Notes From Hairenik
There have been many discussions on the Armenian blogsphere recently as well as some information revealed in news reports regarding the reopening of the Turkish Armenian border, which has been closed since 1993. The basic arguments for opening the border are that it will open Armenia’s marketplace fully to that of Europe, it will further develop Armenia’s economy since a direct link for the import of Turkish goods will be created rather than an indirect, yet efficient route through Georgia, and that exports from Armenia will increase once investors from other countries start opening factories there. Although I do believe that Armenia will become better integrated with European markets, I am very skeptical about Turkish-Armenian long-term relations—economic and, more importantly, cultural. Nevertheless, the border eventually opening is a reality, whether sooner or later no one knows. I have expressed concerns about the border issue on this blog and as comments on others, but I have not been able to generate as much debate on the topic as I hoped.

When the Turkish-Armenian border opens, most likely within the next three years (by 2010 the very latest in my opinion), I imagine the following future scenario for Armenia:

After five years: The Armenian economy seems to be developing at a significantly faster pace than it was when the border was still closed, but not as much as many predicted. Turkish goods, including foodstuffs, construction materials, domestic goods, and clothing—which were all in plentiful supply before the border opened—are available in every shop throughout the capital city and in every region of Armenia with virtually no shortages. In regional towns spacious modern markets have been built, selling exclusively Turkish products at low costs, lower than they have ever been. The prestige surrounding anything produced or designed by German ingenuity has been replaced by Turkish import power as well as consumer confidence. Most consumers regard Turkish goods as being of exceptionally high quality, although they are still inferior to European products, now in short supply due to their higher prices.

After seven years: Armenian companies producing foodstuffs are rapidly shutting down. Those that stay open only produce goods for export to primarily to Russia and countries in the West as highly affordable Turkish goods have now completely saturated the domestic marketplace. Armenian companies simply cannot compete with the costs of goods produced by their Turkish counterparts. Even bread is being produced just over the border, as manufacturers understand that they can save up to five drams or more per piece regardless of transportation costs.

After 10 years: Turkish foodstuffs are found in all Armenian homes, and occasionally European delicacies like biscuits and chocolate are also consumed. As many Turkish goods as well as those coming through Turkey from the West are laden with artificial ingredients, fillers, and chemicals, an unprecedented amount of serious health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer can be found throughout the Armenian population. Although extreme poverty has decreased because extremely cheap foodstuffs are everywhere, such medical problems are appearing in remote places where they didn’t occur before. No food products are made in Armenia any longer aside from processed sunflower seeds.

After 15 years: The costs of inflation are hurting consumers. Prices have increased sharply over the last few years, as much as 10 percent, and in some cases even more. Most everything that Armenians need for basic survival—food, clothing, and construction materials—is coming from or through Turkey. Armenians who still smoke enjoy Turkish cigarettes, as Armenia’s tobacco companies were long ago bought out by Turkish investors and their operations were either shut down or converted to produce Turkish brands. Anything made in other European countries—Turkey by now is a member of the European Union—costs nearly twice as much as Turkish, or rather domestically produced goods. There is a considerably large working class, and they toil in newly constructed Turkish-financed factories producing similar goods Armenians can buy at market but made for export only.

After 25 years: By now Turks and Armenians have thoroughly integrated with one another in society. Turks once again after being away from their native homes in Yerevan for well over 100 years have returned and have bought homes throughout Central and Greater Yerevan for virtually the same price or in some cases far less than their Armenian owners paid for them in 2005 to 2008 (between $60,000-300,000).

There is little to no distinction between Armenian and Turkish music aside from the language in which songs are sung. Occasionally debates arise as to what constitutes pure Armenian or Turkish music, but no one can really decide. Sayat Nova has been proven by historians to be of Georgian descent. The duduk is widely accepted to have ancient Azeri Turkish roots, although Armenians still hold wavering claim to the instrument. Several mosques have been built throughout the country—at least one in all major cities and towns including Gyumri (highly populated by Turks), Vanadzor, Alaverdi, Ararat, Kapan, and even Meghri. Mosques are commonplace in Nagorno Karabagh as it is inhabited primarily by Azeris, most Armenians having left long ago. St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral was sold and converted into a mosque a few years after the border was opened—the Catholicos of All Armenians purportedly made millions in the deal.

It is not uncommon or unnatural for Armenian woman to marry Turkish men and become Muslim, as it has become the fashion to do so. The second language taught in most schools nationwide is Turkish, preceded by Russian. Armenian schools still exist but are not common. Most people, especially the youth, speak a mixture of Russian and Turkish, although many people considered purists and who are occasionally mocked by society still speak Armenian (although sprinkled with Russian words—some habits die hard).

