Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia – Turkish Armenian Business Development Council
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Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia

Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia

24 July 2011, Sunday / EMINE KART, İSTANBUL
“Armenians are our diaspora.” This was probably the most impressive remark that remained in the hearts and minds of representatives of Armenian civil society organizations (CSO) who met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier this week.
The Foreign Ministry was the venue for a remarkable meeting on Monday, where Davutoğlu and his undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, hosted the Armenian group quietly and unobtrusively.The representatives of the five CSOs were in Ankara on the occasion of a workshop held by the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The idea to request a briefing from Turkish diplomats occurred spontaneously. The request was conveyed to the ministry. According to Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, a senior foreign policy analyst from TEPAV who coordinated the workshop and was involved in conveying the request to the ministry, within half a day, they were told they would meet with diplomats from the related department and the undersecretary.

Punsmann told Sunday’s Zaman that they neither expected a positive answer in a short time like this nor being received at this level.

In total, the group spent three-and-a-half hours at the ministry, of which one-and-a-half hours was with Davutoğlu, who first asked the group about the length of their stay in Ankara. When he learned that the group was in Ankara for only two days, he turned to the TEPAV staff and asked, “Is this the way you show Turkish hospitality?”

Explaining this note from the meeting, Punsmann said, “We want to take this as a green light that shows that such contacts will continue.”

“The societies are already close to each other although the border is closed. The more interaction is increased, the less the physical obstacles will be remembered. Thanks to this interaction, we will find a remedy to this historical burden on our shoulders. The meeting was a nice gesture, and it boosted our morale,” Punsmann said.

The analyst explained she felt that the group was visibly impressed when Davutoğlu said, “Armenians are our diaspora.”

“With Greece, for example, none of the major bilateral problems have yet been resolved but we have made a huge progress in relations. It shows that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome when there is mutual will. We share the same geography with Armenia, and Turkey is an embracing country. They were hesitant when they first entered the ministry, but they were relaxed while leaving,” Punsmann said.

The meetings at the Foreign Ministry come after a senior Armenian official last month called on Ankara to revive currently stalled efforts to normalize bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors, while arguing that the improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey would also serve as an impetus for improving relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and also for peace in the region.

“As neighbors, we should know each other through frequent visits,” Artak Davtyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, told a group of journalists visiting the country in late June, while underlining the importance of the activities by CSOs to gradually normalize relations between the two countries since the official process was stalled.

More hopes mean more expectations

The group that met with Davutoğlu comprised Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, Aghavni Karakhanian of the Institute for Civil Society and Regional Development, Richard A. Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Mikayel Hovhannisyan of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Arthur Ghazaryan of the Union of Manufacturers’ and Businessmen of Armenia.

“What impressed me the most in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was the atmosphere of the meeting; he is both a professional and an intellectual, which for us meant that the meeting was a frank and open exchange of views; and I was impressed by the time he afforded us as a group of civil society representatives from Armenia,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman when asked about his impression regarding Davutoğlu’s meeting with the group.

“And even on the issues where we disagreed, the Turkish foreign minister and his staff were always respectful and willing to listen to our views, even regarding our criticism of the current situating of closed borders and concerning the Turkish state campaign of genocide denial. This is important, although it would be much easier to move forward now with concrete action by the Turkish side, as all expectations are now squarely on Turkey, and we are waiting for Ankara to return to this process of engaging Armenia and addressing the need to establish diplomatic relations, open the border and take other steps toward normalizing relations. I was, of course, personally impressed by the foreign minister’s knowledge and vision for the region, which also gives hope that there is only one way forward for both countries. But the meeting tended to also demonstrate the asymmetry of the current relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Giragosian added.

When asked whether he left Ankara more hopeful than he had been, he replied: “In general, I always try to remain optimistic and, especially in terms of this process of engagement, it is important to note how far both sides have come, and how much has been achieved to date. Thus, I can say that I left Ankara ‘more hopeful,’ but this also means that I now have expectations for more.”

Pain and ‘political hatred’

For Davutoğlu, this meeting apparently offered a unique opportunity to explain his concept of “just memory” personally to opinion leaders of the estranged neighboring country.

On many occasions in the past Davutoğlu has said that procedures envisioned by protocols signed in October 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border will eventually help achieve “a just memory” concerning the tragedy in Anatolia during World War I.

