Earlier this week, two 30-something performance artists from Turkey and Armenia did what their countries have failed to do for decades -- put the violent past behind them and shake on it. For 43 hours straight.
But other Turkish-Armenian handshakes could prove more difficult. Tomorrow, another, more prominent one will occur, yet most likely will rank among the shortest ever.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is coming to Yerevan on December 12 as part of an Organization for Black-Sea Economic Cooperation summit, and is expected to try to breath new life into the two countries' 2009 reconciliation plan. The bid failed amidst rancor over Ottoman Turkey's mass-slayings of ethnic Armenians and Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia.
Turkey has been recently making motions to revive the push for opening borders with Armenia, but the two thorny issues have not gone anywhere. Some believe that Davutoğlu will push Yerevan to cede to Azerbaijan two regions adjacent to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, the Hürriyet Daily News reported. Such a deal, the thinking goes, would allow Turkey to go ahead and reopen its border with Armenia, closed for 20 years, without antagonizing its ally and cultural cousin, Azerbaijan.
Speculation had circulated about whether or not Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov also would make the summit, but, instead, the task has been delegated to a senior official, Azerbaijani media report.
That will not, however, mean that the welcome from Armenian politicians or officials will be any warmer. For one, a meeting with President Serzh Sargsyan is not in the cards, the Armenian president's spokesperson posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the broadsides against the 54-year-old Turkish foreign minister run sure and steady.
Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Savash Kocharian denounced Davutoğlu for “provocatively” tying the re-opening borders to progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, before no less provocatively inviting the Turkish minister to visit Yerevan's memorial to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians who were slaughtered in Ottoman Turkey during World War I.
Not surprisingly, Turkish media suggest that this visit is not going to happen.