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Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx
Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx
Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx
Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx
Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx
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Conflicts and security in south caucasus in terms of deepening the russian turkish partnership.docx

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  • 1. CONFLICTS AND SECURITY IN SOUTH CAUCASUS IN TERMS OF DEEPENING THE RUSSIANTURKISH PARTNERSHIP CONFLICTS AND SECURITY IN SOUTH CAUCASUS IN TERMS OF DEEPENING THE RUSSIANTURKISH PARTNERSHIP Contents 1.0. Introduction 2.0. Turkey and Russia in the New Century: Transition from Confrontation and Rivalry to Civilized Competition and Partnership 2.1. Present State of the Russian-Turkish Relations 2.2. Turkey and Russia following the Dissolution of the USSR and the Collapse of Soviet Totalitarianism 3.0. Partnership between Turkey and Russia as Factor of Conflict Resolution in South Caucasus, Strengthening of Regional Security and Cooperation 3.1. Risks of Regional Conflicts for the Russian-Turkish Partnership 3.2. Region’ and World’s Response to the Russian-Turkish Rapprochement 4.0. Conclusion. Recommendations 5.0. References 1.0. Introduction It was rivalry between Turkey, Iran and Russia that has for centuries predetermined the regional geopolitics in South Caucasus. The 19-20 centuries were marked, first, by the presence of Great Britain with its global influence in the reviewed period, and currently that of the United States. However, traditionally, it is configuration of relations between Turkey and Russia that has had its effect on “behaviors” of peoples and countries of the Caucasus. Tremendous geopolitical changes, such as the disintegration of Ottoman and Russian Empires earlier 20 century; collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact later the same century, had their impact on the situation. A bloc confrontation with Turkey as front-line state is no longer existent for two decades already. In terms of developing globalization, this circumstance opens up new opportunities for the RussianTurkish relations and noticeably irons out their previous antagonism. A new stage began in the relations between Ankara and Moscow that was characterized by not only remaining rivalry but also by growing interdependence, economic and energy collaboration of strategic nature. It is obvious that such an evolution is differently construed in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. There is an essential transformation of the whole regional geopolitics that is fraught with long-term consequences for security and settlement of existing conflicts in South Caucasus. 2.0. Turkey and Russia in the New Century: Transition from Confrontation and Rivalry to Civilized Competition and Partnership 2.1. Present state of the Russian-Turkish relations Throughout centuries the history of the Russian-Turkish relations saw an incessant train of conflicts and wars. Exclusive of a short period when Turkey was headed by Ataturk, relations between the two states had been characterized by fierce rivalry and profound mutual distrust. True to the traditions of unrestrained expansion of the Russian Empire, Soviet dictator Stalin openly declared his intentions “to be through” with Turkey upon completion of the Second World War. Territorial claims of the Soviet Union put forward to Turkey on behalf of Armenia and Georgia urged Turkey to hastily join the NATO, and thus the two states have for decades been separated from each other. The USSR’s dissolution and new Russia’s trend toward the world civilization seemed to ease tensions between the two rivals. The point is that in the reviewed period Turkey has appreciably accommodated itself to the western liberal and democratic values. Both Moscow and Ankara sought to avail themselves of the historical chance to reformat the Russian-Turkish relations to comply with principles of good neighborhood and partnership. This is vividly echoed in the intensive and confidential dialogue between leaders of the two countries, impetuously growing volumes of trade-economic relations and contacts through business, tourism and cultural ties. To facilitate contacts of this sort, Turkish Prime Minister T. Erdogan, while visiting Moscow on 2-3 January 2010, suggested to his Russian counterpart to agree with visa-free regime between the two states. Besides, the Turkish Prime Minister pointed out that a council may be set up between Turkey and Russia to regulate cooperation at governmental level. Giving an additional impetus to the development of relations were the cooperation in power engineering, specifically a construction of gas pipelines “Southern stream”, “Blue stream-2″, oil pipeline “Samsun-Ceyhan”, erection of Russia-assisted first nuclear power station in Turkey.