“1915 is the year of the so-called genocide for them,” Davutoğlu said at the time. “For us, we say ‘pain.’ We are ready to discuss. The same year, we had Gallipoli,” he said.

The 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was won by the defending Ottoman army against a joint British and French campaign and laid the groundwork for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

During the meeting with the Armenian group, Davutoğlu said one of his grandfathers died at Gallipoli, underscoring the emotion that many Turks feel about that campaign. He recalled that he and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd together visited Gallipoli earlier this year to attend ceremonies marking the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and that one of Rudd’s ancestors had died in Gallipoli, too.

“In the town of Konya where I was born, no Armenians have ever lived, but the door of our house was made by an Armenian master, and we grew up with my late father’s constant expressions of admiration and respect for that master. And while in Gallipoli, we didn’t yell at each other with Mr. Rudd. We just greeted each other with respect. This is how societies make peace with each other,” Davutoğlu was quoted as telling the group by a Turkish official who attended the meeting.

Turkey wants a reconciliation process that also involves the Armenian diaspora living in Europe and the United States, Davutoğlu said, adding, “We consider them as Turkey’s diaspora, too.”

Last but not least quotes come from Giragosian.

“The Armenian diaspora, as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, need to have more of a voice and a role within the broader process of normalization, as stakeholders in the future of Turkish-Armenian relations,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman.

“And yes, such meetings also help to pave the way for track-two diplomacy, but there needs to be more of a commitment to track-one, state-level engagement as well. For example, there is an important need for the political will to make such engagement sustainable, and at the same time, all parties need to be sincere and remain committed to this process; normalization should not be used for political ‘cover’ or a justification to avoid tackling and talking about the core issues, most notably in honestly dealing with the genocide, for example,” he cautioned.

Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia

24 July 2011, Sunday / EMINE KART, İSTANBUL
“Armenians are our diaspora.” This was probably the most impressive remark that remained in the hearts and minds of representatives of Armenian civil society organizations (CSO) who met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier this week.
The Foreign Ministry was the venue for a remarkable meeting on Monday, where Davutoğlu and his undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, hosted the Armenian group quietly and unobtrusively.The representatives of the five CSOs were in Ankara on the occasion of a workshop held by the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The idea to request a briefing from Turkish diplomats occurred spontaneously. The request was conveyed to the ministry. According to Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, a senior foreign policy analyst from TEPAV who coordinated the workshop and was involved in conveying the request to the ministry, within half a day, they were told they would meet with diplomats from the related department and the undersecretary.

Punsmann told Sunday’s Zaman that they neither expected a positive answer in a short time like this nor being received at this level.

In total, the group spent three-and-a-half hours at the ministry, of which one-and-a-half hours was with Davutoğlu, who first asked the group about the length of their stay in Ankara. When he learned that the group was in Ankara for only two days, he turned to the TEPAV staff and asked, “Is this the way you show Turkish hospitality?”

Explaining this note from the meeting, Punsmann said, “We want to take this as a green light that shows that such contacts will continue.”

“The societies are already close to each other although the border is closed. The more interaction is increased, the less the physical obstacles will be remembered. Thanks to this interaction, we will find a remedy to this historical burden on our shoulders. The meeting was a nice gesture, and it boosted our morale,” Punsmann said.

The analyst explained she felt that the group was visibly impressed when Davutoğlu said, “Armenians are our diaspora.”

“With Greece, for example, none of the major bilateral problems have yet been resolved but we have made a huge progress in relations. It shows that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome when there is mutual will. We share the same geography with Armenia, and Turkey is an embracing country. They were hesitant when they first entered the ministry, but they were relaxed while leaving,” Punsmann said.

The meetings at the Foreign Ministry come after a senior Armenian official last month called on Ankara to revive currently stalled efforts to normalize bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors, while arguing that the improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey would also serve as an impetus for improving relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and also for peace in the region.

“As neighbors, we should know each other through frequent visits,” Artak Davtyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, told a group of journalists visiting the country in late June, while underlining the importance of the activities by CSOs to gradually normalize relations between the two countries since the official process was stalled.

More hopes mean more expectations

The group that met with Davutoğlu comprised Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, Aghavni Karakhanian of the Institute for Civil Society and Regional Development, Richard A. Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Mikayel Hovhannisyan of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Arthur Ghazaryan of the Union of Manufacturers’ and Businessmen of Armenia.

