Turkey offers to hold talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Istanbul

Turkey wants Azerbaijan and Armenia to hold negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh conflict in Istanbul, Turkish FM Ahmet Davudoglu said, APA reports.

He said official Ankara is pursuing conflict settlement policy and has already become a leader in the region.

‘We would like to hold talks on Syria here, in Turkey. Moreover, it would be good, if the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be held in Istanbul’, added Davudoglu.

via News.Az – Turkey offers to hold talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Istanbul.

Ankara-Yerevan Accords Point toward Armenia’s Withdrawal from the Occupied Territories

 

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http://ada.edu.az/biweekly/issues/vol2no22/20091118011259677.html

Gulnara Inandzh
Director
International Online Information Analytic Center Ethnoglobus

The emotions, whipped up by commentaries which followed the signing on October 10 of the protocols between Turkey and Armenia, have prevented a logical analysis of the situation.  In order to begin such an analysis, we need to recognize that at the roots of the signing of these accords lie a multi-sided game of significance far beyond the South Caucasus region.

If at the outset, the opening of the borders with Armenia was one of the conditions on Turkey’s path toward joining the European Union, then at the present time, the rapprochement of the two countries depends on the geopolitical situation and Ankara’s participation in these processes.  Immediately after the signing of the Turkish-Armenian accords, as one should have expected, the EU put forward some new demands for Turkey, about which the latter could not have but known about in advance.  This means that Turkey signed the agreements with Armenia not as part of its effort to join the EU, something that provides one of the points of departure for understanding why Turkey decided to reach an agreement with Armenia.

At the same time, we must not ignore the pressures on Turkey both direct and behind the scenes.  And those came from more places than just the capitals of the countries which were represented at the signing ceremony.  (Here, we intentionally are not touching on the role of Israel in all these complicated political games, the situation around Iran, the transportation routes for Iraqi oil and the Kurdish element in Iraq, as each of these represent a distinctive subject for discussion).

Turkey, who bear the genetic code of the Ottoman Empire as far as great power games are concerned, will not agree to play the role of a defeated country even under the pressure of world powers.  Ankara is not in such a weak geopolitical situation that it has to act in ways that harm its national interests.  Not long ago, we should remember, Turkey felt itself strong enough to refuse the United States the right to use the military base at Incirlik for the supply of the anti-Saddam operations of the coalition forces in Iraq.

When pointing to the harm the protocols between Ankara and Yerevan create for Azerbaijan in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, one must not forget that the Armenian diaspora has terrorized Turkey with the issue of the so-called “Armenian genocide.”  In its turn, Turkish diplomacy, which connects this question with the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict until recently took a position absolutely the same as Azerbaijan both because of their common Turkishness and because of Turkey’s own national interests.  These two issues also served as a factor which united the Azerbaijani and Turkish diaspora, which resisted recognition of “the Armenian genocide” by pointing to the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands.

Viewed from that perspective, it would seem that Turkey, which has little to gain economically and politically by reaching an accord with Armenia, signed the protocols in a way that both undercut its own interests and angered its fraternal and strategic relationship with Azerbaijan.

Of course, in contrast to the 1990s, Azerbaijan today is not the weak “younger brother” who needs support but an equal state that is confident in its own forces and demands respect on that basis.  This cannot entirely please the current Turkish powers that be, but it is not the occasion for a break with a reliable partner.  Differences in the question of the transportation of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey also cannot be the subject for speculation on such a strategic question as the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border.

During the entire period of talks with Armenia, official representatives of Turkey at various levels repeated that the relationship Ankara sought would not harm the interests of Azerbaijan and that the Turkish-Armenian borders will not be opened until the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  Among those who have constantly said this are Turkish President Abdulla Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, members of the parliament, opposition figures and others both before and after the signing of the protocols.

At the same time, every step of Armenian-Turkish negotiations was discussed with Baku, and talks about the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue continued in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

And in this context, the declaration of Turkish President Gul concerning the impact in “a short time” of the Armenian-Turkish accords on “the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” merits attention and should calm many of the concerns in Azerbaijan.

