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Cablegate: Armenian and Turkish Public Tv Sign Memorandum

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.

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SUMMARY
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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.

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COMMENT
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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

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