Few Armenians have resettled in their historic “Western Armenian” lands, aside from in Trebizond and along the Mediterranean coastline, as they have become prestigious hot spots for living and vacationing. Some Armenian businessmen are making millions in those areas in real estate and by selling used German or French automobiles. Yachts are also being sold in high numbers.

Turkey has total influence on the government of Armenia, now considered to be a puppet state. Armenia long ago abandoned economic and military dependence on the old, matted-furred Russian bear. The Russians have sold their interests in Armenia’s energy sector to the Turks. Many parliament members are of Turkish decent—some claim to be ethnically Armenian as their ancestors supposedly were born in Eastern Turkey centuries ago. Armenian political parties are very few in number. The ones that had endured decades or even more than a century in leading their dedicated life-long supporters have long ago died out, when the Armenian Genocide was finally officially acknowledged by the Turkish government just days before the border opened, and their party members no longer had anything else to do.

After 50 years: Turkish troops occupy Yerevan. Armenia is under complete, strict Turkish military control. The Armenian government is forced to succumb to Ankara’s pressure to fall. Armenians nationwide are ecstatic, praying that the day would come. Pro-Turkey fanatics begin to burn the Armenian tri-color flag on the streets of Yerevan, predominantly in Republic Square (now called Ataturk Square). The Republic of Armenia is no longer.

After 75 years: The Turkish Federation stretches from just beyond the Bosporus Straits to the Caspian Sea. Most South Caucasian regions, including Armenia, Nakhichevan, Karabagh, and Azerbaijan, have united to become a part of the great emerging power (Georgia had already become a commonwealth of the United States after a decades-long power struggle with Russia). Armenians are a predominantly Muslim people who speak fluent Turkish, some also speak Russian and English, while older generations still remember how to read and write Armenian. Most Armenian churches have become converted into luxury homes and barbeque restaurants, but freedom of religion exists and some still attend the few churches that remain. Armenians and Turks live very happily and peacefully together, like centuries-old allies. Everyone is thankful that the border between Armenia and Turkey opened 75 years beforehand, and their lives are much better now that they are Turkish citizens. Opening the border paved the way for that to happen.

After 100 years: The words “Armenian” and “Armenia” are chiefly found in history textbooks in schools and universities throughout Europe as well as around the world, not to mention on the Internet. The Armenian language has become defunct, although it remains spoken in a few sects and obscure villages. However, Armenian culture still thrives in parts of Georgia, notably Tbilisi, where it has undergone a renaissance, although Armenians speak English there. To distinguish between various Turkish peoples, there are now Armenian Turks and Azeri Turks, although those classifications are becoming obsolete. There is no such thing as an “Armenian Diaspora.”

This may sound like a demented fantasy to most readers, but there is a chance that a few of these things I described may happen at the rate things are going in world politics. I am especially concerned about the current trend in the melting of cultures and that Armenians run a great risk of loosing their own identities, the same they have been fostering for centuries. I doubt that Armenians really weigh scenarios about what could occur in their future very much, probably because it doesn’t matter to them per se. They generally do not have a long-term vision as a nation about where they should go in terms of achieving a lasting statehood. The focus has been on the present, and not on finding the means to face the difficult challenges that lay ahead.

But come on, really, why oppose the border with Turkey being opened? There is plenty of money to be made. Let it open. A free, open border will be good for Armenia’s economy, as a common land link will be established for trade, imported stuff will be cheaper, tourism will increase, etc., etc. It will be wonderful, just wonderful. At last Armenians will truly be able to call Mount Ararat their own….


Anonymous Knarik O. Meneshian said...
You've written a very thought-provoking, and poignant piece, Garo. It makes me think of a certain dry, rocky field in the Meghri region. In this field, in the distance, stands a crumbling building—all that remains of a town that once was… And in turn, that place reminds me of a certain U.S. town where once, years ago, an Armenian community existed…

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
Great entry!!

I just wanted to point out that there is no "lasting statehood". One can never plan for 100 or 200 years ahead! But one can of course assess the impact of one's actions on the near future (maybe 20-50 years). Anyway, keep in mind that it makes no sense for Armenia to advocate Turkey's accession to EU just because that would mean it would have a border with an EU country, which would help Armenia in its attempts to get into the EU as well. I don't know, I mean, is Armenia ready to face the very idea of having free movement of peoples between Turkey and Armenia? Perhaps European countries with large populations can afford it, but looking at it from an Armenian perspective, does it make sense? At all??? I don't think it does. But then again, we gotta thank "our" beloved leaders for taking us (and they WILL take us) down this road.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am thrilled by your fiction.
I'm not against the border opening & I don't think It will cause that much damage to culture,especially if you take into consideration the fact that there is a great hatred towards Turks between Armenians,If there is no Armenian support no Company will be sold to Turks,don't compare Russian influence on Armenia with Turkish,Armenians don'r regard Russians as enemies and Russians never been extremely cruel to Armenians unlike Turks,SO what I think will happen is that after the border opened there will be normalization of relations(political) between 2 countries,but highly sensitive issues will remain yet to be solved,and I don't believe Turkey will recognize the Armenian Genocide before border opening,And it's funny that you believe in Turkey becoming an EU nation until 2015,that's an estimate by the most optimist politicians,And regarding diaspora,I'm an Armenian diaspora member,We've stayed Armenian although we've been out of Armenia for about a century,and that's not because there is a place called Armenia,even if there's no Armenia we will stay Chrisitan Armenians and continue to speak Armenian.

