Normalization of contacts between the two societies, Armenia-Turkey relations, has no alternative
On July 18, public presentation of the program “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process” was held. The program was implemented by a consortium consisting of eight non-governmental organizations of Armenia and Turkey, under the financial assistance by the European Union. The program launched since January 2014. When the program was announced, it started to be discussed on the Internet not only in a positive light, people were happy that the Armenia-Turkey relations after freezing the Armenian-Turkish protocols continue to evolve, and have not been stopped, but also in a negative light, some circles considered that ahead to the 100th anniversary of the Genocide, the European Union is funding the Armenia-Turkey normalization process so that the Genocide issue would not have great resonance, and everybody points out, look, what sound relations these two countries’ civil societies establish, no need to squeeze “into the finger and the ring.” There were even people who called on considering all those who would dare to get grant under this project and contribute to normalization of relations between the two societies “national traitors”.
In this regard, “Aravot” asked the Executive Director of Eurasia Partnership Foundation Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, one of the eight non-governmental organizations of the consortium implementing the program “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process”, how he treats such rumors, saying, “What you dare to do ahead to the 100th anniversary of Genocide.”
G. Ter-Gabrielyan responded, “Personally for me, this number, 100, means nothing in terms of the strategy of our organization. Who said that the 100th anniversary is more important than the 101 or the 97th? This number and any other number is completely artificial and man-made. I, we, and our organization are not working by anniversaries; we are working on it every day. As for this program, it has started on January this year and will end on June next year, and again, it is not associated with any number, nobody has chosen this number as a specific focus. But, on the other hand, naturally, 100th anniversary of Genocide has a major PR value, and some things are going on around it. While, it enables to further strengthen our works. This program is a program that provide opportunities. Due to this, people of the two countries that do not know each other well, are able to travel, participate, work together, and it deepens the Armenia-Turkey relations, and opens new doors for opportunities.
When a few years ago the Armenia-Turkey Cinema Platform was established, due to the efforts of Susanna Harutyunyan and Harutyun Khachatryan, as well as “Anadolu Kültür”, they specifically wanted the filmmakers of Armenia and Turkey focus on not the Armenian-Turkish matters and relationships, but just to shoot films, tell their lives in the language of a film and so on. But it just so turned out that the hundreds of ideas that were coming to mind, and a part of them were becoming a script, at least 70-80% of them were about the Armenian-Turkish relations. This means that the two people want to discuss this issue, touch upon and go into details. Thirty film already are created under this Platform, starting from 10-minute documentary films up to full-length feature films, and it seems to me that during these five or six years, created 30 films had a much bigger significance to the Armenia-Turkey relations, recognition and perception of the Genocide than many-many events, conferences, debates and so on. These people were coming themselves, and saying, I learned that my grandmother was an Armenian, and I want to investigate it, another one was coming and saying, my grandfather was an Armenian, and his grave is nowhere, I want to understand where it is and why it is nowhere, and so on and so forth. In other words, people themselves are exploring their past, and our program helps to do it.”
“Aravot” noticed that those who were against this program are saying exactly this and calling on not to communicate with the Turks, not to make the relations better, not to have any relations with those “slaughtering us”, and so on. G. Ter-Gabrielyan said, “To be honest, I hear few of such unequivocal opinions, but it is an opinion of a not farsighted person for me. It is the same as one says, I will not go out, I would definitely be killed, rather than moving from place to place in comfort. The inter-ethnic relations are the same human relations. Instilling and inciting hostility in you makes no sense. Many people have different ways of looking at the priority of the issues. Some people consider that unless the Genocide is recognized, compensation is made, and the border issue is settled, etc., we should not normalize the relations, whereas many people, including statesmen of our various generations, have and still consider that these issues need to be separated from each other. The Armenia-Turkey border, both actually and figuratively, must be opened and the line of recognizing the Genocide must be viewed separately. Priorities and sequences may vary, but one thing is for sure, refusing to dialogue and instilling hostility and arising murderous instincts, is just absurd.”