Ankara's pragmatism in Armenia-Türkiye relations
    Monitoring Baku's role in negotiations

    INTERVIEWS  06 June 2024 - 15:36

    Vadim Mansurov
    Caliber.Az

    Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stated in the National Assembly that there is a very positive dialogue in Armenia- Türkiye relations. He mentioned the existence of agreements between the two countries, expressing regret that certain key agreements have yet to be implemented due to external factors. Mirzoyan emphasized Armenia's expectation for Türkiye, to honor these agreements, affirming Armenia's readiness to sustain and build upon this constructive dialogue.

    What was Mirzoyan pointing out? And at what stage today is the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations? Caliber.Az asked foreign experts to respond to these questions.

    According to Turkish political analyst Kerim Has, one side of the coin is that Ankara draws conclusions by monitoring the effectiveness of negotiations between Baku and Yerevan. The other side of the coin is that it is somewhat easier for Yerevan to dialogue with Ankara than with Baku.

    "First of all, because at the moment there are no fundamental contradictions between the parties: there are no specific territorial claims and disagreements, while this issue has not yet been fully resolved between Azerbaijan and Armenia and it will not be finalized until at least the process of border delimitation and demarcation is over.

    At the same time, there are historical ties and a vast Armenian diaspora in Türkiye, which has always interacted with Armenia, even during the period of the latter's complete isolation until 2020. All this is the engine of dialogue. Armenia is interested in the Turkish market and is ready to actively interact with it as soon as the opportunity arises. In fact, for this purpose, it is just necessary to open a border and customs point between the countries,” the Turkish expert noted.

    All these factors, according to Has, give Yerevan the opportunity to assume that it can influence Türkiye’s policy towards Armenia. But here, of course, not everything is so simple - Ankara has its own algorithm of decision-making to promote this process.

    "Meanwhile, it is obvious that Yerevan now needs to restore full-fledged relations with Ankara much more than it did before the 44-day war. Armenia's political and economic weight in the region and beyond has fallen dramatically. The results of the 44-day war and the tendency to sever ties with Russia and move closer to the West are also having an impact.

    In this context, Yerevan badly needs to diversify its trade and economic routes directly in the region - the West is far away in one way or another, and it cannot, and does not undertake to address all topical problems, even if Yerevan goes for a complete break in relations with Moscow. Where to look for an alternative, apart from establishing self-evident relations with Azerbaijan and Türkiye?” the pundit wonders.

    Therefore, according to Has, despite the presence of a certain Turkophobia in Armenia, the paradox is that it is Türkiye that is the bridge to the West for Armenia, if not even the very embodiment of the West in the region.  

    "Türkiye, provided the borders are opened, will become the most important partner for Yerevan if Armenia, for example, has to leave the EAEU. And this could happen quite suddenly - Yerevan is well aware of this. Russia may at some point decide to decisively sever many ties with Armenia - such a scenario cannot be ruled out. At the same time, Türkiye is gradually filling the existing political and  economic voids in the South Caucasus while Russia is busy with the war in Ukraine. As is well known, a holy place is never empty.

    Nevertheless, within the new geopolitical reality, Türkiye also needs investment. The economic crisis has a noticeable impact on Ankara's policies, and peace with Armenia is also needed as an opportunity for Türkiye to attract foreign investment. Which will be an important sign for Western countries, their investments, remove the prejudice and influence of France and other Western countries on relations with Türkiye.

    But, of course, everything here depends on the relations between Baku and Yerevan. Geopolitical alliance with Baku is primary for Ankara. However, if a peace treaty is signed between Baku and Yerevan, Turkish-Armenian economic relations will develop,” Khas noted.

      

    At the same time, according to Renat Savin, a Russian political scientist, and expert on the South Caucasus, Ankara still links all relations with Armenia in the context of negotiations between Baku and Yerevan.

    “Yes, we are witnessing the development of relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Despite the seemingly frozen official relations between Türkiye and Armenia, there is trade turnover and migration bridges. Partially, the trade turnover takes place through third countries, but it is very tangible and extremely important for Armenia. In fact, no matter how rabidly Turkophobic Armenia may seem at first glance, Armenians rely almost entirely on the Turkish market, and the turnover is only growing. It is expected that as soon as the borders are opened, the trade turnover will immediately soar to the several billion dollars mark.

    In fact, Ankara and Yerevan are in many ways already prepared for such a development, but so far the borders are still locked. And this is directly related to the way Yerevan negotiates with Baku. Here Ankara is very consistent, it carefully monitors the process and, based on the analysis, communicates with Yerevan.

    Such pragmatism, of course, is justified - Ankara understands that the Armenian side, alas, can not always be trusted, so the main agreements that Mirzoyan talks about are exactly what Ankara promises to implement as soon as Baku and Yerevan sign a peace treaty. First of all, it is the full opening of the border, launch of cargo and passenger traffic in both directions,” Savin concluded.

    Caliber.Az

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