Gul's historic visit to Armenia was an Armenian victory - September, 2008

Foremost, what we Armenians need to understand is that Gul's historic visit to Armenia was an Armenian victory and not a defeat. Despite Yerevan's iron grip over Nagorno Karabakh; despite Yerevan not abandoning the Hai Dat (Genocide recognition); despite Yerevan's close ties to Iran; despite Yerevan's close strategic partnership with Moscow - the Turk swallowed his pride, ignored his domestic complaints, ignored western complaints, disregarded Baku's strong objections and went to Yerevan with a stretched out hand. Whether he did this willingly or unwillingly does not matter. The fact of the matter is - he did it. I know for sure that Gul never imagined he would have to do this at any point in his political career. And, most probably, he is blaming Saakashvili for the difficult mess he is in because it was Tbilisi's historic blunder that created this situation in the Caucasus in the first place.

Thus far, this is an Armenian victory. Let's see what Yerevan can do to benefit from this unique situation. Nevertheless, some in our community are treating this whole ordeal as if its another black page in our history. Sometimes the depth of our collective ignorance seems to be bottomless. The following materials I posted on this page will help one place the many geopolitical pieces together. Let's not pay much attention to the ignorant/extremist ideologies currently being spread within our communities. I have been reading and hearing a lot of very shallow, almost stupid comments about FM Sergei Lavrov's official stance over Nagorno Karabakh and about Yerevan inviting Gul to Armenia. Some people in our communities, including prominent/educated ones are making this very complex, very pivotal geopolitical situation look like some primitive tribal warfare where one village attacks another.

We can't afford to have any illusions, however. All this might indeed lead to the opening of borders between Armenia and Turkey. After all, that is what this is all about. Nevertheless, there are no indications that the current state of politics will lead to the abandonment of our Hai Dat, which is also indirectly connected to Turkey's territorial integrity, nor are there any indications that the status of Nagorno Karabakh will suffer. We don't need to jump to any conclusions as of yet. Let's not be afraid of signing papers with Turks. In theory and in practice, a government does not necessarily need a piece of paper to demand territory from another nation. There have been numerous instances throughout history where a nation has officially recognized another nation's borders yet they have worked towards undermining it. Unfortunately, the only way Western Armenia can be brought back under Armenian rule is through war. Simple as that. No documents, no treaties, no diplomacy, no debate - only war. Sadly, we, as a people, are not very knowledgeable about history and the role of politics within it.

Nevertheless, I think Azerbaijan will be dragged into this situation sooner or later. Moscow and Ankara realize that Nagorno Karabakh will not be going back under Baku's rule and that the current state of the region's geopolitics is way above and beyond Baku's silly claims over Nagorno Karabakh. Worst case scenario will be for Armenian forces to pull back from territories outside of Nagorno Karabakh's recognized borders in a Russian brokered, comprehensive peace deal with Baku. This may be happening as I write this. After all, Ankara is desperate and Russia is restless. Therefore, it's not all that surprising. Ankara needs reliable supplies of energy and the continuation of its lucrative trade with Russia; Moscow needs a stable Caucasus under its direct influence. This is the current political state of the region. In reality, Yerevan today has more political weight than it ever did. Yerevan better not screw up this opportunity.



Gul Going to Mediate Between Armenian and Azeri Presidents

September, 2008

Turkish President Abdullah Gul intends to mediate tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Gul was quoted saying by Hurriyet daily. He is planning a visit to Azerbaijan in the near future. “I have enlisted support of my Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan to arrange the meeting. And I am hopeful to receive consent from Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev. I will meet with him soon to discuss the details and will brief on the outcomes of my visit to Armenia,” Gul said. Turkish experts do not rule out that Presidents of Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan can meet to discuss the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Gul was in Yerevan on Sept. 6 to watch a World Cup qualifier between the Armenian and Turkish national teams. Before the match, the heads of state discussed possibilities to normalize bilateral relations. "We hope we will be able to demonstrate goodwill to solve the problems between our countries and not leave them to future generations," Armenian President Sargsyan said after the meeting.


Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Is Possible – and Necessary!

The visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan on September 6 will be remembered as a historic event, even if concrete results are not to be expected immediately. Accepting the invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sargysyan, to attend the World Cup qualifying 2010 football match between the two countries' teams, Gul broke a tabu and opened the way for a process of reconciliation to begin, following decades of bitter enmity. If a genuine peace process unfolds, it could not only reestablish normal relations between the two neighbors, but contribute to stabilizing the Caucasus and far beyond. Such a development would have been difficult to imagine without the crisis that erupted with Georgia's military move against South Ossetia, and the subsequent Russian response. The Russian-Georgian war effected a kaleidoscopic shift in the geostrategic relations among the nations in the region, whereby the relatively small Armenia has acquired a new significance. Several factors have to be taken into consideration to clarify this new reality.

First and foremost, the Georgian-Russian crisis laid bare the extreme vulnerability of Georgia as a transit land for oil and gas deliveries from Azerbaijan to the West. The conflict led to a halt in exports and an evacuation of some expatriate oil workers. As Michael Chossudovsky showed in a recent article ( , the war had everything to do with oil. Georgia's belligerent attack came on the heels of a U.S.-GUAM summit, which included Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava, countries seen as appendages of NATO deployed to militarily protect the U.S.-backed pipelines. U.S. oil policy, as conceived and implemented by xxxx Cheney, has been to promote pipelines from Azerbaijan westwards, which would by-pass both Russia and Iran, considered enemy countries. The corollary of this policy has been to sabotage any pipelines involving Russia or Iran, and thwart economic cooperation which includes them as well as China and the Central Asian Republics. As Chossudovsky shows, the Cheney strategy has not met success, as powerful coalitions stretching from Iran across Asia have come into being around concrete economic, political and military cooperation. The Russian response to Mikhail Saakashvili's foolish adventure has thrown a hefty monkey-wrench into the entire Cheney approach.

A second consideration involves the role of Turkey. A NATO member and staunch U.S. ally, Turkey is a key element of the pipeline routes: the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline carries Azeri oil across Georgia and to Turkey's Mediterranean port at Ceyhan. A further extension of the pipeline is envisioned in the Nabucco project across Turkey into Austria via Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary. Gas from Turkmenistan is also being discussed. However, as analyst Andrew Neff from Global Insight put it, "without Azeri gas, the Nabucco pipeline is dead on the drawing board." Azerbaijan’s state oil company, SOCAR, decided on August 7 to deliver oil now through the Baku-Novorossisk pipeline. Turkey could be seriously damaged by the spin-off effects of the Georgia crisis, not only if the pipeline were blocked, but also if relations with Russia were to deteriorate. Already on Sept. 2, Turkish Daily News reported that Russia had stopped Turkish trucks at customs check-points following the crisis, and some mooted that this was Moscow’s way of punishing Ankara for having allowed U.S. warships to pass through the Bosphorus with aid for Georgia. Turkey cannot afford problems with Moscow, as it depends on Russia for 29% of its oil and 63% of its gas. Were these supplies interrupted, Turkey "would be in the dark," as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan once said. The two countries have a significant trade volume of $38 billion for the current year, and it is growing.

Turkey’s Stability Initiative

It may be as a result of such considerations that the Turkish government of Erdogan launched an intriguing new initiative, known as the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform (CSCP), which aims to bring together Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Russia. Speaking to the press at a reception given by the General Staff command in Ankara for Victory Day on August 30, Erdogan made the following remarks: "Why did we call this the ‘Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform’? Why is Armenia included in this, why is Georgia included in this? Because we chose [them] for inclusion [in the platform] on a geographic basis. We have to succeed in this so that the region will become a region of welfare and ease." He added: "We need to shape the future of the Caucasus together. It is a time when we need to take brave steps to prevent the regional tension from turning into global turmoil. Channels of dialogue must be kept open."

The CSCP is to be on the agenda of the talks between the presidents of Turkey and Armenia, as indicated in a series of important bilateral meetings among members of the proposed grouping. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, in a press conference with his Georgian counterpart Eka Tkeshelashvili in Istanbul reported on Sept. 1 by Today’s Zaman, said a Turkish delegation going to Yerevan to prepare Gul’s visit, would discuss the CSCP. Subsequent reports confirmed that was the case. Erdogan himself discussed the idea on visits to Moscow, Tblisi and Baku. The foreign minister of Azerbaijan addressed the matter in Ankara on August 29, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dealt with it in talks in Istanbul on Sept. 2. Lavrov expressed outright support for the initiative. While denying that Russian controls on Turkish imports had been politically motivated, Lavrov said his country appreciated Turkey’s efforts to stabilize the region, adding that "This initiative [the CSCP] is based on common sense." On the same day, Armenian President Sargsyan met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi, to discuss new bilateral cooperation projects, and, of course, the Caucasus crisis. Both the Armenian and the Azeri governments have said they would discuss the CSCP proposal.