Blogger Hagop said...
Wow Garbis, the chronological picture you just eloquently painted did happen to the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately it took a horrific genocide and communist government implosion to wake us all up to what was happening. Just look at that regional map today, no Armenians living anywhere in Anatolia or Nakhichevan. To a large measure, the current closed border with Turkey and Azerbejan has buffered our culture from their Turkic influence, but what about the Iranian, Russian, European or North American cultural influences? How can our homeland culture buffer from those inevitable influences (good or bad). Should we really be that worried today?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am an Iranian whose father is an ethnic Azeri from Hamadan Province. My mother is Persian. I have very mixed feelings vis-a-vis Armenia. First of all let me say that I grew up next to Armenian kids in Tehran. You know Tehran has the second largest Armenian population outside Armenia after Moscow, and Beirut comes third. I had many Armenian friends, and we would play with each other, laugh and joke together. One summer all the Armenians in the neighborhood were celebrating this crazy holiday where everyone would splash water on each other and get each other wet, and I joined the Armenian kids doing this and we all had fun. I knew I was half-Azeri back then, but I mainly identified myself as an Iranian, and these kids were just fellow Tehranis and Iranians, even though they were Armenians. I am an adult now, and the Qarabag issue has made me pull away ever so more from my maternal Persian side and made me gravitate towards my paternal Azeri side. I love Iran, and unlike some Iranian Azeris who favor secession and want to join the Republic of Azerbaijan, I will always remain loyal to the Iranian state. However I hate Iran's foreign policy vis-a-vis Qarabag. I have nothing against Armenians as I said, and I have cherished memories of Armenian friends I had as a youngster...Onik, Harmik, Tigran, Harout, the list could go on. Also, as an Iranian I admire the loyalty Armenians have had to Iran since the day set foot in the country...just as Lebanese Armenians have shown their loyalty to Lebanon, Syrian Armenians to Syria, etc., Iranian Armenians have always been among the most patriotic of Iran's citizens. But I cannot and will not deny my paternal heritage. Armenians must understand one thing: Qarabag is the heart of Azerbaijan...just as Serbs claim Kosovo is the cradle of their culture (rightly or wrongly), the Irish claim Tara to be the same thing, and Jews say the same thing about Jerusalem. No self-respecting Azeri will EVER accept Dagliq Qarabag being separate from Azerbaijan. I may be Iranian, but I am an Azeri too, and the Republic of Azerbaijan is the nerve center of our culture and identity, since neither can be expressed freely under the current Iranian government (I favor autonomy for Iranian Azeri provinces, not secession, but Azeri provinces must be culturally and linguistically free of Persianization...and my other half is Persian by the way). Jews sang for two thousand years, "If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem...", and we Azeris sing, "Seni Unudsam, canim Qarabag...". I do not think there is a single Armenian who can imagine for a moment what Qarabag means to us...a land that produced some of the most notable Azeri poets, writers, religious figures, etc. Funny that the best friend of the first country in the world to make Christianity the state religion, is none other than the Islamic Republic government of Iran and its mullahcracy. The same mullahcracy that did nothing to protect their fellow Shi'ite Azeris in Qarabag. Armenians must understand the mullahcracy will not be in charge forever, and the U.S.A. is doing a good job of isolating them in the international arena, and soon a new Iran will emerge that will adopt quite a different policy, even if it to appease 35 million ethnic Azeris living within her borders. That leaves the 45 kilometer border with Iran (Khosravi border accross Meghri) quite one side is Azeri Naxchivan, the other side Turkey and the other side the Republic of Azerbaijan proper. Georgia is adopting a cautious approach vis-a-vis Armenia, because Armenians in Javakheti have once before indicated they want to do to Georgia what Qarabag Armenians did to Azerbaijan, and Georgia may soon reassess her relationship with Armenia...right now it is based on a common Orthodox Christian faith, and other factors that are economic. By the way, I am an Orthodox Christian too, a convert in fact. But that will not change my position on Qarabag. We will never capitulate on Qarabag, and it is we say in Azeri, "Qan tokulen torpaq satilmaz" for which blood has been spilled will not be sold.

