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  • A New Gordian Knot in South CaucasusHatem CABBARLI November, 2010 A year has passed through the protocols that was signed in October 10,2009 between Turkey and Armenia. However,any tangible progress existing shows that there is a [...]

Eurasian Center for Security and Strategic Researches

Hatem CABBARLI November, 2010

A year has passed through the protocols that was signed in October 10,2009 between Turkey and Armenia. However,any tangible progress existing shows that there is a diplomatic trouble. Moreover,Armenia tried to accept the Constitutional Court protocols’ content by changing them and this situation has added a new gordian to Caucasus strategies.
To overcome the problems of 20 years,Ankara made the most concrete progress by signing protocol. However,Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) disintegration in December 21,1991 leads the independence of member states,it caused a serious problems about regional and international area. This process,especially about the states that are in the border of the USSR,has brought an opportunities and threatenings. This process,especially about the states that are in the border of USSR,has brought an opportunities and threatenings. After disintegration of USSR,Turkey had to share its northern borders with South Caucasus states that have uncertain future and experiencing ethnic problems. Azerbaijan and Georgia,from South Caucasus states,after declaring their independence,they developed bilateral relations by establishing diplomatic,political and economic relations with Turkey.But after the years of Armenia independence,it has chosen being ”a problem state” by making Armenia genocide a current issue against Turkey. Armenia also in this process,has occupied 20% territory of Azerbaijan and supported the demand for political autonomy of Armenians in Georgia,Cevahati state. In this regard,Turkey’s policy of Azerbaijan and Armenia is important. Because,till today,the problems haven’t been solved permanently that are concerning these three countries and threatening the security and the stability of region and there is always a possibility of breakage.

