Yesterday, at the discussion held in Istanbul, the Internet security and social media expert Samvel Martirosyan touched upon the issue of freedom of the Internet in Armenia, Government-Internet relations and cyber wars. The presenter of the discussion, Emin Okutan, was interested to know which of the sources about the history and culture would be reliable for the Turks, who are willing to understand the viewpoint of Armenians. “Armenians also do not know it,” replied Samvel Martirosyan. While the Head of the Public Journalism Club Seda Muradyan added that one of the greatest challenges facing the Armenian media is that we do not have our «New York Times» and «Washington post», there is no balanced influential mass media, and you need to read several source, including the Facebook discussions to find out the reality. The presenter, who was the representative of the Turkish Viveka company, noted that the situation is the same in their country. “In Turkey, you should read five periodicals to understand what has happened.”
Small developments in Armenia-Turkey relations that are not politicized
A roundtable discussion was hosted in Istanbul, which was entitled “Getting to Know Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Armenia and Turkey, and Exploring Collaboration Opportunities”. If you see a good Armenian team, will you make investments?, asked the presenter of the roundtable discussion Emin Okutan to representative of the Turkish Monitise company Fırat Işbecer. Then, he asked the representative of the Granatus Ventures Company Ashot Arzumanyan, well, you say that you have an office in London, would you open an office in Istanbul? Prior to conveying what the addressees of the questions responded, it should be noted that the Q&As were held in Cezayir center in Istanbul on February 25, during the round-table discussion titled “Getting to Know Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Armenia and Turkey, and Exploring Collaboration Opportunities”.
This discussion launched the second phase of the Exchange of Entrepreneurs Project, which is organized by “Public Journalism Club” and the “Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey» (TEPAV), under the “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process” project with the financial assistance of the European Union. The Armenian phase of the Exchange of Entrepreneurs Project was held on November 6-9 (2014), under which the “Armenia-Turkey Startup Weekend” was launched. TEPAV representative Ussal Şahbaz said during the Istanbul roundtable discussion that the five days spent last year in Yerevan and Gyumri was the first meeting when the entrepreneurs of the two countries were meeting in this format. During the discussion, the Armenian and Turkish representatives of ICT sector were exchanging the overall view of this industry, as well as the investment system. Note that the Deputy Director of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) Haik Chobanyan mentioned as an advantage of the ICT industry that we can be a bridge between the West and the Russian markets. He specified the “bright minds” of our country by the example of the winning chess team and mentioned that Armenia is the only country where chess classes are conducted.
According to Haik Chobanyan, they have intended that in 2018, Armenia should be included in the twenty most innovative countries, while now, we rank the 53th. The partner at corporate finance consultancy for Turkish Arkan & Ergin company Dogan Taskent, as an advantage, particularly mentioned that they know how to work with limited resources. “The West has forgotten it.” Fırat Işbecer noticed that if the relations of our two countries are normalized, the Armenian side may also have Turkish customers. And to the above-mentioned question of whether he will make for the Armenian team, he replied, “Why not, we need talents, and I do not care which country he will represent. We make investments on people.”
To the question of opening an office in Istanbul, Ashot Arzumanyan said, “The venture investments are not only money, but a matter of relations, like a marriage,” and added that having an office requires a network and an experience to work in given country. “Maybe once we would have an office in Istanbul, but it will not happen in the near future.” Wrapping up the discussion, the Head of the Public Journalism Club Seda Muradyan half-jokingly continued the comparison about the marriage noting that there are signs of “possible preliminary agreement”. She particularly informed that 6 startups are included in the project, and in the spring, 6 teams of investors from Turkey and Armenia will introduce their projects in Armenia. Also, after this discussion, the Armenian and Turkish entrepreneurs have demonstrated bilateral interest in exchange of information.
To the point, the round table was attended by Vice Chairman at Turkish Armenian Business Development Council Noyan Soyak, who in response to the question of “Aravot” of whether such meetings, in his opinion, would have an impact on normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, replied, “Indeed. We have launched the first such program in Tbilisi still in 2000. Since then, I see a lot of developments. The number of communication “pipes” has grown. Hence, such programs do indeed have a positive impact.”
To our observation that, anyway, as a result of these human communications, no changes are observed in the diplomatic and state levels, Noyan Soyak responded as follows, “This kind of small projects are usually for bringing the communities closer to see and understand each other, to try to form a mental or business opportunities or small joint initiatives. I’m not sure that they will have an impact on the state level. But something else is happening, although not too fast and not too large-scale, yet there are some small developments in the relations between Armenia and Turkey, which are not politicized.” To our further clarification whether he has information of such developments, he replied, “We only have the feeling that there is a progress.”