I hope my Armenian friends understand that for me this is simply a territorial dispute (one I feel very strongly about) but that it does not change my views about Armenians, whom I think of as hard-working, good people...the few that have bought into the Dashnak mentality and brought about misery to this part of the Kavkaz and to Qarabag Azeris cannot be seen as representatives of all Armenians.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Wait a minute... let me get this straight.

Openind the Armenia-Turkish border will be the end of Armenia...

... which is why, er, the Turks keep the border closed.

Is it just me or is this another example of the kind of Armenian logic that you write about on your pages.

Georgia hasn't experienced this, but Armenia will and the Turks are waiting for this day when they, er, decide to open the border which they, er, closed.

Right. Sounds like paranoid nationalist hysteria which at your own admission is not based on any fact, research or precedent.

Incidently, talking of which, lots of studies have been undertaken by the World Bank, the EU and others on the effect of the border opening.

None have any of the ARF-D induced hysteria which shapes the minds of most opposed to the border opening (in Armenia, that is, and not, er, in Turkey who actually closed the border).

In the best case scenerio, it is believed that foreign direct investment will see Armenia become a local manufacturing base for export to other countries in the surrounding region and beyond.

In the worst case scenerio it is believed that the benefits to Armenia in the short term will only amount to a reduction in transit fees and the cost of exports. However, that might add as much as $500 million to GDP per year.

Like I said, search the internet for the studies. They're there. You can also check out and for genuine discussion free from propoaganda from ONE small segment of the Diaspora,

Anyway, and somewhat ironically, talking of Armenia becoming a Moslem country, Genocide Recognition WITH territorial reparations (which will never happen anyway) will result in that. The number of Kurds and Turks now living on that land heavily outnumbers the number of Armenians here and maybe even abroad.

So, on the one hand the ARF-D says no to the border open (not that it has the ability to open or close it) because Armenia will be engulfed by those nasty Moslems, and on the other, land reparations must occur which will definitely lead to that scenerio as Armenia hasn't the ability to do its own bit of ethnic cleansing.

Bizarre, but at least you admit that it was all pure fiction.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the day the border opens. Until then, Armenia will become more and more isolated from development in the region, a point the EU and World Bank constantly makes.

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
To Anonymous from Iran:

You say Karabakh is the cultural center of Azeris and that it would never be given up. But what about Armenians? What about Armenians who have lived there for centuries, and in fact practiced autonomy for the longest time? Shushi was once the cultural center of Karabakh (Artsakh) Armenians, and was completely destroyed by Azeris. Why do you need to establish state sovereignty over lands? Why can't we all live together without borders? Why does Karabakh need to be the exclusively Azeri cultural center, and not the cultural center of both Armenians and Azeris, and others if applicable?? So you see, it is the very idea of statehood that has pitted populations against one another. Once we eliminate the evil that is called statehood we can live together in peace and enjoy the contributions of all cultures, whether Armenian, Azeri, Persian, Turkish, etc.

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
Onnik, the TABDC is a joke. Anything coming from businessmen, who ONLY have their personal interests in mind (and many are in fact are corporate abusers/oppressors) is I suppose more reliable than valid than anything else! Of course, you insist that had the Turks known that opening the border would harm Armenia they would have done so, but you fail to actually consider that they are not smart enough, because had they been smart they would've kept the border open for the benefit of the eastern regions of their country!

Coincidentally, I was just reading "THE STAKES OF THE OPENING OF TURKISH-ARMENIAN BORDER: The cross-border contacts between Armenia and Turkey", a document available on the TABDC website. Great piece of propaganda.

I still don't see how this discussion has anything to do with Tashnagtsutyun (and you keep on bashing them when your time is better-spent bashing the current government's policies). I don't know, but I am becoming more and more convinced that the Armenian diaspora is simply DUMB for sending so much money every year and in return getting this attitude "don't you dare interfere in our affairs", especially when it comes to the genocide.

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
Oh, and Onnik, since you insist that the closing of the border has harmed Armenia, why don't you insist that Turkey pay some sort of compensation (for example in the form of reducing border taxation for Armenian goods entering Turkey, in the future) for this uncalled-for act of aggression (and it was EXACTLY THAT)? Or is that too Tashnagtsagan for your tastes?

Blogger nazarian said...
I second what Onnik said.

It sounds like the classic 'vochonch' mentality.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
By the way, I must correct myself...the Iran/Armenia border is the Nordouz border, not Khosravi (which is the Iran/Iraq) border. Regarding Qarabag, maybe we Iranians can solve the problem and settle the dispute once and for all by reclaiming it for Iran...that way it will be neither Armenian nor Azeri...after all it was a part of Iran before the dreadful Turkmenchay treaty.

