

It’s not as if these outrageous vacationers have no non-Turkish options. In northeast Black Sea, hour or so flying time from Yerevan, there are seven Russian towns dedicated to tourism, according to Oliver Bullough’s recent book—“Let Our Fame Be Great.” Anapa, at the northern tip of the Black Sea Riviera, has 600 hotels, reports Bullough. South of it are the mostly-resort towns of Novorossiysk, Gelenzhik, Arkhip Osiparka, Tuapse, Lazarevskoye, Sochi, and Adler. Near Sochi is Krasnaya Polyana, the locale of the Winter Olympics in 2016. West of Anapa are the famed resort areas of Crimea and the Sea of Azov.

Away from the former Soviet resort areas are other great tourist destinations such as Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, perhaps Iran. Closer to home are Shusha and Kelbajar, top vacation destinations in Soviet times. But typically, the government of Armenia has shown no initiative, other than talk, about building an airport in Artsakh. Thus a trip to these two Artsakh destinations involves four hours of driving. And typically for the government of Armenia, it allows its national airline—Armavia—to lease planes to the money-hungry opportunists who want to send Armenians and Armenia money to Turkey. A month ago, when the Jordanian opposition parties and unions protested the Amman government’s decision to allow the promotion of tourist packages to Israeli-occupied Arab Jerusalem, the government backed down. Why don’t Armenian political parties, which are opposed to these disgraceful Turkish tour packages, don’t tell the Serzh Sargyan government to discourage these vacations? Meanwhile, the Armenian government has no accurate statistics about the number of Armenians vacationing in Turkey because Yerevan-based tour packagers are reluctant to reveal the disgraceful numbers.

Last but not least…Turkey isn’t the safest country for Armenians—resident or vacationer. This past summer a pregnant Armenian vacationer (Ann Davityan) was killed in Antalya. Her body, which the murderer(s) dumped into a canal, had signs of torture. Because Yerevan and Ankara have no diplomatic relations– thanks to the latter’s bellicosity–it took many days to transport Ms. Davityan’s body to Yerevan. As well, members of an Armenia family vacationing in Turkey were beaten by the staff of their hotel and then detained by police. After spending a night in jail, the family was allowed to return to Armenia. Yet Yerevan did not protest to Turkey or inform citizens of Armenia what could happen to them on a Turkish vacation.

When Armenia became independent, thousands of small merchants—many of them women—travelled to Istanbul, to import consumer goods to Armenia. This was an unfortunate but understandable development since Armenians were desperate for consumer goods and the budding amateur merchants—nicknamed “suitcase bizinessmeny”—were in dire need of money. That phase was something the Armenian nation could understand, but vacationing in Turkey is another kettle of fish.

These vacationing Armenians are putting their pleasure ahead of the vital interests of their people. They are stomping on Armenian national rights for a week in the sun. They are selling their national patrimony for a suntan.

In the ‘60s, when Turkish movies began to appear on Beirut theatre screens, the Armenian community successfully urged Armenians not to attend these asinine Turkish soap operas and comedies. If the Lebanese-Armenian leaders could drive the made-in-Turkey movies out of town, why can’t the Sargsyan administration put a stop to this humiliation?

One wonders what the “Armenian” vacationers think as their Airbus 300 flies over historic Armenia. Do they look outside the plane’s porthole and think of our countless scarred and imprisoned monuments 30,000 ft below? Do they invest a second in thinking of Haig Nahabed, Medzn Dikran, the Mamigonians, Movses Khorenatsi, Toros Roslin, the Cilician Kingdom, Khrimian Hayrig, Taniel Varoujan, Gomidas, Kachn Antranig, Aghpur Serop… and the 1.5 million Armenians slain by the government of Turkey?

“Amot” to these vacationing pseudo-Armenians.

 

46 comments
  1. Disgraceful Tourism

    When on a mission in Armenia in 2006 to videotape five schools being repaired or built, I headed to Jambarak where some of the work was being done. I was provided with a chauffeur-driven car and an architect. On the way to Jambarak, the architect, the driver and I began to chat. The architect was merrily telling us how he had spent his summer holiday in Antalya. I asked him why did he not go to local resorts or to the ones your [Keghart]editorial mentioned. He defended himself by saying that Antalya was cheaper.

    Later, when the 20-year-old son of Armenia’s deputy foreign minster took me, in his small car, to his uncle´s farm, we somehow got to talking about vacations. I told him that only a week earlier the "architect" had boasted about his vacation in Antalya. This is what he said: "ESH en, nrank wor gnoum en."
     
    Now back to your point of what is happening and the remedies that are required. The Yerevanite is mostly unaware of what he/she is doing by going to Antalya. Two months ago my dentist in Yerevan disclosed to me that their vacation–with her husband and kids–was getting close. To where? I asked. "To Antalya," she said. Her father is an ex "palkovnic" colonel of the Soviet Army. I then asked why not choose those areas/resorts you mentioned. Her answer was, "Well, it is more expensive there…" I could not restrain my anger and told her the above story about the young man who called those who vacation in Turkey as "ESH-er." She could not say anything since I had quoted a third party. I wonder if she took my advice and cancelled the Turkish vacation for another.

    It is not easy to change peoples’ thinking and habits, especially after the Protocol signing and the talks about rappraochement. Turks are fast at work; their propaganda machine, their tourist agencies are effective.

    A church-going lady and I will soon cooperate to attract spiritual tourism to Armenia, alongside with the usual tours.

    1. To Gaytzag from Spain
      You should have asked some further questions to that son of a deputy minister before getting impressed by his highly "intellectual" and "groundbreaking" explanation.

      For example:
       
      How much is his dad making that he was able to buy a car for a wonder-kid like him?

      How does that happen that the son of the foreign minister runs over an ordinary citizen in the center of the capital city on a car bought by taxpayers money and does not spend even an hour in a police station?  

      How many months that patriot has spent in the army and, if he has (to which I strongly doubt), in what capacity, before labelling his countrymen "esher"?

      Would he dare to call an "esh" to his president who spends taxpayers money in casinos of Europe?

      Although in a sense I agree with him.  Yes they are "esher",  because they tolerate the existence of such non-human like beings like himself.

  2. Shame in the Sun

    Turkey, the land of blood and genocide, just the colour of their flag, do not fit with Armenians’ interest!!

  3. A stupid and groundless article


    A stupid and groundless article, cheap and populist. What do 50,000 tourists mean for Turkey? Even if they spend US $2,000 each, it’s $100 million for Turkey‘s US $880 billion GDP. You think we can drive them into bankruptcy by not going to Turkey? Armenian oligarchs probably spend that much in European casinos and on sex trade.

    The author has extremely wrong understanding of patriotism. You cannot compare vacations in Sevan, Black Sea, Shushy with the ones in Antalya. I am very happy that people can afford to spend their vacation in places like that. We have to admit that Turkey, in many respects, is more  advanced than Armenia. And Armenia can benefit from vacationing in Turkey as Armenians then could have a better understanding of what is good and bad.

    You think Armenians are not being killed in Armenia? They are being killed in police stations, in the army, in hospitals, in the center of Yerevan by the so-called oligarchs. It is a country where human life doesn’t mean anything.

    Armenia’s number-one enemy is not Turkey; it is its current government, headed by a president any country would be ashamed to have. A man who has no vision, no moral values, no intellect, is corrupt and who forces its citizens to slavery in Russia. He is selling the country to Russia and keeps demoralizing an entire nation.

    1. To Eric
      Dear Eric,

      I don’t think there is any stupidity or groundless subject in the article. The editor has not tried to harm any Armenian interest. $100 Million can build an irport in Artsakh.

      Do you think by travelling to so called Turkey Armenians will be educated? If you know better why don’t you run for a political position in Armenia?

      Why do we have to be negative? Why don’t we make suggestions instead of calling each other inproper names?

    2. Short-sighted

       

      Eric, you are a short-sighted person who has no concept of diplomacy, politics and patriotism.

      The $100 million might not mean much to Turkey, but surely it means a lot for Armenia. If we don’t put a stop to it now, in the coming years the $100 million can become $200 million, $300 milliion…

      You think that Turkey is more advanced, yet in reality that country is still guided by 18th-century Ottoman laws, and a perfect example of that is Article 301.

      I don’t like the Armenian government, but it surely is much better than its Turkish counterpart, where they sign international agreements just to tear them apart the next day. They talk of genocide in Palestine when the 1915 blood of Armenians is still wet on their hands. They talk about Israeli attack on a ship which they systematically organized and sent its passengers to be slaughtered…etc. etc. etc.

      Know who your enemy is.

       

  4. Vacationing in Turkey

     

    The language of this editorial is understandable. However, there is another side to the coin. Lake Sevan can be a good vacation resort, but Armenia`s newly-rich robber barons, the oligarchs, have built vacation resorts there for rich people, not for the ordinary Armenian citizen. Armenia is not being built for its people, but for the few “rich“ who will also receive `rich“ visitors from other countries. Unless this tide is reversed by a popular movement, we should not expect any change in the foreseeable future. As for the political parties, they are also part of the rich oligarchs; they don’t promote anything without party or pecuniary interests. 

    The counter-revolution in Armenia by the new elites, in association with propaganda coming from American and other western embassies, coupled by efforts by some Diasporan Armenians put this country on the wrong path.
    Who will correct it? How? when? Why correct the situation, since it suits the new capitalist-oligarchic-robber class in Armenia?

     

    1. Antranig’s comment reminds me

      Antranig’s comment reminds me the "ekskursia"s (excursions) in the Soviet period. State sponsored vacation trips were offerred to intellectuals, executives, students, workers, etc to various destinations within Armenia and in the Union. Many a citizen took advantage of those trips both for pleasure and some petty business on the side. I recall a classmate from Akhalkalak who left for Leningrad (I think)  taking two baskeful of tomatoes with him to sell on the "open" market. He had good time and returned with a few extra rubles in his pocket.

      Of course, mostly the party elite, the "cream" of society took advantage of the system, yet "common" people were not ignored either. Many visited the vacation spots mentioned in the article for "pennies".

      I wonder how people today tolerate the extremely suffocating heat in Yerevan. Do the students, intellectuals, workers get a break? I don’t think so. Can the situation be reversed or at least ameliorated? I am not sure, and I am hesitant to make  any proposals because nobody at the official level in Armenia is listening.

