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23 June 2017 10:32 (South Africa)

Armenia, Turkey finally connect for diplomatic ties

Senior Armenian and Turkish officials travelled to Switzerland on Saturday to sign an agreement to put them on a course to end a century of hostility stemming from brutal massacres at the end of the Ottoman Empire. The signing ceremony was delayed over last-minute issues and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there to witness it, had to cool her heels in a hotel until it all got sorted out. The Swiss had been quietly working on this accord over the past two years, with the help of the French, Russian and Americans. Turkey and Armenia’s parliaments must still weigh in – something that is certain to be enormously entertaining. Muslim Turkey and Christian Armenia have had bitter relations since violence in 1915 left hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions - of ethnic Armenians dead. Armenia was a province of Turkey, then the Ottoman Empire, fighting Russia during World War I. The Armenian issue has a special life in American politics as well. Armenian Americans insist Congress recognise the charge of genocide, even if that strains US-Turkish relations within Nato and with Turkey’s support for US missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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