RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN COOPERATION AND TURKISH FACTOR
G.Harutyunyan - The Executive Director of “Noravank” Foundation
Armenian-Russian cooperation (which has stirred up after the meeting of the presidents S. Sargsyan and D. Medvedev in August 2010) has several strategic planes. In particular, as a result of the aforementioned meeting the agreement on dislocation of the 102nd Military base in Gyumri was extended (till 2044) and renewed (Russian party will provide the security of the RA too). From the point of view of Armenia the later is of great importance as it guarantees the security of Armenia in case of the aggression on behalf of Turkey. It should be mentioned that Turkey a factual participant of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – this country has been supplying weapons to Azerbaijan till now and providing military “advisers” and during the war it also provided the so-called “volunteers”. But Turkey did not confine itself to that. Twice, in 1992 and in 1993, Turkey was ready to meddle in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict immediately and to invade Armenia (all those events are presented in the memoirs of the then ambassador of Greece to Armenia) and in both cases Russia interfered and averted war. Let us mention that in this issue the situation does not differ much from the one before: Turkey has strengthened its status of a “big brother” for Azerbaijan and there is no doubt that Azerbaijani anti-Armenian rhetoric and bellicose attitude are conditioned not only by the availability of “petrodollars” but, first of all, by the Turkish military and political and ideological support.
Azerbaijan as a Turkish “outpost” on the post-Soviet territory. At the same time curbing Turkish expansion is of great importance not only from the point of view of the national interests of Armenia but also of Russia. Applying “one nation, two states” political technology Turkey and Azerbaijan set close cooperation. Such a format is very comfortable as it allows carrying out flexible and versatile policy, especially taking into consideration the fact that Azerbaijan is a member of the CIS. In this context Azerbaijan is an “outpost” of Turkey on the post-Soviet territory (one can say that Azerbaijan is a kind of Trojan hoarse presented by Turkey to Russia), in both the South Caucasus (not only in the context of conflict with Armenia but also in the aspect of exerting Turkish-Azerbaijani pressure on Georgia) and Central Asia, as well as in Russia – in North Caucasus and Turkic language regions. In particular, Azerbaijan is a transition territory for Turkey through which terrorism and separatism are “imported” to Russia. The aggravation of the current intercivilizational relations intensifies this tendency which can be seen on practice: the zone of instability in some regions of Russia is widening. It is not a mere chance that according to the forecasts of the head of STRATFOR organization George Freedman in future the border between Russia and Turkey may go through the North Caucasus and such forecasts are based on the main strategic projects.
By the way, the ethnic intolerance in Russia should also be considered within the context of Azerbaijani-Turkish activity. We suppose that in this aspect Armenia and Armenian communities with their centuries-long experience of associating with the Muslim world (those traditions today are manifested in positive and constructive Armenian-Arab and especially Armenian-Iranian relations) can play a positive role.
Let us also mention that Azerbaijan supports implementation of Turkish political, ideological, economic (especially in the sphere of energy) and military programmes in other regions too, e.g. in the issues connected with Northern Cyprus.
The role of Turkey in multi-polar world. As it is known Turkey does not restrict itself to increasing its presence in the post-Soviet countries, i.e. the zone of the traditional Russian influence. In modern Turkey expansion and revanchist ideologies are flourishing: neo-Ottomanism, neo-Pan Turkism and pan-Islamism. Such a radicalization of ideology is fueled by the economic success without which it is difficult to imagine the implementation of the ideological and expansionist postulates. Today the economy of that country is 16th in the world and, according to some prospects in the foreseeable future it can be in the top ten.
Anyway, it should be stated that the claims of Turkey have sharply expanded; now it tends to acquire the status of a global actor. Today it cannot be perceived as a country which is under the control of the US and NATO and which implements only their programmes. This last factor is not always got adequately by some part of the Russian political elite which substantiates the rapprochement with Turkey (besides purely economic purposes) by the necessity to alienate, to “tear” it away from the US and NATO and to include it in the zone of the Russian influence. There is an impression that this part of the Russian political elite, in some sense, is guided by the geopolitical logics, which was characteristic for the Soviet period.
