BY ALI SIRMEN
CUMHURIYET- The restored Armenian Akdamar Church in Van will open next week. In addition to the regular flights between Yerevan and Istanbul, a Yerevan-Van route was started to facilitate guests coming from Armenia for the opening ceremony, and this lead to debates. The General Staff raised concerns over the issue. Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said that they hadn't been informed. Meanwhile, government circles are staying silent. Firstly, I would like to stress that restoring and opening this church is a positive initiative but that more careful relations are needed between Turkey and Armenia, and I agree with those who disapprove of the Van-Yerevan direct flights. When I was talking about this issue recently with retired Ambassador Sukru Elekdag, he emphasized certain points about the issue. In light of this, it should be mentioned once again Ankara should be very careful in its relations with Yerevan.
The Turkish Republic was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia two days before the US, which declared its independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, on Dec. 16, 1991. Then Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel indicated in a message he sent on Dec. 24, that this recognition was conditional on Armenia having friendly relations with its neighbors. At that time, Armenia was being governed by Ter Petrosian, who foresaw good relations with Turkey and stressed the future over the past. However, Tashnaks drove the moderate Petrosian out and made a fanatical policy dominant in Armenia. Turkish-Armenian relations started to worsen, and Ankara closed its borders in 1993 and air-space to Armenia the next year. In its declaration of independence of Dec. 23, 1990, Armenia showed certain parts of Anatolia within the border of western Armenia, and it states in its Constitution that Mt. Ararat the symbol of Armenia. Now Armenia is putting pressure on Turkey through foreign capitals to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide and also trying to make Turkey open its border gates. In addition, Armenia's policy of seeking Greater Armenia is still being pushed. Under this policy, firstly the so-called genocide will be recognized and compensation and territorial claims against Turkey will follow.
Armenia is successfully following its policy against Turkey. The so-called genocide was recognized in many countries, and it started normal flights by putting pressure on Turkey and it delivers food through Turkey via 4,000 tractor trailers. In addition, 70,000 Armenian citizens are currently working in Turkey illegally, because officials are overlooking this. In other words, while Turkey is following a hostile policy against Turkey, it's also mobilizing Western countries and overpowering Turkey's possibilities to put pressure on it. In short, Yerevan thinks that no matter what Turkey does, there will be no consequences for it. But Turkey can put great pressure on Armenia. Here, in an atmosphere in which a policy that responds to Turkey's national interests is needed, people and writers favor opening our border gates with Armenia and becoming friends with Yerevan in a way to isolate Azerbaijan. It's hard to understand this.
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