Newly Formed Turkish Armenian Commission Threatens to Circumvent Genocide Recognition

Armenian Assembly of America and HHSh Hold "Reconciliation" Talks With Turkish Side GENEVA (RFE/RL)–A group of Armenia’s and Turks on Monday put the final touches on a "reconciliation" commission intended to open the way for a new era in relations between Armenia and Turkey–"The New York Times" reported Tuesday. The private group will try to foster cooperation and communication that will lead to direct talks between the governmen’s of the two countries–according to the newspaper.

Agreement on its creation was reached in Geneva after months of confidential discussions. Monday’s meeting was moderated by David Phillips–an American who teaches conflict prevention at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

The "reconciliation" commission finalized language for its founding charter and developed a list of initial activities. It will support cultural exchanges–efforts to improve business and tourism and programs in education and research. Plans call for a collaborative documentary on nationalism and discussions with historians–lawyers and psychologists.

Among its members are Van Krikorian of the Armenian Assembly of America–Alexander Arzoumanian–a former foreign minister and the chairman of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh)–and Andranik Migranian–an Armenian advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The paper said the Turkish and Armenian governmen’s are not involved in the initiative but have given their tacit approval. The initiative is also supported by the US State Department.

The commission will have to tackle among other things the differing interpretations of the Armenian Genocide–which was not touched upon during discussions to form the commission.

"The New York Times" quoted a former senior Turkish diplomat as saying that the 10-member commission will not determine the validity of the Armenian and Turkish positions. "The intent is not to find what the truth is–but it is to open new horizons for the future and enhance mutual understanding," said Ozdem Sanberk–executive director of a private foundation in Istanbul and a former Turkish ambassador to Britain.

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