The Closed Armenia-Turkey Border: Economic and Social Effects, including those on the People; and Implications for the Overall Situation in the Region

The closure of the Turkish-Armenian border in April, 1993 has generated grave costs to Armenia. A re-opening of the border would benefit greatly Armenia’s economy and society, even if some economic sectors may suffer from external competition. The opening would also favourably impact Armenia’s political development and open the way to the county’s full integration into the region. Turkey also loses significantly from the closure, while having much to gain from a policy reversal. In particular the opening would yield significant benefits for the underdeveloped province of Kars, as well as raise the competitiveness of the port of Trabzon. A reopening of the border would also have beneficial effects on the wider region, including the South Caucasus, Russia, the Black Sea, Iran and Central Asia. The major gains would be in terms of economic efficiency, achieved by integration, reducing transit fees and opening new markets. Turkey’s isolation of Armenia has alienated Yerevan further, disqualified Ankara’s role in mediation efforts over Karabakh, and more complicated and imperiled Turkey’s ties with Russia and the EU. The case for opening the border is strong, when viewed from all perspectives. How could this win-win situation be brought about in the face of interlocking and highly sensitive political problems? The EU could contribute greatly to incentivize and support these successive steps by making an effective use of its accession process with Turkey and the inclusion of Armenia in the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Study carried out by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) within the framework agreement between the Trans-European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) and the European Parliament.

Brussels, European Parliament, August 2007, 36 p. (European Parliament Policy Department External Policies Study)
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1. Introduction
2. The closure of the border
1. Historical background
2. The issues at stake
3. Opportunity costs of the status quo and potential benefits from an opening
1. Armenia’s costs and potential benefits
2. Turkey’s costs and potential benefits
3. Costs and potential benefits to the region
4. Opening the border and launching a confidence-building process
1. The first step in a long process: opening the border
2. A sine qua non: recognition of the common border
3. Cross-border initiatives
4. Confronting and depoliticizing the past
5. Rediscovering a common history and constructing a shared identity
6. Shared cultural heritage and tourism
5. Turkish-Armenian border – straddling EU accession and neighbourhood policies
Map: The Turkish-Armenian Border Region

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