Humor aside, let's look at developments over the last two centuries. The Qajars ruled Qarabag as a part of a Persian province called Azerbaijan, and Qarabag was already a part of an Azeri khanate when the first Qajar monarch made it a part of Iran's Caucasian territories. Under the Soviets, the demographic make-up of Qarabag was totally changed, and the Soviets allowed massive Armenian immigration to Qarabag.

Now, I have no problem with Qarabag also being the cultural center for Armenians, and since I share the same Orthodox Christian faith, I would like to see Armenian churches and monasteries preserved. But cultural freedom is possible under autonomy, and Qarabag was already autonomous, so secession from Azerbaijan was not necessary.

Finally, Armenian history books say that Azeris are the descendants of the Oghuz tribes who migrated to the Caucasus. This is not entirely true. Todays Azeris share the very same Aryan, "Caucasian Albanian" and "Iberian" roots as Armenians. Iranian history books claim Azeris as Turkic-speaking Persians...which is at least a little closer to the truth, since Persians are an Aryan people related to the indigenous peoples of the Qafqaz. The Oghuz migrations passed through Azerbaijan but continued onto Anatolia, leaving behind the Azeri language, and some did intermingle with the natives, true, but Azeris still have roots that have always belonged to the southern Caucasus.

Finally, as we prepare for Holy Week, and the Glorious Resurrection of our Savior, let us all pray for peace among mankind, and may there be mutual understanding and love among humans, where there is instead hatred, strife, violence and revenge.

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
Actually, Anonymous, it was quite the opposite. The borders of NKAO were drawn up in such a way so as to create an ethnic enclave surrounded by another ethnic group from all sides, and with no connection to their kin (Armenians) in the West. Of course, you're taking a completely biased view on this, saying that the Soviets favoured Armenians, whereas I am saying that the Soviets did not favour either, and that it was just part of their divide-and-rule policy.
You also seem to forget that despite the more-or-less autonomous status, in terms of economy, education, and development, NKAO was pretty much under Baku's rule.

Where have you read Armenian history books? For someone living in Iran and having never visited Armenia (I can only assume that), you seem to "know" a lot.

Do I sense a double-personality here?? You seem to be very confused. I suggest that you do a bit of an identity-searching.

Anonymous Harry said...
Very interesting. Armenians being what they are haven't really sat down to think out what the future might hold. Yet I don't think your projections are far fetched. Even with the borders staying closed, Armenia is coming under strong Turkish economic (and cultural) influence. NATO probably would be pleased to see Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan turn into Turkish colonies. Armenia taken over by Turkish companies (and mosques sprouting all over)? That's multiculturalism in action! (it works in Paris,Berlin and New York, why not in Yerevan, staunchly liberal journals in western Europe and the US will argue!)

Anonymous Artsakhtsi said...
To the Azeri Christian (what a funny term!). If Artsakh (Karabakh) is so important to they Azeris why did they not win the war? Why did their forcibly mobilized soldiers flee the battlefield so often? And why did the Iranian Azeris not participate in the war? The answers are simply: they never felt the real masters of Artsakh. If you are really a Christian, you must know who built the magnificient Amaras and Gandzasar monasteris. Their descendants simply reclaimed their paternal land, chasing out the ex-nomands. That's what they call historical justice.

Anonymous Harry said...
Anonymous you said"Qarabag was totally changed, and the Soviets allowed massive Armenian immigration to Qarabag"

Sorry, I don't know where got that from but according to official statistics Armenians were 94% in Karabakh in 1923 and that was down to 76% in 1988.

Many Armenians have positive feelings for Azeris (or Tatars as they used to be known) but Karabakh's history is Armenian. In the 18th century the Karabakh Armenian Melikdom raised an army of 40,000 that was allied to Persia.

Azeris are welcome to live there but the territory has an Armenian majority. Ever heard of a country where the minority controls the majority? Well, apartheid era South Africa comes to mind. Unless you also believe Azerbaijan should be ruled by its Russian minority, or Turkey by its Kurdish, Armenian and Assyrian minorities?

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Anarchistian, Turkey has actually caused itself some harm as the eastern region would like the border open as well. In fact, the inhabitants of Gyumri and Kars are not only the biggest proponents of opening the border, but likely the greatest beneficiaries.

So, should Turkey pay some compensation. Even though they too are suffering in the East, maybe, who knows? But that's for the Armenian Government to sort out and not for me to write.

Besides, the implication of this fiction is to say that the closed border is the biggest favor Turkey ever did for Armenia. On that basis, why not close the Georgian and Iranian borders as well?

