Turkey’s Enemy

by Yuri Simonjan

WPS Agency
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
November 2, 2010 Tuesday

Turkey is strengthening its positions in the South Caucasus.

The National Security Council of Turkey amended the National Security
Concept for the following five-year period. Armenia and Georgia were
removed from the list of foreign states that pose a threat to Turkey,
and so were Iran, Syria, and Bulgaria. Israel on the other hand,
was put on the list. Commentators expected withdrawal of Russia
from the list of potential threats to Turkey, but their expectations
were frustrated.

Professor Aleksei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center called
changes on the list of potential threats to Turkey quite predictable
and adequate to the geopolitical situation.

“All cordiality of the Russian-Turkish relations notwithstanding,
Turkey is going to remain Russia’s rival. Growth of Ankara’s influence
with the South Caucasus – and this influence has been growing, you
know – is going to foment discord. I’m not talking Nagorno-Karabakh
alone, or gas. It will be discord in general over everything. Turkey
is Russia’s match, and Russia had better learn to live with it,”
said Malashenko.

That Georgia is no longer perceived as an enemy of Turkey is logical
indeed. Georgian State Minister for Reintegration and Deputy Premier
Temur Yakobashvili welcomed the news from Ankara and called it an
expected development.

The situation with Armenia is more complicated. There are no diplomatic
relations between Yerevan and Ankara. Moreover, Armenian military
doctrine plainly calls Turkey a potential threat (this nuance earned
Yerevan admonition from NATO specialists in 2008 when this document
was examined by international experts). Will changes in the Turkish
National Strategy effectuate an appropriate amendment of Armenian
guideline documents? It is iffy.

A source within the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that there was no
use expecting any changes from Yerevan as long as Turkey continued its
anti-Armenian policy in international affairs and refused to ratify
the Swiss protocols on normalization of bilateral relations. “All
these changes we are talking about are Ankara’s domestic affair. We
are looking at the actual state of affairs which regrettably differs
from the cordiality Turkey is proclaiming,” said the diplomat.

Amendment of the Turkish “red list” is an element of this country’s
policy in the region. Turkey aspires to the status of regional leader
in the South Caucasus. Hence its slogan “Zero problems with neighbors”
and its ambitions.

Ruben Safrastjan, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies
of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, called the latest developments
“logical”. “If foreign political doctrine of Armenia is any indication,
this country poses no threats to anybody. It does not intend to attack
anyone… or even to threaten anyone. Turkey knows it. Back in the
1990s Turkish generals themselves emphasized that Russia was the
only country with the potential to jeopardize interests of Ankara in
this region. It follows that removal of Armenia from the red list or
whatever it is was but a smart PR stunt. Whether Armenia is on the
red list or not, nothing is going to change in the relations between
Yerevan and Ankara. Turkey keeps applying pressure to Armenia in the
matter of Karabakh and refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide
in the Ottoman Empire.”

Another source in Yerevan (a former senior officer of the Armenian
Defense Ministry) commented that had everything been fine and dandy
in the relations with Turkey, Armenia would not have extended the
military base treaty with Russia.

Said Academy of Geopolitical Problems President Colonel General Leonid
Ivashov, “Consider what Ankara is doing. It removes Armenia from the
list of potential enemies but leaves Russia there. It smacks of an
attempt to drive a wedge between strategic partners and strengthen
Turkey’s own positions in the South Caucasus…. Russia’s hesitancy
on its own southern borders offers its neighbors these opportunities.

Seeing Russia’s hesitancy, its allies grow uncertain.”

Said Ivashov, “And do not forget that Turkey is a NATO country. I
suspect that the United States applied pressure to Ankara to have it
leave Russia on the list of potential enemies. I reckon that some kind
of deal was made. Turkey was permitted to put Israel on the list of
potential enemies (and Turkish society does regard Israel as an enemy)
but only on the condition that Russia remained on the list too.”

Ivashov added that Russia and Turkey remained rivals in the South
Caucasus, and that the Russian-Israeli military cooperation agreement
signed on September 6 must have also played its part in Ankara’s

Ivashov suggested that Russia might be removed from the list of
Turkey’s potential enemies in the next revision of the Strategic
Security Concept five years from now. “Turkey is in a transition
period at this point. It is kept in NATO but barred from the European
Union. Turkey indicated a turn to the Islamic world of which it is
not a member. It needs partners,” said Ivashov.

[translated from Russian]

From: A. Papazian

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