“What impressed me the most in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was the atmosphere of the meeting; he is both a professional and an intellectual, which for us meant that the meeting was a frank and open exchange of views; and I was impressed by the time he afforded us as a group of civil society representatives from Armenia,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman when asked about his impression regarding Davutoğlu’s meeting with the group.

“And even on the issues where we disagreed, the Turkish foreign minister and his staff were always respectful and willing to listen to our views, even regarding our criticism of the current situating of closed borders and concerning the Turkish state campaign of genocide denial. This is important, although it would be much easier to move forward now with concrete action by the Turkish side, as all expectations are now squarely on Turkey, and we are waiting for Ankara to return to this process of engaging Armenia and addressing the need to establish diplomatic relations, open the border and take other steps toward normalizing relations. I was, of course, personally impressed by the foreign minister’s knowledge and vision for the region, which also gives hope that there is only one way forward for both countries. But the meeting tended to also demonstrate the asymmetry of the current relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Giragosian added.

When asked whether he left Ankara more hopeful than he had been, he replied: “In general, I always try to remain optimistic and, especially in terms of this process of engagement, it is important to note how far both sides have come, and how much has been achieved to date. Thus, I can say that I left Ankara ‘more hopeful,’ but this also means that I now have expectations for more.”

Pain and ‘political hatred’

For Davutoğlu, this meeting apparently offered a unique opportunity to explain his concept of “just memory” personally to opinion leaders of the estranged neighboring country.

On many occasions in the past Davutoğlu has said that procedures envisioned by protocols signed in October 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border will eventually help achieve “a just memory” concerning the tragedy in Anatolia during World War I.

“1915 is the year of the so-called genocide for them,” Davutoğlu said at the time. “For us, we say ‘pain.’ We are ready to discuss. The same year, we had Gallipoli,” he said.

The 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was won by the defending Ottoman army against a joint British and French campaign and laid the groundwork for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

During the meeting with the Armenian group, Davutoğlu said one of his grandfathers died at Gallipoli, underscoring the emotion that many Turks feel about that campaign. He recalled that he and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd together visited Gallipoli earlier this year to attend ceremonies marking the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and that one of Rudd’s ancestors had died in Gallipoli, too.

“In the town of Konya where I was born, no Armenians have ever lived, but the door of our house was made by an Armenian master, and we grew up with my late father’s constant expressions of admiration and respect for that master. And while in Gallipoli, we didn’t yell at each other with Mr. Rudd. We just greeted each other with respect. This is how societies make peace with each other,” Davutoğlu was quoted as telling the group by a Turkish official who attended the meeting.

Turkey wants a reconciliation process that also involves the Armenian diaspora living in Europe and the United States, Davutoğlu said, adding, “We consider them as Turkey’s diaspora, too.”

Last but not least quotes come from Giragosian.

“The Armenian diaspora, as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, need to have more of a voice and a role within the broader process of normalization, as stakeholders in the future of Turkish-Armenian relations,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman.

“And yes, such meetings also help to pave the way for track-two diplomacy, but there needs to be more of a commitment to track-one, state-level engagement as well. For example, there is an important need for the political will to make such engagement sustainable, and at the same time, all parties need to be sincere and remain committed to this process; normalization should not be used for political ‘cover’ or a justification to avoid tackling and talking about the core issues, most notably in honestly dealing with the genocide, for example,” he cautioned.

Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia

24 July 2011, Sunday / EMINE KART, İSTANBUL
“Armenians are our diaspora.” This was probably the most impressive remark that remained in the hearts and minds of representatives of Armenian civil society organizations (CSO) who met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier this week.
The Foreign Ministry was the venue for a remarkable meeting on Monday, where Davutoğlu and his undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, hosted the Armenian group quietly and unobtrusively.The representatives of the five CSOs were in Ankara on the occasion of a workshop held by the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The idea to request a briefing from Turkish diplomats occurred spontaneously. The request was conveyed to the ministry. According to Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, a senior foreign policy analyst from TEPAV who coordinated the workshop and was involved in conveying the request to the ministry, within half a day, they were told they would meet with diplomats from the related department and the undersecretary.

Punsmann told Sunday’s Zaman that they neither expected a positive answer in a short time like this nor being received at this level.

