TODAY.AZ / Analytics

Armenia, Russia’s naughty child

18 January 2010 [12:23] - TODAY.AZ
Media in the South Caucasus will analyze for long the outcome of Turkish PM Erdogan’s Russia trip and Russian FM’s Armenia trip.  No one seems to doubt that these two visits are linked.  

Commenting on Erdogan’s visit to Moscow, Russian media puts special emphasis not on political, but economic issues. Russia and Turkey had something to discuss. Many experts argue that Turkey gradually becomes a key "transit" for Russia's natural gas. Apparently, the "South" will also follow their example.

Turkish media have promised that Turkey may offer Russia to participate in the Nabucco project, but it did not report in what form and to what extent. In addition,  Turkey also intends to purchase a solid number of weapons, especially military helicopters from Russia, which means "real money" for Russia's military-industrial complex. In short, Turkey is of some interest to Russia. Even the issue of Rosatom’s involvement in building a Turkish nuclear power plant is "dual-use item". Of course, Turkey receives "donor technologies,” but this contract is more than beneficial also for Rosatom in terms of "real money."

However, it is very hard to separate politics from economics in interstate relations. Experts remind that gas contracts and nuclear power plant construction and even arms supply are highly advantageous for Turkey. But they can hardly be considered Moscow’s large strides towards Ankara. Considering the problems with transit countries, Russia desperately needs the "South Stream," which depends on Turkey. Contracts with Rosatom and the purchase of military helicopters for "real" money are first and foremost "life preserver" for Russia's industry, and only then solution to Turkey’s problems.  

But what Turkey would require from Russia in return? There is little doubt these concessions would be purely political in nature.  

The agenda of the talks includes also two more "political" items: resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Armenian-Turkish dialogue which will not move forward without settling the Karabakh conflict. Ankara has stated this clearly and unambiguously more than once.

Too many said even before the visit that in exchange for the economic prospects, Erdogan will advise Moscow to pressure its historical ally Armenia. Because Russia has no other "political product," which would be of interest to Turkey. Of course, Ankara will not discuss the situation in Venezuela or the Republic of Nauru with Moscow! Commentators and experts in the Russian media already began talking about the possibility of an alliance between Turkey and Russia and that they will jointly build a new security system in the South Caucasus once Erdogan went on his trip to Russia.

Talks in Armenia claiming that Turkey and Russia are on the fast convergence and Ankara keeps on pursuing "quiet diplomacy" towards Armenia actively engaging Russia in this process can be concluded as follows: Russia is ready to sacrifice Armenia for the sake of friendship with Turkey. Moreover, Armenia is unlikely to show effective resistance since Russia controls almost the entire economy, railways, nuclear power plants, cell phones in this country...

Armenian experts immediately recalled events almost a century ago: Russia “sacrificed Armenia in 1920 for the sake of friendship with Turkey the same way. But the main reason for concern is different. Armenia is simply afraid of the fact that Russia has shaped its own interests which forces its relations with Turkey, rather than create "outposts" along a border with a dream of "Western Armenia” on Turkish soil.

It is possible that Armenia wasn’t scared of Russia’s interests, but rather Russia was scared of Armenia’s appetite. Because Yerevan demanded Moscow to denounce the very Moscow and Kars treaties that determined the borders between Turkey and the then-existing Soviet Union. Russia could not do this for obvious reasons. But Armenia was not concerned about it. They preferred capriciously to stamp feet and shout about "historical rights" and "moral duty" of Russia is simply obliged to "correct the mistakes of the Bolsheviks".

In short, Armenia suddenly realized it can rely on status of "privileged ally" while Russia's generals plotted to gain access to the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. But if they begin to make friends with Turkey to implement  projects like the Southern Stream, Armenia will turn into "annoying problem”, capricious child, whom nobody wants to "fuss over".

While in Yerevan, Russian FM Lavrov tried to calm the Armenian political "couteri" not saying anything concrete. He stated that "opinion of the Nagorno-Karabakh people" should necessarily be taken into account while settling the problem, adding that it is “incorrect” to link the Armenian-Turkish dialogue and the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.  However, he tried to avoid answering Armenian reporters’ question whether Russia would “sacrifice the right of Karabakh Armenians to self determination for the sake of the Turkish gas contracts by vague formulations. Finally, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan tripped to Moscow in those days. He, like Serge Sargsyan, is an accomplice to the Khojaly genocide.

In the meantime, one thing is clear: how hard Russia tries to calm its "outpost," an alliance with Turkey looks too promising for Moscow to reject it for the sake of "moral obligation" to Armenia especially at a time when it is not beneficial at all to reject lucrative contracts. Words of Russian diplomats may differ from the case. In particular, if those words do not contain specific promises and guarantees.

Day.Az writer

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