Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly criticized his predecessor for attending a football match between Turkish and Armenian national teams in 2008, which was then dubbed “football diplomacy” between Turkey and Armenia, Today’s Zaman reports.
Speaking to a group of nationally respected historians at the presidential palace in Ankara on Thursday during a meeting to discuss the 1915 killings of Armenians, President Erdogan this time targeted former president Abdullah Gül for visiting Yerevan to attend a soccer match several years ago, becoming the first Turkish president to set foot in Armenia since the ex-Soviet nation gained independence in 1991
According to Erdogan, Gül’s visit played into the hands of Armenians and failed to yield any substantial result on the diplomatic front, a historian who attended the meeting told the media.
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan invited Gül to watch a World Cup qualifying match between the Turkish and Armenian national teams in Yerevan in September 2008. Gül’s landmark visit to Yerevan paved the way for a diplomatic breakthrough for both countries, which have no diplomatic relations even though Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence.
Following Gül’s visit, both countries embarked upon a number of diplomatic meetings mediated by Switzerland, resulting in the Zurich protocols to normalize ties between Turkey and Armenia. The protocols were signed in Zurich on Oct. 10, 2009 with the aim of establishing diplomatic relations and opening the two countries’ land border.
The process for reconciliation between the two countries has been deadlocked since then.