Prof. Hüseyin Bağcı
President of the Foreign Policy Institute

South Caucasus is known by its mountainous and challenging territorial features.
Accordingly, the people living in this region are known to be tough and often
uncompromising. In fact, the region has such a complicated history with invasions,
occupations, forced relocation of large populations, like Meskhetian Turks from Georgia to
multiple locations in the Soviet Union, today the region suffers from an interwoven set and
layers of difficult issues inherited from its painful past.
When tackling with regional issues in South Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia are
to be considered as the countries situated at the heart of the region, but without including
Turkey, Russian Federation (RF) and Iran, any analysis of the region and its multiple
problems would remain incomplete. The RF, as the successor of the Soviet Union, has, in its
view, vested strategic interests in the region and therefore, is keen to maintain its military
presence and political influence in the region. Still, following the dissolution of the Soviet
Union, Turkey, relying mainly on the support of the USA, has been able to develop strong
relations with the countries, except Armenia, in this region. Construction and
operationalization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline has been the jewel in the crown of
such strategic achievements. Other important projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural
gas pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad have strengthened the sense of friendship and co-
operation between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
On the other hand, Armenia has been and is still suffering from a self-imposed isolation in
the region and fails to benefit from any of major project implemented in South Caucasus.
Why so? Two main reasons: one has to do with its unwise approach towards and bad
relations with Turkey. This economically underdeveloped and scarcely populated country of
South Caucasus has indeed bitten some pieces larger that it could swallow. Armenia
blatantly violated in the beginning of 1990s the internationally recognized borders of
Azerbaijan and occupied a region inside Azerbaijan known as Nagorno-Karabakh and relying
on the Russian military support, has been keeping it under occupation since then. Similarly,
towards Turkey, its militarily strongest neighbour, which handles its relations with Azerbaijan
based on the principle of “One nation, two states”, Armenia has been following a hostile
policy, supporting the efforts of Armenian diaspora around the world to ensure the
international recognition of the so-called “Armenian genocide”. The relocation of Armenian
population in the then Ottoman territories under the then circumstances is presented as
“genocide” by some Armenian circles, which distort the history. On this front, however,
Armenia has hit the wall and can no longer achieve much other than irritating a most
important neighbour. Armenia has also serious problems with Georgia due to its close
relationship with Russia, which has territorial issues with Georgia and in August 2008 had a
brief war with this country.

Moreover, Armenia has been suffering from an identity crisis in the international scene as it
has been moving between the RF and the West as its strategic partner. Due to this
unresolved dilemma, it has found itself often engulfed in political instability and never-
ending political ‘revolutions’. Its problematic relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan have
caused Armenia to become heavily dependent on RF and Iran. Iran, due to its large
population of Azerbaijani descent, mostly inhabiting the northern regions of this country
that border with Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, has made a strategic choice and thus, has
been providing Armenia with a lifeline.
In this overall picture, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey and the RF have been
able to develop their relations and partnership in many areas. Despite differentiation of their
certain political and strategic priorities, a fact that has become clearer in recent years
particularly in Syria and Libya, these two major players and historical rivals in the region have
been careful not to cross certain red lines and appear keen to maintain their mutually
beneficial relations. In fact, this partnership has played a key role in the relatively smooth
conduct and conclusion of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Apparently, the complex situation and confusing web of relations in South Caucasus cannot
be covered in a single article. However, it is useful to take stock of what happened recently
and also to give some thoughts to where the region might be heading towards from this
point onward.
It is doubtless that today’s political and strategic conjuncture offers a unique and historical
opportunity to all actors in the region to achieve something that has not been attained since
the collapse of the Soviet Union: durable peace, stability, and all-inclusive co-operation in
the region. In this respect, in November 2020 Turkey and Azerbaijan came up with an
important proposal to all concerned and suggested that a South Caucasus co-operation
platform be established by incorporation of all existing regional co-operation schemes, and
regional development projects are devised and implemented jointly in a spirit of co-
operation and mutual benefit. The 10 November (2020) Agreement brokered by the RF and
signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia after the 44-day War to end the conflict includes
one provision, which is strategically vital both for Turkey and Azerbaijan. It is the one about
the establishment of direct transportation connection between Azerbaijan’s Autonomous
Region of Nakhcihevan and the rest of Azerbaijan. Such a connection bears significance in
many ways, as it would also connect Turkey and Azerbaijan directly without having to go
through either Georgia or Iran.
As far as Iran is concerned, this key regional actor appears to have exaggerated worries
about the results of increased direct contacts between Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani
population in Iran, after the liberation of occupied Azeri territories. However, it can be
regarded only as normal when Azerbaijani Turks in Iran feel happy about the liberation of
occupied Azeri territories from Armenia and cheer for the decisive victory of Azerbaijan’s
army. It was not perhaps the wisest approach for the Iranian leadership to relocate, in a
rushed manner, to the Azerbaijani border a lot of military troops and equipment as it caused
concern on the Azerbaijan side. In today’s world, the internationally recognized borders of
each country are inviolable and cannot be changed easily. Within this given parameter, the

countries in the region should focus on the possibilities of co-operation, and carefully avoid
potential new conflicts and confrontations. During the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, the
Azerbaijani leadership has acted wisely by declaring and emphasizing several times the
importance they attach to their close relationship with Iran. In fact, throughout the war, the
Azerbaijani side has demonstrated all features of a well-established and mature state
structure, with all officials and institutions acting and functioning in the best way possible.
Azerbaijan’s victory means a lot for the Azerbaijani people as it clearly ended the Armenian
occupation of many regions. This will definitely boost the self-confidence of Azerbaijan and
we may see in the period ahead a more dynamic Azerbaijan spearheading the regional co-
operation initiatives. The new strategic realities may also assign Azerbaijan the responsibility
to function as a more active bridge between Turkey and the Turkic states in Central Asia. For
its part, Turkey has always supported Azerbaijan in every way possible, including through
military cooperation. This close relationship will undoubtedly continue as Turkey and the RF
will be monitoring jointly the implementation of 10 November Agreement. Due to its Prime
Minister’s reckless and inconsiderate behaviours and actions, Armenia has lost a lot as a
result of the recent developments. In any case, the day of victory for Azerbaijan was
inevitable as occupation of a big and wealthy neighbour by its smaller neighbour was not
sustainable in the long run. In fact, RF President Vladimir Putin has also underlined this
conviction in his statements.
Interpreting the recent developments from an optimistic angle, one can claim that
Azerbaijan by taking its occupied territories back from Armenia, has relieved both the RF and
Armenia from a huge burden. On the international fora it was unjustifiable for Armenia to
defend such an occupation and explain the anomalies it caused such as millions of internally
displaced Azerbaijani people. If the Armenian leadership starts showing some wisdom, which
it has failed to demonstrate so far, it should seek to open new avenues of co-operation with
Turkey and Azerbaijan. The future sustainable prosperity and peace of the Armenian people
heavily relies on such an approach.
Last but not the least, the role to be played by the countries outside South Caucasus, like the
USA and France, and other international actors such as the European Union and the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), must consider the new realities
on the ground. In particular, the OSCE, its Minsk Group, its Co-Chairs and Special
Representative, should quickly adjust their approaches to the new realities. Only this way
they can remain relevant besides Turkey and the RF and can find opportunities to make
meaningful contributions to the peace, stability, and co-operation in South Caucasus.

Visits: 13

Hulusi Akar’ın Almanya Ziyareti Ne Anlam Taşıyor?

Geçen hafta Almanya’yı ziyaret eden Türkiye Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar
Alman meslektaşı Karrenbauer tarafından hem büyük bir nezaket hem de siyasi
olarak “kulağa hoş gelen bir söylemle” karşılandı. Türkiye’nin NATO’nun çok
önemli bir üyesi ve aynı zamanda Almanya için çok önemli siyasi ve ekonomik
bir ortak olduğunu ifade etti.

Son yıllarda Alman ve Türk siyasilerin birbirlerine karşı sert söylemleri ile ‘’Berlin
ve Ankara’daki sağır kulaklar’’ artık tam anlamıyla ortadan kalkmamış olsa da,
Almanya halen Türkiye’nin AB içindeki ‘’avukatı olma’’ rolünü devam ettirmeye
devam edecek gibi görünüyor.

Türkiye’nin son yıllarda icra ettiği başarılı askeri operasyonların Almanya
tarafından çok yakından takip edildiği ve başta Silahlı İnsansız Hava Aracı (SİHA)
konusunda Türkiye’nin geldiği teknolojik seviye en üst noktaya gelirken, Alman
ordusu tarafında, halen, SİHA’ları envanterine katıp katmama konusunda ortak
bir kanı oluşmadığı görülüyor. Türkiye’nin on yıllardır en önemli silah ve
teknoloji tedarikçisi olan Almanya’da, son aylarda Türkiye’ye yönelik var olan
olumsuz yaklaşıma rağmen, Alman Koalisyon Hükümeti pragmatik bir yaklaşım
ile Türkiye’ye hem askeri ambargo konulmasını önlemiş hem de Türkiye ile
birçok bölgesel sorunda benzer yaklaşım içine girmiştir.

Almanya ile Rusya arasındaki ilişkilerin bir kriz doğurması ihtimali artarken,
Türkiye ile Rusya arasında askeri ve siyasi ilişkiler, Yukarı Karabağ savaşında da
görüldüğü gibi, son on yılda iki ülke arasındaki kompartımanlaştırılan konular
içinde işbirliği alanı dahilinde değerlendirilen bir gelişme olarak görülmektedir.
Almanya’daki siyasi ve ekonomi elitlerinin Türkiye yaklaşımı çok gerçekçi bir
noktaya gelmiş bulunmaktadır. Savunma Bakanı Akar’ın Almanya’dan neler
talep ettiğini bilmiyoruz. Fakat Almanya’nın, Türkiye’nin Rusya’ya daha fazla
yakınlaşmasını istemediği bilinmektedir.

Joe Biden yönetiminin Türkiye yaklaşımı da çok önemli olacaktır. Bu nedenle
Washington-Berlin-Ankara ekseni oluşacağı öngörülebilir. İngiltere’nin AB’den
ayrılması, Avrupa Savunmasında önemli bir boşluk oluşturmuştur. Türkiye’nin
oluşan bu ‘’boşluğu doldurma arzusu’’ Ocak ayı başında Cumhurbaşkanı
Erdoğan tarafından AB Büyükelçilerine verdiği yemekte ifade edilmiştir.
Temel soru ise şudur? Bu yıl Eylül ayında yapılacak Almanya genel seçimlerinin
sonucunda kurulacak yeni Hükümet, Merkel politikalarını devam mı ettirecek
yoksa yeni bir yaklaşım mı benimseyecek? Beklenti, Almanya’nın Bismarck veMerkel tipi bir ‘’realpolitik ve pragmatizm’’ yaklaşımlarını birlikte devam
ettirecek olmasıdır.

