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BEST & WORST OF THE WEEK: Nominees

Friday, March 30, 2012  |   |  Tags:

Continuing HALC’s “Best & Worst” of the week series, here are the nominees for this week. Every Friday, HALC’s Facebook community votes on who should win each category. The results are announced on our Facebook page every Monday. The nominees are:

BEST OF THE WEEK NOMINEES

1. CONGRESSMAN HOWARD BERMAN:

The California Congressman, who is the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week asking her to reasses the nation’s policy on Cyprus. The whole letter is a must read:

The reunification of the Republic of Cyprus is of critical importance to the stablity of the Eastern Mediterranean, a vital U.S. interest. That’s why I am deeply disturbed by two Cyprus-related developments — one ongoing for decades, the other of more recent vintage — that threaten the vital interest. These developments directly undermine long-standing elements of the U.S. position in support of Cyprus reunification and call into question our ability to sustain that position.

2.   THE GREEK AMERICANS OF NEW YORK CITY:

Thousands of Greeks and philhellenes the lined the streets of New York City on Greek Independence Day to showcase their pride:

Greek New Yorkers celebrated 191 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire with a grand parade along Fifth Avenue from 64th Street to 79th Street on Sunday afternoon.The 74th annual celebration in New York began with the raising of the Greek flag at Bowling Green on Friday, and continued with a banquet at the Stathakion Center in Astoria and other festivities throughout the weekend.

3.  NAVARINO ICONS and DEAN & DELUCA:

Both companies have embraced programs based on promoting Greek products:

Remember to VOTE for your “Best of the Week” winner on our Facebook page: facebook.com/HellenicLeaders.

WORST OF THE WEEK NOMINEES

1.  THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT:

Last week, the U.S. Commission on International Freedom won our Best of the Week award. This week, the U.S. State Department is our first Worst of the Week nominee for trying to pressure the Commission to not declare Turkey a “country of particular concern” for its human rights abuses:

As expected, Turkish officials resorted to their usual disparaging tactics, rejecting the commission’s findings. Far more troubling were the insidious actions of Turkophiles in the State Department. Nina Shea, one of the nine USCIRF commissioners, wrote an alarming article revealing how the Obama Administration quietly pressured the commission to soften its condemnation of Turkey.Shea disclosed to the National Review, a major national publication, that Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner had forced one of the commissioners to change his position in Turkey’s favor, after being tipped off by another commissioner, an Obama appointee, that the USCIRF had voted 5-4 to black list Turkey in its annual report. By then, the report had been issued and it was too late to alter the recommendation designating Turkey a major violator of religious freedom. As required, the report was submitted to Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Congressional leaders.It was later revealed that Don Argue, the president of Northwest University in Kirkland, Wash., was the commissioner who was pressured into changing his mind on Turkey. Ironically, two days after this report was issued, the terms of service of Shea, Argue, and three other commissioners ended.

2.  TURKISH COALITION OF AMERICA:

This Turkish group earned a prime spot on our Worst of the Week list by claiming that Greek Independence Day marked the beginning of a “genocide” by Greeks in the Balkans. For its press release, which is short on facts and long on lies, the TCA certainly earned its Worst of the Week status:

March 25 is celebrated by Greeks as their national day, and marks the beginning of the Greek rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The day also marks the beginning of the murder of over 25,000 Ottoman Muslims of Greece, which would set a pattern for other nationalist revolts in the Balkans, and the subsequent ethnic and religious motivated slaughter and forced mass migration of over ten million Ottoman citizens that would last for 100 years.

3.  TURKEY’S EU MINISTER EGEMEN BAGIS:

Making his third appearance on our Worst of the Week nominee list, Mr. Bagis this week reiterated that Turkey would continue to violate the religious freedom of the Patriarchate. According to him, negotiations over the reopening of Halki seminary are “stuck” — and we’re pretty sure Mr. Bagis would like for it to stay that way:

And as you all know, the Halki Theological school, which was shut down in 1971, is still closed. From the very first days the AKP came to power, they kept saying that they would reopen the school. And we learned that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed to US president Barack Obama that his government would reopen the school soon.However, as soon as we heard this “hopeful” statement, we also heard another “but” immediately after Erdoğan’s promise to Obama. And this time the “but” came from our chief negotiator, Egemen Bağış, to the EU. He said:“The matter between Turkey and the US is subject to our internal legislation. I don’t see the opening of seminary schools as a threat to Turkey. It will enrich Turkey. On this topic I believe that it will always be useful for supporters to synchronize their steps at the right time … But while taking these steps, even if they are tied to reciprocal needs, we have emphasized that Greece’s good-intentioned attempts to synchronize are very important. In this environment the Greek Prime Minister’s oft-made promises to oust the honorable prime minister, and the fact that both the honorable [Georgios] Papandreu and the honorable [Constantine] Karamanlis have not taken the necessary steps, should be understood as the reason that negotiations are stuck. Turkey took very important steps related to this matter. I think it is time for Greece, which EU standards require to be democratic, to take responsibility for its behavior.”They will open the Halki School if Greece opens a mosque in Athens. Bağış and some others believe that they could open the school so long as Greece confirms there will be reciprocity. Someone should explain to Bağış that there is no such thing as reciprocity in the field of human rights and the freedom of religion. Reciprocity is a totally alien concept to human rights.

Click here to vote for your “Best & Worst of the Week” winners.  

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