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South Caucasus
Nursun Erel


Interview with Nursun Erel, "The New Anatolian" correspondent.

Mrs. Nursun, you have made a ten-day business trip to Armenia by the invitation of Caucuses Center of Peace-Making Initiatives (CCPMI) and with the assistance of the Embassy of Great Britain. Why did you consent to go to this country? And how did your colleagues in Turkey react to this?

I took this decision because I was eager to go there. I am a journalist and in our profession it is necessary to obtain information from first sources. I don’t cast doubt on the whole information which I receive from Armenian mass medias, but, nevertheless, I prefer to see, hear and feel myself. Second hand news does not me. If I didn’t go there and communicate with people, it would be impossible for me to form a full picture of the society and understand how an average statistical Armenian regards and treats Turks and Turkey. And, therefore, I think my trip proved to be quite beneficial.

Being in Yerevan I obtained an interview from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan, a speaker of Parliament Tigran Torosyan, and one of the leaders of “Dashnakcutyun” Giro Manoyan. I also had a meeting with other official persons, historians, researchers, writers, journalists and ordinary passers-by in the street. One cannot substitute a live conversation, dialogue for anything else.

Talking of the reaction of my collegues in Turkey, I understand what you are driving at. We don’t have the same problems what you have in Azerbaijan. The citizens, as well as the journalists of Turkey are, certainly, not forbidden to go to Armenia.

It looks like you believe in the effectiveness of the national diplomacy and dialogue?

Yes, I do believe. The matter is that the Armenian people today are exposed to agitation and propaganda of the authorities. And the agitation and propaganda of Armenians is far from reality, objectivity. The people receive one-sided information about their neighbours, in this case, about Turkey. People ought to know that besides black and white, there is also grey. And when they see or hear something different from that of the stuff their officials feed them on, they are very surprised.

The citizens of Armenia, travelling to Turkey, are astonished at what they see there. It turns out that it’s not the country the way it is presented to them in Armenia. We have confessed about it to Armenians. That’s the reason why the national diplomacy is indispensable, useful and the public dialog ought to be encouraged and stimulated by the authorities of our countries.

And what are your estimations concerning the trip of the two Azerbaijan journalists who arrived in Armenia with you? Did you benefit by that?

Sure, they helped and assisted me in the course of the trip. In the first place, your common language of communication with Armenians is Russian which is a great privilege.

For instance, when my translators from English had difficulty translating several phrases or even sentences, the Azerbaijanians helped me. It is enough to remember the interview with the writer Vahram Martirosyan, during which you helped me a lot and thanks to you, the interview was a great success and our conversation made sense.

Further, the interview with the speaker of the parliament Mr.Tigran Torosyan. When he began talking about the sufferings of Armenian people, you enquired him about the sufferings of Azerbaijanian people, to put it more precisely, about the conflict with Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century. For example, it would never occur to me to ask him such a question.

What do you think, if Turkey settles all its problems with Armenia, is it possible to open frontiers in spite of the unsettled Karabakh conflict?

I think, yes. In this matter Turkey won’t take a step back. Even if all the problems with Armenia are settled, but the Karabakh matter remains unsettled, Turkey will still not open its frontiers as long as Armenia insists on its destructive positions and waives the observance of resolution of U.N.O. And it’s not the position of the authorities of Turkey. It is a public policy of our country and it remains unchanged after a new government comes to power. Therefore, whoever becomes the chief of state of Turkey, no change in this matter will take place.

And why is it expected from Azerbaijan and Turkey to be the first to make concessions? Armenia might also take at least the first step.

What did you feel and what did you undertake when your interview with PanARMENIAN was distorted and misinterpreted?

I was rather surprised. On the other hand, “it is in the order of things, it is natural”, I thought. I can explain why. The point is that the rector of Yerevan State University (YSU) prohibited me from meeting and communicating with students of YSU. Then I understood how preconceived and biassed we are regarded in Armenia.

But then it seemed to me that the journalists of Armenia are more independent and free in their actions. For example, upon my return to Turkey, I published the interview with the politicians, writers and other public figures of Armenia without any distortion and misinterpretation of their words. We are an English-speaking newspaper and these people can visit the website and see for themselves.

But I was shocked to have found out that except for a few mass medias, the Armenian Press is a great state structure and the principals of International journalism in Armenia are not effective and do not work at all.

What struck me more was that instead of asking me questions concerning Turkey, getting interested in politics, economy, social state of population of our country, many journalists began to tell ME, I emphasize “me”, about Turkey, explain, prove me what is really happening there (!). Moreover, they all talked about it in a voice that requires no objection.

Reverting to our question. The distortion of my words in an interview for PanARMENIAN, undoubtedly, greatly upset me. And I am very much grateful to CCPMI on behalf of Georgi Vanyan who did his best to rectify, to put it mildly, the mistake. Although my letter of refutation was not published in PanARMENIAN, but still I remain to be a great optimist.

I hope that time will come when Armenian mass medias will cease scarifying their professionalism for the sake of nationalistic prejudices.

Alekper Aliyev