On September 6 2008, Turkish president Abdullah Gul will travel to Armenia to watch a football World Cup qualifying match between the national teams of the two states in a move intended to break the ice that has plagued bilateral ties for many decades.
The two countries do not have diplomatic relations as a major dispute has been dividing them ever since World War 1. Over 1915-1917, about 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the then Ottoman Empire. Armenia has ever since requested that the massacres be labelled as genocide, something Turkey strongly opposes.
Gul will visit Yerevan at the invitation of Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan, who invited the Turkish head of state to mark "a new symbolic start in the countries' relations", Turkish daily Hurriyet said. It quoted a statement by the Turkish presidency as saying that the visit "can create a new climate of friendship in the region" and that the match "could lift the obstacles blocking the coming together of two peoples who share a common history and can create a new foundation".
According to Hurriyet, Gul is to arrive in Yerevan two hours before the match, meet Sargsyan for about an hour and then leave after the end of the game. The Nagorno-Karabakh issue and Turkey's idea of creating a Caucasus forum that stemmed from the Georgia crisis are expected to be the main topics of the talks.