Let’s Open The Border!

As you’ve undoubtedly read in the news during the last week, President Serge Sarkisian visited many cities around the world where large communities of Armenians exist, namely New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Beirut and Rosdov-on-Don. In the first four cities cited he was met with hundreds or else thousands of angry protestors before meeting with community leaders behind closed doors.

In Paris things became ugly when people were taken away by police for attempting to thwart the president from laying a wreath at the memorial to Gomidas Vartabed there. Naturally he didn’t comprehend what he was up against when he said at a meeting on Thursday in Yerevan that “I expected that we will put on display our unity and position on this issue with a massive demonstration, rather than a provocation by 100 persons.”

An article by RFE/RL reported this:

The president nonetheless found the trip useful, saying that he received “very important messages.” “I had a chance to once again feel just how different we are depending on our birthplace, community of residence, organizational affiliation and at the same time just how similar we are with our collective Armenian identity,” he said.
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Sarkisian spent most of his speech again defending his policy of rapprochement with Turkey and trying to allay serious concerns expressed by his some Diaspora groups. He insisted in particular that the planned establishment of a Turkish-Armenian panel of historians will not stop Yerevan from pressing more countries of the world to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

“On the question of the recognition and condemnation of the genocide, we have an obligation and we will fulfill that obligation till the end,” he told the advisory body comprising Armenia’s top state officials.

Nationalist groups in Armenia and the Diaspora believe that such recognition should be eventually followed by Armenian territorial claims to parts of what is now eastern Turkey. They say that the Sarkisian administration precludes such possibility by agreeing to formally recognize Armenia’s existing border with Turkey.

“Making territorial claims is not the best way to start normalizing relations,” countered Sarkisian. “There are realities of the 21st century political culture which we must take into account.”

Sarkisian again brushed aside opposition allegations that as part of the Western-backed deal with Ankara he also agreed to ensure greater Armenian concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “We will never opt for unilateral concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, regardless of what we could be offered in return,” he said.

The president also scoffed at suggestions that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border would make Armenia economically dependent on Turkey and hurt domestic manufacturers. “It is like suggesting that the best remedy against headache is decapitation,” he said.

Those damn nationalists…

So basically the president didn’t take anything into consideration when he met with concerned, even pessimistic leaders of Armenian communities in private wherever he went. Seems that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan will definitely have the go ahead in signing the protocols on Saturday (Oct. 10), then of course it’s up to the parliaments of Turkey and Armenia to verify them. The Republicans and junior coalition partners Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir have pledged their support for the protocols, so they are sure to be ratified in the National Assembly without a doubt.

I suppose the only hope for those who don’t want the border open, I would say the majority of Armenians worldwide (and even among apathetic or distressed Armenian citizens, who likely hold the majority opinion that the border should remain closed under the given circumstances despite government propaganda claiming the opposite) is that the Turkish parliament with its powerful nationalist hardliners will reject the protocols. That is most likely not to happen: the Turks have plenty to gain from an opened border. The Armenian economy will most certainly be totally controlled by Turkish business interests after some time, despite the president’s unconvincing arguement to the contrary. After all, I don’t think he really cares about Armenia’s long-term future. None of Armenia’s leadership does, otherwise they would consider what’s really at stake.

Yet I couldn’t help think this morning that as a surprise move Turkey would have perhaps even more to gain should it recognize the Armenian Genocide just before or even shortly after the protocols are ratified. Turkey will certainly make huge sums of money in tourism with hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the diaspora returning to their homeland for a visit. Emotional ones would probably buy land in their hometowns, perhaps even build a house. Before long, Armenians will find themselves in the situation they were in 100 years ago and long before–living as serfs under Turkish hegemony.

But to hell with all that. Open the border! Let’s make as much money as possible by buying and selling Turkish-made crap in the Armenian marketplace! Let the Turks come in and spend money. Let’s go to Turkey in the summer for vacationing! Let our businesses grow and prosper–that is, of course, until we are bought out completely by Turkish business rivals.

Good luck, Armenia. You’ll definitely need it.