Over a two-week period 16 journalists from Turkey and Armenia traveled over 3,500 kilometers in Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, meeting with over 40 civil society representatives, politicians, media leaders and “everyday” citizens as well as visiting dozens of historical and cultural sites in order to gain first-hand insight into their neighboring country and to report in-depth about Turkey-Armenia relations from the field.
The 2012 Turkey-Armenia Media Reporting Bus Tour began in Istanbul on May 24 with meetings at the Armenian Patriarchate, the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, the Hrant Dink Foundation and the TRT public television station. The group also had the chance to attend the PechaKucha Night Vol. 14: Istanbul-Yerevan Close Creative Encounters.
From Istanbul the journalists flew to Malatya, and traveled by bus to Kayseri, Cappadocia and Ankara before flying to Kars. In these cities the journalists met with Mr. Serdar Boyacı, a representative of the Malatya Philanthropic Armenians Association (HAYDER); Doç. Dr. Aslıhan Doğan Topçu of Kayseri’s Erciyes University; Prof. Dr. Mehmet Metin Hülagü of ERUSAM; Ms. Nilüfer Kısak, head of the women’s organization KAMER’s Malatya office; Mr. Ufuk Ulutaş of the Ankara-based SETA foundation; Mr. Alican Alibeyoğlu, owner of the local Kars media outlet Serhat TV; and Mr. Vedat Akçayöz of the Kars Culture and Arts Association, among numerous others. The journalists also had the opportunity to visit important historical sites such as Mount Nemrut, the Göreme Open Air Museum, and Ani.
On May 31 the journalists crossed the land border from Turkey into Georgia, and attended a press conference in Akhaltsikhe with Ms. Mariam Mikoyan, member of the Council of Ethnic Minorities of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, along with other local activists. The next day the group crossed the land border into Armenia and participated in a meeting with Mr. Levon Barseghyan, head of the Asparez Journalist Club in Gyumri, where the journalists visited the shelters that house survivors of the 1988 earthquake. In Yerevan, the group met with Ms. Susanna Harutyunyan of the Armenia-Turkey Cinema Platform; Mr. Hayk Demoyan, director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute; United States Ambassador to Armenia Mr. John A. Heffern; Mr. Giro Manoian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) – Dashnaktsutyun party; and Mr. Gegham Baghdasaryan, who spoke about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The journalists also traveled to Goris, a town on the southern border of Armenia, where they joined a roundtable with the Goris Press Club and visited the Tatev monastery, and later Lake Sevan.
The journalists represented a wide range of print and television media institutions, including Vatan, Today’s Zaman, IMC TV and bursaport.com news portal from Turkey and Aravot, ArmeniaNow, news.am, and Yerkir Media from Armenia.
The results of the tour include both the numerous articles published by the journalists about their experiences, as well as the strong network the journalists have formed as a result of their shared journey, which will aid them and their colleagues in future reporting on Turkey-Armenia relations.
The video below features pictures taken by freelance photojournalist Umut Vedat during the bus tour.
The 2012 Turkey-Armenia Media Reporting Bus Tour was organized by the Global Political Trends Center (GPoT) and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) as part of the Support to Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement (SATR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). To learn about a similar tour conducted last year by GPoT Center, Internews Armenia and Yerevan Press Club with the sponsorship of the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Rights and Labor (DRL), click here.