FATIH CEKIRGE: SHOULD THE TURKISH PRESIDENT VISIT ARMENIA?

Hurriyet
Sept 1 2008
Turkey

This is the critical question being asked at the table where high
officials of the Turkish Foreign Ministry sit:

-Should Turkish President Abdullah Gul attend the football match
between the Turkey and Armenian national teams?

None of these diplomats say "he should not" attend...

The basic opinion they hold is that "the hand extended by Armenia
should not be left hanging in the air."

At this point, the decision is entirely the president's.

According to my observations on the issue;

-Gul has decided to accept the invitation to visit Armenia but does
not want to announce it.

Why?

-Because, if he announces it now it will give fanatics in the Armenian
capital, Yerevan time to prepare disruptive actions; as fanatics
collectively buy tickets to watch matches together.

It is for this reason that Gul will announce his decision on Sept 6,
the match's scheduled date, and travel to Yerevan on that day.

Of course his decision will have some reflections on internal politics?

At hurriyet.com.tr, we conducted a brief survey in which we asked
our readers the following questions:

- Should Gul go or not?

A serious number of readers, 25,000, participated in the survey.

It is a high figure, considering that some 5,000 people participate
in comprehensive surveys... It is important since it also gives an
insight into to what society thinks about this issue.

The result on Sunday afternoon was as follows:

- The percentage of respondents supporting his visit was 41.2 percent.

- The percentage of respondents that do not support his visit was
58.8 percent.

Of course, the relations between the two states leave little room
for sentimentality.

- Can such a visit be paid while Armenia continues its invasion of
Azerbaijani lands?

-Can such a visit be paid while the so-called genocide sculpture
still stands in Yerevan?

The visit can be assessed within the scope of these two questions.

- Turkey can teach a lesson of peace to whole world. The invitation
has been extended, the hand is outstretched, and it should be shaken.

It can also be assessed in this way...

In my point of view, diplomacy cannot progress through fear and closed
borders... The problems will not be solved. It is not consistent to
talk of a Caucasus Platform and to close borders.

It is certain, the only thing that can affect the decision at this
point is:

- Will Gul's visit be the start of something?

A serious intelligence study is currently ongoing in Yerevan to
understand the atmosphere that exists and the possibility for any
disruptive and destructive activities that might take place at the
match, such as egg throwing or riotous behavior...

This is not an easy task, but as it is Turkey's president who will
make the visit, all these details are being observed.