The Parameters of Cooperation

What the Erdogan government has proposed is ambitious, courageous and most necessary. But it will not be easy to implement. The countries invited to participate in the CSCP are not at all thinking on the same wave length, nor do they share the same self-perceived geostrategic interests. Since the "Rose Revolution," Georgia has been functioning as a plaything of the George Soros-operated networks based in the U.S., and supported by the Bush-Cheney administration, and has been being used as an attack-dog against Moscow, as the recent South Ossetia tragedy showed. Azerbaijan, a Muslim nation, had more or less been in the pocket of xxxx Cheney and his oil magnate friends since independence. Azerbaijan is technically still in a state of war against Armenia, since the latter took the Armenian enclave Nagorno-Karabagh and occupied contiguous Azeri territory in the war following independence. Turkey, which was the first to recognize Armenia’s independence in 1991, is, however an ally of Turkic Azerbaijan, and following the Nagorno-Karabagh war, broke off all relations with Yerevan in 1993. This meant closing the borders to Armenia, as Azerbaijan had already done. Armenia has had good relations historically with Georgia, which is also a Christian state, and has very close relations with Russia. Armenia’s economy is deeply integrated with Russia’s: it relies on Russia for oil and gas (though some comes from Iran), for its nuclear fuel, and for financing of its nuclear plant. Russia controls its communications and transportation networks. Russian companies are prospecting for uranium ore in Armenia, and there are plans afoot for constructing another nuclear plant. Russian companies are also the largest foreign investors in the economy, to the tune of $1.3 billion, in energy, banking, mining, metallurgy, telecommunications, and construction, Historically, Russia has also functioned as the protector of Christian populations and nations.

In the current strategic juncture, Russia could exert its influence in ways that could either help or hurt neighboring countries. Its intervention in Georgia has made clear what pull it has; it could exert pressure on Azerbaijan regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh issue. Considering the precedent of Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics, one might entertain the possibility (albeit remote) that Moscow could hint at possible recognition of Nagorno-Karabagh. The official Russian position has embodied the rational approach, that the entire matter must be settled through bilateral negotiations. In this extremely complicated combination, there are two alternative routes that might be taken: either each nation (with its international sponsor if there is one) seeks to gain its own perceived geostrategic gain, at the expense of others, thus exacerbating the crisis; or each comes to terms with the fact that the game being played in the Caucasus is being manipulated by forces outside the region – the Anglo-American oil interests represented by Cheney et al – whose ultimate aims collide with those of any of the independent nation states of the region, if seen as such.

Thus, the Turkish initiative should be taken up and pursued. Some sources in Turkey have told this author that they are suspicious of the CSCP, and there have been reports in the Turkish press to the same effect. This view says that what is really behind the Erdogan initiative is an operation, coordinated with Washington, aimed at coopting Armenia, via Turkey, in essence, to wean Armenia away from its relationship with Russia. Thus, even the football diplomacy of Gul would be considered a ploy in this game. This author is skeptical of such a reading; initial reports in the Turkish press indicated that Washington was not at all pleased with the CSCP, because a) it does not contemplate the presence of the U.S. or any other nation from the West, and b) the U.S. had not been informed of the idea. Turkish press reports now say that Washington has been informed, and that it reportedly agrees; that may prove to be true, but the fact remains the grouping envisioned in the initiative includes Russia, but not anyone in the West. Be that as it may, there are certain facts that cannot be denied. First, as a result of its economic interdependence on Russia, Armenia cannot (and would not like to) be turned into an enemy of Moscow overnight. Secondly, the Georgian-Russian war has altered the situation on the ground. It is incumbent upon Turkey at this point to open its borders with Armenia, and Azerbaijan as well.

The Armenian-Turkish Dispute

If there is to be a rapprochement between Ankara and Yerevan, a number of other important issues are going to have to be dealt with. The two countries have been at odds, and not only since Turkey closed its borders in 1993. The enmity goes back to 1915, when the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire carried out an extermination policy against the Armenian population, leading to the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million. Although the post-war Turkish government in 1919 put the Young Turk leaders on trial and convicted them; although Ataturk, father of the modern Turkish nation, was not involved; still, no Turkish government has acknowledged charges, brought by Armenians in the diaspora and in Yerevan, that what occurred was a conscious policy of genocide. The official Turkish view is that, in the course of the terrible First World War, Armenians were deported because they were suspected of having been allied with Russia, and that, during the deportations, unfortunately many (and the figures are greatly reduced) perished. This issue has been the thorniest in bilateral relations. The Turkish government proposes that a joint commission of historians from both sides examine the facts to determine what actually occurred. Ankara also demands that the Armenian diaspora cease its international campaigns to recognize the genocide. Then, there is the issue of Nagorno-Karabagh, which the Russians have wisely proposed be dealt with through negotiations. Finally, Turkey demands that Armenia recognize the current borders between the two nations. Armenia demands recognition of the genocide and calls for reopening diplomatic relations without conditions.



