Turkey in tight spot between Russia and NATO - September, 2008

Russia's recent crushing of Georgia changed the whole geopolitical character of the Caucasus region and beyond, and it has also resulted in elevating Armenia's political status in the Caucasus. Armenia today is in a very unique position. Turkey gets most of its energy supplies from Russia. Until recently, Turkey only alternative source of energy was from Azerbaijan via a strategically crucial western funded pipeline traversing Georgia. These source of energy is now out of service as a result of the war and their future, as well as the future of Georgia itself, seems uncertain. Moscow is seeking to monopolize the distribution of Central Asian energy assets and finally drive out western interests from the region. As a result of the short but intense war against Tbilisi, Moscow now fully controls the political and economic climate in the Caucasus.

Therefore, Moscow's war against Georgia has in effect severed Turkey's strategic access to Central Asian energy making Ankara totally dependent on Russian energy, and it has also negatively impacted Ankara's economic trade with Russia. It's important to note here that Russia and Turkey have a very lucrative multi-billion dollar annual bilateral trade. Naturally, Ankara desperately needs reliable access to oil and gas as well as its lucrative trade with Russia. So, Turkey is being compelled to turn its back on Washington and look to Moscow for survival.

Since Iran is a major regional player and a serious competitor to Turkey, not to mention under a constant threat of war, Ankara will not put itself in a position where it has to depend on Tehran. Therefore, by default, this leaves Armenia as the only nation in the region that securely holds the eastern gates, so-to-speak. And since Ankara cannot threaten Armenia militarily due to the strong Russian presence in the country, Ankara is in a sense forced to approach Yerevan with a peace proposal.

Signs that Moscow is behind the warming of relations between Yerevan and Ankara are quite clear. It perfectly fits Moscow's regional agenda. It seems as if Moscow is attempting to drive a wedge between the West and Turkey and one of the tools they seem to be using currently is Armenia, with the others being energy supplies and trade. Let's remember that Armenia's President Serj Sargsyan reached his hand out to Ankara right after his meetings with RF President Medvedev, during a public speech he gave while in Moscow recently. Moreover, Turkey proposed the Caucasus Union/pact in the immediate aftermath of the war in Georgia, a war during which Ankara, a long time ally of Georgia supported Russia's actions. Moreover, Washington, Turkish nationalists and Azeris are signaling their displeasure about Ankara's proposal. Moreover, Moscow has been clearly signaling that it is in favor of the proposal and is now in fact all for the opening of the Armenian-Turkey border - this after years of remaining silent about it.

Due to the war in Georgia and due to the existing high tensions in the Black Sea region, Ankara and Moscow have found that Armenia would be a good and logical alternative route for their trade. Due to geographic factors, I believe they will eventually attempt to drag Azerbaijan into this as well. I don't believe any of this will have a negative impact on the status quo in Nagorno Karabakh. Nonetheless, they are currently trying to prepare the playing field in Armenia. How well will Yerevan use this unique situation for Armenia's benefit, we don't yet know. It's best to pray and remain hopeful.

Arevordi



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Turkey: An Historic Presidential Day Trip


September, 2008

Summary

The president of Turkey is planning a day trip to Armenia, the first such trip by a leader of Turkey since the time of the Ottomans. There is a lot of baggage in this relationship, and improving relations will be no easy task. It may help that Armenia, a Russian client state, could be interested in getting back on Washington’s good side, and Turkey could offer an introduction.

