Sofia Echo, Bulgaria
Sept 5 2008


Turkish president goes to Armenia in historic visit
18:39 Fri 05 Sep 2008 - Spasena Baramova

On September 6 2008, Turkish president Abdullah Gul will travel to
Armenia to watch a football World Cup qualifying match between the
national teams of the two states in a move intended to break the ice
that has plagued bilateral ties for many decades.

The two countries do not have diplomatic relations as a major dispute
has been dividing them ever since World War 1. Over 1915-1917, about
1.5 million Armenians were killed in the then Ottoman Empire. Armenia
has ever since requested that the massacres be labelled as genocide,
something Turkey strongly opposes.

Gul will visit Yerevan at the invitation of Armenia's president Serzh
Sargsyan, who invited the Turkish head of state to mark `a new
symbolic start in the countries' relations', Turkish daily Hurriyet
said. It quoted a statement by the Turkish presidency as saying that
the visit `can create a new climate of friendship in the region' and
that the match `could lift the obstacles blocking the coming together
of two peoples who share a common history and can create a new
foundation'.

According to Hurriyet, Gul is to arrive in Yerevan two hours before
the match, meet Sargsyan for about an hour and then leave after the
end of the game. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue and Turkey's idea of
creating a Caucasus forum that stemmed from the Georgia crisis are
expected to be the main topics of the talks.