26 April 2006
Armenia leaves behind an eventful April 24 marking the 91st year of the so-called genocide.. There were traditional scenes of commemorative ceremonies in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Chairman of the "Union against Genocide," a Turkish organization in Germany, Ali Ertem's declaration calling on Turkey to recognize the so-called genocide is being congratulated..
The Turkish flag is being set fire to at demonstrations organized by the Armenian Tasnak Party Youth Branches in Opera Square, but the opinions of Armenians about Turks and Turkey vary dramatically. "Imagine you live in an apartment building where you speak with all your neighbors except with one. Your relations with this neighbor are not good and you do not know exactly why except that our grandfathers had problems with each other years ago," says Ali Ozinan, who was born in Istanbul and came to Yerevan to complete his university education.
Ozinan is actively involved in the New Neighbors project aiming at securing news and information between Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. "Our grandfathers were upset with each other, but at least we greet each other… even if it is sometimes secretly.”
"They sometimes called us 'infidels' in Istanbul, and sometimes we miss this because at least we remembered who we were. The identity of our children living in France is disappearing," 61-year-old philosopher Agop Ardic complains.
The conscience test that asks, "Do you know the Armenian genocide?" ends before it starts, Ardic harshly warns his friends. Zafer Atajanov Nabijanovich, who came to Yerevan from Uzbekistan to study at a university, is also saddened by the situation.
Everyone we met in Yerevan talks of their pleasant memories of Turks. Offering us Turkish coffee at his house overlooking the only mosque in Yerevan, Gok Mescit, 32-year-old Vazdges Abovyan says Armenians prefer Turkish food stores over Russian’s in Moscow.
"Look at the shops in Yerevan, without fear, they clearly show that the products they sell are from Turkey. That is because people are aware of the quality of Turkish goods," Abovyan says.
Harutyun Chilingarjan Azmenakovith, whose grandfather immigrated to Abkhazia from the Turkish city of Ordu and who came to Yerevan to study, talks about how Turkish youths saved him during an argument with Russian youths in Moscow. Harutyun, who was taught that Turks are bad and hostile, said, "But as an Armenian, I favor improving our relations with Turkey."
A 22- year-old master’s student at Yerevan State University International Relations Department, Anna Kartashyan gives her impressions about Turkey.
"It is weird, but I had positive impressions. Attitudes were kind, and I was told that all the roads and cities were in the style of European. I suppose however that Turkey will not become a European Union member country if it does not recognize the so-called Armenian genocide."
By Selahattin Sevi, Yerevan
April 25, 2006