Global Politics

Soccer diplomacy

SM says the soccer match is unprecedented: actually the sportsmen of the two countries have played games, but this is the first match of the national teams on a senior level. (How significant is that? How do Armenians view Turks today and historically as well?) The outcome of the game has great significance in both countries because there's been an eager anticipation of this game ever since the two countries were drawn together. (What do you mean by that?) In 2007 there was a draw for the World Cup in 2010 and the two countries were put together in the same qualifying group. (The President of Turkey will watch the game, making him the first Turkish leader to set foot in Armenia. Is such a visit only made possible by soccer or could this visit happen anyway?) It's been highly improbable that anything would cause this besides soccer. I think the Armenian leadership was wise to extend an invite to the Turkish president. (How will the Turkish president be received?) There's an agreement between the government and opposition to welcome the Turkish president to Armenia. Having said that, there is at least one pro-government party which has urged its followers to protest the Turkish president's visit. But they've made it clear the protest will be peaceful. (Now the Armenian prime minister was quoted as saying that �Soccer diplomacy� should become a new term to diplomatic lexicon. That does sound hopeful, are people optimistic about this match?) Yes, people recognize this is more than just a game of soccer. Armenia is in a difficult geo-political region. We border on Iran and Georgia and during the recent crisis in Georgia, we were hit with fuel shortages. All the countries in this region are dependent on each other. Turkey and Armenia have therefore realized how important it is to build relations.

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