Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Turkish Armenia Protocols

Without question, both Turkey and Armenia are moving toward a mutual understanding while pinching their respective noses. I have long said that the relationship between Ankara and Yerevan was unsustainable for a variety of reasons.

First, the Nagorno-Kharabakh issue was not going to be settled on terms that either Yerevan or Baku liked. While working in Armenia for three years I found that the consensus expressed was that the NK should - and indeed could not be returned to Azerbaijan. However, the parallel consensus was that Armenia should not keep its military presence in the areas bordering the NK. They felt that the NK was Armenia but acknowledged that the occupied areas were exactly that - occupied and should be returned. This may ultimately be part of the deal. In addition, for all the bluster coming from Baku, they were not going to start another war if only because they would run smack into Russian border guards and Turkey would not back them up. That is why it recently proposed that the NK become semi-independent.

Second, Armenia is landlocked, poor and cannot grow economically with closed borders. They mistrust Iran and are not particularly close to Georgia whom they felt indulged in a great deal of profiteering during the war at the expense of Armenia despite being coreligionists. Businesses in Eastern Turkey have long wanted access to and across Armenia and Armenia needs the trade that will result - particularly if it then has additional access to the Black Sea and is not forced to use Georgian ports.

Finally, Turkey would like this diversion ended. It is a rising power in the Caucuses and Central Asia, not to mention the elephant in the room in the Middle East. Turkey is a competitor with Iran and is a democratic country - more so than any of its neighbors. The beginning of the end of this problem would allow Turkey to concentrate on expanding its influence, likely at the expense of Iran and Russia even though Russia wants a hold on Armenia.

The Armenia diaspora is demonstrating actively against any rapprochement. But then, I have always observed that, aside from summer vacations, they don't have to live in Armenia but can retreat to their pleasant California or French homes where they have running water, electricity 24 hours a day and incomes that exceed $35 a month. The Armenians, left to themselves, would have sorted out their international relations some time ago.

Settlements and compromises usually come gradually in diplomatic affairs. Finally, a major step appears to be on the verge of happening. Good.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: