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Henrik Mkhitaryan scored the late winner in Yerevan (© Khachik Chakhoyan)
Unzipped has an exciting post about the surprise win of the Armenian national youth team (European Championship Qualifying Stage of the Under 21 Championship) over Turkey. Although the game was not that significant and the youth teams are rarely considered important, the fact that the game took place between these two countries which lack diplomatic relations since Turkey closed the Armenian border in 1993 is seen an important first step, to be followed by a game between the national teams of Armenia and Turkey on September 6th.
Although the chances of the Armenian team to win on the September 6 match are rather slim, the win of the youth team has inspired Armenian football fans with renewed confidence.
The game is very promising from a diplomatic perspective as well. Armenian president Serge Sargsian had invited the Turkish president Abdullah Gul to visit Yerevan and watch the game in July. Abdullah Gul has been postponing his decision about accepting or rejecting the invitation. Possible protests in Armenia against Turkish President’s visits are among the reasons for Gul’s hesitation and ARF-Dashnaktsutyun have said they’ll definately stage actions in Yerevan.
At any rate, thousands of Turkish fans are also expected to arrive in Yerevan for the match and the Armenian authorities have already promised to slash visa fees for them. According to some Armenian media reports the Turkish fans have applied to their government asking them to open the Turkey-Armenian border for one day, so they could use the Kars-Gyumri railway to arrive in Armenia and cheer for their team. If true, this might become another significant development in establishing relations between the two neighboring countries.