It was declared that the wanted prosecutors Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara went to Germany, but their Armenia adventure is still considered as a given fact. Alin Ozinian traces the “fleeing to Armenia” perception in Turkish official authorities and media.
Setting all different opinions aside, Armenia is still at the top of the most evil countries list for Turkish state, government and media. Last week, something that will confirm this approach happened, though it wasn’t a first. There is a warrant on former prosecutors Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara, and Kemal Cirit, Governor of Artvin, “declared” that they fled to Armenia via Georgia. And Anadolu Agency featured a video footage, which was recorded by the surveillance cameras, that shows Öz and Kara as they were crossing the border. In the video, it can be seen that Öz wears a hat as it was mentioned in the news report, but there wasn’t any detail that might help to understand which border he crossed or at which border gate he was. In the news report, they were no expressions like “allegedly” or “according to Governor of Artvin”. People started to use this news report as if it is a fact, instead of doing a fact-check. Turkish media immediately translated this report to English and started to carry it with this title: “The prosecutors are in Armenia”.
Governor Cirit, in his statement that he made to an AA correspondent, said that they declared their findings concerning Öz and Kara’s exit through Sarp Border Gate to the public in advance, because of the reports on social and mass media, and their transparent governing policy. Social media users kept saying that Armenia should extradite the prosecutors to Turkey and they also said libelous things like “They are in a place that they deserve” or “Dirty collaboration”.
Confusion in Armenia
These news reports caused confusion in Armenia. The press offices of Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Armenia National Intelligence Service stated that there is no question that is directed to them from the related government bodies or media organs concerning this allegation. Armenia National Intelligence Service made a statement to the Armenia press and said that they don’t have any information regarding this issue. Agos contacted to the officials of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after this news report was released and they haven’t confirm that Öz and Kara went to Armenia. It is hard to understand how the governor received this “information”, while the ministries of both countries stated that there is no such an information.
Garipoğlu had “fleed” too
Despite all, this questionable information has become a “given fact” in Turkey. Actually, we have seen “the bad guys fleeing to Armenia” scenario before. Back in 2009, when the murder of Münevver Karabulut and its investigation was one of the most important topics in Turkish media, Cemil Baran, a local journalist from Gaziantep, alleged that Cem Garipoğlu is captured in Armenia and the media took it as a firm evidence and people began to discuss how to bring back Cem Garipoğlu from Armenia. This discussion ended, when Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that he is not there. Turkish media also give coverage to stories that imply Armenia received PKK guerillas with open arms or act as an accessory for the various criminals that fled from Turkey.
Due to Turkey’s internal and foreign affairs policies, Armenia borders are still closed and the official lack of connection and embargo continues, and Armenia is used for heating up the agenda in situations like these for a long time. In short, with these kinds of news reports, the criminals who flee to a country with closed borders get more disgraced and the idea that Armenia will always work against Turkey is corroborated. Along with the common hatred against Armenia, the fact there isn’t any diplomatic relations between two countries makes it easier to speak ill of Armenia.
Vahram Ter-Matevosyan (Turcologist):
Involving Armenia in the issues concerning Turkey’s internal politics is not right. When Turkey seeks for an internal and external enemy, it turns to Armenia; this means finding a “victim” that Erdoğan government can blame for what happened. Instead of talking about Armenia this much, the embargo should be taken off and they should start to treat Armenian people in a different way.”
Can people with special passport enter Armenia?
Since the day it declared its independence, Armenia doesn’t give border gate visa to the Turkish citizens with special passport. The reason is simple. If you are a public officer, then the purpose of your visit is not touristic; so, you have to apply to Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a special invitation and receive your visa there. Even the academics and their spouses are subject to this application. Hence, it is impossible to go to Armenia freely with a special passport via Georgia.