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Businessmen push for Turkish, Armenian cooperation

Anatolian Center for Business Development form in Ankara as counterpart for Armenian business groups

Despite the successive approvals at the assemblies of European states and 17 U.S. state Houses of Representatives for the so-called Armenian genocide, the efforts to hear the voice of the silent majority in each state continue. However, attempts by business circles seem to be successful in opening a white page regarding Turkish-Armenian relations.

Armenian business groups search for joint investments with Turkish business groups based in Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia, Kaan Soyak, the head of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Committee said.

In a telephone interview from New York with the Turkish Daily News, Soyak said that despite the radical attitude of some diaspora Armenians, the silent majority in Armenia is sensitive towards the problems of the Turkish people.

“The silent majority on each side should be heard. There are radicals on each side but the people on each side are sensitive towards the problems of the other, such as the economic crisis in Turkey. The way for economic cooperation between Armenian business groups and businessmen in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia should be opened,” Soyak said.

The Anatolian Center for Business Development has been formed recently in Ankara and is planned to be the first leg of an association to represent a body that would become a counterpart for Armenian business groups. The Anatolian Center for Business Development is co-headed by Kaan Soyak and Serdar Dinler and plans to form a network that would include the cities of Amasya, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Erzurum, Mersin, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Sanliurfa, Mus, Van, Kars, Konya and Kayseri.

The Armenian business groups are interested in the sectors of tourism, textile, health, agriculture and cattle-raising. Soyak said that the Armenian business groups offer business opportunities for Turkish companies not only in Turkey or Armenia, but also in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Ani region

The Ani region close to Kars is the main area of interest for the Armenians. They promise to bring 300,000 tourists per year if they participate in the tourism sector in this region, Dinler told the TDN. Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said that for the time being the cooperation of the business groups of the two countries is welcomed.

Opportunity lost

According to Soyak, the possibility for a joint study by Turkish-Armenian historians on the claims of genocide has been weakened. In 1998, a letter was sent to then-President Suleyman Demirel for a joint study on the claims of the Armenian genocide.

The 2000 Turkish Foreign Ministry prospects included a plan for the formation of diplomatic “contacts,” but not diplomatic relations with Armenia; international meetings were believed to be a perfect background for the formation of such contacts. The Turkish Foreign Ministry intended to push for joint studies of Turkish and Armenian historians on the claims. The Ottoman Archives were shown as the main reference for such studies, then. The platform of the Associations of the Kars-Ardahan and Igdir declared that they had no problems with Armenia. “We will resist attempts to harm the relations between us and the Armenians,” a written statement of the platform said.

Commemorations abroad, amid efforts of Turks, Armenians to open a new page

While Turkish and Armenian businessmen and diplomats are making efforts for a new term of relations, April 24 was commemorated in several countries in reference to the so-called Armenian genocide. Some 10,000 Iranian Armenians gathered in front of a cathedral in central Tehran on Tuesday to commemorate the so-called “genocide,” Reuters reported. A member of parliament representing Iran’s 250,000-strong Armenian minority called for the government to formally recognize April 24 as “Armenian genocide day.”

The Armenian lobby was also scheduled to organize a ceremony at the U.S. House of Representatives, as well. The Anatolia News Agency reported that despite the presence of 100 representatives that are sympathetic to the Armenian lobby at the House of Representatives, only 26 representatives are expected to take part in the ceremony.

Orly perpetrator released

Varujan Karapetyan, the perpetrator of the bloody attack in Orly Airport in 1983 was released and returned to Yerevan yesterday, Anatolia reported, quoting the Agence France Press. A bomb attack on July 15, 1983 in front of the office of Turkish Airlines (THY) in Orly Airport resulted in eight deaths and more than 60 people injured.

PKK backs Armenian claims

As an interesting note, the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization daily Ozgur Politika published an article supporting the Armenian claims of a genocide. The article said that the approval given by the French Senate for the so-called genocide was pleasing.

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