BAKU: Turkey Project Director For The International Crisis Group Hug


Feb 6 2009

Washington. Zaur Hasanov – APA. "I think that if there is a political
dimension in what Erdogan did it is more likely trying to consolidate
his sense of national champion in Turkey," Turkey project director
for the International Crisis Group Hugh Pope told APA’s US bureau

He attributed the motivations of Turkish Prime Minister that pushed
him to respond so vigorously on Israeli President Shimon Peres speech
in Davos, to his wish to strengthen the party’s political position
in the local elections.

"The election is coming and he wanted to have a profile on the
issue. What he said in Davos wasn’t very different from what he said
in Brussels on January 19th. He wants to make it at his political
position and that’s his choice. I don’t think that it has much
to do with wanting to be a leader in the Islamic world. That’s
an additional effect. Remember, the leadership in the Arab world,
who are the people he deals with, is not so keen on such a public
approach. So such public scenes can be a double-edged sword. When
evaluating this kind of thing, I would focus on its impact in Turkey
first and then think about what’s happening elsewhere. Erdogan does
want to be seen as a world leader, not just a leader of a narrower
Arab or Islamic world. That’s not how I read him," he said.

Hugh Pope commented on the reaction that may be caused in Azerbaijan
by the improvement of Turkey-Armenia relations.

"Azerbaijan and Turkey need each other. But many Azeris are quite
frustrated with the decision of Turkey to start the negotiations with
Armenia in the first place. Of course, there will be an emotional
reaction. I don’t know how it will end but at the end Turkey is going
to make a choice according what the Turkish interests are. But as far
as I know many people in Ankara like Azerbaijan a lot. They will take
Azerbaijani interests into account more than almost anything else. But
at the end of day if their interest is to open the border they will
do it, and in the end better Armenia-Turkey relations may even help
Azerbaijan, by calming everything down, making the atmosphere of
collaboration stronger that conflict. That could be the result. I
don’t say that it will be. But let don’t be completely narrow about
it," he said.

Hugh Pope also took a stance on the statements that Turkish-Armenian
border might be opened if Armenia withdrew from 7 districts around
Nagorno Karabakh.

"Nobody knows is there linkage or is there no linkage. Even in the
official discussions, sometimes there is linkage and sometimes this
is not linkage. How much linkage is it going to be? Is it going
to be an understanding or is it going to be written down? We will
see. But in the order to end this conflict Armenia have to withdraw
from Azerbaijani "rayons". That is clear. But when and how that all
will happen is yet to be sorted out and presumably that’s why diplomats
have a secret discussion is to work it out. Everyone needs this problem
to be solved. The problem is not like treasured darling baby that we
should keep with us. It can’t be left as a festering wound," he said.

Hugh Pope has been studying the Middle East for about 20 years. He had
been correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, The Independent, Reuters
in the Middle East and Turkey. In his book "Sons of the Conquerors:
the Rise of the Turkic World" published in 2005 Hugh Pope wrote about
his visit to Aghdam and Fuzuli regions through Azerbaijan. He speaks
Turkish, Persian, Arabic and French.
From: Baghdasarian

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