If Turkey’s initiative to create a free trade zone with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan becomes a reality, it will prove to be an unfavorable factor for Armenia as Turkey will become a real actor in that market, with certain anti-Armenian manifestations, expert in Turkic studies Ara Papyan told Tert.am.
“Turkey has had this intention for a long time. When Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke of Turkey’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, he was actually speaking of Turkey’s joining it somehow rather than of its membership. So if this scenario is made a reality, Turkey, as well as other Turkic-speaking countries, will greatly benefit from it. But it will have negative consequences for us,” Papyan said.
Such developments are undesirable for Armenia because they will create bias toward the interests of Russia and Turkey.
“The two countries’ bilateral trade turnover is around $20bn, but they are going to bring it up to $100bn. This is an anti-Armenian figure, with all the ensuing consequences,” he said.
Regrettably, Armenia cannot do anything in this situation, Papyan says.
“The only thing for us to do is to place our hopes on Russia, its realizing its own geopolitical interests. But, it should be noted, experience shows it does not work,” Papyan said.
According to him, Russia is ready to renounce its geopolitical interests for economic interests because, given its heavy situation, it is seeking to resolve short-term problems.
Papyan doesn’t think Armenia will be an obstacle in case the sides decide to build such relations. The only power, according to him, may be the United States in case that country doesn’t really want Turkey to develop close ties with Russia.
Addressing the topic, economist Vahagn Khachatryan said it is still too early to talk about such relations given that none of the states have made any statement so far.
“Turkey, which develops large-scale relations with Russia, will naturally desire to expand them. But the problem for the Customs Union member states is Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has always wished to expand Kazakhstan-Turkey relations, so they now wish to involve Turkey [in the bloc] to realize their economic project,” he noted.
Khachatryan added that he doesn’t pin much positive hope on the plan given that ideas of the kind have not been a success in the recent period.
“After all, it will depend on how things will develop. Free trade must always have certain limitations; Turkey is a World Trade Organization member, while Belarus and Kazakhstan are not. This may cause Turkey to face the same problem as Armenia,” Khacharyan explained.
As for Armenia’s future, the economist said he expects Armenian-Turkish relations to become an agenda topic after the country joins the Russia-led economic bloc. “It is possible to make such assumptions,” he added.