By Soli Ozel

Turkish Press
Aug 29 2008

SABAH- It seems that by recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia,
Russia has completed a move it`s long been planning. What happens
next depends on the stance taken by the US, which was unprepared for
this development. The Bush administration`s nonexistent credibility
in its final months and the involvement of US forces in Afghanistan
and Iraq made it impossible for Washington to give Russia a tough,
immediate response. Actually, Russia couldn`t have made a military
response, either. Disagreement over how NATO should respond painted
a dark picture of the future of the Western alliance.

Serious debate over Russia`s move has started in the US . Some claim
that Russia remains an imperialist power and that it acted out of an
understanding of power tending towards authoritarianism fed by war,
and so it can`t help but act violently. They argue that Russia `s
policies are anti-Western due to its structure and strategic aims
and that the US response should be tough and should aim to isolate
Russia . Others, however, claim that US policy towards Russia over
the last 20 years, the failure to keep promises to Moscow about its
vital interests, and such policies as NATO enlargement, recognizing
Kosovo`s independence and agreements to bring US missile defense to
the Czech Republic and Poland caused Russia to respond this way.

These people stress that Russia actually wants to act in cooperation
with the West, but that it also wants to be treated respectfully and
protect its interests. For example, former CIA official Flynt Leverett
and his wife Hillary Mann Leverett argued, ` Russia wants to expand its
energy and financial ties to the West, but it will use the tools it has
to defend its interests... [U]nder the rubric of strategic partnership,
Moscow would provide greater support to US objectives on a range of
international issues, including the Iranian nuclear problem.`

The future scope of this crisis for Turkey depends on what stance the
US takes. But it will be hard for Turkey to strike a balance between
the West and Russia, something it had done easily up to now. As Ian
Lesser of the German Marshall Fund said, "In the near-term, Turkey
will face difficult policy choices in reconciling the country`s
Russian and Western interests."

In fact, Turkey has been experiencing these difficulties since
the beginning of the Georgian crisis in terms of the Montreux
Convention, passage through the Turkish Straits, and the way the
Black Sea has turned into an area of strategic conflict. In such
a problematic situation, Turkey should first explain its situation
to its allies. Senior commentator Mehmet Ali Birand, who knows the
Caucasus very well, summed up the situation by saying that Turkey and
the US share common goals and strategic interests and that now the
only thing that matters is to show these interests in the US display
case and put them on the US agenda. Birand added that if the US makes
missteps, as its ally we should warn it and also try to sway it through
close consultation, as over the Montreux issue. Turkey has to take
dramatic steps in order to initiate such public diplomacy. Under
these circumstances, this means steps to normalize our relations
with Armenia.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress