10/10/2009, 00.00
TURKEY - ARMENIA
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First signature on relations between Turkey and Armenia after more than a century of hostility

by Geries Othman
The process facilitated by the political and economic transformation in the Caucasus. Hillary Clinton, Sergei Lavrov, Javier Solana participate in the ceremony in Zurich. Tensions persist among Armenians of the Diaspora, who remember the genocide. Support from Armenians in Turkey. Armenian President will attend the Turkish-Armenian match in Bursa for the Football World Cup 2010.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - It is now certain: today in Zurich, the two foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia will sign the two protocols to stabilize the diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries after more than a century of hostility and 16 years of total closure.

The signatures are long overdue, and were accelerated through the mediation not only of Switzerland but also of Russia, which resolved the most intransigent resistance and thus reduced pace of improvement in Armenian-Turkish relations.

Russian policy, in fact, which had long been resolutely opposed to the reopening of the Armenian-Turkish borders, in order to maintain its hegemony over Yerevan, had an abrupt change of course following the August crisis, and the conflicts in Georgia.

Everything is moving ahead now thanks to so-called Stability and Cooperation Platform for the Caucasus: Russia seeks to marginalize an emerging Georgia, Turkey wants to restore its power and influence in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Armenia wants an end to its economic and trade isolation.

This breakthrough in relations between Turkey and Armenia is not only a reopening of borders; it also certainly has wider goals concerning the entire Caucuses region and its stability. This also explains the progressive resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan’s consent.

While it seems that the minds of Turkish nationalists are being reassured, the President of Armenia Serge Sarkisyan has faced strong resistance and even confrontations during his tour to convince the community of the Armenian Diaspora around the world. In Paris, his first stop, he was greeted by violent protests against the desire to restore relations with the enemy. French riot police have had to intervene to calm and repel the protesters, who refuse to accept the surrender of the Armenian president, for fear that the "Armenian genocide" will fall into oblivion.   

But the majority coalition in Armenia has announced its support for the two protocols agreed with Turkey for the normalization of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral cooperation. An official statement read: "These days we are all witnesses of such a process in the Armenian-Turkish relations, difficult to imagine just a few months ago." He continues: "Without forgetting the tragic pages of the past history, Armenia has shown courage in the normalization of relations between the two countries, based on a great feeling of responsibility towards the future of our country."

And so, tomorrow, October 10, attended by Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, High Representative for EU Foreign Ministers Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish and Edvard Nalbandyan, Armenian, will sign an agreement that will certainly go down in history as an important step in the process of peace in the Caucasus.

Armenian President, keeping his word that he would be present at the match only if they borders between the two countries were open, has confirmed he will attend the second leg qualifier for the World Cup 2010 between the Turkish and Armenian national teams to be held October 14 Bursa.

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