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A ´Major Advance´

Washington, DC — The Armenian Assembly of America praised the launching of a high-level Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, announced today in Geneva, Switzerland, as a significant international development. After years of talking through intermediaries, this Commission will promote direct dialogue and cooperation to address the issues dividing Armenians and Turks.

Comprised of a diverse and highly talented group, its membership includes ten private individuals from Armenia, Turkey, Russia and the United States: Gunduz Aktan, former Turkish Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and currently a columnist for the Turkish Daily News; Alexander Arzoumanian, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia; Ustun Erguder, former president of Bogazici University (previously Robert College); Sadi Erguvenc, retired general, Republic of Turkey; David Hovhannissian, former Armenian Ambassador to Syria and currently an Assistant Professor at Yerevan State university; Van. Z. Krikorian, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armenian Assembly of America; Andranik Migranian, former Foreign Policy
Advisor to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and a member of the Union of Armenians in Russia; Ozdem Sanberk, former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey and currently Executive Director of the Istanbul think tank TESEV; Ilter Turkmen, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey; and, Vamik D. Volkan, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“This is the first multi-disciplinary, comprehensive attempt to reconcile differences between two neighbors, separated by bitterness and mistrust, and as such, it is a major advance. After years of indirect mediation attempts, it is the first time that the two parties are talking directly to each other,” said Chairman of the Assembly’s Board of Trustees, Hirair Hovnanian. “I am particularly proud that the Assembly’s Board of Directors Chairman Van
Krikorian is on this high-level Commission. He has an outstanding track record as an advocate for Armenia and I commend his determination and initiative. I firmly believe that it is to the benefit of everyone, particularly those living in the region, to explore any mutually acceptable solutions to the problems between Turkey and Armenia.”

The Assembly’s Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mugar also applauded the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission. “I have observed the reconciliation process at work in South Africa and Northern Ireland. The legal, psychological and political issues are always difficult and complex, but it is incumbent on us all to make every attempt,” said Mugar. “We believe that the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission will benefit and build on the experiences of other similar international efforts. We applaud those efforts, and because of them, believe that the time may well be ripe for us to advance Turkish-Armenian relations. Mutual understanding opens new prospects and can only benefit the people of Armenia and Turkey.”

The Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission’s goal is “to promote mutual understanding and good will between Turks and Armenians, and to encourage improved relations between Armenia and Turkey.” Its terms of reference state that the Commission will support contact, dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish civil society and develop recommendations to be
submitted to concerned governments.

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