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Armenia, Turkey Sign Landmark Accord Despite Tensions

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The former Soviet republic of Armenia and Turkey have signed an historic accord on normalizing relations after a century of hostility.

The signing on Saturday in Zurich, Switzerland came after a last minute delay caused by a dispute over the final statements the two nations would make. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped get the signing back on course. But the agreement has been met by protests in Armenia, where many people say it does not fully address the 1915 killing of over a million people.

Some 10,000 people marched through the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest against the planned normalization of diplomatic relations with Turkey.

They said ties can only be restored if Turkey recognises that the killings during the last days of the Ottoman Empire of as many as 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide.

But Turkey has denied the mass killings in 1915 amounted to genocide, saying many people died because of hardship and fighting during World War One.

Despite these remaining disagreements, the governments of Armenia and Turkey agreed to sign a peace accord to normalize relations.

The Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers (Edward Nalbandian and Ahmet Davutoglu) signed protocols to restore diplomatic ties and open the countries' sealed border.

United Sates Secretary of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were among other officials attending the ceremony.

The protocols will establish diplomatic ties and open the Armenian-Turkish border, provided their respective parliaments subsequently ratify them.

Commentators say domestic opposition in both countries will likely slow the process.

Armenians have mixed feelings about the agreement.

"The protocols are very humiliating. And there are points in them that hinder our development as a society as a country as a people and preventing the international recognition of the Armenian genocide," said one man.

Another Armenian man says the agreement with Turkey carries too many risks. "It is a risky situation because we can lose, but we also can win. But the risk [of this agreement] also gives us possibilities," he said.

Similar sentiments have been expressed in Turkey.

Yet European and American diplomats view the agreement as a landmark pact that seeks reconciliation, after nearly a century of bitterness between the two nations, over their blood stained history.