  • 2. These large-scale projects had been taken into consideration as far back as during the visit of Russian Prime Minister V. Putin to Turkey in August 2009. At the same time 15 inter-governmental agreements and 7 special protocols were signed during the visit. Russia became a principal trade partner of Turkey, and Turkey – fifth trade partner of Russia. Turkey buys in Russia a quarter of oil consumed and more than half of natural gas. In turn, large Turkish engineering companies are engaged in implementing $ 30 bn worth investment projects on the Russian territory. Direct Turkish investments exceeded $ 6 bn; Russian ones – $ 4 bn. Above $ 2,5 mil Russian tourists annually visit seaside resorts of Antalya and Bodrum. Turkish and Russian leaders set an ambitious goal before business circles: to raise a volume of bilateral trade turnover in the nearest 4-5 years from current figure to $ 100 bn. All these enabled Russian President D. Medvedev to declare that Russia and Turkey are strategic partners. In reply, Turkish Prime Minister R. Erdogan described “the Russian-Turkish dialogue as capable of positively affecting the peace and security in the region”. 2.2. Turkey and Russia following the dissolution of the USSR and the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism The current positive tendencies in the Russian-Turkish relations are not left unnoticed by analysts, political and business circles of the two countries. Thus, Russian analysts point out that the 1990s developments (dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, disintegration of the USSR and then Yugoslavia) had redoubled positive effect for Turkey. First, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR as powerful opponents to Turkey’s foreign policy even despite US support as guarantor, had no longer existed. Second, these developments were followed by the emergence of more than tens of new states at the international arena that had ethnic Turks as titular population or in the large communities largely professing Islam. Turkey as the world’s most powerful Moslem state faced with a historically unique chance to avail itself of the set of civilization type factors. These included ethnic and linguistic propinquity, historical and cultural ties (common history for some states, formerly members, in whole or part, of the Ottoman Empire), religious community, etc.# Of the same view are Turkish analysts who in their report intended for the Turkish business elite noted: “Before the NATO had started filling in the geopolitical vacuum that came up straight after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Turkey did its utmost to fill in another vacuum – in Caucasus and the Central Asia. Newly discovered relatives provided the Turkish society with new expectations and encouraged its politicians. In the aftermath of these developments Turkey has no longer been apprehensive of its geopolitical significance’s depreciation. The country would not have to impede the Soviet Union’s penetration into the Middle East; instead, it gained an offing to bridge between the Turkic world and the West and thus prevented West’s ignorance of its interests for humanitarian and cultural reasons”.# Indeed, on the fringe of post-industrial development the both powers suffer, in some way, from selfishness of the complacent West. They encounter primarily identical problems arising from the accelerated modernization and economy development. Also, Russia and Turkey are faced with difficulties due to their borderline Euro-Asianism, consolidation of democratic institutions and neutralization of ethnic separatism. At present, both states, though discriminately, are facing threats of aggressive Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. Like Turkey, Russia is dissatisfied with the fact that the United States and leading western states regard them as instrument of their global politics and that they are not inclined to reckon with national interests and aspirations of these states. The rehabilitation of Russia and Turkey as great powers enters into no plans of liberal West. Blending with this scheme is the campaign of the so-called “Armenian genocide”, indirect support for the Kurdish separatism and intentional retardation of Turkey’s into the EU. Also, Russia is not treated very well in Brussels. As distinct from the past when demographic tensions in Russia and Turkey led these powers toward expansion, the situation has changed now. There is a reduction of population’s growth in Turkey, while Russia is faced with absolute reduction of the population over the past two decades. Also, Russia as multinational country is characterized, in addition to the dominating Russian ethnos, by the numerically second ethnic community – Turkic nations and nationalities, including Tatars, Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Balkars, Karachayevs, Kumyks, Nogais, Yakutes, etc. In consideration of communities of Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirgizs, each numbering hundreds of thousands of people, the total number of the Turkic ethnic community may reach 12-15 mil, or approx. 10% of the whole Russian territory. This is one more argument in favor of rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow. Analysts paid attention to the fact that Turkish President Gul, while at Russia in 2009 as the first ever head of state in the history of the Russian-Turkish relations, visited Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Tatar Republic. It should be noted that positive changes in the inter-state relations are echoed in the public conscience as well. Thus, under a representative survey held among 1032 people in 9 provinces of Turkey, each third regards Azerbaijan as Turkey’s closest friend. The USA is mentioned as principal political opponent – 37.5%; Armenia -10.9%; Israel – 10.6%; Greece – 6.1%; France – 5.1%.# Worthy of note is the fact that
