ARMENIA-TURKEY FOOTBALL MATCH AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF VIOLATED STRATEGIC BALANCE IN CAUCASUS - ANALYSIS

Azeri Press Agency
Sept 1 2008
Azerbaijan

For the first time in the history of Armenia a Turkish President will
visit the country

Though Abdullah Gul's visit to Armenia aims at watching football
match, this visit has more political weight. For the first time in the
history of Armenia a Turkish President will visit the country. What
makes this visit inevitable? Official reason is to watch a football
match, unofficial reason - Turkey's intention to show its interest
in the regulation of the relations with Armenia.

Outcomes of Russia-Georgia military confrontation violated strategic
balance in the Caucasus. The strategic balance formed in the Caucasus
with the participation of all the players of the world and region
policy after the collapse of the USSR changed in favor of Russia. This
is a great danger for Turkey - one of the main players of the ongoing
processes in the region.

The reality is that the West and its main player in the region Ankara
may lose levers of influence in the South Caucasus. If Russia forms
levers of full influence over Georgia, it will mean Turkey's extrusion
from the South Caucasus. Therefore Ankara is going to review all
the alternatives to protect its strategic interests in the region,
as well as the alternative of regulating the relations with Armenia.

Besides, the European Union is laying down the extension of Ankara -
Yerevan relations as an indirect condition. The European Union, which
once used Cyprus card against Turkey, now exerts pressure on Ankara
in terms of Armenia. Unfortunately, it seems that Ankara will step
back with respect to Armenia like in Cyprus issue.

Opening borders with Armenia is one of the chewed topics of the
Turkey's agenda and even serious political and economic circles are
speaking about its possibility. If Ankara restores at least border
trade it will stop mouth of the United States and European Union,
which insist in establishing civil relations with Yerevan, and internal
pressure groups as well.

Recently pro-government research centers in Turkey use the thesis that
if Turkey opens borders with Armenia it will strength it weakened
power in the South Caucasus. Supporters of this thesis think that
by blockading Armenia Turkey increases its dependence on Russia. "In
contrary, widening of political and economic relations with Armenia
can weaken its dependence on Russia and increase Turkey's influence
in the South Caucasian countries", they said. It seems Turkey's
initiative of the Caucasian Stability Pact also bases on this thesis.

Ankara is not cautious in the issues related to relations with Armenia
unlike previous period.

a) Intensifying negotiations between the Turkish and Armenian foreign
ministries, b) Ankara's non-rejecting of this fact, but justifying it,
c) Prime Minister Erdogan's statement "establishing direct relations
with Armenia is possible and our initiative aims close cooperation
of five countries" d) and at last Abdullah Gul's consent to visit
Yerevan to watch Armenia-Turkey match have a such meaning.

"Russia's success in the influential war in the South Caucasus and
European energy market caused serious changes in the Turkey's foreign
policy. Ankara made relations with Armenia one of its priorities".

Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan is realized
under the dictation of complicated political situation. Will Ankara
reach its goal with such gestures? It depends on the development of
regional processes rather than Turkey and Armenia. It is doubtless
that Turkish-Armenian approach will cause negative reaction in
Azerbaijan. Ankara's gestures to Armenia means de-facto refusal of
three terms put forward for establishing relations with Armenia. One of
these terms relates with Azerbaijan - Armenian withdrawal from occupied
Nagorno Karabakh and nearby regions. Is it really that Turkey refuses
these terms? Turkish officials have to make clear this question.