PROTECTORS OF STATUS QUO
Change of political system and security in South Caucasus re-opened new horizons to revive historical assets in this region that Turkey stayed away more than 70 years. Even if the relationships between Turkey-Azerbaijan and Turkey-Georgia are developing in a positive way,the relationships between Turkey-Armenia and Azerbaijan-Armenia haven’t been happened as wished. Armenia after declared its dependence,instead of contributing solutions to regional and international security issues,implemented foreign policy that makes the situation difficult. Among these,20% of occupied Azerbaijan lands and Turkey’s being accused about genocide. 11th article of Declaration of Independence,there is a statement that given ” The Republic of Armenia is trying to make Armenian genocide known internationally that was held in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia in 1915.” Armenia demanded the cancellation of Moscow ( March 16,1921 ) and Kars ( October 13,1921 ) Treaties that determined the borders with Turkey and it did’t recognized the territorial integrity of Turkey,reiterated its demand for compensation of territory.
Turkey continued its callings to Armenia for giving up the occupation,meanwhile began to limit relations gradually . On April 3,1993, occupying the province of Kelbecer ,Armenia closed its border with it. In spite of the attempts of Armenia,Turkey tried to develop the relations with this country but positive steps haven’t been taken from the opposite side until the football diplomacy has begun between two countries. Even if the presidents have shown respectful mutual visits to watch the national football teams’ matches of Turkey and Armenia, a positive event hasn’t been existed.
After Ahmed Davutogu’s appointment as Foreign Minister,a project took part in the range ascension of Turkish foreign policy to improve relations with Armenia. As a result of this ascension,two protocols were signed on October 10,2009 in Zurich. While AKP government were trying to defend the signing of the protocols,the opposution political parties and many civil society organizations reported argument. At the same time Azerbaijan had also expressed their sensivity about the issue.
After signing protocols,the approval in the council of two country has been under consideration. Even if the Armenia Government was in search of support from public and diaspora before signing the protocols,couldn’t obtain the result they expected. Serzh Sarksyan,Armenian President,has chosen to take the opinion of the Constitutional Court about protocols to share his political responsibility. On January 12,2010,the Constitutional Court has given a positive response after discussing protocols and at the same time has expressed its reservations.
According to these reservations:
1. Protocols can not be construed against 11th article of the Armenian Declaration of Independence.
2. Protocols can not be reversed with the preamble of the Constitution.
3. Protocols will be discussed in the Parliament of the two countries,will be approved and will enter into force.
With these reservations,Armenia tried to change the content and essence of this treaty that is a legal document. If Armenian Constitutional Court has a authority to audit contracts that government signed,it accepts these documents or rejects.It cannot play with the contents of documents and can not explain its reservations. In other words,Armenia has given the signal of approval in the Parliament,not by playing on the protocols.
AKP Government made a comment about Armenia Constitutional Court’s decision that is contrary to the letter and spirit of the protocols,pre-conditions and restrictive provisions are mentioned. If the AKP Government,after his comment,will bring the protocols to the Council,Government’s reputation and seriousness of the Turkey will be damaged.
The AKP government before bringing the protocols to the Council,suggested the condition of Armenia’s withdrawal from Azerbaijan territories. To this condition of the government,not only Armenia but also USA,France and Russia that are co-presidents of the OSCE Minsk group contested. Co-presidents repeatedly explained that they didn’t find appropriately Turkey’s stipulation on positive events about Daglık Karabag issue for protocols’ approval that were signed with Armenia. In Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visiting to the Russia,Vladimir Putin has stated that Turkey-Armenia relations improvement and conflict reduction of Nagorno Karabakh are a strategic mistake.
Armenia that is supported clearly by mediator states on this issue,won’t retreat in a short and medium term from Azerbaijan territories they occupied and won’t fulfill the demand of Turkey. Therefore,Turkey will face severe pressures of states that are OSCE co-president and especially of the USA. Most probably,AKP guessed the beginning of Armenia’s softening process on Turkey’s policy after signing the protocols but these estimations were not verified. After signing the protocols,in the Turkey policy of Armenia there had been no positive change occurred at all. The president Serzh Sarksyan and the other government civils never even implied about giving up propaganda genocide. Turkey,in this process,wanted to contribute to Nagorno Karabakh conflict,except for Azerbaijan,USA,Russia,France and Armenia are against to this. If a problem is solved that seriously threatens regional security,Turkey certainly will not be allowed to taste a victory cake. If Turkey can work out the problem of Karabakh, this can make Turkey a regional power. USA that is from co-president states may be more serious.USA,up till today applying pressure to the Turkey,it is possible to increase their pressure to Turkey for approving of protocols attributed to the legal document that was signed between the sides. But Turkey has reasonable arguments to withstand these pressures and will evaluate the opportunity to exploit it to the end.
USA and Russia want to be a mediator between Turkey and Armenia,but they actually support Armenia.After the decision of the Constitutional Court,these states should have given a serious reaction to the Armenia but they reported an opinion that supports Armenia. After receiving this support,of course,Armenia is likely to exhibit an uncompromising approach,not only about improvement of relations issue but also in the direction of solving the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh. For 20 years,Russia and USA that are interested in the problem of Nagorno Karabakh,haven’t expressed clearly occupying of Azerbaijan territories’ by Armenia yet. These states,in that case being arbiter,trying to impose to the Azerbaijan to solve the problem that the peace way hasn’t still run out. If protocols are approved and borders are opened,after Russia-Georgia War,AKP will make Armenia breathe easy that is living serious problems because of world economic crisis. Armenia,that was forced to compromise on the solution of the Nagorno Karabakh,in order to solve the economic problems,in this case he may afford even withdrawal from negotiation table. If that happens,AKP government’s political,economic and security policy for the South Caucasus will go bankrupt. After from this,it is not hard to predict that nobody will accredit to any attempt of Turkey to South Caucasus. After from this, it is hard to predict that nobody will shout to accredit any attempt of Turkey to the South Caucasus. Turkey,in the region,may have a serious confidence problem.
GORDION KNOT
Even if the solving facilities of Nagorno Karabakh’s problem was only in the hands of Moscow until the end of 1991,the problem gained an international character after Azerbaijan and Armenia joined OSCE on January 30,1992. To solve the problem,in the meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers Council that was arranged on March 24,1992,Minsk Group was formed and so far it continues as unsuccessfully to a mediation attempts to resolve the problem. The presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia met with the mediation of Dmitri Medvedev,Russian President,on June 17,2010.In the meeting,negotiations will continue within the framework of the principles of Madrid and the sides have made different statements in the end about the meeting. So in a sense,this meeting was not a serious turning point. Azerbaijan reports that Nagorno Karabakh problem should be solved peacefully within the framerwork of the OSCE.In parallel to this,it never made military intervention as an exception. Azerbaijan’s mechanisms and opportunities to solve the problem peacefully hasn’t finished yet to force Armenia with peace. However,when these possibilities and mechanisms run out,Azerbaijan always has the possibility of military operations beginning by warning international public about the seriousness of the problem.
Up till now,there hadn’t been ” an inch” distance even,to solve the Nagorno Karabakh problem in mediation attempts of USA and Russia. The only common idea of these states that are trying to protect the different interests in international area is,sharing the idea of Nagorno Karabakh problem’s not being solved. Because,these states’ fighting to have arbite in South Caucasus is still pending. We need to see when looking at this struggle table,Georgia wanted to see USA/Pro-Western policy in life,Armenia is Russia’s province as a non-official position and Azerbaijan implemented a balance policy between USA / the West and Russia . As long as these regional states are not under the umbrella of a single security ( NATO,The Commonwealth of Independent States CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization KGAT ) or found their own regional security organization,it is almost impossible to protect ensuring stability in the South Caucasus. Because in the security policy of the region states have no common points.

