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: 516

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: 492

Peeling Turkey Away from Russia’s Embrace: A Transatlantic Interest

From a European and transatlantic standpoint, it is as troubling as it is counter-intuitive: a de facto partnership has developed between Russia and Turkey, surrounding Europe. Paradoxical as it may be, the trend is now clear and represents a thorn in the side of European and transatlantic interests.

The paradox lies in the fact that Turkey and Russia are historic rivals. From the Ottoman-Russian wars to Turkey’s NATO membership as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, the Turkish-Russian relationship has never been easy. The post-Cold War period is no exception, nearing outright military confrontation only five years ago, when a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian aircraft near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Taken together, there is no region in and around Europe where Turkey and Russia see eye to eye. Be it in Central Asia where Moscow has stymied Ankara’s pan-Turkic dreams; in the Balkans where the two have taken different sides during war and peacetime alike; be it in North Africa and the Middle East where they have stood at loggerheads in the clash over political Islam; or in the Caucasus where Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan has mirrored Russia’s religious affinity and security bond with Armenia, Ankara and Moscow are rarely, if ever, on the same page.

Yet the pattern is clear: in every open conflict, Turkey and Russia have managed to find an entente that is as uneasy as it is real. In Syria, the clash could have tipped into outright confrontation, but after the near miss in 2015, Moscow and Ankara walked back from the brink, notably with the launch of the Astana process in which both have been deeply involved. Tensions have heated up again from time to time. With the prospect of Bashar al-Assad’s onslaught on Idlib in 2019, Turkey called Russia’s foul, but eventually the Turkish-Russian understanding held. In northeastern Syria too, where Turkey intervened militarily against the Syrian Kurds in 2016 and again in 2019, Moscow could have prevented Turkey’s offensive given its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) footprint on the Syrian airspace, but chose not to.

In Libya, Turkey and Russia have rallied for opposite sides of the civil war. Notably, Russia, with its Wagner mercenaries, provided crucial backing to Khalifa Haftar’s military offensive against the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Weighing in alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France, the Wagner group’s stepping into the Libyan quagmire almost tipped the scales, with Haftar’s advance towards Tripoli becoming ever closer in early 2020.

When the GNA risked falling, Ankara stepped in, providing military backing to a government the international community had spared no words in backing while doing precious little in practice. Turkey’s military intervention flipped military fortunes and created that mutually hurting stalemate that brought the parties to an uneasy ceasefire in the summer of 2020. Turkey remains deeply involved militarily in Libya, and Russia’s military presence in the east, from being a “nice but not necessary” tool to deploy, is now entrenched. Notwithstanding the ongoing political dialogue process, Libya risks partitioning militarily along the Sirte-Jufra line, with both Turkish and Russian presence consolidating in the country.

The resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan after twenty-six years of unstable ceasefire around Nagorno Karakakh and its adjacent regions became the third potential Turkish-Russian flashpoint that never was. When Azerbaijan kick-started the war to recapture the territories lost to Armenia in the 1992-94 war, much of the international media spotlight turned to Ankara.

Turkey, in fact, was the only external power that did not call for a ceasefire, but rather egged Baku on in its military campaign. There was much talk of Turkey’s drones and Syrian jihadis, the role of which was likely overplayed, but nonetheless significant. For its part, Russia activated itself to broker a ceasefire. While repeatedly stepping in to mediate humanitarian ceasefires, it implicitly allowed the war to rage on for six long weeks, in which Azerbaijan gradually recaptured much of the seven regions surrounding Nagorno Karabakh. It was only when Azerbaijani forces made inroads into Karabakh itself, that Moscow blew the whistle.

The peace deal brokered by Moscow was an all-out win for Russia, as well as Azerbaijan. Along the line of contact in Nagorno Karabakh and the Lachin corridor, a contingent of almost 2000 Russian troops are being deployed for the first time since the end of the Cold War. This gives Russia not only unprecedented leverage over the constitutional fate of Nagorno Karabakh, but also over domestic politics in Azerbaijan and above all Armenia. However, to a lesser extent Turkey gained too. Ankara for the first time won the possibility of sending observers to the region, and, most significantly, with the reopening of a direct connection between Azerbaijan and its exclave Nakhichevan, Turkey obtained direct access to Azerbaijan proper and the Caspian Sea.

In each of these conflicts, Turkey, a NATO ally and, at least theoretically, an EU candidate country, has pursued incontrovertibly its national and often nationalistic interests. It has done so in ways that have certainly not coincided with those of the European Union or of the United States. However, it would be mistaken to argue that Turkey’s interests have been diametrically opposed to those of the West.

In Syria, Turkey’s assault on the Syrian Kurds generated a Western outcry – in words rather than deeds – while its ambiguity towards and support for different incarnations of the Islamist opposition to the Syrian regime sowed mistrust, notably at the height of the ISIS threat in the Middle East, Europe and the world. However, Turkey, unlike Russia and Iran, and alongside the West, has been a sworn enemy of the Syrian regime, ever since the protests degenerated into civil war in late 2011. In the reconstruction and refugee return phase of the Syrian conflict, the EU and Turkey will grapple with similar policy challenges.

In Libya too, Turkey has clearly pursued its interests and is now consolidating its military, political and economic presence in the country. In Libya, Turkey is there to stay. Yet there too, Western and Turkish interests are not totally incompatible. Ankara stepped into the war to prevent the fall of Sarraj’s GNA that Europe and the US also backed in theory. Both Turkey and the EU have an interest in the stabilization of Libya and the prevention of its de facto partition into two blocks.

Finally, in Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey has certainly sung from a different hymn sheet from the Western cry for an immediate ceasefire. However, no European country nor the US has ever objected to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Furthermore, Turkey’s inclusion amongst the observers in Nagorno Karabakh should be looked upon with favour by Europeans in a context in which the OSCE Minsk Group has been sadly outmaneuvered and Russia would otherwise monopolize the show.

Notwithstanding the fact that divisions between Turkey and Russia are infinitely more tangible and acute than those between Turkey and the West, relations between Turkey and Russia are consolidating into a de facto partnership, while those between Turkey and the West are edging towards sanctions. Why?

The easy part of the answer lies in domestic politics in Russia and Turkey. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has long abandoned even the narrative of democracy, heralding itself as one of the leaders of a post-liberal world. The Russian President has used foreign policy to gain strategic edge over the West, and stoke nationalism at home, distracting public attention from domestic woes. Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan has taken Putin’s cue, and over the last year, has regained some domestic political traction after the Justice and Development Party’s electoral annus horribilis in 2019.

By intervening militarily in Libya, escalating tensions in the East Mediterranean and reentering the Caucasus, Erdoğan has done what many, if not most, Turks would read as a welcome reassertion of national interests redressing past wrongs. In doing so, Erdoğan has distracted public opinion from his ailing domestic economy. In other words, Russia and Turkey’s leaders pursue similar tactics: they “get each other” and that understanding instils a degree of reciprocal respect even when interests diverge.

There is certainly truth is this explanation, which is the one most commonly heard in the West. However, it is also a convenient truth for the West to put forth, leaving in the shadow another, complementary, but far more uncomfortable reality.

Another explanation is that Russia and Turkey have found pragmatic ententes because they have had to do so. They are both deeply engaged in each of these conflicts in a way in which Europeans and Americans are just not. Turkey and Russia are far more prone to intervene militarily in conflicts than Europeans always were and Americans are becoming.

More broadly, be it in Syria, Libya or the Caucasus, the US and the EU have abdicated much of their responsibilities and shied away from risk. In the vacuum, Russia, Turkey and other regional players, have stepped in, learning to come to terms with one another. The US, for its part, can retort with good reason that this is not the part of the world where it will do the heavy lifting. We should expect that in different forms and manners, this will continue to be the tune played by the Biden administration.

Europeans instead have only themselves to blame. It is may well be too late for Syria and probably also for the Caucasus. However, when it comes to Libya, Europeans should do much more. Germany has invested significantly in the Berlin process, and diplomacy is certainly a key piece of the peacebuilding puzzle. But unless Europeans take greater risks to consolidate peace on the ground in Libya – and not simply at sea – they will continue to be passive by-standers of the de facto external control of the country by Turkey and Russia. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, Europeans should engage far more actively in peacebuilding, with greater readiness to be present on the ground.

While taking greater risk and responsibility, Europeans should think through a strategy that makes due distinction between Turkey and Russia, avoiding further entrenchment of the unnatural partnership between the two, from which Europeans and Americans can only lose. In particular, we should not be blinded by the commonalities we see between Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey domestically, and become better able to distinguish between their foreign policy behaviour.

On foreign policy, Russian and Turkish positions and ambitions differ in important ways. Beyond annexing Crimea and upending the European security architecture, Putin’s Russia vies for leadership of a sovereignist world. In no way does it see itself as part of the West, and is often scathing of the alleged ineffectiveness, cowardice, arrogance and moral bankruptcy of Western liberal democracies. Russia has acted to the direct detriment of Western democracies by interfering in electoral processes, spreading disinformation and allegedly engaging in cyber-attacks. We should of course “selectively engage” with Russia, but with eyes wide open as to the context in which our engagement takes place.

Turkey, for all its faults, not only is and remains a NATO ally, but continues to express an interest in closer relations with the European Union, beginning with a modernized customs union. Ankara’s sincerity would need to be verified, but to do so it is the Union that must make the first move. Likewise, the EU and the US should actively seek opportunities to work with Turkey on foreign policy questions on which interests do not fundamentally diverge. With Syria and Nagorno Karabakh further away from Western reach, Libya would be the place to start. The space for manoeuvre, here too, is shrinking fast. As Libya’s political dialogue unfolds, time will be of the essence.

All this does not imply that the EU and the US should stay put and refrain from using the stick with Turkey as the case may warrant. Be it over the S400 debacle with NATO or Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the threat of restrictive measures will remain on the table. Less still does it mean that the EU and the US should drop the ball on Turkey’s democratic backsliding. With an administration in Washington that will once again take genuine interest in democracy, human rights, rule of law, a renewed transatlantic focus on Turkey’s domestic dynamics is imperative.

However, in addressing whether, when and how to react to Turkey’s foreign policy moves, Europe and the US should factor in the broader strategic context in which we operate. The purpose of our actions should be to peel Ankara away from Moscow, rather than push it deeper in its embrace.

* Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen.

Visits: 305

Another Turning Point in the EU and Turkey Relations?

On 10-11 December, the leaders of the EU countries come together in Brussels last time in
this chaotical year. In addition to the fight against COVID 19 pandemic and EU-UK relations,
the tension between Turkey and two EU member states, Greece and Cyprus, in the Eastern
The Mediterranean will be one of the main discussion topics.
In the previous Council meeting of the EU in October, the EU leaders declared their full
solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, while the sanction calls against Turkey did not find
unanimous support within the Council. At the same time, the EU also tried to keep the
dialogue with Turkey by launching a positive political EU-Turkey agenda, which includes an
international conference for the Eastern Mediterranean, updating the Customs Union
an agreement, the revival of visa liberalization negotiations, and the renewal of the migration
Nevertheless, European sanctions against Turkey seem right now more likely than ever.
Above all, Greece and Cyprus insist on though EU sanctions as Turkey’s natural gas
explorations still continues in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean waters. Foreign Minister
of Greece, Nikos Dendias, described Turkey’s actions in the region as "revisionist" and
"destabilizing" and he is also sure that this time " it will not be easy for Turkey to fool the
EU; Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron pushes for sanctions on Turkey. The
dispute between France and Turkey over Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean and the
Nagorno-Karabakh War has seriously deteriorated the mutual relations in the past couple of
months. According to French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Turkey’s; soothing
declarations; are not good enough to overcome these disagreements. Finally, the European
Parliament has recently called for the Council to impose tough sanctions on Turkey as well.
In the meantime, Turkey showed some positive steps on the eve of the EU council meeting.
First, President Erdoğan declared his intentions to work with the EU by stating that; We see
ourselves as an inseparable part of Europe and we want to build our future with Europe; these words have arguably been the clearest message to the EU in recent years. Second,
ahead of the EU summit, Turkey withdrew its seismic research vessel, Oruç Reis. Third, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Advisor to President, İbrahim Kalın, visited Brussels in the last days of November. During his meeting with high-level EU officials, he expressed once again that working with the EU is a strategic priority for Ankara and added Turkey still aims
to protect peace and stability in the region.

Like the previous meeting, the most critical actor in the process will be Germany. In October,
Germany, which holds the rotating Council presidency, opposed sanctions and initiated the
positive agenda strategy. However, more recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that
the relations between the EU and Turkey did not reach the point that they wanted. Also, she
described Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean as; aggressive; and; provocative; In the meantime, she mentioned that Turkey deserved great respect for hosting significant numbers of Syrian refugees.
In this situation, the most crucial question remains still the same: Will the EU impose
sanctions on Turkey? Actually, the answer is still not clear. On the one hand, France, Greece, and Cyprus will probably find this time more support from the other EU members, as there is no sign of progress about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and it can easily get out of control. On the other hand, as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep
Borrell stated that there are some willing and at the same time still more reluctant EU
countries about sanctions on Turkey. The diplomatic sources said especially Hungary is
Repeatedly rejecting possible sanctions by thinking of Turkey’s role in preventing illegal refugee
passages to the EU. Moreover, Spain and Italy seem not so contended about France’s increasing activities in the Mediterranean.
Then what we should wait for this critical meeting?
It seems that German decision-makers have still not decided on their next steps. That means
it is not very likely to see tough sanctions on Turkey as Greece, Cyprus, and France wanted.
Instead, we see probably a; last strong warning" from the EU to Turkey or a limited package
of sanctions. Without a doubt, both sides will try to strengthen their positions until the last
minute, and Chancellor Merkel will play once again a decisive role.


Dr.Başar Şirin

Visits: 118

The EU’s “New Pact on Migration and Asylum” is missing a true foundation

On September 23, the European Commission launched the “New Pact on Migration and Asylum,” proposing to overhaul the European Union’s long ailing policies in this area. European Union Vice President Margaritis Schinas likened the pact to a building with three floors, comprised of: an external dimension (“centered around strengthened partnerships with countries of origin and transit”), “robust management” of external borders, and “firm but fair internal rules.” The commission proposal must still make its way through the legislative process in the European Parliament and European Council.
The problem is: The pact needs a foundational basement, in the form of recognizing that an overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries. Without a basement, the whole edifice is undermined. The EU must incorporate policy ideas from the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) to rectify this.

The pact’s external dimension — which calls for strengthening partnerships with countries of origin and transit in the EU’s immediate neighborhood and beyond — is its ground floor. The second floor relates to policies to fortify and improve the management of the EU’s external borders. The third floor proposes rules to resolve the long-standing challenge within the EU to achieve a more balanced distribution of responsibilities and promote solidarity among EU members in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees.

At all three levels, the pact has faced intense push-back. With respect to the third floor, the commission has been criticized for catering to the priorities of the more conservative and anti-immigrant member states such as Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The pact allows members to opt out from participating in the relocation of asylum seekers and refugees within the EU by offering them the possibility to instead provide administrative and financial support to other member states. Serious doubts have been expressed about the viability of this scheme.

On the second floor, the big concern is that — once again — border security has been prioritized over access to asylum. While emphasizing the principle of “non-refoulement” as enshrined in international refugee law, the pact at the same time introduces measures that are clearly meant to complicate the possibility that individuals fleeing persecution and conflicts can seek or obtain protection in the EU. A former director of the Center for Refugees Studies of Oxford University sees these measures as aiming “to harden and formalize the ‘Fortress Europe.’ Migrants and refugees were to be kept out of Europe at all costs.”

The emphasis on protecting Europe’s borders becomes most evident at the ground floor. Here the pact calls for revamping partnership with third countries and reflects the EU’s long-standing policy of externalizing the cost and responsibility of managing its external borders. Tying policy issues such as development assistance, trade concessions, security, education, agriculture, and visa facilitation for third-country nationals to those countries’ willingness to cooperate on migration management has long been criticized as asymmetrical. The pact takes this relationship to a new coercive level by suggesting the possibility of “apply[ing] restrictive visa measures” to third countries unwilling to be cooperative.

Time will tell whether these problems on each floor will be addressed as the commission proposal makes its way through the legislative process. However, there is a deeper structural problem to the pact, resulting from the missing basement. This is because the pact fails to account for two major global realities confronting the EU.

The first problem is that the pact is so inward-oriented that it fails to recognize the policy implications of the dire state of forced migration globally. The number of forcibly displaced persons has increased dramatically, reaching almost 80 million. According to the U.N. Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of refugees alone has gone up from roughly 15 million a decade ago to 26 million today. And 77% of the refugees find themselves in a protracted situation — defined as having remained displaced without a durable solution (such as voluntary return to their home countries following the resolution of conflicts, resettlement, or local integration) for more than five years. Because of persistent conflicts, only 3.9 million refugees were able to return to their homes between 2010 and 2019, compared to roughly 10 million between 2000 and 2010 and 15.3 million in the 1990s.

The Consequences of Chaos

By Elizabeth G. Ferris and Kemal Kirişci 2016
Secondly, the pact makes little allowance for how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact EU’s migration and asylum policies. The pandemic has profoundly affected the capacity of host countries to manage the presence of refugees and ensure their protection. Already fragile health infrastructures are stretched in helping local populations, let alone refugees. The pandemic has also eroded income from trade, tourism, and crucial revenue from remittances. The pact should recognize the dire forced migration picture, the impact of COVID-19, and the associated expected rise in poverty. The Economist and the U.N. have noted that the pandemic risks undoing the gains made against poverty in the past two decades. Most affected will be developing countries, according to the World Bank, where more than 85% of these refugees are hosted.

This picture is likely to erode the capacity of these countries to cope with the presence of refugees and manage public resentment as competition for scarce resources between refugees and locals intensifies. Under these circumstances it would not be unrealistic to expect pressures for secondary movements towards the EU to build up, reminiscent of the ones that occurred during 2015 and 2016. The EU has an interest in recognizing the reality presented by the basement floor, and should supplement policies on the first floor and above accordingly.

The pact hardly makes any reference to the GCR, as a former UNHCR official points out, but it could be an inspiring source of policy ideas. The idea of the GCR emerged from the September 2016 U.N. summit in New York that was held to address the challenges resulting from the European migration crisis. Adopted in December 2018, the GCR recognizes that the traditional refugee protection system based on the 1951 Geneva Convention is under duress, if not broken. Against this reality, it calls on the international community to work together — in the spirit of burden- and responsibility-sharing — to improve the self-reliance of refugees and the resilience of their host communities, as well as help hosts transform refugees from being a humanitarian burden to a development and economic opportunity. All EU member countries, apart from Hungary, have endorsed the GCR.

Though the pact fails to acknowledge the GCR, Vice President Schinas promises to seek “global solutions and responsibility-sharing” with international partners on migration, as well as proposes to establish a “Union Resettlement and Humanitarian Admission Framework Regulation [that] would provide a stable EU framework for the EU contribution to global resettlement efforts.” These reflect at least the spirit of the GCR. However, the EU needs to go beyond this, and heed to the GCR’s call to “promote economic opportunities, decent work, job creation and entrepreneurship programs for host community members and refugees” in refugee hosting countries. Only than can the EU enjoy a solid basement floor for the rest of the pact.

The GCR offers a rich array of innovative policy suggestions that the EU can take into consideration when negotiating partnerships with countries hosting large numbers of refugees. One such policy idea calls for a more active involvement of the private sector in supporting self-reliance of refugees through decent and sustainable employment. In its partnership agreements, the EU could include terms incentivizing companies to offer such opportunities for refugees. This could be enabled by extending preferential trade arrangements for countries hosting large numbers of refugees, which is something the GCR mentions. Such partnerships with the EU could be conditioned to refugees being offered sustainable employment opportunities.

The advantage of all this is that the resulting economic growth would also benefit host communities, support social cohesion, and help empower already fragile economies coming out of a COVID-19-induced economic recession. It would also give the partnerships that the EU is advocating for at the ground floor of the pact a much more solid foundation, based on a cooperative spirit rather than the current formulation. In this way, the New Pact would help create a win-win-win outcome benefiting refugees, host countries, and the EU.

This article is received from www.brookings.edu

This article is written by Kemal Kirişçi, M.Murat Erdoğan and Nihal Eminoğlu

Visits: 148

Nagorno Karabakh: Conflict Analysis

Following a long history of power struggles between Armenia and Azerbaijan, skirmishes continued
even after the last full-scale war that brought to a ceasefire in 1994. A new conflict recently erupted
in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27th, resulting in many civilian casualties on both sides and
increasing tensions world-wide. Calls for de-escalation by the UN and both the US and Russia have
been dismissed by both sides so far. Unresolved geopolitical discrepancies, repeatedly failing
mediation attempts and recurring violations of ceasefire broadly explains this recent escalation.
However, the nuanced story grows more composite every day. 1
2020 Conflict:
On September 27th, president of (Armenia backed de facto state) Republic of Artsakh stated that
Azerbaijan launched an attack on Nagorno-Karabakh unprompted while, Azerbaijan authorities
argued that Armenia had started shelling their border front 2 hours prior and that their attack was
purely in retaliation. 2 Both countries continue making statements in the direction of military
escalation. The conflict is already expanding beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh borders as more than
500 have been killed in the region and thousands have been displaced. 3
A temporary ceasefire was agreed upon at the marathon peace talks held at Moscow on October
5th. However, the calm lasted only hours as both countries blamed each other for breaking the
truce the same day. 4 The conflict resumes on its fourth week and yet another ceasefire brokered by
the US this time was broken in the same day. 5 Global powers and international organizations call for
peace but no solution for peace in sight so far.
Area Profile and Background:
Nagorno-Karabakh is an area internationally recognized to be within the sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
Most of the population in the area is Armenian although there is an ethnic Azeri minority present
too. Civilians of both have been massacred and displaced from the region due to the war atrocities
in the 90s, shifting the general demographic disposition in Nagorno-Karabakh and wider regions.
The ethno-geographic rivalries in the region goes back a thousand years since when numerous
Turkic tribes migrated around and settled in the Eurasian diaspora beginning 11 th century. Armenia
was divided between Byzantine and Sassanid Empires in 387; Artsakh region specifically was
invaded and ruled by Ak Koyunlu and Kara Koyunlu Turkic tribes in the 15 th century and was given
the Turkic name Qarabağ, meaning ‘black garden’. 6 The contemporary crisis however is mainly
blamed on Soviet Union whose inconsistent policies were mainly based on Soviet interest and re-
mapped the region without concern for ethnic dissonances in the long term.
Initially, majority Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh and majority Azeri Nakhichevan were both
appointed to Armenia. This was later overturned, and both were tied to Azerbaijan. Turkey had a
big influence in this, and Azerbaijan was a key factor in its relations with Soviet Union. The wave of nationalism across the world at the end of WWI and the disintegration of the multinational
Ottoman Empire resulted in lasting unresolved complexities. The new-found Turkish Republic
wanted to avoid having a strong Armenia potentially claiming territory and jeopardizing its border
integrity. 7
Besides wanting to have good relations with Turkey, Stalin, (as the Commissar of Nationalities at
the time) also found it strategic to fragment Caucasian ethnic groups to avoid nationalist
unifications and potential resistance towards the Soviet Union. Armenians were split into Armenian
Soviet Socialist Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, and Azeris were split into the
Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan Autonomous Oblast. 7
With the breakdown of the USSR, regional parliament voted to join Armenia, but the Azeri
inhabitants wanted to stay independent. The vote was rejected by Azerbaijan and territorial
conflicts erupted in between. 8 Armenia occupied 20 percent of the Azeri areas surrounding
Nagorno-Karabakh and took control of them with separatist forces since then although Nagorno-
Karabakh is still internationally recognized as a sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. The de-facto
government Artsakh Republic holding an election in April significantly raised tensions and was
taken as a provocation to war by Azerbaijan. 9 Decades of incoherent territorial shuffling, lack of
political relationships, internal governmental instabilities and nationalistic tenacity of both sides
make diplomatic attempts very difficult.
Alliances and Strategic Positioning:

