Russia Tells Turkey To Drop Karabakh Linkage - January, 2010

How often have I said that the Kremlin will NOT link the political process going on between Armenia and Turkey with Nagorno Karabakh? Now that Putin is saying it, and saying it to Erdogan's face, will you believe it? There are also rumors that Erdogan may be visiting Armenia on the heels of Lavrov's visit. These and other developments from the region are clear indicators that a resurgent Russia is using Armenia as its primary platform to project its economic and political power throughout the region in question. The following is more-or-less the geopolitical picture as it currently appears in the Caucasus:

The West got effectively evicted from the Caucasus in the summer of 2008 when the Kremlin crushed the puppet regime in Tbilisi, and as a result of the deepening economic crisis it currently faces the West will remain out of the region for the foreseeable future. The mutilated and abandoned, nation of Georgia, administered by a political corpse, is indefinitely out of the picture as a regional player. With its important trade routes effectively under Moscow's control, and a sledgehammer by the name of Nagorno Karabakh hanging over its head, energy rich Azerbaijan has found itself to be nothing more than a helpless hostage to Moscow. Growing increasingly disgruntled with the West and deeply dependent on Russian gas, oil and trade, Turkey today finds itself playing a subservient role to Moscow...

Needless to say this is a historic opportunity for our embattled republic, an opportunity to break out of its economic stagnation and political isolation. Will our nation's leadership have the political will and/or the foresight to take advantage of this opportunity for Armenia's long-term benefit? Ignoring the flood of paranoia/ignorance based discontent emanating from the Armenian diaspora, and basing my opinion on various political measures taken by officials in Yerevan with regards to Armenian-Turkish relations in the context of Armenian-Russian relations, I believe that our nation's leadership does indeed understand the long-term strategic importance of the current political process. However, it still remains to be seen how effectively will Armenia be able to exploit the current geopolitical climate in the Caucasus.

Arevordi



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Russia Tells Turkey To Drop Karabakh Linkage

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Turkey should not link the normalization of its relations with Armenia to further progress in international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. Putin also reaffirmed Moscow’s support for Turkey’s dramatic rapprochement with Armenia, his country’s main regional ally, after talks with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. [...] The Karabakh conflict was expected to be on the agenda of Erdogan’s talks with Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Speaking at a Moscow diplomatic academy earlier in the day, Erdogan implicitly urged the Russians to do more to broker a Karabakh settlement. He said they can become “the most important actor” in the Karabakh peace process. The Turkish premier’s high-profile visit focused on growing Russian-Turkish energy cooperation. Medvedev described Moscow’s current rapport with Ankara as “strategic partnership.”

Source:http://www.asbarez.com/2010/01/13/russia-tells-turkey-to-drop-karabakh-linkage/comment-page-1/#comment-9264


Armenian, Russian Defense Ministers Review Strategic Ties in Moscow

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Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov underlined the “strategic” character of his country’s relationship with Armenia during talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart, Seyran Ohanian, on Wednesday. Ohanian was in Moscow on a working visit aimed at reviewing Armenia’s close military ties with Russia and their future. “The ministers discussed the prospects of military and military-technological cooperation between Russia and Armenia, as well as the issue of Armenian servicemen studying at the Russian Defense Ministry’s academies,” the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Irina Kovalchuk as saying. The Armenian Defense Ministry issued a virtually identical statement on the talks. “Anatoly Serdyukov stressed that Russian-Armenian cooperation in the military sphere has a strategic character,” it said.


No further details were reported. Moscow and Yerevan already highlighted that cooperation last month when they agreed to work together in exporting weapons and other military equipment to third countries. Ohanian and a visiting senior Russian official signed relevant deal in Yerevan during a meeting of a Russian-Armenian inter-governmental commission on military-technical cooperation. No details of the agreement were made public, with Ohanian saying only that it will further deepen bilateral defense links. Ohanian’s talks in Moscow coincided with the start of a two-day visit to Armenia by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The latter is due to hold meetings with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian which the Russian Foreign Ministry said will focus on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. A ministry spokesman positively assessed on Wednesday the current state of Russian-Armenian relations. “Despite global crisis manifestations, Russian-Armenian interaction in the trade-economic, military-political, humanitarian and inter-regional areas is on a largely positive development trend,” Andrey Nesterenko said, according to Itar-Tass.

