Friday, November 30, 2007

Turkey, Armenia matches to go ahead despite divisions

29 Nov. 2007
By Darren Ennis
This is a positive step falling in line with opening of borders and establishing diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. Let the best team win.
BRUSSELS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The World Cup qualifying games due to take place between Turkey and Armenia are expected to go ahead despite bitter political divisions between the two countries, UEFA president Michel Platini said on Thursday.

Concerns were expressed about the two fixtures after both countries -- at odds with each other over Turkey's failure to accept that 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks -- were drawn in the same qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup.

"We met with the associations from Armenia and Turkey and there weren't any problems, they said the games would be played the best possible way," Platini told reporters on a visit to Brussels.

Two Euro 2008 qualifiers between Armenia and Azerbaijan were cancelled in June due to a long-running dispute over land. Turkey shut its border with Armenia in 1993 to protest against Armenia's occupation of territory inside Azerbaijan.

"We had a problem last year between Armenia and Azerbaijan because it was worse than non-existing relationships, there was a problem of extreme tensions and so the executive committee took the decision of cancelling the two games," Platini said.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians died in massacres and mass expulsions in 1915. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora abroad -- backed by many Western historians -- say it was genocide and want foreign states to recognise it as such.

Turkey accepts there were widespread killings, but says they did not amount to genocide. A law in Turkey makes calling the deaths a genocide a criminal offence.
"But as far as Turkey and Armenia are concerned, there hasn't been any indication of a potential problem and the cancellation of matches," Platini said.

Both countries were drawn in Group 5 alongside Spain, Belgium, Bosnia and Estonia. (Editing by Miles Evans)

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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