Ağri and Ararat

I don’t really cover sport as a journalist, but this weekend, sport is politics. President Gül will visit Armenia’s capital Yerevan to watch a world cup qualification match between Armenia and Turkey on Saturday. Armenian President Sarkisyan invited him, and how could Gül say no? If he had refused the invitation, Turkey would be seen as the country unwilling to start repairing the ties between the two neighbouring countries with such a troubled relationship for so long. Accepting the invitation also suits the plans of Prime Minister Erdogan to establish a Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Platform – a plan which is widely considered unrealistic because of all the tensions in the region, but which could become slightly more realistic if Armenia and Turkey try to solve their (complicated) problems.
One of the problems between Armenia and Turkey is their (closed) border, which is not recognized by Armenia. Armenia calls part of eastern Turkey ‘West Armenia’. In this region, there is Mount Ağri (Turkish name), or Mount Ararat (Armenian name). The mountain is of great importance to Armenians, who consider it their national symbol. The mountain was also the national emblem on the shirts of the Armenian soccer players, but a month ago the Armenians decided to change the emblem, and now it no longer features the silhouette of Mount Ağri/Ararat, but a tiger and a lion. Don’t make too much if it of course, changing an emblem is quite different to changing attitudes and politics, but friendly gestures do help.
Now, peace lover that I am, you might think I hope for a 1 to 1 or 2 to 2 result for the match. But I have to disappoint you. Go Turkey, win!

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