Despite the frozen relations between Armenia and Turkey, four Armenian organizations have studied the opportunities of cooperation between the two countries and the interest of common citizens in the issue under the USAID-funded “Support to Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement.”
In 2010, when the issue of opening of the Armenian-Turkish border was on the agenda, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, the Yerevan Press Club and the International Center for Human Development created a consortium with the financial support of the USAID with a view of exploring the situation in the spheres of business, civil society, culture and media.
“The volume of commodity turnover between Armenia and Turkey is almost equal to that between Armenia and Ukraine,” Arsen Ghazaryan, President of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia (UMBEA), told reporters today. He added, however, that the forms of cooperation are different. “Turkish and Armenian businesses communicate under non-written business rules, as officially it is impossible to export goods from Armenia to Turkey. However, despite the cold and hostile attitude of the Turkish side, the Turkish imports to Armenia increase year by year, and this takes places through the Georgian territory,” Ghazaryan said.
The President of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia attached importance to the launching of discussions on the Armenian Genocide in Turkey, a topic, which had long been a “taboo” in that country. “Progressive layers of the Turkish society are debating the return of the Armenian property,” he stated.
According to the businessman, the Information Technologies and textile industry are the most promising spheres of Armenian-Turkish cooperation. What can we export to Turkey? There are more than ten goods successfully consumed in Europe, the United States and CIS countries.
Arsen Ghazaryan says businessmen from Eastern Turkey (or historic Western Armenia) are most interested in the establishment of good-neighborly relations between Armenia and Turkey. Four business forums were held with entrepreneurs from Van, Kars, Diarbekir and Erzrum, he said.
Businessmen from Eastern Turkey stand for launching Yerevan-Van flights to make it easier for tourists to visit Van and Akhtamar. The problems here are of technical character, Arsen Ghazaryan said, adding that the issue could be solved next spring.