Unless otherwise indicated, the articles here and in the Archive appeared on www.globalresearch.ca

Armenia’s Heart: Poems … and Nothing More

Lilit Sargsyan in Gyumri

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Special to the Mirror-Spectator – MAY 18, 2017
GYUMRI — Anyone who knows anything about Armenians is aware of the special role their language plays in their history and culture, and nowhere is this more obvious than in their rich poetical tradition. In Germany, this tradition is not unknown; in the 1970s and 1980s, through cooperation between literary associations in the then-Communist East Germany (GDR) and Soviet Armenia, translations of works appeared by Hovhannes Tumanyan, Avetik Issahakyan and Paruyr Sevak as well as an anthology of medieval verse. At the same time, literary journals in West Germany featured some translations. Now, in the wake of the recognition of the genocide last June by the German Bundestag (Parliament), a wave of interest in Armenian literature has swept across the intellectual landscape.

In 2015, a new translation of 24 poems by Paruyr Sevak was issued by Schiler Verlag in Berlin, the result of a joint effort by prize-winning German author Heide Rieck and Agapi Mkrtchian, an Armenian author honored in Yerevan by the Armenian Writers Union with the Vasdakovor order, as an author of outstanding merit. Now, an anthology has appeared in Grössenwahn Verlag, translated by Mkrtchian and Helmuth R. Malonek, a German translator and university professor who studied in Yerevan and teaches in Portugal. The volume is entitled “Armenia’s Heart: Poems … and Nothing More,” and includes works by twenty-five contemporary Armenian poets.

As Prof. Tessa Hofmann writes in an extensive Afterword, they include well-known poets from the older generation of the 1940s and 1950s like Arevshat Avagyan, Henrik Edoyan and Edward Militonyan, as well as authors born in the 1970s and 1980s, who represent a post-Soviet literature. In addition to traditional themes in Armenian poetry, like love, religion and nature, Hofmann notes the treatment of emigration, for example, in the works of Varlan Alexanyan, Edward Militonyan, Ani Ter-Gulanyan, Eduard Harenz, Agapi Mkrtchian, Arevshat Avagyan and Arpi Voskanyan.

Opening Doors with Poetry

In her commentary, Hofmann quotes lines from a poem by Chilean Vicente Huidobro that say, “Let poetry become a key that opens a thousand doors.” Both in Armenia and in Germany, doors have been opened by the public readings of poems from this anthology in both languages. While on a recent visit to Armenia my husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy an event in Gyumri on April 9 at the Berlin Hotel, an inter-cultural center for artists and writers, where Agapi Mkrtchian presented selected poems in both languages. Attending the gathering, which was celebrated by violin and guitar music, were several prominent members of the Gyumri Writers’ Association, who spontaneously offered readings from their works at the conclusion. Days later in Mkrtchian’s hometown of Gegashen, not far from Yerevan, students from the local school presented a two-hour program to a packed auditorium, reciting (from memory) selections from the anthology, again in both Armenian and German. Students of Mariam Kazaryan, who directs the music school, provided the musical counterpoint to the poetry.

As soon as we entered the school, my husband and I were surprised to be greeted by faculty members in German. As we learned during a tour of the school, German is an integral part of the cultural tradition there and all pupils begin to study it as a foreign language already in the third grade. In fact, this is where Mkrtchian first encountered the language; later she was to pursue higher education in Germany and today teaches it at the high school level in Wiesbaden. On stage, one after another young girl or boy stepped forward to recite poems from the new book, and we were amazed at the proficiency of their delivery, particularly considering that the book had just come off the press and they had prepared the entire program in one short week.

Back in Germany, the book has already been presented at the Leipzig book fair and will be featured by publisher Grössenwahn in October in Frankfurt. On May 5, at the Wiesbaden Literaturhaus, guests were introduced to the poems by Mkrtchian and members of the Dichterpflänzchen, a poetry lovers’ association, who recited in German, and Susanna Markosyan and Lilit Sargsyan, in Armenian.

A generous selection of poems provided the audience with a broad sample of the volume: Armenuhi Sisyan, Narek Kirakosyan, Vardan Hakobyan, Nane, Agapi Mkrtchian, Edward Militonyan, Arusyak Ohanyan, Sona Van, Arevshat Avagyan, Benik Stepanyan, Anush Aslibekyan and Anush Vardanyan.

Again, music completed the evening, and again in both traditions; Diana Sahakyan performed selections from Chopin and Schubert on the piano whereas Arpi Nazanyan and her brother Mushegh played Armenian works on the flute and cello, respectively. A special treat came in the performance by Lilit Sargsyan, who sang her own compositions accompanying herself on the classical guitar. Sargsyan, who is founder and editor in chief of the magazine “Chrag”, composes both the verse and the music and has won prizes for her interpretations. She is currently studying in Germany.

With the final selection, a poem by Anush Vardanyan entitled “New Europe,” Lutz Schauerhammer from the Dichterpflänzchen said the performers wanted to encourage the younger generation of Armenian poets to look beyond their own borders and experience, abroad and to the future.

At the end of May, the Literaturhaus in Berlin will open its doors to the new anthology and book launches are to follow in several more cities.


Gegashen pupils


Agapi Mkrtchian with students from her school

Genocide Commemoration after Recognition in Germany

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator – APRIL 27, 2017
BERLIN — Since the German Bundestag (Parliament) passed a resolution on the Armenian Genocide last year in June, the focus has shifted from the demand for recognition to other concerns; on the one hand, there has been further study of the role of Imperial Germany in the Genocide and, on the other, there are efforts underway to introduce the theme in history lessons in German classrooms. This shift in focus was perceptible in the commemoration held in Berlin on April 24, where several speakers, remembering the past, looked to the future.

