A new opportunity for Armenian-Turkish normalization through EU-funded programme

Liana Yeghiazaryan
Public Radio of Armenia

A consortium of eight civil society organizations from Armenia and Turkey today presented the Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Programme founded by the European Union.

The Programme aims to promote civil society efforts towards the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia and towards an open border by enhancing people-to-people contacts, expanding economic and business links, promoting cultural and educational activities and facilitating access to balanced information in both societies.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea considers that the new programme is a new opportunity for the final Armenian-Turkish reconciliation.

“The EU backs the resumption of the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey. We actively support the establishment of security, stability and cooperation in the South Caucasus,” he said.

The new programme with a total funding of 2 mln euros, aims to organize discussions, educational programs for the youth, reciprocal visits of architects, artists and businessmen.

One of the main pillars of the Programme is inclusiveness – to engage and support new actors in the dialogue process. To this end, the Consortium created a Grant Scheme to invite individuals and civil society organizations from Armenia and Turkey to propose and implement their own project ideas, which will contribute to the overall objective of the Programme and multiply the shared outcomes.

Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, the Executive Director of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, one of the members of the Consortium, noted that on the official level the attitude towards the programme is neutral in both countries. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided support on a number of issues. In particular, there is an agreement that one or two Armenian monuments near Ani should be restored by Armenian specialists.

“I see that a growing number of people in Turkey want to understand their past, i.e. this recognition of the Genocide. This is a public approach, not political,” he said.

Director of the Regional Research center Richard Giragosian is confident that before the diplomats and politicians return to the negotiating table, the issue should be solved on the public level.  “Although the process has become a hostage of Turkey’s domestic politics, it’s time to open a sincere discussion on the past and clarify the present, Giragosian said.

According to him, against the background of the events in Syria, Gaza and Ukraine, the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey is a must,” he said.

The author of the initiative say speaking about the results of the program is still untimely. They say the question is about normalization of relations, not reconciliation.

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