Poll Finds Minority of Armenians Support Rapprochement with Turkey

Around one in three Armenians supports rapprochement with Turkey and the possible opening of the border between the two estranged countries, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports, citing a new opinion poll conducted by the Armenian Marketing Association (AMA).

The poll is reportedly the most comprehensive survey to date of Armenian public opinion on the dramatic thaw in Turkish-Armenian relations. Its findings were made public today.

AMA interviewed some 2,500 randomly chosen residents across the country in late January and February. According to AMA, nearly 31% of respondents supported, to varying degrees, the increased diplomatic, civil society, and other contacts between Armenia and Turkey.

Nearly an identical percentage of those polled completely or largely opposed such contacts, with the remaining 40% either undecided or expressing no definite opinion.

Accordingly, only 36% of respondents said the protocols signed between Ankara and Yerevan in October last year were good for Armenia. Most others were either undecided or said the protocols favor only the Turkish side.

The poll suggests that public opinion is almost evenly split on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which is envisaged by the protocols. It shows that only about 1/3 of Armenians want to have an open border with Turkey, while those who firmly or mostly oppose it make up just over 30% of those surveyed.

Western governments and lending institutions say opening the border would have a swift and highly positive impact on the Armenian economy. The Armenian government takes a similar view.

The AMA said that view is shared by 41% of those polled, with another 36% neutral on the topic or uncertain whether cross-border commerce with Turkey would bring economic benefits.

AMA Chairman Aram Navasardian told RFE/RL that pollsters did not seek to identify the reasons for the popular attitudes toward Yerevan's relations with Ankara, and the controversial protocols in particular. He said that should be the subject of a separate study.


Posted on March 30, 2010, 12:13 pm