March 10, 2009 - 00:11 AMT PanARMENIAN.Net
- At a lecture sponsored by the Assembly of Azerbaijani-Canadian Organizations, with "kind assistance from the Azerbaijani Embassy in Ottawa", American journalist and professor of political science Thomas Goltz made racist and derogatory remarks about Armenians in Ottawa last week. Goltz' remarks were in response a question from the audience on how to convince Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh to stay within the "current boundaries of Azerbaijan." Goltz, who teaches at the Montana State University, replied: "By building a forward-looking democracy you will be able to let the garlic-growing Armenians beg to join you (Azerbaijan)."
Goltz was in Ottawa as a speaker, invited by the Azeri embassy and the Assembly of Azerbaijani-Canadian Organizations, to talk about the events of February 26, 1992 in the town of Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabagh. Goltz delivered his speech "Khojaly Massacre: Crime and No Punishment", at the National Archives of Canada. Some 60 people (mostly Azeris and Turks) attended. Next day Goltz delivered a variation of the same lecture at the National Press Club's Newsmaker Breakfast series, hosted by the Azeri embassy. About 20 people attended that gathering.
Goltz accused Armenians of perpetrating "ethnic cleansing" in Khojaly and said the Armenia argument that the Khojaly operation was a necessary pre-emptive and defensive measure to relieve Nagorno-Karabagh's capital Stepanakerd from relentless shelling from Khojaly was "nonsense".
The most dramatic moment of the lectures occurred when Aris Babikian from the Armenian National Committee of Canada
(ANCC) successfully refuted two controversial statements by Goltz.
At the Newsmaker Breakfast lecture, Aris Babikian, executive director of the ANCC, confronted Goltz and mocked him for his "command performance of misrepresentation and revisionism." Babikian exposed Goltz' hypocrisy by pointing out that the American journalist had "conveniently forgotten to mention the Sumgait, Baku and Maragh massacres of Armenians by Azeris... and that had it not been for the Russian Navy 230,000 Armenian inhabitants of Baku would have not survived."
Regarding the Khojaly killings, Babikian said: "Armenians did not claim that Azeris had perpetrated the massacres of their own people. It was the Azeri president, Ayaz Mutalibov, who made such a statement in an April 2, 2004 interview published in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In the interview with Czech journalist Yana Mazalova, Mutalibov said that his opposition, the National Front of Azerbaijan, were behind the killings to undermine his authority and to topple him.
In further questioning, Babikian asked Goltz to explain why the bodies of Azeri victims were found 11 km from Khojaly and 2 km from the most heavily fortified Azeri military town of Aghdam. "Is it logical for Armenians to follow Azeri 11 km, risking their own lives to eliminate the enemy around Aghdam, instead of killing them in Khojaly?" Babikian asked.
Babikian challenged Goltz to explain why so "many Azeri journalists who had questioned Azeri government's version of Khojaly events were jailed or killed. Babikian cited the case of jailed Azeri journalist Eynulla Fatullayev whose jailing was investigated by the European Court for Human Rights.
Babikian asked Goltz to be honest and impartial when employing quotes and to do so "without misrepresentation and misquotation so that they can fit and augment his narrative of the events."
The ANCC executive said that he found it strange that Goltz praised his "old friend" the late "great" Aliyev as an "extraordinary guy" when everyone in Azerbaijan knows that he was a despot and a man who stifled democracy while his son, the current president, follows in his father's infamous steps. Babikian said it was obvious that for Goltz "the lure of the petro-dollar is much stronger than the lure of truth and impartiality."
Goltz did not answer any of Babikian's questions and skirted around them.
Dr. Girair Basmadjian, president of ANCC, said: "We condemn such racist and hate-disseminating lectures spewed by the mouthpiece of a foreign government on Canadian podiums. It is unfortunate that some Canadian Parliamentarians, Senators, and journalists had to hear such vile statements without even raising an objection or questioning the organizers and the speaker about the validity of their words and action."
The ANCC leader added that "The Canadian government and police should investigate the grave and far-reaching consequences of such hateful speeches. We also would like to ask Canadian Parliamentarians to disassociate themselves from this lecture and the anxiety it has caused
to the Canadian-Armenian community," ANCC reports.