November 11, 2010

So Close and Yet so Far...


On November 3rd, 2010 Armenian and Turkish scholars and experts met in Kars, Turkey for a round table (RT) to discuss Turkish-Armenian relations. Among the visitors from Armenia were Eurasia Partnership Foundation-Armenia country director Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan (on the left, first photo) and CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan (second from the right, second photo). The event was organized by Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany). It was held in Grand Ani Hotel (Kars, Turkey), and interestingly the working languages were Turkish and Armenian!

Short after this visit an article was published on Turkish newspaper Sabah, entitled "They Made a 45 Minute Journey in 12 Hours". The author of the article, Bilge Eser and many other Turkish participants of the RT from Istanbul have traveled with Armenian guests through Kars to Ani. While attending the RT and traveling, she learned and reflected in her article a lot of Kars related personal stories from the Armenian visitors. As she has stated in her article, the choice of the location was quite symbolic since Kars used to have a large Armenian population prior to World War I. Some of the Armenian participants of the discussion even happened to be grandchildren of Kars Armenians.

The session “The Role of Local Dynamics in Enhancing Cross-border Cooperation” that Heghine Manasyan moderated was mainly devoted to the economic development opportunities for both countries in case the border is open. Panelists of session - Vahan Asatryan from the International Center for Human Development (ICHD), Hüsnü Kaput from the Caucasus University, Vahagn Khachaturyan, former Mayor of Yerevan and İlhan Koçulu from the Boğatepe Foundation revealed many short-term and long-term benefits that will get Armenia and Turkey, especially its Eastern provinces.

Earlier this year, in September 20-22, CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan was part of the Armenian team visiting Turkey (Istanbul) to make presentations on Armenian economy for Turkish journalists. This event was organized by Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Armenia, together with Global Political Trends Center, as continuation of a similar activity by Turkish experts for Armenian journalists. This visit was also reflected in Turkish media, particularly, in Hurriyet, with an article entitled "Armenian Experts Value European Perspectives."

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