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Armenia Could Extend Ban On Imports From Turkey


Armenia - Commercial trucks parked at the Bagratashen border crossing with Georgia, November 29, 2018. (Photo by the State Revenue Committee of Armenia)

The Armenian government may well extend a ban on the import of manufactured goods from Turkey which it initiated during last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian said on Thursday.

The six-month month ban came into force on December 31. Yerevan described it as retaliation for Ankara’s “inflammatory calls,” arms supplies to Azerbaijan and “deployment of terrorist mercenaries to the conflict zone.”

Speaking in the Armenian parliament, Grigorian said the government is now inclined to extend the measure in June. He clarified that the import ban does not apply to Turkish raw materials and parts used by Armenian manufacturers.

Armenia imported (mostly via Georgia) $220 million worth of Turkish-manufactured products last year, Grigorian said, adding that local firms can produce or import them from China, Russia or other ex-Soviet states. “I think that the market will very quickly adapt to this situation,” he told lawmakers.

Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia and kept the border between the two states closed since the early 1990s out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. It has also banned all imports from Armenia.

Ankara has yet to clarify whether a final Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku remains a precondition for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations after the six-week war that resulted in the restoration of Azerbaijani control over all districts around Karabakh.

Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian said late last month that the Turks must end their “hostile actions against Armenia” if they want to contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Ayvazian’s remarks contrasted with a statement on Turkish-Armenian relations made by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian earlier in March. The latter said Armenia also needs to review its policies towards Turkey as well as Azerbaijan.

“We, the regional countries, must reappraise our mutual attitudes and postures,” said Pashinian.

Opposition leaders and other critics of the Armenian government denounced that statement as further proof of Pashinian’s desire to continue sacrificing Armenia’s national interests.

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