TURKEY-AZERBAIJAN-STRESSFUL EXPECTATION
Azerbaijan-Turkey relations are developing continuously since 1991.Azerbaijan and Turkey are the natural allies for eachother and this alliance will be not allowed to destroy by third states absolutely.Azerbaijan’s importance in South Caucasus makes Turkey strong in this region.In the same way Azerbaijan has a strong and reliable ally in this region such as Turkey.Between two countries,political and economic relations are also growing today.
However,between two countries,there are some problems experienced from time to time.Especially Armenia issue has a potential to impair cooperation between sides.Even though Armenia had experienced a policy that is anti-Turkey in international and regional area,improved the relations with this country and worked to alleviate the situation a little bit.But after signing the protocols,there had been no positive development that was achieved.
If Nagorno Karabakh problem has no relation with Turkey,also Armenian genocide and protocols’ approval shouldn’t have a relation with USA.While the AKP government’s policy of Armenian ascension is being evaluated,its a good idea to seach an answer for this question.If there hadn’t been a Nagorno Karabakh problem,would Turkey improve the relations by offering conditions to Council approval that were signed with Armenia? If the answer was ” yes ”,there would be a big mistake that was done in Republican period.There is no need to be expert in the area of foreign policy to understand this.Just it would be enough to take a look at Armenia’s Turkey policy after independence. Because Armenia knows that relations between Turkey-Azerbaijan are being distended by protocols’ signing and submission to Parliament for approval.and trying to keep this,as a current issue in a relations with Turkey even if he doesn’t approve the protocols in Parliament. Armenia does not need approval of protocols but the opening of borders from Turkey.The borders are closed for 17 years but in this case the only loser is Armenia. Armenia,that is living in severe economic problems in Armenia should have approved protocols and signed a peace agreement,based on mutual concessions with Azerbaijan,to improve their economic situation that became bad after the latest world economic crisis.However he should have prevented people living in poverty,but he followed the opposite policy and continued to charge the bill of economic crisis.
A requirement of AKP government for protocols approval in Parliament is the positive event of Armenia’s withdrawal from the lands they occupied and Baku supports this policy of AKP. But AKP government’s contradictory statements about the approval of protocols couldn’t dissolve the fears of Azerbaijan.Indeed,recently the relations between two countries have been distended on this issue. Azerbaijan may approve the protocols of Turkey and accept putting into effect but if Turkey lose Azerbaijan,he may not accept the cost of borders’ opening with Armenia. This time,in the policy of security,energy and transport for South Caucasus of Turkey,the situations will be so complicated.

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