Turkish, Armenian Students Organize ‘Dialogue Camp’ in Turkey

NEVSEHIR, Turkey (Hurriyet)–Turkish university students have organized a Turkish-Armenian dialogue camp at the central Anatolian city of Nevsehir, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily reported Tuesday.

According to Hurriyet, eighty university students from Turkey and twenty from Armenia’spent a week at a hotel in Urgup holding art workshops, concerts, panel discussions and meetings. The camp’s objective, its organizers said, was to introduce Turkish and Armenian university students to overcome existing prejudices between the two nations.

The project, initiated by the Turkish University Students’ Approaches, was sponsored by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and the Bilingual Armenian Weekly Agos Newspaper in Istanbul.

At the end of the camp, participating students released a joint statement which read, "We are disturbed by the fact that the Turkish and Armenian communities, which have been living together for centuries, are alienated and have turned against each other due to both sides’ polices regarding the 1915 events."

"We believe that relations between these two sister nations should be founded on the basis of peace and friendship and not on the dilemma of deportation or genocide,” it added. “This is only possible by getting together through projects and campaigns, which we believe will develop quickly with the active participation of young people."

"The dialogue between Turkish and Armenian students will pave the way for ideas toward a solution. Our dialogue camp will be the first step in this process," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Higher Board of Education (YOK) announced this week that it had approved the opening of a second Armenian culture and literature department in Turkey. The new department, which will be opened at the Erciyes University, will start accepting students for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to the University’s director, Metin Hulagu. He added the department would launch only if the University can hire Armenian speaking professors within a two month timetable.

Turkey’s Nevsehir University is also looking for Armenian-speaking academics for its Armenian Culture and Literature Faculty.

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