At the present time, when Azerbaijan has acquired major geopolitical importance, ignoring its interests on such an important issue is impossible.  Consequently, the interests of Baku were taken into consideration.  Note that immediately after the signing in Switzerland of the Armenian-Turkish agreement Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Zurich where the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed.  Further, a short time after the signing of the agreement with the very same mission, Tina Kaidanow, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia arrived in Baku, and in the framework of the meetings of the foreign ministers of the Black Sea countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with President Ilham Aliyev and his foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov.  And the visit to Baku of General Ishyk Koshaner, commander of Turkish ground forces, to meet with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Col. Gen. Safar Abiyev is yet another confirmation of this.

Taken together, it is clear that this cycle of visits was not a matter of chance.

And if there were any doubt about this, the reaction both within Armenian society and also in the diaspora to the accord which should allow Armenia to escape from the blockade has been negative.  Evidently, Armenian society and politicians recognize that they will have to free the occupied territories, because otherwise no one intends to save Armenia.  It is not accidental that after the signing of the Zurich agreement, all sides represented at the ceremony except for Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan did not hide their satisfaction with what had taken place.

In other words, everything shows that the Zurich agreement will have a positive consequence on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  Judging by the presence at the signing ceremony of the representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group, it is possible to assert that all interested sides are informed about this process and about its impact on the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

If under the pressure of the diaspora Armenia will not ratify the agreement, Azerbaijan and Turkey will return to where they were before.  If the Turkish and Armenian parliaments all the same give legal force to the agreement, then Armenia will have to free Azerbaijani territories in order to secure the opening of the Turkish borders.  Otherwise, Ankara, responding to public pressure in Azerbaijan and in Turkey will not be able to open the borders with Armenia.  In that case, Azerbaijani and Turkish public opinion will be in a position to increase international pressure on Yerevan and the Armenian diaspora regarding the liberation of the occupied territories.

If Armenia does not follow through, then Turkey will always be in a position to find reasons to close the borders.  In such a case, Azerbaijan will be left with only one choice – the liberation of the occupied territories by military means; and the countries involved in the division of spheres of influence in the region will have to agree with this.  Otherwise Azerbaijan, using its status as “the most reliable country for the transportation of gas,” will have every reason for refusing to allow the Nabucco project to pass through its territory.


Every country has its own interests and priorities, and in this case, that means that there is no chance that Turkey will sacrifice its relations with Azerbaijan for new ties with Armenia.

Looking beyond the Golan Heights: Baku as a possible mediator in the Middle East

http://ada.edu.az/biweekly/issues/vol2no16/20090815072234060.html

Gulnara Inandzh
Director
International Online Information Analytic Center Ethnoglobus,

related info www.turkishnews.com

[email protected]

Syrian President Bashar Asad’s visit to Baku, which took place immediately after Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Azerbaijan and which Asad said bore a strategic character, points to a possible mediating role for Azerbaijan in negotiations between Syria and Israel. [1] That is all the more the case because over the last several years, both Israel and the United States have pushed for the strengthening of the position of Azerbaijan in the Middle East in order to have another partner there alongside Turkey.

Indeed, now a suitable time has arisen as a result of that effort, and consequently, Tel Aviv and Washington have offered Azerbaijan a mediating mission in the Middle East and the role of a gas transit route to Europe bypassing Russia.  For the first role, Azerbaijan is a key to American and Israeli efforts to reduce Russian influence in Iran and Syria and more precisely to cut the tie among the members of this triangle.  And consequently, Israel and the US have offered concessions and attractive proposals.

In the dialogue between Damascus and Jerusalem, the primary focus is on the return to Syria of the Golan Heights which have been under Israeli occupation since the Six day way in 1967.  During his visit to Baku, President Peres said that “Syrian President Bashar Asad must understand that he cannot  receive on a silver platter the Golan Heights if he continues his ties with Iran and his support of Hezbollah. [2] At the same time, he sent a message to Tehran with whom a discussion on the Syrian question appears to be in the offing.

If it is able to achieve its goals, Israel may return the Golan Heights, but having given up these territories, Tel Aviv must receive a security guarantee for Israel.  However, Damascus cannot completely break its ties with Teheran and its satellite Hezbollah and give a full guarantee that after the return of the strategically important Heights, Iran will not terrorize Israel.  Only Tehran can give a guarantee of non-aggression against Israel whether or not the Golan Heights are returned. [3]

The Golan Heights are only the visible part of a game behind which stand the economic security of the Middle East and the West.  After Peres and Asad visited Baku, US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg arrived, along with Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasia.  During the visit, they discussed with Azerbaijan’s leadership the issue of US support for the diversification of energy supplies.  Stressing that the US is not seeking to exclude Russia from this process, he pointed to a variety of energy plans that would involve Azerbaijan with Syria and Iran.  At the same time, with this set of talks, conversations about the Nabucco gas pipeline, which would reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, took off.

