TURKEY AND ARMENIA WILL NORMALIZE TIES

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http://middleeast.about.com/b/2009/08/31/turkey-a nd-armenia-will-normalize-ties.htm
Aug 31 2009

Could that have been why, when he had the chance in April, President
Obama refused to condemn the Armenian genocide perpetrated by Turks,
breaking a campaign promise?

Today, Turkey and Armenia agreed to establish diplomatic relations--to
"start political negotiations" toward a final settlement, as their
joint statement had it--seemingly ending a century of enmity borne of
that genocide during the fading days of the Ottoman Empire. About 1.5
million Armenians were massacred in that first wide-scale genocide
of the 20th century. Turkey to this day denies there ever was a
genocide. As official Turkish history has it, people were dying
on all sides at the end of World War I, of famine, of population
"transfers," of war, but Turks didn't intentionally set out to massacre
Armenians. The record says otherwise.

Turkey's motives for settling its antagonistic history with
Armenia isn't a secret. Turkey wants into the European Union. The
European Union isn't thrilled. Turkey's human rights record, its
genocide-denial, its increasingly Islamist-flavored, and favoring,
government, are obstacles to admission. By making nice with Armenia,
it's one obstacle removed. To that end, Turkey agreed to talks with
Armenia mediated by Switzerland last year, and in September Turkish
President Abdullah Gul pulled something of an Anwar Sadat by going to
Armenia (at the Armenian president's invitation) to attend a soccer
game between Turkey and Armenia. It was another step in the thaw.

Had Obama kept to his promise and spoken of the Armenian genocide
as such, his administration may have calculated (over-calculated,
in some opinions, mine among them) that it would risk derailing
the talks with Armenia. It may well have had the opposite effect,
accelerating them--and ending Turkey's assumption that any time it
bullies its allies, they'll back down. At this juncture, we won't know.

What we do know is that as negotiations proceed between Armenia and
Turkey, the subject of the Armenian genocide remains untouched. So
does the issue of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (where an Armenian
majority lives, and voted to unite with Armenia), disputed between
Armenia and Azerbaijan. Turkey backs Azerbaijan in that one.

Turkey and Armenia's final negotiating round is due to culminate
in six weeks in Istanbul when, on Oct. 14, the two countries face
off again on the soccer pitch in a World Cup qualifying match. The
match won't be as dramatic as it was on June 9 in Yerevan, the
Armenian capital. That was the first qualifier in the two countries
group. Armenian played as if they had a chance. They didn't, really,
getting beaten 2-0 and going on to lose five of the six matches it's
played to date, and being eliminated along the way.

Turkey though is still fighting for a spot in the 2010 World Cup,
barely. so the match against Armenia may carry even more significance
than a mere signing away of a century of enmity.

Don't laugh. Soccer can do funny things for diplomacy.l Two countries
that have already qualified for the 2010 World Cup and may well meet on
the pitch in front of a world audience of hundreds of millions? North
and South Korea.