Turkey Linking Armenian Protocols to Azerbaijan Eased The Gas Deal

May 15 2010

Turkey Linking Armenian Protocols to Azerbaijan Eased The Gas Deal

On May 16 Turkey and Azerbaijan will sign the much negotiated natural
gas deal. It sells Azeri natural gas to Turkey at a favorable and
discounted price. One political observer from Azerbaijan says Turkey
linked the protocols to normalize relations with Armenia to progress
in Nagorno Karabakh to make the gas deal easier.

Gas price dispute between Turkey and Azerbaijan took nearly two years.
The protocol negotiations with Armenia took about the same period of
time. They were announced one year ago and signed on October 10 in
2009. Assuming it took some silent diplomacy before they were
announced a year ago, it roughly equals the same time Turkish-Azeri
gas dispute was going on.

Now Turkey and Azerbaijan are very close to conclude their deal. On
Mary 16 the prime minister of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be
in the capital of Azerbaijan Baku to conclude the two years old gas
dispute and sign the deal. this was a dispute that to a serious degree
strained the relations of Turkey and Azerbaijan, two close allies.

Yet, Turkey kept dragging the protocols to normalize relations with
Armenia and artificially linking it to progress on Nagorno Karabakh.
The protocols don’t say a word about Nagorno Karabakh or Azerbaijan.
Eventually Armenia, realizing Turkey is not interested to ratify the
protocols, suspended them from from its parliament’s agenda. Turkish
Foreign Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday said there is no
"turning back" from the Armenian protocols. However, his country is
not making a single official move. Lately, realizing how difficult it
may be to go ahead with the Protocols without linking them to
Armenia-Azerbaijan issue Turkey suggested to take some time for
"silent diplomacy."

Today the Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Erdogan is in Greece. With his
counterpart Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou they pledge to
improve ties and solve historic difference. One wonders how come
Turkey does not condition its Greek relations with progress on Cyprus,
but conditions its Armenian relations with progress on Nagorno
Karabakh dispute?

Turkish border with Greece is not closed. The trade is being conducted
and two leaders meet and pledge to further boost bilateral ties. It is
assumed that when two societies know each other better it will be
easier to solve the Cyprus problem.

The question is how come this is not the case when it comes to
Armenia. Turkey has closed its border with Armenia supporting
Azerbaijan’s position in Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Turkey denies the
Armenia Genocide and has not even apologized or shown sympathy to what
it labels 200-300 thousand deaths. Turkey signed the protocols last
year in Switzerland to normalize its relations with Armenia, but has
not done a thing to move it forward.

The answer to these questions comes from Azerbaijan. According to
Eurasianet.org one Baku-based political analyst, Rauf Mirgadirov,
political columnist of the Russian-language daily Zerkalo (The
Mirror), believes that Ankara insisting on the link between
rapprochement with Armenia and concessions on the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict "restored the trust between Azerbaijan and Turkey and made
agreement on the gas issues easier."

Thus, what’s in the gas deal for Turkey. According to Eurasianet the
transit tariff will be about $2.00-$2.50 per 1,000 kilometers.
Eurasianet obtained these numbers from Azerbaijan’s oil giant SOCAR
executive. Turkey will pay $250 per 1,000 cubic meters to Azerbaijan.
Baku had earlier sought 300 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of natural

Turkey paid the price burying the protocols with Armenia and made it
easier to get a favorable natural gas deal from Azerbaijan. What will
Azerbaijan offer in return after the deal is signed? Will Azerbaijan
offer a political dividend to Turkey by taking a more realistic and
constructive position on Nagorno Karabakh, remains to be seen in the
upcoming months.

Written by Armen Hareyan