Sonuç olarak, Türkiye’nin son yıllardaki Suriye, Libya ve Doğu Akdeniz’de
sergilediği askeri başarılar Türkiye’yi bölgesinde çok daha güçlü bir konuma
getirmiştir. Alman mevkidaşı Karrenbauer’in Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar’a
Türkiye’nin her zaman Almanya’ya güvenebileceğini söylemesi Ankara
açısından iyiye işaret olsa da, sorun Almanya’nın bunda ne kadar samimi
olduğudur. Şimdi test edilmesi gereken Almanya’nın samimiyetidir.
Önümüzdeki günlerde yapılacak NATO ve Mart ayındaki AB toplantısı bu
testlerin yapılacağı toplantılar olacak. Bekleyip , göreceğiz.

Visits: 513

Libya’da Seçimlere kadar Yönetecek Geçici Konsey Seçildi

Libya’da taraflar arasında anlaşma sağlandı ve seçimlere kadar yönetecek geçici konsey belirlendi.
Birleşmiş Milletlerin girişimi ile İsviçre’de toplanan Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu (LSDF) üyeleri
yaptıkları seçimle Başkanlık Konseyi Başkanlığına Muhammed Menfi’yi ve Başbakanlığa da
Abdulhamid Dibeybe’yi getirmiştir.
Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu, 11 Haziran 2015 tarihinde 22 katılımcı ile BM öncülüğünde Fas’ta
toplanarak hazırlık döneminde yol haritası belirlemek için oluşturuldu. Bunlar özetle;
– İlk aşamada, Milli Mutabakat Hükümeti ile Tobruk’ta bulunan Temsilciler Meclisi arasında
diyalogu başlatmak ve İki kutuplu çatışmayı önlemek,
– Sonrasında Merkezi hükümetin kurulması ve anayasanın hazırlanması için yol haritası
– Geçiş dönemini takip eden 60 gündeyse Merkez Bankası, Denetleme Kurulu, Yolsuzlıkla
Mücadele Kurumu, Yüksek Seçim Kurulu, Anayasa Mahkemesi gibi bağımsız devlet
kurumlarının tesisi öngörülmektedir.

Visits: 43

İstikşafi Görüşmeler Başlarken Yunanistan’ın Siyasi Görünümü ve Silahlanma Çabaları

2019 ve 2020’de Atina ile Ankara arasında gerilime sebep olan sorunların araştırılarak çözüm
bulunmasına yönelik istikşafi (exploratory) görüşmeler bugün (25 Ocak 2021) İstanbul’da
başlayacaktır. Her iki tarafında bu konuda kendine özgü argümanları olduğu ve bunlardan ödün
vermekten uzak duracakları değerlendirilmektedir. Umarız bu konudaki girişimler NATO üyesi olan
her iki taraf arasındaki siyasi ve askeri gerilimi azaltmada etkin bir rol oynar.
Yunanistan ile Türkiye arasında gerek Ege Denizi ve gerekse Doğu Akdeniz’de neredeyse kemikleşmiş
olan muhtelif sorunlar her an bir çatışma zemini olmaya devam etmektedir. Her iki tarafta meseleyi
barışçı yollarla çözme niyetinde olduklarını ifade etseler de kendi argümanlarından taviz vermek
niyetinde olmadıklarını gösteren bir tutum sergilemekten geri durmamaktadır.
Son olarak, 2021’in ilk günlerinde Yunanistan’ın batıda İyon Denizi’nde kıta sahanlığını 12 mile
çıkartma kararı ve bunu Ege Denizi’nde de yapmaya hakkı olduğunu ileri sürmesi, görüşmeler
öncesiAtina’nın yaklaşımı hakkında bir ip ucu olabilecektir.
Ankara ile olan müzakere ve siyasi ilişkilerinde Atina aşağıda belirtilen üç önemli faktörün kendisine
avantaj sağlayacağını değerlendirebilir;
Birincisi, Yunanistan’ınAvrupa birliği üyesi olmasıdır. Her ne kadar,Ekim 2020’de yapılan toplantıda
Yunanistan ve Fransa’nın Ankara’ya yaptırım kararı alması için yaptıkları baskılara boyun eğmese de
A.B. Mart ayı toplantısında konuyu yeniden ele alacaktır. Hem Fransa’nın hem de Atina’nın
yaptıtımlar konusunda baskısının devam edeceği ve Almanya’nın bu durumda kilit rol oynayacağı
söylenebilir. Bu durumda, Türkiye’nin gerek Cumhurbaşkanı ve gerekse Dışişleri Bakanı tarafından
uzattığı zeytin dalı ne kadar güvenli olarak ele alınacaktır, bekleyip göreceğiz. Bütün her şeye rağmen,
Yunanistan’ın AB üyesi ve arkasında üye ülkelerin az veya çok desteğine sahip olması, Atina için
Ankara’ya karşı avantajlı bir konum yaratmakta olduğu değerlendirilmelidir.
İkinci olarak, Doğu Akdeniz’le ilgili olarak, “düşmanımın düşmanı dostumdur” ilkesinden hareketle
Atina’nın İsrail, Birleşik Arap Emirlikleri (BAE), Mısır, Suudi Arabistan ile gerçekleştirdikleri anlaşmalar
ve ittifak Atina tarafından önemli bir yaklaşım olarak ele alınmaktadır. Özellikle, İsrail’in BAE ve Suudi
Arabistan ve Katar’la olan anlaşmaları Atina’nın bu iş birliğini pekiştiren bir görünüm arz etmektedir.
Yunanistan Türkiye karşıtı ittifak ilişkisiyle Ankara’yı Doğu Akdeniz’de kuşatarak hareket sahasını
kısıtlayabildiğini ve siyasi olarak bloke edebileceğini değerlendirmektedir.
Üçüncü faktör ise, Atina’nın silahlanma çabalarına hız vermesidir. Yunanistan’ın 2009 yılında 7,88
milyar Euro olan savunma harcamaları kısıtlamalardan dolayı 2018 yılında 3,75 milyar Euro’ya
düşmüş ve 2020 yılında ise %45 artışla 5,5 milyar Euro olarak gerçekleşmiştir. 2021 başında
Yunanistan Fransa’dan 18 adet Rafale savaş uçağı alımı için 2,5 milyar Euro ‘lük bir anlaşma yapmıştır.
Bu taarruz uçaklarının 3.700 km. olan menzili F-16 menzilinden dört kat, Mirage uçaklarının
menzilinden iki kat fazla olup, Türkiye’nin her yerine ulaşabilecek yetenektedir. İlk partinin
programdan altı ay önce, Mayıs ayında teslimi için baskı yapması ve pilotları eğitim için Fransa’ya
göndermesi silahlanmaya verdiği önemi göstermesi açısından dikkate değerdir. Ayrıca, dört adet yeni
firkateyn alma ve mevcut dört adedi de modernleştirme girişiminde bulunması Atina’nın havada ve
denizde etkinliğini attırma niyet ve maksadı üzerinde ciddi emareler sunmaktadır. Bunun yanısıra,
Yunan Silahlı Kuvvetleri’nde 15 bin yeni kadronun açılması ve elinde mevcut 85 F-16’nın
modernleştirilmesi önemli bir gelişme olarak görülmelidir.
Atina’nın bir taraftan Ankara ile görüşmeleri A.B. ve ABD’ne karşı bir iyi niyet göstergesi olarak
sürdürürken, diğer taraftan yukarıda belirttiğimiz avantajlarını öne alarak Türkiye ile uzlaşmaz tutumunu sürdürmeye devam edeceği değerlendirilmektedir. Bu nedenle, Ankara’nın siyasi olarak
elini güçlendirmesi gerekmektedir. Bu ise, A.B. ve özellikle Almanya ile ilişkileri yine rayına oturtmak,
İsrail, Mısır ve Suudi Arabistan ile ilişkileri olumlu yolda geliştirmek ve ABD’nin yeni yönetimi ile
işbirliğini arttırarak bölgede etkinliğini sürdürecek siyasi güce sahip olmasından geçtiği
değerlendirilmektedir. Bu Yunanistan’ın saldırı amaçlı askeri bir provokasyona girişmesini önleme
açısından da önemli bir girişim olacaktır.


