Titelbild Osteuropa 7-10/2015

Aus Osteuropa 7-10/2015

Blockade à trois
Das Beziehungsdreieck Armenien–Aserbaidschan–Türkei

Gayane Novikova

Volltext als Datei (PDF, 302 kB)

Abstract

Die internationalen Beziehungen im Südkaukasus sind noch immer entscheidend von dem Konflikt um Bergkarabach geprägt. Aserbaidschan und die Türkei sind eng miteinander verbunden und halten die Grenze zu Armenien geschlossen. Das auf diese Weise isolierte Armenien sieht sich von einer massiven Aufrüstung in Aserbaidschan bedroht und lehnt sich aus sicherheitspolitischen Gründen an Russland an. Die Isolation Armeniens kommt Georgien zugute, das so zum alleinigen Transitland geworden ist. Der Versuch, die Blockaden durch eine Verbesserung des Verhältnisses zwischen Armenien und der Türkei abzubauen, scheiterte 2010 an der Frage der Anerkennung des Völkermords an den Armeniern im Osmanischen Reich. Heute herrscht wieder Eiszeit, nicht nur zwischen Baku und Erevan, sondern auch zwischen Ankara und Erevan.

(Osteuropa 7-10/2015, S. 427–441)

Volltext

Hinweis: Aufgrund eines Missverständnisses weicht der deutsche Text in der gedruckten Ausgabe des Bandes stellenweise von der englischen Fassung ab, die die Autorin freigegeben hat. Für das Missverständnis und die Abweichungen übernimmt die Redaktion die volle Verantwortung. An dieser Stelle veröffentlichen wir den Text in der englischen Originalfassung, wie ihn die Autorin eingereicht hat.

The current political-military puzzle in the Middle East and in Eurasia cannot be resolved without an analysis of Turkey's role in this huge area and its interaction with other concerned actors. This article discusses the possible changes, shifts, and developments, as well as gains versus losses, in the relationship between Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. It does so within the context of a changing security environment in the broader region. The analysis of this relationship provides a good example of the failed attempt to implement two important principles which introduce Turkey's differentiated approach to its neighbors. On the one hand, Turkey was demonstrating (and at some point, was imitating) a readiness to "normalize its history" in particular with Armenia and the Armenians. On the other hand, Turkey could "become politically powerful again only if it utilized  the 'strategic depth' of its neighborhood, developing better ties with those Muslim neighbors."[1] Turkish-Azerbaijani relations should contribute to this approach. However, the developments in the triangle Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan become even more complicated if a psychological factor, which influences their bilateral and multilateral relations, is acknowledged. Hence, this relationship must be viewed as a "knot" without any chance to be untangled in the foreseeable future.

 

Introduction

The South Caucasus has historically been a front yard for the Ottoman Empire and, since 1923, for the Republic of Turkey and an area of Turkish influence. However owing to both objective and subjective reasons, the region fell out of the sphere of strategic interests of this state for quite a long time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and hence the loss of Turkey’s function as the guardian of NATO borders, Turkey unsurprisingly intensified its activity in the South Caucasus. It did so against the background of the slow-moving negotiations toward the EU membership and increasing ambitions for the status of a regional power. Turkey's first attempt to become an influential and pro-active political actor in the South Caucasus (and in Central Asia) was undertaken immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union; however, is was not very successful owing to several external and internal factors.

The events of 9/11/2001 pushed Turkey to the forefront. The state revised one of its main principles in foreign policy: to avoid engagement in regional political-military processes, – and entered the era of complex political, military, and economic relations with its immediate neighbors. Under the AKP (Justice and Development Party), which came to power in 2002 and lost its majority in the parliamentary elections in June, 2015, Turkey attempted to reconcile itself with universal values, to protect its Islamic identity, to become a strong Muslim power, and to maintain ties with the West. It was trying to conduct a pragmatic foreign policy aimed exclusively at defending and satisfying its strategic interests calculating on case-by-case basis its gains and losses. A new political term – a "strategic depth" – was invented by the architect of the new foreign policy, Prof Ahmet Davutoğlu[2] in 2004. The AKP upheld the following main goals:

- To reach a new balance between the security of the state and the freedom of individual;

- To solve all problems with its neighbors;

- To implement pro-active diplomacy aimed in particular to prevent crises;

- To establish a consistent relationship with all states;

- To increase activity in international organizations;

- To create a new image of Turkey as an emerging, self-confident world power. 

In other words, Turkey was preparing itself for the role of regional power and important and desirable ally for all major world actors due to its geopolitical weight,  and prospect of becoming both a major energy hub for the European market and a stabilizing force in the Middle East and the South Caucasus. To fulfill these ambitions Turkey needed political stability at home and stable economic growth. However, the Turkish society was becoming even more divided; the diversification of this state’s foreign policy priorities and an increased emphasis on its Islamic and Turkic characters has to some extent led to the politicization of Turkish society itself. It has to some degree even led to the revitalization of nationalist and ultra-nationalist moods.[3] 

The results of the parliamentary elections in June 2015, [4] the unsuccessful discussions of the AKP with its secular opponents, the inability to establish a coalition government, and the unavoidable new round of elections[5] clearly indicate that a divided Turkish society wants and demands significant changes in domestic policy. These changes above all should address three main problems: they should prevent the growth of authoritarianism, resolve the Kurdish issue, and stop the Islamic State that endangers Turkey's security.[6] These expected changes in domestic political processes will inevitably contribute to a re-assessment of the main directions of Turkish foreign policy – or at a minimum introduce serious corrections at the points of its implementation. They aim to save the state "from these conflicts, in which it has become embroiled due to its active – perhaps too active – foreign policy in the Middle East, especially since the beginning of the Arab Spring."[7] 

Further developments in and around Turkey were – and still are –marked by an increasing number of problems, all of which have resulted – if not in a failure– at least in the significant decline of Turkey's ability to implement already introduced principles of its foreign policy. The external processes, among them first of all the regional "aftershocks" of the Arab awakening, the appearance and spread of the Islamic State, and the growing Russia – West confrontation against the background of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, are influencing and shaping Turkey's policy approaches and its models of political interaction with the EU, the US, Russia, and its direct neighbors, including those in the South Caucasus. In this geopolitical area developments are becoming even more complicated as a consequences of the US vision of Turkey as the most valuable and reliable partner in the South Caucasus[8] and the inevitable inclusion of the strongest actor in the South Caucasus: Russia.