A country of 2-3 million is not a big enough market for most companies even here to expand or foreign companies to invest in. They need a regional market and cheap transit routes to other markets. Very simple.

As for the TABDC, okay, you think it's propaganda from Armenian and Turkish businessmen (isn't this what economies are about though?). Now -- about other research from the World Bank, EU, etc, and the position of the Armenian Government itself?

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Just one point--I never admitted that my entry was a work of fiction. In any case, it's hard to prove a description of probable future events as being fiction if they have not happened yet and therefore cannot be proven to be incorrect. Unless Armenians and Turks are considered to be the main characters of my "fictional" entry, let's not discount the entire text as being fiction. None of us know what's going to happen when the border opens. That is why I wrote this entry--to discuss what may happen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't see what is funny about being Azeri and Christian (I am also half-Persian and also identify as an Iranian)...the Church I belong to is a Holy, CATHOLIC, and Apostolic Church called the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Catholic means "universal"...what is funny is that a cradle Christian would not know that...anyone from any race or nationality can accept Christ as His Saviour as I did. Iranian Azeris could not help because the mullahcracy chose to help Armenia, and Iranian Azeris are a subject people. If you do not know that already, that too, is funny. Now I have my own dispute with fellow Iranian Azeris who are screaming for secession from Iran with whom I disagree, and they are just as angry at me and disagree with my views. The question did not revolve around who was in Qarabag thousands of years ago...the question is who has been there for the last few centuries, and if you claim it was mianly Armenians that is not correct, because we are talking about the demographic makeup of the region before 1828, not the twentieth century. If we are to draw boundaries as to who was where thousands of years ago, Iran would be five times it current size, and we could claim lands Iran had under Xerxes. Whether you believe I am a Christian or not, matters little to are neither my priest confessor, nor my spiritual guide. I mentioned earlier on I was a convert, so I don't understand what the discrepancy is. To the other person who mentioned ancient Armenian monasteries in Qarabag, when did I deny the existence of ancient Armenian monasteries in Qarabag? And when did the question revolve around who was there thousands of years ago? Although your maps show a Greater Armenia stretching from the Caspian to the Black Sea, the historical validity of that has been disputed by many scholars...some were threatened by the now defunct ASALA and some by Dashnaks, yet they were brave enough to speak out...please, my spiritual life is between me and Christ...I simply mentioned it because I wanted to make clear my arguments were not being made from a religious premise, and it was not a Muslim-Christian thing. I don't think we will agree anytime soon on all I will say is Happy Zatik on April 23rd.

Anonymous Anonymous said... there's a nice racist term to describe Azeris, and deny their Caucasian origins...but only "Turks" can be racist I the way no explanation as to why Aghdam, Fizuli and Jebrail were evacuated of their Azeri inhabitants (not part of Qarabag) but the answer is clear: bargaining explanation as to why Lachin was evacuated of Azeris (not part of Qarabag) but the answer is clear (to create territorial contiguity with Armenia proper)...thank you folks...I am determined more than ever to oppose the mullahcracy and participate in the opposition to it. Soviets gave you Zangezur cutting off Naxchivan (yes you claim its part of Armenia again) from Azerbaijan proper, and you also got Borchali and Goycha as added bonuses. Well, my war is not with Armenia, its with the "Islamic" Republic government of Iran who made this territorial rape possible, and I will resist them tooth and nail, especially since I have gained insight into attitudes on the Armenian side. I am not in Iran by the way, and the info I got on Armenian history books was from an Armenian named Vazgen who is from Tehran and visits Armenia frequently and also lives outside Iran.

Once again, wish you a Happy Easter.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just a clarification to previous posting...I intended to say under BOTH Czarist Russia and Soviets (Armenian migrations) since there were no Soviets until a century later.

Anonymous Anarchistian said...
To Iranian-Azeri Anonymous:

On what bases should we prefer to use demographic figures from the 18th century over those from the 8th (or 10th or 15th or X) century? Here you are engaging in a pick-and-choose, picking the date (or date range) that suits your agenda. I say, either you should take into account the entire history or not take history into account at all. If you are to do the former, the Armenians of Artsakh/Karabakh would be a majority. If you are to do the latter, the Armenians of Artsakh/Karabakh would again be the majority. You "lose" (since YOU started this demographic calculations game) in both cases.

To Onnik:

What EU reports? Could you please provide a link or two?? Thanks.

I also fail to understand your point on how opening the border would benefit Armenia (or towns/cities in Armenia, such as Gyumri). Could you please elaborate? Remember that opening the border is part of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and with that come many, many issues. Is Armenia ready to face these issues? I don't think Armenia is ready to face its internal issues at the moment, let alone issues of Turkish-Armenian relations!

