“It was a step to open the church”

What do media members think about Turkish-Armenian relations? Aram Abrahamyan, Chief of Aravot Daily in Armenia, shares his ideas about this issue. He points out the important points about this sensitive subject.

What do you think what is the impact of the mass media (Armenian) on the Armenian-Turkish relationship?

I don’t think that mass media in Armenia has a great influence on it, because decisions made are hardly effected by the mass media, as I assume it is in Turkey. Mass media creates a common atmosphere, as much of it, I mean, the electronic TV Broadcasting and radio stations except Liberty Radio, is influenced by authorities, by the government. So their approaches concerning all the issues barely differ from that of state (governmental) ones. But as about the Yerkir Media TV Station it possesses a different approach since it is connected with Dashnakcutyun (Dashnak) party, which has a specific approach to this issue (Armenian-Turkish relationships). One can see a specific approach by the printed and the internet media. But here again, I don’t think that it influences the ones who make decisions, as well as the authorities, the politicians, the government. And what about the (political) atmosphere I would not say it was homogenous and fixed when that issue was under discussions. It has changed and has been changing still.

What about Armenian and Turkish people? What are the steps taken by them to normalize the relationship?

When the protocols were signed that was one of top issues to be discussed and I think the approach by them was fifty-fifty. Accordingly there was a separated society concerning this issue, because some of them said that without their preconditions, that is without recognizing the genocide it’s impossible to come to terms by their neighbor. The other party, however, was for normalization of relationships without any preconditions. This was the basic contradiction. As for me I was for the second point of view. But when it appeared that Turkey was not going to ratify the protocols at all, one thing was more than clear-that issue stopped to be actual within our society. So, the problem comes with Turkey, not with us.

So may we say that steps are taken by the both sides to develop relationships and particularly are the mental borders open already?

That’s a rather complex question. It’s difficult for me to say it about Turkish people, as I’m not that familiar with them though I have been to Turkey for many times. I’m not aware about Turkish peoples’ approaches. As far as I can see there are different approaches in Turkey as well: there is an elite of intellectuals with a wider mental borders, as you have mentioned and there are common people which is influenced by the state propaganda system the latter being not that kind towards Armenians.

What about Armenians? I would say that if the protocols were ratified lots of things would have changed in the minds of our people. But as far as they are not ratified and it is because of Turkey the ones who were against that process now have made their standpoint even harder and all the negative outcomes that people applied to our relationships have been justified. I think that is the reason why no revolutionary changes did occur in us.

What would you say about the recent events in Akhtamar? Was it a smart policy by Turkish government or just an attempt to normalize the relationships?

Yes and no. I think for a long time the problem was that each of us has the right to go to church and pray there. To encourage people to go or not it’s wrong I think. Secondly, having into consideration what people, who were present at the ceremony, talk about it one can hardly assume a tolerable approach by the Turkish side: because as soon as u start praying in Armenian or in any other language you can see a police coming up to you. Of course, I’m telling what I’ve heard, I haven’t been there myself…And they say, “Don’t pray”. That is they admit that it doesn’t function as a church.

On the other hand, of course it was a step to open the church, as step to be taken which is common to politics and especially the Turkish one when any step forward is declared a step to have been fulfilled. That is that could open the church and top it with a cross at the same time, couldn’t they? But firstly they opened it, and then a common idea developed and only after this the church was topped with a cross as another step to be considered a tolerable one. I think it’s something unique to a Turkish policy.

What would you add at last?

Taking from historical perspective I’ve got positive views on this issue as a whole, because I think that it’s impossible that two countries, two neighbor countries will not come to a compromise that they can live with each other with open borders and normal relationships like normal European countries do. But at this moment I can see that our neighbor country is hardly willing concerning this.

Interview : Mehmet Fatih ÖZTARSU – Karine BAGHDASARYAN

This interview was made for TRT TURK documentary “Dün, Bugün, Yarın”. Its parts had been telecasted by TRT TURK, Turkiye.

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