Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fair dialogue, the best way forward

Fair dialogue, the best way forward

HOVHANNES NIKOGHOSYAN

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 at the height of the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno Karabakh, a conflict in which Turkey sided with Azerbaijan. At the time of the closure, the Russian media were speculating that Turkey might invade Armenia but was warned off by the head of Russia's General Staff, who was said to have told Ankara that to do so might start World War III.

In the mid 1990s there were rumors of secret negotiations between Armenia and Turkey concerning the route of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. It was said that Turkey suggested the pipeline run through Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia instead of Georgia, in exchange for Armenia withdrawing its forces from Nagorno Karabakh. If such talks were held, nothing came of them as the pipeline was routed through Georgia.

The next, and possibly the most positive step in bilateral ties, was the creation of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, or TARC, in 2001 by civil society representatives from Armenia and Turkey. TARC was originally financed by the U.S. Administration and coordinated by David Phillips, a senior adviser at the U.S. State Department.

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Day opening - August 27

Dining al fresco in Nagorno Karabakh