Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Armenia head of state proposes a ‘fresh start’ to Turkey via football diplomacy

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.”


artmika said...

In an interview with Mediamax, ex-president Robert Kocharyan (along with other typical cheap stuff) claimed: ... And certainly [If I were in power], President of Turkey would not be invited to a football match in Yerevan.

Just yet another prove (as if we needed more) that Armenia is very lucky that Kocharyan is no longer head of state.

nazarian said...

Amen to that.

Danielbeast said...

Interesting comment to see after the prevailing Serge = Kocharian notion. There's been a lot of shake-up of the old Kocharian guard and so I think he's bitter. As much as they seemed tied during the transition of power this diverging of opinion is extremely interesting.

nazarian said...

Levon Ter-Petrossian put all the fault of March 1 on Kocharian. Classic divide and conquer tactic. Let's see what comes out of this.

Does Kocharian still hope to become the PM after Tigran Sargsian fails?

Anonymous said...

LTP may have put all the fault on Kocharian, but his own fault in pumping up the masses to hate is aeven more convincing to me.

Look at it this way: if there had not been such an atmosphere of hate, racism, and power-hungry vengeance created by the radical opposition, there would have been no dead people on March 1.

While the handling of the situation was not smooth by the authorities, and it seems that some went against the reported orders to not fire, it seems that LTP got what he wanted: a weakened government, a weakened Armenia, and a hope to become a hero (at the expense of those he calmly sacrificed).

Thankfully the latter didn't happen, and the jury is still out on what the nation can do to bolster the state.

nazarian said...

anonymous, people like you seem to miss something very important. The root of all this was the authoritarian behavior of the Serj/Rob duo. I know, no matter how many times this is explained to you and people like you, you will still not accept it.

Had there not been so much intimidation during the presidential and parliamentary elections in the past, had the elections not been fraudulent and corrupt, had the results not been falsified, there would not have been any protests.

I don't think elementary things like this need to be explained.

Anonymous said...

Nazarian I disagree with your premise. I think that LTP and minions counte don irregularities in the process (given Armenia's track record and resource level, how coudl there not have been?)

Then they took advantage of the fact that there was uneven use of resources in the election campaign, as well as some falsifications. Note that at this level, things were better than they had been in 17 years of election in Armenia, as documented by nearly all 3rd parties.

Thus I see the claims of falsification as disingenuous. LTP was not preparing for elections: he did everything possible to engender hatred, disregard the incompletely functional system, and exhort people to clash with authorities. That certain moves by the authorities poured gas on the fire, I have no doubt.

But there was nothing democratic about the movement and nothing positive could (or did) some from the re-introduction of LTP into politics.

I don't think such elementary things need be explained either, that the architect of many of the phenomena you describe thought that society would be naive enough to believe that he had magically changed since his disgraceful reign 10 years ago.