Friday, May 09, 2008

Turk-Armenian Business Council not permitted to open branch in Istanbul

If Turkey's government is sincere shouldn't it not walk the talk? This is another evidence of its lack of sincerity.
A Turkish-Armenian business organization is not permitted to open a branch in Istanbul, in total contrast to the government’s willingness to restart political dialogue with Armenia.

While political leaders of both Turkey and Armenia debate ways to "open dialogue," an effort by a Brussels-based association of Turkish and Armenian businessmen has been told that even an Istanbul office for the nongovernmental organization is off the table.

The request began with Brussels-based Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council’s request last year to establish an office in Istanbul. But the request was quietly rejected by the Interior Ministry in February, the Turkish Daily News reports.

Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the Council, confirmed that four Turkish members of the organization including himself applied last May to open the office supposed to connect the Turkey-EU network in order to foster business opportunities.

"We have received no response for nine months and in February, the Istanbul Governor’s Office sent a letter rejecting our request without any justification," Soyak said.

Until February, he continued, Turkish and Armenian members of the Council had the impression that the Interior Ministry would allow the opening of the office because at round-table discussions in the United States last November, Turkish diplomats heralded the government’s plans to allow the office. However, the letter from the Istanbul Governor’s Office was in total contrast to expectations.

The government’s rejection comes right after calls for dialogue with Armenia in the wake of the elections, a development that raised hopes for the opening of a new chapter in troubled relations.

The Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council is a nongovernmental network of Turkish and Armenian business leaders working since 1997 for the restoration of normal relations between Turkey and Armenia and for the reopening of their common border.

The two neighbors have had no diplomatic links after Turkey took Azerbaijan’s side in the Karabakh war and closed the border with Armenia. Ankara also opposes demands for recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

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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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