Nagorno-Karabakh Becomes The Scene Of A Clash Between Turkey And The West

Greek City Times
Dec 13 2020
by Guest Blogger

The OSCE Mink Group Co-Chairs are visiting Yerevan and Baku this weekend to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement with the political leadership of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

It was announced by Assistant Secretary of State Philip Riker pointing out the lack of alternative to the existing diplomatic format to resolve disputes around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The speech by the American diplomat clearly shows notes of dissatisfaction with Turkey’s extreme activity towards Nagorno-Karabakh.

After the tripartite agreement was accepted, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev have been working towards the legalization of Ankara’s status as a full participant in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Baku for last Friday’s victory parade.

As soon as Turkey gets this status, Ankara will probably send a peacekeeping contingent to Nagorno-Karabakh along with the Russian troops already transferred to the conflict zone.

At first Erdoğan had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with Vladimir Putin to create an independent Turkish center to monitor the ceasefire with the aim of strengthening Ankara’s role in the South Caucasus.

Then Turkish officials announced a rapid transfer of engineering units to Nagorno-Karabakh to clear the area.

Meanwhile, among Russian and Armenian military experts, arose reasonable fears that Ankara would send Special Forces under the guise of sappers for diversionary operations.

Erdoğan turned to the “creeping denunciation” of a tripartite agreement adopted with the decisive role of Russian diplomacy and was furious at the Kremlin’s inconsistency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) in Sochi, Russia on 22 October 2019. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

In particular, Aliyev began to stubbornly insist on the adoption of a new document fixing the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as a territory of Azerbaijan that is absolutely contrary to the previously accepted formula.

Now Baku demands the agreement to include Russian peacekeepers in “Azerbaijani soil.”

The Azerbaijani leader unlikely dared to do it without considering Erdoğan’s position, who had been the political overlord of Baku for a long time.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Ankara stopped trying to hide their diplomatic conflicts. This fact gives an opportunity for the West to seize the initiative in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Certainly the West is unlikely to be able to be the only regulative factor in Nagorno-Karabakh amid the enormous economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it can moderate Erdogan’s appetites if unites with Moscow.

The Kremlin, paradoxically, can make a deal with its partners in the OSCE Minsk Group in order to hold back an overenthusiastic Turkish president.

The first joint step of the anti-Turkish tandem of Moscow and the West is likely to be the granting of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh with the OSCE mandate.

This will instantly destroy Erdoğan’s hopes of sending his “blue helmets” to the region, bypassing international institutions.

Against this backdrop, Vladimir Putin’s _expression_ of respect for the efforts of France and the United States to promote mediation in Nagorno-Karabakh looks like a prologue of the future alliance during an interview with Kremlin journalists.

American expert Bradley Reynolds points to Moscow’s interest in forming an “ad hoc” coalition with Paris and Washington.

“Russia has been investing in the geopolitical game in Transcaucasia, in which the stakes are rising, therefore Moscow may have a need to contribute to its efforts for a long-term political settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh,” the political scientist stated.

The White House also does not deny its readiness for “building bridges” with the Kremlin to keep the Turkish president out of the game.

“We are concerned about the role of Turkey, the participation of foreign militants, the supply of weapons to Azerbaijan by Ankara. These issues are on the agenda of our dialogue with Russia,” acting assistant of US Secretary of State for Eurasia Philip Ricker emphasized.

Under these circumstances, Nagorno-Karabakh, which recently was the battleground between Armenia and Azerbaijan, has been rapidly becoming an arena, where Turkey and the West clash each other.

At the same time, Erdoğan, in pursuit of growing geopolitical ambitions, could be alone in face of a Western-Russian coalition, which may temporarily forget about previous disagreements in order to squeeze the Turkish leader from his advance in world politics.

The views of the author does not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.

Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijiani journalist born in Georgia with a focus on South Caucasus issues.

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