Turkey - Armenia Relations Workshop

BY NASUHI GUNGOR

STAR - We aren't used to follow the important steps taken in Turkey, but leave them to their destinies easily. Important developments occurred recently in Turkish-Armenian relations. The public followed the course of incidents from its tabloid side due to the stance of media in relevant countries to a certain extent. The discussions which emerged in Turkey and Armenia, as well as Azerbaijan, were like this. But there is a process which has already started and the healthy progress of this process is vitally important for our geography. Turkey is facing one more great difficulty, along with all these negative sides.

We attended a meeting in Istanbul yesterday which contributed to this process. The Turkey-Armenia Relations Workshop, organized by the Foundation for Political, Economy and Social Research (SETA) on May 26-27, hosted a great many figures from the two sides on the discussion table. Of course, there are serious disagreements between the parties. What's more, Turkish and Armenian participants reflected different opinions in their own countries. The usual theses were sometimes reiterated in the meeting. But the details aren't important here. This meeting greatly contributed to the process of normalization, because the discussions which are made on such issues only by the state or through diplomatic possibilities aren't enough. The bases which are established by the civilian society ensure that theses are put forth more boldly and the parties talk to each other without official covers.

We saw it once more in the meeting that Turkey's responsibilities in this field are considerably heavy. Actually, a definition which became prominent in our small talks there reflects this fact. Turkey has to manage 'parallel processes' correctly. Of course, relating the opening of Armenian border to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue makes the process more difficult. But the difficulties suffered by Ankara have started just at this point, because Turkey can't ignore the disadvantages to be caused by excluding Azerbaijan from this process. What's more, in such a case, Armenia might become the part of a more important problem, which would make no contribution to efforts for peace in the region.

Of course, nobody should expect a rapid progress to occur in a problem which hasn't been discussed thoroughly and which remained on the curtain of mist in history. Furthermore, it's not easy to progress in a field in which intellectuals from both parties have a great many prejudices and wrong information about the issue. This initiative, made by SETA, is important in a few respects. Firstly, discussing the issue on the basis of civilian society provides everybody with the opportunity of expressing themselves comfortably. Such bases should be quickly increased. Secondly, the people who were brought together should have necessary qualifications to discuss the issue in a versatile way. The participation of the academic world, as well as the media, was planned in a way to feed this situation. Of course, this work will encourage and pave the way for similar initiatives in the future. The contributions made for the continuation of this process are important as well. Each effort exerted for sustaining the normalization process is valuable.

Copyright © 2009