THE AWAY MATCH
by Shahan Kandaharian
July 24 2009
In its 23 July 2009 issue ‘The Economist’ online posted an article
about Turkish foreign policy titled ‘Dreams From Their Fathers’. The
article highlights the elements of the Turkish foreign policy as
well as the main issues and problems of the policy adopted by the
country’s state department.
Naturally the part that interests us is the Armenian
portfolio. According to the analysis of ‘The Economist’, in order to
establish a relationship with Armenia Turkey has abruptly given up on
its previous approach of demanding preconditions concerning the removal
of the Armenian forces from the Azerbeidjani ‘occupied’ territories.
The issue here, of course, concerns the April 22 ‘road map’
agreement. Despite of the fact that the contents of the ‘road map’
haven’t been disclosed yet, nevertheless, both the Turkish media and
other sources make no mention of the Gharapagh issue. Not even as a
separate point in the assumed content defined by the road map.
The issue, however, is clouded by political tricks . After the April
22 joint announcement, witnessing the Azerbeidjani political turmoil
of unrest, Turkish senior officials rushed to Baku to persuade their
Azerbeidjani counterparts that any development in the Armenian-Turkish
relations will not take place without the settlement of the Gharapagh
issue. The reassurances were evidently valid since the manifestations
of the unrest calmed by and by.
It’s not totally improbable for the roadmap not to have included the
Gharapagh issue. However, we must necessarily take into account the
following: In the wake of April 22, the then Turkish Prime Minister
Ali Babacan announced, for the first time, that the Gharapagh
conflict negotiations and the Armenian-Turkish relations must go
parallel. After that this principle of parallelism was echoed by this
or that representative of the international community.
This is exactly what’s happening today. The world powers and
specially the tri-presidency of the Minsk Group where those powers
are represented are trying to make a breakthrough in the Gharapagh
negotiations. There’s the need of making a forward motion, even a
seeming one, in the Gharapagh wagon so that the first point of the
Armenian-Turkish agreement, which could be the opening of the border,
can go forward. That way Turkey not only will have respected the
document it signed with Switzerland’s mediation but also will have
comforted its Azerbeidjani brothers.
In this respect, the ‘Economist’ analysis is not persuasive. In
essence it is favourable to the world powers in their dealings or
policies in that part of the world. When they say that Turkey made
abrupt changes in its policy, dismissing its pre-condition, that is
an obvious effort to maintain the image of Turkey as a peacekeeper;
as a country that seeks to solve its problems with its neighbours
and is ready to compromise for that end.
The Armenian side is facing the urgent necessity of organizing a
propaganda campaign. The Turkish propaganda has gained ground on the
international news platforms. The Turkey that implements a policy
based on preconditions is now being presented as the opposite,
whereas the policies that its playing are advancing towards the
opposite direction exactly.
The article also makes mention of US President Obama’s 24 April
address, explaining that Obama didn’t use the ‘G’ word so as not to
disturb the Armenian-Turkish relations.
The conclusion of an article tends to highlight its main points as
well as end it with the propostition. Apparently, by ‘The Economist’s’
evaluation, the basic challenge in Turkey’s foreign policy is the
Armenian issues. The article ends with a quote by a Western official,
according to whom Turkey has a unique relationship with the US and
when the issue concerns Turkey and Armenia, Turkey wins every time.
We accept that in April 22 terms, the Turkey-Armenia diplomatic
game is continuing with a score of 1 to 0. The away match is not far
away. By October, official Yerevan will have counted all its mistakes
and faults. The coach must replace the captain, and the whole team
must concentrate its efforts not only on balancing the score but also
on tilting it towards its favour.