By Dr. Ayla Gol | 01 April 2010
Political Context: the Border Issue
Turkey was one of the first countries to recognise Armenia as a new state when Yerevan declared itself an independent republic from the Soviet Union in November 1991. Ankara unexpectedly found itself sharing a 268 km long border with a new neighbour. Although no official diplomatic relations were established between the two governments, Turkey allowed the passage of humanitarian aid to Armenia through its territory.
Under the initiatives of Turgut Ozal, Armenia was invited to be a member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC) and the politics of inclusion were pursued in order to achieve new regional integration and stability in 1991. However, in the following two years Ankara decided to close its border with Armenia by sealing the Dogu Kapi (The East Gate – Akhourian in Armenian side) crossing in Kars, Turkey. The decision was taken in April 1993 as the Ankara’s response to firstly, the escalating conflict in Nagorno Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan (the Karabakh issue) and secondly, Yerevan’s contradictory statements about not recognising its common border with Turkey. Moreover, the new Armenian Parliament declared in February 1991 that it no longer recognised the Turkish-Armenian border demarcated by the Treaty of Kars in 1920. For Ankara, this declaration indicated an expansionist policy on the part of Yerevan towards the so-called ‘Western Armenia’ in Anatolia. It was better to be safe than sorry when dealing with a historical arch-enemy.
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* Published in the First Issue of Political Reflection Magazine (PR).