Armenian-Azerbaijani trade must continue, says Yerevan paper

Armenian-Azerbaijani trade must continue, says Yerevan paper

Iravunk web site, Yerevan
20 Jul 04

No amount of threats or blockades can settle disputes in trade and
business relations, an Armenian paper has said, accusing Azerbaijan of
malice and “fascist-revanchist ravings”. Despite the various
embargoes, annual trade turnover between the countries has been
estimated at 40m US dollars. Both sides must learn to live together
and develop relations “in a European way”, the paper concludes. The
following is an excerpt from Leonid Nersesyan’s report posted on
Armenian newspaper Iravunk’s web site on 20 July, headlined “Armenian
brandy to Baku; Azerbaijani petrol to Yerevan”, subheadings inserted

There was a scandalous press conference of the workers of Azerbaijani
Railways in Baku the other day, where direct accusations were made
against Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov. The leaders of the
communications industry protested from the platform at the smuggling
out of the country of millions of tonnes of Azerbaijani petroleum
products to Armenia. Passage omitted

Trade yields 40m US dollars

This incident and others like it (more about them later) speak for
themselves: no embargoes and blockades can totally prevent the
development of Armenian-Azerbaijani trade and economic relations,
whose annual turnover, according to some reports, is approaching 40m
US dollars. This is making the powers-that-be on the Abseron peninsula
nervous, as they believe that only Armenia and the unrecognized
Nagornyy Karabakh Republic are suffering from their tough refusal to
cooperate in the business and economic field with the Armenians. In
the opinion of international experts, the South Caucasus, in
conditions of a growing process of globalization, is being seen as a
single, economically indivisible region, whose general development is
directly linked with the integration of all the states here. So
business relations between their compatriots and Armenian businessmen,
regardless of the will of the Azeri leaders, must sooner or later be
made official. But for the moment a veil is being drawn over these
relations – at different levels and in various forms. At the same
time, trade between the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians carries on
smoothly, yet again confirming the simple truth that money talks and
has no nationality. One could give the example of the visit to Yerevan
by a whole detachment of dealers from the Iranian province of South
Azerbaijan who are moving freely without hindrance. They are having a
perfectly good time and, apart from dealing in buying and selling,
some of the “guests” also have time for recreation.

Incidentally, one should not be surprised that things are peaceful at
the moment, but it is hard to believe what happened at the beginning
of the ’90s, when guns were rumbling on the fronts of Karabakh and all
over was a smell of burning. According to unofficial sources, even
during this tense period in Yerevan Azerbaijani businessmen were
arriving incognito and, reliably protected by stern Armenian partners,
they bought up wholesale from local supply depots and exported to
Baku, Ganca and Naxcivan whatever took their fancy – especially high
quality Armenian footwear, which was highly regarded at the time in
the USSR and relatively cheap.

Without focusing too much attention on the moral aspect of these
contacts and deals during war time, which became forerunners of the
current business plans of the sides divided by the conflict, we will
name just some of them. For example, on the trade counters of Armenian
towns then and now one could buy all kinds of goods from the former
international republic: Beta and Azerbaijan tea, caviar of a doubtful
quality, balyk cured fillet of sturgeon , nar sarab pomegranate sauce
, petrol and diesel fuel (you could get the latter even at the height
of the fighting!) and. washing powder with the deadly name of

In turn, in Baku, as before, the local elite still partakes of
Armenian brandy, mineral water, fruit juices and the people still
cadge Armenian cigarettes and wear Armenian-made shoes. When
diplomatic relations are established between the neighbouring
countries, the volume and range of trade exchange will considerably
increase, and that means the dividends of the two sides will increase
100 per cent from this mutually advantageous business cooperation. It
is now up to Azerbaijan, which is at the moment opposed to the
development of economic partnership with Armenia, to ensure that this
issue is solved positively. Instead, the neighbouring leaders from
time to time try to “intimidate” the peoples of Armenia and Nagornyy
Karabakh with astronomical figures of their own oil deposits. The fact
that this is just bluff is backed up by international experts, who
estimate that supplies of “black gold” in the world will generally run
dry by 2030 – 2040. Thus, the age of oil as a lever in the hands of
politicians is coming to an end.

Threats and blockades cannot settle disputes

So, the Azerbaijani side must finally realize that, it is easier to
settle disputes through the development of world trade and many-sided
business partnership than by setting up blockades, making
“threatening” statements, sabre-rattling and breeding cut-throats like
Azeri officer jailed in Budapest, charged with killing Armenian
officer Ramil Safarov. Alas, up till now such a realistic approach has
not been taken on board by official Baku. Armenia, on the other hand,
looks at things in a more sober manner and believes that common sense
will prevail.

One way or another Armenia and Azerbaijan have to live together and
develop relations, including economic. Our countries are members of
the Council of Europe and, consequently, it is time we started
thinking in a European way and not indulging in caveman-like malice,
perpetual retribution and fascist-revanchist ravings. We must take out
some conclusions from our own recent history, when the attempt by the
Azerbaijanis to solve the Karabakh problem by military means and the
Turkish method of genocide of the Armenians backfired on
Azerbaijan. Currently Armenia and Azerbaijan have already become
involved in international multilateral economic projects within the
framework of the CIS, Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and
TRACECA Silk Road transport corridor . A common “Caucasian home” may
be “erected” if not today, then tomorrow, and what will those
gentlemen on the Abseron peninsula with their anti-Armenian idee-fixe
be saying then?