October 31, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)

Artyom Leonov


Turkey may agree for a compromise on the genocide of Armenians

In a talk with this author in 2006, Kurtulus Taskent, Turkey's Ambassador in Russia, expressed the commitment of the Turkish government to assist the Armenian minority in reconstruction of its historical and cultural relics in the country. The policy of normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations also involved publishing of books about the history of Western Armenia. The unprecedented visit of Turkey's president Abdullah Gul to Yerevan, among other public acts of rapprochement, took place on the background of Turkey's efforts to increase its influence in the region by means of a regional organization of economic cooperation.

On the eve of this visit in late July, Abdullah Gul delivered a public speech at the ruins of the ancient city of Ani, once the major cultural center of Western Armenia, and the adjacent Church of Christ the Savior. Addressing the Armenian minority, he claimed that Ankara is ready to invite Armenia to a number of regional projects in exchange for recognition of certain countries of the region.

In this way, Ankara officially made clear that Turkey, as well as Russia and Iran, is ready to become a close economic partner of the Armenian state. Realizing that at present, Turkey cannot be as essential for Armenia as Russia and Iran, Abdullah Gul still seeks to foster influence of his nation in Yerevan.

During a round of talks in September, the leaders of Turkey and Armenia agreed to expand contacts on all levels, and Mr. Gul reiterated his promise to invited Armenia into regional and international projects. Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan expressed gratitude for the proposal to arrange the next meeting in some of the regions of Turkey's Western Armenia. In the words of Mr. Gul, "Mr. Sargsyan will make sure that today's Turkey delicately conserves and reconstructs the Armenian cultural and historical heritage".

In its efforts to arrive at a compromise with Yerevan on the extremely sensitive historical issue of Turkey's policy towards Armenians in 1915-1921, Ankara reconnoiters the ground through expert circles and mass media. Some experts believe that eventually, Ankara may admit the fact of oppression of the Armenian population by the government of "Young Turks", though not recognizing the 1915 massacre as an act of genocide.

At the same time, experts report about unofficial talks between Ankara and Yerevan concerning construction of branch of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline through Airum, Gyumri and Akhurian. This pipeline is primarily a matter of interest of Turkey's European partners that have serious grounds to doubt security of transit across the territory of Georgia.

Creating political preconditions for the alternative route, Ankara is expected to urge Baku to "display pragmatism" and agree for Armenia's partnership in the project.

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