Meanwhile Turkey’s involvement in this conflict has been widely viewed as a negative influence by
the international media, likely to contribute to the rapid escalation. Turkish military forces and
equipment have been heavily utilized at the forefront of the conflict in Azeri areas and both sides
have been using weaponry provided by Russia. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been reported to
heavily hit civilians.
In response to calls for peace from US and France, Turkey argued that these countries have ignored
the situation for too long and their involvement would not be in favor of peace. Indeed, there is a
general mistrust towards the western powers in the east, reinforced by their duplicitous actions in
the Syrian War and dissatisfactory response to the refugee crisis.
Turkey has been accused of relocating Islamist Syrian militias to the region to support Azeri troops
which Turkey and Azerbaijan both have denied. Turkey and Russia have a complex relationship and
are currently in opposing sides of the conflict in Syria. Expansion of the Syrian conflict to the
Russian border is a great concern for Russia and could have grave effects for all countries involved.
Russia presents to be strongly against the conflict as it has favorable relations to both countries. Russia in a mutual defense pact and has a military base in Armenia which some interpret as
Moscow possibly being closer with Yerevan in case of escalation. It is also likely that although a
full-fledged multipolar war on its border is not desirable for Russia, the maintained instability
Nagorno-Karabakh issue prevents the reach of western political influence to the region which
already meant a lot of problems for Russia in the case of Ukraine. Afterall, Russia has been
providing both countries with arms for years and have a continued grip over the ex-Soviet states
allowing Russia great influence in defining regional balances.
Oil rich Iran managed to maintain a neutral position for a while however with its large Azeri
population it became more challenging as the crisis ensues. On Sunday Iran Revolutionary Guards
stated that ground forces have been deployed to the northern border near the conflict upon some
villages reported hit with stray rockets. 10 This is a defensive measure but in case of escalation it is
likely that Iran will be more actively involved.
Considering ethnic, cultural, and religious ties of Turkey with Azerbaijan and historical and
geopolitical position in the region, Turkey has an unavoidable role in this conflict. Whether it will be
a stabilizing or an escalatory one partially depends on whether the international actors will manage
to carry a fair approach. So far EU failed to do more than just condemn the conflict and call for
peace and many member state politicians -most brazenly in France who has a large Armenian
minority- have been showing outward support for Armenia. There were large public
demonstrations across Europe and America in solidarity of Armenia and Artsakh Republic.
Criticism given to Azerbaijan and Turkey by member states may have a fair ground. However, area
specialist Thomas De Waal points out that public trust of the other party towards the international
community gets damaged when same countries do not give criticism to Armenia where it is due. 11
Seven additional regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that were undisputed Azeri districts
occupied and controlled by Armenian forces since the 90s and is a core issue for Azerbaijan’s
grievance and distrust. 12 Western powers always talking about implementing a global standard of
humanity and peace need to hold an educated and balanced stance on this issue in order to have
credibility as diplomatic actors.
Absence of any external intervention from international bodies to this point is mainly because rest
of the world is still focused on battling the pandemic and the South Caucasus is not the most
strategically significant those who can help. The timing of the conflict is seen by some as a tactical
move of President Aliyev, but Olesya Vartanyan of Crisis Group is doubtful that the violence break
out was premeditated. 13 Although an active conflict may briefly distract the Azeri public from its
increasing dissatisfaction with the government, it is more likely upping the stakes for Mr. Aliyev
considering how the government was replaced twice over military failures in the 90s. 13

Energy Interests:

Beyond historic and ethnic discrepancies, an underlying reason causing dispute in the region is its
important position for the global energy trade. Nagorno-Karabakh has some large oil fields that
adds a major financial-interest factor to the conflict and bears the possibly becoming a proxy war
field. Azerbaijan is also a major distributor for oil and gas which is imported to the West through
Turkey. 14 Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas leaves Azerbaijan only
with a smally periphery named the Ganja Gap for gas pipes to pass through to Georgia to Turkey
and then to Europe. 15 A fully realized conflict in the region is not only a humanitarian threat but a
threat to European energy security. Therefore, the west should be more diligent about investing in
stability here.
Russia on the other hand could have another strategic advantage from this conflict carrying out
without expanding too much. As mentioned, NATO ally Turkey is a competitor of Russia in
transporting energy to Europe and has shaky but relatively better relationship with the West in
comparison. A safe running Trans-Anatolian Pipeline System route also provides the ability for
Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to export their vast energy reserve to the West through the Caspian
Sea. Russia has been strongly opposing the development of a subsea pipeline here as this could
seriously threaten Russia’s dominance in the energy trade market and hinder the dependence of
these nations to Russia to sell their most valuable resources. 15
Nagorno-Karabakh may be small and appear insignificant to the outside eye. However especially in
the current climate of multi-polar conflicts, a global pandemic, rise of neo-nationalism and growing
dismay towards international institutions; this conflict could be another fighting arena for
competing powers. International organizations and political actors need to hold the ethno-
geographic, political, and economic nuances of the conflict in consideration and fulfill a less biased
and more stabilizing position for successful diplomacy and peace. Taking part in one sided,
marginalizing discourse on a war with complex influence factors is propagandist and will nothing
more than alienate the ‘other side’ and further exacerbate the conflict. With all that is going on,
Nagorno Karabakh conflict should not be ignored and sincere diplomacy and peacebuilding
processes should be initiated before it grows any further.

1 Global Conflict Tracker. “Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.” Accessed October 16, 2020. https://cfr.org/global-conflict-
2 Uras, Umut. “Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes: Live News.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
3 Editorial, Observer. “The Observer View on Nagorno-Karabakh | Observer Editorial.” The Guardian, October 11, 2020,
sec. Opinion. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/11/the-observer-view-on-nagorno-karabakh.
4 Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. “Nagorno-Karabakh’s Record Growth in Ruins amid Conflict and Pandemic | DW |
12.10.2020.” DW.COM. Accessed October 16, 2020. https://www.dw.com/en/nagorno-karabakhs-record-growth-in-
5 “Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: US-Brokered Ceasefire Frays Soon after Starting.” BBC News, October 26, 2020, sec. Europe.
6 Rasizade, Alec. “Azerbaijan’s Prospects in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 13, no. 2 (June
1, 2011): 215–31. https://doi.org/10.1080/19448953.2011.578865. | Shepard, Jonathan, ed. 2019. “The Earlier Empire c.
500–c. 700.” Part. In The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire C.500–1492, 97–248. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
7 Cornell, Svante E. “Turkey and the Conflict in Nagorno Karabakh: A Delicate Balance.” Middle
Eastern Studies 34, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 51–72. https://doi.org/10.1080/00263209808701209.
8 “Armenia-Azerbaijan: What’s behind the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict?” BBC News, September 28, 2020, sec. Europe.
9 Bagirova, Nvard Hovhannisyan, Nailia. “Armenia and Azerbaijan Accuse Each Other of Violating Nagorno-Karabakh
Ceasefire.” Reuters, October 11, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/armenia-azerbaijan-diplomacy-
10 Euronews. “Nagorno-Karabakh: New Ceasefire Struck but Both Sides Allege Breaches,” October 26, 2020.
11 De Waal, Thomas, “The Caucasus Burns While Europe Struggles.” 2020. Carnegie Europe. Accessed October 28.
12 “The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Explained.” 2020. POLITICO. September 28. https://www.politico.eu/article/the-
13 Hauer, Neil. 2020. “Armenia and Azerbaijan Are at War Again—and Not in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Foreign Policy. Accessed
October 28. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/24/armenia-and-azerbaijan-are-at-war-again-and-not-in-nagorno-
14 “Fragile Oil and Gas Interests at Stake for Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Accessed October 16,
2020. https://www.rystadenergy.com/newsevents/news/press-releases/fragile-oil-and-gas-interests-at-stake-for-
15 MPSG. 2020. “The Strategic Energy Implications of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.” MP Strategic Group. October
10. https://www.mpstrategicgroup.com/post/the-strategic-energy-implications-of-the-2020-nagorno-karabakh-conflict.


Author: Berna Yusein

Visits: 297

Statement of European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell: The Old Empires Are Coming Back

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep
Borrell Frontelles made a speech at the European Parliament on 15 September. The EU’s

Foreign affairs chief, Mr.Borrell made a statement concerning the Eastern Mediterranean and
Turkey’s foreign relations at the meeting of the European Parliament. In his speech, he said,
“The old empires are coming back. Three of them are Russia, China and Turkey. These are
the great empires of the past. And Turkey is one of these elements. This situation offers a new
environment for us … ”
In recent months, Turkey has increased oil and gas exploration activities in the Aegean-
Eastern Mediterranean. This case has led to strong reactions especially  from Greece and
Cyprus. EU foreign affairs chief, Borrell, reported that Turkey has been attempting to revive
the empire considering Turkey’s policy towards Libya and Syria.
Mr. Josep Borrell’s other relevant remarks regarding Turkey are as follows: “Turkey is an
important neighbor for EU. We can’t change the geography and Turkey will continue to be
partners on many important issues, including immigration. For example, we know that
immigration flow is difficult without the help of Turkey. However, Turkey’s actions create a
question mark for the future of our relations and the urgent need to find answers to these

This article is written by Hülya Yıldırım

Visits: 1264

How is Davutoglu’s Strategic Depth viewed from the perspective of Turkic and Non-Turkic countries in the Caspian Region?

After the Kemalist revolution of 1923, Turkey started to pursue Western modernism with stabile and
isolationist policy from their East neighbors and with the rejection of Ottoman culture. However,
defensive and isolationist Western policy changed by Turgut Özal’s neo-Ottomanism approach.
Demirel’s argument of the Turkish world from the Adriatic to the Chinese Wall in the 1990s was significant to
the Caspian region (Efegil, 2008, p.167). This paper argues that despite Davutoglu’s “strategic depth” has
good intentions, this doctrine is mostly failed against Turkic and non-Turkic countries in the realities and
complexities of the Caspian region. This paper will first explain the strategic depth doctrine and will
afterward apply and assess this doctrine to Turkic and non-Turkic countries.
Turkey is a regional power in strategic depth. In this doctrine, Davutoglu utilizes Machiavellian classical
realism with stressing the importance of geography, history, culture and considers economic, and
military as potential powers. Thus, Davutoglu sees Turkey as a central country that possesses
a geographical and historical leadership role to its neighbors which is compatible with the definition of
regional power theory. Turkey uses soft power like economic interdependence, cultural platforms and
cooperative security as theoretical frameworks of regional power. Additionally, Turkey influences the
Caspian region and is therefore recognized by other states with its soft power. (Kardaş, 2010, p.124).
Strategic depth considers Turkey as a hinterland that emerges from the Ottoman Empire (Özkan, 2014,
p.119), whereas Turkey needs to remove its isolationist policies by multiple alliances to counterbalance
EU. According to Davutoglu, Turkey can’t reach the Caspian Sea and therefore Turkey needs to have
sea strategy for controlling other sea routes that are connected to the Caspian Sea (Aktoprak, 2003,
p.176). Hence, Turkey needs to collaborate with Russia and Iran (Davutoglu, 2001, p. 32). In this way
Turkey will increase its area of maneuver without aligning either with West or East. Given that Turkey
can utilize its unique historical, cultural and bridge role of connecting East and West characteristics, are
what makes Turkey special in strategic depth.
Particularly, strategic depth is the depth of geography which considers Turkey as a continental basin
under the capacity of being a Middle Eastern, Caucasian, Western and Mediterranean country, which
furthermore derives from Ottoman legacy rule to three continents and its historical depth of multiple
cultures in these continents. Davutoglu provides the elements of multidimensional, proactive, and
rhythmic diplomacy, zero problems with neighbors, pragmatism and mediation as characteristics of
Turkey’s new policy. Hence, Turkey pursues an integrated regional policy since it has multiple regional

