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Attractive proposal 24 mars 2009

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Energy / Energie, Russia / Russie, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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Turan Information Agency (Azerbaijan)

March 24, 2009

In the second half of last year geopolitical and diplomatic activeness of Turkey in the region has increased and caused a number of gossips. On August 11, 2008 after Russia’s intervention to Georgia, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan during his visit to Moscow declared the idea of creation of « Caucasian Alliance. » On August 20 Turkey suggested the « Platform of Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus » (PSCC).

It was stated that « the platform should have geographic basis and serve to establishing of peace and safety in the region, provide economic cooperation and energy security. » The realization of the PSCC allowed Turkey to increase its « shuttle » activity and its political presence in the region.

The next was the turn of « football diplomacy », when contrary to all expectations Turkey’s president accepted invitation of the president of Armenia, and attended the football match between national teams of Turkey and Armenia in Yerevan. That meeting gave a start to resumption of active Turkish- Armenian dialogue for real discussing of the perspectives of the settlement of many arguable problems, even opening of borders between the two states.

Azerbaijan ambiguously accepted Turkey’s active and not-ordinary initiatives. Part of Azerbaijan’s publicity is sure that flirting with Russia and Armenia Erdogan’s government wants to distance from the West (USA) and indirectly betrays Azerbaijan’s interests. Some publications in the Turkish press testified to it: « Sabah » Daily controlled by Erdogan’s son-in-law wrote on March 13 about establishment of diplomatic relations, appointment of ambassadors, and creation of joint commission to investigate the events in 1915, discussing Armenia’s territorial claims against Turkey, opening of borders, and the establishment of commercial relations. According to the same source, the information about this agreement will be published after April 24. Similar information was published in the « Star » Daily close to Turkeys’ government.

Azerbaijan’s concern is quite clear, though it has been exaggerated. On March 18 Turkey’s ambassador to Azerbaijan Khulusi Kilij told about publications in those newspapers: « statements about opening of frontiers are published only in press. Turkey’s policy towards Azerbaijan remains the same. » Other senior officials of Turkey also made similar statements.

Reaction of some our mass media on PSCC is surprising. The idea suggested by Erdogan is not new. The late ex-president of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the late president of Ichkeria’s Johar Dudayev used to initiated the idea of creation of « Caucasian House » uniting the peoples of Caucasus, including Georgia, Azerbaijan and some movements from South Caucasus. Some time later the next president of Chechnya Aslan Mashadov and ex-president of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze discussed the question on creation of Organization for Peace and Cooperation in the Caucasus. They considered the creation of Caucasian Parliament – a structure uniting South-Caucasian region and republics of Northern Caucasus. In 1996 during the visit of Azerbaijan’s ex-president Heydar Aliyev’s to Georgia « Tbilisi Declaration » was signed . It read about « Caucasian house » , but within the frames of South Caucasus. On January 15, 2000 in Tbilisi Turkey’s President Suleyman Demirel initiated the « Pact of Stability in the South Caucasus. » However, contrary to the previous projects Demirel’s plan was geographically wider- it covered not only South Caucasus, but also the Black Sea basin going to Balkans and was to be realized under the aegis of the OSCE. Similar integration projects on the Caucasus used to initiate USA, Russia and EC’s countries.

Then those ideas have never caused such a concern, probably because nobody believed in it’s soon realization. It did not look convincing because almost all countries of the region had serious contradictions between each other, except Azerbaijan and Georgia. Some vacuum has been observed in the South Caucasus after August events of 2008. On the one hand, by recognition of Abkhazia’s and South Osetia’s independence Moscow has weakened the position of USA in the region. On the other hand, by such actions it has made more complicated its claims on the role of peacekeeper.

« Geopolitical flaws » emerged in the region allowed Turkey to develop its activity, and it meets interest of the West, and Russia. Under such situation the only ally for Russia can be Turkey. Turkey depends on supply of Russian gas, and their turnover is $34 billion. With its activity Turkey could neutralize unwanted for Russia geopolitical influence of other players in the South Caucasus. Probably Ankara has understood it, and may be therefore Erdogan decided to reanimate the idea of integration of South Caucasus. It is not surprising that Moscow supported this project, which dos not include other participants except three South Caucasian countries, Turkey and Russia.

In a word, Erdogan’s proposal made in August was not spontaneous , it has prehistory and probably has its goals. The most important goal for Turkey is strengthening of its role in the region. It is clear that the goal of the West in South Caucasus is to separate Armenia from Russia. It is evident that opening of Turkish-Armenian frontiers will strengthen Turkey’s role in the region, and will low withstand in the region (considerably improving realization of West’s intentions.) Probably the West (USA) is also quite happy with such position of Turkey.

The fact that on March 7 the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made official visit to Turkey, met with President A.Gul, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister testifies to it. Mass media characterized that visit as « a repair action » (relations between Ankara and Washington were spoiled by Bush’s administration.) It is noteworthy new U.S. President Barak Obama also plans to visit Turkey on April.

The other goal of Turkey is to put an end to the other hackneyed problem – recognition by parliaments of different countries of mythical « genocide » of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. It must be admitted that Turkey has a serious argument: recognition of genocide can spoil relations between Washington and Ankara, and to stop for a long period normalization of relations with Yerevan, what is one of the terms for admitting Turkey into EU, and therefore the establishment of good-neighbor relations with Armenia has lifted from the agenda the threat of recognition of genocide.

Realization of all these goals will strengthen Turkey’s role in the region, and will expand its potential in resolution of conflicts existing in the region. Therefore, today Turkey does its best to confirm its positions in the South Caucasus. Yerevan also welcomed Erdogan’s initiative. This step will allow Armenia to join regional energy projects. By this Yerevan will weaken positions of pro-western electorate of the country led by Levon Ter-Petrosian, and will increase opportunities for political maneuvering.

During Erdogan’s official visit to Baku on August 20 Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev supported Turkey’s initiative. Probably it was right decision in case if Moscow wants to keep South Caucasus under its influence with the help of controlled conflicts; violation of this monopoly, and Turkey’s joining the affairs of region will open for Baku more positive perspectives.

In a word, by initiating PSCC and increasing its peacekeeping activity in the region Turkey has made a proposal which suits all. Time will show if this « proposal » meets Azerbaijan’s interests.


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