  • 3. respondents regard no Russia as Turkey’s enemy; instead they refer to the USA, France and Greece as enemies even despite allied agreements with each on strategic partnership in the sphere of security. In an effort to identify an ideological basis for the long-term Russian-Turkish strategic partnership, various analysts tend to rely on the Euro-Asianism. With an emphasis on the Slavic-Turkic and Orthodox-Moslem symbiosis, not on the traditional historical rivalry, this ideology is treated skeptically by many political experts. The Euro-Asianism may prove to be a productive political platform, provided it is cleansed from geopolitical gibberish and abstract ideological schemes and, instead, concentrated on pragmatic aspects arising from the accelerated modernization and security in the intersecting zones of responsibility of Russia and Turkey on the territories contiguous to their borders from China to the Mediterranean. In summing up new trends in the Russian-Turkish relations, Prof. Duygu Bazoglu Sezar from the Bilkent University focuses on the following: Public manifestations of enmity at the state lever tend to disappear; Importance of collaboration over wider range of questions consistent with national interests is comprehended by the both parties and declared publicly; Governments are restrained from inciting statements to avoid exciting the public opinion; Officials maintain permanent contacts to secure their relations against unexpected crises. Note that the process of actual rapprochement is bolstered by the two major and simultaneously opposite tendencies: controllable geopolitical rivalry, on the one hand, and unique economic collaboration coterminous with interdependence, on the other hand. The controllable rivalry is based on mutual recognition by Russia and Turkey of each other as geopolitical rivals when adjusted for their roles and influence in the southern part of new Eurasia.# 3.0. Partnership between Turkey and Russia as Factor of Conflict Resolution In South Caucasus, Strengthening of Regional Security and Cooperation 3.1. Risks of Regional Conflicts for the Russian-Turkish Partnership Intensive political dialogue, growing economic contacts between Russia and Turkey are on hand. However, it is essential to solve existing regional problems for full-fledged strategic partnership: if ignored, they tend to aggravate and create risks not only for peace and security but also risk involving Moscow and Ankara into a dangerous confrontation. That’d be the most unsuitable scenario for the prospects of the Russian-Turkish relations. Should Moscow and Ankara focus on the mutual rivalry, with the US and EU latent involvement, then efforts of the parties would be wasted in senseless and abortive confrontation. In case of disagreement of opinions, it would be appropriate to solve minor problems, squeeze inevitable competition and even rivalry into certain frames. The Russian-Georgian war of August 8, 2008 demonstrated the danger of the so-called frozen conflicts. Ankara chose to behave in a manner of minimizing risks of not only direct involvement in the military confrontation with Moscow but even politically it was not interpreted by Russia as hostile to its interests. Ankara strictly adhered to “Montreux Convention” that regulated the passage non-Black Sea warships via the Straits, and declined to let an American aircraft carrier through. US and NATO ships of minor class were permitted to pass with official purpose – “delivery of humanitarian cargo””. That was done by Ankara not only with the purpose of avoiding a quarrel with Moscow. The point is that following the dissolution of the USSR the Black Sea fleet is currently a pale image of the formerly formidable navy. Nowadays, the Turkish navy is the Black Sea’s most powerful, so Ankara sees no necessity in a great number of foreign warships even from NATO allied countries to pass the Straits. 3.2. Region’ and World’s Response to the Russian-Turkish Rapprochement New relations between Turkey and Russia enrapture neither Washington, nor Brussels. Instead, these relations are of great interest for the Balkan countries, South Caucasus and the Central Asia. The said regions had historically been an area of the Russian-Turkish rivalry. The political line of the states concerned relied on rivalry that provided not only risks but certain opportunities as well. Now that the situation has changed, they need to make essential amendments as well. An examination of the question in the light of the Balkan countries that have already integrated into the NATO and the EU, or are fully controlled by the said structures (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina), as well as the Central Asia, currently under the dominating Russian influence, goes beyond the scope of the article. Of great interest is South Caucasus with its precarious situation and numerous conflict areas. A strengthening Russian-Turkish strategic partnership has been received with no particular enthusiasm in Tbilisi, and with great anxiety and even hostility Yerevan. The point is that the whole foreign political and partly economic line of these countries is based on benefiting from contradictions and rivalry between the West and Russia, Turkey and Russia. In case where contradictions ease, these countries’ importance as every sort and kind “outposts” and “lighthouse of democracy” go down respectively.