Source: http://www.asbarez.com/2010/01/13/armenian-russian-defense-ministers-review-strategic-ties-in-moscow/


Moscow Not to Deal With Turkey Behind Armenia’s Back:

Russia will not make a deal with Turkey behind Armenia’s back, Turkish studies expert Ruben Safrastyan told NEWS.am, attempting to forecast forthcoming Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Moscow. “I am confident that Moscow will not make a deal with Ankara behind Armenia’s back. It is illogical. Ankara has no leverage against Moscow. Karabakh conflict is likely to be discussed in the course of Turkish delegation’s visit but will not in the context of regional developments. On the whole, economy and in particular energy issues will be in focus,” Safrastyan said. The expert considers that Lavrov’s imminent visit to Armenia after Erdogan arrives in Moscow proves that Russia will not close a deal behind Armenia’s back. “Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan speaks of the fact that Russia cooperates with Armenia openly and has no intension of doing any secret deals with Ankara,” the expert underlined.

Source: http://news.am/en/news/11964.html


Turkey Hops Aboard Russia's Ride

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Despite the impact of the rouble's instability and weak oil prices on the Russian economy in recent months , Moscow is pursuing a very active foreign policy strategy. Its elements focus on countering the continuing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) encirclement policy of Washington, with often clever diplomatic initiatives on its Eurasian periphery. Taking advantage of the cool relations between Washington and longtime NATO ally Turkey, Moscow recently invited Turkish President Abdullah Gul to come to Russia on a four-day state visit to discuss a wide array of economic and political issues. In addition to siding up to Turkey, which offers a vital transit route for natural gas to Western Europe, Russia is also working to firm an economic space with Belarus and other former Soviet republics to firm its alliances. Moscow delivered a major blow to the US military encirclement strategy in Central Asia when it succeeded last month in convincing Kyrgyzstan, with the help of major financial aid, to cancel US military airbase rights at Manas, a site of great importance to Washington's escalation plans in Afghanistan.

In short, Moscow is demonstrating it is far from out of the new "Great Game" where influence over Eurasia is concerned. Turkey's government, led by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, has shown increasing impatience with not only Washington policies in the Middle East, but also the refusal of the European Union to seriously consider Turkey's bid to join. So it's only natural that Turkey would seek some counterweight to what it has perceived as overwhelming US influence in Turkish politics since the Cold War. And Russia's leaders have no problems opening such a dialogue, much to Washington's dismay. Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a four-day visit to the Russian Federation from February 12 to 15, where he met with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and also travelled to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, where he discussed joint investments. Gul was accompanied by his state minister responsible for foreign trade and minister of energy, Hilmi Guler, as well as a large delegation of Turkish businessmen. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan joined the delegation.

Visit to Tatarstan

The fact that Gul's Moscow visit also included a stop in Tatarstan, the largest autonomous republic in the Russian Federation, whose population mainly consists of Muslim Tatar Turks, is a sign of just how much relations between Ankara and Moscow have improved in recent months as Turkey cooled to Washington's foreign policy. In previous years, Moscow was convinced that Turkey was trying to establish Pan-Turanism in the Caucasus, Central Asia and inside the Russian Federation. Today, Turkish relations with Turk entities inside the Russian Federation are clearly no longer considered suspicious, confirming a new mood of mutual trust. Indicating the value Moscow now attaches to Turkey, Russia elevated Gul's trip from the previously announced status of an "official visit" to a "state visit", the highest level of state protocol. Gul and Medvedev also signed a joint declaration announcing their commitment to deepening mutual friendship and multi-dimensional cooperation. The declaration mirrored a previous "Joint Declaration on the Intensification of Friendship and Multidimensional Partnership", which was signed during a 2004 visit by then-president Putin.

Turkish-Russian economic ties have greatly expanded over the past decade, with trade volumes reaching US$32 billion in 2008, making Russia Turkey's biggest trade partner. Given this background, bilateral economic ties were a major item on Gul's agenda and both leaders expressed their satisfaction with the growing commerce between their countries. Cooperation in energy is the major issue. Turkey's gas and oil imports from Russia account for most of the trade volume. According to Russian press reports, indicate that the two sides are interested in improving cooperation in energy transportation lines carrying Russian gas to European markets through Turkey, a project known as Blue Stream-2. Previously Ankara had been cool to the proposal but the recent completion of the Russian Blue Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea increased Turkey's dependence on Russian natural gas from 66% up to 80%. Furthermore, Russia is beginning to see Turkey as a transit country for its energy resources rather than simply an export market, due to the significance of Blue Stream-2.

Russia is also eager to play a major role in Turkey's attempts to diversify its energy sources. A Russian-led consortium won the tender for the construction of Turkey's first nuclear plant recently, but as the price offered for electricity was above world prices, the future of the project, which is awaiting parliamentary approval, remains unclear. Prior to Gul's Moscow trip, the Russian consortium submitted a revised offer, reducing the price by 30%. If this revision is found legal under the tender rules, the positive mood during Gul's trip may indicate the Turkish government is ready to give the go-ahead for the project. Russia's market also plays a major role for Turkish overseas investments and exports. Russia is one of the main customers for Turkish construction firms and a major destination for Turkish exports. Similarly, millions of Russian tourists bring significant revenues to Turkey every year. Importantly, Turkey and Russia may start to use the Turkish lira and the Russian rouble in foreign trade, which could increase Turkish exports to Russia, as well as weaken dependence on dollar mediation.

Post-Cold War tensions reduced

However, the main reason for Gul's visit was to develop stronger political ties between the two. Both leaders repeated the position that, as the two major powers in the area, cooperation between Russia and Turkey was essential to regional peace and stability. That marked a dramatic change from the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Washington encouraged Ankara to move into historically Ottoman regions of the former Soviet Union to counter Russia's influence. Then, in sharp contrast to the tranquility of the Cold War era, talk of regional rivalries, revived 'Great Games' in Eurasia and confrontations in the Caucasus and Central Asia were common. Turkey, as in the 19th century, was becoming once more Russia's natural geopolitical rival. Turkey's quasi-alliance with Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia until recently led Moscow to view Ankara as a formidable rival. The regional military balance developed in favor of Turkey in the Black Sea and the Southern Caucasus. And after the disintegration of the USSR, the Black Sea became a de facto "NATO lake". As Russia and Ukraine argued over the division of the Black Sea fleet and status of Sevastopol, the Black Sea became an area for NATO'S Partnership for Peace exercises.

By contrast, at the end of the latest Moscow visit, Gul declared, "Russia and Turkey are neighboring countries that are developing their relations on the basis of mutual confidence. I hope this visit will in turn give a new character to our relations." Russia praised Turkey's diplomatic initiatives in the region. Medvedev commended Turkey's actions during the Russian-Georgian war last summer and Turkey's subsequent proposal for the establishment of a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform (CSCP). The Russian president said the Georgia crisis had shown their ability to deal with such problems on their own without the involvement of outside powers, meaning Washington. Turkey had proposed the CSCP, bypassing Washington and not seeking transatlantic consensus on Russia. Since then, Turkey has indicated its intent to follow a more independent foreign policy.

Russia aims to use its economic resources to counter the growing NATO encirclement, made more severe by Washington's decision to place missile and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic aimed at Moscow. To date the Obama administration has indicated it will continue the Bush "missile defense" policy. Washington also just agreed to place US Patriot missiles in Poland, clearly not aimed at Germany, but at Russia. Following Gul's visit, Medvedev will go to Turkey to follow up the issues with concrete cooperation proposals. The Turkish-Russian cooperation is a further indication of how the once overwhelming US influence in Eurasia has been eroded by the events of recent US foreign policy in the region. Washington is waking up to find it is now confronted with Sir Halford Mackinder's "worst nightmare". Mackinder, the "father" of 20th century British geopolitics, stressed the importance of Britain (and after 1945, the US) preventing strategic cooperation among the great powers of Eurasia.

F William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press) and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca ). His new book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is doe for release in late spring 2009. He may be reached via his website: www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net .

Source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KC04Ak02.html


Additional developments from the region:


Turkey to try persuade Moscow to exert pressure on Armenia in Karabakh issue:http://www.news.az/articles/6067
Great power rivalries inflame Nagorno-Karabakh dispute: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/dec2009/naka-d23.shtml
ARMED AND HENCE DANGEROUS; Azerbaijan and Armenia do not have superiority over each other: http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg298579.html
Armenia, Russia Sign Arms Export Deal: http://www.asbarez.com/2009/12/17/armenia-russia-sign-arms-export-deal-2/

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