Home » Co-Chairman in the Press » Kaan Soyak: People are watching the developments on the Armenian border issue with great excitement

Kaan Soyak: People are watching the developments on the Armenian border issue with great excitement

 Kaan Soyak: People are watching the developments on the Armenian border issue with great excitement

What changes in Kars when Armenian border is opened

 

Ongoing negotiations between Armenia and Turkey aiming at normalizing relations and opening the border have brought Kars, an eastern Anatolian province of Turkey, into the spotlight since the city is located on the Armenian border.

 

Between 1991 and 1993, when the Turkish-Armenian border gate was open, direct trade relations between Kars and Gyumri, an Armenian city on the Turkish border of Armenia, was one of the main factors that kept the city’s economy going while it was fighting poverty and high rates of unemployment. “People are watching the developments on the Armenian border issue with great excitement; if the border is not opened, it will certainly lead more people to migrate out of desperation to big cities like Istanbul and Izmir to work in construction,’’ said Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), speaking to Sunday’s Zaman.

Migration caused by lack of employment is one of the biggest problems in Kars. According to figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), the northeastern part of Turkey, including Kars, Iğdır, Artvin and Bayburt, is where the highest migration has been observed since 1995. Soyak talked about the trade there had been between Kars and Armenia; people from Kars brought cattle by train to sell in Armenia and Armenians sold paper, commercial timber and coal in Kars when the border gate was open. He also drew attention to the tourism potential of Kars, stating: “There are many places in Kars that have historical meaning for Armenians. Therefore, I would expect an immediate rise in the number of tourists visiting the city after the border is reopened.’’ Kafkas University, which was established in 1992 and currently has 41,000 students, is an important institution in the city.

However, Ali Güvensoy, the chairman of Kars Chamber of Commerce and Industry, does not agree on the opening of the border unless the concerns over Azerbaijan are satisfied. “We are one nation and two states; the Azerbaijanis are our brothers. If Armenia does not end the occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh we should not open the border.’’ Drawing attention to the trade routes passing through Georgia to Armenia, causing a rise in transportation costs, Güvensoy said, “If the border is opened, Armenia benefits more than Turkey, so Armenia should make more concessions than Turkey.’’

He does not think Kars would experience a drastic change in commerce when the border is opened. “Kars would not get much more trade than other border cities trading with neighboring countries; of course we do not object to the new border-opening initiative but I do not predict a remarkable change in the city’s economy,’’ said Güvensoy.

Today`s Zaman

11.05.2009

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