BAKU: Stop Viewing Relations w/Turkey thru rose-coloured spectacles

Daily speculates on Azeri campaign against opening of Turkish-Armenian border

Zerkalo, Baku
6 Apr 04

The Baku government has orchestrated a protest of Azerbaijani
reporters in Turkey against the opening of the Armenian border,
Azerbaijani daily Zerkalo has reported. The Azerbaijani leadership is
attempting to exert pressure on Turkey ahead of President Ilham
Aliyev’s visit to this country later this month, the newspaper
said. But Turkey seems to have made up its mind to lift the blockade
of Armenia since this country itself has serious problems with
Yerevan. On the other hand, there is European pressure, and Ankara is
ready to pay the highest price for EU membership, the daily said. The
sooner Turkey becomes an EU member, the better for Azerbaijan. Turkey
could then influence EU decisions relating to Azerbaijan, Zerkalo
said. The following is the text of the report by R. Mirqadirov in
Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo on 6 April headlined “Time to stop
viewing relations with fraternal Turkey through rose-coloured
spectacles”; subheadings inserted editorially:

Azerbaijan tries to exert pressure on Turkey

Contradictions in relations between two fraternal countries have
become visible ahead of the Azerbaijani president’s official visit to
Turkey. For the first time after gaining independence Azerbaijan is
not solving existing problems amicably through diplomatic channels,
but is trying “to exert pressure” on the Turkish government through
“public opinion” and that is a fact.

At the initiative of the independent TV company ANS, as a circulated
statement reads, on 6 April a group of journalists from leading media
outlets will go to the Turkish-Armenian border to stage an action
under the slogan “Turks must support Turks”. The rally-goers are even
planning to form a symbolic “live impassable border” between Turkey
and Armenia. The action will end in Ankara.

To all appearances, some opposition forces in Turkey will back this
action as they believe that the [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip]
Erdogan government is making inadmissible concessions for the sake of
EU membership. It is not a coincidence that the rally-goers will call
on the Turkish government not to yield to “pressure from some
countries” and not to open the border with Armenia. It would not be
very difficult for Ankara to sort out problems with individual
countries. Things are different with the EU which has been insisting
on the opening of the border. The Erdogan government is prepared to
pay the highest price for Turkey’s EU membership.

Given the aforesaid, it is difficult to imagine that the group of
journalists “from the leading media outlets leave for Turkey” without
“permission” especially ahead of [Azerbaijani President] Ilham
Aliyev’s first visit to Ankara as president. It is clear that this
demarche of the two countries’ public, which has been organized by the
Azerbaijani side and which will most probably involve Turkey’s
opposition forces, is unlikely to create a favourable atmosphere in
the forthcoming talks between Ilham Aliyev and Erdogan. Thus, the
Azerbaijani government is deliberately aggravating relations with the
Erdogan government to some extent. But is it worth doing so?

Let us start with the positive aspect. For the first time ever the
Azerbaijani government is trying to use resources of the
non-government sector to implement a specific foreign policy task. It
is a pleasing aspect on its own.

Opening of border formality

Let us now talk about the essence of the problem. If the Azerbaijani
government tries to use public pressure to prevent the opening of the
border and, in doing so, almost jeopardizes Ilham Aliyev’s forthcoming
visit to the fraternal country, this means that all other diplomatic
means have failed to settle this problem, i.e. the opening of the
border with Armenia is already a settled issue and this is all only

Is this in the interests of the Azerbaijani government? Obviously,
no. No matter who says what, Azerbaijani society will most probably
assess the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia as a major
foreign policy failure of the new Azerbaijani president. Ilham
Aliyev’s opponents will recall that international organizations
demanded that Turkey open the border with Armenia in the past as
well. But Ankara did not do so during [late Azerbaijani President]
Heydar Aliyev’s tenure.

