By Harut Sassounian
As the conflict between Turkey and United States is heating up, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is too stupid to realize that by continuing to hold American Pastor Andrew Brunson on trumped-up charges, he is undermining Turkey’s economy and its membership in NATO. Any other intelligent Turkish leader would have released Pastor Brunson a long time ago and maintained military and trade relations with the United States. Even though the Turkish government is paying millions of dollars a year to hire high-powered American lobbying and public relations firms, none of them can protect Turkey’s reputation from Erdogan’s erratic behavior.
Every time he opens his mouth and takes an inept action, Erdogan further damages Turkey’s relations with other countries, reminding the world and reinforcing the long-established image of the “Barbarian Turk.” Here is an example of the negative PR generated by Erdogan against his own country in the American media. Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery on Fox News Business TV, President Trump’s favorite channel, delivered the following devastating attack against Pres. Erdogan on August 16, 2018. In addition to millions of Americans who watched her commentary on TV, 662,000 others saw it on Facebook and many more on Twitter. Kennedy even mentioned the Armenian Genocide, as a way of getting back at Turkey.
“How do I despise thee Erdogan? Let me count the ways. The Turkish president is putting his country in a diplomatic pickle by refusing to free an American Pastor over ‘terrorism charges.’ The fake crime is a bunch of hot malarkey, a rancid plate of Turkish non-delight; and although Erdogan has been concentrating his power to fake elections, imprisoning journalists, and purging academics, he didn’t bet that he would be strong-armed by another strong man. Our president has had it up to his eyeballs with Turkey trolling, and instead of empty words, President Trump is offering a full-throttled digital slap to Erdogan, tweeting: ‘I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!’”
Kennedy continued her criticism by stating: “When were they [relations with Turkey] ever good? The Turkish government is a disgrace, and past administrations have either coddled them or sat idly by while they’ve rolled out the welcome mat and threw the door open for ISIS, all while cozying up to Russia. This is not our strategic partner. This is a corrupt, murderous regime that should be kicked out of NATO for a host of human rights violations, not to mention deep kissing the Russians who are supposedly the biggest regional threat. Now, sure, there have been counter-threats. Now Erdogan is saying he will pull the iPhone off the market as if the people there can use the device to mobilize, enrich themselves or seek freedom from a murderous regime that wants total control, and is willing to tank the global economy to prove a childish point! And while we are at it, and while the president [Trump] is hot under the collar, if he really wants to make his new party pal Kim Kardashian happy, he should officially, and once and for all, acknowledge the Armenian Genocide which was not ‘an issue’ or ‘a series of unfortunate events,’ but a cold-blooded slaughter of 1.5 million people whose memory will not be erased by any Napoleonic nincompoop. Release Pastor Andrew Brunson, President Erdogan, and fear [Pres. Trump’s National Security Advisor John R. Bolton’s] mustache [as] Bolton is mongering, so for the sake of world peace put up and shut up so you don’t get blown up!”
To make matters worse for Erdogan, President Trump told American journalists on August 17, 2018: “Turkey has been a problem for a long time. They have not acted as a friend. We will see what happens. They have a wonderful Christian pastor. He is a wonderful man, Pastor Brunson. They made this phony charge that he is a spy, and he is not a spy. He is going through a trial right now, if you call it a ‘trial.’ They should have given him back a long time ago. And Turkey has, in my opinion, acted very, very badly. So we have not seen the last of that. We are not going to take it sitting down. They can’t take our people. So you will see what happens!”
