Date of this Version
Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 18:1 (2009), pp. 5-8
On April 14, 2009, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think tank that provides suggestions on conflict resolutions around the globe, issued a report entitled Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders in which it made recommendations for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation and the establishment of bilateral relations between the Republics of Armenia and Turkey. The report was published after the newly elected American President, Barack Obama, visited Turkey in early April 2009, and eight days before the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Turkey and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs issued a joint statement about a road-map to normalize relations between the two countries. Surprisingly, it attempts to situate its recommendations at a time when Turkey and Armenia "are close to settling a dispute that has long roiled the Caucasus" and, despite past difficulties, claims that progressively "intense" official engagement, civil society, and international and public opinion change have transformed the nature of the relationship between these two countries (p. i). In essence, it posits that fresh endeavors brought the two countries to the verge of an historical agreement to open borders, establish diplomatic ties, and begin joint work on reconciliation. Like similar efforts, this ICG report seems idealist, perhaps even superficial, and aims at portraying a very optimistic picture of current ArmenianTurkish relations. Furthermore, it tends to view minor developments with a magnifying glass, advancing vast generalizations to bypass crucial issues that remain as major obstacles towards a sincere Armenian-Turkish rapprochement. The report provides a solution to the century-old conflict in 34 pages and asserts that the bipolar views of history among Turks and Armenians are "converging, showing that the significant deep traumas can be healed" (p. i). One wonders what are the major indications of this significant convergence of the bipolar views of history, and how they might address core concerns?