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Armenia-Turkey: Another Case Of Outrage From Azerbaijan As Yerevan-V

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  • Armenia-Turkey: Another Case Of Outrage From Azerbaijan As Yerevan-V

    NEWS | 20.03.13 | 15:21


    ArmeniaNow reporter

    Another initiative in Armenian-Turkish relations has caused a fit of
    jealousy in Azerbaijan that has accused its ethnic cousin of supporting
    an enemy state.

    After negotiations that lasted more than four years, April 3 will see
    the commencement of the first flight from Yerevan to the historical
    Armenian city of Van, which is located in the territory of modern-day

    Officials in Azerbaijan have already slammed Turkey for allowing such
    a project that they said will only benefit Armenia, which is seen by
    Baku as an aggressor country.

    Commercial flights between Yerevan and Van indeed are supposed to
    result in greater activity on Armenia's tourist market, as well as
    in the adjacent province in Turkey, considering the great interest
    that exists among Armenians towards their historical monuments and
    other sights in and around Van.

    The flight will be carried out on a 68-seat European-make aircraft
    designed for short-distance flights belonging to the Turkish airline,
    Borajet, and will be operated by the Armenian Narekavank Tour travel

    Narekavank Tour company co-founder Armen Hovhannisyan told ArmeniaNow
    that every year hundreds of Armenians visit Van and the availability
    of a direct Yerevan-Van flight is likely to increase this tourist
    flow, as many now are reluctant to go because of the long and tiring
    journey that it currently involves.

    Hovhannisyan says that reaching Van from Yerevan by a land route
    (considering that the Turkish-Armenian border is closed) takes 18-20
    hours and costs approximately 25,000-30,000 drams (about $60-75),
    while the flight, although more expensive (in April and May a roundtrip
    ticket will cost $200, and $250 for other months), but will take only
    40 minutes to reach the place. Flights will be available twice a week,
    Wednesdays and Sundays.

    "This flight has nothing to do with politics, this is pure tourism.

    The main goal of the flight is to organize trips and pilgrimages
    for Armenians to their historical homeland. This is the best chance
    for them to go there," said the travel agent, adding that at this
    moment only 10 people have actually booked air tickets to Van, but
    expectations are that the flights will sell well.

    Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with
    regional ally Azerbaijan that was suffering heavy defeats in the
    Karabakh war waged against ethnic Armenians.

    Armenia and Turkey, which also have different perspectives on history,
    including the 1915 massacres of Armenian nationals of the Ottoman
    Empire, which Ankara refuses to recognize as genocide, have not had
    diplomatic relations since then. Attempts to achieve rapprochement
    in 2008-2009 suffered a setback against the backdrop of protests from
    Baku about a possible Turkish-Armenian normalization.

    And in the most recent manifestation of Azeri "jealousy" over
    communications between Yerevan and Ankara, a number of Baku officials
    raised questions about Turkish President Abdullah Gul's congratulations
    sent to his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan on his reelection last
    month, causing the Turkish Foreign Ministry to provide a clarification
    in this regard.

    In an article late last month California Courier publisher Harut
    Sassounian examined the trend. He also cited another instance of an
    Azeri reaction. "No sooner had Turkish Airlines announced that it
    would distribute a copy of Agos, a bilingual Armenian-Turkish weekly
    newspaper, to its international passengers, that Fikret Sadikov, an
    Azeri professor and political analyst, objected to its dissemination,
    calling it an 'absolutely absurd and irresponsible gesture'," wrote

    And despite the fact that a few days ago Turkish Ambassador to
    Azerbaijan Ismail Alper Joshkun gave assurances that the operation
    of the Yerevan-Van flight is a private commercial project and that
    Turkey's stance on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has not changed,
    the Azerbaijani party continues to oppose the commencement of the

    Ali Hasanov, Head of the Department on Social Political Issues of
    the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, claimed late last week
    that the flight between Yerevan and Van supports a country that is
    an enemy of Azerbaijan.

    "Azerbaijan has stated on many occasions that we are sensitive to
    any contact with Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly when
    these contacts are made by friendly countries," said Hasanov. "We
    are twice as hurt when it is done by countries we share strategic
    interests with."

    Deputy Director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Sergey Minasyan
    told ArmeniaNow that such seemingly 'irrational scenes' of jealousy
    towards the 'elder brother' Turkey from Azerbaijan are, in fact,
    a display of some 'rational fear' that sooner or later these small
    steps will lead to some improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations
    and removal of the current blockade of Armenia's communications.

    "One should not expect the Yerevan-Van project to become a really big
    event, but it will certainly become an additional means for Ankara and
    partly for Yerevan to at least maintain the level of their existing
    relationships and wait for the domestic or regional political
    situations to enable them to attempt to restore or resume their
    diplomatic steps towards rapprochement," said the political analyst.

    From: Baghdasarian