In total, the group spent three-and-a-half hours at the ministry, of which one-and-a-half hours was with Davutoğlu, who first asked the group about the length of their stay in Ankara. When he learned that the group was in Ankara for only two days, he turned to the TEPAV staff and asked, “Is this the way you show Turkish hospitality?”

Explaining this note from the meeting, Punsmann said, “We want to take this as a green light that shows that such contacts will continue.”

“The societies are already close to each other although the border is closed. The more interaction is increased, the less the physical obstacles will be remembered. Thanks to this interaction, we will find a remedy to this historical burden on our shoulders. The meeting was a nice gesture, and it boosted our morale,” Punsmann said.

The analyst explained she felt that the group was visibly impressed when Davutoğlu said, “Armenians are our diaspora.”

“With Greece, for example, none of the major bilateral problems have yet been resolved but we have made a huge progress in relations. It shows that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome when there is mutual will. We share the same geography with Armenia, and Turkey is an embracing country. They were hesitant when they first entered the ministry, but they were relaxed while leaving,” Punsmann said.

The meetings at the Foreign Ministry come after a senior Armenian official last month called on Ankara to revive currently stalled efforts to normalize bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors, while arguing that the improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey would also serve as an impetus for improving relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and also for peace in the region.

“As neighbors, we should know each other through frequent visits,” Artak Davtyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, told a group of journalists visiting the country in late June, while underlining the importance of the activities by CSOs to gradually normalize relations between the two countries since the official process was stalled.

More hopes mean more expectations

The group that met with Davutoğlu comprised Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, Aghavni Karakhanian of the Institute for Civil Society and Regional Development, Richard A. Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Mikayel Hovhannisyan of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Arthur Ghazaryan of the Union of Manufacturers’ and Businessmen of Armenia.

“What impressed me the most in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was the atmosphere of the meeting; he is both a professional and an intellectual, which for us meant that the meeting was a frank and open exchange of views; and I was impressed by the time he afforded us as a group of civil society representatives from Armenia,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman when asked about his impression regarding Davutoğlu’s meeting with the group.

“And even on the issues where we disagreed, the Turkish foreign minister and his staff were always respectful and willing to listen to our views, even regarding our criticism of the current situating of closed borders and concerning the Turkish state campaign of genocide denial. This is important, although it would be much easier to move forward now with concrete action by the Turkish side, as all expectations are now squarely on Turkey, and we are waiting for Ankara to return to this process of engaging Armenia and addressing the need to establish diplomatic relations, open the border and take other steps toward normalizing relations. I was, of course, personally impressed by the foreign minister’s knowledge and vision for the region, which also gives hope that there is only one way forward for both countries. But the meeting tended to also demonstrate the asymmetry of the current relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Giragosian added.

When asked whether he left Ankara more hopeful than he had been, he replied: “In general, I always try to remain optimistic and, especially in terms of this process of engagement, it is important to note how far both sides have come, and how much has been achieved to date. Thus, I can say that I left Ankara ‘more hopeful,’ but this also means that I now have expectations for more.”

Pain and ‘political hatred’

For Davutoğlu, this meeting apparently offered a unique opportunity to explain his concept of “just memory” personally to opinion leaders of the estranged neighboring country.

On many occasions in the past Davutoğlu has said that procedures envisioned by protocols signed in October 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border will eventually help achieve “a just memory” concerning the tragedy in Anatolia during World War I.

“1915 is the year of the so-called genocide for them,” Davutoğlu said at the time. “For us, we say ‘pain.’ We are ready to discuss. The same year, we had Gallipoli,” he said.

The 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was won by the defending Ottoman army against a joint British and French campaign and laid the groundwork for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

During the meeting with the Armenian group, Davutoğlu said one of his grandfathers died at Gallipoli, underscoring the emotion that many Turks feel about that campaign. He recalled that he and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd together visited Gallipoli earlier this year to attend ceremonies marking the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and that one of Rudd’s ancestors had died in Gallipoli, too.

“In the town of Konya where I was born, no Armenians have ever lived, but the door of our house was made by an Armenian master, and we grew up with my late father’s constant expressions of admiration and respect for that master. And while in Gallipoli, we didn’t yell at each other with Mr. Rudd. We just greeted each other with respect. This is how societies make peace with each other,” Davutoğlu was quoted as telling the group by a Turkish official who attended the meeting.