Additionally, Turkey considers the all-inclusive policy of taking NGOs and every state into cooperation
(Aras, 2009, p. 133), while its global role is shifted from Western military deterrent and peripheral
country to the central country. Hence, Turkey’s secular democracy can bring stability and peace to the
Caspian states. The latter gains more attention since the strategic depth represents both neo- Ottomanism
and Eurasianism with Islamic conservatism without Turkish ethnic domination but rather cooperation
(Tüysüzoğlu, 2014, p.99).
Russia is the biggest test for the strategic depth doctrine. Turkey removed its skepticism towards Russia
and shifted its relations from an enemy state to an economical ally state after 1990 with increasing
economic relations during the Putin era. Davutoglu argues that Turkey needs to implement a strategy of
close cooperation with Turkic states against Russia’s unilateralism in the Caspian Sea. Turkey’s new
multidimensional and inclusive policy allows Turkey to remain neutral between Russia and the West while
increasing its economic relations with Russia. Turkey pursued a multilateral diplomacy policy in the
Russian-Georgian crisis of 2008 in order to balance Russian unilateralism with the Caucasian
Cooperation and Stability Platform which consists of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey
without external powers (Aras, 2009, p. 136). This platform is created because of the failure of Minsk
group and was the only solution for Turkey to provide peace and stability, since Turkey’s political
actions are restricted because of its economic dependency on Russia. Therefore, Georgia is crucial for
Turkey to decrease the Russian dependency, and in the same way it is an ally for Turkey since they both
support Western democracy. Turkey considers Georgia geographically important since the main routes
of BTC and BTE pipeline routes pass through Georgia because of the ethnic and historical conflicts with
Armenia. Consequently, Turkey seeks to solve Georgian crisis by CSCP for to be energy hub between
Caspian and West.
However, the CSCP platform is unsuccessful for the following reasons; Firstly, because of the
asymmetrical dependence and secondly because of Turkey’s non inclusive approach for not taking EU,
US even Iran to cooperate was accredited as a big mistake (Jackson, 2011, p.88). Hence, this crisis
demonstrates that strategic depth failed in the real complex of the Caspian politics. Turkey could gain geopolitical advantage neither from the US nor from Russia because of this policy. This crisis was
difficult for Turkey since it needs to make a binary choice between Russia and the US and similarly
between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Karabakh. Turkey restricted the passing of US military ships in
straits in accordance to the Montreux agreement during this crisis. Consequently, Turkey used its soft
power with providing only humanitarian aid to Georgia and having a mediation role between Russia and
Georgia. This crisis occurred to prevent NATO’s military expansion in Georgia, whereas Russia
legitimized these actions in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Moreover, Turkey recognizes the Russian dominance with including Russia in every cooperation, which
is compatible with the strategic depth doctrine. From this doctrine, Russia is naturally allied to
counterbalance EU and with also converging interest to fight against radical Islamism (Walker, 2007,
Besides, apart from the energy disputes, e.g. the BTC and BTE pipelines, Turkey balances this with the
Blue Stream pipeline. (Davutoglu, 2008, p.91). Russia is critical for Turkey to illustrate to the Turkic
states that Turkey cooperates with a common share of identity and interest rather than Pan-Turkism or
imperial desires. The great game of transferring energy sources of Caspian to Europe can create
conflicts among Russia and Turkey (Çaman, Akyurt, 2011, p.55). Turkey’s economic dependency on
Russia is an obstacle for the implementation of the strategic depth, and is therefore suggested that
Turkey can decrease this dependency through Iran and Turkmenistan and not only with Azerbaijan. This
dependency restricts Turkey’s political freedom in the Russian-Georgian crisis. Given that Turkey should
not allow Russia to impose dominance on Turkic countries, only the realistic policies of strategic
partnerships with Turkic countries, render this possible rather than adopting a “big brother” behavior.
Turkey’s biggest disadvantage is Russia’s historical political and cultural assimilation process on Turkic
states during the Soviet Union, which clarifies that both sides need to be cautious on ethnic issues like
Chechen and Kurdish people. According to Davutoglu, Turkey should not leave the mediation role to
Russia in Karabakh. Gradually, after 1990, Russia was successful in terms of filling the vacuum of
geopolitics in the Caspian rather than Turkey. This could be interpreted because of Turkey’s lack of
domestic economic and political stability, which illustrates that the strategic depth lost against Russia.
The triangle of Azerbaijan-Armenia and Turkey is a deadlocked process. Unfortunately, the strategic depth
of Turkey in this triangle is also unsuccessful. Azerbaijan is the closest ally and strategic partner for
Turkey, and although the Karabakh issue threatens Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, it remains unsolved
despite Turkey’s and Russia’s mediations. Davutoglu argues that Turkey needs to have an energy strategy
and partnership with Azerbaijan without allowing the creation of an alliance among Russia, Iran and
Armenia against Turkey (Davutoglu, 2001, p.24). Although this energy strategy is compatible with the
strategic depth policy, however, this did not happen in the realities of Caspian. Davutoglu in his strategic
depth analysis rejects Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations ideology however the Karabakh
issue between Azeri and Armenian people is a clash of civilization (Murinson, 2006, p.949). Strategic
depth respects multiculturalism but real politics prevent this. The normalization process and diplomatic
talks with Turkey and Armenia in 2009 was a huge development. This normalization policy is convenient
with the strategic depth for the following three reasons; firstly, it will attribute a mediation opportunity to Ankara; Secondly, it will enhance Ankara’s regional role and finally, it will render possible the
Nabucco pipeline operation. If Turkey manages to have good relation with Armenia without losing
Azerbaijan, then Russia will lose its control on pipelines. However, this protocol was not put into
practice because of the Karabakh issue. Turkey’s normalization process also damaged its closest ally,
Azerbaijan. Consequently, it is obvious that the Karabakh conflict creates a huge dilemma in this
triangle, in which Armenia prefers to be allied with Russia and Iran (Aras, 2009, p.4). Armenian
arguments of the 1915 genocide, which is a major problem for Turkey, since the genocide accusations,
renders unsuccessful the strategic depth, especially due to the Armenian historical conflict with Ottoman
and pan Turkism in the Caspian (Jackson, 2011, p.83). Hence, Turkey needs to use its economic
interdependence card against Armenia to incentive them to cooperate on energy pipelines mainly
because Armenia’s economy totally deteriorated after the bombardment of Georgian ports by
Russia in 2008, which undoubtedly resulted in the loss of Armenia’s economic partner, Georgia. The
football diplomacy among Turkey and Armenia is also unsuccessful due to the nationalist domestic
pressures of both sides, the genocide arguments, the diaspora of Armenians and the Karabakh issue.
Although Turkey was one of the first states that recognized Armenia’s independence and invited the
latter as a founding member of the Black Sea Cooperation, this triangle illustrates that strategic depth is
not succeeding due to deep historical and ideational conflicts, which prevent any peace progress and
cause zero-sum policies (Aras, Akpınar, 2011, p.61). Azerbaijan is therefore the last ally for Turkey to
be the energy hub, with also the help of Georgia.
Turkey has to acknowledge that all post-Soviet Turkic countries do not want to be dependent on any
single power and do not seek any country for a role model (Walker, 2007, p.43). Although Western
powers consider and hope Turkey to be a role model in this region, in order to remove Iran’s dangerous
radical Islamism and Russia’s geopolitical desires, Turkey was unsuccessful in this role. The Turkish
public opinion is sensitive towards the Turkic countries since they consider them as “fatherland of
ethnic Turks”. However, Turkic populations do not consider themselves as Turkish, thus this is a crucial
common misunderstanding. Hence, Turkey needs to perceive Turkic countries as they are. TIKA is
founded for giving aid to Turkic countries (Çaman, Akyurt, 2011, p.47). This is the soft power of
Turkey in the areas of economics, culture, language, history in line with the strategic depth
understanding. Turkey facilitates the ground for increasing their voice in international institutions with
its “door opening and right advocating” role. In parallel, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO),
Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Turkic Council are organizations that consist of
Turkey and Turkic states. Turkey and Kazakhstan have joint economic Commission and High Level
Strategic Cooperation Council and achieved agreement on security and terrorism. However, since there are disagreements among Turkic states, Turkey only achieved bilateral cooperation instead of multilateral relationships. Therefore, Turkey needs to have realistic and pragmatic policies towards these states instead of unfounded expectations and speeches. Turkey’s lack of economic success and political instability allowed Russia to fill this geostrategic role, which resulted in the defeat of both Turkey and Iran against Russia in terms of controlling the Turkic states. Turkey has to recognize the dominance of
Iran and Russia and needs to cooperate with them in order to increase its influence.
Moreover, the establishment of the Turkic Council is a huge achievement for Turkey which it can
increase this kind of soft power for the implementation of realistic goals. According to Aras, Turkey
fails to sufficiently understand international factors and its misperceptions are the reasons for the failure
of Turkish policy in the Caspian. Turkey supports the policy of “One Nation, Two States” towards
Turkic states, and it additionally supports Turkmenistan’s neutral status, regardless of the fact that their
interactions are limited to tourism, culture and official visits. TURKSOY, TDV and TDRA are cultural,
religious and educational organizations in the region (Aras, 2000, p.45), and in the meantime, the high
transfer of students from Caspian to Turkey, is valuable for integration. Therefore, strategic depth is
partially successful to Turkic countries. This success depends mostly on Turkey’s soft power in cultural,
education, historical and language councils to these regions. However, Turkey lost the ground to Russia
in terms of both geopolitical and geo-economical grounds except Azerbaijan.
Concerning Iran, Turkey utilized its strategic depth policy against Iran, thus it supported the Iranian
peaceful nuclear program during the US sanctions (Murinson, 2006, p.960). They agreed on fighting
against the PKK terrorism in Syria. Turkey cooperates with Iran for increasing the bargaining power
against the Russian gas dependency in compliance with the strategic depth, whereas Turkey also
defeated Iranian Islamism in Turkic states. Since Iran has economic restrictions due to sanctions, most
Turkic states prefer to choose the Turkish liberal economy (Goudarzi, Lashaki, Lakani, 2015, p.127).
However, neither Iran nor Turkey could take Russia’s geopolitical role in the Caspian. Although Iran
has the most compatible and safe energy route for pipelines, Azerbaijan chose Turkey for cooperation
because of Iran’s support to Armenia and Iran’s Islamic threat to Azerbaijan’s Western democracy. Aras
argues that Turkey’s constructive de-securitization process on political Islam and Kurdish separatism
caused to have good relations with Iran (Aras, Polat, 2008, p.496). Consequently, the strategic depth is
successful in the eyes of Turkic states against Iran in Caspian.
Consequently, I think the strategic depth doctrine has good intentions for making the Turkish foreign
policy success with regards to its geographical and historical depth of Ottoman legacy. However, this
is achievable in peaceful regions and not in complex and unstable cases, such as the Caspian Sea. This is
because of the strategic depth’s neo-Ottomanism, Islamic tendency and pan Turkism, which are not good strategies towards the Turkic and non-Turkic countries. The latter could be interpreted from the
fact that all states in the Caspian do not seek any role model; in contrary they want to be independent
and act according to their interests. Therefore, strategic depth is achievable ıf it is used on economic
interdependence and mutual interests. Thus, Turkey had success towards Azerbaijan but unfortunately
failed against other Turkic states. Turkic states mostly prefer to cooperate with US, EU and Russia.
Consequently, strategic depth failed in the eyes of Turkic states and non-Turkic states. This role is filled
by Russia because of Turkey’s not realistic policies and lack of domestic economic and political


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 Aras, B. (2009). The Davutoglu era in Turkish foreign policy. Insight Turkey, 127-142.
 Aras, B. (2000). Turkey's policy in the former Soviet south: Assets and options. Turkish
Studies, 1(1), 36-58.
 Aras, B. (2009). Turkey and the Russian Federation: an emerging multidimensional
partnership. SETA Policy Brief, 35.
 Aras, B., & Karakaya Polat, R. (2008). From conflict to cooperation: Desecuritization of Turkey's
relations with Syria and Iran. Security Dialogue, 39(5), 495-515.
 Bülent, A., & Akpinar, P. (2011). The relations between Turkey and the Caucasus. Perceptions:
Journal of International Affairs, 16(3), 53-68.
 Çaman, M. E., & Akyurt, M. A. (2011). Caucasus and Central Asia in Turkish Foreign Policy: The
Time Has Come for a New Regional Policy. Alternatives: Turkish Journal of international
relations, 10.
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 Davutoglu, A. (2008). Turkey's foreign policy vision: an assessment of 2007. Insight Turkey, 77-96.
 Efegil, E. (2008). Turkish AK Party’s Central Asia and Caucasus policies: critiques and
suggestions. Caucasian Review of International Affairs, 2(3), 166-172.
 Goudarzi, M. R., Lashaki, A. B., & Lakani, S. F. M. (2015). Turkish Foreign Policy in South
Caucasus and Its Impacts in Iran-Azerbaijan Relationship. J. Pol. & L., 8, 122.

 Jackson, A. (2011). The Limits of Good Intentions: The Caucasus as a Test Case for Turkish Foreign
Policy. Turkish Policy Quarterly, 9, 81-92.
 Kardaş, Ş. (2010). Turkey: redrawing the Middle East map or building sandcastles?. Middle East
Policy, 17(1), 115-136.
 Murinson, A. (2006). The strategic depth doctrine of Turkish foreign policy. Middle Eastern
Studies, 42(6), 945-964.
 Ozkan, B. (2014). Turkey, Davutoglu and the idea of Pan-Islamism. Survival, 56(4), 119-140.
 Tüysüzoğlu, G. (2014). Strategic depth: A neo-Ottomanist interpretation of Turkish
Eurasianism. Mediterranean Quarterly, 25(2), 85-104.
 Walker, J. W. (2007). Learning strategic depth: implications of Turkey's new foreign policy
doctrine. Insight Turkey, 32-47.

This article is written by Senad Sevdik

Visits: 123


The newly emerged geopolitics in the Middle East could be understood via
understanding America’s foreign policy preferences in the region, not only in today’s terms
but also in the past since there is an evident controversy. According to the current President
of the United States of America Donald Trump: The U.S. has no interest in maintaining the
free flow of energy. The explanation given falsifies the 40-years long existence of America
in the region (Wecshler, 2020). Since the so-called withdrawal of the U.S. from the region is
providing a basis to understand the emerging geopolitics of the Middle East in its roughest
terms. This article aims to interpret another article titled ‘Tomorrow’ the Middle East is
Emerging Today is written by Will Wechsler on 18 September 2020. With the same order, this
article focuses on the US public views, China’s, Iran’s, Turkey’s, and finally Russia’s regional
The public though is against any incrementally continuous role of the US in the
region for sure. The “multiple presidential campaign cycles” (Wecshler, 2020) in the US
constructs a solid example for people’s views. The military reduction decision is carried by
the ‘election calendar’ rather than strategic thinking either in Iraq or Afghanistan. For
Wecshler (2020), this is the result of malfunctioning U.S. politics coupled with the ever-
the increasing number of divisions inside the country. Therefore, without Trump’s controversial
claim, the public wants the withdrawal of the U.S. and the other parties could easily read the
pools (Wechsler). In the end, despite being more powerful than others in the region, the U.S.
and As a consequence, there is an inevitable emergence of a new geopolitical order,
which was perceived as changeful even closer to become perilous. With the formation of the
new order, its verge as well as limitations are focused and emphasized. Moreover, one should
not forget that the rise and fall of several parties through the years made more adjusted for the
possibility of a more unstable future.
When it comes to the active players in the region, China, it could be right to say, has
not be an assertive one. Yet, being a prominent trading partner for several countries in the
the region is one side; forming a strong navy to secure its energy lifelines would change the
the landscape for the Middle East in the upcoming years as Wecshler (2020) argues. Iran,
Turkey, and finally Russia should be evaluated together as they have already begun to try to
fill the current power vacuum that created by the retraction of the U.S. Resulted from the
mistakes of America; Iran has been extending its influence over Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen,
Syria, and Lebanon by providing it’s with weapons against Israel and Gulf states.
Supposedly Iran also conducts secret operations among the Shite population while expanding its
fluency in international waters and borders (Wecshler, 2020). With the counter-action of
killing Soleimani, it could be thought that Iran is discouraged to make public threats against
the United States of America, whilst still carrying the will of extracting the U.S. out of the
region. For Wechsler, it is important to acknowledge that President Erdogan adopts more of
an Islamic approach as choosing ‘former Ottoman legacy’ over the Kemalist view when
shifted its axis closer to the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of hurting its relations with
Israel. Military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Libya set an example for Turkey’s close
perspective with the Muslim Brotherhood. Besides, Turkey has an active role in the Eastern
Mediterranean considering the energy disputes with Greece. The final point could be the
relation of Turkey with the United States. It is, for Wecshler (2020), evident that the relation
between them is a formal one because of NATO, but it can be easily changed via the
purchasing of S-400 missiles from Russia. For Russia, it is easily seen that their aims are
contradicted with the U.S. Starting from their alliance with Iran in supporting the criminal
regime of Syria which later on resulted in a horrible war that made the U.S. uncomfortable. It
continues with its expanding presence in the Mediterranean intending to threaten NATO.
Wecshler (2020) argues that even though the fact that Russia is diplomatically weak they
played their hands well. Therefore, Russia’s position remains central in Syria that eventually
enhanced the dialogue with Turkey as well as Israel. For the American side, One of the
great accomplishments of United States Foreign Policy in the last quarter of the 20th century was
expelling Russia from playing a malign role in the region, but Russia got back to the game.
In the near past, non-Arab powers have to fight with the traditional leaders mainly in
Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus. They held significant military capacity which got the
attention of infamous Arab Street and they struggled for a wider impact on the Arab world.
For the author, they could not go further than being their predecessor’s pale shadow.
To overcome the increase of power of non-Arab countries, there should be a new
regional power coalition to Wecshler (2020), but it seems that rather than coalition the
closeness of Israel and the Gulf States should be defined on shared-interests. Although most
of the states would prefer to make bilateral agreements for their safety they can also sign
secret agreements with Russia which they do not trust or China which they do not know
Although the U.S. made efforts to form multiple administration. For Wecshler (2020), the Gulf-Israel coalition; has finally emerged. It is right to think that formation is beneficial for
the U.S. anyways since Iran, Turkey and Russia’s growing powers are not. It could be used on
the efforts of withdrawal more strongly, but it will worsen the situation in terms of instability.
It would be better if America would empower its existence while reinforcing its place to
newly emerged sharing of interests.

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 573

Balkans-NATO-Turkey Relations in 1990s

In the 1910s, three important wars which were the First and Second Balkan Wars and First
World War were lived. From these wars, everyone has a different importance. After Balkan
Wars, independence and the map of states were determined, and after the First World War
Kingdom of Yugoslavia was established. Then, after the Second World War, it began to call
the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, and in 1963 its name was changed with the
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There were six countries which were Serbia, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Montenegro; and two autonomous
regions which were Kosovo and Vojvodina. This regulation had continued to until Tito’s
death in 1980. In this writing, we will look at the historical structure of the Balkans in the
After Tito’s death, the regulation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke
down and Serbia had got more power than other ones. Because of that situation occurring, the
distribution of the federal structure of Yugoslavia was lived. The concrete reason can be seen
as Serbia’s taking president mission from Croatian Stipe Mesiç with the rotation method in
1991. After that, Croatia and Slovenia in 1991, Macedonia (in today Northern Macedonia),
and Bosnia Herzegovina in 1992 got their independence. Although any problem has not
occurred for the independence of Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina’s one resulted in war. Also, a meeting was made in Rome to determine of
NATO’s operations area in 1991. According to that meeting, out of area operations can be
made by NATO. However, NATO had not made operations in the Bosnian War until 1994.
After joining the operation, the Serbia army surrendered, and the Dayton Agreement was
signed. Because of Dayton Agreement’s content which was about related to while Kosovo
waits for its independence from autonomy, Serbia has decided to include Kosovo in its
borders, Kosovo Crisis occurred. Kosovo Liberation Army began to attack to Serbian Army,
and United Nations and NATO came for helping to Kosovo. Also, we can say that NATO has
got more action than the Bosnian War years for that crisis. At the end of 1999, Serbia failed,
and the United Nations managed Kosovo by the international community until 2008( Kosovo
gained its independence in 2008).
When we look from Turkey’s perspective to these years, we see that Turkey used the
United Nations, NATO, Islamic Conference, and the Organization for Security and
Co‐operation in Europe for talking on the Balkans. Also, Turkey wanted to get an active role

in the Balkans, but at the beginning of the Bosnian War Turkey was not accepted by other
ones. After Serbia’s attacking became more dangerous and United Nation’s power is not
enough, Turkey got acceptance and sent troops under UNPROFOR. Moreover, although
Turkey had good relations politically and economically with Serbia, after the Bosnian War
and Kosovo Crisis Turkey revised its relations with Serbia. Also, for Kosovo Crisis Turkey
got a military mission under NATO. Turkey got actions with the not only military but also
diplomatically with the United Nations and NATO.
To sum up, with the increasing influence of communism after the Second World War, there
have been certain changes in Yugoslavia. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
which was said to consist of 6 social states and 2 autonomous regions until Tito’s death, lost
its balance in the 1980s and Serbia gained weight in the federal structure. When it comes to
the 1990s, we see uprisings in the name of independence. Croatia and Slovenia in 1991,
Macedonia (North Macedonia), and Bosnia Herzegovina declared independence in 1992.
Although Serbia did not get destructive actions against Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia,
Serbia declares war against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, during these years when the
NATO alliance decided to participate in out of area operations, it joined the Bosnian War late.
When it was seen that the force of the United Nations was inadequate against Serbia, NATO
participated and Serbia withdrew as a result of the bombardments. As a result of this war, the
Dayton Agreement was signed and the Kosovo Crisis broke out after the agreement. Turkey is
no longer indifferent to the developments in the Balkans. Turks, Bosnians, and Albanians
living in these lands, who have ties depending on the history, supported financially and
morally and sent troops to NATO by Turkey.


