U.S. Envoy Argues For Turkish-Armenian Border Opening

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Marie Yovanovitch, claimed on Friday that Armenia would draw substantial economic benefits from the possible opening of its border with Turkey and most Armenians seem to realize that.

Reiterating Washington’s strong support for the Turkish-Armenian normalization, Yovanovitch said Armenia’s heavy dependence on Georgian transit routes carries an “enormous risk” that was highlighted during Georgia’s August 2008 war with Russia. The resulting disruption of vital cargo supplies to the landlocked country underlined the importance of having an open border with Turkey, she said.

“The benefits [of border opening], I think, are clear to Armenia,” Yovanovitch told a panel discussion in Yerevan on Turkish-Armenian cross-border commerce. “An end to geographic and economic isolation; expanded export opportunities, especially for the depressed communities near the border; opening of the new transport routes that would reduce transport costs; easier access to Armenia for Turkish goods; increased competition and choice for Armenian consumers, a higher quality of Armenian products … and new export routes for Armenian products.”

The diplomat continued to make the case for opening borders, claiming that Armenian exporters would also gain access to Turkey’s large and highly protected market. “In addition, with Turkey and the European Union linked by a customs union agreement for trade purposes, an open border with Turkey would put Armenia on a border of Western Europe,” she said.

Yovanovitch also spoke of what she called significant political and economic benefits of border opening for Turkey. “Turkish companies would have new export markets in Armenia, and by establishing operations here they could take advantage of favorable export tariffs to Russia and other CIS countries at the same time as they create employment for Armenians,” she argued.

The remarks reflect the view of not only the U.S. government but also the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and other lending institutions. Senior IMF and the World Bank officials believe that a positive impact of border opening on Armenia’s recession-hit economy would be felt as early as this year.

Armenian, economists, however, assert that-border commerce with Turkey would actually damage the domestic economy. They say it would flood the domestic market with cheap Turkish consumer goods and thereby hurt many Armenian manufacturers.

Yovanovitch said she found such concerns legitimate but added that she believes the Armenian government can minimize possible “short-term shocks” resulting from the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. “Opening the border between Armenia and Turkey will require adjustments,” she said. “But I’m confident that the long-term benefits to both countries and the region far outweigh any short-term economic impacts.”

Yovanovitch also stood by her view that most Armenians support rapprochement with Turkey, despite an unprecedented wave of opposition against the agreements  by most Armenians in Armenia and its far-flung Diaspora.

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20 Comments

  1. Frank said:

    The Turkish public is vehemently opposed to any kind of association with the Armenians.
    Those who are governing Turkey are also of the same opinion.
    Americans are trying very hard to make the 2 countries sign this deal.
    Their plans should revolve around the scenerio of how things will be when the agreement has collapsed
    From the way it looks the agreement is already collapsed.
    By being un-realistic they are causing stress on the people of Armenia and Armenians all over the world.
    They should talk about returning our lands back to our people
    The 6 provences and Cilicia
    Also our family is from Kayseri and our people in our family had their heads choped.
    They took our property.
    If you lok at Kayseri now there are building everywhere and most likely building are built on property that was owned by Armenians,
    We have lost all documents
    Does America ever think about how the those land in Kayseri will be returned to the Armenians

  2. Nairian said:

    I do believe what the Armenian economists have asserted. Indeed, the cheap Turkish consumer goods will flood the domestic market and thereby hurt many Armenian manufacturers. I believe with what the Armenian economists have asserted.

  3. Zaruhi P said:

    How lovely! How passionate America has become in supporting Armenia’s role and significance in the region. Yovanovitch and her State Department are sleepless thinkin of how to strengthen Armenia economically, restore historical justice about the Genocide and the loss of Western Armenia. How touching is it on their part! Opening of the Turkish-Armenian border from economic,national security, demographic, and ideological perspectives is a DISASTER for Armenia, expecially at the time when it’s ruled by illegitimate regime totally unaccountable to the people. The open border, Madam Yovanovitch, is needed for the US and your country’ regional ambitions, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to some sources, Armenia will be providing a military unit for the ISAF in Afghanistan in 2010. The unit will be guarding the airfield in Kunduz.

  4. Aramais said:

    What exactly does the last paragraph impy: “Yovanovitch also stood by her view that most Armenians support rapprochement with Turkey, despite an unprecedented wave of opposition against the agreements by most Armenians in Armenia and its far-flung Diaspora.” Madam Ambassador, most Armenians DO NOT support rapproachement with Turkey based on pre-conditions included in the protocols. They support rapproachement with Turkey WITHOUT pre-conditions, such as stupid clauses relating to the establishment of a historical commission, recognition of all existing borders in the region (what dies this have to do with a bilateral Turkish-Armenian document), and acceptane of international treaties (which either have been signed without Armenia’s participation or between internationally unrecognized entities). If your State Department calculated that most Armenians supported such a rapproachement, then I really pity the abilities of a country that portrays itself as the most technologically advanced nation in the world. It might have been either your day-dreaming or wishfull thinking. We will not STOP. Make no mistake!