 

Reluctant Neighbors, or How the Knot Was Tied

There are several issues that have complicated relations between Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Among them are the absence of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Armenia and Turkey, the unresolved Nagorno Karabakh conflict (which is balancing on the verge of a resumption of war), and the strong psychological mutual dependence between Turkey and Azerbaijan. These issues crucially narrow the maneuvering space for each side of this triangle while simultaneously intensifying to a peak their interconnectedness. To understand this depth interconnection between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey and thereby to come to terms with the complicated  problems of the South Caucasus it is necessary to analyze the bilateral relations of these actors in the regional security context.

 

Armenia – Azerbaijan: exhausted but still firm in their perceptions

The sole point of contact and the only theme on the table in the bilateral Armenia-Azerbaijan relationship is the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the main points of disagreements that block its resolution, such as: 

- the status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic;  

-the land connection between Armenia and the NKR and between Azerbaijan and its Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic;

-the return of the IDPs and refugees from both sides to their places of forced displacement.

All other issues are directly related to this unresolved conflict; they are also influenced by the interests of the third parties, above all Turkey and Russia.

Currently – in parallel with the stagnant negotiation process within the frameworks of the OSCE Minsk Group and the absence of people-to-people contacts – the positions of the parties to the conflict are becoming more firm and uncompromising. The intensive militarization of the South Caucasus region,[9] and mutual insecurity significantly contribute to the aggressive manner of communication between the direct parties to the conflict. Furthermore, the unprecedented growth of tension since mid-2014 along the borders not only between Azerbaijan and the unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic, but also between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was followed by an increase in the number of causalities, stimulates anger in both societies. At some point this anger can be directed against the regime(s). In the meantime, the existence of two competing narratives on the conflict and critical differences in the interpretation of the Madrid Principles regarding conflict resolution[10] – given in the context of the strong limitations imposed by the Azerbaijani side upon direct contacts between civil societies representatives – create, on the one hand, a fertile ground to manipulate political processes in Armenia (to some extent) and in Azerbaijan (to a greater degree). On the other hand, the enduring antagonism itself significantly contributes to the growth of mutual distrust: each party to the conflict is blaming the other for violating of the cease-fire agreement (1994) and for escalating tensions along the borders.

 

The cultivation of an image of the enemy in Azerbaijan, the belligerent rhetoric by Azerbaijani leadership and its intention to suppress the civil society is aimed at creating an atmosphere of hatred against Armenians and Armenia – and in this way to diminish the potential for internal conflict.[11] An increasing number of attacks from the Azerbaijani side, the deeply rooted in perception  Armenian society that Azerbaijanis are the "same Turks," the growing cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey – all these factors also contribute to the growth of  mistrust inside Armenia of the other party to the conflict.

 

The combination of all these factors has been evaluated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs[12] as constituting an unpreparedness by these societies to reach compromises that will allow a resolution of the conflict; the same reason has been presented as an excuse by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for their unwillingness or inability to find the final mutually acceptable compromised solution. [13] Furthermore, the unresolved conflict per se contributes to the growth of authoritarianism, especially in Azerbaijan.[14]  

Several internal and regional developments have made Azerbaijan more sensitive than Armenia to the processes around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, thereby preventing any step toward a compromise conflict resolution. Among them are:

- The psychological inability by the Azerbaijani regime to accept the de facto independence of the NKR from Azerbaijan and the low level of probability that the latter's territorial integrity will be restored;

- The fear that growing social and economic inequality in Azerbaijan can provoke unrest in the capital Baku and especially in the rural areas;

  – Against the background of disillusionment in the West in the Azerbaijani society at large and the paralysis of the democratic forces the influence of Islamists has been gradually growing, and –therefore the number of Azerbaijani fighters among recruits to the Islamic State has increased;[15] their return to Azerbaijan poses a direct threat to the Aliyev regime in the mid-term perspective.  

Hence, the prolonged status quo in the conflict area, the criticism regarding the ineffectiveness of mediating efforts by the Minsk Group, the tensions along the borders with Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and the potential for IS moving closer to the South Caucasus  –all of these factors provide the Aliyev regime with the opportunity to oppose the remains of democratic forces in the country, demand more support "for a fair resolution of the conflict" from the interested external actors, and threaten to resolve the conflict by military means. 

 

For Armenia the prolongation of the "neither war nor peace" situation in the area of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has its gains and losses. The main gains are that negotiations within the format of the OSCE Minsk Group are continuing; the status of Nagorno Karabakh is still under discussion, and the Armenian forces control the territories around Nagorno Karabakh, therefore providing security to its population. The same territories could also be considered as bargaining chips in the final stage of negotiations.

It should be emphasized also that Armenia's membership in the Russia-led CSTO (Common Security Treaty Organization of 1992) does not at all mean the full support of Armenia by all members of this organization in case the event that war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh resumes: Armenia relies mainly on Russia.[16] Above all it has became an exclusive security guarantor. Second, Armenia has made its geopolitical choice: it joined the Eurasian Economic Union in January, 2015, thereby granting to Russia additional leverage to strongly influence Armenian foreign policy and to control almost completely its economy.[17] Indeed, the growing Russian-Azerbaijani partnership in the energy and military fields together with their multilayered bilateral relations with Turkey,[18] has made the Armenian side quite nervous. To maintain a political balance Armenia is trying to convince the EU of its genuine interest in the restoration of close ties with this international organization and even is attempting to discuss with it the new agreement.

This unresolved conflict is also an obstacle to Armenia's participation in regional cooperation projects.[19] Currently cooperation at this level is developing with Iran (albeit limited owing Russia's lack of interests[20]) and with Georgia (albeit limited by the growing Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan partnership).