Turkey wants a reconciliation process that also involves the Armenian diaspora living in Europe and the United States, Davutoğlu said, adding, “We consider them as Turkey’s diaspora, too.”

Last but not least quotes come from Giragosian.

“The Armenian diaspora, as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, need to have more of a voice and a role within the broader process of normalization, as stakeholders in the future of Turkish-Armenian relations,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman.

“And yes, such meetings also help to pave the way for track-two diplomacy, but there needs to be more of a commitment to track-one, state-level engagement as well. For example, there is an important need for the political will to make such engagement sustainable, and at the same time, all parties need to be sincere and remain committed to this process; normalization should not be used for political ‘cover’ or a justification to avoid tackling and talking about the core issues, most notably in honestly dealing with the genocide, for example,” he cautioned.

Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia

24 July 2011, Sunday / EMINE KART, İSTANBUL
“Armenians are our diaspora.” This was probably the most impressive remark that remained in the hearts and minds of representatives of Armenian civil society organizations (CSO) who met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier this week.
The Foreign Ministry was the venue for a remarkable meeting on Monday, where Davutoğlu and his undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, hosted the Armenian group quietly and unobtrusively.The representatives of the five CSOs were in Ankara on the occasion of a workshop held by the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The idea to request a briefing from Turkish diplomats occurred spontaneously. The request was conveyed to the ministry. According to Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, a senior foreign policy analyst from TEPAV who coordinated the workshop and was involved in conveying the request to the ministry, within half a day, they were told they would meet with diplomats from the related department and the undersecretary.

Punsmann told Sunday’s Zaman that they neither expected a positive answer in a short time like this nor being received at this level.

In total, the group spent three-and-a-half hours at the ministry, of which one-and-a-half hours was with Davutoğlu, who first asked the group about the length of their stay in Ankara. When he learned that the group was in Ankara for only two days, he turned to the TEPAV staff and asked, “Is this the way you show Turkish hospitality?”

Explaining this note from the meeting, Punsmann said, “We want to take this as a green light that shows that such contacts will continue.”

“The societies are already close to each other although the border is closed. The more interaction is increased, the less the physical obstacles will be remembered. Thanks to this interaction, we will find a remedy to this historical burden on our shoulders. The meeting was a nice gesture, and it boosted our morale,” Punsmann said.

The analyst explained she felt that the group was visibly impressed when Davutoğlu said, “Armenians are our diaspora.”

“With Greece, for example, none of the major bilateral problems have yet been resolved but we have made a huge progress in relations. It shows that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome when there is mutual will. We share the same geography with Armenia, and Turkey is an embracing country. They were hesitant when they first entered the ministry, but they were relaxed while leaving,” Punsmann said.

The meetings at the Foreign Ministry come after a senior Armenian official last month called on Ankara to revive currently stalled efforts to normalize bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors, while arguing that the improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey would also serve as an impetus for improving relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and also for peace in the region.

“As neighbors, we should know each other through frequent visits,” Artak Davtyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, told a group of journalists visiting the country in late June, while underlining the importance of the activities by CSOs to gradually normalize relations between the two countries since the official process was stalled.

More hopes mean more expectations

The group that met with Davutoğlu comprised Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, Aghavni Karakhanian of the Institute for Civil Society and Regional Development, Richard A. Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Mikayel Hovhannisyan of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Arthur Ghazaryan of the Union of Manufacturers’ and Businessmen of Armenia.

“What impressed me the most in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was the atmosphere of the meeting; he is both a professional and an intellectual, which for us meant that the meeting was a frank and open exchange of views; and I was impressed by the time he afforded us as a group of civil society representatives from Armenia,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman when asked about his impression regarding Davutoğlu’s meeting with the group.

“And even on the issues where we disagreed, the Turkish foreign minister and his staff were always respectful and willing to listen to our views, even regarding our criticism of the current situating of closed borders and concerning the Turkish state campaign of genocide denial. This is important, although it would be much easier to move forward now with concrete action by the Turkish side, as all expectations are now squarely on Turkey, and we are waiting for Ankara to return to this process of engaging Armenia and addressing the need to establish diplomatic relations, open the border and take other steps toward normalizing relations. I was, of course, personally impressed by the foreign minister’s knowledge and vision for the region, which also gives hope that there is only one way forward for both countries. But the meeting tended to also demonstrate the asymmetry of the current relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Giragosian added.