The event was organized by the Central Council of the Armenians in Germany, the Armenian Embassy and the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Germany, and enjoyed the collaboration of the Berlin Armenian Community and the Armenian Church and Cultural Community in Berlin. Opening the program, Ani Smith-Dagesyan, a member of the Board of the Central Council of the Armenians in Germany, spoke of the current situation for the minorities in Turkey. Smith-Dagesyan, a young political scientist specializing in international politics, has been responsible for the political and cultural education of the younger generation at the Council. Armenian Ambassador Ashat Smbatyan addressed his remarks to this younger generation. The culture of memory, he said, was all the more important for those who did not experience the genocide, adding that remembrance must include other genocides as well. Smbatyan stressed the importance of the speech delivered last year by then-President Joachim Gauck on the genocide, a speech which paved the way for recognition and changed the situation in Germany.

Edelgard Bulmahn, Social Democrat who is vice president of the Bundestag, delved more deeply into the events of the past, emphasizing the importance of studying and acknowledging the role of Germany in those historical developments. She too spoke of the interest that young people today display in understanding their own past. Prof. Garabed Antranikian, president of the Technical University in Hamburg, had personal remarks to offer. As the son of a survivor who migrated to Jerusalem and then to Jordan, where he was born, he praised his father’s commitment to his own education, which allowed him to study and achieve an academic career.

Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Germany, offered prayers.

A day earlier, also in Berlin, a ceremony was held at the Ecumenical Memorial for the Genocide Victims of the Ottoman Empire, with a speech by Dr. Tessa Hofmann, a genocide researcher and co-founder of the initiative. The memorial is made up of three altars in memory of the Armenians, Greeks and Syrian Christians. Following an address by Hofmann, titled, “The Books are not Yet Closed,” participants marched in a procession to the monument, where Archbishop Emmanuel Sfiatkos, chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Berlin-Brandenburg, delivered a blessing.

A new book is to be released soon in German, edited by Rolf Hosfeld and Christin Pschichholz, which contains essays by numerous genocide scholars on the theme of the German role. The volume, Das Deutsche Reich und der Völkermord an den Armeniern, is a further example of the interest being devoted to this aspect, which has come to the fore since the Bundestag resolution. And, also stimulated by the same ferment, a debate around genocide studies in schools has been spreading among educators. As an example, the German-Armenian Society is organizing a presentation this week by former minister Stephan Dorgerloh on “Genocide as a Topic in Schools in Sachsen-Anhalt.”

Pasted Graphic

Turkish Referendum: The Price of Winning

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — The “Yes” vote in the Turkish referendum may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not only was the reported margin in favor of the constitutional changes far slimmer than Erdogan’s AKP party and pre-election polls had expected, with only 51.4 percent of the vote, but the political fallout in Europe may be profound.

In Germany, which has the largest Turkish community in Europe, the political class clearly favored a “No” vote, on grounds that the constitutional changes would grant Erdogan the status of President-for-life currently enjoyed by some potentates in Asia and Africa; not only would he be able to occupy the bombastic presidential palace for more than another decade, but he would be able to rule virtually unopposed by parliament or other political institutions. The blatant violations of human rights and basic civil liberties, especially since the attempted coup last summer, have left no doubts about the policy options that the super-president will pursue.

German leaders responded cautiously but clearly to the first news of results. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel advised all to maintain “cool heads” and to proceed with prudence. And in a joint statement issued by him and Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 17, the message was that Berlin expected the Turkish government to “seek a respectful dialogue with all political and social groups in Turkey.” They said the very close vote meant a “huge responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally.” Following weeks of Germany-bashing by Erdogan, who went so far as to accuse Merkel et al of Nazi methods, the popularity of the Turkish president in Berlin had hit rock bottom. But that is not the primary concern for Germany’s politicians. As reflected in commentaries by experts on election night, there are reasons to fear that Turkey, now divided as never before, could become the theater for violent political conflict.

EU Shuns Dictatorship

The clearest message issued by German politicians was that the transition to one-man rule in Ankara would snuff out whatever hopes remained of Turkish entry into the European Union. CSU chairman Manfred Weber said “full membership for Turkey could no longer be the goal,” and that European heads of state and government would have to review their relationship to Turkey at their upcoming meeting in two weeks. The deputy chairwoman of the CDU, Julia Klöckner echoed this view, saying “the door to an EU membership is now definitely shut,” adding that financial support for the process would also end. European politician Elmer Brok, also from the CDU, was more cautious, in light of the fact that such a large portion of Turkish voters had voted against the changes. He did, however, stress that if Erdogan were to make good on his promise to reintroduce the death penalty, that would terminate the EU access process immediately.

On the left of the German political spectrum, demands for concrete action prevailed. Both the Left Party and the Green Party called for Germany to withdraw its 260 troops currently stationed in Incirlik and to halt all weapons deliveries to Turkey. Cem Özdemir, co-chair of the Greens, directed his attention to the Turkish voters in Germany, 63 percent of whom had voted “Yes.” His message was that those living here would have to commit themselves fully to upholding the constitution, the German constitution that is.

Cloak and Dagger in German-Turkish Relations

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN, APRIL 6, 2017— The news that the Turkish intelligence agency MIT was not only spying on German citizens in their home country, but had requested help in this pursuit from the German intelligence service BND, signaled a new low-point in Berlin-Ankara relations. Relations had already been poisoned by wild accusations made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the German government and Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “Nazi-like” and “using Nazi methods.” The resulting controversy regarding whether or not to allow AKP politicians to campaign in Germany for a “yes” vote on the upcoming referendum ended in a decision, by Ankara, to cancel all such planned events. That seemed to lower the political temperature.

Then last week several German press outlets revealed the espionage activities. As reported, the MIT had given a list to its German counterpart during the Munich security conference at the beginning of the year. The list had 358 names of people the Turkish secret services alleged were terrorists and/or linked to the Gülen movement which Erdogan holds responsible for the failed coup attempt last summer. The MIT was seeking help from its German counterpart in gathering information about these people. Instead, the list arrived on the desks of the government, the German Criminal Police BKA, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and police. Interior ministries of the federal states then informed the individuals named, out of concern for their security. Among the names were political figures; Michelle Münterfering, wife of the former SPD leader Franz Münterfering, and Chairwoman of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Group was the most prominent.


