ANKARA: Turkey’s Armenians express support for opening of border

26 September 2009, Saturday

Turkey’s Armenians express support for opening of border

Turkish Armenians have expressed hope regarding the opening of the
border between Armenia and Turkey, saying such a step would help the
two peoples remember that they do not have only sad memories of each
other, but also have a long common history.

On Aug. 31, Ankara and Yerevan announced that after talks which have
been continuing under Swiss mediation, they have decided to launch an
internal consultation process on both sides before signing two
protocols aiming to normalize relations by opening the closed border
between the two countries and re-establishing diplomatic ties after 16
years. Earlier this week, speaking in New York, Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip ErdoÄ?an stated that he expects to present Parliament
with documents on establishing diplomatic ties with Armenia by early
October. In its latest edition, the bilingual Agos newspaper spoke
with Armenian citizens of Turkey concerning the recent
developments. The founder of Agos, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink, was shot dead outside the newspaper’s offices in January
2007. Dink’s murder trial is still ongoing.

Lerna Kuyumcu, a 67-year-old housewife, voiced her pleasure over the
protocols, saying she believed they would serve for the good of both
countries, while Tabita Toparlak, an 18-year-old student, reflected
her enthusiasm over the developments.

`Open the borders so that both of the countries can breathe fresh
air. We have gradually become rusty, since we remained closed [to one
another],’ Toparlak was quoted as saying by Agos.

A middle-aged finance employee, Vartkes Hergel, 43, was cautious in
welcoming the developments. `As a Turkish Armenian, I consider the
signing of these protocols as a beautiful start, though I’m not very
hopeful. Despite dragging their feet, supporters of the status quo on
both sides will not be able to block the rapprochement of the two
peoples. Progress will continue on this road on which Hrant Dink took
big st
ne day together with my Turkish friend Å?afak, hand in
hand. Even if Å?afak and I cannot do this, our children will
make it happen,’ Hergel added.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic ties and share a history of
animosity stemming from the killings of Anatolian Armenians by Ottoman
Turks during World War I. Turkey denies the 1915 killings amounted to
genocide but has agreed to set up a commission of international
experts on the issue under a protocol it signed with Armenia.

Ankara has said it hopes to open its border with Armenia by the end of
the year and establish diplomatic ties. Anticipation over an
Ankara-Yerevan thaw has been growing ahead of a planned visit by
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan to Turkey on Oct. 14, when he is due
to attend the return leg of a World Cup qualifying soccer match
between the two countries.

Jeweler Hagop Can Hulyar, 49, was critical of the main opposition
Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has not lent its support to the
government’s steps for rapprochement with Armenia. `I never vote for
the CHP, and I will never do so. I also have the conviction that a
sane Armenian indeed should not vote for the CHP,’ Hulyar said.

26 September 2009, Saturday
TODAY’S ZAMAN ANKARA

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS