ON TURKEY'S NEW UNDERTAKING IN SOUTH CAUCASUS
Ruben Safrastyan

"Noravank" Foundation
29 September 2008

The five day long war in August between Russia and Georgia have
resulted important changes in South Caucasus. It is still early
to speak about the final results; however, it is already known the
main tendency - strengthening of Russia's geopolitical position in
the region.

Displaying its political will and decisiveness and winning the war
Russia has reestablished its role in South Caucasus as the main power
center which it had lost at the end of the last century. It has not
only succeeded in furthering the establishment of the two new states -
South Ossetia and Abkhazia - in the region, but also in "legitimating"
deployment of its troops in their territories. Georgia, which in the
period of M. Sahakashvili's presidency has became the main ally of
the west, namely the US, not only suffered irreversible loses in the
region, but also lost fighting capability of its armed forces and
efficiency of the military infrastructures.

Among the closest neighbor states of South Caucasus Turkey was the
first to respond the geopolitical changes in the region. That respond
appeared in the form of establishing South Caucasus Stability and
Cooperation Platform (SCP). The author of the undertaking is Professor,
Racep Tayyip Erdoghan's closest advisor, chief architect of the=2
0Justice and Development party's governing circle's foreign policy
course who is also considered to be one of the leading geopoliticians
and strategists of Turkey. In particular, he is the author of
a distinctive geopolitical conception called "Turkey's strategic
depth" which aims at theoretically grounding the necessity to develop
geostrategy directed at creating spheres of influence around Turkey so
reestablishing its privileges over its neighbors due to its favorable
geography and magnificent imperial history.

In the beginning stage Turkey's suggestion was envisaging to include
the US into the structure, besides the three South Caucasian countries,
Turkey and Rusia, however, later on, as a result of discussions among
the leaders of Russia and Turkey in Moscow, was elected 3+2 format -
Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Russia and Turkey.

In this case the situation was quite different: Turkey was responded
positively by all the possible participants of the Platform, besides
Georgia. The later one refused to take part in any undertaking
together with Russia, as Russian troops were on its territory, which
is politically quite perceptible. It is noteworthy that Azerbaijan has
not officially appeared with any suchlike objections in connection with
Armenia. It is clear that it is the result of Turkey's tough pressure.

However, from the geopolitical standpoint it is much more important
that Turkey=E 2s undertaking is supported by Russia. As a matter of
fact, this circumstance is conditioned by Turkey's readiness to exclude
the US from the Platform participants. We think that Russia positive
approach to SCP is only of tactical character as it is difficult to
imagine that country's geostrategic prospective involving another
active player in South Caucasus beside itself. This circumstance
makes a ground to characterize SCP's plan as hardly realizable.

We suppose that if Turkey and Russia being well aware of that
circumstance, nevertheless actively further preliminary works of
founding SCP, they have an objective to use that process in favor of
their tactic interests. Turkey tries to assure its neighbors and the
world that the foreign policy it carries out is based on active and
multi-polar world order perceptions, just like it befits the successor
state of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time SCP processes provide
a chance for Turkey to have "privilege" in the centuries-old struggle
with its regional and historical rival Iran - wakening its positions
in Caucasus. Russia spares no efforts to hinder the US entrance into
South Caucasus.

As for us, our involvement into SCP processes will raise Armenia's
geopolitical "value" in the region. Accordingly, Turkey will get
more interested in settling its relations with Armenia which will
further mollifying "enforcement" po licy implemented by Turkey. As
it is known, the expression of that "enforcement" policy is the three
preconditions put forward by Turkey and for it settlement of diplomatic
relations and opening of borders are conditioned by realization of
these preconditions. By the way, the visit of Turkey's president
to Armenian provided a favorable chance to develop dialogues over
normalizing the relations.