THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN KARABAGH CONFLICT, AND ADVANCEMENT OF REGIONAL SECURITY AND COOPERATION WAS DEBATED IN ISTANBUL
On September 13-15 in Istanbul an international conference “The Role of Media in Karabagh Conflict and Advancement of Regional Security and Cooperation” was held. The event was attended by journalists and experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. The conference was organized by Yerevan Press Club and “Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan under the joint project “Ensuring Public Awareness on Regional Developments” (the project is implemented by the two NGOs with the support of Friedrich Ebert Foundation). The Istanbul event was assisted by the Global Political Trends Center. The conference was opened with the welcome addresses of Michael Meier, Head of Istanbul Office of Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Arif Aliev, Chairman of “Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan, and Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club.
The report of free lance journalist Tobias Asmuth (Germany) regarded the Karabagh conflict in the context of regional security and its reflection in the German speaking media. The speech of Ipek Yezdani, Editor of TRT Turk TV company, touched upon the perspectives of Turkish politicians, media and expert community towards conflicts in South Caucasus. The reports of political scientist Rasim Musabekov (Azerbaijan) and YPC Weekly Newsletter Editor Elina Poghosbekian (Armenia) dealt with the Azerbaijani and Armenian media coverage of mutual relations in the context of recent regional developments.
The two documentaries on conflict issues were widely discussed by the conference participants. The films were produced by Internews Armenia and Internews Azerbaijan NGOs.
The panel discussion, involving Elena Imedashvili, Project Director of “News of Georgia”, and Grigory Shvedov, Chief Editor of “Caucasian Knot” online publication, regarded the Karabagh conflict and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in the mirror of neighboring countries.
In the end of the conference, YPC President Boris Navasardian and “Yeni Nesil” Chairman Arif Aliev summed up the project results and presented its future plans.
P.S. In the early morning of September 13, upon the arrival of the eleven Armenian journalists taking part in the conference, along with the journalists visiting Turkey upon the invitation of Hrant Dink Foundation, an extremely unpleasant incident occurred at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. About twenty passengers who arrived by Yerevan-Istanbul flight were put through a special examination by the immigration services. In particular, proofs were required as to the sufficiency of funds for staying in Turkey and going back. Notably, this check-up was applied only to passengers from Yerevan.
The passengers examined included also four out of eight Armenian journalists invited by Hrant Dink Foundation. Despite the fact that the Foundation representative that accompanied this group gave the necessary explanations as to the purpose of journalists’ visit to Turkey, the immigration services continued to demand that journalists show the cash they had on them and additional documents. Having learned about this, the YPC President Boris Navasardian tried to explain that the two groups arrived in Turkey to take part in professional events and the related expenses were fully covered by the organizers. Yet the immigration officers refused to consider the group as a whole, examining people individually. They also insisted that Boris Navasardian pass the border. When he refused to do so, saying he will only go through after his colleagues subjected to the check-up, the officers threatened him with a deportation. After the threat had not worked and the representative of Global Political Trends Center Can Yirik and Hrant Dink’s daughter Delal interfered, the journalists were allowed to pass the border. The whole story lasted for two hours.
On the same day at the opening of the conference Boris Navasardian made a statement. Having described the incident to the conference participants, the YPC President said in particular: “We have always considered Turkey to be quite a civilized country, open for regional and international events of various levels, and this conference is another confirmation of such perception. We understand that the immigration services have a right to ask questions and to have check-ups, it is their work. But today’s incident in Istanbul airport goes far beyond regular procedures. Representatives of Turkish immigration services subjected the Armenian journalists and other passengers from Yerevan – and exclusively them – to a very humiliating procedure, not finding it necessary to give any justifications. We insist on getting official explanations, otherwise we would have to reconsider our attitude towards holding events in Turkey. We cannot invite people to take part in our events, when there is a risk to harm their dignity.”
WINNERS OF INTERNATIONAL HRANT DINK AWARD ANNOUNCED
On September 15 in Istanbul at the concert hall “Cemal Rasit Rey” the award ceremony of nominees of Hrant Dink International Award 2010 was held. The Award winners are: “Conscientious Objection Movement” Turkish anti-militarist organization and Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, the first national judge exercising the universal jurisdiction.
The Award winners are announced on the birthday of Hrant Dink, Chief Editor of “Agos” Armenian-Turkish newspaper, who was killed in Istanbul on January 19, 2007. The Award is granted to individuals, organizations and groups that work for a free and just world without discrimination, racism and violence, who take personal risks for achieving those ideals, who break the stereotypes by giving inspiration and hope to others. By means of this Award, the Hrant Dink Foundation aims to remind all those who struggle for these ideals that their voices are heard and they are not alone. In 2010 the awardees were determined by the Jury, which also involved Boris Navasardian, Yerevan Press Club President (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 30 – May 6, 2010).
It is also noteworthy that on the eve of announcing the nominees, on September 14, the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the suit of Hrant Dink and his family versus Turkey was released. Following the pieces, published in 2003-2004, in which Hrant Dink expressed his views on the identity of Turkish citizens of Armenian origin, in 2006 he was found guilty of “denigrating Turkish identity” under Article 301 of the Criminal Code of Turkey. In 2007 he was killed at the entrance of “Agos” editorial office. Under Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (right to life), the applicants alleged that Turkey failed to ensure the right of Hrant Dink to life and to conduct an effective investigation aimed at determining the responsibility of State agents (Article 13 of the European Convention on the right to effective remedy). Under Article 10 of the European Convention (freedom of expression) the applicants complain the verdict against Hrant Dink, which, they claim, made him a target for extreme nationalist groups. On September 14 the European Court ruled that all three Articles had been violated. It required that Turkey pays compensation to the wife and the children of Hrant Dink, amounting to 100,000 Euros, to his brother – a compensation of 5,000 Euros, as well as cover the plaintiff’s litigation costs of 28,595 Euros.
SUIT OF THE RECTOR OF HUMANITARIAN INSTITUTE OF YEREVAN VERSUS “HETQ” WEEKLY
On September 16 the court of general jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash administrative districts of Yerevan started hearing the suit of Mikael Amirkhanian, Rector of Humanitarian Institute of Yerevan, versus “Hetq” weekly (the edition of “Investigative Journalists” NGO). The plaintiff demands to refute the information discrediting his honor, dignity and business reputation, as contained in the piece “’Yes, I Am Doing Business’, Says the Rector” (published in “Hetq” on June 3, 2010). Mikael Amirkhanian also required compensating the material loss in the amount of AMD 200,000 (about $ 550).