World Cup brings estranged eighbours together

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World Cup brings estranged eighbours together

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Anti-Armenian demonstrators protest against the visit of the country’s President Serzh Sarksyan to Turkey.

The Armenian head of state is due to attend tonight’s World Cup qualifier between Turkey and Armenia alongside his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.

It comes after the two countries made moves to end a century of hostility by agreeing to re-open borders and restore diplomatic ties.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan after Yerevan backed an uprising among the Armenian population in Nogorno Karabackh in south west Azerbaijan.

The agreement signed in Zurich at the weekend has yet to be ratified by the country’s parliament.

Nevertheless, it has caused outrage in certain quarters. In Armenia 10,000 took to the streets to oppose the deal.

They believe that ties with Turkey can only be restored when Ankara admits that the killing of close to 1.5 million Armenians during the last days of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide.

This is something Turkey refuses to accept.

The match itself is of no meaning as both sides have failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but it may well play a vital role in bringing the estranged neighbours together.