EU-funded programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process presents its achievements

Armenia, Turkey | Anadolu Kültür, Hrant Dink Foundation, Public Journalism Club, The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, Regional Studies Center, Eurasia Partnership Foundation,Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, Civilitas Foundation

In January 2014, a consortium of eight civil society organisations from Armenia and Turkey announced the launch of the programme Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process funded by the European Union under the Instrument for Stability.


The programme aims to promote civil society efforts towards the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia and towards an open border by enhancing people-to-people contacts, expanding economic and business links, promoting cultural and educational activities and facilitating access to balanced information in both societies.


The specific objective of the programme is to improve relations between the two societies by building durable and sustainable links between civil society, youth, businesses, policy makers, artists, media and academics, and providing positive examples of change in attitudes while implementing specific joint undertakings.


The Consortium includes Civilitas Foundation (CF), Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), Public Journalism Club (PJC), Regional Studies Center (RSC) from Armenia; and Anadolu Kültür, the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (hCa), and Hrant Dink Foundationfrom Turkey.


Since the programme kick off in January 2014, members of the Consortium carried out a number of activities ranging from media products contributing to better mutual understanding to trainings, workshops and exchanges for young people, teachers, artists and film-makers. The programme offered travel support and fellowship opportunities, thus contributing to direct contacts, cooperation and institutional partnerships across the border.


One of the main pillars of the Programme is inclusiveness – to engage and support new actors in the dialogue process. To this end, the Consortium created a Grant Scheme and invited individuals as well as civil society organisations from Armenia and Turkey – other than the Consortium members – to propose and implement their own project ideas.


The Grant Scheme received 130 applications in total from both countries on diverse topics – a clear indication of the civil society interest in Armenia-Turkey normalisation process. Out of 130 applicants, 11 were supported by the Grant Scheme, which allocated 10% of the overall programme budget to new actors (€ 200,000 out of € 2,000,000).


The Programme will continue with a variety of activities until the end of June 2015.


This report aims to share the highlights of the programme achievements so far, to provide information on the upcoming programme activities and to invite more people to get engaged in the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process.


For further information about the programme and results of all activities, please visit our trilingual


Remarkable Civil Society Interest in Armenia-Turkey Normalisation:

New Actors in the Dialogue Process


The Grant Scheme devised by the Consortium to engage new actors in the normalisation and dialogue process allocated 10% of the overall programme budget (€ 200,000 out of € 2,000,000) and supportednew actors from both countries to implement their own ideas for the normalisation process.  Administered by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation in liaison with the Hrant Dink Foundation, two open calls for proposals were issued in May and September 2014.


A total of 130 applications (70 from Turkey, 60 from Armenia) were submitted by individuals and organisations carrying out activities in various fields from environment to women, from development to art, from education to business. The Grant Scheme received proposals from different regions of Armenia and Turkey including Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Armavir, Sisian as well as Istanbul, Ankara, Afyon, Ağrı, Batman, Diyarbakır, İzmir, Kocaeli, Mersin, Muğla, Sakarya, Siirt, Şanlıurfa and Tokat.


The Evaluation Committee, made up of experts assigned by each member of the Consortium recommended 11 applications (5 from Turkey, 6 from Armenia) for funding. Click here to see more details about the Grant Scheme beneficiaries IMC TV, Nar Photos, Earth Association, Ferzan Özyaşar, Okan University from Turkey and Forum Theatre, Urban Foundation, Journalists’ for the Future, Legal Gender Cultural Association LIZA, Caucasus Research Resource Center and Versus Studio from Armenia.


The remarkable number of applications on diverse topics from both countries is a clear indication of the civil society interest in Armenia-Turkey normalisation process.


People Beyond Borders: Cross-Border Mobility at Grassroots


Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant was launched by the Hrant Dink Foundation in partnership with the Civilitas Foundation to increase direct contacts and promote cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. The Travel Grant aims to mobilise at least 200 individuals across Turkey-Armenia borderbetween April 2014 to May 2015.


Since its launch in March 2014, the Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant received a total of 700 applications, 553 from Turkey 147 from Armenia from different cities and regions and so far supported 189 individuals. 85granteeshave already realized their visits to the neighbouring country. Read more about the personal accounts, photos and media coverage of the people who already shared their experiences and impressions on the Beyond Borders Blog.


The Travel Grant has been instrumental in connecting people at grassroots level, enabling them to travel to the neigbouring country behind closed borders and to know the culture, thoughts and expectations of their neighbours, finding them partners and counterparts in their fields from arts to sports, from human rights to history, offering them the opportunity to do feasibility of their cooperation ideas.


Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant has received great interest from different regions of both countries in particular from Turkey. Given the fact that the border is closed by Turkey and that citizens of Turkey have rather low awareness of about their neighbours, this demand demonstrates that the civil society in Turkey is in favour of normalisation.


