From Pashinyan’s Turkey Visit to Turkish Tourism in Armenia: This Week In Fake News

By Hovhannes Nazaretyan

This is part of the weekly series by #CivilNetCheck – an initiative that will look at the week’s fake news and dubious claims – circulating in Armenia (and about Armenia).

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Misquoted on Pashinyan Visit

Last week, Armenian and Russian outlets quoted Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay as saying that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will participate in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in March. They cited the Turkish television channel A Haber as the source. However, CivilNetCheck found that in reality Oktay misquoted Pashinyan as having announced his supposed participation in the forum.

Armenia was invited by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to the forum on January 20. On February 2, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that he and Deputy Parliament Speaker Ruben Rubinyan, who is also the special envoy to the Armenia-Turkey normalization talks, have been invited.

In reality, Pashinyan has not yet confirmed his participation in the forum. On January 24, he had said that the likelihood of Armenia accepting Turkey’s invitation to partake in the forum was increasing, but he was talking about the participation of Armenia’s foreign minister and special representative, and not himself.

The confusion may have been caused by A Haber, the Turkish TV channel Oktay appeared on February 5. On A Haber’s screen captions, the text read: “Oktay: Armenian Prime Minister Will Come to the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.”

No Rise in Turkish Visitors to Armenia

Ruben Melikyan, the former Karabakh human rights defender (ombudsman) claimed in a Facebook post last October that there is an unprecedented increase in the number of Turkish visitors to Armenia. Melikyan had implied that these aren’t just tourists, but possible spies. He had posted a photo of Turkish passports supposedly found at a hotel in Yerevan.

Despite finding space in a number of outlets, CivilNetCheck found that recent data released by Armenia’s statistics agency, ArmStat, shows that the number of Turkish citizens visiting Armenia actually declined in 2021. Only 1,920 Turkish citizens entered Armenia last year, compared to 2,005 in 2020, and over 6,000 in 2019 and 2018.

Number of Tourists Did Not Triple

In March 2021, Armenia’s Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan, stated that there will be a 319% rise in the number of tourists in 2021. He later added that 1.2 million tourists are expected to arrive in 2021.

ArmStat released data on the number of tourists this week, which CivilNet presented in detail. Based on this data, fellow Armenian fact-checkers revealed that Kerobyan’s claim did not materialize. Around 870,000 tourists arrived in Armenia in 2021, significantly lower than Kerobyan’s prediction, but roughly 2.4 times more than in 2020.

leave a reply