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Toward a Caucasus without Turkey

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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 19 January 2016 - 10:18 AM

Toward a Caucasus without Turkey
By Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu
Jan. 15, 2016

[Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu is a Strategic Outlook analyst.]

The jet plane crisis between Turkey and Russia has increased mobility
in Caucasus and Central Asia. These developments, which we can say
will be of disservice to Turkey in the medium and long term, force
Turkey to develop new approaches to the region.

During the last month, Russia reinforced its military base in Armenia
and announced the establishment of a joint air defense system with
Armenia. In their statements, Russian authorities stressed that these
measures were taken not against Turkey, but against the Western
alliance. They further indicated that the joint air defense system was
only a beginning and that it would be expanded to other members of the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In other words, Turkey's
attempt to protect its airspace has prompted Russia to create a new
domain. This will naturally facilitate the cooperation among countries
within this domain and have an adverse effect on political formations
showing affinity with Turkey and other Western countries.

In his statement Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu argued that
Turkey betrayed Russia, and he lauded Armenia as one of the first to
react to Turkey's betrayal. Disturbed by the developments on the
domestic political scene, the Yerevan administration appreciated the
Russian military assurance and rolled up its sleeves for a new process
of cooperation with the Kremlin. It took actions for partnership with
Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

In addition to the military developments in Caucasus, a new energy
move came from the quartet of Russia, Armenia, Iran and Georgia. In
the talks held in Yerevan, the four countries signed a memorandum on
energy, energy security and advanced cooperation in this field.
Georgia, too, is on the move as there will be a new energy cooperation
area from Iran toward the north. While there have been heated debates
in Georgia suggesting that the country should buy natural gas from
Russia and Iran, not from Azerbaijan, the reaction of Baku to this new
cooperation is not known. In the new period, Armenia is expected to be
relieved in many respects and have major gains in cooperation with
Iran and Russia.

Yerevan's war rhetoric

A statement made by Armenia after reaffirming confidence in this
process sparked concerns also about the course of events regarding the
Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The Armenian Ministry of Defense stated that
given the incidents along the line of contact, there is no truce with
Azerbaijan and that the situation can be described as a state of war.
Armenian claims that the weapons Armenians use and the deaths that
occurred along the line of contact make it hard to depict the
situation as a truce. Azerbaijan responded saying that Armenian
soldiers were already unlawfully in the occupied territory.

Armenia will step up its war rhetoric, warming up the region.
President Serzh Sarksyan's refreshing his power with the referendum on
the constitution, Russia's pledge of support to Armenia in all areas
and the increased Russian impact on the region make Yerevan sharpen
its discourse against Baku.

Tbilisi's anti-Western stance may increase

At a time when our other neighbor Georgia secured visa liberation with
Europe, Russia announced that it has launched a similar application
for Georgian citizens, which came as surprising to many. Georgian
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili's resignation in this process gave
the impression that pro-Western politicians in Tbilisi are facing
pressures. Given the fact that Garibashvili was working in harmony
with the European Union and NATO, his resignation is indicative of new
developments in the region. In the post-Saakashvili period,
pro-Western politicians were removed from office or neutralized and
pro-Kremlin groups came to the fore in Georgia.

Many would remember the negative comments former Prime Minister
Bidzina Ivanishvili had made regarding the unfinished
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project. It was noted that with the Abkhazia
Railway project, marketed as an alternative to this project, Georgia
would fulfill the mission of connecting Armenia to Russia. Currently,
the situation is not any different.

On the other hand, the Nardaran incident, the fire in the Caspian Sea
and economic problems in Azerbaijan signify the start of a new process
that must be monitored closely. In addition, the Kremlin is preparing
to exert pressures on Baku in many areas, urging it to join the
Eurasian Economic Union (EUU) in the first place. Russia's moves in
the Caucasus apparently target Turkey.

It is essential that Ankara take measures against developments that
might threaten its presence and interests in the region. Abandoning
our fancy that "Russia cannot do without Turkey," we must realize that
a "Caucasus without Turkey" is in the making.


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#2 onjig



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Posted 20 January 2016 - 01:10 AM

Caucasus without turkey, that would be a big improvement.

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