Russo-Turkish alliance in near-term outlook

Ankara will never risk her image and support a new war in Karabakh, as now she more and more has to look at Russia.

After the official rejection to ratify the Protocols on normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and opening of the border, Turkey once again started to talk about the Karabakh conflict, putting it as a precondition for normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. In an interview to “MK” President Abdullah Gul clearly noted that these two issues are interconnected and opening of the border closed by Turkey in 1993 at the request of Azerbaijan is directly related to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, or rather, to its Azeri version.

PanARMENIAN.Net - However, there is a “but” in the logic of the Turkish leadership behavior – the factor of Iran. It is one thing to support the Caucasian Turks verbally, and another – to try to get Iran to obey your rules, by which the settlement of the Karabakh conflict is merely a tool that can be replaced at any moment, if need be. Ankara realizes it perfectly well that in relation to Moscow and Tehran she should play her role of a peacemaker and a totally disinterested player in the Karabakh problem, at least in words. It’s quite another matter that Baku experiences difficulties in admitting such a policy. Shiite Azerbaijan consciously or unconsciously goes on a confrontation with Iran and flatters Sunni Turkey only to trade her expensive oil and gas in exchange for support in the international community. Unfortunately, Ilham Aliyev still trusts in his oil resources, naively believing that the West has nowhere to go, and if it should come to recommencement of hostilities, she will support Azerbaijan. He was not sobered up even by the recent statements of EU officials declaring that apart from oil and gas, Europe is concerned about some other no less important issues, like freedom of speech, human rights and democracy. Aliyev has the same expectations from Turkey, too. But Ankara will never risk her image and support a new war in Karabakh, as now she more and more has to look at Russia.

According to Gul, of special importance is the South Caucasus, as a region bordering both Turkey and Russia. “We, guided by the strategy of creating an environment of peace, stability and welfare in the neighbouring region, strive for an environment favouring peace, security and cooperation in this region,” the president said, adding that Turkey’s views on the Karabakh issue coincide with those of Russia. The Turkish president also voiced his country’s readiness to extend all-embracing support to the search of a solution to the problem, a process that personally involves Russian President Medvedev, and also do everything possible for the further settlement of the conflict. “The progress obtained on this path will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the Turkish-Armenian relations. This is Turkey’s position on normalization of ties with Armenia. We sincerely hope for the successful completion of the normalization process. In the process of establishing unwavering peace in the South Caucasus and enhancing cooperation and welfare in the region and beyond its bounds, normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as Turkey and Armenia should not be viewed as a separate process, since it demands consideration on region-wide basis”, Gul said.

The categories of realpolitik, which Ankara is guided by, bear fruit, especially in developing trade and economic relations. As you know, there is no economy without politics, and Moscow, rather than Azerbaijan, has recently been a reliable energy supplier to Turkey. The most important thing in this scenario is what should Armenia expect from this alliance? It’s true that Russia now is not what it used to be in 1921, but Turkey has changed, too. No one will now redraw the map of the region and denounce the long stale treaties. However, it is more profitable for the Russo-Turkish alliance to consider these treaties valid, even though under international law, agreements signed by no longer existing countries must be recognized void. The only bad thing is that Russia still lacks a clear-cut policy in the Caucasus and seems undetermined to draw one in the near future. Unfortunately, Russia uses the stick and carrot policy in the Caucasus, often confusing what, where and when to apply. In relation to Armenia this demonstrates itself quite obviously, as in the example of Russia’s supplying weapons both to Yerevan and Baku. If this is how Moscow maintains the balance of power in the region, it could certainly result in war. On the other hand, it is simply impossible not to take into account the interests of the military-industrial complex.

However, it is worth noting that the situation is not so bad. Restraining factors still work in the South Caucasus, and, oddly enough, a considerable role in this belongs to Turkey, which verbally supports Azerbaijan, but in practice will not intervene if the situation gets out of control. Advisers, weapons and even mercenaries are a good thing, but you yourself have to fight without relying on assistance from “friends”. However, as often mentioned, if Aliyev really wanted to start a war and knew that he would win it, he would have started long ago.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan
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