Israeli Eye on Armenian-Turkish Border: Interesting Change in Gyumri

    • Comments - 21 February 2018, 22:10
Information came that the Municipality of Gyumri and Logistic FTZ, an Israeli company, have signed an MoU on creating a free economic zone on an area of 330 hectares. Judging by the message, tech companies are supposed to operate there. The Israeli company has chosen the place and states to target the Eurasian market therefore Gyumri was picked which also has an airport.

According to the press release, the government will join the MoU three months later.

A really significant thing is happening in Gyumri though time will show its practicality and prospects. After all, vociferous economic projects have been announced in Armenia repetitively which did not have a dynamic and effective implementation.

The initiative is highly important to Gyumri. In addition, the importance is not only social and economic. The other factors are more interesting.

The territory where the FEZ will be set up is on the road from Gyumri to Marmashen. Gyumri was picked for the airport but the territory is on the other side of the town. It has been announced that a road will be built to connect the FEZ and the airport.

Marmashen is northwest of Gyumri, in the direction of the Armenian-Turkish border, which could be one of the additional aspects. This factor is interesting in the context of complicated Turkey-Israel relations.

The other is that weeks ago the Armenian government announced about the creation of a FEZ at the Armenian-Iranian border which, according to announcements, must be attractive for the Eurasian market. Can the FEZ to be created in Gyumri be a competitor to the FEZ at the Armenian-Iranian border, at least theoretically? On the other hand, the Armenian-Israeli relations entered a vibrant stage in the past few months, and it is possible that this economic project is an expression of growth of interest of Israel in Armenia. However, Israel does not seem to be keen on opening an embassy in Yerevan.

Another factor is the political military context of Gyumri aside from the historical and cultural context. Here is the only foreign Russian military unit which, for its part, has a big impact on the social and psychological picture of the city. Will the Israeli economic initiative change the status quo?

Or is the Israeli side preparing for change in the region in the Armenian-Turkish direction in the form of a new process, considering the latest statements by Serzh Sargsyan on voiding the Armenian-Turkish protocols and negotiations with new conditions.

At the same time, Gyumri is the Armenian-Georgian border, and the FEZ may foster Armenian-Georgian cooperation which is one of the basic factors of regional politics and security.

All these are hypothetical questions relating to recently growing interest in Gyumri. There is no doubt that in case of successful and effective continuation the impact of this initiative will be multi-layer and multi-faceted.