Does Armenia need good relations with Türkiye?
    Yerevan seems to have no idea

    ANALYTICS  06 October 2022 - 16:18

    Matanat Nasibova

    Turkish politicians, mainly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have stated and remarked that Ankara has never lost sight of the details of the troubled process of normalising Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. These statements and remarks clearly demonstrate Türkiye's interest in establishing a bilateral dialogue, involving the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan, which should be the logical outcome of the negotiations in the post-conflict period.

    Türkiye's firm stance on Armenia's policy was once again voiced by defence minister Hulusi Akar during his official visit to Baku. A delegation led by the Turkish Minister of National Defence arrived in Azerbaijan on October 4.

    Meanwhile, Akar's visit to Baku was under the steadfast attention of Yerevan, which carefully monitors all important developments in Azerbaijan, and the negotiations of the Turkish defence minister in the Azerbaijani capital are, of course, also considered and discussed in the Armenian media. It is done with the traditional Armenian skepticism that rests upon two Armenian convictions: firstly, it is still believed that Turks are the worst enemies of Armenians, and secondly, that the alliance between Türkiye and Azerbaijan poses a direct threat to Armenia. This is what the information and political background in Armenia looks like today, which the Armenian press is broadcasting to the masses.

    This factor strongly prevents the Armenian society from adequately perceiving the constructive Azerbaijani and Turkish agenda, which is aimed exclusively at peaceful goals and the establishment of stability in the region of the South Caucasus. In this context Hulusi Akar's statements in Baku, where he clearly outlined the priorities of Türkiye's foreign policy, focusing on three important political theses, are relevant. Firstly, the Turkish minister reiterated that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations is based on the rights and interests of the Azerbaijani people. That is, Akar once again stressed Baku's and Ankara's common view on the development and strengthening of stability in the region. This is logical because the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations involves opening the border and thus accelerating the dynamics of the region in terms of trade, economy, logistics, etc.

    There is also no doubt that Baku's position on the Turkish-Armenian agenda remains unchanged and positive. Azerbaijan supports any peace initiatives in the region, so Ankara and Baku's positions coincide on this issue (as in many others).

    Secondly, the Turkish minister clearly stated that the military cooperation between Türkiye and Azerbaijan is not of aggressive nature, both states respect everyone's rights and laws and are in favor of peace and stability in the Caucasus. This thesis is addressed not only to Armenia but to the whole international community, which has not had a clear picture of the essence of the Karabakh conflict for many years of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia. In the current post-conflict period, which has completely changed the previous balance of power in the region, it is clear that it is Türkiye and Azerbaijan that are purposefully promoting peace initiatives, contrary to the position of Armenia, which lives on illusions, ignoring the established reality.

    In this context, Hulusi Akar's statements that a hand of peace has been extended to Armenia after the recent war and that a positive response is expected from it today confirm that Yerevan has been given a real chance by Türkiye and Azerbaijan to get out of the political crisis in which it is finally stuck. Theoretically, it is in Yerevan's interest to make the right conclusions on all the points made by the Turkish minister. Nevertheless, as practice shows, it is highly doubtful that Armenia will show any constructivism in resolving the complex regional relations. It is more likely that the process of normalising the troubled Armenian-Turkish relationship will take more time. Armenia will continue to drag out negotiations with Türkiye, staging provocations on the border with Azerbaijan, resisting the opening of transport communications, particularly the Zangazur corridor, and thus significantly impeding the development of the region.

    It is pertinent to recall that the normalisation process between Armenia and Türkiye, which was in fact initiated, was disrupted precisely because of recent military provocations by the Armenian side on the border with Azerbaijan. Given that the settlement of Armenian-Turkish relations presupposes Armenia's implementation of the main points of the trilateral statements (adopted between Azerbaijan and Armenia with Russian mediation), whereas Yerevan's deliberate undermining of the negotiation process significantly reduces the likelihood of establishing diplomatic relations with Ankara, at least in the foreseeable future.

    There is another important nuance. Yerevan believes that Türkiye has no real interest in normalising relations with Armenia and that Ankara needs the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation process only to demonstrate its regional and international significance. According to some Armenian political strategists, on the one hand, Türkiye is interested in the process of dialogue with Armenia as a tool for demonstrating to the outside world its peacefulness and willingness to establish peace and stability in the South Caucasus. On the other hand, Türkiye has sought to demonstrate its efforts to normalise relations with Armenia to the United States, which has mediated two of the three previous attempts at Armenian-Turkish reconciliation. At the same time, the Armenian information field has opinions that if Türkiye does not put forward preconditions in the negotiations with Armenia it does not mean that it does not have them.

    As we can see, all these unconvincing and far-from-reality prejudices of the Armenian side are an indicator of serious complexes and phobias which are permanently lodged in Armenian society. It is therefore clear that real steps towards the normalisation of relations with Türkiye will also depend on these prejudices, which are a kind of fodder for further entrenching the animosity and hatred that is tightly rooted in Armenian society. Armenia's destructive policies not only torpedo peace initiatives in the region but also prevent a stable future for the "long-suffering" Armenians themselves. The Prague meeting between Erdogan and Pashinyan will show how far Yerevan can go in terms of abandoning its destructive role and position in the region.


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