And at the same time, US President Barak Obama decided to reopen the American embassy in Damascus which had been closed four years ago.

All these statements and actions help explain why Damascus has now declared its readiness to be part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline and to purchase oil from Iraq.

Of course, the US and Israel, by attracting Syria to their side, intend to isolate Iran, but since all the major Iranian gas fields remain beyond the control of the West, it is hardly possible to gain the complete isolation of Iran.  Therefore, for the US and Israel, it is important to involve Iran in a dialogue through one or another third country, including among them Azerbaijan.  But the most important link in this chain is the freeing of Iran from Russian manipulation.  For that, Iran must become involved in one of the Western gas projects, otherwise the Iranian-Armenian gas pipeline through Georgia will become tied to Russia and Iranian gas will be under the control of the Kremlin.

In addition to this, the time has come for the development of new gas fields in the Caspian, part of which are in disputed areas.  And here too it is necessary to free Iran from Russian influence since official Iranian circles consider that not Tehran but rather Russia is preventing the resolution of the status of the Caspian.  Therefore, a mediating role for Azerbaijan among the US, Israel and Syria will require the intensification of negotiations between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Iran.

Notes

[1] “Azerbaijan will reconcile Syria with Israel” [in Russian], 11 July, available at: http://news.bakililar.az/news_azerbayjan_pomirit_siriyu_23479.html (accessed 3 August 2009).
[2] RosBalt (2009) “Israel: Syria will not be able to both get the Golan Heights and continue its friendship with Iran” [in Russian], RosBalt, 6 July, available at: http://www.rosbalt.ru/2009/07/06/652677.html (accessed 3 August 2009).

[3] IzRus (2009) “Azerbaijan is ready to mediate in reconciling Israel with Syria and Iran”, 19 July, available at: http://izrus.co.il/dvuhstoronka/article/2009-07-19/5372.html (accessed 3 August 2009).

Azerbaijani-Israeli Relations Enter a New Stage

Gulnara Inandzh

Director
International Online Information Analytic Center Ethnoglobus,

related info

http://www.turkishnews.com/ru/content

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The upcoming June 28th 2009 visit to Baku by Israeli President Shimon Peres, a visit arranged during the May 6th meeting in Prague between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, opens a new stage in Azerbaijani-Israeli relations and reflects among other things Jerusalem’s desire to strengthen relations with former Soviet republics in the aftermath of Israeli operations in Gaza.

In support of that effort, one marked out in the middle of 2008, the Israeli foreign ministry has established separate departments to deal with the European portion of the CIS, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, regions that had been the responsibility of the ministry’s broader Central European and Eurasian Department.  The new units are provisionally called Eurasia I (dealing with the European portion of the CIS) and Eurasia II (dealing with the South Caucasus and Central Asia).  The head of Eurasia II, which will also deal with Azerbaijan, is Shemi Tsur, the son of a Jewish returnee from the Iranian province of Eastern Azerbaijan (Falkov & Kogan 2009).

Apparently, Israeli political technologists have been working on the strengthening of official contacts with Azerbaijan intensively.  Jewish groups in the West have been playing a major role in this and have conditioned their support for Azerbaijani interests on Baku’s opening of an embassy in Israel.  As official representatives of the two countries have noted, despite the absence of an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel and of a general treaty between Azerbaijan and Israel, there exist various interagency accords which are working extremely well.  As a result, Israel receives 30 percent of the oil it needs for internal use through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and bilateral trade is constantly expanding.

The absence of anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan, the good relations with Jews living in the country also help to fill the diplomatic vacuum.  At the same time, the opening of an embassy of a Muslim-majority state in Israel and the visit of the Israeli president to a Muslim country are a moral support and example for Jews of the entire world and the Jewish state itself.