When asked whether he left Ankara more hopeful than he had been, he replied: “In general, I always try to remain optimistic and, especially in terms of this process of engagement, it is important to note how far both sides have come, and how much has been achieved to date. Thus, I can say that I left Ankara ‘more hopeful,’ but this also means that I now have expectations for more.”

Pain and ‘political hatred’

For Davutoğlu, this meeting apparently offered a unique opportunity to explain his concept of “just memory” personally to opinion leaders of the estranged neighboring country.

On many occasions in the past Davutoğlu has said that procedures envisioned by protocols signed in October 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border will eventually help achieve “a just memory” concerning the tragedy in Anatolia during World War I.

“1915 is the year of the so-called genocide for them,” Davutoğlu said at the time. “For us, we say ‘pain.’ We are ready to discuss. The same year, we had Gallipoli,” he said.

The 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was won by the defending Ottoman army against a joint British and French campaign and laid the groundwork for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

During the meeting with the Armenian group, Davutoğlu said one of his grandfathers died at Gallipoli, underscoring the emotion that many Turks feel about that campaign. He recalled that he and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd together visited Gallipoli earlier this year to attend ceremonies marking the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and that one of Rudd’s ancestors had died in Gallipoli, too.

“In the town of Konya where I was born, no Armenians have ever lived, but the door of our house was made by an Armenian master, and we grew up with my late father’s constant expressions of admiration and respect for that master. And while in Gallipoli, we didn’t yell at each other with Mr. Rudd. We just greeted each other with respect. This is how societies make peace with each other,” Davutoğlu was quoted as telling the group by a Turkish official who attended the meeting.

Turkey wants a reconciliation process that also involves the Armenian diaspora living in Europe and the United States, Davutoğlu said, adding, “We consider them as Turkey’s diaspora, too.”

Last but not least quotes come from Giragosian.

“The Armenian diaspora, as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, need to have more of a voice and a role within the broader process of normalization, as stakeholders in the future of Turkish-Armenian relations,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman.

“And yes, such meetings also help to pave the way for track-two diplomacy, but there needs to be more of a commitment to track-one, state-level engagement as well. For example, there is an important need for the political will to make such engagement sustainable, and at the same time, all parties need to be sincere and remain committed to this process; normalization should not be used for political ‘cover’ or a justification to avoid tackling and talking about the core issues, most notably in honestly dealing with the genocide, for example,” he cautioned.

 

Davutoğlu’s gesture raises hopes for track-two diplomacy with Armenia
“Armenians are our diaspora.” This was probably the most impressive remark that remained in the hearts and minds of representatives of Armenian civil society organizations (CSO) who met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier this week.
The Foreign Ministry was the venue for a remarkable meeting on Monday, where Davutoğlu and his undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, hosted the Armenian group quietly and unobtrusively.The representatives of the five CSOs were in Ankara on the occasion of a workshop held by the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). The idea to request a briefing from Turkish diplomats occurred spontaneously. The request was conveyed to the ministry. According to Burcu Gültekin Punsmann, a senior foreign policy analyst from TEPAV who coordinated the workshop and was involved in conveying the request to the ministry, within half a day, they were told they would meet with diplomats from the related department and the undersecretary.

Punsmann told Sunday’s Zaman that they neither expected a positive answer in a short time like this nor being received at this level.

In total, the group spent three-and-a-half hours at the ministry, of which one-and-a-half hours was with Davutoğlu, who first asked the group about the length of their stay in Ankara. When he learned that the group was in Ankara for only two days, he turned to the TEPAV staff and asked, “Is this the way you show Turkish hospitality?”

Explaining this note from the meeting, Punsmann said, “We want to take this as a green light that shows that such contacts will continue.”

“The societies are already close to each other although the border is closed. The more interaction is increased, the less the physical obstacles will be remembered. Thanks to this interaction, we will find a remedy to this historical burden on our shoulders. The meeting was a nice gesture, and it boosted our morale,” Punsmann said.

The analyst explained she felt that the group was visibly impressed when Davutoğlu said, “Armenians are our diaspora.”

“With Greece, for example, none of the major bilateral problems have yet been resolved but we have made a huge progress in relations. It shows that these kinds of obstacles can be overcome when there is mutual will. We share the same geography with Armenia, and Turkey is an embracing country. They were hesitant when they first entered the ministry, but they were relaxed while leaving,” Punsmann said.

