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Will Turkish-Armenian dialogue remain as a memory of the year 2001?

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Despite the foreign policy projections of 2001 that Turkey
would put weight on the forming of diplomatic contacts with Armenia (but not
diplomatic relations), the efforts for launching a dialogue between Yerevan and
Ankara have failed.

The dialogue mechanism between the journalists of Turkey,
Azerbaijan and Armenia remain as the sole path for the continuation of the
person-to-person dialogue between the two countries.

The Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Committee (TARC) had
to cease its mission due to a statement from the Armenian side.

TARC’s Armenian members had declared that they would not
attend the commission works on Dec. 12.

Armenian members of the TARC, Alexander Arzumanyan, Van
Krikoryan, David Hovenasyon and Andranik Mihranyan, signed a declaration stating
that they would not attend the commission meetings.

The declaration said that their belief in the
normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia was continuing.

Following the statement made by the Armenian side, the
commission, which was a historical step for the improvement of the ties between
Turkey and Armenia, halted its work.

The TARC process in the year 2001, which was being
evaluated as a product of the resolution processes in western parliaments by a
foreign diplomat involved in Turkish-Armenian relations, has had to be stopped
as the nationalists of the two sides were not involved in the reconciliation

Taking lessons from the past processes, it was stated that
all sides of the societies should be expressing concerns, and everything should
be put on the table, without avoiding discussing the existing problems between
the two states.

Within the framework of Washington’s efforts to encourage
ties between Turkey and Armenia, U.S. Ambassador in Yerevan John Ordway was
quoted as saying recently by the Anatolia news agency that the border between
Turkey and Armenia, as well as the one between Azerbaijan and Armenia, should be
opened for the improvement of the economy of the region.

Michael Lemmon, the former U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, has
been acting as Turkish Ambassador in Yerevan and Armenian Ambassador in Turkey,
with his efforts to help the development of the relationships between the two
states are being considered.

TABDC urges the opening of the border gate

In a press release signed jointly by the Turkish and
Armenian co-chairmen of the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council
(TABDC), hope was expressed for the fifth year of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue
process, and urged the necessity of the opening of the border gate between
Turkey and Armenia.

"For many years, Armenians and Turks of good will
have been advocating the wisdom of cooperation. What has been achieved so far
gives us hope and strength for the future. We believe that there is still a
pressing need to cultivate direct ties and that there is much room for
collaboration," said the statement.

"We are convinced that the two separate processes of
diplomatic rapprochement and civil initiatives must go hand in hand. At the
beginning of the new year we want to stress the need for interstate relations
and intergovernmental communication," it said.

Dialogue and interaction between public organizations and
business associations are a prerequisite for establishing mutual understanding,
handling sensitive issues, and achieving prosperity in our region, it continued.

"From our five years of experience, we have learned
that there is no obstacle for Turks and Armenians to start talking and
collaborating. The closed border is the only barrier preventing us from
intensifying our business and human relations. A closed border that separates us
makes no sense. We can foresee the great potential benefits to be realized by
Armenia and Turkey," it said.

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