One year after an historic handshake at a football match between the leaders of Turkey and Armenia, both countries are set to normalise their relations. In a step towards ending a century of hostility, they will sign historic accords in Zurich on Saturday.
“Turks and Armenians are relatives,” said a woman outside an Armenian church in Istanbul. “We don’t want conflict or tension. It would be good for all if doors are opened.” It is hoped the normalising of ties between the two countries will lead to the reopening of their joint border. But some Armenians voice caution. One man in Armenia said: “It’s a risky situation because we can lose and also we can win. But the risk gives us possibilities.” Turkey closed is border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with fellow Muslim Azerbaijan, then at war with Armenian-backed ethnic Armenians. But not everyone is happy about the warming of ties. A recent tour by the Armenian President of his country’s diaspora sparked demonstrations in Lebanon and France. One of the biggest disputes is over the World War One massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman empire. Turkey denies the killings amounted to genocide.