Analysis

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he will make a day trip Sept. 6 to Armenia where he will meet for a few hours with Armenian President Serge Sarkissian. Later the two will attend a soccer match. Gul’s visit to Armenia will be the first by the leader of Turkey since the days of the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed in the early 1920s. Normally such contact between Ankara and Yerevan would not be taking place. In fact, Turkey would be very happy to isolate Armenia for reasons ranging from a deep historical bitterness over claims of genocide to Armenia’s status as a client of Russia and friend of Iran to Yerevan’s hostile relations with Azerbaijan. Turkey’s tightest ally is Azerbaijan for historical, ethnic and geographic reasons (geographic because Azerbaijan brackets Armenia and checks Russian and Iranian expansion). Turkey stays chummy with Georgia for similar reasons, but Georgia is primarily only important as a connection to Azerbaijan. The fact that Azerbaijan ships loads of oil and natural gas to Turkey (and to world markets through Turkey) is just geopolitical gravy. In short, other than a border with Iran, Armenia’s borders are completely locked down economically and politically with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia threw all of this out the window. In the process of invading Georgia, Russia demonstrated that it could sever Turkey’s connection to Azerbaijan without breaking a sweat. An alternative to Georgia is required. Iran can be ruled out almost immediately. It is a regional power in its own right and is perfectly pleased to stand by and let Turkish power in the Caucasus suffer. That leaves Armenia — and only Armenia. Options for bringing Armenia into a more productive relationship are also limited. Turkey has been in a bit of a geopolitical coma since the Ottoman period and simply is out of practice in terms of threatening or invading neighbors, so outright conquering Armenia is out of the question. Turkey’s internal turmoil — between the Islamic-lite ruling party and the military-backed secularists — also precludes anything (such as a military campaign) that would require unflinching national unity. Ergo Gul’s attending a soccer match to at least attempt the difficult task of normalizing relations.

Stratfor does not mean to belittle the obstacles facing any Armenian-Turkish response — people do not blithely toss around words like genocide for amusement, and Armenia and Azerbaijan contest control of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh enclave — but it is not only Turkey that is eyeing better relations. Armenia used to boast one of the strongest foreign lobbies in the United States, a feature that sent vast amounts of American aid Armenia’s way. But this policy twist was only possible as long as Washington thought Armenia was a backwater state. As Azerbaijani oil output increased and Russian power resurged, Washington took a greater and greater interest in Caucasus policy. Realizing Russia had a firm hold politically, socially, economically and militarily in Armenia, Armenia’s influence with the United States withered. So while Armenia is legitimately thrilled that its security guarantor — Russia — is becoming more active, Yerevan also knows that Russian protection is dependent on the Kremlin’s attention span. If Armenia is to survive in the pressure cooker that is the Caucasus, it will have to find a way to better manage its neighborhood. The best way to do that, as Armenia knows from experience, is to get on Washington’s good side. That is rather hard for a Russian client state to do. It is much easier if you can get an American ally to make the introduction. Turkey anyone?

Source: http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/tur...ntial_day_trip


Additional perspective:


Turkey in tight spot between Russia and NATO

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (L) and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Moscow for talks, February 13, 2009.

NATO-member Turkey is treading a fine line between its loyalty to the alliance and its economic interests in its Black Sea neighbor Russia, with some fearing Ankara could find itself at the frontline of a new Cold War. Evidence of Turkey's dilemma in the standoff between the West and Russia over its action against Georgia was on display last week, when two U.S. ships sailed through the Istanbul Strait on their way to the Black Sea. Russia has accused the West of stirring tensions with a NATO naval build-up in the Black Sea following a brief war between Russia and Georgia. A close U.S. ally which aspires to join the European Union, Turkey is the passage way to the sea. During the Cold War, Turkey was NATO's southern flank, an isolated bulwark on Soviet frontiers. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has become Turkey's top trade partner, supplying the majority of Turkey's energy needs. "(Current tensions) put Turkey in a very tight spot because it is under pressure from Russia and its Western allies," said Wolfango Piccoli, an analyst at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. "Turkey is again a frontline state like in the Cold War, but the difference now is that its dependency on Russia is much bigger," he said. Turkey fears it is already feeling signs of a possible fallout with Moscow affecting their $38 billion trade. Ankara has protested to Russia over trade restrictions as 10,000 Turkish trucks are being held at various Russian border crossings. Russia says inspections on Turkish trucks are due to a new customs law, but Turkish officials see darker motives. Turkish businesses are concerned Turkey could lose $3 billion in the short term if the delays continue, and Turkey's Foreign Trade Minister responded to the move in harsh terms. "If you harass us, we will you," Turkish newspapers reported Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen as telling Russian officials.

ENERGY CARD

Turkey, which neighbors Georgia, has kept a low profile since the outbreak of a brief war between Moscow and Tbilisi earlier this month. Unlike its Western allies, it has refrained from condemning Russian actions. But NATO members may want a more strident supporter on its eastern frontline. "(Turkey) must act like a NATO member ... if it wants its place in Trans-Atlantic relations. It became a member years ago, and that means Turkey has to support the steps that NATO takes," a high-level U.S. official was quoted by Sabah daily as saying. Analysts have also said the United States may want Turkey to change the terms of the Montreux Convention, which regulates shipping traffic through the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. Turkey's dependence on Russian gas and coal, however, may make it difficult for Ankara to take those steps. Last year Russia provided more than 60 percent of Turkey's imported natural gas through two pipelines as well as 56.4 percent of Turkey's thermal coal, used in the country's power and booming construction sectors. Turkey asked Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom to increase its supplies to Turkey after Iran turned off its gas to Turkey to meet its own domestic needs last year. Potential problems with Russian gas or coal supplies would create large problems for Turkey in the winter. "On the pipeline there may arise 'technical problems' which means we have real problems ... that means for industry, for consumers, your economy will be harmed," said energy analyst Necdet Pamir. Turkey has worked hard since the fall of the Soviet Union to become an energy hub delivering Caspian gas and oil to European markets, and the country often boasts of its important geostrategic position. But if tensions continue to build in the Caucasus, Turkey may not find its position so appealing. "Turkey's geostrategic importance can sometimes be a liability and this case is an example," said Piccolli.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/reute...BrandChannel=0

Turkey Plays to Russia in Caucasus


Russia and Turkey have set to fulfilling the program of creating the Caucasus Cooperation and Stability Platform. Past weekend, Turkish President Abdullah Gul endeavored to persuade his Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkisian of the need to set up a new alliance. The same issue was discussed when Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mamediyarov visited Moscow. The alliance will strengthen the Caucasus standing of Moscow and Ankara and weaken the position of Washington there. Gul that arrived in Armenia Saturday was the first Turkish leader to set foot in that country. The highlights of the meeting were the improvement of bilateral relations and the chances to create the Caucasus Cooperation and Stability Platform. Erevan backed up the initiative of Ankara, and President Sarkisian assured that Armenia had been always welcoming the dialogue and had always stood for enhancing the confidence, security and cooperation in the region. The presidents will proceed with the talks when Sarkisian visits Ankara by invitation of Abdullah Gul. For Erevan, the emergence of the platform means its relations with Turkey will become normal, the border will open and the goods of Armenia will flow to the markets of Turkey. Azerbaijan didn’t hail that visit of Turkish president, which, however, will hardly prevent Baku from joining a new alliance initiated by Turkey should it wish to do so, of course. Although Azerbaijan has been manifesting the strive for cooperating with the West and for joining the NATO, the war for South Ossetia might have made some changes. As to Moscow, it may offer two weighty arguments to Azerbaijan in an attempt to win its support and abandon the western collaboration. Both of them relate to settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while Georgia will serve as a negative example. That state failed to deal with Abkhazia and South Ossetia all support of the United States notwithstanding.

Source: www.kommersant.com

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me because I had no assistance from anywhere. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside urged me to keep going; and I did. When Armenia joined the EEU and integrated into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago I finally felt a deep sense of relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my back. And when Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan reemerged in Armenian politics, I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back as I really needed the rest.

Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the internal urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal.

Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say anything if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however moderate the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what readers of this blog have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments. To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself.

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