During the 20th anniversary of Armenian independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 2011, the Armenian news service Hetq reported that the organizers of celebratory events were delivering commemorative T-shirts made in Turkey – which has had closed borders with Armenia since 1993. Despite the fact that trade between Armenia and Turkey flourishes via Georgia, the border between the two countries remains closed. What does the population of Armenia actually think about opening the border with Turkey?
While a majority of Armenians do not support opening the border with Turkey without preconditions and think that opening the border may be harmful for both Armenia’s internal political processes and national security, a large proportion of the Armenian population thinks that opening the border will be beneficial for the Armenian economy.
Data from the 2010 Caucasus Barometer shows that 50% of Armenians do not support the Armenian government opening the border with Turkey without preconditions, while 34% support this action.
In addition, there is a significant difference in opinions on how opening the border with Turkey will affect internal political processes and national security in Armenia. 44% of Armenians think it may be harmful for internal political processes in Armenia, while only 12% see opening the border as beneficial. Moreover, more than half (58%) of the adult Armenian population thinks that opening the borders will have a harmful effect on Armenian national security, in contrast to only 7% who think this will be beneficial.
Unlike internal political processes and national security, 49% of Armenians think that opening the borders with Turkey will be beneficial for Armenian economy. This is 17% more than those who claim opening the border will be harmful.
Similarly, 45% of Armenians approve doing business with Turks (CB 2010). Thus, while there is still a perception of potential threat from Turkey for the internal political processes and national security of Armenia, economic expectations raise the amount support for opening the border between Armenia and Turkey.
For more information, check out the CB 2010 dataset for Armenia which is available online.