774) 'All Armenians are Welcome in Turkey'

Jan SOYKOK (JTW) - Armenian Economist Aram Safaryan told Turkish daily Milliyet that the Armenian businessmen have no problem with the closed-Turkish borders, but the Armenian people (middle and poor classes) suffers a lot.

”There is no diplomatic relations, the borders are closed. However everything is open for the Armenian businessmen. But the problem is that not all of the Armenians are businessmen” he added.

Aram Safaryan is economy analyst and producer of a program in Armenia’s Canal 2.

Safaryan argues in Milliyet that the trade between Turkey and Armenia is annually 120 million US dollars. Turkish expert Dr. Sedat Laciner on the other hand argues that the figure reaches about 200 million dollars every year.

Safaryan continues:

"The annual trade between two countries is 120 million dollars. Armenia exports about 1 million dollars good to Turkey, while it imports 119 million dollars goods from Turkey. Does Turkey want to change this balance! However 49 percent of my country lives in poverty level.

Safaryan argues that both countries should establish direct relations:

“Neither US nor the EU could bring both countries together. Turkey looks at Armenia as it looks at its Armenian society in Turkey. However Armenia is an independent country. If Turkey abandons policy of getting US or American support and if Turkey abandons the policy of dominating the Middle East, it will enter the EU faster. Armenia should not be a market for Turkey’s chip goods. Armenia should not wear dresses that no one wears in Turkey.”

Safaryan further said that “Turkey should make investment in Armenia”. He added:

“There is no room for small investment in Armenia. However there is great need for bigger investments here. Armenia devotes about 50 million dollars every year for the high tech investments. Turkey could establish a Silicon valley like in the US. Turkey could make investments in energy area. However as far as there is no diplomatic relations, the sources are being wasted.”

Safaryan says that 80 percent of the PVC used in windows, almost 100 percent of good made from paper materials and 100 percent of chocolate come from Turkey.

Safaryan argues that Turkey has to find a solution for the ‘genocide’ issue:

“Turkey should recognize the right of existence of Armenians who once lived in those territories. These people should have the right to live in those territories with the condition of not seeking those territories… Those territories (Eastern Turkey) are not like we left behind. People have good dreams regarding those territories because there is a ban. However if they go there, they would return in 15 days. Yet a revolution would be done in Armenian mind, and the hostility era would be closed down. Thus we can protect our common history and what left behind this history”.


Turkish experts share Safaryan’s many ideas, however they say that there are still some biases and misinformation in his interview. Dr. Sedat Laciner for instance does not agree that there is a ban for Armenians to enter Turkey:

“Turkey is a free country and all of the borders are open for anyone. Turkey-Armenia territorial borders are an exception. However Armenians can visit Turkey by airplanes, and they do in fact. Actually more than 50,000 Armenia Armenians live and work in Istanbul and some other Turkish cities. Most of them work illegally here and Turkish people employ them. Many of them are baby sitter, which means that Turks trust Armenian illegal workers a lot. Apart from the Armenia Armenians many Armenians come from Northern America and Western Europe to visit the Armenian historical monuments in Turkey. No one has disturbed any Armenian yet. In fact no one understand that you are an Armenia as long as you do not mention. No Turk wants to kill an Armenian or insult him or her. There are great differences between politics and real life. Turkish people are ready to make trade with Armenians from anywhere”.


Dr. Nilgun Gulcan on the other thinks that Armenia needs more than Turkey needs Armenia:

“Armenia is a tiny country. If there was no ‘genocide’ claims, no one gives importance to Armenia. In fact even today no one cares Armenia state in Turkey. It does not affect Turkish economy or politics. Just 2,5 million people, a tiny country with no significant natural source. Turkey has more interests in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran. Armenia could be neglected, and Turkey loses very little from ignoring Armenia. Armenians have to understand that Turkey is a giant near Armenia and Armenians should benefit from this giant market. However they prefer to start a combat against Turkey. If they do prefer a real dialogue, they would get more even in the ‘genocide’ issue. Turkey is a more open country than Armenia is. For example, I cannot travel to Armenia. No Turk defending Turkish perspective could go to Armenia. A Turkish historian was in Armenia last year and spent months in an Armenian prison. You can find any Armenian book in any big Turkish bookshop. Almost all ‘genocide’ literature have been translated Turkish language. We clearly understood what the Armenians think about the 1915 Events. But Armenians have no idea about Turkish perspective. They do not listen. They think that, if they listen to the Turks, they would commit a great sin. All Armenians are welcome in Turkey. Turkish people are against secret political agendas. If you want territories they live on, of course they would be against your ideas. But we are not in a war, and there are millions of foreigners in Turkey. More than 200,000 Germans, British etc. live in Turkish coasts. They have houses, they work here and they plan to die in these territories. Armenians of course have all the rights a British has. If Armenians want to live in Ararat or Van, they should come and establish a life here instead of insulting us”.


Davut Sahiner similarly says that Armenians are welcome in Turkey. Dr. Sahiner invites all Armenians to live and to make investment in Turkey. Yet he has very little hope:

“If Armenian diaspora had made investments in Turkey and in Armenia for more than a decade, about 500,000 Armenians would have lived in Anatolian territories. They do not want any solution because they are good with their problems. Armenian Genocide Claims create heroes in Armenian diaspora. There are many Armenian politicians etc. whose only income source is Armenian peoples sorrows. Some of the Armenians make a lot of money from the Armenian issue. This is an industry. Armenian Genocide Industry. Armenian Diaspora does not care Armenia’s economic or political problems. They do not come to Armenia. They want to live in US or in France. The diaspora Armenians can combat against the Turks till the last drop of Armenia Armenians’ blood.”

Dr. Laciner argues that Armenia could be rich country in couple years if Turkey and Armenia could give up discussing the disputes of a century ago:

“Nothing wrong with discussing the past. The problem is we are sacrificing today for the past. If Armenia and Turkey solved the genocide debate 15 years ago, Armenia would have been a rich country. Turkey is a great market and a bridge for European routes. Armenians are talented traders, and the Armenian workers are high-skilled. Both Turks and Armenians could have made Anatolia and Caucasus a better place to live in. However the ultra-nationalist Armenians, Russia and diaspora have manipulated the Armenian politics and led Armenia to disasters. When Russia looks at Armenia, it sees only a military base and people to be abused economically and politically. That’s all. Diaspora is happy with the existing problems. They are against opening the borders, even dialogue with the Turks. If you do refuse to speak how can you solve your problems. And the ultranationalist groups like Tashnaks want more and more territories. Territory is nothing if your people are suffering. Principle should have been ‘first people’, not ‘first territory’. Turks lost an empire and no one in Turkey wants more territory. We have enough territory and Armenians have enough territory too. Armenians cannot use properly the existing tiny Armenia, and ultranationalist Armenians want more and more. Let’s say, let’s imagine that whole Eastern Anatolia was given to tiny Armenia… If Armenia expands more the Armenians would be minority in their country. All Armenians should remember that there are more than 100 million Turks around and about 3 million Armenians. We cannot solve our problems by killing each other. We have to learn to live together.”

16 May 2006

Safaryan’s interview was translated to English language by JTW staff.

(N31824-Version 2)



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