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Saturday, October 10

A Team Effort

With all the flap that has gone on accompanying the news of President Obama winning the Nobel Prize for Peace, something important is sometimes overlooked.

(And for the record I thought that the Norwegians were premature in their award. But, c'est la vie.)

President Obama was given this award - and make no mistake, it is an honor for America, not just him - for signaling a sea change in US foreign policy after eight years of unilateralist cowboy diplomacy that only served to make the USA and the world less safe. It's an ongoing process, with a long way to go.

And it's a team effort. Not just for the State Department and its professional diplomats, but for nations that share our values and aspirations and wish to be peacemakers.

Case in point, the treaty that was signed in Zurich today.

Didn't know about that?

Allow me to explain.

The Republics of Turkey and Armenia have been at loggerheads for nearly a century over the genocidal policy of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War that killed about a million Armenians, and the government in Yerevan is still honked off about Ankara's treatment of its Armenian minority. That being said, the two sides have struggled to come to some understanding that would open diplomatic relations.

Enter The Team.

The agreement signed today in Zurich was the product of diplomacy by experts from Russia, France, the European Union, Switzerland and the United States, and culminated in a brisk round of shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. While the agreement isn't perfect (there are still sticking points, such as Armenian troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh region), the treaty represents a milestone in relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Not everyone is happy about it, of course, particularly among those descendants of the people who got out of Turkish Armenia over 90 years ago.

But congratulations all around anyway, for taking this important first step. It was a team effort, and is what the Norwegian Nobel Committee had in mind when they gave their award to Obama.

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