Implications for Armenia of the new Russian-Turkish partnership

ARF-D Political Affiars Director Giro Manoyan explains

YEREVAN (ArmInfo)–As Russian and Turkish leaders express their readiness to develop a strategic partnership, Armenian leaders are considering what the implications of such a partnership would mean to the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.

ARF Bureau Political Affairs Director Giro Manoyan says Russia is already a strategic partner of Armenia. Statements by Moscow and Ankara saying that they are already strategic partners in practice should alarm Armenia, according to Manoyan.

Giro Manoyan: This consistently developing cooperation may grow into a strategic partnership. We must be ready for that and have specific alternative plans. However, there are no reasons for panic especially that President Medvedev’s statement on Nagorno Karabakh in Ankara was not what Erdogan expected him to say. Medvedev just declared that Moscow is ready to exert maximum efforts to achieve resolution and to hold consultation with Ankara on the given issue. This does not mean that Russia is ready to share all the approaches of Turkey to the Karabakh process. Prime Minister Putin reflected the real position of Russia in the statement during Erdogan’s visit to Moscow. Putin called it inexpedient linking the Armenian-Turkish relations and the Karabakh peace process.

ArmInfo: You emphasized the necessity of alternative plans for Armenia. Does it mean returning of the Republic to the complementary policy of former Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan?

G.M.: I do not mean searching for new alternatives. I mean preserving the old ones. I think that complementarity continues to be one of the key priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy. One thing is clear today: developing relations between Russia and Turkey will in no way result, at least at present, in Moscow’s supporting the United States’ calls for pressuring Armenia into establishing relations with Turkey. They in Moscow understand that good relations between Armenia and Turkey can in the long run have a negative effect on Russia’s positions in the region. Russia is not very much enthusiastic about the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement and will hardly be, even if it coordinates its positions with Ankara.

A.I.: Aliyev and Erdogan have recently sworn eternal allegiance and friendship once again. How much their oaths reflect the real state of the Azerbaijani-Turkish relations?

G.M.:The fact that Azerbaijan is actively cooperating with the forces opposing AKP (Justice and Development Party, Turkey’s ruling political force) is one more source of concern for its leader, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in terms of the future of the Azeri-Turkish relations. Azeri-Turkish relations continue to be the way they have always been even though Aliyev looks to be offended because of the Armenian-Turkish process and has not visited Turkey for already a year despite continuous invitations from Ankara. Meanwhile, the Azeri-Turkish strategic cooperation, especially, in the military, is steadily developing despite certain problems. One of them is the failure of the Nabucco agreement. That is why, military and strategic cooperation of Turkey and Azerbaijan must make Armenia soberly evaluate the really existing Protocols with Turkey. As long as the Protocols exist, Turkey may executive all the dangerous provisions included in these documents. Therefore, Armenia must dissolve the Protocols considering the Azerbaijani-Turkish relations. The only way to do that is to recall the signatures from under the Protocols.

A.I.: Ahmed Davutoglu has recently made an interesting statement concerning the “rights and obligations with respect to Nakhichevan.” What could it be conditioned by in your opinion?

G.M.: The statement was made after the visit of Speaker of the Nakhichevani Parliament Vasif Talybov to Ankara. Although I see no obvious need for such a statement, I think it was more aimed against Armenia. It was an attempt to impose pressure upon us from the side of Nakhichevan as well. Davutoglu’s statement has no legal grounds. The reference to the Treaty of Kars in terms of “Turkey’s rights and obligations with respect to Nakhichevan” is an attempt to pressure Armenia, which does not recognize this treaty. Moreover, I think that Iran’s influence on Nakhichevan is much bigger than it might seem to be at first sight. I mean infrastructure and fuel. In these fields Nakhichevan is much more dependent on Iran than on Turkey. That’s why Ankara keeps showing its appetites with respect to Nakhichevan.

A.I.: Turkey’s appetites are not limited by Nakhichevan. Lately Turks are raring to co-chairmanship in the Minsk Group.

G.M.: Turkey’s aspiration for the OSCE MG co-chairmanship is not news. The news is that Turkey has got a lever to constantly express such desire as long as the Protocols are in circulation. I do not think that Turkey will ever become the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair-country, as neither Armenia nor the OSCE MG Co-Chairs welcome that. Turkey’s enmity towards Armenia and the continuing military cooperation with Azerbaijan do not contribute to fulfilling Ankara’s plans. Nevertheless, as long as Turkey is called to ratify the Protocols with Armenia, Ankara will, in its turn, highlight the necessity of settling the Karabakh conflict in favor of Azerbaijan. This is another reason for Armenia to resolve the Protocols. This will bring us back to the situation when Turkey was willing to speak of Karabakh but had no opportunity to do that.

A.I.: Much is currently spoken in Azerbaijan about solution of the Karabakh problem based on the so-called renewed Madrid principles. What is the point about, taking into account that their content is unknown?

G.M.: The renewed Madrid Principles were “born dead.” They could exist only if the two parties agreed using them as a basis for the Karabakh conflict resolving. However, Armenia did not approve the renewed principles. That is why, no one except Azerbaijan, speaks of these principles, even the co-chairs do not do that. The negotiations continue around the Madrid Principles well known to the public. Nevertheless, we are against these principles since they ignore a number of events starting 1988, in particular, the fact that the Karabakh people have expressed their free will regarding the life within Azerbaijan already two times. It was Azerbaijan that unleashed war against Karabakh and it is just absurd granting any territories to Azerbaijan in response to its aggression, though such is the essence of the Madrid Principles. The situation would be quite different but for Azerbaijan’s aggression to peaceful demands of the Karabakh people in 1988. Azerbaijan has got what it deserves.

A.I.: Thank You.