These regional dynamic entanglements directly influence Armenia's domestic developments. Against the background of a growing aggressiveness by the Azerbaijani side and lack of progress in regard to the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement, as well as the strong economic and political dependence of Armenia upon Russia, Armenian authorities introduced to the society at large a "security vs. sovereignty" approach. Although the disappointment and distrust toward Russia is accumulating throughout Armenian society, it is not by chance that anti-Russian slogans or activity were absent during the mass protests in Armenia in June, 2015. The unbiased choice for now is security. However, a large potential for conflict, which has been growing as a result of exhaustion from different economic and social problems in Armenian society, can be directed against the ruling elite. [21] 

Therefore, owing to the varying political, economic, and social reasons, Armenia and Azerbaijan (and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic as a third party to the conflict) are reluctantly satisfied with the status quo. They realize quite well that no possibility exists for a peaceful conflict resolution in the short term, and they are aware that the resumption of a full-scale war (which can be unleashed only by Azerbaijan) will have catastrophic consequences for all three parties involved, and for the entire South Caucasus region. Exhausted by the political, economic, and social consequences of the conflict, both societies have learned to survive under the conditions of the unresolved problems.

 

Armenia-Turkey: Looking for a Space for Maneuvering?

Until the late 1980s, the Turkish-Armenian relationships existed more intensively as a consequence of the Armenian Diaspora’s emphasis upon the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and less intensively as a bilateral relationship between Turkey and the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The collapse of the Soviet Union, and the appearance of the independent Republic of Armenia has not yet led to the establishment of diplomatic relations. Indeed, in the course of the last 25 years the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation process became even more complicated as it – against the background of significant mutual mistrust – became transformed exclusively into political and geopolitical issues involving many actors. Although both Armenia and Turkey are interested in establishing diplomatic relationships, in normalization of political and economic relations, and in the opening of the common border, an asymmetry in their strategic interests toward each other is becoming more visible.

*****

After the August, 2008, Russian-Georgian war the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations was viewed by the US, Russia, and the EU as a key to cooperation and stability in the South Caucasus. These three  main external actors needed to demonstrate a unified approach in order to achieve some success especially after the first serious disagreement since the "reset" in Russia-US relations: the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement was moved to the center of the regional security policy. Most probably, the illusion regarding the possibility to achieve progress along this track existed not least owing to the facts that, first, confidential talks, with varying degrees of intensity, had been held since 2007; second, the contacts between the Turkish and Armenian NGOs were increasing.

Consequently, immediately after the end of the five-day war in August 2008, then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdoğan, initiated a "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform." Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan reacted to this proposal with "football diplomacy." This attempt to normalize the relations between the two states culminated in the signing of the Protocols "On the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia" and "On the Development of Relations" in  October 2009.[22] The Protocols constitute the first bilateral documents in the entire histories of the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia.

Indeed, the normalization of relationships between these two neighbors would seem to have offered the possibility for more stable, secure, and favorable environment for business and economic cooperation. However, further developments indicated that strong political pressures on behalf of reaching a compromise had been exerted on both Armenia and Turkey.[23] They also have demonstrated the limitations of that very pressure placed by, in particular, the United States on Turkey in respect to issues related to the defense of Turkey’s strategic interests. Furthermore, the miscalculation of the role of internal and external factors in Armenia and in Turkey had swept away any possibility for an early normalization of the relationship, to say nothing in regard to the reconciliation between these two nations.

In the Armenian-Turkish track a conflict of strategic interests is prominent. Therefore, many factors can directly and indirectly enlarge a gap between the positions of these two parties.

According to the Armenian side, among the significant bilateral problems are:

- a  universal recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, including by Turkey; 

- a lifting of the blockade of the Turkish-Armenian boarder by the Turkish side; 

- and a separation of the Turkish-Armenian track from Armenian-Azerbaijani issues within the context of a resolution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

For Turkey the issues to be resolved with Armenia include:

- the prevention of a broad recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the international community, and the transformation of the problem from the political realm into the realm of discussions among historians;

- the official statement by the Armenian government on the recognition of the existing Turkish-Armenian border;

- the continuation of full-scale support to Azerbaijan, especially in regard to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. 

Thus, the normalization of bilateral relations in light of conflicting strategic and tactical interests poses a serious challenge to both Armenia and Turkey. In the meantime, "Across Turkish and Armenian societies the "thaw' is expanding and appears to be sanctioned by both governments."[24]

 

The Recognition of the Armenian Genocide 

This issue, rooted deeply in the historical legacies, is one of the most painful problems in the bilateral Armenian-Turkish relationship. It contains also a delicate psychological aspect: the Armenian nation lost more than 1,5 million people, territories, and property. For a long time the victimization was a dominant perception in the Armenian national consciousness. As a political issue, the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire first appeared in Armenian society's discourse in the mid-1960s, namely as a demand to have the right to publicly commemorate these events.[25] After Armenia's independence, it developed into a campaign for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and became one of the main aspects of Armenia's national security strategy and foreign policy. Any step toward reconciliation with Turkey as an "eternal enemy," which has been taken or will be taken by Armenia, provokes a very painful reaction throughout the Diaspora, especially in the US and Western Europe, and to lesser extent– in several strata of Armenian society. The commemoration of the 100th anniversary in 2015 of the Genocide in Armenia and throughout the world has been followed by a new wave of its recognition by several states and international organizations. [26] Of great significance was the statement issued by Pope Francis on April 12, 2015, at a St. Peter's Basilica mass: "In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the twentieth century,' struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation." [27]

As regards Turkey, the Armenian Genocide is first of all a painful psychological problem: A new generation of Turks does not wish to be identified with their ancestors who committed the massacres and forcible replacement of more than 1,5 million of Armenians. For this nation, permitted public discussions, the "I apologize" campaign,[28] and the statements of Turkish officials regarding the atrocities of 1915 constitute important steps to reconcile with its past. On April 20, 2015, the Turkish Prime Minister A. Davutoglu found words of regret: "We remember with respect the innocent Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives and offer our deep condolences to their descendants." President Erdogan had made ​​a similar statement in 2014.

