An e-mail I received invites attention to a news items in Turkey’s largest-circulating newspaper with two different versions. While the English translation talks about monentum in Armenian-Turkish relations, the original Turkish has qutite a different tome. Ara Arabyan’s e-mail to a list of Armenian and Turkish scholars/activists, published by his permission, below:

I wrote earlier that I found the Hurriyet story (in English) about Turkey and Armenia being “very close”  to normalizing relations interesting because I had not seen that story elsewhere. When I checked the Turkish version of the same paper for similar news I found only the following in its 22 January 2009 edition (translation/summary follows in green).

The two reports (one in English and the other in Turkish) about the same story are very different in tone. The English one underscores  that the two countries are “very close” to normalizing relations (with no problems mentioned), while the Turkish one emphasizes that Armenia is not backing down on the recognition of the genocide.  Hurriyet is Turkey’s largest mass-circulation daily and is read by tens of millions of people each day. It’s curious why the paper would choose to promote the same story in a more negative tone inside Turkey and in an upbeat tone to English readers.  It is understandable that the politicians of both sides would wish to appear tough on the other side when addressing their home audiences but take a softer and more reasonable stand when talking to each other in private. It is less understandable for mass-circulation media to echo that dichotomy in their reporting.

Regardless, real negotiations are evidently under way and some breakthrough is quite likely in the near future (barring some unexpected development that may bring down the current government in Turkey).

And here is the translation of the Turkish version by Ara:


Speaking at a press conference, [Armenia’s foreign minister] Nalbandyan said that Armenia will accept the formation of an intergovernmental commission [on the events 1915] only if Turkey opens its borders and establishes diplomatic relations with Armenia without any preconditions.

According to the Armenian press, Nalbandyan said at the press conference that ““Turkey is not doing us any favors by normalizing our relations.” He also said at the same press conference: “Yerevan will not make any sacrifices to normalize relations with Ankara.” Nalbandyan continued:

“Armenia will never renounce its policy of seeking recognition for the Armenian Genocide by the international community. The dark pages of history must be turned over but the lessons of the past must never be forgotten. Armenia will never question the reality of the Armenian Genocide.”

‘Agree With Babacan’

The Armenian foreign minister also said that he agrees with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, that the two countries are nearing reconciliation. He added however: “The problems can be solved only if Turkey agrees to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey unconditionally.”

Nalbandyan also said that he will attend the planned meeting of the Turkish-sponsored Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.