The Armenian government must take two important steps prior to opening the border with Turkey: 1) Forbid Turkish citizens from buying real estate in Armenia; and 2) Place tariffs on the import of products from Turkey.
Don’t let Turks buy land in Armenia; impose tariffs on Turkish imports
STEPANAKERT, FEBRUARY 23, ARTSAKHPRESS: Obviously, Turkish citizens do not have to cross the Armenian border to be able to buy real estate in Armenia. But, with the opening of the mutual land border, more Turkish citizens will be able to come to Armenia, thus increasing the flow of people and products from Turkey.
Allowing the citizens of a hostile country like Turkey to purchase real estate in Armenia is a serious national security threat, particularly if these properties are located near sensitive border areas.
There is a big contradiction between what the Constitution and laws of Armenia stipulate regarding the purchase of real estate by foreigners and what is actually practiced. Now that a Constitutional Committee has been set up to reform the existing Constitution, last amended in 2015, this is the right time to reconsider the existing provisions as to who can buy real estate in Armenia. There should be a ban on foreigners’ purchase of properties near Armenia’s border. In addition, citizens of Azerbaijan and Turkey should not be allowed to purchase any kind of property anywhere in Armenia.
This problem is particularly urgent because several years ago the Turkish government adopted a law that forbade the purchase of property in Turkey by citizens of four countries: Armenia, Cuba, North Korea and Syria. Citizens of another 35 countries are restricted to purchase property in Turkey based on the nature and location of the land. One would think that since the Turkish government has forbidden Armenian citizens from buying land in Turkey, Armenia should have reciprocated by banning the purchase of land in Armenia by Turkish citizens.
I wrote an article in 2012, informing Armenian officials of the Turkish law that banned the citizens of Armenia from buying land in Turkey and urged “the Armenian Parliament to consider adopting retaliatory measures against citizens of Turkey interested in purchasing Armenian properties.” Regrettably, my suggestion was ignored.
The 1995 Constitution prohibited foreigners from purchasing land in Armenia. However, this was contradicted by the Armenian government’s subsequent report to the World Trade Organization: “foreigners have the right to own real estate properties built on Armenian land.” The report also stated that “the [Armenian] legislation grants the Government the power to limit and prohibit foreign investment for national security concerns.”
In line with the Constitution of 1995, the subsequent Armenian Constitutions of 2005 and 2015 also stated that “Foreign citizens and stateless persons shall not enjoy ownership right over land, except for cases provided for by law.”
Before several sectors of Armenia’s economy are completely devastated, the Armenian government must place tariffs on imported Turkish products to protect Armenia’s vulnerable producers.
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier