Sarkisian Condemned For Celebrating Turkish Goals

0413serj (Medium)YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian faced harsh criticism from domestic political opponents, media and football fans on Thursday for what they saw as his unbridled celebration of Turkey’s defeat of Armenia in a high-profile match the previous night.

Playing in the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa, the Armenian national soccer team was beaten 2-0 by the Turks in front of about 19,000 passionate spectators as well as the presidents of the two countries.

Sarkisian broadly smiled and promptly congratulated his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul with a handshake every time Turkey scored to seal the victory. The scene, highly unusual for heads of state attending major football games, was repeatedly replayed by Turkish television broadcasting the match to both countries.

The spokesman for Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia defended the president’s seemingly warm reaction to the Turkish goals that came after a mass jeering of Armenia’s national anthem played in Bursa’s Ataturk stadium. “He smiled because the goal was nice. He enjoyed watching football,” Eduard Sharmazanov explained at a news conference in Yerevan, sparking laughter among journalists.

Turkish football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match on October 14, 2009.But for many Armenians disappointed with their team’s dismal performance, Sarkisian’s behavior appears to have only added insult to injury. His critics were quick to seize upon what is shaping up as another public relations setback for Yerevan’s “football diplomacy” with Ankara.

“It’s hard to say what influenced Serzh Sarkisian’s hearty rejoicing of the goals conceded by our team will have on Gul and what results it will produce in terms of the ‘football diplomacy,’ but it can be asserted for certain that it has been perceived very badly in Armenia,” “Haykakan Zhamanak,” an Armenian daily wrote in a front-page article.

Hakob Badalian, a commentator for the independent online journal Lragir.am, singled out Sarkisian’s “joy” in a commentary on the Armenian president’s landmark visit to Turkey. “What was the point of rejoicing so demonstratively?” he asked. “Was he confused or took it as a good opportunity to please Gul? Either way, the scene was rather ugly.”

“Usually, presidents watching football games are very reserved if they sit next to their counterparts and, the more so, if the rival team scores,” argued Badalian.

The sentiment was echoed on the streets of Yerevan, with many people randomly interviewed by RFE/RL reacting to the episode with anger. “[Sarkisian] was very happy that the Armenians are losing,” claimed one man. “He celebrated when they scored.”

“He was happy that the Armenians lost,” agreed a middle-aged woman. “Didn’t you watch him? He liked that. I don’t know if that was diplomacy or not, but he had nothing to rejoice about.”

“He smiled too much,” observed a younger soccer fan. “I do understand that he had to stick to the etiquette. But he should have been a bit more reserved in congratulating [Gul.]”

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14 Comments

  1. Gökhan said:

    So what if the president celebrate the Turkish counterpart ?
    I don’t know whether you know what it means, but this is purely fair-play. Turkey didn’t gain anything by beating Armenia, or Armenia didn’t lose anything by losing against Turkey. Both sides won the match…

  2. Gayane said:

    To Gokhan: I dont’ understand your mentality behind what you said.. So you are saying that Turkey did not gain anything by beating Armenia? I personally think they gained a great deal .. GREAT deal.. One, they won game..that in itself is huge..because just the pure feeling of victory and beating the Armenians in the match is satisfaction to all the Turkish deniars..and extremists. Three: This was shown and talked about everywhere and other countries read and watched how Sarkissian rejoicing the win of his “enemy” and opponent … This kind of action helps matters for the Turkey because this could possibly lead to show to the international countries that Armenia is in a very cozy and friendly relations with Turkey. They are definitely on good terms and the fierce fight against Recognizing the Genocide will subdue due to the buddy buddy relationships.. These are definitely gain for Turkey ..

    Armenia on the other hand lost in every aspect.. starting from the game to the stupid smile and congrats from our own President..

    So much for the spirit of keeping the solemn posture of losing to a country who will destroy Armenia in a few years.. IF we continue to let Sarkissian to make a mockery and joke of his people…what a low blow to us..

    Shame on him

  3. Aram said:

    I also noticed that Serzh Sargsyan did not sing our National Anthem while Gul was singing Turkish National Anthem so proudly. I wish President Sargsyan sang showing respect to our Armenian statehood and may be then President Gul referring to his “Turkish hospitality” would appologize for the insult coming from the tribunes.