Culture and Arts: Making Art Together


Armenia Turkey Cinema Platform and Female Minstrels by Anadolu Kültür along with the Exchange of Painters by the Public Journalism Club have been the major cultural achievements which did not only bring together cultural actors from both countries but also reached out to a broader audience while showcasing their joint products.


Armenia Turkey Cinema Platform held workshops, organised screenings and award ceremony during the International Film Festivals in Istanbul and Yerevan; two Female Minstrels performed in joint concerts in Yerevan, Van and Istanbul; painters and artists from both countries jointly created a 2015 Calendar showcasing their art work.


Armenia Turkey Cinema Platform received more than 60 projects this year in two terms– the Istanbul call in April and the Yerevan call in July. In addition to the award-winning project of Eric Nazarian, the Oud Maker, the Platform also delivered a second prize for Nigol Bezjian’s After This Day with the financial assistance of the Optical Art of Hamburg.  At the Platform’s Yerevan workshop, “A Blurry Pastel Painting”by Sevda Usanoğlu was announced as the winner project.


During the International Istanbul Film Festival, Devrim Akkaya’s Platform-supported documentary Diyarhas been premiered and received a huge media and audience interest. Derya Durmaz’s Platform supported short film Ziazan travelled around the world through the festivals and created an opportunity for the people to speak about the closed borders. Both films were also screened at the Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan and reached more than 2,000 people in total and were covered in the media.


Female Minstrels project welcomed approximately 300 guests to its first concert ‘From Van to Yerevan’held in Yerevan, Armenia in May 2014. The concert was live streamed by With the media interest, the first meeting of female minstrels has been well presented to the Armenian audience.


Kurdish woman artist, Dengbêj Gazîn recorded a song at Yerevan Radio – the radio station that has a special place for the Kurdish society all over the world. Click here to watch the live stream recording of the entire concert in Yerevan.


Ashugh Leyli and Dengbêj Gazîn continued their performances in Van and Istanbul in September 2015. Their performance in Aghtamar Island in Van followed the mass at the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross and reached out to local people of Van as well as the visitors to the ceremony from around the world. After their last concert in Istanbul at the Istanbul Technical University Hall, the female minstrelsDengbêj GazînandAshugh Leylirecorded their songs, which will be published by Kalan Müzik in April 2015.


Exchange of Painters, jointly organised by the Public Journalism Club and Anadolu Kültür, brought together four artists from each country accompanied by 2 mentors. During the two visits to Yerevan in September 2014 and Istanbul in October 2014, the artists visited cultural landmarks and arts centres, held 10 master classes and organised sketching and painting sessions in public spaces.


In downtown Yerevan, the young artists painted an arch in street art style, which symbolizes their joint call for overcoming closed borders and moving towards each other. The selected paintings produced during these visits were compiled and published in a 2015 calendar.


Teachers and Young People: Learning from One Another


Empowering Youth as an Agent of Change training course by the Regional Studies Center provided with insights into civic activism to young people from both countries, who will become multipliers.


YavaşGamats Summer School by the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly has received great interest from its target group – teachers from both countries, who are not only the largest group of educators in the formal education system, but also potentially key actors in societal transformation process.


Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly’s (hCa), based on its earlier experience of the YavaşGamats Summer School in Antakya, Turkey in 2005 which brought together 24 university students, organised a one-week YavasGamats summer school with 40 teachers and students from Armenia and Turkey in Kocaeli, Turkeyon 11th to 17th of August, 2014.


Even though teachers are obliged to get permits from their schools and Ministry of Education, there has been a great interest in the summer school and a total of 70 teachers and teacher candidates from different regions of Turkey including Ankara, İzmir, İstanbul, Diyarbakır, Mersin, Yozgat, Kars, Konya, Kocaeli and 50 teachers from Armenia applied to take part. The one-week summer school was marked by personal transformations and confidence-building.


Click here to find more about the Yavaş Gamats Summer School, its participants and useful resources.


Youth as an Agent of Change

Firmly believing in the transformative power of the youth as an actor in the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process, the Regional Studies Center in cooperation with the Civic Forum NGO  organised two one-week training courses entitled ‘‘Closed Borders, Open Minds’’. The first training course in Yerevan on May 12th-19th, 2014 and the second training in Istanbul on October 13th-19th, 2014 adopted a non-formal education methodology and brought together 40 young people from both countries.


During the training courses, the participants had the opportunity to meet civic activists, acquired conflict transformation and advocacy skills, developed a common vision and tools for the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process.


Cultural Heritage Protection: Experts Working Together


Eurasia Partnership Foundation and Anadolu Kültür jointly organised a visit to the city of Mush to studyArmenian cultural heritage and assess Armenian monuments in Eastern parts of Turkey. In October 2014, a group of 12 architects, restoration specialists, historians, ethnographers and art historians from Armenia and Turkey together with the Head of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) visited Mush city and its surroundings, and examined around twenty Armenian monuments including monasteries, churches, castles, bridges, fountains, watermills and baths.


