08YEREVAN709

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Reference ID	Created	Released	Classification	Origin
08YEREVAN709	2008-09-10 12:52	2011-08-24 01:00	UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY	Embassy Yerevan

VZCZCXRO9626 RR RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHYE #0709 2541252 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 101252Z SEP 08 FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7986 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1619 RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC UNCLAS YEREVAN 000709

SENSITIVE SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC, EUR/SE, EUR/PPD

E.O. 12958; N/A TAGS: PREL KPAO TU AM SUBJECT: ARMENIAN AND TURKISH PUBLIC TV SIGN MEMORANDUM

(U) Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.


SUMMARY


¶1. (SBU) On August 26, 2008, the directors of Armenian and Turkish Public TV and Radio signed a Memorandum on Cooperation that envisages broadcasting joint musical programs, documentaries, and films depicting life in the two countries. Both sides plan to send permanent news correspondents to each other's capitals. End Summary.


AN UNEXPECTED INVITATION


¶2. (SBU) Public TV and Radio Council Chairman Alexan Haroutunian explained to Embassy representatives the background and substance of the recently signed Memorandum on Cooperation between the public television stations of Turkey and Armenia. At the annual meeting of the European Broadcasters' Union in Budapest this summer, the Turkish delegate handed the Armenian delegate an invitation from TRT Director Ibrahim Sahin addressed to Haroutunian. Sahin invited Haroutunian to pay a visit to Ankara and Istanbul to discuss possible areas of cooperation.

¶3. (SBU) On August 25, a small Armenian delegation headed by Haroutunian left for Ankara where, on August 26, he and Sahin signed a Memorandum on Cooperation. Haroutunian explained that this cooperation would include, in theory, shooting of documentaries and films depicting life in the two countries, the organization of concerts in Turkey and Armenia with the participation of music groups from both sides, placing foreign correspondents in each other's capitals and other provisions to facilitate the work of the two companies in Armenia and Turkey.

¶4. (SBU) Haroutunian said he did several interviews while he was in Turkey and his visit received extensive press coverage. He noted that the coverage on the Armenian side was considerably less, partly because of his personal reluctance to appear on television here. Harutounian said that he and his staff are very enthusiastic about cooperation with the Turkish side, and he hopes to be able to find funds for the implementation of these programs. He indicated that, at least initially, the programming would seek to focus on non-controversial themes.

¶5. (SBU) Haroutunian opined that the invitation was prompted in large part by the new openness of the Turkish government to dealing with Armenia, and specifically the upcoming visit by President Gul to attend the Turkey-Armenia World Cup soccer match. (Note: President Gul visited Yerevan on September 6. End note.) Ironically, cooperation on the soccer match was minimal, since both stations have to work through a German company that has the broadcast rights to the games. Harutounian noted, however, that Sahin himself was favorably disposed to dialogue with Armenia, having been governor of a province on the border with Armenia and having visited the country several times.


COMMENT


¶6. (SBU) While this development is encouraging, the new agreement does not appear to commit either side to anything specific. Lacking a budget, it remains to be seen how soon any of these joint projects get off the ground. Perhaps the most promising aspect of the initiative would be the placing of permanent correspondents in each other's capitals, a development that could improve the quantity and quality of reporting on developments in the two countries. Armenian Public TV hopes to have a correspondent in place in Turkey by early next year at the latest. END COMMENT.


PENNINGTON