BY ARA KHANJIAN
Based on the comments of some readers of my article “Questionable Economic Results Do Not Provide Justification For Signing The Turkey-Armenia Protocols”, Asbarez January 8, I would like to make two clarifications.
First, this article is not arguing that we shouldn’t open the border and that we should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. Turkey closed the border; therefore Turkey could open it at anytime. Armenia should be prepared for that day. Currently we aren’t.
The article says that: “We could divide Armenian producers into two groups:”
- First, large companies producing energy and raw materials such as copper. Most of Armenia’s exports are based on raw materials.” If Turkey opens the borders, this group of producers could benefit, because they could export energy, such as electricity to Turkey.
- “The second group could be represented as small and medium size producers, producing for the domestic markets, mainly in the agricultural and food production sectors.” Most of the labor force in Armenia works in this group. The article argues that this group will suffer when Turkey opens the border, because they will not be able to compete with the subsidized Turkish products. The article describes that the Turkish government:
- Protects its products through higher tariffs and quotas. Either Armenia should impose similar tariffs and quotas on Turkish products or it should negotiate with Turkey to reduce them.
- Subsidizes its producers. Either Armenia should subsidize its producers at the same level or should negotiate with Turkey to reduce them.
- Promotes its exports. Armenia’s government should support its producers to exports their goods all over the world.
Finally the article argues that the best way for Armenia to improve its economy and raise the standard of living of the population, is to increase the productivity of production in general, and more specifically the production of the agricultural sector. In section four, the article argues that Armenia could increase productivity and improve living conditions in Armenia by increasing the level of competition, reducing corruption and shadow economy, improving the rule of law and increasing government expenditures on education, health care, communication, internet access, etc. When Armenia takes these measures and improves the quality of production and if Turkey opens the border, then Armenian products will be able to compete with Turkish ones.
I am not using economic arguments to argue against the protocols. We don’t need the economic arguments to be against the protocols. There are already three main reasons to oppose them. In my opinion the most important reason to oppose the protocols is that it accepts and confirms the current borders that exist between Turkey and Armenia. This implies that Armenia agrees that Kars, Ardahan, the rest of Western Armenia, even Massis and Ararat are Turkish territories. The second reason is that the protocols “will generate directly or indirectly doubts about the Armenian Genocide.” Finally, the protocols could endanger Karabakh. These three arguments are more than sufficient to condemn the protocols. Even if the economic gains from open borders are more than the economic losses, accepting that Ararat is a Turkish territory, is enough for me to be against the protocols.
The article is just arguing that those who support the protocols couldn’t even use economic arguments in favor of the protocols, because when Turkey opens the borders, some groups in Armenia will benefit, while others will suffer and the effect on the whole economy and the population is questionable.