However, a possible positive response to these statements from the Armenian side did not occur  owing to the fact that the Turkish officials, placing these events in the context of World War I, have compared and judged equal the losses of Armenians and Turks.[29] Turkey's official approach provoked sharp criticism from the Armenian government, political parties, and the society at large.[30]

It should be noticed that Turkey's involvement in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has made even more firm in Armenian society a mistrust of this regional power's intentions and activity in general.[31] The recent events in Syria, Turkey's covert support of the Islamic State, and a resumption of  military rhetoric and fighting against the PKK,[32] as well as the intensification of an anti-Kurdish mood  in Turkey, have been followed by a new wave of concerns especially among Armenian historians and security studies specialists. The latter are pointing out a historical regularity: during those times when the Turkish state faces internal difficulties, the minorities, including Armenians, are under threat.[33] 

 

The Armenian-Turkish Border and Azerbaijan's Factor

Although Turkey recognized the Republic of Armenia in December 1991, diplomatic relations between the two states were not established owing to Turkey's demand that Armenia officially recognized the existing common border.  However, as a successor state of the Armenian SSR, the newly-independent Republic of Armenia refused to recognize the Treaty of Kars (October, 1921).[34] This treaty assigned the currently existing borders between the two states. Armenia has considered its accession to the OSCE as a evidence of its endorsement of the principles of immutability of international borders and the territorial integrity of states. 

Currently the explicit recognition of the common border by Armenia has became an even more critical issue for Turkey as a consequence of the campaign for the universal recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Perhaps for the first time in its history, Armenia's demands for restitution and reparations, including possible territorial claims over Western Armenia (or Eastern Turkey), were made public: the official slogan of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide was "I remember and demand." (The military victory in the war for Nagorno Karabakh with Azerbaijan greatly contributed to the surmounting of the century-long "victim complex" by Armenians.)

Besides the issue of reparations, voiced by the Armenian side, for Turkey keeping the borders closed involves an additional – maybe even more important – political and psychological aspects: it lies on the plane of the Turkish-Azerbaijani strategic partnership and brotherly relationship.

In building up its relationship with Azerbaijan (and Georgia), Turkey attains its strategic goal of transforming itself into a Caspian energy resources hub and into a player engaged in the enlargement of energy transit to some European states. Owing to the increased share of Turkish capital also in the non-energy sector in Azerbaijan, Turkey has acquired an additional market for its products and services. It is one of the main suppliers of arms to Azerbaijan, and possesses military facilities inside this state. In addition, Turkic and Muslim identities have begun to dominate in public opinion within the context of the Turkish-Azerbaijani relationship, especially under AKP rule.

These two aspects – energy and identity – are utilized by the Azerbaijani leadership in a manner that aims to maximize Turkey’s engagement in internal political processes. It seeks to do so by specifically focusing on the goal of transporting the Turkish state system model onto Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army is being built on the NATO/ Turkish model, and Turkish military instructors are training Azerbaijani officers. The political role of Sunni Islam is also increasing (especially in the capital city and in the northern regions).

In exchange for Azerbaijan's support of Turkey's desire to become a regional power, the latter "had to guarantee Azerbaijan's security, a trade-off that effectively silenced Turkey in negotiations over Nagorno Karabakh."[35] Although Azerbaijan does not dare to ignore Turkish interests on any issue, Turkey also is unable to neglect developments in Azerbaijan, especially those related to the sensitive issue of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations. Public opinion in Turkey is predominantly oriented toward supporting Azerbaijan on all issues related to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Moreover, the decision on the closure of the Turkish-Armenian border was taken in the course of the Karabakh war as a signal of Turkey's strong support of Azerbaijan. The pretext used was a takeover by Armenian military forces of the Azerbaijani city of Kelbajar in March 1993. Since April, 1993, the bilateral Armenian-Turkish establishment of diplomatic relations has been directly linked to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. All further decisions of the Turkish side regarding the normalization of the relationships with Armenia were taken in accordance with Azerbaijan's strategic interests. In this way, the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement has been conditioned by Armenia's relations with a third state: Azerbaijan.

A short history of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols (October 10, 2009-February 16, 2015[36]) provides a vivid example of the absolute interdependency of Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, one that tremendously complicates any attempt to achieve positive results on the one hand on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and on the other hand, on any Armenian-Turkish rapprochement. The Protocols reveal serious divergences in respect to narratives, perceptions, and approaches of the parties concerned. The failure to achieve any progress has been rooted in a miscalculation of the degree of correlation between the two important regional problems.

The Armenian side insisted that the Protocols a) omit any reference to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement and b) that they had been designed exclusively for Armenian-Turkish rapprochement. Indeed, the conflict was not been mentioned in the texts of the Protocols. The important paragraph for Turkey in regard to the border issue includes the confirmation that "the mutual recognition of  the existing border between the two countries as defined by the relevant treaties of international law."[37] Hence, the ratification of the Protocol by Turkey could remove from the agenda Armenia's territorial claims. In the meantime, the same paragraph was viewed by certain strata in Armenian society and by the Armenian Diaspora as a betrayal of Armenian national interests and the memory of the victims of the Genocide.

Another important point which could be viewed as favoring the Turkish side was related to the decision to establish "the sub-commission on the historical dimension to implement a dialogue with the aim to restore a mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations."[38] The establishment of such a commission of historians meant the transfer of the Genocide issue, with all its constituent parts, from the political level to discussions among historians. This is unacceptable to the Armenian side.

Armenia also could benefit from the implementation of these Protocols. It was important for Armenia first, to have an open border with its immediate neighbor, and therefore to reduce its transit and communication expenses and its dependence upon Georgia; and, second, to plant seeds of mistrust between Turkey and Azerbaijan, thereby limiting Turkey's involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani affairs, above all in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. However, both Armenia and Turkey as well as the mediators, miscalculated the power of the leverage Azerbaijan was able to bring to the table and has brought to the table, against Turkey,[39] – thereby reaffirming a direct linkage between the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border.

 

*****

Therefore, the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations must be viewed as one of the most challenging topics confronting the South Caucasus. However, it was moved once again into the backyard of Turkey's foreign policy agenda. Armenia – after the recall of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols from the Parliament and as a consequence of the centennial wave surrounding the Armenian Genocide – now concentrates its efforts beyond the frameworks of bilateral relations with its south-western neighbor. In addition, domestic developments in Turkey and Armenia demand the resolution of more urgent issues than this rapprochement. However, the process itself has already indicated Turkey's limited ability to influence developments in the South Caucasus.

Ultimately, the enforced normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations has become irrational from the political, economic, social, and moral points of view, despite the fact that both nations should have been highly interested in establishing a settlement. The main reason for the failure should be noted: namely, the obvious asymmetry at the level of interests in normalization. The impact of this factor on the dynamics of economic development must also be taken into account, as well as its perception in light of domestic developments in each society. In addition, strategic relations with Azerbaijan have been –and are– decisive for Turkey; they shape and determine the Turkish position in regard to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Thus, for all these reasons, the chances for any progress appear limited even in the medium term perspective of five to eight years.

 

The Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan Triangle in the Broader Regional Security Context

 

Apart from growing definitive differences in economic and social developments, at the level of democratization and internal stability, and in regard to political weight and strategic roles in international affairs, inside the Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle there are at least three conflicting agendas, that influence regional calculations:

- To become a full-fledged South Caucasus power Turkey needs to normalize its complicated relations with Armenia, and to reduce its dependence on Azerbaijan in regard to political, economic, and psychological issues directly and indirectly related to Armenia;

- To acquire more space for political and economic manoeuvring and therefore to be involved in the intense and multilayered regional cooperation, Armenia needs to resolve several crucial problems with its two neighbours: Turkey and Azerbaijan. It also needs to balance Russia's "dictatorship" in respect to the economy and foreign policy matters through more active bilateral relations with the EU, the US, Iran, and Georgia;

- To fulfil its ambitions to become a strong regional actor and to maintain its role as a reliable energy supplier, Azerbaijan needs to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict peacefully and to balance cautiously between Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

In the Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle Armenia plays the role of an "irritant" for Turkey and Azerbaijan (it is considered by both a natural obstacle to the advancements of their interests in the South Caucasus), strognly influencing their bilateral relations as well as shaping to some extent their relations with Russia. In the meantime, the sealed borders limit significantly Armenia's economic cooperation and communicative possibilities;[40] they also, along with important political-military and psychological perceptions, influence its choice of a strategic orientation toward Russia.

In spite of the fact that the processes between Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan develop in accordance with their internal logic and patterns, nevertheless they proceed in a relationship of strong dependence with trends in the broader geopolitical space, where Russia-Turkey relationships play a critical role. Their partnership is developing and deepening against the background of a reduced interest and low level engagement of the US and the EU in the South Caucasus. However, as the most valuable regional partner for both – the US and the EU, Turkey received a second chance to fill the open space after the US significant withdrawn from the region, and after the EU proved unable to become intensively involved in the regional processes. Meanwhile Turkey has realized that implementation of a successful South Caucasus policy is impossible without Russia's support and "understanding." 

Turkey is defining its role in the changing security environment, increasingly perceiving itself as the second actor after Russia in terms of its role, involvement, and significance in Eurasia. Although its strategic interests and claims for the role of a regional power to some extent contradict or overlap Russian strategic interests, Russia needs to treat Turkey as a strong ally in several strategic areas, especially against the backdrop of its confrontation with the West. Furthermore, both Turkey and Russia share a negative perception of the role of the West (the US and the EU states) in Eurasia, opposing the latter's passive attempts to increase its influence in several regions and areas. There are several disagreements between two states, but their leaders prefer to focus on mutual interests and benefits.[41]

 The Russia-Turkey strategic cooperation and partnership significantly influence the wide spectrum of issues in the South Caucasus and shape the security environment of this region:  

- Both states use the energy supply issues as leverage in disagreements with the West and, to some extent, with each other;[42] 

- Both are enlarging their military presence in the South Caucasus; [43]

- Both strongly oppose any kind of "colored revolutions" and hence suppress human rights and freedoms at home;[44] therefore authoritarianism is growing both in Russia and in Turkey.

 - Both regional powers are dividing the South Caucasus into spheres of influence in concordance with the developments of their bilateral relations with each of the regional states.

Hence, the alternation of Russian and Turkish interests in the South Caucasus creates an additional potential for conflict and leads to a deepening above all of the divisional lines first of all between the regional states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

Another regional actor plays a significant role in the Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle:  Georgia. Its complex and ambivalent relations with Russia, together with its aspiration for NATO membership and closer relations with the EU, as well as the participation of Armenia in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, let to a quick reduction of Georgia's interest in Armenia. In this context asymmetric Armenian-Georgian bilateral relations – along with their internal complexity – are becoming even more narrow in scope.

Georgia's problems with Russia and an exclusion of Armenia from existing and planned regional projects has stimulated further development of a trilateral Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey strategic partnership. This is evident especially in the energy field, where Azerbaijan plays a leading role.

Another important aspect of regional developments has been defined by a hypothesis: if the normalization of Armenia-Turkey and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations occurs, this will influence directly the economic situation in Georgia and its benefits as a transit regional state. Therefore, Georgia is very much interested in the preservation of the status quo in Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. The relevant sections of National Security Strategies (or Concepts) of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia provide a clear understanding of models of interaction between these three regional states.[45]

It should be emphasized that the Russian-Georgian war in August, 2008, and the unsuccessful attempt to normalize the Armenian-Turkish relationships have certainly provoked significant shifts in the security environment in the South Caucasus. Among these shifts, which influence directly and indirectly relationships in the Armenia-Turkey-Azerbaijan triangle, are: 

- the speedy further militarization of the region with the active participation of Russia and, to a lesser extent, Israel, Turkey, and Iran. Azerbaijan's cooperation with Israel and Turkey in the defense industry is growing; these two states are the second and third-highest (after Russia) suppliers of weapons to Azerbaijan;[46]

- the escalation of military actions not only in the area of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, but also along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border; the danger of a resumption of full-scale military actions is high;[47]

- the intensifying partnership of Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus;

- the intensifying partnership of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia;

- the fight against the Islamic State as a common goal could unify Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia.  

In the regional security context the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is not prioritized currently by any of the major external actors – the United States, Russia and the EU. The Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is not in the interest either of Georgia or Azerbaijan.

However, the main conundrum lies in the fact that the bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey are directly and indirectly conditioned by the relations of each nation to Azerbaijan and the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The latter remains a priority issue for the three parties involved: Azerbaijan, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, and Armenia. For Turkey this issue is becoming secondary in spite of Azerbaijan's awkward efforts to change the negotiations format through the active involvement of Turkey.

A resumption of the overt stage in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is considered by many analysts as the most serious security threat in the South Caucasus, one which can be spread beyond the borders of the region. However, a local war will be provoked by Azerbaijan only if the Aliyev regime feels threatened by internally, which is unlikely in the foreseeable future owing to the complete destruction of the secular opposition. The threat from the Islamic opposition will become serious only in the event that the Islamic State achieves significant success in the Middle East and in the Big Caucasus, if the number of Azerbaijani fighters for IS increases significantly, and only if they – after a return to their homeland – will begin to fight against "infidels." In this scenario, the best option for the Azerbaijan regime will be to direct anger toward the external enemy, such as toward the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia.

Another source of irritation for the Azerbaijani state relates to Iran's active re-inclusion into the energy conundrum in the Middle East and Eurasia: the role of Azerbaijan as an alternative (to Russia) energy source for some European states will be reduced if Iran chooses to use the pipelines that run through Turkey's territory or to ship by sea. Furthermore, the reduction of Europe' s dependence upon Azerbaijani energy resources can result in a decrease of political support for Azerbaijan's position – its territorial integrity must be retained – in the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.  

 Summarizing, it should be noted that, against the background of a definite withdrawal of the US from the South Caucasus and a very cautious implementation of some soft power elements by the EU, which has been consumed by Eurozone issues and illegal migration crisis, Russia and Turkey at a glance will remain the main actors of this area. These two powers are interested in a preservation of the status quo in the region. However, in this tandem Turkey – at least in the midterm perspective – will play a passive role. In the analysis related to the revision of Turkey's national security policy, published in February 2015 by the Turkish think tank Global Relations Forum, there is a clear understanding that relations with Russia will undergo a period of uncertainties and that the risks for Turkey will arise from several regions, including the South Caucasus. In particular, pointing out the differences between the two states as concerns their approaches to processes in the Middle East and Eurasia, the authors of this document have mentioned Turkey's growing dependence upon Russia for energy (including the construction of the nuclear power plant in Mersin) as a significant security risk which has to be balanced. Another serious security risk relates to developments in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict: owing to "contractual link with Azerbaijan the decision of how to approach this issue… will require a comprehensive risk analysis according to the conditions of the day." Finally, according to this document, no changes in the Armenian-Turkish bilateral relations can be expected in the foreseeable future: "efforts to normalize relations with Armenia are leaving inconclusive at this stage."[48]

Thus, taking into consideration growing tensions in Turkish society, as well as Turkey's involvement it the processes in the Middle East and in the Black Sea area, it is possible to conclude that the South Caucasus is moving once again to the periphery of Turkey's national interests. Russia will remain the only strong actor in the South Caucasus.  

The Russian position in regard to the normalization and further improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations should be evaluated in light of the following points. First, the normalization of relations between these two countries will scarcely have any impact on the development of energy and communication opportunities for Russia. Second, if relations are normalized, Turkey will become the only actor in the wider South Caucasus region lacking tensions with its neighbors; hence, viewed against the  background of the tension-filled relations between Russia and Georgia, Turkey's strategic possibilities will only be increased. However, Russia will then preserve its position as one of the most important –if not the key– external actors in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This situation allows it directly to control Armenia and Azerbaijan, and indirectly to impede Turkey's activity in the peace processes, thereby limiting its advance in the South Caucasus region.

 


[1] Cit. in Soner Cagaptay, The Rise of Turkey. The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power. Potomac books, 2014, p. 8.

[2] Ahmet Davutoğlu held the positions  as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2004-2014) and Prime Minister (since August 2014). He was  head of the interim government after the June 7, 2015 parliamentary elections. Since July 2014, he leads the AK Party.

[3] Mustafa Aydın: Twenty Years Before, Twenty Years After: Turkish Foreign Policy at the Threshold of the 21st Century. In Mustafa Aydın and Tareq Ismael (Ed.), Turkish Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: A Changing Role in World Politics, Burlington: Ashgate, 2003, pp.16-17.

[4] Interim Prime Minister Davutoğlu explained the AKP 's election failure by offering the following reasons: "We were poisoned by power, we were spoiled and we were arrogant." See: "The Captain who fights with its compass. Today's Zaman, 19.06.2015. <http://www.todayszaman.com/columnists_the-captain-who-fights-with-his-compass_389893.html>. 

[5] Turkey headed for more elections after coalition talks break down. The Guardian, 13.08. 2015.

< http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/13/turkey-elections-coalition-talks-ahmet-davutoglu>

[6] The terrorist attack by the IS in Suruç, in southern Turkey on July 20, 2015 is a clear indication that the IS is becoming an acute problem for Turkey. Usage of the Incirlik military base by US air forces will become a double-edged sword for this regional power. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that the US will be allowed to use a key airbase to attack IS targets. The agreement follows months of negotiations between the US and Turkey. "Turkey targets IS and Kurdish militants in nationwide raids." BBC, 24.07.2015, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33647680> . See also the detailed analysis of Ian Lesser "Turkey at War?", (= GMF on Turkey, 30.07. 2015), <http://www.gmfus.org/publications/turkey-war>.

[7] Turkey needs a new security policy. Hurriyet , 9.04.2015. < http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-needs-a-new-national-security-policy.aspx?PageID=238&NID=80789&NewsCatID=409>.

[8] Wayne Merry: The US Perspective on the Central Caucasus Region. In: Euro-Atlantic Partnerships and the South Caucasus. Gayane Novikova (Ed.), Yerevan, Center for Strategic Analysis Spectrum, 2014, p. 23.

[9] Russia plays a crucial role as a main weapons supplier to Armenia and Azerbaijan. See more in "Russia Trying To Maintain "Parity" In Arms Sales To Armenia, Azerbaijan, Eurasianet.org, 19.06. 2015; <http://www.eurasianet.org/node/73936> ; Russia Says It Will Build New Military Radar In Azerbaijan; <http://www.eurasianet.org/node/74721>; Rossia stroit v Azerbayjane voennuyu bazu, 17.08.2015; <http://haqqin.az/news/51123>.

[10] Laurence Broers: From "frozen conflict" to enduring rivalry: reassessing the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The Nationalities Papers , 4/ 2015, pp. 556-576.

< www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00905992.2015.1042852#.VZuGZ0UbZel>

[11] The Azerbaijani authorities have unleashed a harsh campaign against almost everyone who has been in contact with the Armenian side. It is worth mentioning the fabricated trials of independent journalists and human rights activists, in particular of Leyla and Arif Yunus, as well as the absence of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary delegation at the NATO Rose-Roth seminar in Armenia in June, 2015.

[12] The negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement are conducted within the frameworks of the OSCE Minsk Group under the co-chairmanship of the US, Russia, and France. 

[13] Gayane Novikova: The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict through the Prism of the Image of the Enemy, Transition Studies Review, Springer, Wien, New York, Volume 18, Number 3, 2012, pp. 550-569. See also Index of Freedom "Freedom in the World, 2015;' < https://freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world#.VbzF9c8w_mQ>

[14] The closure of international human rights organizations, the RFE/RL, as well as the OSCE office, must be viewed as an indication of growing authoritarianism in Azerbaijan. See also: Souhayr Belhassen: Azerbaijan is turning into a dictatorship – we shouldn't fall for its caviar diplomacy'. The Guardian, 14.08.2015;

< http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/13/azerbaijan-political-prisoners-leyla-arif-yunus?CMP=share_btn_fb>

[15] See for more details Arif Yunusov; Islamskiy factor v Azerbaijane, Adilogli, Baku, 2013, pp.66-124, 148-183, 222-224. The number of Azerbaijanis fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq varies, according to different media sources, between 250 and 900.

[16] See in more details the Protocol on the Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia, 2010, as well as the National Security Strategy of Armenia. 

[17] Gayane Novikova: The Models of Sovereignty in the South Caucasus, in: What Kind of Sovereignty? Examining Alternative Governance Methods in the South Caucasus. Ernst M. Felberbauer and Frederic Labarre (Ed.), 3/2014, Vienna, 2014, pp. 59-69.

[18] In June 2015, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan met in Baku to discuss several issues on further cooperation in strategic fields. See more: Vladimir Putin holds talks with Ilham Aliyev, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 14.07.2015; <http://www.meydan.tv/en/site/news/6428/Vladimir-Putin-holds-talks-with-Ilham-Aliyev-Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan.htm>;  Erdoğan meets with Putin in Baku, criticizes EU absence from European Games, 13.06.2015; <http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_erdogan-meets-with-putin-in-baku-criticizes-eu-absence-from-european-games_385983.html>.

[19] Gayane Novikova: Illusive Regional Cooperation: The case of the South Caucasus, in: Non-Traditional Security Threats and Regional Cooperation in the Southern Caucasus. by Mustafa Aydin (Ed.). IOS Press, 2011, pp.237-247

[20] Vladimir Yakunin: Proyekt po prokladke zheleznoy dorogi Iran-Armenia sovershenno lishen effectivnosti; <http://www.arminfo.am/index.cfm?objectid=D0B55180-0D40-11E5-81110EB7C0D21663>.

[21] See for more details the discussions in the Armenian mass media of the protest activity, and the demands of the "Electric Yerevan" movement, and the debates regarding the introduced constitutional changes.

[22] The full texts of the Protocols can be found at <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/d-tr/dv/1006_10_/1006_10_en.pdf >   

[23] In 2008-2009, the US Administration was convinced that a new cooperative relationship between Armenia and Turkey could contribute to regional development. Here can be found the origin of the unprecedented pressure that was exerted upon both countries in 2009 – pressure that ultimately led to the signing of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols of October 2009.

[24] Fiona Hill, Kemal Kirisci, Andrew Moffatt: Armenia and Turkey: From normalization to reconciliation, in: Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter 2015, p. 127. For more on the role of the civil society in Turkey and Armenia see in: Hayastan-Turkia: Bac Khosantutyun (Armenia-Turkey: Open Conversations), Center for Public Dialogue and Development, Yerevan, 2005; Tigran Mkrtchyan: The Role of NGOs in Turkey-Armenia Rapprochement. In: Non-Traditional Security Threats and Regional Cooperation in the Southern Caucasus. Mustafa Aydin (Ed.). IOS Press, 2011, pp. 154-162.

[25] The students demonstrations in Yerevan in 1965 resulted in the establishment of the official date (April 24) of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. In 1967 the memorial complex was erected on one of Yerevan's hills.   

[26] The brief list of those states and organizations, provincial governments and town councils which have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide can be found at http://www.mfa.am/en/recognition/

[27] Pope recalls slaughter of Armenians in 'first genocide of the 20th century'.  Catholic News Agency, 12.04.2015; <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-recalls-slaughter-of-armenians-in-first-genocide-of-the-20th-century-92710/>.

[28] This online campaign was initiated in 2008 by a group of Turkish intellectuals to reject the official denial of the massacres and to offer an apology.

[29] Statement by His Excellency Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey on the Ottoman Armenians who lost their lives during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, 20.04.2015; <http://www.mfa.gov.tr/statement-by-he-mr_-ahmet-davutoglu_-pm-of-the-republic-of-turkey-on-the-ottoman-armenians.en.mfa> 

[30] Armenia Dismisses Davutoglu’s Condolences Statement; < http://massispost.com/2015/04/armenia-dismisses-davutoglus-condolences-statement/>.  See also: Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) executive Director Aram Hamparian's Statement on Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu's fake apology on the Centennial, 20.04.2015;   <http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=2428>. Another wave of criticism of  the Turkish government originated from its decision to shift the dates of commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle to the same day as the official commemoration of the Armenian Genocide (April 24, 2015).

