The program goal is to improve dialogue and cooperation between representatives of Armenia’s and Turkey’s non-government and private sectors.
Relations between Armenia and Turkey are burdened by a long history of conflict. Armenian-Turkish relations deteriorated further in 1988, at the start of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. As a result of the fighting, Turkey imposed a blockade on all overland trade and transportation with Armenia, thereby cutting off the country’s main trade routes with Europe.
In other regions of the world, cross-border partnerships established between non-government organizations through Track Two Diplomacy (T2D) have proven to be an effective tool for conflict resolution, contributing to the acceleration of official, Track One Diplomacy initiatives. In Armenia and Turkey, some civil society groups, businesspeople, local government and journalists have established cross-border contacts and in some cases have jointly implemented programs; however, these initiatives have been few and generally ad hoc in nature.
The Armenia-Turkey Cross-Border Dialogue and Cooperation Program, launched in 2006 by Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), will contribute to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey by strengthening the capacities of non-government, local government and business sectors to develop and maintain cross-border partnerships. The program will also support initiatives designed to inform key stakeholders of the potential benefits of T2D initiatives, inform the general public of the potential impact of a border opening, and support initiatives for the establishment of cross-border links. By supporting cross-border initiatives between Armenian and Turkish citizens, the process of the normalization of relations between Armenia and its neighbors may be accelerated.