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
you cannot analyze the future without basing it on research that has been done. This post as well as most of the comments merely represent the nationalistic mindset of one section of the Armenian Diaspora.

As such, it's interesting to read. Not anywhere close to reality, however.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
You can make predictions of future outcomes based on what you know and what you perceive happening around you as a free thinking human being. You can conduct your own research based on thought and also wit in this case. My entry has nothing to do with case studies of similar scenarios. It reflects my opinions--whether they are right or wrong has yet to be seen.

I also don't consider myself a nationalist, but I am a realist, albeit with romantic tendencies. And my belief that some of the things described in my entry may happen should not marginalize me. The entry is an expression of thought, my own opinions of what could happen. It does not support any nationalist agenda or otherwise. No one can determine what the reality of the future will be until it happens.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
By the way, the only reason you Armenians became a majority in Samtskhe-Javakheti was due to Stalin's expulsion of the Ahiska (Meshketian)Turks, and now you are falsifying history once more and claiming this was a part of historical Armenia, and asking for've toned it down though recently, since Georgia is the only other geographical outlet you have (besides Iran) due to the border closings (Azerbaijan/Turkey).

Blogger Ara said...
Very interesting post.

I'm not sure what the future holds in terms of opening the border with Turkey, but I think it works in our favor for it to be closed until at very least we have in place a government that is thinking of what is best for our people.

If the border opens today, our government will be selling everything to the Turks, who will without any question pay what they are being asked.

As for the rest of what Garo wrote about in his post, I think your numbers are a little bit off in terms of time. With today's leadership and Armenian mind, it would be safe to cut your time extimate in at very least HALF.

As for the Azeri-Iranian, more power to you. Because of people like you we have a strong army. Your kind are also another reason not to open borders.

As for any ideas of Azeris and Armenians living on the same land with the Armenians being the controling government, there is one thing to remember. The Turks at some point can play the same role as the Kurds of Northern Iraq, who were having their human rights violated. This justified the Turks to enter Northern Iraq to save them. If I recall, that happened in 1999. If Turks and for that matter, non-Armenians ever want to live in Armenia, they should only be allowed to on visa and not have the right to hold a government post.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Garo, I ask again... why hasn't the scenerio you describe occured with Georgia which does have an open border with Turkey. Moreover, if it will all end with the disappearance of Armenia and as you seem to suggest, why is it Turkey and NOT Armenia that is keeping the border closed?

Anarchistian, please use google from time to time. I can and do in order to access information on which I base my opinions, so it would be cool if others did as well. Anyway, some links for you.

The EU has an interest in Armenia developing in the context of a politically stable and economically prosperous Southern Caucasus. In this respect, the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) remains the major impediment to development in the country and contributes to regional instability. It is also hoped that the opening of EU-Turkey accession talks will help to facilitate a rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, ultimately leading to a reopening of the border between the two countries.

Officially, there is no trade between Turkey and Armenia, but goods circulate freely between the two countries through Georgia and Iran. Nevertheless, the decision to sever direct trade ties with Armenia has badly hit the Turkish economy, especially on eastern Anatolia’s desolate plateau.

Nicolas Tavitian is the co-founder of the Brussels branch of TABDC. He says pressure exerted on Turkey’s AKP cabinet by the EU and the U.S. cannot alone explain recent Turkish overtures toward Armenia.

er Gahrton MEP, host of the conference and author of the EP report on EU relations with the South Caucasus, emphasized that the position taken by the European Parliament in February 2002 relating to Armenia-Turkey relations still stand. He repeated the call formulated in his report, and endorsed by the European Parliament, for the Turkish government to open the Armenian border. He pointed out, furthermore, that in his view initiatives to reopen the Armenia-Turkey border are the most promising way out of the deadlock in the Caucasus.

Both Per Gahrton and Joost Lagendijk underscored that the conference aimed to draw the attention of the European institutions on the much neglected Turkish-Armenian relations and on the closure of their common border.

An analytical report on relations between Armenia and Turkey, also published on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the blockade by the Brussels-based think tank GRIP, was presented to the conference by Burcu Gültekin and Nicolas Tavitian. This report, the first of its kind published in the European Union, analyses the factors in the current deadlock, spells out its human, political and economic costs, and points to possible steps out of the impasse.

The European Union’s decision to pursue membership talks with Turkey could have far-reaching political and economic ramifications for the Caucasus. The accession process can stimulate democratization in the region, experts say.