By the end of the project, a report summarising the results of study visit will be published with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Ankara. The report will provide recommendations for further preservation and conservation of the Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey, which will be a beneficial resource for policy-makers.


Expanding Economic and Business Links


In its sectoral study on ‘‘Economic Opportunity Analysis’’, TEPAV  (Economic Research Policy Foundation of Turkey) explored opportunities for economic cooperation between SMEs of both countries. Click hereto read the findings of the study, which has been instrumental in engaging with the private sectors of both countries in particular in the ICT and tourism sectors.


Beyond exploring opportunities, TEPAV and the Public Journalism Club joined forces to bring together entrepreneurs and investors from Armenia and Turkey with a focus on the ICT entrepreneurial ecosystemof both countries. For the very first time, the largest ever delegation of 30 entrepreneurs and investors from Turkey visited Armenia in November 2014, built links with their counterparts in Armenia and held around table discussion in Yerevan with more than 60 participants.


The most remarkable highlight of the exchange has been the Armenia-Turkey Startup Weekend – first of its kind – organised in Gyumri’s Technopark during the InnoWeekend. During the Armenia-Turkey Startup Weekend, the participating entrepreneurs formed mixed teams and developed startup ideas. The jury made up of investors from Turkey and leading ICT investors from Armenia awarded 3 projects. The event was widely covered by the media.


The Exchange of Entrepreneurs continued with a study visit of to Istanbul and Antalya in February 2015. 12 delegates including top representatives of Armenia’s ICT sector, investors and entrepreneurs visited companies, accelerators, incubation centres and techno parks in Istanbul and took part in the prestigious Startup Turkey event in Antalya.


Throughout their time at Startup Turkey hosting more than 700 participants, the Armenian delegates had networking opportunities with top technological experts, investors and entrepreneurs from Turkey and worldwide.


Click here to see the infographic with facts and details about the Armenia-Turkey Startup Weekend.


Towards Institutional Partnerships


The Hrant Dink Foundation established the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme to promote cross-borderaffiliation and cooperation of professionals from the two neighbouring countries in areas where further exchange of expertise and lasting cooperation is much needed, such as academia, civil society, media, culture and arts, translation and interpreting/language-learning and law.


The Fellowship Scheme offered 18 professionals from Armenia and Turkey – 12 from Armenia, 6 from Turkey – the opportunity to live in neighbouring country for 4 to 8 months, learn languages and follow a special programme at CNN Türk, Bilgi University, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul Şehir University, Kadir Has University, Yıldız Technical University, TESEV, SALT Galata, Istanbul Museum of Modern Arts, Anadolu Kültür, Yuva Association, in Turkey and the Civilitas Foundation, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences, Caucasus Resource Research Center, Women’s Resouce Center, Pink Armenia and Gallery 25 in Armenia.


A total of 88 organisations (63 organisations from Turkey, 25 from Armenia) from Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, İstanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakır, Van, Kars, İzmir, Çanakkale have shown interest and taken part in the programme by offering specific fellowship opportunities for the candidates from the neighbouring country.


Amongst these organisations, there are major universities, research centers, think tanks, newspapers and TV channels, civil society organisations, art centers are museums from both countries. Click here to see the list of 88 organisations offering fellowship opportunities.


Given the fact that due to lack of diplomatic relations, closed border and years of disconnection, so far there has not been any academic exchange programmes between the universities of the two countries, there is significant lack of professionals, journalists, interpreters, translators, lawyers, who have professional expertise about the two countries; this scheme aspires to facilitate the initial steps of long lasting professional and institutional links. The great interest and demand, the participation of various organisations from Turkey is particular is note-worthy.


Understanding Turkey


The Civilitas Foundation continues to facilitate access to balanced information with its Understanding Turkey series. Foundation’s media project has translated various articles, made numerousinterviews and made special packages from Turkey so that the audience in Armenia can have better understanding of the developments in the neighbouring Turkey.


With its correspondents directly reporting from Turkey, the Civilitas Foundation covered a wide spectrum of issues ranging from local and presidential elections in Turkey to the April 24th Armenian Genocide commemorations in Istanbul, from Turkey’s democratisation process to the war in Syria including the stories of Kessab Armenians travelling to Turkey and back home.


Since April 2014, only within this project produced 195 media outputs, with an additional 350 outputs as part of another project, making CivilNet a specialised media producing an average 15 pieces on issues related to Turkey. During this period website had more than 2.5 million views. The media products of the Civilnet were also republished and quoted in various Armenian news portals and papers.


