International conference, Armenia-Turkey


Armenia-Turkey: Paving the Way for Dialogue and Reconciliation

Yerevan, Armenia: Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia held an international conference entitled “Armenia-Turkey: Paving the Way for Dialogue and Reconciliation” at the Yerevan State University’s Academic Council Meeting Room on May 18-19, 2017.The conference was conducted within the framework of the programme ‘Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process’ (ATNP): Stage Two, financed by the European Union.
The conference brought together researchers and civil society representatives from Armenia, Turkey, USA and EU countries. The papers covered a wide range of topics in economics, tourism, international relations, and social psychology.
During her welcome speech Heghine Manasyan, CEO of CRRC-Armenia, emphasized the importance of organizing such platforms for dialogue between researchers, in the background of political dialogue deadlock. Ms. Manasyan also presented ”Towards a Shared Vision of Normalization of Armenia-Turkey Relations” report which was published in 2015 based on the results of research conducted by CRRC-Armenia within ATNP project. 
Dirk Lorenz, Head of Political, Press and Information Section, European Union Delegation to the Republic of Armenia, stressed that the political atmosphere is not so favorable for the project considering the attempted coup d’état in Turkey, April 4-day war and the related statements made by Turkish leadership. “The political landscape is not a necessarily easy one for Armenian-Turkish normalization”, said Mr. Lorenz meanwhile stressing “this does not mean that we should stop, on the contrary, it is important to reach out each other”. Speaking about his academic background, Mr. Lorenz noted “I am always happy to see when researchers come together”.
During his welcome speech, Gevorg Ter Gabrielyan, CEO of Eurasia Partnership Foundation, presented the member organisations of ATNP project and spoke about the significance of the Conference particularly for civil society representatives. He also emphasized the importance of travel grant by Hrand Dink Foundation for researchers from Armenia and Turkey. “The fact that we are now sitting in Alma mater of Armenia, is already an achievement in the current political circumstances”, said Mr. Ter-Gabrielyan. According to him, this event is considered quite controversial both in Armenia and Turkey, and “the fact that Alma mater is hosting this event here is also a very good sign of the overall interest around this issue”.
Dr. Dr.Ugur Ümit Üngör (University of Utrecht), in his keynote speech entitled "Armenia and Turkey: Changing Social and Political Boundaries after the Genocide", noted “I have written a lot and talked a lot about Genocide. For me recognition of the Genocide is an absolute priority. It is the responsibility of us, the Turks, and our state, the Turkish Republic. The minimum that the Turkish Republic should be doing is to fully discontinue the systematic state-level denial, and by that I mean end of the denialist publications, change the school curricula”. Speaking about the boundaries, he said that the opening of the borders “does not mean an end to conflict, but we need to transform this conflict with open borders”.
The second keynote speaker, Dr. Vicken Cheterian (University of Geneva) held a speech entitled “No Armenian can be our friend after what we have done to them': Oblivion, silence, and (re)writing history”. According to him, “the debates on whether it was Genocide or not is a political debate, it is not a historical debate”. Dr. Cheterian highlighted the importance of this event for Armenians but not only as “this event shaped also Turkey; this event also shaped modern human history”.
During the second day of the Conference a plenary discussion among major stakeholders in Armenian-Turkish normalization took place. Representatives of US Embassy in Armenia, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, DVV International and Eurasia partnership Foundation take part in the discussion. 
The conference was concluded with a documentary film screening by Tigran Paskevichyan “Closed border dialogue” and discussion with the film director. 

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