It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only did the news become very public, but political figures took the gloves off. Televised talk shows on national channels have been focusing increasingly on Turkey and the growing tensions. During popular round table discussions hosted by Maybrit Illner or Anne Will on prime time shows, typically there are a couple of prominent German politicians, an intelligence expert or two, and one or two Turkish-Germans, one of whom will struggle to argue for the AKP position. On March 31, Parliamentarian Münterfering herself appeared, and said, though in that position she had always been open to dialogue even with difficult interlocutors, here a new limit had been reached with such methods. Sabine Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger, a former Justice Minister from the liberal party FDP, who had met with journalists in Turkey, denounced the list, stating, “There is no danger represented by these people. The list is a notion to the German intelligence services [that they should] violate fundamental rights.”

The pro-Erdogan position ritually presented in these talk shows is that the Gülen crowd are terrorists, having attempted a violent coup, and that it is the duty of the Germans to hunt them down for prosecution. The most explosive response to this line of argument came during this show from Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, an intelligence expert, who exposed the charges of Gülen’s culpability as phony. “Turkish espionage was always known,” he said, “but it has gotten more aggressive since 2013.” Following the protests at Gezi park, he said that German-Turks came more under surveillance, “and then the pseudo-coup in July only increased Turkish paranoia.” When the term “pseudo-coup” provoked objections from Haluk Yildiz, from the Turkish side, Schmidt-Eenboom went on to say that the BND and CIA had concluded that it was “a pseudo-coup, staged by Erdogan, to prevent a possible real coup.” As for the Gülen movement, he said the BND shared the view that it “is definitely not the party responsible for the coup.” Commenting on the extent of Turkish espionage in Germany, he said, “Even the Stasi [Communist East German Security] did not manage to build such a vast network of agents in the Federal Republic of Germany.” (He also had pertinent remarks about “something like a jihadist highway,” that Turkey had until 2014, along which “it sent fighters from Libya and other countries over the border.”)

That the network is vast has been documented in recent weeks. In February, law enforcement agencies raided homes, mosques and offices of DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, the largest organization representing the Turkish community in Germany. It depends directly on the Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs) in Turkey and came to the attention of German authorities after reports that its representatives, especially imams, were collecting information on persons of Turkish background who had contacts to the Gülen schools or other entities. Teachers and imams were supposed to report such persons. DITIB has also come under scrutiny for allegedly promoting violence; since September 2016 all imams who tend to persons in prisons have been required to undergo checks by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, but the vast majority of DITIB imams in North Rhine Westphalia, for example, declined to do so. Thus, if 117 DITIB imams worked in the prisons in 2015, only 12 now do so.

The scandal of spying on German citizens suspected of links to the Gülen movement has generated fear among Turkish-Germans who are opposed to Erdogan and has created a serious conflict between the pro- and anti-Erdogan factions in the Federal Republic. Not only: as Zeit online, among other press reported recently, increasing numbers of Turkish citizens who fear for their safety at home are seeking asylum in Germany. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has received 262 applications for asylum, presented by Turkish diplomats and military officials.

Spying in Turkey

Not infrequently, pro-Erdogan representatives in the talk shows will accuse Germany of spying in Turkey. Schmidt-Eenboom was blunt in his response. Yes, the BND spies in Turkey, and also in other countries, as other foreign intelligence agencies also do. In fact, the information about Turkish support for jihadists had been obtained through wiretapping of phones in the presidential palace, by the NSA among other western agencies. Schmidt-Eeboom justified the actions thus: “Erdogan is a neo-Ottoman. He is striving to establish a Eurasian Islamist state, with territorial claims vis-a-vis Greece, Bulgaria and northern Iraq.” That is something that needs to be monitored.

