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Saturday, 22 October 2016


Is there life on the Armenian-Turkish border?

2012-05-30 17:33

Is there life on the Armenian-Turkish border?. 27285.jpeg

Not only the politicians and public figures in Yerevan, but also the residents of Armenian villages bordering with Turkey are discussing possible consequences of opening the Armenian-Turkish border. Attitude to such perspective is ambiguous. Some villagers are hoping for new trade links, while others complain that the open border may hurt not only their economic opportunities, but also personal safety. Residents of border village Dzhanfidai voiced such arguments in conversation with GTimes.

The village of Dzhanfidai, Armavir region of Armenia, is located directly near the border with Turkey. There are only a few dozen houses. And although local infrastructure is well developed, the main occupation and source of income is agriculture. Mostly flat terrain with well-functioning water supply makes it possible to grow grapes, apricots, cherries and other fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Animal husbandry is also well developed. However, the only and most important issue for residents Dzhanfidai is its proximity to the state border.

Significant part of the villagers' land is located behind the barbed wire - border of the demarcation zone. In order to cultivate their plots or let the cattle out to pasture, residents of Dzhanfidai have to get permission for a few months from the administration of the border service. In the event of crossing the checkpoint they must have a passport and a special permit. Often, the most fertile land is behind the demarcation line, but they cannot cultivate it without a special permission. In other villages agricultural work begins with sunrise and ends with sunset; but here the work starts only at the time reserved for this. The difficulties with the cultivation of the land have forced many people to become border guard on contract basis, or to look for work elsewhere.

The problem with the border appeared during the Soviet era. Since 1934, in the Soviet Union there acted a special regime for cross-border residents. To get access to these areas the citizens of the USSR had to receive a pass. The pass could be obtained at the police station in the community. Persons residing in the border zone (those who had the appropriate stamp in the passport), did not need the pass to their place of residence, but needed a pass to the other border areas.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the status of the border zone on the border between Turkey and Armenia has not changed, the more that the Armenian-Turkish border is being guarded by Russian troops. Officially, the border between Armenia and Turkey lays across the Araks River, but during the Soviet years, the border area was separated from the real border with the barbwire up to 5 kilometers inland. After obtaining independence, the border villages of Armenia have remained behind barbed wire; and the blockade, Turkey declared in 1994, exacerbates the situation. Thus, the villagers are forced to get to their plots through the gates of the outpost, and even for a limited time.

Nevertheless, the prospect of opening the Armenian-Turkish border confuses the people. The question arises: is it beneficial? On the one hand, the villagers are hoping that a new market for agricultural products in Turkey will open; but at the same time they are concerned about the possibility of imports of low-quality, but cheap fruits and vegetables from Turkey. In addition, the possibility of ethnic migration to Armenia from the border areas, mostly inhabited by the Kurds, also causes concern.

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