  5. Sacrificing Patrimony for a Suntan
     Thank you, team Keghart, for another thoughtful and timely editorial.

  6. Shame in the Sun
    Most of you who replied to the article "Shame in the Sun" are missing the point. Armenians all over the world scream every day and demand recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government. However, when it comes to their pleasure most don’t care who they support. Wealthy Armenians from Armenia vacation in Turkey, Armenians from Diaspora vacation in Turkey, Armenian grocers in Diaspora carry Turkish products and Armenian customers buy them. Most Armenians favor Turkish products in department stores. I don’t understand what happened to their principals, what happened to their demands from Turkey, what happened to their self- respect, what happened to their honor (I realize these are foreign words to some Armenians). 
    Why would Turks think we mean business when we demand recognition? Why do so many Armenians reside and work in Turkey? Why do desperation and economic despair in Armenia drive citizens of Armenia to Turkey for work? There are so many other countries to go for employment. If these people don’t respect themselves, how about respecting our ancestors–our grandmothers and aunts were raped and slain; they committed suicide so they would not give themselves to Turks, be dishonored. Most people in Armenia are after money, pleasure, greed and selfishness. It should not take a government to tell us what to do; we have to know it. We had almost 100 years to learn what to do, where to go, what to buy, whose economy to support. It is not important how small our contribution is to the Turkish economy. If we all boycott their products, their tourism, and be vocal about it, teach "odars," promote our Cause in the media, then we will make a difference. The editorial is to the point.  

  7. Unfortunately the situation

    Unfortunately, the situation is the same with a lot of Armenians in Lebanon.

    By the way, Egyptian resorts are cheaper and much better equipped than those in Turkey. Armenia tour operators need to be convinced to change the destinations they are promoting. The distance from Armenia to Egypt is about the same as to Turkish resorts.

    We have serious issues with Turkey. Aside from economics, I consider vacationing in Turkey a moral crime. To this day, Orthodox Jews do not buy German- made cars.

  8. Disgraceful Tourism
    Eric, take it easy. His car–that of the deputy-foreign minister´s son–was a  jalopy. He had done his military service. His father, contrary to your description, was not one of "those". I visited  them. The uncle´s farm was a poor piece of dry land, atop the hills, where they grew wheat. I wrote in my book (give me your address and I shall send you a copy) "how an Armenian can squeeze wheat out of stone"– "Te inchbes Haye karic hats e hanel."

    I was really impressed. His father, Jivan M.–not to be confused with his superior–whose son had crashed his car. I agree that he has not served in the army but he was elected to the post by our Ramgavars (the party with wealthy members) from the U.S. mainly, but at the time the winds were blowing quite fast from that "side."

    It’s a pity that overnight Armenia and the rest of the other 14 republics turned from a dictatorial regime to the present "wild and free-market economy," thanks to aforementioned. Had Armenia and the 14 republics gone through a "transitional period" like Spain, Portugal and Greece–all dictatorial regimes or going through Nordic (Sweden, Finland, etc.) European socialism, Armenia would not be in the current situation.

    Alas, it was not to be. We are in the same current now with the other 14 are. But are you the one who will steer Armenia towards the preferred route–the Nordic Euro-socialism? I don´t think so.

    My suggestion is first try to put our own house in Diaspora in order rather than badmouth Armenia and the regime there. Think, where did it emanate from and by whom?

    Bygones are bygones. If the Diaspora remains in this "Arshagavan" mode, not much can be expected. If it drastically makes changes within its "kharkhul" shaky structures and adopts a mode that suits it best, re-organizing itself through "professional association of colleagues" that I advocate then perhaps we can have the hope that it will become a real ("Li-Irav") fullly-fledged partner with Hairenik. Meanwhile, stay calm and instead  of criticizing, meditate: "What can be done?"
     

     

  9. Apology for ‘Insulting’ Words

    Zohrab, I shouldn’t have used those insulting words. I am sorry; I overreacted.
    Yes, you’re right: 100 million dollars is big money for Armenia (though I exaggerated that number, maybe by two). But vacationing is important. A good vacation and rest boost human productivity. In that sense, Armenians benefit no less by going to Turkey. Vacationing is not a luxury but a necessity.

    In Armenia they say, "Poor Armenians spend their vacation in Kobuleti (Black Sea resort in Georgia), the middle-class goes to Antalya, and the rich vacation in Armenia." 
     
    Do you think if those vacation monies were spent in Armenia our "patriotic government" would have already built an airport in Artsakh? I believe that the money would have gone into the pockets of Armenian "businessman." I am not sure that making Dody Gago, Nemets Rubo (I guess you know who these people are) and other "pillars" of Armenian economy and statehood even richer would make Armenia a better place. If you think so, you are an optimist and I envy you.

    I overreacted because Armenia wastes many millions in needless things that could have been used more effectively. To solve our national issues we should focus on more important things rather than make scapegoats of the middle class.

  10. Visa Refusal

    My name is Lusie. I live in Armenia. I have never been to Turkey and do not not intend to spend any vacation there. But first you have to ask the embassies in Armenia, "Why do you refuse visas to Armenians to spend their holidays in your country?" I am 30-years-old and earn a substantial amount of money, which would allow me to travel around the world. I applied for tourist visas at several embassies but was refused–even for a work visa from the Bulgarian Embassy.

    I can sponsour myself to travel to Paris, Vienna or any European country, but have been refused from all the embassies in Armenia because I am not married and don’t have concrete links (family, etc.) in Armenia to return to. After being refused visas from various embassies, I totally feel as a prisoner in Armenia.

