A group of prominent people from Armenia and Turkey on Monday put the final touches on a reconciliation commission intended to open the way for a new era in relations between two neighbors divided by nearly a century of conflict and hatred, “The New York Times” reported Tuesday. The private group, the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, will try to foster cooperation and communication that
will lead to direct talks between the governments of the two countries, according to the newspaper.
Agreement on its creation was reached in Geneva after months of confidential discussions. Monday’s meeting was moderated by David Phillips, an American who teaches conflict prevention at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.
The reconciliation commission finalized language for its founding charter and developed a list of initial activities. It will support cultural exchanges, efforts to improve business and tourism and programs in education and research. Plans call for a
collaborative documentary on nationalism and discussions with historians, lawyers and psychologists.
Among its members are Van Krikorian of the Armenian Assembly of America, Alexander Arzoumanian, a former foreign minister and the chairman of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), and Andranik Migranian, an Armenian advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The paper said the Turkish and Armenian governments are not involved in the initiative but have given their tacit approval. The initiative is also supported US State
The commission will have to tackle among other things the differing interpretations of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. “By most historical accounts, the Ottomans killed more than 1 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 in a concerted effort to eliminate the ethnic Armenian population from what is now Turkey,” “The New York Times” said, adding that the Turkish government denies the deaths constituted a genocide.
It quoted a former senior Turkish diplomat as saying that the 10-member commission will not determine the validity of the Armenian and Turkish positions. "The intent is not to find what the truth is, but it is to open new horizons for the future and enhance mutual understanding," said Ozdem Sanberk, executive director of a private foundation in Istanbul and a former Turkish ambassador to Britain.