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01 08 2007 - Aljazeera; Armenia open to talks with Turkey from A. Melikian USA.


Armenia open to talks with Turkey.
A row over the alleged mass killings of Armenians
by Ottoman Turks is at the heart of the issue

Armenia's prime minister says he is ready to negotiate with Turkey's new government after more then 90 years of severed ties.

Serzh Sargsyan told Al Jazeera on Tuesday: "We can't stay in a situation without having communication and talks with our neighbour because the easiest way of resolving this issue is dialogue and negotiations."

A row over the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during the first world war is at the heart of the issue.

Turkey says they were casualties of war, but the people of Armenia want what happened to be recognised as genocide.

The continuing closure of the border has isolated Armenia, which is a landlocked country, hitting the economy hard.


In Armenia's border villages, people are isolated for most of the winter, and are forced to live off the land.

The village leader told Al Jazeera there was nothing there: no jobs, all the young people have left the village to go to find work, and they are completely dependent on the harvest.

He said people had adapted to life behind a fence: "The border has always been closed there has never been any communication. I think it would be very nice if there was communication and interaction between us and the people across the border."

Local farmers can cross the Armenia-Turkey border but they need special permission in order to give water to their cattle.

In the village, no one can remember a time when the border was ever open.


Armenia has only two out of four borders open.

It has stopped the economy from moving forward hundreds of millions of dollars of trade are lost every year. It is no surprise that Sargsyan wants change.

He had this message for Turkey's newly elected government: "We didn't choose the location of where we live and whatever happens we will have to be neighbours for a very long time. I think it would be better if Armenians and Turks come to an understanding."

Sargsyan may be willing to talk but the country still has a long way to go if wants to return to the days of the great Silk Road, when Armenia connected east with west.


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