    I am not homeless, I have no criminal record but because of the attitude of foreign embassies here, I have sadly realized that Turkey is only country that allows easy entry of Armenians, without discrimination.

    If I will apply for visa for a UAE holiday, I am sure I will be refused. Meanwhile, citizens of the old CIS countries (Russia, Ukraine, etc.) do not have problem to be granted visas to anywhere in the world. So think about that and then blame the right persons and govermental organizations. And please answer my question, "Why are we prisoners in our country? Why does only Turkey let us travel without any limitations? Whose fault is that Armenians go to Turkey to spend holidays?"

    1. To Lusie

      I sympathize with you, and I’m very surprised that you have been refused tourist visas by so many countries. Perhaps you know people in these countries who could vouch for you?

      In any case, Turkey is a dangerous place for Armenians, and the fact that they allow tourists in with ease is typical of their contradictory nature. I am half-Armenian, and nothing about my information betrays my Armenian roots, but I would still not go to Turkey; I never have and I never will go to a country that is basically telling me my ancestors did not exist by denying the Genocide that took their lives. 

      And I have gone without, rather than buy Made in Turkey.

      I wish you well and hope you manage a visit to Europe sometime.

      1. Thank you for your attention

         

        Thank you for your attention regarding my comment. I still can’t understand why "is it my fault"–according to European embassies–that I am Armenian? My international friends and colleagues are surprised that I can’t leave my country for vacation.

        I would like to point out that my hoped-for French visa was vouched for by the mayor of a small French city and the director af a big computer comany. My Bulgarian visa application was vouched for by the director of a big industrial factory who invited me and who called the Bulgarian Embassy and asked Armenian community in Bulgaria.

        NO RESULTS, my dear friend. Can you imagine how I feel?

        By the way, I have many visas in my passport as I have travelled in Russia, Georgia and the CIS countries, but that doesn’t help me obtain a European or American visa. My friend, who was also invited to Bulgaria for work and exchange experience, has also been refused for the same reason as I. We are single.

        "WHY ARE WE PRISONERS?"

        I would like to go a little away from theme and say that if Europe and America would open their borders to Armenians, I am pretty sure that most Armenians, who are living illegally abroad, would return to Armenia. They are just afraid to return because they fear they wouldn’t be allowed to leave Armenia. But look to Russia or Turkey. They let us enter easily, and as a result people who go there to work return.

        Going abroad for work is not a bad thing. A great many Europeans do it. I am sure that when the borders are opened to more Armenians, most would return, rather than leave Armenia. For example, look at Russia. It is easy to earn money in Russia, easier than in Europe or in the U.S.There are almost no language problems for us and salaries are as high as in Europe. I want to say again: not all Armenians are moving to Russia, even though it is open to them. Why? Because most  Armenians love their country; and nobody wants to leave, and those who leave do so to earn some money. So if countries open their borders, most Armenians will return.

  11. Make the names public
    It should be fairly easy for someone in Armenia to get the names of those who take flights to Antalya.  Get the names and make them public and disgrace them.  Take their photos at the gates and put them on a website.

    That is not an overall solution, I know, but it is something that can be done easily.

    But please realize that there will always be turncoats and traitors among us.  This is true in every country.

    During the Genocide, there were some Armenians who revealed information that led to many Armenians being murdered.

    Public exposure and disgrace must be done.

  12. Sireliner Amen hay yerp arite ounena
    Sireliner,

    Amen hay yerp arite ounena bedk e aytzele nakhgin haygagan hoghere vorbeszi desna te inchkan keghetzgoutiun menk gorsentzoutzatz enk, ella ayt hoghayin gam martgayin. Joghovourtin medz mase mer zarmignere yev zarmouhinern en. Karozetsek irentz vorbeszi hay ellalnin entounin. Ays tzevov mer dzakhtsaz millionnere gartaranah.
  13. Understandable, but

    The comments made are perfectly undertstandable, but we are looking at only a small picture of the whole story. Armenians from lebanon and syria also go to turkey and spend even more.

    My dear compatriots, we are not going to drive them to bankruptcy nor are we going to get touched by their hospitality, it is matter of CONCEPT!  We all understand that the holidays are cheap but as mentoined in the article, there have been cases of assaults and one day there will be a major assault.

    Here again lies the failed diplomacy of our politicians, and the issue was raised when one of the commentators could not get a visa. People will be able to travel when diplomatic ties are organised and agreed upon. For example, what is wrong with Montenegro and Croatia, or Lebanon, or southern Cyprus, but these have to be dealt with diplomatically to allow the ease of travel and allow holiday makers to relax in the sun.

    I cannot imagine myself putting a penny in any Turkish man’s pocket; after all the land that we are vacationing on is our Cilicia or has been confiscated from someone whom we loved or was close to us. Yet again we have not developed our internal tourism and we could benefit from that, but the Armenian oligarchs are busy of course!!!

  14. shame in the sun
    I am in agreement with practically everything you wrote in "Shame in the Sun." However, I would have preferred another headline… "Shameless in the Sun."

  15. Read up on Geopolitics

    Eric, read up on geopolitics before you talk about Russia’s role in Armenia. If it were not for Russia, there would be no Armenia. How easy it is for people to forget that Turkish troops were positioned near the Armenian border in 1993 and had Russia not warned that WWIII would start should the Turks cross the border, the Armenian nation would be crying about much more than the loss of Western Armenia.

