Monday, October 8, 2007

Landlocked and worse!

Armenia borders 4 countries: Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. We have already been to Georgia on a train ride from hell (see posting back in June 2007), Tom would divorce me if I took the kids to Iran (and I have to say after Almadinajad's comments in NYC, I would be a little concerned), and the land borders to Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed. Azerbaijan and Armenia are fighting over Nargorno Karabagh, a region the Soviets declared was Azeri, but populated by Armenians. Once the USSR fell, the countries had a war and have not resolved the conflict. To get to Azerbaijan, we would have to go back through Georgia.

Turkey. I want to take the kids there and see how Istanbul has changed in the 20 years since I have been there. Cole would love the mosques, Austin would like the Topkapi palace and the swords. For many reasons, the relationship between Armenia and Turkey is not good. Turkey supported Azerbaijan in the NK war. But first, Turkey killed 1.5 million Armenians in WWI. Turkey denies it was genocide, minimizes the number dead, or claims the deaths were essentially collateral damage. Armenia doesn't buy it and argues it was the first genocide of the 20th century. Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire, but had protection from Europe and that didn't make the Sultans very happy. Armenia was the first nation to observe Christianity; Turkey is primarily Muslim. So while this dispute has historical, religious, and cultural underpinnings that scholars debate and study, the main thing it means to me is that I can't get to Turkey easily.

If I go by plane, I pay $450 per ticket for a 2 hour plane ride. But wait, the plane leaves and returns after midnight. So, I would have to either keep my darling angels awake until we get on the plane, throughout the ride, and until we get there sometime before the crack of dawn, or constantly wake them up every few hours. Either option makes me cringe. The other option is to go by bus via Georgia. First to Tbilisi and then on to Istanbul. That great option is 36 hours of pure unadulterated hell.

So, while Congress pushes the genocide resolution, Bush critizes it, and others argue passionately on both sides, the continuing political stalemate means that we are not going to Turkey. Did I mention that I see Mt. Ararat - now in Turkey, but part of the Armenian ancestral homeland - every morning? We are that close to Turkey. But still can't cross the border.

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