Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reconciliation through football?

That's right! Armenian and Turkey have been placed in the same Fifa qualification group for the 2010 World Cup, which will take place in South Africa.

Armenia and Turkey will face off twice. The first match will take place on September 6th in Yerevan, Armenia, and the second match in Istanbul (presumably, if not Ankara) on October 14th, 2009. Wow, I have no clue where I will be in the fall of 2009, but damned if I will miss the match. I will definitely be in Turkey to watch this match, although I am extremely dissapointed that I can't attend Armenia vs. Turkey in Yerevan. Armenia's president lifted travel restrictions for Turkish citizens to Armenia for the week of the match in September, representing what could be an interesting shift in Armenian-Turkish relations. I hope sincerely that Turkish citizens who visit Yerevan the week of the match are treated with the same respect and courtesy than any Armenian, Kurd, or any human for that matter, would expect as a visitor of Turkey, or any other nation.

I doubt racial and ethnic tension will be totally absent from the matches, but I think they will definitely provide much needed press coverage on the political situation in the caucasus, and, of course, Turkey's abismal human rights record, including widespread, insitutionalized historical revisionism and intimidation of ethnic minorities in the multicultural nation.

Newly elected Armenian president, Serge Sarksyan, has reached out to Turkish president Abdullah Gul, inviting him to attend the September match in Yerevan. No responses from Turkey yet, but we shall see. Argggg I wish I could be there! I will be thinking about them all day as I hike in Spain, or might just take the day off to watch the match via internet somewhere.

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