In this connection, it is worth noting that this is the second official visit of a senior Israeli official to Baku over the last decade.  In 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu, then and now the prime minister of Israel, after completing a visit to China spent the night in Baku.  After that time, no senior Israeli officials visited Azerbaijan for some years.  But beginning in 2006, when Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Our Home is Israel party became minister for strategic affairs, the number of visits increased.  Lieberman himself visited Baku in the summer of 2007 just after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did.

These efforts by Israeli and Western companies and organizations in Azerbaijan have been viewed by Iranian ideologues as part of a network directed against Iran.  One cannot deny that the overthrow of the current Tehran government or the forced change of its aggressive policy and the weakening of its position in the region are one of the key issues for Israel and the West and in particular the US.  As a result, the concern of Iran on this score cannot be considered baseless paranoia.

On the other hand, with the assignment at the end of April 2009 of a new director of the Asian infrastructure of the Bureau for Ties with the Russian-language Jewish Diaspora Natif, Israel specified its policy concerning work with the diaspora in the CIS countries.  In that, Azerbaijan is presented as a major focus of Natif’s activities (Izrus 2009).  It could hardly be otherwise, given the Jewish communities of that country, as well as in Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The Jewish lobby and Israel in recent years have attempted to establish contacts with their compatriots living in Iran.  In the meantime, the Southern Azerbaijanis who live in Iran represent another issue for relations between Baku and Tehran.  With the goal of removing the World Congress of Azerbaijanis out from under the influence of Iran, for example, a change in the leadership of the organization has occurred.  The Committee for work with compatriots was reformed into a structure for work with the diaspora, which thus reduced its focus on compatriots in areas adjoining Azerbaijan where Azerbaijanis have lived from time immemorial on their historical lands.

As was already noted, if the visit of Shimon Peres to Baku bears a moral character for Jews, for Azerbaijan it is one additional opportunity to attract the attention of the world community and the entire Jewish world to Azerbaijan and to define new patterns of cooperation and the inclusion of Azerbaijan in new major trans-regional projects.  But as one might expect, Iran’s reaction has been aggressive, including overt threats to Azerbaijan.  Baku responded diplomatically but made it very clear that it did not intend to retreat from the meeting or from its expanding ties with the Jewish state.

In spite of its threatening language, it is completely clear that Iran will not violate the borders of Azerbaijan as it did earlier.  And clearly, Azerbaijan was prepared for such an Iranian reaction, but in preparing for it, Baku recognized that neither the US nor Israel could advance an effective policy toward Iran without taking Azerbaijan into account.  Indeed, now economically and politically strong, Azerbaijan is capable of engaging itself in pro-active regional politics, as opposed to a defensive one it had adhered to before.


References

Falkov, Mikhail & Kogan, Alexander (2009) “Izrail’ otdel’no vzyalsya za Kavkaz I Tsentral’nuyu Aziyu” [“Israel Moved to Separately Deal with the Caucasus and Central Asia”], Izrus, 19 January, available at http://izrus.co.il/dvuhstoronka/article/2009-01-19/3449.html, accessed 13 June 2009.

Izrus (2009) “’Nativ’ Izbral Kuratora po Tsentral’noy Azii I Kavkazu”, Izrus, 1 March, available at http://izrus.co.il/diasporaIL/article/2009-03-01/3883.html, accessed 14 June 2009.

source  :

http://ada.edu.az/biweekly/issues/vol2no12/20090701011630368.html

Turkish-Azerbaijani-Israeli Axis Revived

Gulnara Inandzh
Director
International Online Information Analytic Center Ethnoglobus

RELATED INFO

http://www.turkishnews.com/ru/content/

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The visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Baku on February 8-11, which has attracted so much comment and speculation, is a constituent part of Tel Aviv’s policy in the post-Soviet space.  An analysis of the results of this visit shows that the resonance arising from the Baku meetings of the Israeli minister serves only as a cover for the discussion behind the scenes of issues, which have strategic geopolitical importance.

Azerbaijani and Israeli media in their discussion of these meetings devoted most of their attention to several questions, including the broadening of Azerbaijani-Israeli ties at a time when contacts between Ankara and Jerusalem are increasingly tense, Azerbaijani permission for Israeli use of the territory of the country in the event of military actions against Iran, and a mediating role of official Baku in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.  The links among these various issues become obvious upon close examination.

