AZG Armenian Daily #121, 01/07/2005


Turkey-region

ERDOGAN'S VISIT REVEALS UNPROMISING EDGES OF TURKISH-AZERI COOPERATION

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan finished his two-day
visit to Azerbaijani capital of Baku yesterday. During this short stay
Erdogan laid a wreath on the tomb of Heydar Aliyev, strolled at the
Alley of Shehids, took part in the opening of new embassy of Turkey
and met with president Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan's top echelons.

The fact that Turkish mass media was avaricious in covering Erdogan's
visit does not downplay its importance for Turkish-Azeri relations. But
one should not forget about omnipresent American factor in these
relations. The American influence made itself tangible when secured
its presence in the South Caucasus by means of Georgia, showing thus
that it will get along without Turkey in the region.

Losing its role in the South Caucasian policy of the US, Turkey
found its position swayed in the region. This fact reduced to minimum
Turkey's capacity to intervene in Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

In this situation of American military presence in the South Caucasus,
Turkey's joined policy with Azerbaijan does not promise any serious
prospects but simply puts Turkey before a dilemma and creates
conditions for the latter to run into Armenian initiatives. This is
the reason why Turkish mass media, terse in covering Erdogan's visit,
informs in details that prime minister's delegation includes only
one deputy from oppositional People's Republican Party. The latter
was chosen to accompany Erdogan for being the head of Turkish-Azeri
Intergovernmental Friendship Group and for having Azeri roots.

Turkish mass media indicates meanwhile that Turkish prime minister
always has in his delegation not less than 3 deputies from ruling
Justice and Prosperity Party not only for foreign visits but also for
domestic trips. While Turkish press emphasizes the economic character
of PM Erdogan's visit, Azerbaijan constantly paints the visit into
political colors and tries to use it for pressing on Turkey in terms
of Armenian-Turkish border opening and Karabakh issue.

President Aliyev told CNN-Turk about Azerbaijan's readiness to "grant
Karabakh's Armenian community privileges and to guarantee its secure",
adding "The Armenian side understands that it has no alternative
but talks". Aliyev's chief foreign policy adviser Novruz Mamedov
warned Turkey that opening of Armenia-Turkish border will increase
tension in South Caucasus and added, "Armenia is striving for close
relations on one hand, and concentrates arms at the Turkish border
on the other. What's the meaning of this concentration?"

He reminded of Azerbaijan's great support in carrying on negation of
the Armenian Genocide. These words of Mamedov seem to have aroused
opposition in Turkey as Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan, Turan
Moralen, called a press conference and stated, "Baku has to take
encouraging steps in order to get Turkey activated in the region".

By Hakob Chakrian