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The Search For A New Beginning

   The Search For A New Beginning

As some witness and support the ongoing violence in the Middle East, some seek new ways of cooperation between non-cordial neighbors. Not too far from Israel or Palestine, Turkey acts as a bridge between Europe and Asia both geographically and culturally. Her strict secular democratic regime is unacceptable by most Muslim countries while her territorial heritage from the Ottoman Empire is unacceptable by many of her neighbors. In response to all of these conflicts, “the Teddy Roosevelt of the Middle East, Turkey speaks softly but carries a big stick”, as Barbara Lerner states in the National Review. On the other hand, Turkey doesn’t advocate violence and carries on non-aggressive foreign policies unless there is a visible major separatist or ideological threat towards the unity of her land.

Stuck between these historical and ideological conflicts, grows a generation of hard-working and increasingly well-educated young Turks who are willing to consider untraditional solutions for a better future. Based on mutual economic cooperation, Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC) is the first and the only official link between the Armenian and Turkish public and private sectors in each of the two countries’ communities. Unlike current governmental policies, they build their policies on dialogue and friendship in an expectation for increasing cooperation and understanding between the two nations.

Being the co-chairman of TABDC, the only Turkish-Armenian joint institution in the world, Mr. Kaan Soyak states that the long closed border separating Turkey and Armenia has no sense and is the biggest obstacle towards his dreams which are not only economical but also cultural. He dreams of Mt. Ararat and Ani becoming the places of reconciliation and meeting on the day when every Armenian can easily come to see them. This is just a dream for many, but it is an attainable dream for Mr. Soyak who sees cross-border economic relations as the solution while cooperation between Armenia, Turkey, and the Diaspora constitute the key.

As a man with faith in his country’s young generations, Mr. Soyak expressed his views and ideas to the members of the Intercollegiate Turkish Student Society (ITSS) during an event at the Columbia University last Friday (April 12, 2002) where he captured a lot of interest. ITSS, being the unique student organization in the United States to unite Turkish students across the United States and Canada, aims to promote closer and warmer relations among younger generations of all nations.

ITSS is in sense of the unity of the world people, not only in Turks and Armenians who have co-existed in peace and prosperity for many centuries during the Ottoman times. It is our strong belief that, such efforts aimed at tolerance and understanding will be appreciated by nations to come, and will benefit all nations. We do not intend, nor are qualified to discuss the history of events, and we will certainly not concentrate on any negative circumstances which may have happened in the past. Our aim is to show that peaceful co-existence between two nations is quite achievable and TABDC’s approach is a new and considerable option.

Mr. Soyak’s efforts brought a new perspective to the way we view our respective nations and his continuous work had proved that we need each other more than the history is judging us. Non-aggressive actions are our country’s policy while dialogue is recently the policy of those who seek closer cooperation. We owe it to future generations to start a new beginning without violence, perhaps with mutual understanding.

*Mert Yesildag , Council Member, ITSS , International Politics Student, NYU


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