31.08.2009 12:00

The term "football diplomacy" was put into circulation a year
ago, when Turkish President Abdullah Gul arrived in Yerevan at the
invitation of the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, to watch the
match between the national football teams of the two countries. It
raised hopes that the Armenian-Turkish border could be opened and
the two countries would start the process of reconciliation. However,
official Yerevan accuses Turkey of freezing the process.

BBC correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse visited Yerevan one of these days
to figure out whether President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia was going
to attend the return match in Turkey.

"The question has two answers," said President Sargsyan and added:
"The fist answer is as follows. It's not important whether I'll visit
Turkey or not." "I'd like to say that my visit to Turkey should not
be linked to the relations between the two countries. Let's assume
that Armenia freezes the negotiation process with Turkey and I leave
for that country to watch the football match. The second option is as
follows: the two countries continue negotiating, but I don't attend
the match. Which is more important? This is my answer if you ask the
question in the context of our talks with Turkey."

Asked what signals Armenia is expe cting from Turkey in order to
defreeze the talks, Serzh Sargsyan stressed once again that he
would leave for Turkey only in case of opening of the border or at
the threshold of the event. "We have an agreement. I think that it's
normal and correct for the parties to implement the agreement reached
earlier," President Sargsyan said, noting that so far he has not seen a
great desire and aspiration to implement those agreements. "Our wish
remains the same - to establish relations without preconditions,"
the President stressed.

Asked whether Armenia is ready to make concessions as regards the
events of 1915 and whether he believes Turkey will call them genocide,
President Serzh Sargsyan stated: "Of course, it's very important
for our people, for Turkey and the whole world. It's important to
restore historical justice. It's important for our nations to be able
to establish normal relations. At last, it's important that it never
reoccurs in the future.

But we do not see the recognition of genocide as a precondition for
the establishment of relations."

Is there an opportunity of compromise? "It cannot be called compromise.

This is not the case to speak about compromises. We say, yes, there
was genocide, and irrespective of the fact whether Turkey recognizes
it or not, there is a fact established by all genocide scholars in the
world and recognized by many countries of the world. However, today
we do not view it as a precondition for normalization of relations,"
President Sargsyan stated.

"We should look into future, but we do not have the right to forget
the past," Serzh Sargsyan concluded.