POSTED: December 3rd 2008

Peace award for Cup rivals

The handshake . . . between Presidents Gul and Sargsyan / Image: Peace and Sport
The handshake . . . between Presidents Gul and Sargsyan / Image: Peace and Sport

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

MONACO: A World Cup tie has provided the context for a prestigious international peace award after a remarkable piece of so-called “football diplomacy.”

The match concerned was the European qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey in Yerevan last September 6.

It was attended by the Turkish state President Abdullah Gul who had been invited by his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan in a joint bid to explore bringing an end to decades of cross-border animosity.

This was the first visit to Armenia by a Turkish head of state and was made possible both by political will but also by the coincidence of the two nations’ football teams facing one another in competition for the first time.

The two Presidents watched Turkey’s 2-0 win in the Hrazdan stadium after political discussions about relations between the countries.

A symbolic handshake between the two men was judged worthy of the award jointly to Turkey and Armenia of the 2008 Peace and Sport Image of the Year prize from the Monaco-based organisation.

Armen Grigorian, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and Mahmut Ozgener, president of the Turkish football federation, will receive the award Thursday from Prince Albert II of Monaco.

He is patron of Peace and Sport which seeks to bring the values and practice of sport to help reconcile fractured communities through its espousal of qualities such as tolerance, harmony, respect, sharing, citizenship and self-achievement in the pursuit of sustainable peace.

Keywords · World Cup · Armenia · Turkey · Yerevan · President Abdullah Gul · Serzh Sargsyan · Peace and Sport Image of the Year · Mahmut Ozgener · Prince Albert II

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