Saturday, 4 September 2010

Russia and Turkey in new conditions in Black Sea region, by Aleхander Sotnichenko

East+West Review Analytics Agency (24/08/10)

XXI century presented new reality for both Russia and Turkey. Now we can see that the West doesn’t want to include neither Turkey, nor Russia to its political and economical structures. Despite the development of western style modernization in our countries, Turkey has no chances to be a full member of the EU, but Russia looks more and more unfriendly in western eyes: I think we’ve lost the possibility to enter WTO in real future. We’re aliens for the West. It is the axiom for nowadays policy of Europe and USA, and I don’t see the prospects of changing this view.

The political elite of both Turkey and Russia was disappointed by the failed experiences of close and equal co-operation with the West in 1990-es. Turkey hasn’t been invited to the club of safe and well-developed European countries and we don’t hope that it’ll occur in close times. The political and economical support of the USA halts when the interests of Ankara cross the Washington pass, like it took place in 1974-1975 in Cyprus, or 2004 in Iraq. The main countries of liberal Europe recognize the “Armenian genocide” and even imprison people, who don’t. Turkey is always criticized for the human rights violation, for the low level of economical development (which is much better, then in Romania or Bulgaria for example), for the growing role of Military forces (supporting at the same time the Kurdish separatism from EU NGO’s) etc.

The same situation appears in the relations between Russia and the West. It’s possible to stop terrorism in bombing very distant independent countries Iraq, Afganistan or Pakistan, but the same style operations in the territory of Russian state are recognized as a genocide and violation of peoples self-determination. In 1991 after the fall of Soviet Union and Warsaw Treaty Organization all progressive people were waiting for the disbandment of NATO as a military organization. But instead USA invites new members to NATO (the most part of them supports all the overseas operations of Washington) despite the serious warnings of leading specialists in International Relations[1], bombs Russian ally Yugoslavia and play active role in anti-Moscow “orange revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine. Now we see the real hostility of the USA policy in the Caucasus and in the structuring of new Anti-Missile system (BMD) in Eastern Europe. The later history of Russia – USA and Turkey – USA relations could be resumed: We can be allies of Washington only if our interests follows the mainstream of the American policy. I see that our political elites begin to understand this reality.

The relations between Russia and Turkey in XX century were not friendly. We were enemies in World War I and during the Cold War, in 1945-1946 Turkey was an object of Stalin’s expansion, and in 90-es Ankara tried to move Moscow’s influence from the Caucasus and Central Asia regions. All this initiatives did not give prospects for future friendship, but economy, geopolitics and security make us closer even if it is not corresponding with Turkish proverb “Moskovdan dost olmaz” or Russian old meaning basurman (musulman) as an enemy.

All years of XXI century our positions became closer and closer. We stopped to support separatist movements in the territory of a partner. The level of commodity circulation grew more then in 10 times from about 2 bln $ in 2000 to 25 bln $ in 2007, and this tendency continuous in 2008. Russia became the second economical partner of Turkey, but our economical relations not always reflect in political field. The last conflict in Georgia gave us a good chance to open a new page of the real partnership between Russia and Ankara.

The first and the main aspect of the Turkish plan of Caucasian Alliance is to stave off the West from the real policy in the Caucasus. Indeed, last 20 years the western political organizations or conflict resolution theories and programs haven’t solve any ethnic conflicts in the region. The only way of resolution was demonstrated in Georgia, where the USA at first supported the “Rose revolution”, and then armed with their allies for future wars against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. If the war in the Caucasus for USA is only the incomes from selling armament issue and an occasion for interference, for its neighbors it’s a thousands of refugees, closing of active trade ways, possible foreign presence in a zone of conflict.

The countries of the region (like Turkey and Russia) not only know better how to establish peace and stability because their historical fates, peoples and religions are associated with the Caucasus. They are really interested in stability much more then in war because it’s necessary for their own security and economic prosperity. For me as for Russian it is an omission that the idea of Caucasian Alliance came not from Moscow, but from Ankara. That means Turkey will play a leading role in this organization. But there is no other way to make the Caucasus “Zone of peace and Stability” except the co-operation between Russia and Turkey, and Russian suggestions also have to be coordinated with the main plan.

What are the points of co-operation for Turkey and Russia in the Caucasus?

Turkey-Armenia dialogue can not be positive without the mediating role of Russia. Armenia is a political and military partner of Russia, member of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russian military bases are situated in Armenia. People of Armenia don’t believe Turkey and I don’t think that the bilateral initiatives will be successful. Only Russia can help Yerevan to understand correctly Turkish suggestions and connect the both sides around common political platform.

The same we can say about the relations between Russia and Georgia. Ankara hasn’t broken the relations with Tbilisi in August 2008, but Moscow did. The image of Turkey as a mediator is much better for Russia then all other possible, like USA for example. Turkey is interested in expansion of its capital to Abkhazia as an experienced investor to real estate and tourism, also there are thousands of muhajeers Abaza origin in Turkey, who want to have business in their native land. Solving the problem of international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is very important not only for Russian official structures, but also for Turkish business.

Armenian Security Council mentioned, that the mediating role of Turkey is impossible in resolution of the Karabakh conflict[2], the same reaction we have to wait from Azerbaijan if Russia offers its mediating mission. The OSCE mission failed: after 15 years of negotiations we can’t see any results of their activities. Only the joint effort of Turkey and Russia, framing their common position and joint mediating mission can make peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and solve the problem of Karabakh.

Caucasus is a very important transition region for oil and gas. In conditions of low-intensity permanent conflict we see multibillion losses of Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan pipeline, the impossibility of establishing Nabucco and several other projects. All countries of the Caucasus are interested in export or import energy resources like oil, gas or electricity. May be this projects are not profitable for all countries of the region, but pending the negotiations this problems can be solved in the region.

There is one problem: Iran is also situated in the Caucasus. What is interesting, they answered the Turkish initiative a month later after Erdogan’s statement with their own suggestions. Iran has a good relations with Armenia, and Yerevan doesn’t want to refuse it’s support. Iran has some antagonisms with neighbors – the status and sea borders on the Caspian sea, the religious invasion of Iranian funds to Azerbaijan and the distribution of Turkic nationalism ideology among Iranian azeri’s from pan-Turkism organizations of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Iran is in “Axis of Evil” list and hardly criticized by the West. The participation of Iran in the project of collateral co-operation can activate the negative reaction of the West (especially USA and Israel) which can prevent the positive development of the peacekeeping process in the Caucasus.

So, we are now very close to the future fantastic alliance, which can change the role of Turkey and Russia in the region and present our countries new possibilities of development and co-operation. We can establish an equal coordination system between our countries in the Caucasus and transform the level our relations from economical to full-size partnership. All we need is a coherent program of co-operation between the parts of a dialogue and the political will of our governments.

[1] The antagonist of the expansion of the military alliance is George Kennan. See Kennan G. Fateful Error // New York Times. - 1997. - 5 Febr.

[2] Security Council of Armenia: Turkey can’t be the Mediator in Resolution of Karabakh Conflict.//

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