INDIRECT DIPLOMACY: TURKEY’S PLAN OF THIRD BORDER CROSSING POINT WITH ARMENIA – ANALYSIS
Nov 24 2014
[ 24 November 2014 18:44 ]
Baku – APA. Turkish-Armenian relations are entering into a new stage.
The main factor in this stage is the psychological pressures on Ankara
regarding the 100th anniversary of so-called Armenian genocide.
Turkey, which was unable to predict the increase of pressures on the
eve of 2015 and has no A, B, C plans against it, is gradually losing
its positions on the relations with Armenia.
The cards that Ankara has on this issue are the dividends caused
by closed borders, lack of diplomatic relations, the psychological
advantage gained by failure of implementation of the Zurich Protocols
due to refusal by Armenia, and Yerevan’s unwillingness to establish
a joint commission on history.
There are other objective resources that Turkey can take advantage
of them against the so-called Armenian genocide. One of them is
the discovery of mass graves, which are the results of the genocide
committed in Anatolia by Armenians against the Turks, and the other
is the use of crimes committed by ASALA terrorist organization and
the Khojaly genocide for world-wide anti-Armenian propaganda.
Unfortunately, these resources have not been used over the past years,
on the other hand, we regret to observe how Turkey, which takes a
defeatist positions, is still obeying the pressures regarding the
opening of border with Armenia.
On the other hand, the realities that the Armenian lobby takes an
active part in Ankara, Armenia has gained the chance to influence
policy of Turkey (appointment of Etienne Mahcupyan as Senior Advisor to
Turkish Prime Minister), a series of events have been held in Ankara
in order to lobby the interests of Armenia, the process of public
opinion formation on the necessity of opening borders has intensified
and diplomats (Unal Chevikoz) who are the major participants of the
secret talks between Turkey and Armenia have been involved in this
process are inevitable. Unfortunately, Turkish policy on Armenia is
determined not by the objective factors based on far-sighted policy
but these realities.
Analysis of the situation shows that Ankara is based on three key
factors for opening border with Armenia.
a) Western pressures
b) Need of reckoning with the interests of Azerbaijan
c) Increasing trade volume with Armenia
In fact, the latter can’t be regarded as an objective factor, as
Armenia’s share in Turkey’s foreign trade turnover is very low. Turkey
is using an informal trade with Armenia as a “trump card” against the
Western pressures, and Ankara is interested in regarding this factor
as an objective factor in order to reduce the pressures. Though,
Turkey keeps de jure borders with Armenia closed, it has established
trade relations with this country through third countries, and the
volume of trade turnover between the two countries has substantially
increased since the signing of the Zurich protocols.
Ankara is taking a “unique” step to neutralize the growing pressures
on the eve of the 100th anniversary of so-called Armenian genocide.
What is this step and what is its uniqueness? We are talking about
the opening of new CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r Aktas border crossing point in Erdahan
on the border with Georgia. This border point means de facto open
borders with Armenia. Because …
Cargo transportation from Turkey to Armenia is carried out through
Sarpi checkpoint on Georgian border. Trucks traveling 264 km enter
Ninotsminda-Bavra border crossing point located on Georgian-Armenian
border and cross the territory of Armenia after implementing customs
procedures. It is the main route which realizes trade turnover between
Turkey and Armenia in the amount of about $ 10 mln. The opening of
CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r Aktas border crossing point on the border between Turkey
and Georgia will facilitate cargo transportation to Armenia. Cargo
trucks moving to Armenia will enter Georgia not through Sarpi,
but through CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r and after traveling 30 km they will arrive
in Ninotsminda-Bavra border crossing point on Georgian-Armenian
border. Thus, cargo transportation route from Turkey to Armenia would
be reduced 8 times (!). Transportation cost reduction means reduction
in the cost of goods exported to Armenia, providing cheaper Turkish
goods for the Armenians with low purchasing power. It is a way-out for
Armenia that is suffering from severe economic crisis and drowning in
a price increase. Unfortunately, it is Azerbaijan’s strategic ally –
Turkey that offers a way-out for suffocating Armenia.
The construction of CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r Aktas border checkpoint allows
neutralizing the three objective factors faced by Ankara in the
opening of the border with Armenia.
First, though Ankara failed to open Dogu KapÃ„Â± border crossing point
because of internal and external factors, opening another border
checkpoint that has the same significance shows interest in opening
the border with Armenia.
Second, Azerbaijan can not directly express its concern as CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r
Aktas border crossing point is located on the border with Georgia
not with Armenia. Turkey can justify the opening of CÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±r AktaÃ…~_
border point as a step taken toward reducing the volume of freight
transport from Sarpi checkpoint. According to Ankara there are no
changes: borders are not open, diplomatic relations were not built,
Azerbaijan’s interests are being considered, the opening of a new
border point has nothing to do with Armenia, on the contrary, it
contributes to increasing the volume of goods transportation from
Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan and vise versa.
Third, providing indirect support to businessmen, having trade
relations with Armenia, Turkey encourages them to expand trade ties
with Yerevan and ensures the increase in the volume of trade turnover
(Turkey sees this factor as a response to the Western pressures on
the eve of century).
As can be seen, despite its official statements, Ankara failed to get
rid of “100-year” phobia. Armenian lobbyists in Turkey are intending
to complete the issue with the victory of Armenia.
If the main line of the public opinion Turkish media is trying to form
is the idea “Ankara has no alternative left”, all Ankara officials
know that the only and long-term alternative is in fact to take
Azerbaijan’s interests into account. In order to use this alternative,
just one thing is required – to demonstrate political will and prevent
(restrict) Armenia from lobbying its interests in Turkey.
Because no matter how bitter the truth is, now there is an Armenian
lobby in Turkey which supports Armenia’s interests in politics,
trade, and media. Etienne Mahchupyan being the chief advisor to
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his arrangement of the
“sealed door” conference which emphasized the importance of opening
the border with Armenia are just one example.
There is no question whether Turkey has abandoned Azerbaijan in
its foreign policy or not. Both countries develop their bilateral
relations in all spheres based on mutual interests without exception.
Some authorities in Turkey just indirectly put Azerbaijan’s interests
in jeopardy at some points (which are vitally important for Azerbaijan)
where interests encounter. Especially in the issues like Armenia’s
policy and the opening of the border, Azerbaijan’s position should
definitely be taken into account.
The reality of Azerbaijan realizing the projects which increased
Turkey’s special weight in the region and earned it statuses like
“the energy state” and “the most important country in freight
transportation and energy transport between the East and the West”
can never be ignored. Turkey benefits from the dividends it acquired
on account of the projects implemented by Azerbaijan not only in the
region, but also in the relations with the Middle East, the European
Union, and the United States. As a matter of fact, Azerbaijan is
of far greater importance to Turkey than Armenia. Ankara must not
overlook this objective factor. Most importantly, the reality that
building indirect relations with Armenia will cause imbalance rather
than balance on the scale must definitely be considered in Turkey’s
And it should certainly be taken into consideration that the main
reason behind the closure of the Turkey-Armenia border is the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and also the so-called Armenian genocide
claims, as stated by Etienne Mahchupyan and other Armenian lobbyists
in Turkey. Turkey must accept this reality and not use the thesis
“Azerbaijan is the main reason for us facing pressure with regards
to Armenia” against Baku in accordance with the spirit of strategic
APA Analytic Center