In an article written for The Wall Street Journal, Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan proposes a 'fresh start' to Turkey.
This is the most straightforward gesture to date from a head of state in Armenia to propose Turkey to open up a new page in relationships. Overall, I welcome this proposal. It is courageous and right thing to do from Serj Sargsyan side.
Note that he amended his previous statement (and rightly so) on bi-lateral “commission that would study the historic facts”. Instead, he is now speaking of a commission to discuss broader aspects of “all the complex issues” hampering the development of relationships between our neighbouring countries. “Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues.”
If only Serj propose the similar straightforward measures to fix domestic situation, via honest dialogue with the opposition, and bring Armenia back to democracy, many challenges facing our country both internally and externally will be alleviated.
Below are selected extracts; full article is available here.
“The time has come for a fresh effort to break this deadlock, a situation that helps no one and hurts many. As president of Armenia, I take this opportunity to propose a fresh start – a new phase of dialogue with the government and people of Turkey, with the goal of normalizing relations and opening our common border.”
“There is no real alternative to the establishment of normal relations between our countries. It is my hope that both of our governments can pass through the threshold of this new open door. Establishing normal political relations would enable us to create a commission to comprehensively discuss all of the complex issues affecting Armenia and Turkey. We cannot expect tangible progress without such structured relations. Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues.”
“And just as the people of China and the United States shared enthusiasm for ping pong before their governments fully normalized relations, the people of Armenia and Turkey are united in their love for football – which prompts me to extend the following invitation.
On Sept. 6 a World Cup qualifier match between the Armenian and Turkish national football teams will take place in Yerevan. I hereby invite President Gül to visit Armenia to enjoy the match together with me in the stadium. Thus we will announce a new symbolic start in our relations. Whatever our differences, there are certain cultural, humanitarian and sports links that our peoples share, even with a closed border. This is why I sincerely believe that the ordinary people of Armenia and Turkey will welcome such a gesture and will cheer the day that our borders open.
There may be possible political obstacles on both sides along the way. However, we must have the courage and the foresight to act now. Armenia and Turkey need not and should not be permanent rivals. A more prosperous, mutually beneficial future for Armenia and Turkey, and the opening up of a historic East-West corridor for Europe, the Caspian region and the rest of the world, are goals that we can and must achieve.”