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Platini hails football diplomacy after Turkish president visits Armenia

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Sep 2008

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UEFA President Michel Platini on Monday hailed the unifying force of football after the 2010 World Cup qualifier between Armenia and Turkey at the weekend was accompanied by an historic visit of the Turkish president to Yerevan.

President Abdullah Gul's landmark visit coincided with his country's 2-0 victory and is expected to ease relations between the two foes.

Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991 because of Armenian efforts to secure international recognition of Armenian massacres under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

“Football is our world. Consequently, it is not our intention to analyse the reasons for this state of affairs. However, it must be emphasised today that football has, once again, brought people closer together. A president of Turkey has visited Armenia for the first time,” said Platini.

“The Turkish national anthem was played and respected in Yerevan. There was great emotion on both sides, and my representatives in Yerevan tell me that the match was played in an exemplary spirit.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the two associations and the players. They have provided an extraordinary example of the power of sport's spirit, and have sent out a considerable message of hope in a region which has a great need of such messages.”

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