  4. ani said:

    he might be serge sarkoglu in his original papers… very unlikely that someone willing to sell his people’s cause without any sign of remorse, will be ashamed to show his sentiment for the opposition’s goals !!! it’s disgusting .. so was yerevan’s 2791 celebration just after protocols were signed… while the entire diaspora , and those who cared in Armenia, was still demonstrating and in disbelief over the protocols issue … our haserenk !!???

  5. christian manougian said:

    Well when People means to respect and show good wills ,then i would say why not Celebrating ,but when u have people dont respect Armenian national anthem and keep distracting ,you would know alone .
    plus People who don’t know how was their past ,and what did they cause to other nations ,and keep on denying i think is clear enough.

  6. Vrej Andranikian said:

    Sycophant Serj is now exposed to all the people of Armenia as to what he truly is… a turkish bootlicker. All the work he and his croonies did in the media to coverup the true nature of the protocols has gone down the drain. The nation saw his true character during the game and now there is clarity as to what kind of a man negoiated away our rights to the barbarians. The barbarians believe that his attitude was normal only because they believe that is how an Armenian should be. A sycophant! I’m sure Sycophant Serj will in the not to distant future sell his womenfolk or just give them away to the heathen barbarians with that lovely smile of his. Unfortunately, there has always been a small segment of the Armenian people who were sycophants to the turks. Thankfully, in the past, they freely converted to islam and their progeny are now turks. To the detriment of the Armenian nation, a class one sycophant leads the nation. What would Andranik or Dro or Surp Vartan do to this so called Armenian man if they were alive today? And I expect our heroes of today, and there are many, will deal with this shameful chess geek in the manner he deserves. No sanctuary to sycophants, traitors or barbarians!

  7. Aram said:

    Actually Armenia did not loose 2-0 against the genocide denier but rather 1.5 million-0 and this without counting Adana massacres…..next to come most probably, i.e continuation of expropration of armenian belongigs in Turkey, dessecration of religious monuments etc

  8. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    The Russian proverb says, “The cat knows whose meat he has eaten.” It is about Mr. Sarksyan, who distinctly knows how the Turks will regret for the Armenia-Turkey Protocols. Mr. Sarksyan knows that Turkey will soon collapse. Protocols. in fact, are a major factor to make that collapse faster.

  9. manooshag said:

    Hye, Serge pleases the Turks and opposes his own Armenian peoples!
    And yet, how did our Armenian patriots of 1918-1920, having won Sardarabad, gain the strength to come together to quickly form a new government… Manooshag

  10. B. Baronian said:

    I’ve read each and every article and post available anywhere on this issue,,,As a grand son of a genocide survivor from Gurin Armenia…the whole issue is close to my heart and shall always remain so.
    I do agree with Samvel J. Turkey will collapse..it already made its first major blunder with Israel. Maybe it’s now time for ISRAEL to recognize the Armenian Genocide….soon the USA will discover it has no need for Turkey and then it will be over….so fellow Armenians…think before you speak and calculate your moves…We need to bring Turkey to its knees…by using political savy

  11. Hagop said:

    Whatever this person does is getting on our nerves.
    Why go to these peoples place anyway
    why sign something like this
    they say no to the Genocide
    they want Armenians out of Karabagh.
    The sooner he gets out of office the better it is.
    Our lands will never be retuned on a silver plater.
    These people are biggest politicians around and you know how politicians are.

  12. gayane said:

    To Aram: You are correct by saying we lost 1.5 million-0.. actually i would say 1.6 (including Hrant Dink) million-0 and of course not countring numerous other massacres that happened before 1915 and will happen in the 21st century.. I call it White Genocide…

    To: Samvel: I just hope you are correct.. I wish you are correct by saying that Sarkissian knows that Turkey will collapse and the protocols are the avenue that will speed up that process.. As of right now, i don’t see that but I pray to God that your words come true…

    To Ani: You never know .. You might be right.. Serj might secretly be Turkish..i mean how else can you explain what he has done so far..

    aylandaki mek Serj.. tesnenq inch piti mer glxin beri now that the protocols are signed and his stupid smile shining on his face after his enemy won the match..

  13. C Manougian said:

    well we will wait and see ,but what ever ,protocols with or without it will never make us to forget our beloved ones.Mr .Sarksyan wanted to show good wills and respect and to be more head -up with the Turks . He is our President and i hope he knows what is he going .
    So for Turkey should except what their past did ,other wise ther thoughts gona kill them and they have to hold this suffer all their lives.

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