ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has proposed a fresh start with Turkey, with the goal of normalizing relations and opening the border between the two countries that has been closed for almost 15 years.
In his article published in The Wall Street Journal's online edition yesterday, Sargsyan said he expected to �announce a new symbolic start in the two countries' relations� with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül when the Turkish president visits Armenia to watch a football game between the countries' national teams this coming September.
�After my election in February, my Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, was one of the first heads of state to congratulate me. Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggested that the doors are open to new dialogue in this new period,� Sargsyan wrote, adding there was no alternative to the establishment of normal relations between the two countries. �Establishing normal political relations would enable us to create a commission to comprehensively discuss all of the complex issues affecting Armenia and Turkey. We cannot expect tangible progress without such structured relations. Only through them can we create an effective dialogue touching upon even the most contentious historical issues," he wrote.
Explaining that many Turks and Armenians have found ways to get around the closed border on a personal scale, Sargsyan said the people of Armenia and Turkey are united in their love for football, which was what prompted him to invite Gül to watch the game in Armenia in the first place. He reiterated his invitation, adding he believed such a gesture would be welcomed by the people of Turkey and Armenia, who will cheer the day that the borders are opened.
�Armenia and Turkey need not and should not be permanent rivals. A more prosperous, mutually beneficial future for Armenia and Turkey and the opening up of a historic East-West corridor for Europe, the Caspian region and the rest of the world are goals that we can and must achieve,� he wrote.
Turkey broke off diplomatic relations with Armenia in protest of Yerevan's occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region over which Armenia fought Turkey's ally Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s. Armenia accuses Turkey of the genocide of Armenians during violence at the end of World War I. Turkey denies the accusations and says that both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in the fighting.