The EU decided December 17 to open what promises to be a lengthy accession process with Turkey. Some political observers in Turkey say the decision immediately increased pressure on Ankara to normalize relations with neighboring Armenia. In recent months, Ankara and Yerevan have probed a rapprochement, but they have yet to make substantive progress in overcoming long-standing mutual hostility. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

"If Turkey starts accession talks," adds Professor Gareth Winrow of Istanbul’s Bilgi University, "it will have to normalize relations with all its neighbors as a condition of future EU membership. Number one, this means opening all its borders."

Economic experts say an open Armenian-Turkish frontier would substantially reduce the transportation costs in Armenia’s export/import operations, and make the country more attractive for potential foreign investors. According to a 2003 World Bank study, the border opening alone could boost Armenia’s GDP by 30 percent.

On the other hand, another take is that the gains would not be as large in the short term as others hope. Still, only Armenian nationalists object to the opening of the border. Nobody else thinks that Armenia is going to get engulfed.

A controversial report by an Armenian research and consulting group claims that reopening the Armenian-Turkish border would have a much smaller impact on Armenia’s economy than commonly believed.

The report was presented July 13 by the Armenian-European Political Legal Advice Center (AEPLAC), a prominent think tank sponsored by the European Union. It contended that Armenia would see its economy expand by only $20-23 million annually, or just 0.67 percent of its current Gross Domestic Product, if Turkey decided to lift its 12-year blockade of the Armenian border. Over the next five years, Armenia’s GDP would see an additional 2.7 percent increase over the country’s level in 2004.

The gain, the report maintained, would be almost exclusively the result of lower cargo transportation costs associated with the reopening of the Kars-Gyumri railroad that connects the two countries. Currently, Armenian goods can only reach trade partners via Georgia, which charges relatively high cargo tariffs. Transportation costs account for some 25-30 percent of Armenia’s trade costs, according to the report.

I'm sure there's much more on the net, but you're just as able to use Google as I am. It's just a pity that many Armenians don't and instead rely on nationalist hearsay or partisan sources.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Look, I am not denying that Armenia's economy will improve once the border opens. If you read my entry carefully I make that clear. However, I believe there will be a gradual decline in Armenian culture--the language and religion especially will be hurt long term--but this is MY OPINION. This is not based on forecast analyses (I doubt anyone is even questioning the Armenians' long-term cultural survival other than myself). Armenians are prone to assimilation--there is absolute proof of this in their own communities around the world, especially in the US. Armenia should not be any more different down the line.

By the way, I am making the same points more or less in the highlights from the reports you listed links to. Instead I am using cynicism rather than percentiles to more or less say the same thing. The border needs to open because Turkey needs it to if it wants to join the EU and Armenia does if it wants its economy to improve even more than it already is.

And to answer your question, one of the reasons why Turkey is holding out on opening the border I believe is that Turkey probably is not yet convinced that Armenia is dependent enough on it economically. Once it is convinced, it will most likely open the border, then threaten to close it again and again whenever Armenia misbehaves according to Turkey's whimsical viewpoint and to extort whatever it expects from Armenia, whatever that may be. But then again, that is MY OPINION. Opinions are shared when intelligent people engage in conversation, whether verbal or in blog format.

Anyway, it's all speculation until the border opens and we see both the short and long-term positive and negative effects of it opening. Let's just leave it at that, and agree to disagree (as we always do ;-) ).

Anonymous harry said...
"Once [Turkey] is convinced, it will most likely open the border, then threaten to close it again and again whenever Armenia misbehaves according to Turkey's whimsical viewpoint and to extort whatever it expects from Armenia"

This makes sense. As to assimilation, it is also true that Armenian assimilate quickly even in Turkey. If the Armenian political elite doesn't offer much inspiration to the poor masses in Armenia, and neither do the church hierarchy nor the overseas groups, what incentive do the majority (who unlike expat Armenians who have relocated to Armenia, do not have incomes from abroad to support themselves ) have in staying Armenian? The 'rabiz' masses are already half way toward accepting Turkish/Arabic/Islamic ways and values. If Georgia is not there yet, it will get there soon enough, especially with the dictatorial Saakashvilli welcoming Turkey as Georgia's new liberator (with approving nods from western politicians and the media).

Armenians who have moved to Turkey, may indeed adopt Islam for a more comfortable life. Can we blame them ? Let's face it. There is much greater solidarity among Turks. It was happening for centuries in Ottoman Armenia. How did Anatolia, that was 95% Christian 800 years ago become 99.6% muslim today? I have known Armenians who will proudly show off their knowledge of the Turkish language, and those guys are third/fourth generation! They are members of the ARF but deep down they were not proud of being Armenian.

Concerning your projection, I think the Turkish Army will not have to take control of Yerevan. Economic domination will ensure that Turkey controls Armenia's politics without being directly present. (and will earn itself loud cheers from the western media for being such a 'benign' neighbor!)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
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