The meetings at the Foreign Ministry come after a senior Armenian official last month called on Ankara to revive currently stalled efforts to normalize bilateral relations between the two estranged neighbors, while arguing that the improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey would also serve as an impetus for improving relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and also for peace in the region.

“As neighbors, we should know each other through frequent visits,” Artak Davtyan, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, told a group of journalists visiting the country in late June, while underlining the importance of the activities by CSOs to gradually normalize relations between the two countries since the official process was stalled.

More hopes mean more expectations

The group that met with Davutoğlu comprised Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, Aghavni Karakhanian of the Institute for Civil Society and Regional Development, Richard A. Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Mikayel Hovhannisyan of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Arthur Ghazaryan of the Union of Manufacturers’ and Businessmen of Armenia.

“What impressed me the most in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was the atmosphere of the meeting; he is both a professional and an intellectual, which for us meant that the meeting was a frank and open exchange of views; and I was impressed by the time he afforded us as a group of civil society representatives from Armenia,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman when asked about his impression regarding Davutoğlu’s meeting with the group.

“And even on the issues where we disagreed, the Turkish foreign minister and his staff were always respectful and willing to listen to our views, even regarding our criticism of the current situating of closed borders and concerning the Turkish state campaign of genocide denial. This is important, although it would be much easier to move forward now with concrete action by the Turkish side, as all expectations are now squarely on Turkey, and we are waiting for Ankara to return to this process of engaging Armenia and addressing the need to establish diplomatic relations, open the border and take other steps toward normalizing relations. I was, of course, personally impressed by the foreign minister’s knowledge and vision for the region, which also gives hope that there is only one way forward for both countries. But the meeting tended to also demonstrate the asymmetry of the current relationship between Turkey and Armenia,” Giragosian added.

When asked whether he left Ankara more hopeful than he had been, he replied: “In general, I always try to remain optimistic and, especially in terms of this process of engagement, it is important to note how far both sides have come, and how much has been achieved to date. Thus, I can say that I left Ankara ‘more hopeful,’ but this also means that I now have expectations for more.”

Pain and ‘political hatred’

For Davutoğlu, this meeting apparently offered a unique opportunity to explain his concept of “just memory” personally to opinion leaders of the estranged neighboring country.

On many occasions in the past Davutoğlu has said that procedures envisioned by protocols signed in October 2009 between Armenia and Turkey to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their border will eventually help achieve “a just memory” concerning the tragedy in Anatolia during World War I.

“1915 is the year of the so-called genocide for them,” Davutoğlu said at the time. “For us, we say ‘pain.’ We are ready to discuss. The same year, we had Gallipoli,” he said.

The 1915 Battle of Gallipoli was won by the defending Ottoman army against a joint British and French campaign and laid the groundwork for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

During the meeting with the Armenian group, Davutoğlu said one of his grandfathers died at Gallipoli, underscoring the emotion that many Turks feel about that campaign. He recalled that he and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd together visited Gallipoli earlier this year to attend ceremonies marking the 96th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and that one of Rudd’s ancestors had died in Gallipoli, too.

“In the town of Konya where I was born, no Armenians have ever lived, but the door of our house was made by an Armenian master, and we grew up with my late father’s constant expressions of admiration and respect for that master. And while in Gallipoli, we didn’t yell at each other with Mr. Rudd. We just greeted each other with respect. This is how societies make peace with each other,” Davutoğlu was quoted as telling the group by a Turkish official who attended the meeting.

Turkey wants a reconciliation process that also involves the Armenian diaspora living in Europe and the United States, Davutoğlu said, adding, “We consider them as Turkey’s diaspora, too.”

Last but not least quotes come from Giragosian.

“The Armenian diaspora, as descendants of the Armenian Genocide, need to have more of a voice and a role within the broader process of normalization, as stakeholders in the future of Turkish-Armenian relations,” Giragosian told Sunday’s Zaman.

“And yes, such meetings also help to pave the way for track-two diplomacy, but there needs to be more of a commitment to track-one, state-level engagement as well. For example, there is an important need for the political will to make such engagement sustainable, and at the same time, all parties need to be sincere and remain committed to this process; normalization should not be used for political ‘cover’ or a justification to avoid tackling and talking about the core issues, most notably in honestly dealing with the genocide, for example,” he cautioned.

 Today`s Zaman

 

24.07.2011

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