    As for Armenians vacationing in Turkey, it sucks–there is no doubt about it. But the solution to the problem needs to come from entrepreneurs both in and out of Armenia, plus the Armenian government. Writing editorials or trying to shame people is not the best solution.

  16. Counter Productive

    Upon reading the "Shame in the Sun" editorial my first reaction was "what a shame!" Then I read the mitigating circumstances for Armenians who vacation in Turkey rather than in Armenia or other countries. I admit that I would not have thought of these circumstances had it not been for the open forum in Keghart. However, I still believe that vacationing in Turkey is counter- productive to our cause.

    I do not think that as an adult. I would have harbored the same intensity towards our cause if in my formative years my parents had vacationed in Turkey and taken me along with them. Actions, however subtle, speak much, and much louder than words, especially to the impressionable child. I do no think it is possible for an Armenian family to pass the determined legacy of our cause to its children while at the same time posting pictures of their good times in Turkey in their Facebook or in their family album.

  17. Shame in the Sun

    In my opinion daring to write an article in which advocating not to visit Aghtamar and the Surp Khatch church on its first divine liturgy after 84 years of silence should be considered a "shameful act", in my opinion, advocating to disown an artifact which our forefathers built it a millennium ago is a "shameful act", but it is the biggest shame when any Armenian tries to disgrace a fellow Armenian, because of his/her approach to a subject matter is  DIFFERENT than theirs, that  is the biggest shame of all!

    After all there is a handful of us, if we continue to stone each other  just because ones "approach in life" is different, aren’t we fulfilling the dreams of our enemies to come true? Didn’t you learn anything from the "Dink" Doctrine? Oh…. may be not, probably at one time you called Hrant Dink’s approach to the Armenian cause also "shameful" as well, since he advocated exactly the opposite of what this article is all about!

    For those of you who may be uninformed  please note that -although Turkish government may be trying to get as much mileage as possible out of it – Surp Khatch Church on the  Aghtamar island is being opened up for divine liturgy because of tireless efforts of Mesrop II, the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul. Therefore when you turn your back to the project you are also undermining steps taken by other fellow Armenians! 

    Surp Khatch on the Aghtamar island is Armenian, and will always be Armenian since Armenian minds built it a millennium ago, and it is the living proof of the unbreakable Armenian spirituality!

  18. Who are you preaching to?

    It seems to me that the vacation issue is not so much a moral imperative, though that feeling is certainly understandable. But, to compare any Armenian who choses to make an earnest pilgrimage to Akhtamar on Sept. 19 with these pleasure seekers is not only unfair and mean-spirited, but also divisive and counter-productive.

    Why is this necessary? As far as the vacationers go – you say that they are not average citizens of RoA. So, what does the average citizen of RoA have to say? Is there any public criticism or grassroots resentment about this within RoA – on either moral or economic grounds?

    You include only a passing reference to related political dissent, but if open debate has been supressed, then doesn’t that suggest an equally important moral imperative? I hear the sermon from Team Keghart in Canada, but it seems that you have paid lip service to the people of RoA and I must ask – who is it that you are preaching to? But if your aim was to criticize the current government or social elite of RoA, then why not be more direct about it? Or, if this editorial is part of a larger strategy to stimulate Diaspora investment in alternative tourism venues in Armenia, then all the better, but why not be a little more forthright and upbeat?

    1. Reply to Ara

      My guess is that the editorial had four targets.

      Judging by the letters, it seems Keghart has readers in Armenia. Therefore, the targets were:

      1.The RoA public.
      2.RoA organizations, political parties which are lobbying against these vacations in Turkey. I understand some people have torn ads and posters which promote the vacations. The editorial would presumably provide further ammunition to these groups.
      3.RoA authorities which have been indifferent to this damaging trend.
      4.Although Diaspora Armenians were not mentioned, I would guess that indirectly the editorial was telling them not to consider Turkey as an approprite vacation destination for Armenians.

  19. Two different aspects

    There are two different matters.

    One deals with the Pilgrims who yearn to go and see ancestors’ homes and lands, where they had lived for millennia, and now are confiscated, also to pray at a church built by our King Gagik Artzruni on Armenian soil in the 10th century.

    It has been endorsed by the Patriarchate of Istanbul, by the Supreme Spiritual leader the Catholicos of All Armenians in St. Etchmiadzin and indirectly by the RA. Whether some factions in Diaspora or RA oppose it or not, they are bound to go and hold Mass at Aghtamar.

    My "suggestion" was to go but stay out of the church, not enter it, if the image of Ataturk or a Turkish flag is displayed. Stay out in the open air and pray there. They will not allow candle lighting, like someone suggested; then take battery operated candles…or none at all, just go and pray there in the open.

    Almost definitely there will be a host of multi-national correspondents who will report. It is a PLUS to us. If we totally boycott it – too late for that anyhow – then said foreign correspondents and by extension their governments will turn their attention to Turkey´s "Bienfaisance” that was turned down by Armenians, and we lose face.

    On the other hand there is no justification for Vacationing on Turkey´s Mediterranean coast (some of it our Cilicia). No matter how you turn it around those who go are either very ignorant or so much 70 year old communist regime educated that they still believe in "brotherhood" or "comradeship", advocating now bankrupt and defunct propaganda.