Yes, the West (mainly the US) still attaches importance to the Turkish factor, and Turkey also attaches importance to its relations with the West. But, unlike the period of Cold War, this country is considered by the US not like a kind of “barrier” against Russia but more like a leader of the Muslim world (some parts of which, as we have already mentioned are in Russia and thus, it constitute serious danger to the later). Let us also mention that that programmes of usage of Turkey as a “barrier” are still topical but in this case in the aspect of possible Chinese economic and political expansion.
Turkey as a model for Muslim world. The well-known developments in the Arab world will inevitably bring to redrawing (in the sense of the political content) of the geopolitical map of the so-called New Middle East. There are also distinct tendencies (which are by the way presented by the US National Intelligence Council and European Union's Institute for. Security Studies in “Global government 2025” policy and forecast report) showing that in consequence of those developments the region, especially in the civilizational sense, will be isolated to some extent from the “rest of the world” and there will be, if we may say so, “a special Muslim world” formed. According to the European political ideas Turkey should play a special role in this world, as Turks manage to combine, at least to some extent, secular democracy and Muslim and religious traditions. So, the Turkish model of development seems to be rather attractive especially for the United States.
It is not a mere chance that the political developments in the New Middle East are similar in the sense of the content to those which took place on Turkey when the moderate Islamists of Recep Erdogan came to power. Let us also mention that the political technology of “moderate Islamism” is based on RAND’s “Formation of the moderate Islamist networks” project. So there is occasion to state that the current ideas concerning the role of Turkey and particularly its role as a “coordinator” in the Muslim world are not simply situational but they are the result of the preliminary strategic elaborations.
Let us also state in this concern that the changes taking place in the Arab world and possible growth of Turkey’s influence in the New Middle East (as we can see it in the developments in Libya where Russia had made rather considerable investments) also tend to restrict Russian economic presence in the region.
Possible scenarios of future. At the same time, rather big part of the expert community is convinced that moderate Islamism, sooner or later, will shift into the fundamentalism and such a tendency can be observed in Turkey. It proves that in multi-polar world the abundance of military-political, economic and civilizational variables do not allow programming unequivocally the developments in the future and in this case it is more suitable to use scenario elaborations (see ”ON FORECASTS”). Two cardinally different scenarios can be offered to Russian and Armenian analytical community as possible directions for such elaborations.
According to the scenario which is called conventionally “Mighty Turkey” this country is getting stronger and powerful in military-political (particularly it possesses nuclear weapon) and economic aspects and turns into a leader of the Muslim world. The presence of such a power should be a serious challenge for the Armenian-Russian alliance. At the same time such scenario as “Split Turkey” is also possible; according to it, Kurdish factor and the problems connected with the identities of numerous ethnic groups living in that country may cause uncontrollable processes, which may bring to the collapse of the country.
Current realities. But, despite the scenarios concerning the future, it should be stated that currently Turkey rather successfully manoeuvres between its long-time western allies and newly-made Russian partners, but at the same time its assigns primary importance to its own, Turkish interests.
E.g. recently the Turkish prime-minister Erdogan has celebrated in Moscow the 90th anniversary of the Moscow Treaty, in accordance to which Kars and Surmalu were left to Turkey. It is approximately the same as if the prime-minister of Japan would have celebrated in Moscow the Portsmouth Peace Treaty which put an end to the Russian-Japanese war or German chancellor would have celebrated the anniversary of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the logical continuation of which was the Moscow Treaty. It is obvious that in case if there were the Armenian-Russian analytical and political mechanisms it would be possible to avoid mistakes. The emotions, which, by the way, should also be taken into consideration, are not the point; well-known actions of protests should have made happy our ill-wishers. It is clear that Russia carries out global policy, and it is not always that it can take into consideration the feelings of its partners. But this case contradicts the national interests of Russia and it should be considered as serious diplomatic failure.
In this respect, it should be remembered that geopolitics is rather exact science: since 18th century Russia has conducted 12 wars against Turkey. There could have been 13 wars but for the US and Britain which backed Turkey after the World War II. And such regularities must be taken into consideration in both the analyses of the present situation and forecasts of the future.
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- WAR IN SYRIA: PROBABLE SCENARIOS[04.12.2012]
- THE EUROPEAN UNION: NEW TENDENCIES[03.07.2012]
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- NEW MIDDLE EAST: REALITY AND PROSPECTS [15.03.2012]
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- REFLECTING THE EVENTS OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENT IN THE MIRROR OF THE GREAT GAME[18.05.2011]