70,000 Carnations to Mask Hoax Behind Turkey-Armenia Soccer Match

KAYSERI, Turkey (Today’s Zaman)–The Kadir Has stadium in Kayseri will be adorned with almost 70,000 carnations on October 14 for the 2010 World Cup Qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey with two carnations to each seat in the 33,000-seat stadium, according to Turkey Today’s Zaman.  

Mustafa Erengul, the director-general of the Flower Production and Marketing Corporation that will be decorating the stadium, was quoted by Zaman as saying that “flowers are the language of love.”

Hoping that “the event will help improve relations between Turkey and Armenia,” Recep Gedik, the chairman of Turkey’s Interflora Florists Association, promised that his organization would help during the decoration process, and added that they plan to visit Armenia in the near future with other state ministers.

The first-leg qualifier between the two nations, from which Turkey emerged victorious 2-0, took place on September 6, 2008, and drew considerable attention for its political implications.

The match served as a venue for a meeting between Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, which kicked off a year long negotiation process to normalize relations between the neighboring countries.

Armenia and Turkey have had no diplomatic relations since 1993 when Turkey unilaterally closed the border in solidarity with ally Azerbaijan, which had launched a war against Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Despite the announcement of a “roadmap” to normalization announced by Armenia and turkey, the negotiations have now hit an impasse with Turkey demanding the establishment of its relations with Armenia be linked to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–an unrelated process currently under the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Ankara had made no secret of its intentions to use the talks to scuttle international recognition of its genocide against the Armenian people in 1915-1923. Throughout the negotiations process, Ankara had demanded Yerevan drop efforts to recognize the Genocide and agree to establish a historical commission to examine the Genocide.

For decades, the government of Turkey has been engaged in a pro-active campaign to deny the Genocide, hiring professional lobby firms to coax US representatives and leaders into staying silent. The roadmap, released on the eve of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, allowed President Barack Obama to renege on his campaign pledge to recognize the crime.

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