The Caucasus: Small War, Big Damage

Georgia's attempt to take South Ossetia has backfired. In a blitzkrieg, Russia drove the Georgian military completely out of South Ossetia. Moscow also made forays into Georgian territory. Many people in Turkey and across the transatlantic community have interpreted the war as a by-product of Georgia's aggressive attitude, and then propagated a neutral position toward the conflict. Whatever is the cause of the war, Russia's foray into Georgia cannot be dismissed as nuisance. The war has immense negative ramifications for the transatlantic community, including Turkey and the United States, as well as the European Union, or EU.

Russia's motives

The major impact of the war has been in the realm of energy and pipeline politics. Russia may not be a global superpower anymore, but it is certainly an "energy power." Moscow's strength lies in immense oil and natural gas reserves. Such that, even though Russia's population of 145 million is twice as big as the Turkish population, the Russian economy is smaller than its Turkish counterpart if the energy sector's contribution is subtracted. Energy sector's behemoth dominance in the Russian economy shapes Russia's foreign policy motives. Russian gas giant Gazprom's policies and Russian foreign policy serve each other's mutual interests. Russia takes advantage of exorbitant energy prices to increase its political and military power -- the arms industry is the second largest sector of the Russian economy after energy. Energy politics is key to Russia's military and political ascent especially in the former USSR. In order to grow further, Russia wants to achieve monopoly over the global distribution of oil and natural gas from the former USSR countries. This rationale seems to be the driving factor vision of Georgia. When the Cold War ended and the USSR was dissolved, the United States allied with Turkey to create a blue print to bring the newly explored oil and natural gas from the Caspian basin to the global markets. The shared U.S.-Turkish vision aimed to market Azeri, Kazakh, and Turkmen oil and gas to the world, not via Russia, but through the East-West corridor spanning the Caspian Sea and Turkey.

Georgia and Armenia

The U.S.-Turkish vision worked well in the pre-9/11 era when Russia was under the politically incompetent rule of Boris Yeltsin and Moscow was economically weak due to low oil and natural gas prices. As a first step along the East-West corridor, the U.S. and Turkey backed the building of Baku-Tiflis-Ceyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines. The second phase of the U.S.-Turkish vision envisaged extending these pipelines; east to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and west to Europe. A big part of that vision was the Nabucco pipeline between Turkey and Austria, the poster child for EU's energy policy that would have for the first time allowed Europeans to buy Caspian gas without Russian intermediary. Russia's occupation of Georgia has dealt a blow to such plans. Georgia and Armenia are two countries along the East-West corridor that lie between the Caspian basin and Turkey. Since Turkey's border with Armenia is closed, this leaves Georgia as a key country along the corridor. Georgia is mutilated by Russia and unstable. It is hard to imagine today how any energy company would invest in extensions to the East-West corridor, along which Georgia has become the weak link. By occupying Georgia, Russia has exhausted the U.S-Turkish plans to boost the East-West corridor and make Turkey an entrepot of Caspian energy. Moscow has also preemptively blocked the EU's plans to buy energy from the Caspian basin without having to go through Russia.

Back in the USSR

A second transatlantic casualty of Russia's invasion of Georgia is the West's political influence in the former USSR. Since the 1990s, Turkey and the U.S. have managed to wield influence over countries in the former USSR, especially Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine, building military and political ties with these states. Now that Russia has taught Georgia a lesson about its pro-Western stance, Ukraine and Azerbaijan will think twice next time they have a chance to take cue from the United States or Turkey, respectively. Russia's foray into Georgia has demonstrated to the countries of the former USSR that Russia is the regional hegemon and that they better listen to it. As long as oil and natural gas prices remain high, Russia will project further political and military influence over the Caucuses and the Black Sea basin, and such influence will come at the expense of the transatlantic community. Russia's invasion of Georgia is a milestone that marks the dawn of a new era. A small war has indeed produced big results.


Sergei Karaganov: Russia Wants Turkey-Armenia Reconciliation

Russia is interested in normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, said Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the presidium of the council for foreign policy and defense. He voiced hope that cooperation between the two states can ensure stability in the region. “Hostility between Armenia and Turkey has always been a factor influencing the world policy. This presidential meeting is a historical event, which means that the ice has been broken,” he told the Echo of Moscow. “It’s evident that the two countries are trying to reconcile because they feel the necessity to unite to face new challenges and regional instability,” he said. Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul was in Yerevan on Sept. 6 to watch a World Cup qualifier between the Armenian and Turkish national teams. Before the match, the heads of state discussed possibilities to normalize bilateral relations.


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.


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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 realization 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 as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. 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 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 something 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 continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers 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.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you for reading.