GYUMRI, Armenia

As talks between Turkiye and Armenia to normalize relations continue and reciprocal charter flights resume, business owners in an Armenian border city are eagerly awaiting the opening of the border.

Artush Yeghiazaryan has been running a tea-shop restaurant in Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city, located in the northwestern part of the country near the Turkish border.

Asked about the normalization of ties between Turkiye and Armenia, he said he can see “only positive things.”

“Even if we have some serious issues with Turkiye, historical issues, (then) talking to each other and having commercial relationships will only contribute to resolving these problems,” Yeghiazaryan told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

“If two people have problems, if they don’t talk to each other, how will they solve these problems?
“I want us to talk to each other. I want us to have relationships, and I don’t want the third parties to talk instead of us,” he said.

Although Yeghiazaryan is in favor of opening the border in terms of commercial relationships, he noted that his country does not have to “compromise” on some serious issues, including the 1915 incidents.

“It’s just really necessary for our future to heal. Turks and Armenians need to heal,” he said.
He also underscored the importance of “fair trade,” adding that without this, “the bigger one can swallow the smaller one.”

Despite being neighboring countries, Turkiye and Armenia have had many difficulties in diplomatic relations since Armenia declared its independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the border between the two countries has remained closed since 1993, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

Now, as the two countries hold talks to normalize relations, many wonder if the shuttered border will be opened.

Apin Chahoyan, a hairdresser at Gyumri’s oldest barbershop, with a history of over 70 years, said: “Two neighbors sharing the same wall cannot be hostile towards one another. So let them be good friends.”

“This is neighborship. If you are asking my opinion, my opinion is that the more peace, the better,” he said.

“There is nothing better than peace.”

Norik Tonoyan, who has been working at the same barbershop, said: “I think it is wrong to remain hostile (towards one another) for centuries.”

“If there is a mutually beneficial solution in terms of trade, then there is a future,” he added.
According to Tonoyan, some “harmful things” happened for both sides, but “it is wrong to continue like this.”

“It is necessary not to remain enemies for centuries,” he said. “Trade brings people closer and brings peace.”

Noting that there are many places worth seeing and visiting in Gyumri, he said: “Let’s be humanists in both cultural and commercial issues and not have animosity.”

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