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Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine, published by the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association, is in its fourth year. Prepared by Turkish and Armenian women, the magazine covers social and cultural topics
 
VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
 
Despite the closed border between Turkey and Armenia, the efforts of civil society to address the issue and to build ties between the two countries continue.
 
The Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine, founded in 2004, is one of the steps taken in this regard, through which Turkish and Armenian academics and artists gather on a shared platform to search for possible means of compromise.
 
The magazine, now in its fourth year, is published annually in Turkish, Armenian and English by the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association.
 
The chairman of the association, sociologist Şule Kılıçarslan, also serves as the magazine's editor-in-chief. On the Armenian side, artist and writer Dzovinar Lokmagözyan is the publishing council coordinator for the magazine.
  
Dink was on advisory board
 
Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper Agos, who was murdered last year, served on the magazine's advisory board for the first two issues.
 
The magazine covers social and cultural topics, but not historical nor political issues. The magazine's first issue was supported by the American University Center For Global Peace, based in Washington D.C.. Later issues were published with support from the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association.
 
Kılıçarslan and Lokmagözyan spoke to the Turkish Daily News about Turkish-Armenian relations and the magazine. Kılıçarslan said the magazine could not be distributed due to insufficient budget, despite a circulation rate of 5,000.
 
However, Kılıçarslan added, the association sent each issue to the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament.
  
No history or politics
 
Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine is one of the projects of the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association, which aims to foster communication between Turkey and Central Asian countries in the 21st century.
 
Kılıçarslan said they decided to publish the magazine to participate in the process of establishing dialogue and peace between the two countries and added that the magazine covered subjects ranging from the business world to civil society, and from the arts to sports.
 
“Both countries have experienced reciprocal traffic accidents. Yet, in the magazine we aim to look into the future instead of the past,” said Kılıçarslan, “therefore we abstain from historical or political topics.”
 
Kılıçarslan said the first steps toward publishing the magazine were taken in 2002 when they traveled to the Armenian capital Yerevan from Turkey with a team of nine on March 8, 2002, International Women's Day. They did not know what to expect on their first ever trip to Armenia and took the initiative for the magazine during the trip.
 
“The magazine was going to be published in and distributed from Turkey. The copyright also belongs to Turkey. Therefore, the Armenian side became suspicious and prejudiced,” said Kılıçarslan, emphasizing they overcame prejudices with mutual tolerance and cooperation.
 
Kılıçarslan said they intentionally left out political subjects from the magazine. “Lokmagözyan interviewed the Armenian culture minister for the last issue, but we did not publish it. Otherwise, we would have had to include a politician from Turkey as well. We are against statements of politicians in the magazine even if they are on cultural issues,” Kılıçarslan said.
 
“Armenians are very interested in, and curious about, the magazine. Any attempt for dialogue is very much supported in Armenia. All organizations give me a positive answer when I ask them for an interview,” said Kılıçarslan.
 
Lokmagözyan noted women's constructive character and said women could, through their tolerance, overcome any problems in the male-dominated world. “The reason I collaborate on the magazine is to introduce people to each other and to establish bridges of amity,” said Lokmagözyan, who believes the magazine plays a major role in this respect.
 
Regarding the political relations between Turkey and Armenia, Kılıçarslan thinks that Turkey, as a large country, has various problems, “whereas Armenia has only several main problems, the biggest of which is Turkey.” Kılıçarslan noted that Turkey and Greece had their times of conflict but overcame those conflicts with solidarity and dialogue.
 
Lokmagözyan said politics brought disaster upon nations and added that art could overcome all these problems.
 
Nonetheless, Lokmagözyan said in order to overcome the conflicts between the two countries, all political problems should be discussed openly, and said, quoting the American writer Ernest Hemingway, “A person will be scared of the lion three times in life. First, when he sees the lion's footprint, second when he hears the lion roar, and finally when he encounters the lion, after which there is nothing left to be scared of.”
 
Source: "Turkish Daily News", 03 April 2008
http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=100692

Added: Friday, April 04, 2008
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