Before Armenians get too impressed with President Trump’s threatening words, they must remember that despite Turkey’s anti-U.S. and anti-NATO policies for several decades, the West has kept heaping praises on Turkish leaders. No one in the West has had the guts to put Turkey in its place. If tomorrow, the unpredictable Erdogan releases Pastor Brunson, I am afraid President Trump will start praising Erdogan once again, as he has done with Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
President Trump should not forget that in addition to holding Pastor Brunson, Turkey invaded and occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, banned the crossing of American troops into Northern Iraq from Turkey during the Iraq War, attacked the Kurdish allies of the United States in Northern Syria, is planning to purchase the Russian S-400 missile system contrary to NATO’s admonition, helped circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, and supported the entry of ISIS terrorists to Syria from Turkey. Even after Pastor Brunson is liberated, Turkey should not be forgiven for its many indiscretions. As numerous analysts have recently suggested, Turkey should be immediately kicked out of NATO.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) mourns the loss of Virginia “Ginny” Ohanian, who passed away peacefully on September 13, 2018.
Both Ginny and her late husband Michael were staunch supporters and core members of the Assembly from the beginning. They were close to Stephen Mugar and actively participated in all of the Assembly’s work. In 2013, she was honored, alongside Ann Hintlian and Nevart Talanian, with the Assembly’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
“Ginny was a remarkable individual with a sparkling sense of humor who cared deeply and passionately about Armenia and its people. Her generosity and commitment to Armenia and the Armenian Assembly served as an inspiration to us all. She will be missed greatly. This is a loss to the entire Assembly family,” Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian said.
After visiting Armenia and Artsakh as part of the Assembly Mission Trip in 1999, Mrs. Ohanian became committed to the reforestation of the country. Of the thousands of supporters of the Armenia Tree Project no one individual has given as many “tree gifts.” She took it beyond just planting trees.
Mrs. Ohanian had said: “I saw for myself the need for trees, jobs and education. I thought this was a fitting way to memorialize Michael’s and my ardent devotion to the Armenian Assembly,” thus giving the funds to open the Michael and Virginia Ohanian Environmental Education Center at the Karin Nursery in Armenia.
Mrs. Ohanian, her sister, daughter, and daughter-in-law were at the ribbon cutting in 2004. In 2011 the Michael and Virginia Ohanian Center for Environment Studies was opened in Margahovit, Lori Marz province. This center trains students, teachers and professionals in best forestry practices and conducts environmental education lessons with students from all regions of Armenia.
Her son Bruce is a long-time Assembly Trustee, and her daughter-in-law, Lu Ann Ohanian, is also a Life Trustee and a member of the Assembly’s Board. Mrs. Ohanian’s daughter Veronica Heath and husband Donn have been members and supporters of the Assembly and the Armenia Tree Project.
Mrs. Ohanian was a life-time member of the Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge where she was an ardent supporter and a member of the Women’s Guild, and a longstanding seasonal parishioner of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, FL. She was very active along with her husband in the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Michael was an excellent golfer, winning the Massachusetts Amateur. Mrs. Ohanian thought it only fitting after he passed that she establish a college scholarship through the Ouimet Society named the Michael Ohanian Scholarship. Her other philanthropies include: Armenian Heritage Park, Berkshire Hill Music Academy, Bentley College, the Belmont Hill School, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The wake will take place on Wednesday, September 19 from 10:00 am – 11:30 am with a funeral service to follow at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston at 145 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Working vigorously through the month of April, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held 50 meetings with congressional offices discussing key issues of concern, including reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, U.S. assistance to Armenia and Artsakh, as well as Christian and other minority communities at risk in the Middle East.
As a result of these efforts, the Assembly welcomed Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL), Steve King (R-IA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Steve Knight (R-CA) as the newest Members to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, bringing the total to 122 Members.
“I’m proud to join the Armenian Caucus, working in a bipartisan manner to strengthen the U.S.-Armenian relationship – a vital strategic partnership,” stated Rep. Crist.
After meeting with the Assembly, he co-signed this year’s letter to President Donald Trump to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. Last year, Congressman Crist co-signed a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to arrest, prosecute, and jail members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail who attacked peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.
Congressman Crist is one of four Members of Congress from Florida who sit on the Armenian Caucus. He represents the 13th congressional district of Florida, on the Gulf Coast from Clearwater down to St. Petersburg, which is home to St. Hagop Armenian Church.