SOARING TRADE WITH ARMENIA SURPRISES TURKISH BUSINESSMEN

Today's Zaman
Feb 3, 2010

The trade figures between Turkey and Armenia represent an "amazing
success," the co-chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development
Council (TABDC), Kaan Soyak, has said, commenting on a recent statement
by the Armenian Chamber of Commerce that trade volume between the
two countries reached $300 million in 2009.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday, Soyak said the
Armenian institution's statement came as a surprise to him as the
TABDC's own estimates were much more modest, at around $150 million.

The World Bank, on the other hand, calculates the trade volume between
the two countries to be in the ballpark of $200 million.

Turkey and Armenia do not have direct trade routes with each other due
to the closed border gates because of the severe diplomatic clashes
over Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Trade is carried out via third countries in the region such as Iran and
Georgia. Therefore, the trade figures are not officially recorded by
Armenia and Turkey, but instead by these third countries based on the
consignment documents of the trucks that transport the export items.

"We know that the trust-based system of trade which existed in
Anatolia in the past is now conducted between the businessmen of
Armenia and Turkey, especially from the eastern and southeastern
Anatolian regions," Soyak noted.

Speaking about the recently prepared protocols to improve relations
between the Turkey and Armenia, Soyak argued that every passing day
is a delay to reaching the desired goals. "Indeed, the document was
prepared with the great endeavors of numerous institutions after
months of devoted work. Deferrals in the signing of these protocols
are helping those who are against the protocols to bring disputed
subjects back to the fore," he said. Disputed subjects, such as the
1915 incidents and Karabakh problems are being brought to the agenda
by the opposition parties in both countries, which are in return is
obstructing the normalization of relations between the two countries,
he explained.