Analysis: The Sick Man on the Bosporus

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Special to the Mirror-Spectator –MARCH 23, 2017
BERLIN — In the late 19th century, the cliché phrase making the rounds of the imperial palaces in Europe, was that the Ottoman Empire, a creature in which they all had their vested interests, was the sick man of Europe. The means the Great Powers devised to cure the problem led to world war, in the course of which they divvied up the dismantled empire, carving out new puppet states on the geopolitical map. Not a few of our contemporary political analysts trace the origins of the current wars and crises ripping through the region back to that catastrophic conflict a century ago. Today leading figures in European democracies are beginning to wonder if there might be a new form of illness manifesting itself, this time in modern-day Turkey. This time the threats of conflict are emanating from the palace of the would-be new sultan.
Referendum for Dictatorship  
The ostensible casus belli in the escalating conflict between Turkey and Europe, especially Germany, is the April 16 referendum on the introduction of a presidential system which would grant the Turkish president powers so vast as to eliminate checks and balances on the part of other institutions like the judiciary and parliament. In what is shaping up as a tight race, the ruling AKP seeks to win over Turkish citizens living abroad for a “yes” vote and therefore demands the right for its politicians, be they government representatives or party officials or not, to campaign freely in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other countries with a Turkish community. The AKP has cheerfully ignored the fact that such campaigning abroad is in flagrant violation of Article 94/A of Turkish electoral law.
It has been more difficult for Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party to ignore the laws of the countries which would host such campaign rallies. The rallies in the Netherlands and Germany have met resistance, either due to concerns for public safety, or to Turkish non-compliance with formal and logistical conditions for room rentals, etc. The deeper reasons are political. This year is election year in several countries, most recently in the Netherlands, and rightwing populists, like Geert Wilders, have been fueling anti-Islamic hatred and fears in their bid for votes. The concern is that fiery nationalist speeches by Turkish campaigners could provoke violent responses in the streets, and drive panicked voters to support the anti-Muslim populists at the polls.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the Dutch elections on March 15, in part thanks to his resolute stand against planned campaign appearances by Turkish politicians. First, Dutch authorities refused to grant landing rights to the plane carrying Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, then Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, who tried to enter Rotterdam by car, had her convoy turned back. The Turkish response to these rebuffs was violent, at least on the verbal plane. During an election rally in Antalya, Foreign Minister Çavusoglu said after the election results had been made known, that there was no difference between the social democrats, Rutte, and the “fascist” populist Wilders: “They are all the same.” The Netherlands was “the capital of fascism,” in his view, and he vowed that “there will be repercussions” for his having been prevented from speaking. Erdogan went so far as to accuse the Dutch of genocide, charging that they had massacred 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. (In point of fact, it was the Bosnian Serbs who did the killing of the Muslim men and boys, and the Dutch contingent of UNPROFOR soldiers who failed to prevent the slaughter.) Erdogan’s government then announced political sanctions against the Netherlands.
In Germany, the Turkish community is the largest in Europe, with 1.4 million eligible voters, enough to decide the outcome of the referendum. In response to refusals on the part of local and state authorities to allow Turkish politicians to campaign, Erdogan and other leading figures have wielded the “fascist” epithet, and have charged Germany with protecting terrorists. Erdogan first accused the Germans of using Nazi methods, then attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel personally; on March 19 at a meeting of an Islamic organization in Istanbul, he used the familiar “Du” form to say, “You [Merkel] are using Nazi methods. Against whom? Against my Turkish brothers in Germany and the ministers.” He said he ‘thanked God” that German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel had been apprehended, formally placed under arrest and sent to prison. The journalist who writes for “Die Welt” is a “terrorist agent,” Erdogan said, and would have to answer to the “independent” Turkish judiciary. According to a report in the tabloid Bild Zeitung, Erdogan also said, referring apparently to the Europeans, “If they could, they would build gas chambers again.”
And Berlin’s Reaction?
Chancellor Merkel is known for her rationality, and her ability to keep cool under exasperating circumstances. During her recent Washington visit, she lived up to this reputation. In the case of Erdogan, she has labored to maintain a rational attitude, resolutely rejecting all slanders he has levelled against Europe, Germany and her personally. To Ankara’s repeated accusations that the Dutch were “fascists,” she pointed out the cruel irony that it was the Dutch who suffered immensely under Nazi occupation, and pledged her total solidarity with the Rutte government. As for “Nazi methods” in the Federal Republic of Germany, she has said it is almost impossible to reply seriously to such outrages. Her spokesman Stephan Seibert dubbed the name-calling “recognizably out of this world,” (or, to put it more colloquially, “off the wall”). Seibert added that the Chancellor did not have any intention of “participating in a competition of insults.” On March 20, after the umpteenth instance of Nazi-baiting, Merkel put her foot down, reiterating that “the Nazi comparisons from Turkey must stop…. No ifs or buts.” Such comments, she said, “break every taboo, without consideration for the suffering of those who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis.” She said a verbal note from her foreign ministry had been delivered to Ankara in which the German government “reserved the right to take all necessary measures,” including reconsideration of certain approvals. The “approvals” refer to campaign appearances by politicians and also – most importantly – to facilities to allow Turkish citizens to cast their votes in the referendum, in polling places set up for them in Germany.
Erdogan and company have also blamed the Germans and Merkel personally for “supporting terrorists,” and by this they mean associates of the Gülen movement. In an interview to “Spiegel”, the head of the BND (German Federal Intelligence Service) Bruno Kahl had questioned the credibility of Turkish assertions that the Gülen movement were the driving force behind the failed coup attempt last year. Defense Minister Fikri Isik, according to “Anadolu” press agency, said this raised the question, “whether the German secret services are not behind the coup.”
Several German political figures have addressed the singular behavior of a national leader such as Erdogan. Newly elected SPD chairman and Chancellor candidate in the upcoming elections Martin Schulz remarked on national television March 19, “That a head of state of a friendly country should insult the head of the government of this country is a piece of impudence.” Someone has to tell Erdogan at some point, he said, that he “cannot trample on all practices of international diplomacy.” But, “that is what he does however.” And such behavior “is not worthy of a head of state,” he said, adding that Turkey was becoming increasingly authoritarian.
What Honor?
Among those who have earnestly sought to understand the bizarre behavior of Ankara’s political elite, Michael Martens of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has pointed to the misplaced notion of “honor” that several high-ranking representatives have displayed in their objections to being denied campaigning rights abroad. When Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag swears they will “not allow anyone to injure the honor of the Turkish nation and the Turkish state,” or his colleague in the foreign ministry characterizes the Dutch position as “an affront to the honor of the Turks,” Martens says that, to the ears of someone from northwestern Europe, this has a distant ring to it, as if coming from the days of Emperor Wilhelm. Such notions of honor may also be found in southern European countries, Spain, Italy and Greece, for example, but Martens sees this more extreme form as a relic from the heritage of Ataturk — with an Islamic touch. The state, as Martens summarizes the notion, should control everything, and if it does not, it should then rally the people around a strong leader, who defends the honor of the nation against the perceived enemies. His FAZ colleague, Rainer Hermann, a senior journalist and long-term Turkey expert, has identified authoritarian trends in other aspects of behavior among these politicians, including in hand gestures. For instance, Erdogan has been observed raising his right hand, with the four fingers upward and the thumb across the palm — this is apparently a gesture imported from Egypt, where it was used to signal opposition to Al Sisi, before becoming a standard symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood. Other leaders have been using gestures associated with the nationalist Grey Wolves.
Aside from the folkloristic flavor of such details, they serve to underline the trend towards extreme nationalism, which coheres with the aggressive name-calling directed at Merkel and Europe.
More than Metaphor?
The gutter level to which Ankara has dragged down political discourse is without precedent in the recent period. One is unsure whether to merely chalk up such talk to bad taste, ill manners or the like, or to read more sinister intent into the words. What should one make, for example, of the remarks made by Foreign Minister Cavusoglu about the Dutch political players, both populists and not? “They have the same mentality,” he said. “And this mentality will soon lead Europe to the abyss. Soon religious wars could and will break out in Europe.” Is this a threat or a promise? Or should one read the latest directives by Erdogan to Turks living in what he considers “fascist” Europe as sarcastic banter or serious marching orders? Speaking at a rally on March 17, he called out to Turks in Europe: “Don’t have three children, have five,” he said, “because you are the future of Europe.” This would be “the best answer that you could give to the impertinence, animosity and injustice that they are dealing you.” Does he really envision a future Europe dominated by Turks? If so, this would play into the hands of the Islamophobic populists like Wilder, Marine Le Pen and the Alternative for Germany party. Is that the intent?
Or did the CDU deputy chairwoman Julia Klöckner get it right when she asked simply, “Has Mr. Erdogan lost his senses?” Perhaps the man on the Bosporus is not well. Perhaps he is sick. Or maybe, she suggested, “Mr. Erdogan simply needs a comprehensive seminar in history, manners and understanding among peoples.” Not a bad idea; that history lesson might begin with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

