Armenia can become one of regional energy hubs in case of opening borders with Turkey

On 17 February, PanArmenian published a commentary from EuFoA’s team about the situation of the ratification of the protocols.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish civil society seems to be the main pushing force behind the ratification of the protocols in Turkey, Dr. Sargis Ghazaryan, Senior Research Fellow at European Friends of Armenia organization believes.

“As we know, according to the provisions of the protocols, Turkey should open its border with Armenia in two months time after their ratification. Consequently, the real political question is whether Turkish government will contribute to their ratification by the Parliament in a reasonable timeframe, or would instead artificially postpone the vote up to the next legislature, thus killing them? Normally, when the executive needs to contribute to the passage of a legislation, it sets up positive communication campaigns countrywide, it organizes vote simulations inside its majority in the Parliament and engages civil society in order to raise awareness. I haven’t seen that happening in Turkey. Paradoxically, while from the very first day after the signature of the protocols official Ankara was adopting a logic of “what is mine is mine, what is yours is negotiable”, Turkish civil society seems to be the main pushing force behind the ratification of the protocols in Turkey.

As for the geopolitical value of an open border with Turkey, if its short term economic effects are properly managed, Armenia should use it to move forward in making sure it is integrated into the trans-regional energy networks. Moreover, Armenia can become one of the regional energy hubs considering the EU willingness to include Iran in Nabucco. The importance steel and coal had in the post-war European integration, hydrocarbons can have in the transformation of the post-Soviet conflict-torn and segmented the South Caucasus.

The EU needs to upgrade its involvement in this most decisive stage of the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement and contribute to demolishing of the deepest and tallest wall of Europe.

To sum up, yes, Turkey can open the border this year, and it is in Turkey’s best interest, too. What Turkey needs in order to go down that road is vision.

The ratification of the protocols and full implementation of their provisions are a necessary condition to overcome geography and to unleash the real potential of Armenia and eventually, of the South Caucasus. The success of such a process can put an end to nationalism and populism and boost diversity, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism,” Sargis Ghazaryan told PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

The Protocols aimed at normalization of bilateral ties and opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey were signed in Zurich by Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on October 10, 2009, after a series of diplomatic talks held through Swiss mediation.

On January 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia found the protocols conformable to the country’s Organic Law.

The Nabucco pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline from Turkey to Austria diversifying the current natural gas suppliers and delivery routes for Europe. The pipeline attempts to lessen European dependence on Russian energy. The project is backed by several European Union states and the United States and is seen as rival to the planned Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline project. At the same time there are some doubts concerning viability of supplies. The main supplier is expected to be Azerbaijan in cooperation with Turkmenistan, Iraq and Egypt.

Preparations for the Nabucco project started in 2002 and the intergovernmental agreement between Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria was signed on 13 July 2009. The project is developed by the consortium of six companies. The pipeline is expected to be operational by 2015 and it will carry 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

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