Word comes out of Europe that one their more enduring hatreds is showing signs of a thaw. After a year of secret talks in Switzerland, the nations of Turkey and Armenia have agreed to normalize their relations. Well, not exactly normalize, since they have never in their histories exchanged diplomats, but actually having relations for the first time. While both sides entered these negotiations as “cautious” and “hopeful,” they have in fact agreed to exchange ambassadors. Just the fact they began speaking is pretty amazing. While no formal agreement is yet in place on many of their long standing disputes, the announcement of mutual recognition is huge news.

The enmity between Turks and Armenians dates back to the year 1071, nearly a millennia of “You suck! – No you do!” Nothing too unusual for that part of the world, what with Turkey being neighbors of the Balkans on one side and the Middle East on the Armenian border side, the twin poster boy regions for ancient hatreds. Most of the specific reasons for these various ethnic hatreds have been lost in the mists of time, but by no means diminished. The prevailing wisdom is: “Why let go of a good blood feud just because no one remembers what it was all about?” The only difference with the Turkey-Armenia feud is that Turkey provided a very real bad memory in the historically fairly recent years of 1915 to 1918 by slaughtering a million and a half Armenians and denying that it ever happened.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the Turks own up to this atrocious genocide or keep blaming it on the Armenians’ susceptibility to allergies, or whatever equally lame excuses they have been making since 1918. It will be equally interesting to see if the Armenians can rise above any nationalist longings for revenge against the Turks and will accept an admission of the atrocity and profound regrets. This is a unique opportunity for these two nations to show the world what is possible by talking to one another rather than mobilizing armies to settle their differences.

At this time in history when many wars of hatred and genocide rage on three continents and two archipelagos, Turkey and Armenia can help change the world, as well as their own hearts and all of ours, for the better. They need not become bosom buddies overnight, but by burying the hatchet in the ground rather than in their neighbors’ skulls, these two nations will send a ray of light to a dark world. The rest of us have to hope and pray that humanity prevails over inhumanity and we have one more small example to show us that someday, somehow, peace will be within our grasp.

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