AKP in Campaign Frenzy: Crossing the Red Lines

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator – MARCH 9, 2017
BERLIN — Few could have imagined the depth to which relations between Germany and Turkey have sunk over the past weeks. No matter how accustomed one has become with outrageous statements issuing from Ankara, who could have predicted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would accuse the government of Angela Merkel of “Nazi practices”? On March 5 in a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan, addressing Berlin, said there was “no difference between your practices and the Nazi practices in the past.” He was referring to the cancellation of rooms in German towns, for political campaign speeches planned by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag and Economics Minister Nihat Zeybekci. Bozdag had reacted with accusations of “fascist methods,” but Erdogan went the extra mile.

The reasons given for the cancellations were technical; in one case, no lease for the room had been signed in advance, in another, there were concerns that local authorities would not be able to provide adequate security on short notice for predictably large crowds as well as expected protesters. Zeybekci did end up speaking on later dates in two cities. In Leverkusen on March 5, he appeared at a cultural event commemorating the anniversary of the death of a Turkish musician, and later in Cologne, he held a political meeting, which was billed as a private affair, in a rented hall of a hotel.

Aside from such technical considerations, such as the fact that by law in the German Federal Republic, municipal authorities are responsible for deciding on whether or not to host political events in their cities, what is at issue is political. Those Turkish figures eager to speak in Germany, whether government members or not, are members of the AKP, and want to campaign among Turkish citizens living in Germany, to win their support for a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum. The referendum, set for April 16, is to decide whether or not Turkey adopts a presidential system which would expand the powers of the president to such an extent as to establish an authoritarian one-man rule.

How Much Freedom of Speech?

The German Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and not only for German citizens. Political campaigning even by non-Germans, has occurred; everyone remembers Barack Obama’s mass rally in Berlin in July 2008. So why should there be such a fuss about a Turkish minister or even Erdogan himself coming to whip up support for the referendum?

The question has not only aggravated tensions between the two governments, it has created rifts among the German political class, across the party spectrum. Is it not a contradiction in terms, some argue, to grant freedom of speech to those who are organizing a system that will limit that and other freedoms? Should such campaigners not be forbidden to speak here? Hans-Peter Uhl of the CSU openly called for a ban on such speeches. Or should freedom of speech be granted, even to those preparing to eliminate it, but on certain conditions? For example, as Green Party co-chairman Cem Özdemir proposed, let them come, let even Erdogan himself come to campaign, but on condition that the opposition in Turkey be allowed the same rights. Özdemir suggested he and others of his political outlook be allowed to hold campaign rallies in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Or, as he and others have demanded, let the Turkish authorities release German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who has been arrested on charges of “terrorist propaganda” and “incitement.” (In an address on March 3, Erdogan accused Yücel of being “a German agent” and a “PKK representative.”)

Others argue that, precisely because Germany protects free speech, it should shun any form of limitation. This is the official government position; as Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert stated, “The German government deplores the fact that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are currently limited in Turkey to an unacceptable degree. If we deplore this in another country, then we should be even more alert to make sure that freedom of speech is respected, within the framework of the law, in our own country. We should demonstrate what we demand from others.” Taking the high ground, German President Joachim Gauck said there was no need to ban such speeches. “Are we, the democratic middle,” he asked, “so weak that we have to fear the arguments of those whose views we do not share, that we have to prevent them from speaking in public? I do not see this weakness,” he said, and added, “We should not make them a present of our fear.”

Berlin’s Response

Concrete steps taken by the government have been diplomatic in nature. On March 4, following protests from Turkey against the cancelled speeches, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and, after an hour-long conversation, the latter said it had been “good and productive.” He said the Turkish government would “somewhat alter its electoral tactics,” alluding to planned events in Germany. As for Merkel, her spokesman Seibert merely confirmed that the call had taken place, without details.

But then, the very next day Erdogan raised the stakes by comparing the practices of today’s German government to those of the Nazis. Just hours after making this wild accusation at a rally, he added fuel to the fire, saying, Germany had nothing to do with democracy. “I thought National Socialism was a thing of the past, but it is continuing,” he was quoted by Anadolu news agency. And, as for possible plans to visit Germany himself, he said, as Anadolu reported, “If I want to, I will come tomorrow. I will come and if you don’t let me in or don’t let me speak, I will stage an uprising.”

The outrage was massive. On March 6, Chancellor Merkel herself denounced the affront in no uncertain terms. She referred to “the recent statements by Turkish government representatives, even by Turkish State President Erdogan, in which the Federal Republic of Germany has been compared to National Socialism. I tell you quite honestly,” she said, “one can actually not seriously comment on such misplaced utterances. There can be no justification for them whatsoever.” Turning to “all these serious differences of opinion between us and Turkey,” she said they now appeared on the table “in all clarity and, as far as we are concerned, on the basis of our values, that is, freedom of opinion, of the press, of speech and of assembly.” She made clear that “appearances by Turkish government representatives” are allowed in Germany, “within the limits of the law” and if they are “scheduled in an orderly and timely manner, and granted permission.” She included in her remarks the demand that Yücel be immediately freed.

Where will this all lead? Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced he would meet with his Turkish counterpart on March 8, in an effort to prevent “friendly relations between our two countries,” as he put it, “from being wrecked.” Those in Berlin, like Merkel and Gabriel, who seek to avert a total crisis are doing so in view of multiple considerations, among them Turkey’s status as a NATO member and a trade partner. Furthermore, Turkey could back out of its agreement on refugees; Erdogan has publicly threatened to open the borders and let the refugees flood Europe, especially Germany. This fact has led German opposition figures to accuse Merkel of succumbing to blackmail.