  • 4. Meanwhile, Baku is tuned up differently for the Turkish-Russian collaboration. As distinct from its South Caucasian neighbors, Azerbaijan has gained nothing from rivalry in the region; even worse, it comes off a loser. A natural ally of Turkey due to ethnic, historical, cultural and religious factors, Azerbaijan has incessantly been faced with suspicious, repressive attitudes of Moscow. Improvement of the RussianTurkish relations delivers Baku from a difficult choice between Ankara and Moscow to thus create favorable conditions for the settlement of chronic conflicts, and the Karabakh conflict in particular. Under public opinion polls held by “Puls-R” sociological service for the last five years, 80% to 90% of respondents mention Turkey as friendliest in respect of Azerbaijan. Russia is in the second place with its 17-25%; however, 10-15% of respondents consider Russia to be non-amicable with respect to Azerbaijan.# Disposing of considerable natural and financial resources, and advantageous geographical location, Azerbaijan has much to offer both to Turkey and Russia. To implement its own large-scale projects, Baku is in need of peace, collaboration and normal competition based on diversification, economic attractiveness and effectiveness. It was strategic oil and gas pipelines via Georgia and Turkey that helped Azerbaijan out of unilateral dependence upon Russia. However, the use of the Soviet-laid pipeline system between Azerbaijan and Russia/Iran makes it possible to diversify routes of energy resources’ deliveries to foreign markets for mutual benefit of all the parties concerned. Concentration of essential financial resources gained from energy resource export, competence and successful orientation both at Turkish and Russian markets enable the Azerbaijani business to have great advantages in the organization and implementation of large-scale trilateral projects, not only in the sphere of hydrocarbon raw material transportation but also its processing, oil chemistry, tourist business, transport and communication. The government of Saakashvili is not delighted with rapprochement tendencies between Russia and Turkey, a single NATO member bordered by Georgia, in considering conflict relations between Tbilisi and Moscow. Georgians would like to see Turkey as a bridge to connect Georgia with the Euro-Atlantic community, not as a partner of Russia. Tbilisi is worried by Ankara’s special stance on South Ossetia and particularly, Abkhazia. During a last and this year’s dialogue with the Turkish leaders Moscow gave it to understand that despite Cyprus and Greece’s opposition, it is ready to build normal economic relations with the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In so doing, Moscow indirectly invites Ankara to enter into economic cooperation with Abkhazia. Actively lobbying this idea is an influential Circassian diaspora of Turkey. It is rather symptomatic that Georgian naval cutters detained ships bound for Sukhumi, and a captain of a ship was sent to jail. Armenia is also worried about the Russian-Turkish rapprochement. Armenians are apprehensive of the earlier 20 century scenario where treaties concluded between Kemalist Turkey and Bolshevist Russia struck through territorial claims of Armenia. Today Yerevan is concerned that the strengthening of partnership relations between Ankara and Moscow would make Armenia useless as “an outpost” while a significance of Azerbaijan would grow. In this case, Yerevan is in danger of reducing support by Russia over the Karabakh conflict, while facing-off Azerbaijan alone in an attempt to legalize Nagorno Karabakh’s annexation is having no prospects. 4.0. Conclusion. Recommendations Not only shall Azerbaijan but Armenia and Georgia as well gain much for their security and progress from lessening of geopolitical rivalry in the region. Partnership relations between Russia and Georgia do not mean a barrier between them and the rest of South Caucasus. In terms of globalization the plans of this type are doomed to failure. Neither Russia, nor Turkey, taken together, is in position “to separate the region from the world”. But they can jointly avert South Caucasus from being transformed into an arena of geopolitical games of off-regional powers. As for the European perspective, it remains to be an important strategic goal not only for South Caucasian countries but for Turkey and even Russia as well. Perhaps, a practical attainment of this goal is a matter of more or less remote future. Under the circumstances, a long-term collaboration together with security and sustainability in the countries of the region in terms of the Russian-Turkish strategic partnership is expected to lay down principles of practical political line. For this to happen, it is essential to solve the current South Caucasian conflicts with a special emphasis on humanitarian aspect of the problem, i.e. safe return and normal living conditions of refugees and displaced persons in places of their permanent residence, rehabilitation of war-destroyed territories, restoration of communications and regional collaboration. In keeping with these purposes is the “Caucasian Platform of Stability and Collaboration” initiated by Ankara at the height of the August 2008 Georgian-Russian military conflict. Efforts to promote the initiative have yielded no desirable results; however, it’d be premature to shelve it indefinitely. Despite persistent US recommendations to normalize relations with Armenia irrespective of the progress in the Karabakh resolution, Turkey is at one with Azerbaijan. It was Ankara’ and Baku’s principled stand on the
  • 5. issue that made the US and the EU to concede a relationship between these processes and the necessity of moving forward in parallel. Though the progress is brought to a standstill, there is still chance to win in 2010. Should the progress be reached, it’d have an impact on the situation in the region, and possibly stir up intermediate compromise in the Georgian-Russian conflict over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Thus, if one abstracts away from the issue of nuclear program of Iran as world’s, not region’s headache, a necessary prerequisite for sustainable localization and gradual resolution to conflicts is the ensuring of stability, security and collaboration, as well as the European vector of geopolitical orientation as common principles of the Turkish-Russian partnership. It is mutually agreed rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara that provides a good chance for South Caucasus.

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