Thursday, September 14, 2006

Armenia Debates Sending Peacekeepers to Lebanon

Armenia is debating whether to send peacekeepers to Lebanon, after receiving an official invitation to join the UNIFIL mission there. Lebanon has a large Armenian community, and Lebanese Armenians are urging the country's participation in the peacekeeping mission. If the government decides to accept the invitation, it is likely that a small contingent of Armenian sappers would be involved in the clearing of mines and unexploded ordnance. According to Oskanian, there are still questions about the mandate and the location in which the troops would be serving, which need to be resolved before Armenia can commit.

On Wednesday, a Turkish reconnaissance team arrived in Lebanon. The Turkish parliament gave its overwhelming approval to a bill Turkey is expected to contribute up to 1,000 troops. However, the country has declared in advance that it will withdraw if its soldiers are asked to disarm Hizbullah. Turkish public opinion is largely opposed to the country's participation in the mission.

Shahan Kandakharyan, editor-in-chief of Azdak, the largest Armenian newspaper in Lebanon, has announced that Lebanese Armenians are opposed to Turkey's participation in the mission:

A country, which is a strategic and military partner of Israel and blocks Cyprus must not be admitted to Lebanon. Also a country, where human rights are violated and the Armenian Genocide of 1915 is denied cannot take part in settlemetn of the Middle East crisis,

he said (see full text of an interview with him).

Meanwhile, Germany has announced that it will contribute 2,400 airforce and navy servicemen to the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. German defence minister Franz Josef Jung announced that the country's sailors and airmen, who will be patrolling the entire Lebanese coast, aboard two frigates, four patrol boats, two supply ships, a tender, and two helicopters, "will have the right to use force against vessels that show resistance." Chancellor Angela Merkel called the decision to participate "historic." However, Germany has refused to send ground forces to Lebanon, citing concerns that the country's Nazi past prevents it from putting troops in a situation where they might have to challenge Israeli soldiers. Israelis have generally welcomed the German participation, with some isolated opposition. However, a month ago, when debates about a new peacekeeping force had just begun, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany vehemently objected to the deployment of German troops in Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert previously expressed his strong support for a German role in the mission.

On ne plaisante pas avec les mots…

Sanction diplomatique pour abus de… vérité : c’est bien ce à quoi ressemble le rappel de l’ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en Arménie, John Evans, qui a quitté Erevan samedi dernier, un an avant la fin de sa mission. En avril dernier, peu avant la commémoration du 90ème anniversaire du génocide des Arméniens, le représentant de l’administration Bush avait dérogé à la loi de l’omission qui caractérise le discours politique américain sur cette question depuis des années.

Le funambulisme rhétorique de tous les Présidents américains au moment du 24 avril peut faire figure de certificat es acrobatie au cirque politique ; pour mémoire, rappelons simplement les contorsions du 24 avril dernier : « a terrible chapter of history" that "remains a source of pain for people in Armenia and for all those who believe in freedom, tolerance and the dignity and value of every human life." En utilisant le terme de génocide pour qualifier les massacres de 1915-1917, Evans a encouru les foudres de ses chefs, et en a payé les conséquences par l’abréviation de son mandat en Arménie. Il a eu beau, par la suite, tenter de minimiser le fait en expliquant qu’il donnait là son point de vue de particulier, forgé depuis deux ans par une connaissance plus approfondie de l’histoire du peuple arménien, rien n’y a fait. Justification maladroite peut-être, puisqu’elle mettait l’administration Bush devant une alternative soit peu flatteuse, si on choisit de lui accorder l’ignorance, soit franchement accusatrice, si on opte pour la mauvaise foi la plus totale face à des intérêts de puissance plutôt que d’humanité. Certes, dans l’un comme dans l’autre cas, l’administration Bush n’en serait pas à son coup d’essai…

Dernier rebondissement de l’affaire : la semaine dernière, le Sénat n’a pas pu faire approuver la nomination du bien-pensant Richard Hoagland en remplacement de John Evans, le sénateur Menendez ayant publiquement désavoué le refus des Etats-Unis de reconnaître le génocide arménien. Coup d’épée dans l’eau bien entendu puisque l’administration Bush a déjà tiré les conséquences de ce malheureux écart : maintenir la position américaine sur cette question gênante en prenant soin d’éliminer tout facteur de déviance dans le jugement …

The Jewish Composer of the Armenian People

Armenian Jewish Composer Willy Weiner

Yasha Levine, who frequently reports from Armenia for the Jewish Telegraph Agency, has written a fascinating feature article on the growing popularity of the composer Willy Weiner in the country. Weiner was born and raised in Armenia, which has a Jewish population numbering in the hundreds. After graduating as a violinist from the famous Yerevan Conservatory, he spent several years touring with Armenia's orchestras. In the late 1990s, Weiner moved to Israel with his two sisters and parents. However, he soon came back to Armenia, where he has, perhaps ironically, turned to music inspired by Jewish melodies and themes in recent years:
"I drew great inspiration from Israel, but I could not write music there,” Weiner told JTA. “When I was in Israel, I did not write a single note, but as soon as I came back to Armenia, the music began to flow.”
His first album, "Exodus," was released by an Armenian label in 2003. He rose to prominence in the country with a sold-out performance celebrating Armenia's 14 years of independence. That concert was fully supported by the Armenian government, as part of a cultural program called "Through Culture to Tolerance," which celebrated the contributions of Armenia's minorities to the country.

The article notes that "Armenia has always had a reputation for its lack of institutionalized anti-Semitism." Weiner's next album is called Halom (Dream), and is due to be released soon.