NYT: Using cheese to bridge the Turkey-Armenia gap

“Artush Mkrtchyan calls it cheese diplomacy. Others speak of informal, or “track-two,” diplomacy. By either name, it is all about building bridges between Turks and Armenians in the absence of formal, or “track-one,” diplomatic relations between their governments,” the New York Times writes in an article titled “Using cheese to bridge the Turkey-Armenia gap.”

Mr. Mkrtchyan, 55, an engineer, art critic and activist from the Armenian town of Gyumri has made cheese the medium of contact and cooperation with the neighboring town of Kars, in Turkey.

“Less than 70 kilometers, or 45 miles, apart but separated by a border that has been closed for nearly two decades, cheese makers in Gyumri and Kars, along with colleagues in the nearby Georgian town of Ninotsminda, produce and market a “Caucasian cheese,” invented by Mr. Mkrtchyan in 2008 to foster cross-border cooperation.”

“My cheese diplomacy actually preceded the soccer diplomacy between our countries,” Mr. Mkrtchyan said.

“This kind of track-two diplomacy is really important,” Mr. Ozertem, the Eurasia expert told NYT. “When relations are bad between two countries, the damage deepens if there is no contact between societies.”

Read more here. 

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