    Both the Diaspora and RA should take it upon themselves to more properly approach to such important issues. The fact is that these vacationing tours to Turkey started years ago, while the aforementioned were preoccupied with other matters. They are directly responsible for these vacationing compatriots who were astray.

    Like someone on this forum correctly pointed out "Cuge klukhen g´hodi" – the fish stinks from its head. Time is of the utmost importance to put foremost our own house in order in the Diaspora, and then become full-fledged partner with the government of the Fatherland.

  20.  Becoming Like the Turkish government

    I feel we were becoming like the Turkish government when we categorize the Armenian vacationers in Turkey, and label them as people who are an “insult to the Armenian nation”. Do you really believe that we should control the behavior of our people and insinuate that there are “good Armenians” and “bad Armenians”.

    Should we really put them in a separate classification? I believe it is the birth right of all Armenians to be Armenian, period. I don’t think we should be judgmental and try to control their lives, suggesting as to where they should be vacationing.

    Rather than blaming our people, we should focus more on how we can make Armenia vacation sites and packages so attractive and affordable that Armenians can vacation at Lake Sevan or at the beautiful mountain resorts of our homeland. And not only for our people, but even for Turks to come to vacation, spend their money in our homeland and help our economy.

    Let’s try to be competitive rather than autocratic.

    1. A low-level war
      Dear Garo,

      Please consider that we are at war with Turkey. Albeit a low-level war, but still a war. In our case, an existential one.

      Turkey continues to blockade Armenia, trying to choke it to death. Why do you think Armenia is losing so many Armenians to emigration? It’s mainly because of the dire economy. One of the aims of the Turkish blockade is to strangle Armenia’s economy and thus drive Armenians away from Armenia, resulting in its hoped-for demise. Azerbaijan is already braying that in 15 to 20 years there will be no Armenian left in Armenia.

      Turkey continues to give its crucial diplomatic, political, economic and military support to Azerbaijan. Ankara is even teaching Baku how to fight Armenian "propaganda."

      Back in 1993 the one-million-strong Turkish Army was about to roll into Armenia. The only reason it didn’t was the warning from Moscow.

      Recently, there has been talk of Turkish-Azeri military exercises in our Nakhichevan, now empty of Armenians or even Armenian graveyards.

      Please consider that the pan-Turanic ambition of Turkey is very much alive. Armenia is the only slice of land which prevents the realisation of this plan.

      Turkey is a country where to call someone Armenian is the severest insult. In the recent referendum campaign in Turkey, one of the readers of a right-wing political party has been "accused" of having Armenian roots. A sure attempt to ruin his career. Another political enemy of Mr. Gul has claimed Gul’s parents were Armenian. These are serious matters in Turkey.

      It’s all well and good to be well-intentioned, tolerant, positive, universalist, humanist, etc., but what we are facing is a nation whose big dream is to swallow us. Thus, Armenians who vacation in Turkey are stomping over our national integrity and are financially supporting the enemy. Whether they know it or not, they are committing an act of treachery.

      Hayorti

  21. Tourism in Turkey
    Dear Armenian friends,

    Let’s not misinterpret the actions of Armenian tourists traveling to Turkey for their vacation.

    The high purchasing power of the dollar in Turkey is incomparable to any other country in that area. I visited our homeland (today’s Turkey) in 2006 and filmed all the places we visited and found out that the Armenian presence in Turkey is more important today than at any other time. Let Turkish people know that we still exist and live our lives as any other people. I agree with Antranik Bedrossian’s comments from Canada, and that of Eric from the United States.

    You can’t forbid people from traveling, but you can offer comparable vacationing places as in Turkey to convince Armenian vacationers to choose that destination instead of Turkey. Dollars and purchasing value talk.

    I also support the Holy Mass to be held at Aghtamar on Sept. 19. Whoever is against that idea is wrong. It is the best proof in the eyes of the world that we are the owners of that land, We should go by the thousands to attend the religious service.

    We don’t have to mix apples with oranges. 
         

    1. Shame in the sun

      Dear Hagop,

      I am puzzled by your letter. I get the feeling you and I were reading different editorials when we read ‘Shame in the Sun.’

      Contrary to your assumption, the article seemed to raise the Armenian national consciousness of Armenians who vacation in Turkey. It didn’t preach banning of the trips.

      The article did suggest that Armenian vacationers try the resorts on the eastern shores of the Black Sea, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf States, Iran for its historic and cultural legacy, and Armenia/Artsakh. To that list I would add Greece and the Greek part of Cyprus.

      You are also pro the Akhtamar trip, although Echmiadzin, Cilician See, the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the three Armenian political parties have denounced Turkish propaganda ploy. I am wondering whether you are from Bolis.

      In my observation, most Bolsetsi Armenians have shown an unfounded or naive trust in the good intentions of Turkey, although the Genocide did begin in Bolis on April 24, 1915. Then again, perhaps Bolsetis and ex-Bolsetsis are hostages to Turkey. They have to grant Turkey every break to remain Turkey’s "Beezeem Ermeniler."

      1. Shame in the sun
        Hi Mesrob,

        First, I am not from Bolis, but I look at reality of life as a process of give and take, not like some Armenians who want to take but give nothing. If Turkey is going to gain something out of all this, let it be. We have to gain something too. Let the local Turkish and Kurdish people see thousands of Armenians gathering in the same place after so many years, and that we are the owners of that land, not the Turks or Kurds. We have to take a lesson from the Greeks. They had their mass a couple of weeks ago; thousands came from all over the world to celebrate mass. Soon Aya Sofia will go back to Greek people and they will celebrate mass in it. 

        I don’t know what we want. Soon Turkey will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Do we have to put our conditions on Turkey how they will recognize it? If we are thinking to get back all Giligia from Turkey it is a dream that will not come true. Turkey will accept changes on the frontier with Armenia just to settle the Genocide problem with the Armenians and to look good to the world.

        For us the most important thing is the recognition of the Armenia Genocide by Turkey.

        Hagop karlozian

        1. Shame in the Sun

          Dear Hagop,

          Your optimism re Turkey is breathtaking, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. You allege the following in your letter:

          1. That when Turks and Kurds see thousands of Armenians at Aghtamar they will realize that the land belongs to Armenians.

          You don’t provide the slightest evidence for the realisation of such an outcome. Besides, even if the local Turks and Kurds admit the land is ours, what matters is what Turkey–the state and the nation–decide. And what Kurds think on this is irrelevant: they have been fighting the Turks for the same Armenian land since the Genocide.

          2. Soon Aya Sophia will belong to the Greeks because Greeks are playing along Turkey.

          You don’t provide any shred of evidence regarding your claim. Just a few months ago, the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch of Istanbul said, on "Sixty Minutes," that he is a prisoner of Turkey. And another thing: Because of the deteriorating relations between Turkey and Israel, the latter has gotten close to Greece, even allowing Israeli air force hold exercises in Greek air space, since Turkey has banned such exercises. In other words, Greece and Israel are getting into bed. This makes the return of Aya Sophia to the Greeks a pipe dream.) You ask what do Armenians want. Reading about the topic in Diaspora Armenian media and talking to Diaspora Armenians, my impression (research of one admittedly) is that we would be content with a part of Western Armenia, adjacent to the Republic of Armenia. No realistic Armenian would demand even a part of Guiligia. That part of Armenia is gone, perhaps forever.

          3. You are positive that Turkey would soon recognize the Genocide.

          You don’t provide the tiniest proof for your optimism. By the way, recognition by iteself is meaningless, unless it’s accompanied or followed by the return of parts of our homeland. I agree with you that at this juncture of Armenian/Turkish history the most important development, for Armenians, would be the recognition of the Genocide.

      2. To Mesrob

        How easy it is to pontificate when you live in a Western democracy. Your lines of "In my observation, most Bolsetsi Armenians have shown an unfounded or naive trust in the good intentions of Turkey, although the Genocide did begin in Bolis on April 24, 1915. Then again, perhaps Bolsetsis and ex-Bolsetsis are hostages to Turkey. They have to grant Turkey every break to remain Turkey’s "Beezeem Ermeniler." hit a nerve with this Bolsetzi.

        Your superficial observation has nothing to do with reality. Most Bolsetzis do not show "naive" trust or otherwise. We know very well what Turkish "good intentions " are. Have you heard of Sword of Damocles? I guess you never lived under it. Most probably you lived in a country where Armenians had more freedom than their brethren in Turkey. How easy it is for you to criticize those of us who had to bend with the Turkish wind wherever it blew from.

        I suggest you to read about the Sword of Damocles and draw a parallel with Bolsetzi behaviour. Yes , indeed Bolsetsis have no other choice but do their best to survive, in your words remain " Beezeem Ermeniler" . Need I say more?

        1. Some Bolsetsis

          Reply to Serge.

          I could have had a small treasure chest if I was given $1 every time I heard or read his ‘How easy is it to pontificate when you live in a Western democracy" line and its variations. The rhetorical device insinuates that it is facile for us, living in prosperous and liberal democracies, to criticize the words and actions of Armenians who do not enjoy the same benefits. Perhaps we would be permitted to comment if we moved to Paraguay or to Bangladesh.

          I am well aware of the Damoclian Sword you refer to. Here in the West as in other parts of the world, many of us live under a financial (recession, unemployment, bankruptcies, etc.) Damoclilan Sword, and many of us, who have lived in the Middle East, are familiar with the Democlian Sword of political and economic uncertainty. So…please…no lectures about the 2,500-year-old Greek sword.

          Bolsetsis have every right to fear the long and vicious arm of Ankara. However, Bolsetsis sabotage our Armenian Cause when they enthusiastically jump to cover up Turkey’s crimes, when they rush to make unconditional peace with Turkey, when they allow themselves to be the puppets of Ankara propaganda initiatives (the Protocols and Akhdamar for example), and when they (Bolsetsis who don’t live in Turkey) speak Turkish in their homes, when they form their own separate Bolsetsi organizations, when they frequently visit Istanbul and come back extolling to Armenians (for all I know to odars, too) the wonders of Istanbul and of Turkey. All these set them apart from the Armenian mainstream and give them the faint whiff of questionable patriotism. 

          1. Mesrob redux

            That 2500 year old sword is still hanging and is very sharp. If you are so much aware of it , as you claim, but it is really doubtful, how come you do not see the necessity of Bolsetsis to "comply" with Turkish authorities' whims?.

             "Bolsetsis have every right to fear the long and vicious arm of Ankara. However, Bolsetsis sabotage our Armenian Cause when they enthusiastically jump to cover up Turkey's crimes, when they rush to make unconditional peace with Turkey, when they allow themselves to be the puppets of Ankara propaganda initiatives (the Protocols and Akhdamar for example), and when they (Bolsetsis who don't live in Turkey) speak Turkish in their homes, when they form their own separate Bolsetsi organizations, when they frequently visit Istanbul and come back extolling to Armenians (for all I know to odars, too) the wonders of Istanbul and of Turkey. All these set them apart from the Armenian mainstream and give them the faint whiff of questionable patriotism "

            Just one man tried to show the other side of the medallion to the Turkish public, what happened..?.a bullet in the head and government cover up….and my friend Mesrob, sitting in Canada is talking about  questionable patriotism. Let me educate you and likes of you whom think in the same vein : Bolsetsis or any other Armenian living in Turkey HAVE NO CHOICE  but to play Turkish drum for the sake of survival.

            As for the wonders of Turkey……Yes..it is far prettier than the deserts of Arabia, the climate, the food is great. The nature endowed it beautifully BUT…here is the BUT…it is being run by the Mongolians

            Let me educate you on another field. The language spoken by Bolsetsis . Obviously you do not know that ALL Armenian schools in Istanbul can teach Armenian ONLY BUT ONLY  for  2 hours a week, imposed by the Turkish Education Ministry. The rest is in Turkish. How well can one learn  Armenian  under these conditions , thus,  speaking Turkish comes much easier.

            You criticize Bolsetsis forming their own clubs, but you conveniently have forgotten  a myriad of Diaspora organizations i.e.   Evereg-Fenesstzi Organization, Marashtzi Organization. Moussa Ler Association , etc.etc. You play fair Mesrob?

            It is obvious that you patriotism manifests better, or you think so, by criticizing others with divisive utterances.

          2. Mesrob Redux
            To Sam,

            With a few exceptions, I disagree with your comments. I can respond to all your subterefuges, just as I did earlier with Serje’s comments on the same topic. However, since I must have sent at least three comments on this subject, I feel it would be "hogging" to take any more of the discussion time and space. I would like to see others–whether they agree with me or not–to enter the debate. By the way, I am glad to see you defend Bolsetis: We need to hear more from the Bolsetsi community in our public media.
          3. Not to Abstain from the Debate

            Decades ago, as a freshman college student, I happened to be in Istanbul on my way from Bulgaria. With friends we went for shopping for leather jackets. On more than one occasion after bargaining for a purchase not in Armenian of course and when on our way leaving the shop, we would hear a comment or two that made amply clear that the shopkeeper was an Armenian. I am not sure if he spoke Armenian or not. In any event he did not reveal his ethnicity to us. I doubt that much has changed in Turkey as evidenced by what happened to Hrant Dink.

            Along with this comes of course the reality that Turkish Armenians understandably have developed a more personal appreciation of the country they live in. Let us face it, what is now known as Turkey has an impressive natural landscape. Many Turkish Armenians undoubtedly have forged close friendships with Turks. Bolsetsis probably are more comfortable speaking Turkish as many of our grandparents were at tone time. My maternal grandmother read the bible daily. Her bible, a family treasure now, is in Armenian character but in Turkish. The overwhelming majority of the Armenian youth in America speaks English and if any one has a doubt, then they can attend the Navartstian Games that take place the week of July 4 in LA lend an ear to the ongoing conversation among the young. It is primarily and overwhelmingly in English.

            We have to accept that the views of Turkahays or Bolsahays are as valid and are as in the interest of the Armenian issues as those of any Armenians from anywhere else on this planet, They may differ from my views about vacationing in Turkey which I do not support however favorable the purchasing power of the hard earned foreign currency of the Armenian vacationer be. Even though, in hindsight, I realize now that I also did take advantage for more affordable goods and purchased a leather jacket then.

            I do not think that Bolsetsi Armenians are less patriotic, or less “Armenian”. They have or may have different perspectives than the rest in the Diaspora. However, that is the reality of the Armenian Diaspora we readily acknowledge by referring to each other as Barsgahay or Bolsahay or Amerigahay.

          4. Vahe’s comments
            How succintly you put it. Your analysis is so much more factual than Mesrop’s utterings who has not left his armchair pontification.

  22. Tourism and the “moneyed class”

     

    Sounds like moderate cost tourism development is needed in Armenia.  Let’s not allow that fact to be lost to Armenians condemning other Armenians.  It’s not surprising to hear that the wealthy have been the first to discover Armenia’s choice vacation spots, but doesn’t the middle class typically follow the "moneyed class?"

  23.  I share your concerns my
    I share your concerns my dear Hayorti.

    I may or may not agree with all of the points you have raised. However, regardless of that, are you suggesting that in order to overcome all the issues, concerns and to protect our land and people we should resort to dictatorship? Must we dictate and forbid our nation to vacation areas where they can afford. Or we “shame” them for TRYING to live a normal life. Will this resolve or at the minimum, would this help and minimize any of our concerns that you have raised?

    I don’t think I agree with the approach of “shaming” and labeling our compatriots as less than desirable Armenians, and consider their action as “insults” to our nation. This is where we would be creating our version of the Turkish article 301. Aren’t we fighting this article? …. It’s a double standard, which we should avoid.