Representatives of a minor political party in Turkey, who were detained by National Security Service (NSS) and asked to leave the country last week, have announced plans to come back to Armenia again in November.
Tuna Beklevic, the leader of Strong Turkey Party (GTP) and his colleague, Baybars Orsek, were taken to the Armenian NSS after announcing at a press conference in Yerevan, that they have illegally crossed the closed Armenia – Turkish border on October 10, 2010, to protest lack of progress in normalizing relations between the two countries. Belkevic, the head of little known Turkish party, not represented in his country’s parliament, said he came to Armenia to meet Foreign minister Edward Nalbandian. Foreign ministry refused to meet them, pointing out, that Turkish politicians had better talk about the closed border to Turkish authorities.
The border has been closed by Turkey since 1993 in support for Azerbaijan which was at war with Armenia-backed Karabakh Armenian forces.
Backed by the U.S. and Switzerland, Armenia and Turkey started a process of nominalizing relations, which concluded by signing protocols on October 10, 2009. The protocols included provisions on opening the closed border and establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. The ratification of the protocols by the two countries’ parliaments turned into a farce, however, as Azerbaijan protested Turkey’s attempts to improve relations with Armenia. On April 23, 2010 Armenian President Serzh Sargsian announced, that he is suspending the process of ratifying the protocols until the time, when Turkey is ready to go on with the process.
self-Promotion at Armenia’s Expense?
Turkish media have so far paid little attention to the announcements made by Belkevic and his party about border opening and even being ousted from Armenia (e.g. coverage of Today’s Zaman, a respected online news resource).
Meanwhile, the story made big headlines in Armenia. Seems like Belkevic liked the attention he was getting, and this announcement about coming again (A1+ video report in Armenian), indicates just that – he will make headlines if prevented an entry into Armenia, and will make even more media buzz if let through. Getting a lot more media coverage in Armenia will again generate some moderate media attention in Turkey, translating into more promotion.
There are questions remaining however: 1. Has Belkevic tried raising the closed-border issue with Turkish authorities, or is this all just a matter of self-promotion? 2. Why is he coming back to Armenia, knowing that he might be ousted again? 3. What does he hope to achieve apart from more media attention?
Add your own questions here, and I’ll email these to Tuna Belkevic and ask for a response. I very much want to believe, that his motives are clean and this is not just shameless self-promotion at Armenia’s expense. Perhaps, his answers would clarify some things?