Op-ed – Russia-Turkey: geopolitical war, or competitive partnership?
Russia and Turkey were the most active external players during the second Karabakh war.
Numerous negotiations between the presidents and foreign ministers of these countries, the participation of military personnel of both states in the monitoring center only confirm this opinion.
This state of affairs has political observers trying to unravel the future fate of relations between Russia and Turkey, on which the shaky peace in the conflict zone depends to a large extent.
- 15 tasks of the PM: how Pashinyan sees Armenia’s way out of the crisis
- Putin: ‘If Armenia refuses to comply with the Karabakh agreement, that would be suicide’
“The interests of both countries collide in many regions of the world, including the South Caucasus. But there is an essential detail that cannot be disregarded, because denial of this can lead to false results – Erdogan’s and Putin’s views on global processes coincide.
The presidents of Turkey and Russia are united by a revisionist attitude in the world order: both leaders, who come from the imperial past of their states, are trying to become the masters of the position in geography that once belonged to the Russian and Ottoman empires. They are trying to form a multipolar global system and get their place in this system.
From this point of view, no matter how much irritation Erdogan may cause in Russian society, he is a valuable partner for Putin. For example, if Erdogan pursued his current policy with the support of the United States and NATO, Putin’s reaction would be completely different (remember what happened after the attack on the Russian fighter jet). But Putin is well aware that Erdogan is acting alone and independently of whoever, and he respects him for that. He even has patience with Erdogan’s steps against the interests of Russia.
The other day Lavrov literally said this: if some country [the United States] is trying to secure its interests here, being thousands of kilometers away, why shouldn’t Turkey, which is a regional power, do so as well?
The Turkish leadership at all times, along with pro-Western views, also had a Eurasian point of view. These views have intensified especially after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Turkey uses this point of view as a tool to put pressure on the West: ‘if you don’t follow my interests, I have an alternative.’
Erdogan is currently trying not to distance himself from NATO. So far, his country is not strong enough to survive a geopolitical earthquake of this magnitude. In this he is also hindered by the democratic electoral system in his country, otherwise Erdogan would have acted more decisively.
Based on the foregoing, one should not hope that the Turkish army will oust the Russian army from the Caucasus, and that something will radically change in this region. Yes, there is competition between the two powers, their interests in this region collide, but both leaders are too pragmatic politicians and perfectly understand when to stop and give way to the other.
The fact remains: at a time when Turkey is the strongest in Azerbaijan, when it has powerful leverage over decisions made in Baku, Russia has returned to Azerbaijan. At first, we took advantage of this competitive partnership between the two countries and were able to have most of our occupied territories returned, but in the end we signed a document that froze the problem for an indefinite period and ensured in many ways Russia’s interests in the region.
It is clear that as long as this precarious balance of interests of Russia and Turkey is observed on the territory of Azerbaijan, and as long as there are no serious disagreements between them, Moscow will not repeat the scenarios of Abkhazia and South Ossetia here.
But if we try to expel Russia against its will, the danger is real, and Moscow is even preparing an appropriate basis for such a scenario. And in this case, Turkey will not be able to resist the actions of Russia. The new status quo, established on November 10, will remain unchanged as long as Putin, Aliyev and Erdogan are in office.
As Putin himself put it, the final resolution of the issue is left to the future and other leaders will be engaged in this.” Azerbaijani political scientist Shahin Jafarli released the op-ed below on his Facebook: