On July 1, the special representatives of the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kilic, held the fourth meeting in Vienna.
According to the reports of the two sides about the meeting, substantive agreements were reached in both directions. The parties agreed to ensure the possibility of crossing the Armenia-Turkey land border in the shortest possible time for citizens of third countries visiting Armenia and Turkey, respectively. It was also agreed to start Armenia-Turkey direct air cargo transportation as soon as possible. Are these arrangements beneficial for Armenia? Turkey uses the process of normalization of relations and presents itself as if it is constructive, but it does not meet the specific proposals of the Armenian side. During the previous meeting, the Armenian side offered to open the border for RA citizens with diplomatic passports, which, however, Turkey rejected. Doesn’t this mean that Turkey is not really interested in the settlement of relations with Armenia, and is also not ready to settle them without preconditions? Speaking to 168.am, Turkologist Ruben Melkonyan mentioned in this regard:
“This is an attempt to invigorate or prepare for the final opening of that untouched border, which was a hardened closed border for about 30 years. The border, which seemed impassable, can now, even for the citizens of third countries, be opened, and the inhabitants of the visual place can be taught that the border has begun to breathe, has begun to work. The risks associated with the border, I think, are not well calculated. Who are the citizens of that third country, which countries are they from, what kind of citizens are they, and will their passage through here, what risks will their coming and going bring for Armenia, and will the security structures of Armenia be able to neutralize the risks. This is a continuation of the corridor logic, and Armenia, not only along the Meghri road, but in fact along the Armenian-Turkish border, continues to be perceived by Turkey and Azerbaijan as a corridor through which the citizens of third countries can pass, and the citizens of Armenia should look with pride at how the citizens of third countries citizens cross their border. They can be refugees from Syria, from terrorist groups from other eastern countries. In other words, a new security burden is being added to Armenia in order to be able to control that fragile border in such a way that various persons, representatives of various structures do not cross that border. As a result of all this, what will Armenia benefit from, what is Armenia’s interest, I find it difficult to say.”
According to him, this is not a positive gesture towards Armenia. It would be positive if the border was also opened for citizens of Armenia with diplomatic passports. But, in fact, even that concession has not been made, and it is very difficult to look for something pro-Armenian here, and it once again confirms the skillful Turkish diplomacy that the Turks do not completely stop the process, they enter into a “waiting process”, in the meantime, something that they take steps that do not harm their interests and wait until the Armenian side makes final concessions and fulfills their demands. But in the meantime, for the Armenian domestic audience, I suppose, at the request of the Armenian authorities, they announce that the process is going on without preconditions. If it is without preconditions, and if the border is opened for third countries, including suspicious citizens, then one could very easily, as a show of goodwill, open the border for diplomats and those same envoys to show that this is something positive. is a step. But its absence once again proves that Turkey continues to force its preconditions on Armenia, and positive statements do not correspond to Turkey’s real steps and goals.
“The most important of the preconditions are the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have not yet been resolved in favor of Turkey. I consider this agreement not a concrete result, but an imitation to show some kind of result. We have no reason to rejoice. The announcement that Turkey has started the process of normalizing relations with us without preconditions brings a bitter smile to professional diplomats. There have never been more obvious preconditions than the one set in the agenda of Armenian-Turkish relations. Erdogan’s statements that we will not take any steps until a peace treaty is signed with Azerbaijan, Artsakh is not recognized as part of Azerbaijan, are they not preconditions?” asks the Turkologist. As for the second part of the agreements, according to which Armenia-Turkey direct air freight should be started as soon as possible, economist Lilia Amirkhanyan mentioned in a conversation with 168.am that it is actually very problematic for us, because exportable
from our point of view, Armenia is not a competitor with Turkey in any way. If we were complementary economies, it could be assumed that we would export something and import something. But we cannot compete with Turkey for what is exportable for us, which is mainly agricultural products, mining, and textiles in a certain amount.
“In the case of direct air freight, it is not very reasonable to assume that something from Armenia will be exported to the Turkish market, or re-exported to other markets through the Turkish market, but on the contrary, Turkish goods will appear in the Armenian market in much larger flows. If Turkish goods have damaged our local production for years without an agreement, then in the case of air cargo transportation, we will have to deal with a much larger volume. Therefore, our economy will not only suffer a direct blow, but the same agricultural products, greenhouse production will face the problem of existence. So, I don’t see anything bright in that part of the agreements,” the economist noted. According to him, before such a process, it is necessary to thoroughly prepare, to have a high patronage policy, to be able to protect one’s own businessmen with effective mechanisms. We do not see anything about it at the public level, but we can be sure that there is no such process, because during the 1-year embargo on Turkish goods, the state could not implement such a policy that the same process would not take place after the embargo is lifted. “What has been done on the Armenian market in the past years, now, especially in the case of air cargo transportation, will increase many times over. Delivering a final blow to some sectors will be a matter of just months,” Lilia Amirkhanyan concluded. Anna Demirchyan