Armenian President to Watch Football Match in Turkey
Armenian President to Watch Football Match in Turkey

The president of Armenia says he will attend a football match in Turkey this week, days after the neighboring countries signed a landmark agreement to normalize relations after a century of hostilities.

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said Monday he had accepted an invitation by his Turkish counterpart to watch Turkey play Armenia in the second leg of their World Cup qualifier.  The Turkish president watched the first leg of the qualifier last year in Armenia.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey signed an agreement in the Swiss city of Zurich Saturday to establish diplomatic ties and reopen their countries' sealed border.  

Before the protocols can take effect, they must be ratified by the parliaments of both countries.  

Hostilities between the two countries stem from the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces during and after World War I.

Armenians want the massacres between 1915 and 1923 recognized as genocide.  Turkey strongly rejects the genocide claim, which many countries have recognized.  Turkey says the Armenian death toll is inflated and that many Turks also were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

The agreement calls for a joint commission of independent historians to examine the genocide question.  Some experts say the commission would be a concession to Turkey as it would revisit an issue Armenia says has already been confirmed.

Analysts say strong domestic opposition to the accord in both Armenia and Turkey will likely slow the ratification process.

An ongoing territorial dispute between Armenia and Turkey's ally, Azerbaijan, also could complicate efforts to normalize Armenian-Turkish relations.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan, which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists in Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.