This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 114

Turkey-Greece Tensions

The tension between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean continues
feverishly. This is because countries can not compromise with other countries to protect
their interests. A legal solution seems difficult due to the limited enforcement power of
international law.
The latest tension between the two countries is that the Turkish ship " Oruç Reis" was
sent to search for oil and natural gas in Cyprus. Greece considered this a violation of
sovereign rights and sent warships to the region. This situation has been criticized harshly by
Turkey. President Erdogan also announced that Turkey will react harshly if established
diplomatic relations.
If we consider the event on the basis of international law; The U.N. Convention on the
Law of the Sea asserts that countries may claim a territorial sea extending up to 12 nautical
miles (nm) from their coasts including the sovereignty of offshore oil underwater. Also,
distances of countries up to 200 miles are considered as Exclusive Economic Zone. In other
words, they have the right to benefit from this region economically.
Implementation of this law that is written in countries such as Greece and Turkey are
close together, it becomes difficult. Normally the 12-mile limit was reduced to 6 miles with
the Turkey-Greece because of the proximity. But Greece’s desire to raise this border again
strained the relations. Turkey said it would be a casus belli. Although it seems difficult for the
two NATO countries to fight, it is certain that the tension between them will increase if it is
not resolved diplomatically.
As I mentioned before, international law expects the countries to come to an
agreement and to be resolved since it is not fully authorized on sanctions. Control of small
islands between the two countries to be given to Greece opposes Turkey. And it claims to
have the right to extract oil in these regions. This causes countries to not agree among
Turkey began tracking a tougher stance on foreign policy after the economic
slowdown. From this rule, it is extremely insistent on defending his rights in the Eastern
The Mediterranean. Other European countries see Turkey as a threat and so they do not support it.

The only way to solve this situation seems to be that the two countries agree to share
oil resources in the region. Otherwise, the disagreement on the issue will cause further strain
in the relations between the two countries.

This article is written by Esma Kaya

Visits: 211

Idlıb crisis

The Civil War, which started with the increasing opposition to the regime in Syria in 2011,
continues today. Turkey is bordered by Syria and Turkey to remain silent in this war because
it was impossible. Although the first year of the war in Turkey’s foreign policy ;zero
problems with neighbors policy was not to interfere with armed.
Referring to a brief mention of Turkey’s bid to join the battle this process can be divided into
two periods; 2011-2016 and 2016 – present. The importance of Turkey for the first time in
2016 is due to the hard power driven into war. Operation Euphrates Shield, carried out with
the Free Syrian Army, was successful.
Later, in order to ensure the trust and stability in the region, he carried out operations called
‘Operation Olive Branch; in Afrin. Finally, Operation Peace Spring was organized in order to
eliminate the PKK and YPG threat in the region.
Determine which policy interventions that Turkey made the pursuit of the war; humanitarian
intervention, the fall of the Assad Regime and the prevention of terrorist groups. Turkey
towards these goals, primarily more moderate approach by not making armed intervention
against Assad. But under threat in the region and increase the security of Turkey’s confusion
insofar later used hard power with a realistic approach.
In this process, Turkey has made conciliatory initiatives. The most important one is Astana
Process which aim to find solution in Syria. For this, Turkey has made negotiations between
Iran and Russia.
These negotiations were not enough to stop the conflict in the region and the conflicts
in Idlib have increased more and more. The two opposing forces continue to struggle to be
effective and dominate in this region. Turkey’s first goal is to stop the advance of opposing
the regime. To dominate another power causes to lose the power of Turkey in the region.
Second, ensure the safety of people in the region and Turkey’s most important
objectives is, as I mentioned above, as well as ensure the security of their region. Therefore, it
argues that there should be a political solution. For this to happen, the status quo in Idlib must
be preserved until a solution is produced.

In 2020, Assad regime supporters did not stop using force. Turkey to use hard power
on it and decided to intervene militarily. Turkey was the first decision to attack Iranian forces,
Other powers Astana trio which is Russia, did not intervene as a mediator in this situation and
increase tensions. Turkey is highly likely to militarily retaliate to sustain the current status
quo. To the extent that this deterrence works, Idlib may interestingly evolve into a frozen
conflict, which can further complicate the political process. Turkey also decided to maintain
the presence of the military until a solution is found. It creates a frozen conflict environment
in this region at the moment. We will see in future moves whether this environment will reach
a solution or not.

This article is written by Esma Kaya

Visits: 249


Western states, principally the Unites States and the EU, are concerned about the escalation
of dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean.The persistent and uncompromising attitude of Turkey has been challenging Greece and the EU in political terms.In 2020, Eastern Mediterranean is like a bomb ready to explode due to the competition of possession of the offshore energy resources and transportation routes.The European Union has been seeking diplomatic solutions to resolve the maritime jurisdiction dispute in order to alleviate the tension by the arbitration of Germany and Josep Borrell the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.NATO, on the other hand, has been following the process passively.Uncompromising actions of Turkey and Greece complicate the prevention of a possible future conflict and the resolution of the issues through dialogue and negotiations.
In the recent years, domestic and cross-border operations carried out against PKK terrorist organization, military achievements in Syria and Libya have increased the self-confidence of Turkey.In the context of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey conducts its foreign policy with ”Mavi Vatan” doctrine (the doctrine specifies the national borders in the seas and national rights and stakes inside that borders).Self-sufficiency on energy by utilization of the resources in the East Med is one of the major objectives of Turkey.It is a fact that significant percentage of Turkey’s imports is on energy.As Turkey awares of this fact, Ankara states that the government will go to any extreme to take this burden off from the country’s shoulders.In the last five years, Turkey has established close relations with Iran and Russia due to the civil war in Syria and made S-400 deal with Russia.In addition, it used the refugees as a trump card against the European Union.Those actions were not supported neither by NATO nor the EU and have changed the perspective of the Western alliance negatively on Turkey.
Greece, exclusively in the recent years, has been following harmonious politics with the EU and taking more active role in alliances.Besides NATO and the EU, Greece has significantly promoted its relations with the countries in the region such as Egypt, Israel and the UAE.Moreover, Greek army conducted joint military exercises with the USA, the UAE, France and Italy.This rich and enviable support that Greece has on this level since the First World War has strengthened the state’s military and political reputation both in the region and international scene.
Nowadays, instead of peaceful talks, Turkey and Greece increased their military exercises and naval capacities in areas where they have declared as their own Exclusive Economic Zone.The problematical events such as the ongoing seismic explorations of Turkey, the collision of Turkish and Greek vessels and the confrontation of fighter aircrafts have made the solution of the dispute even more difficult.Also the opposition of French and Turkish policies about Libya and East Med and the ascended escalation between Turkey and France in the Mediterranean in June have brought Paris and Athens closer.In the disputed maritime zones, the possession of drilling rights and energy research licence of Total the French energy company has led France to stand against Turkey.
The chancellor Angela Merkel requested the president Erdoğan to temporarily suspension of the military and research activities for the peaceful settlement of the dispute.Ankara, in line with its calls for a fair and amicable resolution, fulfilled this request of Germany and suspended the Navtex declaration in July.While the talks were continuing, Greece signed an EEZ agreement with Egypt and Ankara was perceived this aciton as misuse of good offices.This move of Athens has frustrated the parties on the table.As an interesting fact, the United States dominant power of the last century has not been playing an active role to offer a solution in that issue.Washington has been closely monitoring the process in the region, however, neither the US nor NATO has taken a firm action to reduce the tension between two substantial allies.
To conclude, Germany’s efforts to gather the sides around the table have failed.In a different perspective, both Greek and Turkish policymakers think that stakes compromised may cause negative public reactions in domestic policies.Thus, the possibility of negotiation in near future seems unrealistic.By the end of August, Athens deployed troops to the Megisti Island approximately two kilometers away from Turkish mainland.Ankara, on the other hand, has decreased the level of engagement down to the warship captains in the East Mediterranean.Mutual provocations and assertive statements of both sides give the impression that a war risk is possible.A war which may break out between the parties can cause deterioration of relations and cooperation in NATO and between Turkey and Greece and the EU.The pandemic will worsen Greek and Turkish economies already in bad shape.Also, a possible war can cause deeper wounds in both economies and economical development may take more time.Therefore, NATO and the EU should find efficient and peaceful formulas to key this problem immediately and an amicable atmosphere should be created in the Eastern Mediterranean through diplomacy.

This article is written by Eren Çetin

Visits: 467