Click here to access the entire interviews and news packages


Media Support: Quality Analysis


Based on its earlier experience and relationship with Turkey, the Regional Studies Center continued to provide input to the Turkish media both through interviews as well as deeper analytical content on a wider range of issues beyond the Armenia-related issues including developments in the region, such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Nagorno Karabakh, and also the wider region, such as developments in Iran, Syria and US-Turkish relations.


Cooperation with Turkish media have included exclusive interviews and support for analysis and reportingfor both several well-known English-language newspapers and for prominent Turkish-language national dailies.


RSC has also expanded its focus on Turkish television, including support for TV news teams, news anchors and editors.  In 2014, the Regional Studies Center provided more than 40 interviews and pieces to 13 newspapers, 8 TV channels and 2 analytical journals in Turkey.


Click here to access the interviews and analytical pieces produced by the RSC


Journalists Crossing Borders


Eurasia Partnership Foundation’s Media Bus Tour brought together 10 journalists from Turkey and 10 from Armenia in a joint journalistic trip in October 2014. During the two-week programme, the participating journalists hit the roads and visited Istanbul, Izmir, Fethiye, Antalya, Ankara and Cappadocia in Turkey and continued with Dilijan, Yerevan, Lake Sevan, Sisian, Garni in Armenia.


During their trip, they got to know local people and NGOs; met experts, political analysts, representatives of the business sector; met the EU Delegation representatives to discuss the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process; discovered stories; made interviews and published their stories in their home media outlets and in social networks.


Click here to view the articles published by the participants of the Media Bus Tour


Climbing the Mountain: Sharing Personal Journeys


The Civilitas Foundation organises series of travelling programmes with well-known public figures – both Armenians and Turks who talk about their “personal journeys” dealing with historical and political tensions and their own views on the way forward.


These programs are held in various public spaces such as schools, universities, radio stations, theatres, museums in Turkey and Armenia as well as in various European capitals. As part of its Climbing the Mountain series, on December 11th, 2014 in Yerevan the Civilitas Foundation hosted Hasan Cemal, a prominent journalist in Turkey who is  known to the Armenian public through his grandfather Cemal Pasha – one of the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide.


The event at the Moscow Theater was attended by more than 500 people including politicians, foreign diplomats, students. The event was livestreamed by CivilNet and was watched by 2000 viewers.


Trilingual Website: A Portal Mapping Activities Between Armenia and Turkey


Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process has a dynamic website which provides news and updates about all the activities taking place within the framework of the programme in Armenian, Turkish and English. Designed and managed by the Public Journalism Club, the programme website features atrilingual map that tracks the locations of all key project activities as well as an image and video gallery.


According to the Google Analytics Report, the website received more than 42.000 visitors since its launch in July 2014. By the end of the programme, the website will serve as a networking tool featuring the overview of the past, current, and future developments in Armenia-Turkey dialogue initiatives.


Programme Continues with Upcoming Activities

Get Engaged in the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process!


Turkey-Armenia Travel Grant beneficiaries supported by the Hrant Dink Foundation will continue their visits and share their stories and impressions about the neighbouring country.


Armenia Turkey Cinema Platform byAnadolu Kültür will organise its next workshop in Istanbul on April 13th– 15th in parallel to the Istanbul International Film Festival.


Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme by Hrant Dink Foundation will continue to support 18 fellows from Armenia and Turkeyuntil the end of May 2015.


The Grant Scheme recipient Forum Theater NGO is presenting the results of its workshop for theatre practitioners from Armenia and Turkey in public performances of Bertolt Brecht’s “He Who Says Yes, He Who Says No’’. The performances will continue with more plays in Yerevan by Armenian actors on April 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th, 2015 at NPAK.


The Grant Scheme recipient imc tv airs the ‘’Face to Face’’ interview series with Kurdish politicians and intellectuals who talk about the 1915 Genocide in its centenary every Wednesday at 22:15 CET +1 on imc tv.


The Grant Scheme recipient CRRC-Armenia Caucasus Resource Research Center is presenting the outputs of the Public Opinion Poll on the Ways for Normalisation of Armenian-Turkish Relations at a panel discussion in Yerevan in April 2015 and in Istanbul in May 2015.


The Grant Scheme recipient Journalists For the Future is presenting the documentary film ‘‘Neighbours by Destiny’’’ at a workshop in Yerevan in April 2015 and in Istanbul in May 2015.


The Grant Scheme recipient Nar Photos is presenting the photographs and multimedia documentaries they produced as part of their project ‘‘Glazed Time’’ in an exhibition in Diyarbakır at Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Exhibition Hall from May 23rd to June 5th, 2015.


The Grant Scheme recipients Ferzan Özyaşar and Eylem Şen are launching their documentary film ‘’Sleep of the Oranges’’ on Musa Dagh Armenians in Istanbul in May, 2015.