13 10 2009 - Armenians' Supreme Spiritual Leader,
|By Appo Jabarian
Executive Publisher / Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine
Friday, October 12, 2009 Since the release of the highly damaging Armenia-Turkey Protocols on August 31, hundreds of thousands of the members of the Armenian Apostolic Church have been following closely as to how strongly and unequivocally both His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia would express their pontifical opposition to the Turkish-dictated Protocols.
After a lapse of one whole month, His Holiness Karekin II issued a statement on September 30 expressing Etchmiadzin's official position on the Protocols. While HH Karekin II and the Supreme Spiritual Council expressed their serious concerns about the Protocols, they avoided making a full-blown criticism of the Protocols which the overwhelming majority of the Armenians in the Homeland and the Diaspora expected.
Those of us who had the blessing and the honor of personally knowing His Holiness Karekin II would envision that he would surely have much preferred to issue a strong and clear criticism directed at those who are actively trying to force that unjust document on his worldwide flock, the Armenians.
The September 30 Pontifical statement carried all the ingredients of a justified pontifical condemnation of the Protocols, but the Holy Etchmiadzin Supreme Spiritual Council seemingly avoided outright confrontation with official Yerevan.
On the eve of his early October presidential trip to the largest centers of the Diaspora, Pres. Serzh Sargsyan met with HH Karekin II in order to get His Holiness' endorsement of the Protocols. The Armenian TV programs disseminated short footage of both Pres. Sargsyan and His Holiness leading a cordial conversation. It is obvious that Pres. Sargsyan is actively seeking pontifical assistance for the creation of positive impressions regarding the Protocols in order to convince the Armenians everywhere to agree to the terms of the Protocols.
This is not the first time that official Yerevan has "summoned" Holy Etchmiadzin for "help." In 1995 official Yerevan under then Pres. Levon Ter-Petrossyan, pressured Holy Etchmiadzin to elect an outsider as Catholicos of All Armenians. The 1995 Ter-Petrossyan-Etchmiadzin affair sparked the notion that Holy Etchmiadzin now is exposed to official Yerevan's political pressure.
During the Soviet occupation of Armenia (1921-1991), succeeding Supreme Patriarchs and Catholicoi of All Armenians starting from Gevork V of Armenia (1911-1930), to Khoren I of Armenia (1932-1938), to Gevork VI of Armenia (1945-1954), to Vazgen I (1955-1994), were indirectly and sometimes directly suppressed by official Kremlin. Those who did not compromise to the detriment of their people were physically liquidated.
With the re-establishment of the independent Armenian statehood in 1991, Armenians in Armenia-Artsakh and the Diaspora rightly expected that their Supreme Patriarch and the Holy See of Etchmiadzin would no longer be subjected to outside political pressures. But to the chagrin of many, official Yerevan under the First President Levon Ter-Petrossyan outright interfered in the pontifical electoral process in 1995 in order to get His Holiness Karekin I (Sarkissian) elected as Supreme Patriarch. Before his election as Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin I was the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia.
Pres. Ter-Petrossyan convinced His Holiness Karekin I to vacate the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia seat and relocate to Holy Etchmiadzin to serve as Supreme Patriarch. At the time, little did His Holiness Karekin I know that Ter-Pterossyan's hidden goal was to weaken and eventually liquidate the Holy See of Cilicia by incorporating it into the See of Etchmiadzin, thus bringing under his control all the Armenians of the Diaspora, in order to politically manipulate them as he pleased, just like the former communist bosses in Kremlin did during the Soviet dictatorship.
Now His Holiness Karekin II (Nersisyan), despite his obvious wish to outright condemn the Protocols, has involuntarily softened his criticism. But His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, strongly condemned the anti-Armenia and anti-Armenian Protocols, on September 23. Alas, our Supreme Patriarch is still under political pressure that is reminiscent of the Ter-Petrossyan and the preceding Soviet Kremlin era. So this brings us to realize that contrary to certain individuals' argument that Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia must be demoted from the rank of Catholicossate to the level of Patriarchate just like the Armenian Patriarchates of Constantinople and Jerusalem, it must be even strengthened. After all, The Great House of Cilicia is the last surviving symbol of the now Turkish-occupied Armenian statehood in Cilicia. There is no doubt that the primacy of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin must be observed and respected. But it is equally important to maintain the Catholicossate of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, just like during the Soviet era, when some people said that it's important to have a church leader outside of the Soviet iron curtain.
Thousands Rally AgainstProtocols as ProtestersAwait PresidentSargsyan in L.A.By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier Senior Contributor, USA Armenian Life Magazine Up to 10,000 protesters held a public rally on September 27 in Glendale against the Armenian government's plans to sign and ratify two Protocols negotiated with Turkey which include several highly controversial issues. The angry demonstrators expressed their rejection of Pres. Serzh Sargsyan's conciliatory policies with Armenia's archenemy - Turkey. They objected to the Armenian government's concessions to Ankara, particularly its agreement to set up an inter-governmental sub-commission to examine "the historical records" - a Turkish ploy to undermine the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the international community. The protesters also objected to Armenia's acceptance of Turkey's present borders, which would preclude future territorial claims by Armenians.
The rally was jointly organized by the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Armenian Democratic League, and United Young Armenians. Representatives of the sponsoring organizations delivered fiery speeches against the Protocols. I was keynote speaker at the rally. My remarks were delivered in Armenian. Below are excerpts in English:
"Today is a very sad day for me, as well as for all Armenians worldwide. While Armenia was suffering under the Soviet yoke for 70 years, Armenians worldwide were dreaming of the day when their homeland would be independent, and they would be masters of their own fate. It never occurred to us that when that blessed day would finally arrive and the homeland would be free, we would be compelled to challenge the authorities of independent Armenia.
"Regrettably, out of concern for Armenia's cherished national interests, we are obliged to gather here to express our indignation and protest against these Protocols. Today, Armenians from all walks of life have come together, regardless of their political and religious affiliations, immigrants and natives alike, to say a loud NO in unison!
"NO, primarily to Turkey, the successor state to the genocidal Ottoman Empire! NO, to the dictatorial regime in Azerbaijan! NO, to territorial concessions on Artsakh! NO, to Russia! NO, to France! NO, to the United States! In particular, NO to the sub-commission on history that would question the facts of the Armenian Genocide! NO, to the Treaty of Kars! And a categorical NO, to the Armenian government's inept diplomatic initiative on the Protocols!
"We are also gathered here to say YES to all those who defend the Armenian national interest! YES, to all those who pursue the recognition of the Armenian Genocide! YES, to all those who demand compensation from Turkey for damages emanating from the Genocide! YES, to all those who reclaim our historical lands! Finally, YES, to all those who support the independence of the Republic of Artsakh!"
I concluded my remarks by citing the ten major objections I had written about in my last week's column regarding the Armenia-Turkey Protocols. I expressed "the fervent hope that Armenia's leaders would have the courage and wisdom to change their minds and not sign and ratify these Protocols. Should they proceed to conclude these infamous agreements, however, I fully expect the next President and National Assembly of Armenia to promptly abrogate them and dump them into the dustbin of history."
In view of the outpouring of vehement opposition to the Protocols during the Glendale rally, it is reasonable to expect that a much larger protest would take place in front of the President's hotel, during his Los Angeles visit on October 4.
To avoid a deeper split between the Government of Armenia and Armenians worldwide who outnumber those in the homeland, one would hope that Armenian officials would find a gracious way out of this terrible predicament, in order to bring to an end the discord within the global Armenian family. Armenians need to muster all their resources to jointly counter a resurgent Turkey and a menacing Azerbaijan.
A modest suggestion to Armenia's leaders, assuming that they are prepared to listen, would be to take a deep breath before making a final determination on the fate of the Protocols. They should be in no rush20to sign and ratify them, since the Protocols contain no deadlines. A way out would be to renegotiate and amend these flawed documents.
Otherwise, future generations would not forgive Armenia's leaders for the lasting damage they would bring to the national interests of Armenia and the Armenian Cause.
Whistler Takes a Boarder
Gorky collection finds unusual home in Lowell artist’s museum
LOWELL, MA - It’s all a bit bemusing, and not the easiest to explain. But through one historical quirk and another, a small museum in Lowell that commemorates the birthplace of James McNeill Whistler is now in the possession of almost 30 early paintings, drawings, and prints by Arshile Gorky, the Armenian-born progenitor of American Abstract Expressionism.
What does Gorky have to do with Whistler? And is it not a bit strange for a museum dedicated to the memory of Whistler to become a better place to look at works by Gorky than works by Whistler (which are thin on the ground, to put it generously, at the Whistler House Museum of Art)?
These are questions to which I have no particularly illuminating answer. But you can ponder them to your heart’s content as you take in “Drawings & Paintings by Arshile Gorky: Mina Boehm Metzger Collection,’’ a small but fascinating show celebrating a substantial new addition to the Whistler House Museum of Art. (The museum describes it as a “permanent loan.’’)
The works are all from the collection of Mina Boehm Metzger, who studied art under Gorky at the Grand Central Art School in New York in the 1930s and died in 1975. She was impressed by Gorky, and she and her husband started collecting his works. Some they received as gifts, others were purchased.
All of them are early pieces, and many, to add to the air of mystery around the show, remain untitled and of uncertain date. One is a fabulously delicate, softly modeled portrait in pencil on brown construction paper. Another is a painting, based on one by Metzger herself, on cardboard.
Gorky, we’re reminded by improvised media like these, was hard-up. Three of the works have been painted or drawn on two sides. In one case, the image on the reverse was painted upside down, making a mounted display in the middle of the room, with both sides visible, somewhat impractical. Museum director Michael H. Lally has solved the dilemma by taking the unusual step of hanging a photographic reproduction of the reverse side beside the original.
Artistically, Gorky was not quite “Gorky’’ in these years. He was still toying with the various styles and idioms of his modernist predecessors in Europe, especially Picasso, Matisse, and Miró.
Unlike most Americans, even in the art world, Metzger was tuned in to such influences: She frequently accompanied her husband on business trips to Europe, where she kept abreast of developments in modern art. All this helps account for her responsiveness to Gorky’s work. But his personality may have played an even bigger part.
Born Vosdanig Manoog Adoian, Gorky had come to the United States in 1920 as a teenage survivor of the Armenian genocide. His mother died of starvation in his arms. “The harsh struggles and terrible suffering of his early life in Armenia,’’ write Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan in their biography of Gorky’s friend, Willem de Kooning, “gave him an ancient, fated air that he was not afraid to cultivate; he sometimes seemed to play the part of an Old Testament figure who happened to be in New York.’’
Several of the portraits, in a linear idiom reminiscent of Matisse, are of Metzger herself, and there’s a striking portrait of her daughter, Margaret, done in the style of 1920s neoclassical Picasso. There’s also a grab bag of paintings, prints, and drawings inspired by Picasso’s synthetic Cubist and Surrealist styles.