The camp’s objective was to make acquaintances between Turkish and Armenian university students to overcome existing prejudices between the two nations. Eighty university students from Turkey and 20 from Armenia spent a week in a hotel in Ürgüp, an important tourism center of the Cappadocia region, the Doğan news agency reported yesterday.
The project was initiated by the Turkish University Students’ Approaches (Türkiye Üniversiteleri Öğrenci Yaklaşımları) and was also sponsored by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, or TESEV, the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and daily Agos.
Ideas for solution
The camp held art workshops, concerts, panel discussions and meetings. At the end of the camp, participating students released a joint statement which read, "We are disturbed by the fact that the Turkish and Armenian communities, which have been living together for centuries, are alienated and have turned against each other due to both sides’ polices regarding the 1915 events."
"We believe that relations between these two sister nations should be founded on the basis of peace and friendship and not on the dilemma of deportation or genocide. This is only possible by getting together through projects and campaigns, which we believe will develop quickly with the active participation of young people," read the statement.
"The dialogue between Turkish and Armenian students will pave the way for ideas toward a solution. Our dialogue camp will be the first step in this process," it read.
Meanwhile another step for Turkish-Armenian dialogue came from the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, which issued permission for the opening of a second Armenian Culture and Literature Faculty, daily Hürriyet reported.
YÖK had earlier approved the opening of such a faculty at Nevşehir University. The second faculty will be opened at Erciyes University in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.
Deputy Rector of Erciyes University Professor Metin Hülagü said the faculty will start admissions for the 2009-2010 term if the faculty could hire academic staff within two months. Nevşehir University rector, Professor Fliz Kılıç, had earlier said the Armenian Culture and Literature Faculty was not operational due to their inability to find Armenian-speaking academics. Professor Hülagü objected to this and said: "Did they put an advertisement in the paper or did they ask YÖK for staff? They did not follow the proper procedure."