Prof.Dr.Serdar Erdurmaz

Visits: 299


Dış Politika Enstitüsü Başkanı Prof. Dr. Hüseyin Bağcı ile Prof. Dr. Tarık Oğuzlu arasında Değişen Dünya Dengeleri ve Türkiye’nin Konumlanışı üzerine olan sohbeti aşağıdaki linkten izleyebilirsiniz.



Visits: 65



Visits: 278

Turkey’s Cross-Border Raids Cannot Defeat PKK But May Turn Up Heat On Uncooperative Iraq

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 19th June, 2020) Turkey launched another cross-border offensive on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq this week despite protests from Baghdad, which fears that Ankara will continue expanding its military footprint in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The stated goal of the air-and-land raids is to roll back the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), blamed by Turkey for repeated attacks on its territory. Although the chances of the operation rooting out the Kurdish insurgency are slim, it once again proves that Iraq is too weak to stand up to its assertive neighbor, experts have told Sputnik.

Huseyin Bagci, the president of the Ankara-based Turkish Foreign Policy Institute, Turkey’s oldest think tank, said that Turkey will continue targeting PKK in Iraq until Baghdad takes the fight against insurgents in its own hands or sides with Turkey in clamping down on them.

“It seems that either Iraqi government will take measures to control PKK, what is nearly impossible, or Turkey will further make operations … It will not bring the end of PKK terrorism but PKK will get always answer from Turkish military,” he said.

Bagci, who is also a professor of international relations at the middle East Technical University, suggested that Iraq and Turkey should find a common strategy to counter PKK. Until then, dealing with Iraqi Kurdish militants will remain ”Turkish business.”

Turkey has a long history of military presence in northern Iraq. It established the first bases there in the mid-1990s and plans to build new facilities to add to the existing 11 bases in the area.

This is bound to raise concerns in Baghdad and Erbil, the main city of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government has already condemned Turkish incursions as interference in the country’s sovereignty.

Gareth Jenkins, a non-resident senior research fellow with the Joint Center Silk Road Studies Program and Turkey Center at the Institute for Security & Development Policy in Stockholm, said that Turkey is moving toward the “de facto occupation” of a part of Iraq, in the same way as it has occupied parts of Syria.

“But neither the national government in Baghdad nor the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil northern Iraq is strong enough militarily to oppose Turkey,” he admitted.


Turkey’s incursions in Syria, Libya and now Iraq are reinforcing its image as an interventionist in the Middle East, Gareth Jenkins said further. The current operation, he estimated, is the third time in less than six months that Turkey has started military action in an Arab-majority country.

“The current operations in northern Iraq can damage the PKK but they will not destroy it… When taken together with its actions in Syria and Libya, the current operations in Iraq will reinforce most Arab governments’ perception of Turkey as an aggressive interventionist,” he said.

The operation against PKK shows Turkey’s increasing reliance on military force to achieve its own goals, a decade after Ankara positioned itself as a force for peace and an advocate of the use of soft power, Jenkins said.

The timing of the incursions points to a possible ulterior motive, Jenkins added. Previous offensives against PKK in Iraq frequently occurred in spring or were in response to an upsurge in attacks inside Turkey. This time, the security operation is likely being used by President Tayyip Erdogan for political point scoring.

“President Erdogan is aware that his popularity rises whenever he launches military action and his propaganda outlets can portray him as protecting national security,” Jenkins opined.

Erdogan’s popularity had been in long-term decline even before the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic downturn it is expected to bring about will likely put additional downward pressure on his ratings. In this context, the timing of the raids points to domestic political considerations, although military reasons should not be excluded, the expert said.

Source : www.urdupoint.com

Visits: 605

A New Page in Russian-Turkish Relations?

The talks between Erdogan and Putin herald a new era in Russian-Turkish relations, as Turks now see Russia as a true friend and admire Russia’s motion to support the Turkish President in the midst of a coup, Valdai Club expert Hüseyin Bağcı believes.
The talks between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in St Petersburg herald a new era in Russian-Turkish relations, as Turks now see Russia as a true friend and admire Russia’s motion to support the Turkish President in the midst of a coup, Hüseyin Bağcı, Professor at the Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told valdaiclub.com in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The meeting shows that Russia and Turkey’s understanding of each other’s strategic culture can evolve to prevent in future such incidents as Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian aircraft in November 2015, he added. During that incident, Turkey reacted to the crisis by calling together a NATO meeting instead of talking to Russia directly.

“Turkey and Russia will create a new page in their history, they will be much more careful in the future not to disturb their relations because of these types of events and there will be more negotiation mechanisms,” Bağcı pointed out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s voicing of support to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the midst of the coup showed Turks that Russia is a true friend, unlike other countries, Bağcı said, noting that while Turkey is unlikely to shift away from the EU, “it is clear the Turkish president is very angry with European leaders. None of them called him and said ‘we support you’ from the very beginning.”

“Putin proved himself a real friend of the Turks, and this is the viewpoint of the government, the President and majority of the Turkish people,” Bağcı added.

Regarding the rebuilding of ties, and whether relations between Russia and Turkey can be the same as before, Bagci noted that even if the compartmentalization of the Syrian crisis continues, the issue will no longer be as much of a stumbling block for relations, as Turkey’s positions have shifted.

“Russia is indeed compartmentalizing the Syrian crisis, but Turkey can no longer demand that Bashar Assad leaves power. This is not the case anymore, conditions have changed,” Bağcı said.

He added that Russia has become a security provider in Syria, which means that Turkey’s positions have shifted, as increased instability in the area has become a threat to the country.

“Erdogan said to the surprise of all of us that Russia is the biggest and most important player in Syria. We never heard such a statement in the past five years, it came out of the blue. No president or prime minister in the past five years has spoken in such a way. So this is a reason to expect that Turkey could make a U-turn in its Syrian policy,” Bağcı concluded.

Visits: 124

Turkey’s Choice: Russian Meat and Russian Yandex

Hüseyin Bağcı

In the Cold War years, the US and Europe were Turkey’s “global navigation” for integration with NATO and European institutions. This time, it is the Russian Yandex, which will probably be the new “navigation.”
The meeting between Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg became a “hit” when they talked about a possible visit of President Putin to Turkey where he will be served with “Russian meat” at a restaurant. President Erdogan suggested that this should be realized as soon as possible. Indeed, the Turkish-Russian relations gained another momentum at the BRICS meeting in South Africa where Turkey represented the Organisation of Islamic Conference as its term chair. During the news conference, Erdogan said that the Turkish-Russian relations are so good at the moment that “some envy our relationship,” meaning the USA and the EU indirectly.

What Putin knows is that Turkey is “forced to go to the hands of Russia” as never ever before since World War II. It is up to President Putin to encounter this proposal. Turkey made a move like in chess, and now it is up to chess master Putin what move he will do.

Turkey’s interest in joining BRICS is certainly there but the Turkish economy today is not as good as it was in 2013 and this is a problem, as some economists indicate. Turkey’s economy needs a recovery period and in the last 3 years Turkey has not reached the expected growth rates due to the domestic developments and global crisis. Turkey’s “soft landing strategy” to become a member of BRICS remains an aspiration but for this Turkey should undertake new economic measures and increase the production in order to become attractive for BRICS.

Turkey’s new change to presidential system is expected to bring more economic and political stability and it will be seen how Turkey improves. Another question is of course whether the BRICS would accept “aspiring countries” for membership. Any possible membership in BRICS would strengthen Turkey’s international positions. In case of membership, the Turkey-Russia relations would also reach a new level in the regional and global context. Turkey is an economic and global asset for Russia’s new increasingly strong stance in international relations. One of the important points in the US-Russia relations is how to deal with Turkey. Turkey’s geo-economic, geostrategic and geopolitical position is more and more important for Russia and the relations between the two countries and two presidents are getting even closer.

