- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2001

Katharine Graham - a woman of valor

It's almost as difficult to do justice to an individual like Katharine Graham as it is to say goodbye to her. Although I never met Mrs. Graham, she always served as a personal role model of how a person should be. She was a pioneer, strong-minded, gifted as a business executive, and an engaging writer.
Mrs. Graham possessed a strong instinct and judgment, a tenacious and unequaled work ethic and outstanding interpersonal skills. Her most impressive achievements guiding The Washington Post through the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" and the breaking of the Watergate crisis are a testament to her critical role in recognizing the extraordinary talent of other outstanding individuals in her publishing company. Her success was related directly to those superb professional skills, but, as with all great people, it ultimately was the result of her depth and strength of character. Those latter traits are what make her truly irreplaceable and will cause us to miss her forever.


Editorial perpetuates the myth of Armenian genocide

It was unfortunate that your July 17 editorial "Turkish-Armenian reconciliation?" used the recent meeting of prominent Armenians and Turks in Geneva to continue perpetuating the myth that a genocide of the Armenian people occurred in the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I. Yes, many Armenians were killed or died of starvation and disease in eastern Anatolia during World War I. However, there definitely were fewer than 1.5 million deaths if you look at the objective population statistics. It also is a fact that many Turks and Muslims (close to 2 million) were massacred by the Armenians at the turn of the century or died during World War I in eastern Anatolia, fighting Armenians and Russians.
The simple reality is that since the late 19th century, the Armenian minority in the Ottoman Empire has not been a peaceful population. During World War I, even though they were only a small part of the population of the land they planned to carve from the Ottoman Empire, Armenian armed units joined the Russians and committed many atrocities against the Turkish population. An example of this is the seizure of the city of Van in March 1915 and the subsequent massacre of all the local Turks. Armenians took up the Russian cause during the war, with disastrous results. We also should note that when the Russians conquered the Erivan Khanete (today's Armenian Republic) in the 19th century, the majority of its population was Muslim. Most of the Muslims were forced out of Erivan by Russians, and Armenians moved in. Fortunately, the same strategy did not work in Anatolia, the homeland of the Turkish population.
Objective experts (but not biased zealots) agree that people from both sides suffered during World War I in eastern Anatolia. Many Turkish families would give you an account of massacres they went through during this time. Frankly, most Turks will not be receptive to the Armenian point of view if the suffering of the Turks isn't taken into account during these meetings.
Furthermore, the main reason behind Turkey's trade blockade on Armenia is the ongoing Armenian occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory. This includes Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, multiethnic region located completely within Azerbaijan that has been occupied since 1991. The total number of refugees and displaced persons in Azerbaijan because of Armenian aggression has exceeded 1 million, including many documented massacres of the civilian population.
The editorial also describes the recognition of "French and Italian governments" (political bodies trying to appease their ethnic constituencies) but ignores the rejection of many others, including British and German governments. No internationally recognized objective body (such as United Nations) ever recognized the Armenian claims of genocide.
After World War I, the Ottoman capital was under Allied occupation, and all archives were under the control of British authorities in Istanbul. They transported more than 140 Ottoman high officials, officers and Cabinet members to Malta for a trial. After 30 months, no evidence could be found in London, Paris, Istanbul or Anatolia to support the charge that the Ottomans had planned a mass slaughter of the Armenians. Now, more than 80 years later, Armenians are attempting to rewrite history, organizing campaigns to influence politicians to officially recognize a genocide. The action of legislatures will not change history, however.
The editorial also suggests that Turkey should open Ottoman-era archives. Most already are open. The archives of Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation should be made public, in addition to the Ottoman archives.
Today in Istanbul and many other Turkish cities, Armenians and Turks live side by side, understanding each other's unfortunate memories of the past. The same is true in many close personal relationships between these two ethnic groups in the United States despite the enmity reflected in their organizations. The recent joint commission will take a step in the right direction when it develops a similar approach.


Postal execs are rewarded for performance

The payments to which you refer in your July 27 editorial "Going postal bonus," are not bonuses, and there is no guarantee that anyone will receive one.
Each year, specific performance goals are set. Managers, postmasters and supervisors must meet certain service, safety, productivity and financial goals before they can qualify to receive any Pay for Performance incentive payments. As you undoubtedly are aware, the Postal Service is mandated to break even over time, not achieve a profit. We receive no taxpayer subsidies. All of our revenue comes solely from the sale of postage and the other services we provide.
Our Pay for Performance program has been instrumental in driving organizational success. Despite a weak economy and dramatic increases in fuel and other costs including the addition of more than 1.7 million new addresses to serve the Postal Service has continued to improve both service and productivity. We still deliver 46 percent of the world's mail every day, 210 billion pieces a year, with some of the lowest postage rates in the world.
Do your readers and the American mailing public a favor and report the facts, not a biased opinion.

Vice president, public affairs and communications
U.S. Postal Service

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