Towards Peace Building – Small steps, Big vision!

“…Children’s games in the streets were suddenly interrupted but they wanted to play more with their Armenian friends, they wanted to listen together to tales of their grandparents in the dusty streets of Van, Kars and Bitlis.

Without telling the reason why our Armenian friends left, they taught us to forget 24 April, to forget the games we played and the stories we were told…”


My eyes filled with tears after reading this letter written by AEGEE-Ankara Turkish-Armenian Working Group on 24 April. 24 April 1915 was the black day of Armenian history. For already 97 years on that day Armenians all over the world have commemorated the Armenian Genocide day by the Ottoman Empire.  The genocide was done in the most inhuman way – massacres and deportations, when around 1.5 million Armenians were killed and tortured, many lost their families, others had to escape to various sides of the world. This resulted in the development of the majority of Armenian diaspora communities all over the world. On that painful day Ottoman authorities arrested around 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria… 97 years have passed since that bloody day, but Armenians have this pain in their hearts, a pain that should not be familiar only to Armenians, but to the whole world in order to avoid this kind of crime towards human beings in
My first visit to Turkey was in 2010 when I was going to sign the Convention d’Adhésion for AEGEE-Yerevan, which became an official AEGEE contact. When I learnt that the Agora would be in Istanbul I was actually very glad as I had wanted to visit Istanbul long time before, but meanwhile, I didn’t know what to expect from Turkey. Surprisingly, I discovered a group of hospitable AEGEEans, friendship and fun.

I met the Turkish-Armenian working group members of AEGEE-Ankara who were opened for cooperation with AEGEE-Yerevan. I discovered so many similarities between Armenian and Turkish people. After that I thought: “I definitely need to contribute to the peace building process of our two nations.” Soon after the Agora the Armenian-Turkish working group of AEGEE-Yerevan was established. Active cooperation has started with the project called AEGEE Virtual Traveller, which gives  both members of AEGEE-Yerevan and Ankara an opportunity to write about the other countries without having visited it. You can check it here: Furthermore, the Turkish-Armenian working group of AEGEE-Ankara visited Yerevan around the Armenian Genocide Memorial day and discussed the future projects about which you will hear in the future.

Summing up, I just wanted to share my story and efforts we all make for our peaceful future. I am really proud to have this cooperation well established and wish good luck to both working groups for their future projects. That is how I see AEGEE contributing to its PEACE AND STABILITY pillar, that is how I am being proud of my association.

Wrtitten by Shushan Khachatryan, AEGEE-Yerevan &
Content Manager of AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project

Group photos by Shushan Khachatryan
Photograph of the Armenian Genocide memorial by M. Megi 

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