On November 8 in Ankara the leaders of four organizations – Yerevan Press Club, “Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan, the Association of Diplomacy Correspondents of Turkey and Turkish Democracy Foundation signed a Cooperation Protocol, aimed at facilitation of establishing specific forms of interaction among the journalists of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, initiation of a dialog among various professional sectors and politicians of the three countries.
The draft of the Protocol was developed by the participants of the third finalizing round table meeting held in Yerevan in early September. The first two similar meetings of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Turkish journalists took place in late June in Baku, Istanbul and Ankara. The round table series under the general title of “The Role of Media in Overcoming the Regional Conflicts and Eliminating the ‘Enemy Image’” was organized under a homonymous project initiated by Yerevan Press Club and “Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan and supported later by the Association of Diplomacy Correspondents of Turkey and Turkish Democracy Foundation. The project was funded by Open Society Institute Network Media Program (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 8-14 and June 23-29, 2001). The priority tasks of this program included the discussion of various aspects of the relations of the three countries of the region, also from the perspective of their coverage by media.
The Cooperation Protocol is an attempt to contribute to the settlement of existing problems and relieving the tension in the societies of the three countries through various joint journalistic initiatives. The parties to the Protocol have agreed:
– To sustain from the methods of propaganda war and to apply the principles of objective journalism;
– To support every effort of dialogue and rapprochement between their three countries;
– To contribute to the establishment of direct contacts and cooperation between the journalists and the media of the three countries, to facilitate mutual visits and the implementation of joint journalistic programs;
– To stimulate the establishment and the development of the dialog among the political figures and the general public of the three countries, adhering to the well-known principles of “Journalists for Peace”;
– To continue round table meetings in respective capitals and other cities of the three countries with the aim and intention of enhancing understanding and thus helping to create an atmosphere that will help the initiation and development of cooperation between the various professional sectors and politicians of the three countries.
To achieve the goals stipulated a Coordination Office is established to organize the further joint activities of the three professional NGOs – Yerevan Press Club, “Yeni Nesil” Journalists Union of Azerbaijan and the Association of Diplomacy Correspondents of Turkey. The Coordination Office operates on bi-annual rotation basis. Starting from the signing date, its functions are undertaken by the Turkish party, then – by the Armenian and the Azerbaijan party.
The urgency of the issue of adequate media coverage of the events linked to the relations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey was confirmed on the very next day of Protocol signing. The incorrect phrasings used by “Turkish Daily News” newspaper (issue dated November 9, 2001) immediately caused a negative response of the Armenian “Hayots Ashkhar” daily (issue dated November 10, 2001). In particular, “Turkish Daily News” mentioned that the protocol signed is an agreement of Turkish, Armenian, Azerbaijani journalists. Meanwhile, specific journalistic associations were the ones who agreed on the cooperation, and not all their colleagues in the three countries support them in this. Besides, the document was named “Ankara protocol” by “Turkish Daily News”, while it contains no link to the place where it was signed. This fact shows how some misinterpretations, which seem quite harmless, may interfere with an important cause, and how careful the journalists must be when writing on the complex problems of our region.