  5. John K. said:

    Someone should tell this lady that she is barking at the wrong tree. Armenians did not close the border; the Turks did. Let her lecture the Turks on the benefits of an open border with Armenia. Furthermore, we don’t want to give up the farm to have an open border. There should be no pre-conditions period.

  6. Arman said:

    On the photo: Why is US ambassador sitting next to Armenian prime-minister in line with other Armenian officils? Aren’t they supposed to sit opposite to each other? What kind of a setting is this? Who’s sitting on the opposite side? What is this, yet another US State Department cheap trick? To create an illusion that the US and Armenian authorities are unanimous with what their envoy is saying on the protocols. Well, remeber these idiotic documents belong in the garbage, because if the people reject them, as the majority of them both in Diaspora and in Armenia do, there’ll be no power in the world to make the people accept them. The US State Department is so removed from reality, so indifferent to other nations’ pain and sufering, and so fervent to advance its oil and gas interests, that this institution needs to be treated deplorably. What kind of mercantile, profit-oriented, and soulless human beings work there? Agh…

  7. immortal Souls of western Armenia risen said:

    another puppet on a string!!! why do they think they know what is good for us, why do they think we don’t and can’t judge for ourselves. we are to open borders because madam is confident it will work, wow, talk about being full of yourself. THE ANSWER IS TO THAT IS, VOCH!!

  8. Berge Jololian said:

    It is astonishing to read that the US Envoy to Armenia, the very same envoy who works for the US State Department is promoting border opening with Armenia, knowing that it is the same US State Department who has tacitly supported Turkey’s hostile blockade for the past 17 years; the same US State Department who has been exerting hostile diplomatic, arm-twisting a tiny landlocked country. And, this is the same US State Department who is complicit in genocide denial; and the very US State Department who tried to fool Armenians with TARC, and finally, this is the same US State Department that is trying to fool Armenians with the Protocols.

    The US Envoy’s genuine interest is access route via Armenia to Central Asian gas & oil reserves. Without Armenia’s open border with Turkey and Azerbaijan, the US State Department has no other viable route. Georgia has been deemed unstable and unreliable since Russia whacked Georgia in August 2008. Turkey is rendered a dead-end corridor between Europe and the Central Asian energy reserves (Turkmenistan gas and Kazakhstan oil); Azerbaijan is locked-out from the West as it has closed its borders with Armenian, and thus can not export its own gas & oil to the West. Other interest of the US Envoy are to contain Iran by depriving it access via Armenia to the black sea port of Batumi Georgia. The other interests of the US Envoy is to diminish Russian leverage and influence by lifting Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. And, lastly deprive China from competing with the same Central Asian energy reserves.

  9. Kiazer Souze said:

    Armenia has open borders with Iran and Georgia. Armenia could get cheap goods and services through Iran as well as exporting Armenian goods and services to Iran. However, I could see how this would dampen American aspirations to have more sanctions on Iran if the Turkish border remains closed. As far as we are concerned, the border through the liberated provinces and Artsagh are open. I trust the Iranians more than Ghengis Khan’s ilk.

  10. Grigor Markaryan said:

    Do not trust her, remember that she did not acknowledge the fact of the Armenian Genocide.

  11. Araxi said:

    Opening the border is fantastic for the oligarchs who own the monopoly of all businesses in Armenia. Small businesses are not encouraged and it seems banks are not giving people business loans even if they are using their homes as colateral. It is disgraceful. This needs to STOP.

  12. Norin Radd said:

    Somebody get this imbecile out of Armenia, she needs to act her part as an Ambassador rather than a stooge for the US State department. She makes propositions without any logical facts to back them up regarding the effects on the Armenian economy a hasty border opening will have.

    She is no economist and even if she was a brilliant one, its highly doubtful that she would truly be concerned about the Armenian farmer or blue collar worker that earns his wage through the goods produced via the domestic economy. She is just dicing words up like a broken record and essentially pitching the idea of “everything will be okay, you won’t be screwed, trust me” and expects a whole nation of people to place its fate in the hands of the very neighbor state that committed Genocide against Armenians but has yet to pay reparations.

    As a multitude of sources have said time and again, an open border policy conducted in haste would lead to collapse of domestically produced goods markets, would create an immediate heavy reliance on Turkish imports due to cheap imports, would economically displace thousands if not hundreds of thousands of domestic employees, and would endanger various Armenian industries. Given all this, how is it that she feels there will not be “long term damages” and things will only be a “short term shock” ?

    Its obvious that she is just harping what she is being told to say by those that want to push this through for their own gain, which probably has to do with oil pipelines or some other huge benefit which the Armenian people will never see the light of for themselves while taking on the brunt of most of the losses and sacrifice as a nation.

    Armenia currently has two active and open borders with Iran as well as Georgia, a third open border with a neighbor that it has been on unfriendly terms for nearly 100 years is not going to miraculously help our motherland, it will hurt it indefinitely for all the reasons stated above. Besides, Georgia has had an open border with Turkey for as long as anyone can remember, exactly what “huge benefit” has that country gained from such a border? The answer is “NOT MUCH”, which exactly what Armenia will benefit from an uncontrolled and “anything goes” open border with Turkey.

    MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Armenian people in Armenia, Arstakh (formerly known as Nagorno-Karabagh), and the Diaspora vehemently have been in opposition to this border opening. Propagandistically claiming that “the majority of the Armenian people are behind this border opening” DOES NOT equate to factual information, someone should tell Ms. Yovanovitch this.

    If the US, EU, and the “neutral Swiss” were or are so interested in helping Armenians and Armenia, they should first start with proper reparations for the Armenian Genocide by Turkey for the crimes against humanity it has committed. Next they should enforce international law violations conducted by Turkey for illegal blockades it has been involved in for the past 25 years. Then they should turn their attention to the rest of the mongrels in Azerbaijan which has desecrated Christian Armenian cemeteries in Nakichevan that were considered UNESCO world heritage sites only 4 to 5 years ago. Last but certainly not least, they should reprimand Turkey for illegally backing a war on innocent civilian populations between 1989-1994 when Turkish backed Azeri forced began shelling Armenian towns in Arstakh (formerly known as Nagorno Karabagh) only to subsequently lose a war to Armenian guerilla defense forces.

    Once ALL of these issue have been properly dealt with only then can the US, EU, and the degenerate two faced Swiss speak about “open borders’ and how opening the said border will “benefit” Armenians. Until then, Armenians, Armenia, Arstakh (formerly known as Nagorno-Karabagh) and the Diaspora are content with just having two borders open instead of a third useless border being opened up for the “benefit” of the oil addict “civilized nations” .

  13. manooshag said:

    Hye, Yovanovitch, not Armenian – shall never know the Turk as do the Armenians in Armenia, and the Armenians scattered the world over…. Our covenant, passed to us from those whose evil/vile losses we bore – passed from those of our people who survived… Our Survivors, our great grandparents, grandparents and more have passed this covenant to our furture generations, third and fourth since the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian Nation.

    Justice, reparations, are due and owing to the Armenians – an ancient cultured people whose lands were stolen -not by war – but by unarming, violating, defiling and more – and leading them into the desertst and into rivers – to certain death!
    Slaugthers, rapes, kidnappings, churches filled with women/children set afire – calling: ‘where is your Jesus now’?
    And the cruelest bastinados – until death relieved them of this horrendous torture. Animals kill, only for food;
    Turks’ mentality from the hordes of the Asian mountains still exists in the Ottoman mode – basest treatment of humans by humans. A Genocide is not ever forgotten – it continues – seen even today as Turks seek to crush Armenians-still. Why?
    Manooshag

  14. Ninsky said:

    Isn’t this already a moot point?
    Turkey will never ratify this, so why are we even putting ourselves out there?

  15. Barkev Asadourian said:

    NO BORDER OPENNIGS WITH PRECONDETIONS,
    THERE WILL BE NO GOOD RELATION BETWEEN ARMENIANS,
    TURKS UNLES RECONIZED THE GENOCIDE BY TURKS,
    LEAVE ARMENIA AND ARMENIANS IN SAFE & PEACE,
    HAVE ARMENIANS GOVERN ARMENIA, NOT U.S.A. NOT EUROPE, NOT RUSSIA
    WE DON’T NEED BORDER OPENING NOW
    IGNORE PROTOCOLS
    LONG LIVE  A.R.F.

  16. Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

    Madam Ambassador I guess you are exceeding your limits, I don’t think preaching your host country falls within your duties; even your boss Ms. Clinton shouldn’t be chasing the Armenian FM in the Geneva hotel corridors dragging him back to the table, didn’t you hear what Armenian President said in UK? He said Armenia wouldn’t budge to any foreign country pressure.

    Don’t worry about how and who Armenia does its trade with; Georgia or Iran, I’m sure you are aware of the recent contracts with the latter, if Armenian railroad gets to the Persian Gulf then what’s there for you to worry?.

    If I was in that in that room I was going to ask you if YOU DO RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE like your courageous colleague John Marshall Evans did.

  17. Kiazer Souze said:

    Armenia has the more per capita billionares (5 billionares) in its 1.5 million population than any country in the world (albeit they are corrupt public officials and oligarchs). Armenia does not need the Turkish border open. If the people are starving, then the oligarchs can feed them. Armenia has better trade with Iran. If an Iranian is caught smuggling drugs to Armenia, the Iranians know how to deal with them. In Turkey, they turn a blind eye to poluting the Armenian population with drugs. We don’t need open borders with Turkey.

    • Hovsep (Osik) Movsessian said:

      Are kidding Kiazer; turning a blind eye?

      Turks are a major partner in trafficking Afghani Hashish & Opium to West

  18. Pingback: U.S. Envoy Argues For Turkish-Armenian Border Opening | Asbarez … | armeniatoday

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