Putin’s perception of Turkey plays an important role here. Russian support can facilitate Turkey’s membership in both BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In the coming years, Russia will probably replace Europe as the “classical advocate of Turkey” in international politics. Then, there is no European leader who keeps “the hand of Turkey” but rather there are many European leaders who are even afraid to be seen in the same picture with the Turkish president. Take the example of Putin-Erdogan meeting in Johannesburg. Both leaders were relaxed, made jokes and happy for the next encounter while with any European leader the meeting of Erdogan is full of tension and grim faces. The last relaxed meeting of Erdogan was with the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder where they laughed, made jokes and were full of hope of Turkish membership in the EU. Today, interestingly, the only European leader who gives Erdogan equal treatment is President Putin.

The chemistry between Putin and Erdogan and between Turkey and Russia will lead to a new quality of relations in the future. It depends on Putin how he will show Erdogan the “way” amid the regional and global developments. In the Cold War years, the US and Europe were Turkey’s “global navigation” for integration with NATO and European institutions. This time, it is the Russian Yandex, which will probably be the new “navigation.” It remains to be seen if it leads to the right destination. After all, it is not the “navigation instrument” but the driver who does the driving. Erdogan seems determined to use Yandex this time. Putin should only offer “acceptable prices” for this. Then, “some other will further envy” this cooperation. For sure!

Visits: 46

Murder of the Russian Ambassador: More Questions to Turkish Security Forces

The murder of the Russian ambassador in Ankara indicates serious shortcomings in the security policy of the Turkish state and will have the negative impact on Russian-Turkish relations, despite the willingness of both sides to exercise closer relations, Valdai Club experts Hüseyin Bağcı and Yaşar Yakış told www.valdaiclub.com.
On Monday night a 22-year-old police officer shot several times in the back of Andrey Karlov, Russian ambassador to Turkey, who opened a photo exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Ankara. The ambassador died at the scene from the injuries. On Tuesday, at a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the killing “a coward terrorist act”.

“For the first time a Russian diplomat is killed on Turkish soil. It is a new and tragic event in our shared history,” said Hüseyin Bağcı, Professor and Chair, Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, visiting professor at Berlin Humboldt University. “For the first time a high-ranking Russian diplomat murder happened in Ankara and, more importantly, there is a question to the government – why they could pass such a person at the event? This indicates to poor security policy, it creates a negative image. Despite this, the Turkish-Russian relations should continue in a constructive spirit, it is necessary to solve the existing problems and to fulfill the obligations. ”

A police officer Mevlut Mert Altyntash, who killed the Russian diplomat, served in the Department of Special Forces of the Ankara police and went to the exhibition, presenting his police ID card. According to RIA Novosti with reference to the Turkish media, last week Altyntash participated in the guarding of the Russian Embassy, when rallies took place next to it because of the situation in Aleppo. On the day of the murder of the Russian ambassador he took a vacation and booked the hotel room to plan the attack.

“Of course, this incident will not have the best impact on the Turkish-Russian relations – Hüseyin Bağcı said. – We’ll see the details, find out who this man was, how he could infiltrate the Ambassador’s guard. But he is, of course, an Islamist, this is evident even on the basis of images. ”

On the video depicting the murder of Andrey Karlov, the gunman shouted “Remember Aleppo, remember Syria. We will not leave you alone. Only death can stop me. We die for Aleppo, you will die here. ” During the police operation Altyntash was killed by the security forces.

“I think that the killer was dissatisfied with the development of the situation in Syria, in Aleppo in particular. A few days ago I was in Berlin. There was a demonstration in front of the Iranian Embassy against actions of Iran in Syria. But there was also a smaller group of young people, who protested outside the Russian embassy. They publicly criticized the cooperation between Russia and Turkey. The killer also was a young man, his motives may be similar, and he could be inspired by similar protests, though, of course, the investigators know better, “- Yasar Yakis, former Turkish Foreign Minister, said in an interview to www.valdaiclub.com.

“This terrorist act is likely to have been committed by the person who opposes the improvement of relations between Turkey and Russia, – Yakis said. The Turkish-Russian relations have several dimensions, and this incident should not contribute to the deterioration in any of them, although it will be not easy. Our politicians need to express deep and sincere condolences over the incident, because they did not prevent the possibility of such a tragedy. ”

A similar opinion is shared by Hüseyin Bağcı: “I think that Putin and Erdogan should immediately talk to each other – directly. Nobody else – neither interior ministers or defense ministers or prime ministers. And I advise the Turkish government and the president that they spoke with the Russian colleagues quietly, without any negative statements and hints – like last year. This is actually the second crisis in our relations in a year. ”

According to former Foreign minister of Turkey, the incident will negatively affect the Russian-Turkish relations, despite the willingness by both sides to get closer.

“There is acute visa issue, the question of the visas abolition with Russia and this incident certainly showed that we all feel quite unsafe. The Russian authorities were right in claiming that, even though our government advocated the abolition of visas “, – Yakis said. – Diplomats should not be victims of circumstances, which they did not create. Unfortunately, we see that the Turkish security system often gives failures.”


Hüseyin Bağcı, Yaşar Yakış

Visits: 145

Erdogan’s “Great U-Turn’’

Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real-politik as Kissinger.

Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırm, speaking about his new government program, said that “Turkey will win back its neighbors,’’ which was actually the last nail in the coffin of former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s principle of “zero problems with the neigboring countries.’’ The rise and fall of Davutoglu’s “strategic depths’’ policy ended with the historic U-turn of President Erdogan signing the treaty with Israel not to “normalize’’, but to return to the status quo as it was before the Davos incident more than six years ago. Israel is certainly the winner of this situation as the “anti-Israeli policies’’as well as the “Israel bashing’’ policies of Turkish governments came to an end. President Erdogan’s not “tactical but strategic’’ retreat from the former policies will have domestic as well as international implications.

With this “great U-turn,’’ Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real politik as Kissinger. Kissinger once said, “America does not have friends, America has interests.’’ It is now Erdogan who says that Turkey has no friends, but only interests. The Israeli case has also been the end of Turkey’s “articifial Israel enmity.’’ In domestic politics, the radical Islamist groups are waiting for their day of revenge with Erdogan because they feel that they have been betrayed and “sold’’ to Israel. But Erdogan is also like Shimon Perez, with whom he clashed in Davos, where Erdogan told him that the Israelis know well how to kill, and who answered the question about whether he is angry with Erdogan by saying: “I am always looking to future relations, not to the past.’’ This is exactly what Erdogan is doing! He stopped claiming to be the leader of the Islamic world after signing this treaty with Israel.

What motivated Erdogan was this: Today Turkey needs Israel more than ever as article 7 of the treaty envisages “more exchange of intelligence’’ because Turkey’s number one problem is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS terrorism and without the “Jerusalem connection’’ it is very difficult to deal with ethnic and religous terrorism. President Erdogan became more “secular’’ in this respect, and he would not have difficulty convincing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters that he has done right!

Israel was Turkey’s close ally until the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident and provided Turkey with high-tech weapons and knowhow. Presidents Erdogan and Netanyahu do not sympathize with each other, but Erdogan received the apology from Netanyahu with the help of President Obama two years ago. Now, the future Turkish-Israeli relations look more promising than ever. The exchange of ambassadors soon will also strengthen diplomatic relations. Turkey, Israel and Egypt will have similar relations like in the 1990s , fighting against Islamist terrrorism. Erdogan’s determination to fight ISIS jointly with the West is a prime example, and Turkey will continue to be the “main target’’ of ISIS terrorism in the future. The deal between Turkey and Israel deserves a deeper analysis, but for now: Israel is the winner, and Turkey is the compromise maker.

Using “letter diplomacy,‘’ Erdogan has apologized to Russian President Putin after just seven months! But it was also the most expensive apology Turkey has ever made in its modern history. Russia proved to be a good neighbor, and so Turkey will improve relations after the “badly managed crisis of last November,’’ when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

President Erdogan’s “second U-turn’’ policy will pay off, to Turkey’s advantage. Turkey has lost more than 35 billion dollars, and Erdogan as a “political animal’’ could not hold out any longer, so he ended his “ignorance’’ abruptly. “Whatever has been said is already the past; we have to say something new today,” said the great 13th-century philosopher Mevlana. President Erdogan has already forgotten what he said to Russia and is looking to new relations with Russia, including on the Syrian issue, in the future. “Coordination with Russia will continue’’ said Foreign Minister Çavusoglu after he met with his Russian counterpart Lavrov. Yes, Turkey is no longer “the locomotive of the events in the Middle East but the bandwagon, and it is no longer the ‘consciousness” of the Middle East. President Erdogan won the “old chaps’’ back, but Turkey paid a very high price for this “experiment.’’ Was it really necessary? The problem was that Erdogan and his people did not listen before. Now, the zeitgeist told them what to do!

Visits: 98

Can Turkey Become an Honest Mediator in the Middle East, Again?

Turkey has lost its opportunity to become the force for conflict resolution in the region.

When Turkey declared its new foreign policy, “zero problems with neighbors”, the government believed that historical and economic ties are enough to provide a leading role for Turkey in the region. At the time, Turkey’s good relations with both Arab states and Israel as well as increasing bilateral trade agreements in the region provided a solid basis for Turkey to mediate between conflicting parties, to spread peace and encourage democratization. However, Turkey squandered its chance. First, Turkey became increasingly obsessed with being a regional power with the aim of the revival of Ottoman heritage throughout the Middle East. Second, Turkey was unprepared for explosive and pragmatic nature of the Middle East politics. When these two factors came together, Turkey lost its opportunity to become the force for conflict resolution in the region. It veered into taking sides; thus moving away from the main goal of the new foreign policy agenda. Despite the foreign policy failures, Turkey could still become the source for peace and stability in the region. It just needs to fall back on the foundational principles of Turkish foreign policy: caution, neutrality and peace.

What went wrong?

The obsession with regional power status blinded Turkish policy makers to the ever-shifting realities on the ground and the power play of the international actors in the Middle East. Turkish policymakers, departing from the Neo-Ottoman approach, believed that the Turkish leadership can shape the Middle East. Such attitude, without a doubt, alienated Arab decision makers, who saw the Ottomans as a colonial power, rather than a benevolent state. Turkish activism was not a critical problem as long as Turkey did not force itself to the Arab politics and kept its distance. Unfortunately, Turkey has not refrained from attempting to shape the Middle East, although it was ill prepared for getting involved in the Middle East politics. In the end, Turkey was forced to make tactical decisions that defined Ankara’s policies and defused its influence in the region.

Turkey sided with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia because it planned to increase its power through the Brotherhood, which shares similar ideologies with the Turkish government. When President Morsi was deposed, Turkey reacted viscerally and burned the bridges with Egypt. Because Turkey invested its political capital into the Brotherhood, rather than taking a neutral position, the ousting of Morsi neutralized Turkey’s influence.

