/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Kars Mayor Naif Alibeyoglu is waging an uphill battle to overcome nationalist sentiments against Armenia to once again get the Turkish-Armenian border reopened to civilian traffic and trade since being shut down in 1993 due to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Alibeyoglu says that reopening the border crossing with Armenia will not be simply a move that will boost the local economy of the region but will also constitute a major breakthrough for Turkish exporters who have been dreaming of acquiring cheap and secure land and rail access to markets in Central Asia and beyond.
Being a prosperous, multinational city, where Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Russians and Georgians lived, Kars is today one of the poorest regions of the country. 70% of Kars population left the town lately. The only income of the locals is cattle breeding. The opening of the border will revive Kars, the Mayor believes. “Turkey’s future is in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey lost this market to Russia and America,” Alibeyoglu says.
Kars Mayor Alibeyoglu is a devout believer that the city can regain at least some of its past splendor. Alibeyoglu pictures Kars as the Davos of the Caucasus. “If that was its status 80 years ago, then why shouldn’t it be so now?” he asks. Kars will be home to the 3rd Festival of Caucasus Cultures between Sept. 15-17, hosting groups from 30 countries including Armenia, Ukraine, Sudan and even Cuba. The festival is just one attempt to earn Kars the recognition it deserves. Apart from that, the municipality has a number of projects to preserve the unique Tsarist-era architecture of the city, responsible for the city’s decrepit charm. In addition, a large citadel and a crumbling Armenian church-turned-mosque are some of the sights accounting for Kars’ specialization in ruins, reported Turkish Daily news.