Friday, September 12, 2008

A Tashnak man hugs a Turkish girl

Friday, September 12, 2008
VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU - First Person
Yerevan

It was an extremely interesting experience for me, as an Armenian young woman who was born in Turkey, and as a journalist as well, to follow the Turkey-Armenia football game in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. A few meters away from me Turkish President Abdullah Gül was sitting next to his Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkisian behind a window. In front of me, right beneath the sky, the holy Mount Ararat rose in all its grandeur.

For the first time in my life, I was getting prepared to watch a football match in a stadium. My journalist friends who already know that I am Armenian-Turkish were, in a joking way, asking which team I would support. But it was indeed a difficult question to answer. As an Armenian from Istanbul, in Armenia I was a “stranger” and on top of that I was representing the Turkish press. Warm people of the country I was born in were on one side of me and a society that my roots belong to was on the other side. I belong to whom?… I felt alone in a stadium filled with thousands of people and I was facing a dilemma.

I experienced perhaps, the most difficult time of my life at the Hırazdan Stadium. After the match, my colleagues from Hürriyet daily approached me and said: “We have seat on the plane. If you wish, we could go to your hotel to pick up your bag and could return to Turkey together…” These words were echoing in my mind. I could either go back home to Istanbul or I could spend a few days in Yerevan.

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