When rebellion started in Libya, Turkey was very successful in getting all of its citizens out the country. However, it failed to show same success in reacting to the changes in Libya. Initially, Turkey was cautious to get involved in the conflict, which was the right policy to follow in the face of uncertainty. The problem was that Turkey failed to alter its policy when European powers – France and the United Kingdom – got involved in the Libyan conflict and created a no-fly zone. Initially, Turkey was against the no-fly zone and criticized the coalition. Libyan rebels took note of Turkey’s action. When Turkey had a change of heart, it was too late. Failure to act and inconsistency alienated the rebels, and Turkey lost its position and possible influence in the future of Libya.

The Syrian conflict is another example of how Turkey was unprepared for the complexities of the Middle East politics. In Syria, Turkey was one of the first countries to take an anti-Assad stance and began supporting Syrian rebels, because Turkey wanted to be at the table to shape the future of Syria, and probably thought the conflict would be over within months, just like Libya. The problem was that Ankara again failed to read the international politics correctly. In Libya case, the European powers were eager to intervene, and the rebels were able to act under a unified command. In Syria, on the other hand, no one was willing to devote military sources to and get involved while the Free Syrian Army slowly disintegrated to smaller fractions with different goals. Furthermore, Russia took an unyielding pro-Assad stance since the beginning of the conflict. While Turkey insisted on deposing Assad, the realities on the ground have shifted significantly. ISIS, which capitalized the weaknesses of Syrian rebel alliances, got the control of swathes of territories in Syria and Iraq. Using the very radical misinterpretation of Islam, ISIS posed a greater danger to both the West and Russia. However, Turkey failed to recognize the ISIS threat and remained focused on Assad regime. Turkey was unwilling to shift its position despite the significant changes happening in the Syrian conflict. Had Turkey acted more cautiously and tried to find common ground with Syria and the rebels, the situation could have been much different, at least for Turkey. However, Turkey opted for becoming involved heavily in the conflict, supporting rebels groups with questionable allegiances. In other words, Turkey could be considered the “true loser’’ of the Syrian politics so far because of miscalculation and misperception of the developments in the Middle East.

Furthermore, Turkey’s uneasy relation to its Kurdish population has reflected upon its policy decisions regarding the Syrian conflict. Turkey is worried about the peculiar status of Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Ankara considers a possible emergence of any Kurdish state in the region the biggest threat to its national security. Consequently, Turkey positioned itself against strengthening Kurds in Syria because of the fear that their influence might spill over to the Kurdish minority in Turkey. To prevent this, Turkey dragged its feet whenever Kurds needed help. The prime example was Turkey’s inaction during Ayn-Al Arab (Kobane) siege when Turkey did not allow the Kurdish reinforcements to pass through the Turkish territory. As Turkey’s fight against the PKK intensified, the uneasy relations with the Kurds in the region became more complicated.

Because of the renewed fighting with the PKK, Turkey feels “betrayed” by the Kurdish groups and politicians altogether. While the West sees Turkey’s actions in its territory as legitimate, the fighting in the cities drives a wedge between the Turkish government and the Kurdish population. Consequently, the ongoing clashes stall initiation of a comprehensive “peace project” that continued in the last 3,5 years. On the other hand, Northern Iraqi leader Barzani also expects Turkey to fight against the PKK. Thus, failure to do so could worsen the relations between Turkey and Northern Iraq. Turkey’s close cooperation with Barzani, at times, alienated the Iraqi central government. For example, the Iraqi government was not happy to see increased number of Turkish troops in Bashika Camp without consulting with them. However, Turkey could have chosen a different path, a path that truly seeks peace and stability in the region, and this is still possible.


The pursuit of becoming the regional power is a fictional and damaging venture, and it is time for Turkey to leave that pursuit aside. Turkey does not need to be a regional power to become a major actor in the region. Turkey could have used its influence over the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to moderate its policies while trying to establish a common ground between different actors. Turkey could have helped the Kurds during Ayn-al Arab (Kobane) siege, which could have paved the way for reconciliation with the Kurds in the region as well as in Turkey. This help could have put Turkey in a much stronger position. However, these are the missed opportunities.

Turkey can still go back to its previous position of “honest mediator”, though it would be a tough task to do, given the positions Turkey had taken over the years. Nevertheless, this is the only way that is beneficial for Turkey, as well as for the international community. Current policy of Turkey is far from stabilizing the region, but also has the danger of destabilizing Turkey itself. The European countries should encourage Turkey to stand back and disengage from the Syrian conflict.

Turkey’s only problem is its uneasy relations with the Kurds. Although Turkey initiated the peace process with the Kurds at home, the recent clashes froze the peace process. The fighting also puts obstacles in front of a possible Kurdish-Turkish rapprochement in Syria, which could greatly benefit the war against ISIS. Turkey needs to make peace with its own Kurds; an issue on which Europeans and the United States have to support Turkey to find a resolution for peace within its borders. Without internal peace, Turkey could not influence the conflicts and support peaceful settlements.

At the moment, Turkey is far away from both influencing the conflicts and supporting peaceful settlements. Turkey’s ineffectiveness is the irony of the country’s fate: within less a decade it degraded itself from the “consciousness of the Middle East’’ to a “lonely country” as its “zero problem policy’’ turned to nearly “problems with all neighbors”. Turkey’s image is at its worst, something Turkey never experienced since the establishment of the Republic in 1923. Unless the AKP government sets aside these “inflexible” policies, the “failure” of Turkey’s foreign policy will continue.

Hüseyin Bağcı, Çağlar Kurç
Visits: 55