Thursday, 14 August 2008

Armenian government waves visa requirement for Turkish football fans: 20-25 000 are expected

Apparently, rumours (which I wrote about) circulating in Yerevan that up to 10 000 Turkish fans intend to come to World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey on 6 September in Yerevan, are likely to be true. Even more...

According to Armenia police chief Alik Sargsyan, it is expected that around 20-25 thousands Turkish fans will visit Armenia.

It is announced today that Armenian government waves visa requirements for Turkish citizens to visit Armenia from 1 to 6 September. A welcome decision, and a gesture of good will from Armenian government side.

There are no diplomatic relationships between Armenia and Turkey. It is expected that Turkish president might accept his Armenian counterpart’s invitation and visit Armenia, for the first time ever.


artmika said...

RFE/RL has related report today:

[...] Under the rules of world football’s governing body, FIFA, a country hosting a World Cup match must set aside at least 5 percent of stadium seats for traveling fans. The Hrazdan stadium has a capacity of more than 50,000 seats, meaning that 2,500 Turks are entitled to cheering for their team there.

The decision to waive the visa regime was meant to underscore Yerevan’s readiness to allow the presence of a sizable traveling crowd at Hrazdan. Media reports in Turkey have said that as many as 10,000 local fans are eager to travel to the Armenian capital.

The Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) said on Thursday, however, that it has still not been approached by the Turkish Football Federation, which is supposed to distribute game tickets in Turkey. “We still have no information about how many Turkish football fans would like to attend the game,” the FFA’s executive director, Armen Minasian, told RFE/RL. “We have received no applications from the Turkish Football Federation yet.”

With the widely anticipated match bound to arouse nationalist passions in both countries, the presence of a large number Turkey supporters would be a major security headache for the Armenian authorities. The unusual sight of visiting fans waving Turkish flags in a stadium adjacent to Yerevan’s 1915 genocide memorial could infuriate the home crowd.

But Minasian downplayed the security risk. “The government and the FFA are taking all necessary measures to prevent incidents during the march,” he said.

parisan said...

This seems like a strange idea. Where are they going to stay? How will they come? 10,000 fans = 30-40 planes at least, or many buses, coming through Georgia, with their flags...

The risk is great for any kind of provocation to take place, too. Turkish agents (it's easy to hide among 10,000 people) wanting to make Armenia look bad, or anti-Serjh people, or pro-Serjh agents wanting to accuse the Levonites, etc.

Why take such risK?

Haik said...

- Where are they going to stay?

- Why the government doesn't wave the visa requirements for Armenians if it can for Turks?

Ani said...

Yes, this is quite a show of creativity on Armenia's part. Or perhaps not:

Russia gives fans visa reprieve

Russia has waived normal visa requirements for a 72-hour period for football fans with a ticket for the Champions League final in Moscow.

More than 42,000 Chelsea and Manchester United fans are set to attend the match at the the Luzhniki Stadium on 21 May.

And the visa exemption will apply between 19 and 23 May.

Michel Platini, president of European football's governing body Uefa, has thanked the Russian government for an "unprecedented gesture".

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Armenian government did not waive visa requirements for the participants and fans of Hamahaykakan Games.
I understand the reason why Russia waived visa requirement. It is a quite complicated process to get Russian visa. And most probably the Russian government decided to ease the work of it's embassies and consulates abroad and announced a visa free regime. You can't get a Russian visa on the border upon your arrival.
As to Armenian visas, it is not really complicated to get it. All the turkish fans needed to do is to pay and get the visa right upon their arrival to Zvartnots.
Does this government want to show that they care more about turkish fans than their care for diasporan Armenians and participants of Hamahaykakan Games??

artmika said...

Turkey bars its football fans from attending Armenia-Turkey World Cup qualifying match, apparently for security reasons. (as per my comments here and here):