Armenia to get political rather than economic dividends

But this is not the whole story. The opening of the border and
establishment of normal economic and diplomatic relations between
Armenia and Turkey will naturally strengthen the position of the
incumbent Armenian leadership, on the whole, and [Armenian President]
Robert Kocharyan in particular.

Armenia will not receive economic dividends from the opening of the
border at the beginning. First, the Armenian market is too small for
serious Turkish investors. Second, the opening of the border is one
issue, but the establishment of serious economic relations is
completely different. But one could “unofficially” regulate the level
of economic relations as well. Third, Armenia is far behind from
regional integration processes and major economic projects. That is
why, it is unlikely that anyone in Armenia could seriously hope for
the rapid improvement of the internal economic situation after the
opening of the border with Turkey.

As for political dividends, the Armenian government will obviously get
them. First, Armenia will speak everywhere about the failure of the
blockade policy. Second, Kocharyan will receive certain trumps in the
struggle with the pro-Western part of the opposition which has accused
him of the isolation policy and has already announced nationwide
rallies against the incumbent regime starting on 9 April. Kocharyan
will prove his ability to end the country’s isolation without
concessions in such principled issues as the Karabakh problem.

Turkey plays own game

What about Turkey? Ankara has been trying to speculate on the Karabakh
problem for a long period, claiming to revise its relations with
Yerevan only after the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict
and liberation of all occupied Azerbaijani territories. Many people in
Azerbaijan have been gladly trusting this, forgetting that Turkey
itself has serious problems with Armenia. These are, first of all,
the problem of the so-called “genocide” and western territories,
i.e. Armenia insists on the international recognition of “the
genocide” and has territorial claims to Turkey. Having these problems,
it would be stupid of Turkey to establish normal relations with

Incidentally, the recognition of “the genocide” is not only an issue
of “restoring the historical truth” as the Armenian government claims,
but it can have quite specific negative financial consequences for
Turkey. Having recognized “the Jewish genocide”, Germany is still
paying to the descendants of Nazi concentration camp victims. These
prospects could be excessive for the Turkish economy which is hardly
stable and prosperous, unlike the German one.

But today Turkey has made serious concessions in the Cyprus issue for
the sake of its EU membership. The Cyprus issue is more important for
the Turkish government and the entire Turkish people rather than the
Karabakh problem. That is why, one should not be under a delusion and
think that Turkey will reject EU membership because of Azerbaijan. But
Turkey should solve its own problems with Armenia after all.

Zerkalo has learnt from informed Turkish diplomatic channels that
Yerevan and Ankara have recently had intensive unofficial diplomatic
contacts. In exchange for the opening of the border, Ankara has been
trying to achieve Yerevan’s guarantee that it will remove the
so-called “genocide” issue from the agenda. Incidentally, it is not
quite necessary that Armenia should give up the idea of the official
recognition of the genocide at the state level. Yerevan should not
simply exaggerate this issue in the future.

Thus, Ankara is trying to solve its own problems, but pretends that it
is allegedly forced to sacrifice Azerbaijan’s interests to EU

Azerbaijan should back Turkey’s EU membership bid

But we already must stop looking through rose-coloured spectacles and
see the practical side of the issue. Let Turkish society itself think
about the worth of opening the state border with Armenia without
certain guarantees for the settlement of the problems existing between
Ankara and Yerevan.

Ankara must realize that the EU is not in a hurry to see Turkey as its
member. Turkey is a big country in terms of human resources and
territory, which has the key geopolitical location and many serious
economic problems. Brussels realizes very well that Turkey’s
membership will create many problems for the EU itself. From this
viewpoint, the South Caucasus countries have better chances to become
EU members than Turkey.

At the same time, Azerbaijan should have an interest in Turkey’s EU
membership, the sooner, the better. At least, Turkey could then
directly influence EU decisions and even block those which are
unfavourable for Azerbaijan’s interests. It will be then possible to
judge whether fraternal ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey are strong

On the other hand, as soon as Turkey becomes an EU member, it will be
obliged to have the same level of relations both with Azerbaijan and

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS