Mesut Hasan Benli
GYUMRI / Radikal
Once conductor, now guardGevorgyan
says he misses Turkish friends.
The halt of train services between Turkey and Armenia has created several tragic human stories; one of them belongs to Agop Gevorgyan. After train services were suspended, Gevorgyan was dismissed from his job as a train conductor and made a guard at Akhuryan train station.
There were regular train services between the Akhuryan Train Station in the Armenian city of Gyumri and Turkey’s Doğu Kapı (East Gate) station in Kars province. However, upon the closure of the Turkey-Armenia border, train services were halted in 1993. With this suspension, serious victims of tragic human stories emerged both on the Turkish side and the Armenian side.Friendships formed
Agop Gevorgyan was conducting the train to Kars’ Doğu Kapı Station every day for years. He carried the goods loaded from Armenia to Turkey. From Turkey, he would bring various food items to his country. During those trips Agop Gevorgyan became friends with many people, primarily with an official named Şükrü at the Doğu Kapı station in Turkey. In March 1993, while Agop Gevorgyan was preparing for a Kars trip, he received an order, “You will not go today, services have been halted.”
Gevorgyan first thought this would be a short-lived decision and expected the border to be opened soon. He waited for the start of train services with hope. Days went by and the order of “start services” never came. Gevorgyan’s train never left the station to Kars. However, Gevorgyan never abandoned the Akhuryan train station. Because there were no train services, he was dismissed as a conductor and was made a guard. He said, “After the services were halted I started working as a guard in this station. Our time was spent sitting, most of the time idly. For 20 years we have been waiting for the train services to start. Over there, there are the lights of Turkey. We have been watching those lights for 20 years and waiting for the border to reopen. People in the Akhurik village situated around this station moved away.”
‘We have lost Şükrü’
With the closure of the border, Gevorgyan explained, those friendships he had formed in Turkey also ended: “I had a friend named Şükrü in Turkey. On those trips to Turkey, we would always get together.
We would meet each other every day. Şükrü was a good friend of mine but when the border was closed, our connection was cut. I learned a few years ago that Şükrü had died. I was very sad. I would have wanted to see him again.” Gevorgyan said he was hopefully waiting for the train services to start.
“It is very boring for us now to wait the entire day. ... It is time the border opens and I go back and forth to Turkey with my train.”