Madness and the Method

One further question being debated pertains to the rationale behind the exacerbation in relations: why is Erdogan going so far? Although some analysts attribute this to a well-known syndrome of narcissism, and conclude that the person is essentially out of control, yet, there may well be method to this brand of madness. According to one hypothesis, the AKP machine is not as confident of a “YES” vote as it pretends to be. This has generated a climate of near hysteria in some quarters, if press reports are true that inside Turkey, any public use of the word “NO”, in advertising against smoking or the like, for example, is being suppressed.

On the more rational plane, recent polls point to a very close race; this means that the 1.4 million Turkish eligible voters in Germany could be the swing factor. Not only are public campaign events vital in whipping up support, but outrageous attacks, like the Nazi-baiting and other verbal violence, launched by Erdogan et al are calculated to provoke negative reactions from Germany, thus feeding into paranoid fantasies. The intention would be to convince Turks living in Germany that they are being discriminated against, and therefore should support the strongman who defends their identity. One should not forget that, during a campaign rally in Germany held in February 2008, Erdogan called on his compatriots to protect their culture, religion and identity, declaring that “Assimilation is a crime against humanity.” If the man-on-the-street interviews with Turks in Germany that appear on television newscasts daily are any indication, the conflict that has erupted is increasing in intensity, passion and irrationality.

In Praise of Folly

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
ROSENMONTAG, Germany MARCH 2, 2017 —
If it were not so tragic, it would be comical. That might be one way of reflecting on current political developments. But then, perhaps the best way to deal with the tragic, as Shakespeare has taught us, is to turn to comedy: to use it, especially in the form of ridicule, as a weapon against those characters who would lead us to doom with their insane political designs.

In Germany, the tradition of political carnival goes back centuries, in Mainz, for example, it reaches back to the Napoleonic period, more than 200 years ago. In the days preceding Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, carnival clubs throughout the country organize festive gatherings, where thousands of citizens, including prominent public figures, put on extravagant costumes and enjoy an evening of high-level political cabaret. No holds are barred. In this, known as the “fifth season” of the year, in which the “fools”—in the Shakespearean or Erasmian sense — reign, everything and anything is allowed. What no editorialist or news commentator would dream of putting into words any other time during the year, now is not only permitted but celebrated and cheered. Mainz and Cologne, both arch Catholic cities, represent the oldest and richest carnival culture, and every year their televised celebrations are followed by millions of viewers. Cabaret artists rise to the podium and hold their carnival speeches, traditionally composed in humorous couplets and aimed at figures in the public domain.

Then on Rosenmontag, the Monday before Mardi Gras, the carnival fools take to the public streets, as cities like Mainz and Cologne (but not only) play host to parades that conquer the main avenues and squares for the entire holiday. Here it is the creative floats that dominate the scene.

Erdogan Superstar

This year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the star of the show. Or almost. Given the relation of forces between superpowers and lesser allies, one should have expected this to be the case. President Donald Trump, who was making his debut not only in Washington but also in carnival this year, was for sure the number one attraction, both in the carnival gatherings and the parades. Every session had its own German Eric Baldwin counterpart, who would huff and puff and bring the house down. And every one had its message to the new US President and to the man in power in Ankara. To both it was a clear challenge to their megalomaniacal delusions, and a courageous defense of freedom in all those forms guaranteed by the constitutions of both the US and Germany.

In Germany, the issue of freedom of expression has become a flash point in relations with Turkey, especially since a German comedian presented a poem deemed offensive to Erdogan on television, and the Turkish president reacted with a legal suit (http://www.mirrorspectator.com/2016/04/14/turkey-asks-germany-to-prosecute-comedian-over-erdogan-poem). Now the issue has become even more explosive, since a German journalist of Turkish descent Deniz Yücel, who writes for Die Welt, was detained in Turkey on suspicion of support for a terrorist organization. In the carnival evening in Mainz, one cabaret “fool”, dressed in the garb of a Catholic churchman, railed against Erdogan and then concluded with a provocative note: Erdogan, take me to court!

It was on the streets that the challenge to the Sultan on the Bosporus was most eloquent. Three floats in the different parades captured public attention. One showed Erdogan seated on mobile lawnmower (you know, the kind used probably to keep the golf greens tidy), happily mowing down domains identified by signs as “freedom of opinion” and “democracy.” Another showed Erdogan as a wild-eyed sultan, lashing out at an utterly harmless, small carnival figure. Interesting is that instead of “Erdogan,” the name given on the float is “Erdowahn,” a play on words: “Wahn” in German means madness. The other large float showed Erdogan seated, and he is painting a building. It looks like a villa, at least there, where he is working; but, since the float is very long, one sees that the other half of the building is a prison. The image pits Erdogan’s 1000-room presidential palace against the reality of Turkish prisons, in which God knows how many innocent citizens are being detained.

The Narcissist’s Dilemma

How Erdogan will react to the robust treatment he has received from Germany’s carnival culture this year is an open question. He could, of course, choose to bring law suits for defamation against those who have ridiculed him. Any attempt to use diplomatic channels to punish or silence those responsible would be met with rejection and then more ridicule. In Germany, as opposed to Turkey, freedom of opinion and of the press, as guaranteed by the constitution, is also respected.

But perhaps all this is totally off the mark. Perhaps the greatest pain that Erdogan is suffering is not as a result of the fact that he has been so comically abused by German comedians and carnival fools. Perhaps more offensive to his narcissistic self is the fact that on the streets of Germany’s carnival cities he has had to play second fiddle to that American infidel currently occupying the White House.

Lusine Arakelyn with a great solo violinist Maryan Mario Lomaha

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator – FEBRUARY 23, 2017
WARSAW — “Incredible Lusine Arakelyan gave a great New Year’s concert at the Warsaw concert hall in front of 1,200 guests. Her beautiful voice and great musical experience are unforgettable. The audience gave her several standing ovations. The orchestra conductor also praised her voice and performance.” This is how singer and music critic Kristina Sulzichka put it in a review of the event.

Not only in Warsaw, the country’s capital, but in six other cities, music lovers had the opportunity to hear this truly incredible Armenian soprano sing. The special holiday season tour took her to Pszczyna (Pless), Tarnow, Lublin, Znin, Gdynia and Czarna, from just before Christmas to the end of January. Invited by AVIP production, whose conductor is Wojciech (Woytek) Mrozek, she performed with several orchestras, among them the INSO chamber orchestra, the Philharmonic symphony orchestra of Lublin, both from Poland, and with the Ternopil philharmonic and the Lomagos band, both from Ukraine. In addition, there were two mixed Polish-Ukrainian orchestras.

Although soprano Lusine Arakelyan is just embarking on a promising career, her repertoire is already vast, and challenging. During her tour, she sang arias from Verdi’s La Traviata, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Kalman’s Silvia, as well as Gypsy Love and Giuditta by Lehár. Performing with so many orchestras gave her the opportunity to sing with different soloists, among them the Leon Voci four tenors from Ukraine, soprano Natalia Prisich from the Ternopil philharmonic, famous mezzosoprano Agata Sava, Warsaw opera tenor Leshek Swidinski and Maryan Mario Lomaha, a “fantastic violinist” (in Lusine’s words) from Ukraine. Not only singers but also ballet dancers from the Lvov opera and ballet theatre (Ukraine) were part of the program.

Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata, with Swidinski and Sava

From Gyumri to Berlin

Arakelyan comes from Gyumri, the cultural capital of Armenia. She completed her studies at the Octet music school there, before continuing her studies in Yerevan. In 2008 she began her activity as a soloist at the Ghazaros Sarayan Opera studio at the conservatory in Yerevan.

It was during the festive inauguration of the new Octet music school in Gyumri on September 20, 2013 that my husband and I first met Lusine. The famous school, which had been obliterated in the 1988 earthquake, had managed to maintain its excellent musical instruction over two decades, under unbelievable conditions, as teachers held classes in containers and shacks (domiks). That was the state of affairs when we first visited in 2008. Thanks to the generous efforts of several large donors, among them Mediamax, the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), the Australian organization “Do Something” and the Mardigian family foundation in the USA, a beautiful new school was built and opened in 2013. Our small private foundation, established a year earlier, organized for a new Blüthner grand piano to be donated to the school.

Leon Voci Tenors Nazar Tatsyshyn, Roman Khava, Ihor Radvanski, Andrey Stetshki

At the conclusion of a grand ceremony, presided over by the highest representatives of Armenia’s government and church, as well as the donors themselves, students of all ages and graduates offered an outdoor concert with instrumental and vocal works from both the classical repertoire and traditional Armenian music. Lusine Arakelyan, a soloist at the program, overwhelmed the guests with her powerful voice and moving delivery.

Eager to continue her education in Germany, she arranged a tour and in spring of 2014 she arrived in Berlin. There she did auditions and presented a concert at the Church of the Redeemer, which we attended. She won the second prize at the 3rd International Komitas Festival at the Schloss Prötzel in June. It was following this visit that she received an invitation to go on tour in Poland.

From Armenia to Poland … and Italy and Spain

In October of that year, she performed in several concerts in Katowice, Poland, at the invitation of Director Grzegorz Mierzvinski. Accompanied by the Kopalnia Wegla Kamiennego Murcki Staszic Orchestra, she made her official debut as a soloist and presented 12 pieces, by Komitas and Dolukhanyan, among others.

A year later, Arakelyan flew to Rome to participate in the Fourth Master Class in Opera Singing (Canto Lirico) in Trevigano Romano near the Italian capital under the direction of Italian soprano Stefania Bonfadelli and conductor Simone Maria Marziali. She then flew to Barcelona to take part in the Montserrat Caballé International Singing competition.

When we visited Armenia in April of last year, Arakelyan invited us to attend a concert at the Alexey Hekimyan music school in Yerevan, where she has been teaching. She organized the concert as a gesture of thanks to our foundation for having defrayed her travel costs for the European visits. In a packed recital hall, we enjoyed the musical offerings of the students there, from instrumental ensembles, including traditional Armenian works, to vocalists, among them two very young, very talented students of Arakelyan.

Next Steps in Europe

Writing to us last week after her return home from her most recent Poland tour, Lusine was full of enthusiasm. The most important performance, she said, was at the Lublin philharmonic, where she was the only Armenian participating in an International Festival of Vocal Pieces. She was particularly honored by the director Jan Sek, who told her that they had organized a special concert in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

“The whole tour was like a dream,” she wrote, “it was wonderful to work with big orchestras and different opera singers on the big stage.” She was full of praise for the musicians as well as for the “super ballet dancers from the National Ballet of Lvov (Ukraine)”. After the concerts, she said, people always came up to congratulate her on her voice, which they said was “beautiful and rich in colors.”

Next on her schedule is a trip to Germany this summer, where she will do another round of auditions. At the end of her review, music critic Krystyna Sutzycka had written, “I wish Lusine great success and an international career.” We certainly do wish her that as well. She has a rare voice and capacity to communicate profound emotions and ideas through great music. Who knows? Perhaps she could travel to the US for a tour….

Czarna concert with dancers of the Opera and Ballet theatre of Lvov

Architecture as Witness to Genocide

From left, Frank Hämmerle, Dr. Regine Randhover, German-Armenian Society board member and
scholar who introduced the Exhibition, and Cem Özdemir (Photo Courtesy of Süd Kurier)