[31] Interestingly, in several polls in Armenia respondents did not make any distinction between Turks and Azerbaijanis. The war for Nagorno Karabakh has reawakened painful memories of the Genocide.

[32] Turkey Attacks Kurdish Militant Camps in Northern Iraq. The New York Times, 25.07.2015; <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/world/middleeast/turkey-attacks-kurdish-militant-camps-in-northern-iraq.html?_r=0>;

Maximilian Popp and Christoph Reuter: Erdogan's Cynical Game: Is Turkey Creeping Toward Civil War? Der Spiegel, Issue 32, 1.8. 2015.

<http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/with-attacks-on-pkk-erdogan-risks-civil-war-in-turkey-a-1046196.html>.

[33] Rouben Safrastyan: An aggravation of the domestic situation in Turkey will affect local Armenians. In: News Armenia, 29.07.2015; <http://www.newsarmenia.ru/politics/20150729/43256533.html> 

[34] The Treaty of Kars (October, 1921) actually confirmed the borderline drawn in the Treaty of Moscow (March 1921) between Kemalist Turkey and Bolshevik Russia. In accordance with this Treaty, which was signed in the absence of  representatives of the Armenian government, two Armenian regions Kars and Ardagan were given to Turkey, and a third one – Nakhichevan – to the Azerbaijani SSR. The complete text of the Treaty of Kars can be found at <http://www.groong.com/treaties/kars.html>.

[35] Burcu Gultekin: Cross-border cooperation between Turkey and South Caucasus: prospects for sub-regional integration. In: From War Economies to Peace Economies in the South Caucasus. International Alert, 2004, p. 45.

[36] Armenian President recalls Armenian-Turkish Protocols from the National Assembly. 16.02.2015;  <http://www.president.am/en/press-release/item/2015/02/16/President-Serzh-Sargsyan-National-Assembly/>.

[37] Text of the Protocol on the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia see at: <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/d-tr/dv/1006_10_/1006_10_en.pdf >. 

[38] The text of the "Protocol on Development of Relations Between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia" see at: <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/d-tr/dv/1006_10_/1006_10_en.pdf>  

[39] A step-by-step analysis of the Turkey-Azerbaijan interdependence is provided in: Zaur Shiriyev, Celia Davies; The Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan Triangle: The Unexpected Outcomes of the Zurich Protocols. In: Perceptions, Vol. XVIII, Number 1, Spring 2013, pp. 185-206.

[40] Burcu Gultekin: Cross-border cooperation between Turkey and South Caucasus: prospects

for sub-regional integration. In: From War Economies to Peace Economies in the South Caucasus. International Alert, 2004, pp. 41-49; Nathalie Tocci, Burcu Gültekin-Punsmann, Licínia Simão, Nicolas Tavitian: The Closed Armenia-Turkey Border: Economic and Social Effects, Including Those on the People; and Implications for the Overall Situation in the Region. European Parliament, Directorate General External Policies of the Union, August 2007, pp. 41-49

[41] Both states are currently deeply engaged into the developments in their neighborhood with opposite approaches to the problems: Turkey has found itself immersed in Syrian affaires, supporting the forces  which are in opposition to the al-Assad regime; vice versa, Russia supports the Syrian government. Russia should be considered as a direct party to the Ukrainian crisis, and Turkey has condemned the annexation of Crimea and Russia's activity in Eastern Ukraine.

More recent disagreement was related to the visit of the President of Russia in Armenia on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide centennial on April 24, 2015. 

[42] Among the most important projects is the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. "Putin, Erdogan discuss 'Turkish Stream' gas project: Kremlin," 17.03. 2015, <http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/17/us-russia-turkey-gas-idUSKBN0MD2Q520150317>. See also Mahmud Karakullukci and Dmitry Trenin: Exploring the prospects for Russian-Turkish Cooperation in a Turbulent Neighborhood. Moscow Carnegie Center, September 2014, <http://carnegieendowment.org/files/CP_Turkey2014_web_Eng.pdf > 

[43] See for more details: Gayane Novikova: Quid pro Quo in Turkey’s Policy in the South Caucasus. In: Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2012, Istanbul, pp. 133-150.

[44] Pavel Baev: Russia and Turkey find a common cause in confronting the specter of revolutions, in: Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 12, No 4, Winter 2014, pp.45-53; Sergey Guriev, Daniel Treisman: Rule by velvet fist. International New York Times, Monday, 25.05. 2015, p. 6.

[45] Republic of Armenia. National Security Strategy, 2007; <http://nsc.am/index.php?m=28>; National Security Concept of Georgia, 2011; <http://www.mfa.gov.ge/MainNav/ForeignPolicy/NationalSecurityConcept.aspx?lang=en-US>; National Security Concept of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 2007; <http://www.azembassy.org.au/uploads/docs/Azerbaijan.pdf>.

[46] See in more detail: Alexander Murinson: Turkey's Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan: State Identity and Security in the Middle East and the Caucasus. Routledge, 2009, pp. 42-62; Eugene Kogan: Azerbaijan-Israel Defense Industry Co-operation Savunma ve Havacilik, No. 154, March 2013, pp. 59-61. (In Turkish),

[47] The number of violations of the cease-fire agreement (signed in May, 1994, between the three parties to the conflict) with casualties and fatalities is dramatically increasing. Azerbaijan has been attacking the villages in the border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan. , and the mediators' Attempts by mediators to reduce the tension in the area of the conflict have been unsuccessful. 

[48] Changing Global and Regional Security Policies in Turkey: Some Observations and Recommendations. (Değişen Küresel ve Bölgesel Güvenlik Koşullarında Türkiye: Bazı Tespitler ve Öneriler). Global Relations Forum, February 2015, pp. 47-48. At: http://www.gif.org.tr/Documents/Güvenlik%20Task%20Force/güvenlik_raporu_2015.pdf

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