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"Eradicating Walls of Fears" by Burcu Gultekin

Eradicating Walls of Fears

Burcu Gultekin

Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council

I met with Hrant Dink in 2001 as I decided to carry on my first piece of research on Turkish-Armenian relations. I was delighted by his openness and sincerity. Hrant had probably been the first contact person for many young Turkish students interested in Armenians. Agos has been an essential gateway in that respect. At the end of the meeting, I asked him some information on Armenia . He told me he had never been there. I was astound as he candidly announced he was not allowed to carry a passport. I promised to visit him as soon as I was back from Yerevan . I visited him highly impacted by this very first visit to Yerevan . Hrant asked me to publish in Agos a paper about my impressions on Armenia .

I have never stopped since traveling to Armenia . Once I met by accident Hrant on the Republic Square in Yerevan was his first visit to Armenia .

I was petrified yesterday by the news of Hrant’s murder on my way back from a conference in Yerevan dedicated to the Turkish-Armenian border.

Bewildered, in deep sorrow, I feel ashamed. The one who stabbed Hrant on the back offended me profoundly.

Hrant has been a catalyst for mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue, striving to create a better world for Armenians and Turks. His sincerity, patience and courage had been inspiring all of us, gathered within the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council, with determination. Hrant strongly believed, as we still do, in the need to eradicate the walls of fears by building bridges between the Armenian community in Turkey and the Turkish society at large, between Turkey and Armenia and between the Diaspora and Turkey .

Faithful to our mission, we will be advocating the wisdom of cooperation by pressing the need to cultivate direct ties. We should find enough courage to overcome fears and apprehensions in order to build bridges of empathy, motivated by the past sufferings and present yearnings and hopes of the peoples of Turkey , Armenia and the Diaspora.

Being the daughter of a Turkish diplomat, I spent my childhood in a targeted community. Today I am feeling at home in Armenia . Armenia is more than a neighbor to Turkey , as well as Turkey is to Armenia . The destinies of our nations are interlinked. We share the same history and geography. The sealed Turkish-Armenian border has symbolized for too long the artificial gap between the two nations. We would remain tightly linked to our Diaspora. I can find parts of my identity spread all over the world in Diaspora houses. We will remain dedicated to welcome Armenians back home. Shaping the present and building the future is the only way to deal with the past.

Dear Hrant, I am sorry. You have never ceased to feel at home in Turkey . However, nothing should dim the hopes of reconciliation. We will keep on eradicating the walls of fears.

dimanche 21 janvier 2007,
Stéphane ©

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