By Muriel Mirak-WeissbachSpecial to the Mirror-Spectator – FEBRUARY 16, 2017
CONSTANCE, Germany — For almost a decade, a photographic exhibition on the “Nakba,” the expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands in 1947-48, has been travelling around Germany, and in virtually every site, the organizers from the Association of Refugee Children in Lebanon have run up against opposition. Pro-Zionist groups have mobilized to have the exhibition rooms — often in universities — cancelled, arguing that the exhibition is anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The reason? According to official Israeli historiography, there were no expulsions, killings or seizure of Palestinian lands. Some say the Palestinians as a people never existed, or if they did, not in that geographical location.
Armenians in Germany are experiencing something very similar. It is not the Zionists but the pro-Turkish lobby that is intervening to protest a travelling exhibition that documents what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The show, titled, “1915-2015: Armenian Architecture and Genocide,” is organized by the German-Armenian Society, and has appeared in almost a dozen cities thus far. Last week the local authorities of Constance, a city in southern Germany, held the opening in an atmosphere of extreme polarization. The Turkish General Consul from Karlsruhe had sent a letter to the Constance administrative body, expressing the disappointment of the Turkish community in Germany with the event.
In his opening remarks at the vernissage on February 8, the head of the Constance local administration, Frank Hämmerle, reported his amazement, that he had been criticized by both Consul Cem Örnekol and a local Turkish-German community group. “The Consul General,” he said, “writes that the exhibition provoked ‘deep disappointment’ in him, and he pointed to the fact that this exhibition may have a negative impact on ‘the city of Constance,’” Hämmerle stressed, “in its desire to establish a partnership with a Turkish city.” The formulation has the ring of a warning to it. The response of Hämmerle and his archivist Wolfgang Kramer, who organized the event, was to place the consul’s letter in a glass showcase, and put it on exhibit as well. “We want to make clear where intolerance and hatred lead,” said Hämmerle. He specified this was not an attempt to cast blame, but rather to sharpen awareness. Every society, he said, should face up to its own history. In addition, “It is a matter of freedom on opinion.” He expressed his shock at learning that even some Armenians living in the area on the Lake of Constance had sought to cancel the exhibition out of fear that they and/or their relatives in Turkey might be affected. “Does Mr. Erdogan’s hand reach as far as Constance?” Hämmerle asked.
Cem Özdemir, co-chair of the Green Party and a member of the Bundestag (Parliament), was a guest speaker, and he minced no words. “We have to talk about this,” he said. Referring to the Bundestag’s recognition of the genocide last June, which he helped push through, Özdemir said, “I regret that it took more than a year … but then, there is clearly never a ‘right time’ to talk about genocide. There are always reasons found to postpone it.” He said he was all the more happy that it passed, stressing that the Bundestag had “done what it does not do every day,” i.e. passed the resolution almost unanimously in an all-party effort.
In a brief film interview with Günther Köhler, Özdemir spoke of his own personal experience with the genocide issue. “My parents came from Turkey,” he began. “Turkey, whose predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, was a multicultural empire, in that people of very different backgrounds lived there. Before the first Turks, the Seljuks, stepped foot onto Anatolian soil, there were many Christians living there, Jews who lived there, and who later settled there after the Reconquista.… When you look at Turkey today,” he said, “there is not so much left, and they did not simply vanish into thin air. This naturally raises questions and I, as someone who was born and raised here [in Germany], had these questions, but didn’t get any real answers to them. And that is what led me to take up this matter.”

The Photographic Record
The organizers in the German-Armenian Society chose to place architecture in the center of the exhibition, and to display photographs on 22 very large panels that document Armenian life before 1915. Like postcards of the period, which have also been displayed in recent years, these photographs show how Armenian architecture left its mark on streets and cities. The questions Özdemir asked himself are those raised and answered in the display.
First, to inform those not familiar with Armenian history, the pictures show families, homes, places of employment, as well as schools, churches and cloisters as they appeared before 1915, accompanied by texts giving facts and figures, for example, that according to the Constantinople Patriarch in 1913/1914, there were about 5,000 Armenian schools, churches and cloisters.
The deportations and massacres are documented in photos as well as eye-witness reports, by US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, for example. Another section focuses on the destruction of the living space of the Armenians in all areas: confiscated living quarters and places of employment, whether for handwork or manufacture; the destruction or decay of churches and cloisters, as well as their conversion into mosques, if not barns, storage rooms, garages, gyms or even prisons. In some cities, like Sivas, urban expansion has replaced the bishopric and cathedral with shopping centers.
If many cloisters were blown up (Khtzkonk cloister) or razed (Karmravor cloister, Surp Asdvadsadsin), others were destroyed and their building material recycled to construct homes or mosques (Surp Garabed cloister in Mush). Special attention is paid to the region of Lake Van, where cloisters served as cultural centers in the 5th century. About 250 cloisters, churches, forts and the like were counted before 1915.
Parallel to the physical destruction or conversion of architectural monuments, the cultural identity of Armenian life was eradicated, as names of places, buildings and persons were changed. Beginning under Sultan Abdülhamid II, the photographic evidence shows that this Turkification process affected not only place names in Armenian but also in Greek, Aramaic, Kurdish and Arabic. Famous architectural monuments like the Kars cathedral or the ruins of Ani, the “city of1001 churches,” are not identified as Armenian. (The parallels to Palestinian life in present-day Israel are striking, as place names have been systematically changed.)

Recovering the Past
Many Armenians, including myself, have had the privilege of visiting historic Armenia under the expert guidance of Armen Aroyan, and seeing for themselves what once was, and what has become of that past. For those, especially non-Armenians, who have not travelled there and who have no inkling of what people and culture lived there, this exhibition is a treasure. And the frantic attempt on the part of certain Turkish institutions to sabotage it only underlines the political and educational value of the display. (The same should be said of the “Nakba” exhibition, whose organizers continue to move it from city to city despite massive pressure.)
Relations between Turkey and Germany have soured especially since the Bundestag’s genocide resolution went through. And the internal dynamic has only exacerbated matters. For Cem Özdemir, “Things in Turkey are going in the wrong direction.” Speaking to an interviewer in Constance, he explained, “Turkey had been more advanced; years ago one could discuss many of these issues, the first churches were restored, some property was returned, but now with the internal political discourse becoming more rigid, this has had a dramatic impact also on this question.” This includes the Kurdish issue, he added. “It is difficult to deal with the very darkest moments of one’s history, with the genocide; I regret this very deeply,” he said, “but I believe as long as Turkey continues on this path toward an authoritarian state, we should not have illusions. Also the Armenian issue will not be handled with the necessary attention in Turkey. To do so requires the courage of democracy and the courage to display openness. The Turkish state leadership at the current time does not have this.”