As far as the first question is concerned, one should note that Israel and part of the Jewish lobby, which has spoken out against military actions in Iran, do not consider the territory of Azerbaijan as a place des armes for military actions against Iran.  Related to this and as part of an effort designed to restrain Iran, the United States and Georgia have signed an agreement on the use of Georgia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea if US military bases in the Persian Gulf are used for an attack on Iran.

Correctly assessing the situation, Israeli political analysts understand that Azerbaijan will not under any circumstances agree to the use of its territory for an invasion of Iran but rather will do everything it can to prevent the beginning of military actions against its southern neighbor.  Any military invasion, be it a broad scale military action or surgical strike, would entail a humanitarian catastrophe (including an incalculable number of refugees from the northern part of Iran), a collapse of the economy, and a growth of terrorism in Azerbaijan.  These threats in turn are entirely capable of delivering a destructive blow to the security of Azerbaijan.  Consequently, official Baku cannot agree to such a step even in exchange for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

There is, however, a plethora of other issues that invite attention of Baku and Tel Aviv, as well as Ankara, and could hence serve as a solid foundation upon which the relations among the three could develop further.  Since Lieberman’s visit to Baku, there have been several extremely interesting events.  On February 16, Pinchas Avivi, the deputy director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and head of that organization’s Division for Central Europe and Eurasia, made a working visit to Ankara.  Not only did the two parties discuss bilateral relations, but they also touched upon the issues of cooperation and interaction in “third countries,” in particular those in the South Caucasus (Goldenstein 2010).  That suggests that the meeting in Ankara represented a continuation of the Baku negotiations.  The possibility of tripartite cooperation in dealing with the regional issues at a time when Turkish-Israeli relations appear to be in “conflict” is not fantastic if one comes to analyze more closely recent events.  Despite a certain public cooling in recent months, both countries have enough in common that cooperation with regard to regional issues is far from impossible.  As one Turkish official put it, “populism is part of contemporary politics,” but “Turkey was and remains a most serious guarantor of Israel’s security” (Oguz 2010).

Consequently, while some experts have hurried to bury the Azerbaijan-Israel-Turkish military-political union, it is obvious that precisely this union and not individual states are capable of being a key geopolitical center and playing a defining role in the region.  And local conflicts, which are taking place in these countries, are considered not in isolation but as part of regional policies.

This nexus also reflects Azerbaijan’s interest in playing a larger international role.  Indeed, many countries hope that it will.  In May 2009, for example, when Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov was in Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Azerbaijan could take on itself greater responsibility and leadership in the resolution of important issues in the region of the South Caucasus.  She stressed that “Azerbaijan is a strategic location which is important not only for Azerbaijanis, but also for the region and the entire world,” including not unimportantly not only the Caucasus but the areas to its south. [1]

Not surprisingly, therefore, during Lieberman’s visit to Baku, the two parties discussed in detail the possibility of Azerbaijan’s mediating role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Baku’s growing interest in playing a greater role in the broader region to its south is also reflected in its continuous reluctance to open up its embassy in Tel Aviv.  Experts in Baku often cite relations with the Organization of the Islamic Conference and with Iran as the reasons Azerbaijan has not taken that step, but the experience of Turkey and Israel suggests that in reality there is another reason at work: a desire, on the part of Baku, to demonstrate its respect for, and solidarity with, the Palestinians and the Islamic world more generally, something which will help increase the influence of Azerbaijan as a mediator in the Middle Eastern conflict.

As the situation around the region heats up, the links between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Israel seem certain to become closer, and this axis is destined to bear a direct effect on the broader region for years to come.

Note

[1] See http://news.mail.ru/politics/2567250/ (accessed 25 February 2010).

References

Goldenstein, Alexander (2010) “Турция и Израиль сохраняют координацию по Кавказу” [“Turkey and Israel keep coordination on the Caucasus”], Izrus, 17 February, available at http://izrus.co.il/dvuhstoronka/article/2010-02-17/8651.html (accessed 25 February 2010).

Oguz, Dzhem (2010) “Есть причины, вынудившие Турцию изменить отношение к Израилю” [“There are reasons that prompted Turkey to change its attitude to Israel”], Regnum, 11 February, available at http://www.regnum.ru/news/1252728.html (accessed 25 February 2010).

source

http://ada.edu.az/biweekly/issues/vol3no6/20100315074845347.htm