BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
As if it wasn’t enough that we are deprived of eating apricots grown in our and their native soil unless they’ve gone through Turkey’s economic system.
As if it wasn’t enough that our own community members are among the biggest distributors of Turkish produced goods.
As if it wasn’t enough that Turkish goods even have a huge presence in the Republic of Armenia.
As if it wasn’t enough that meat in Lebanon often comes from Turkey (or at least used to).
As if it wasn’t enough that textiles from Turkey are heavily represented in the U.S. Have you tried buying towel not made in Turkey? Last time I checked, it was damn near impossible.
As if it wasn’t enough that processed, canned, foods from tomato paste to dried fruit produced by Turkey somehow underprice those of other Middle Eastern countries.
As if it wasn’t enough that the money generated by Turkey’s lucrative food export industry ended up funding, through Erdoğan’s machinations, Daesh/ISIS which has caused so much destruction, death, and misery in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and their environs, including to Armenians living there.
Now, we have Azerbaijan to deal with, too, in the same category. The Azeri-apples-in-Armenia fiasco may have been just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t mean that there are likely other such instances of which we’re unaware – no doubt there are. I mean that Azerbaijan seems to be entering the foodstuffs-export business in a big way.
According to ITE Food & Drink, Azerbaijan’s Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association (AMTIIA) was recently (August 2016) formed. It has already racked up a big win by arranging for its member companies to be able to export their produce to X5, Russia’s second largest food retailer. This should be seen in the context of Russia’s search for alternative sources of fresh produce since its ban on European imports in the post-Crimea-reclamation era. According to a brief item on Azerbaijan State News Agency’s site on April 12, the country has increased its fruit and vegetable exports by 73% in the first quarter of the year.
The same tide that raised Armenia’s boat of exports to Russia seems to be helping the Azeris, too. All of this would elicit a shrug and get filed in the “what’re-ya-gonna-do” category but for one aspect.
Just a few days ago I bought a bottle of pomegranate juice. Only after it was consumed did I discover that the juice was produced in Russia, with fruit imported from Azerbaijan! So now, we have to watch out for disguised Azerbaijani products in addition to direct Azerbaijani imports on top of all the Turkish goods entering the U.S. Just what we needed! How much does that hurt? Pomegranates are probably second only to apricots in the Armenian fruit “pantheon” in their symbolism and importance. Now, they’re being tainted by Azerbaijan.
The brand of juice in this case was Beneli. Watch out for it, and let’s start being alert to other such products on our grocery store shelves. Remember, the money you spend on such items pays for the bullets killing Armenian soldiers on our eastern front. Baku knows their oil-and-gas reserves are starting to wind down and other sources of revenue are being developed.
Let’s complain loudly whenever we notice such items. Convey to retailers that such products are unwanted, offensive, and might lead to your discontinuing your shopping from that store.