Scholarly article on topic 'An analytical study of geopolitical consequences of normalization of Turkish–Armenian relations'

An analytical study of geopolitical consequences of normalization of Turkish–Armenian relations Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

Share paper
Academic journal
Journal of Eurasian Studies
OECD Field of science
{Turkey / Armenia / "Normalization of relations" / Geopolitics}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Ali Valigholizadeh, Yashar Zaki, Kazem Zoghi Barani

Abstract In order to study the Turkey–Armenia relations in past and present times and their processes, the current paper, taking into account geopolitical views, tries to analyze the political and economic consequences of normalization of Turkey–Armenia relationships. With respect to the outcome of this research, it seems, expansion of such ties would benefit Ankara, only if the national interests of other regional states are taken into account. In other words, ignoring the interests of other regional states in the course of normalization of Turkey–Armenia relations would damage the Turkish interests and its relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia. From the point of views of influential regional powers, too, the possible consequences of expansion of Turkey–Armenia ties would accompany particular complexities. With the expansion of such ties, we may see a kind of balance of influence between profit seeking powers in the region.

Academic research paper on topic "An analytical study of geopolitical consequences of normalization of Turkish–Armenian relations"

journal of Eurasian Studies

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Journal of Eurasian Studies

journal homepage:

An analytical study of geopolitical consequences of normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations

Ali Valigholizadeh a *, Yashar Zakib, Kazem Zoghi Baranic

a Political Geography, Maragheh University, Maragheh, Iran b Political Geography, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran c Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran



Article history: Received 9 January 2013 Accepted 21 March 2013




Normalization of relations Geopolitics

In order to study the Turkey-Armenia relations in past and present times and their processes, the current paper, taking into account geopolitical views, tries to analyze the political and economic consequences of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relationships. With respect to the outcome of this research, it seems, expansion of such ties would benefit Ankara, only if the national interests of other regional states are taken into account. In other words, ignoring the interests of other regional states in the course of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations would damage the Turkish interests and its relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia. From the point of views of influential regional powers, too, the possible consequences of expansion of Turkey-Armenia ties would accompany particular complexities. With the expansion of such ties, we may see a kind of balance of influence between profit seeking powers in the region.

Copyright © 2013, Asia-Pacific Research Center, Hanyang University. Production and

hosting by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Since the formation of modern Turkey, its relations with neighboring countries have become the longstanding debates in the country's foreign policies. Till recently, it has had very weak political and economic ties with its neighbors such as Greece and Bulgaria along western border; Syria and Iraq along its southeastern border and Iran and Armenia

* Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses: (A. Valigholizadeh), yzaki@ (Y. Zaki).

Peer-review under responsibility of Asia-Pacific Research Center, Hanyang University

along its eastern border. Among adjoining countries, weakness in ties with Armenia, compared to others was completely felt or it is better to say that there were no ties as such. In fact, after the Armenia occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in April 1993, Turkey closed its land and air routes for Armenia (Demirag, 2005-2006: 75). From then onwards, the issue of Karabakh as the most important foreign policy issue of Azerbaijan that is very close to Turkey religiously, culturally, historicallyand linguistically, plays a determining role in Turkish relationship with Armenia. Moreover, Armenia still does not officially recognize Kars agreement aimed to demarcate boundary between Turkey and Armenia. Also, inclusion of the term "Western Armenia" in Para 11 of the independence communiqué of Armenia its territorial claim especially on a big part of eastern Anatolia has been a principal problem in the way of their bilateral relations. Another stumbling bloc in their relationship is the widening propagation of Armenian Diaspora in the international arena and its apparent claim of "Armenian

1879-3665/$ - see front matter Copyright © 2013, Asia-Pacific Research Center, Hanyang University. Production and hosting by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Genocide" by Turks that has put enough international pressure on Ankara, politically and financially (^andar, 2009). With respect to equations acquired for these tense relations that extensively influenced the national politics of each of these countries especially Armenia, after years of conflict and commotion, they have finally decided to normalize their bilateral relations with collective cooperation in the southern Caucasus. Although, the efforts remain ineffective so far and the process of normalization is in the state of suspension but there is no doubt that the continuation of this process and normalization of ties would accompany its own regional consequences. A glance on these could give wider perspective about regional and extra-regional ties in the southern Caucasus.

With reference to Turkish-Armenian differences as well as geopolitical problem governing the southern Caucasus especially the geopolitical problem of Armenia with Azerbaijan and its isolation by both Azerbaijan and Turkey that have had much influence on its shape and geographical location (Armenia has most of its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan), have also impacted the regional strategic important in geopolitical equations of big powers especially its transit capacity in energy field, trade and financial transaction and over all regional security. It is bit natural that the ever growing importance of the southern Caucasus has necessitated a review of Turkish-Armenian relationship. Consequently, the current paper attempts to study and analyze the consequences of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, taking into account its geopolitical angle. Therefore, the main question of this paper is: what geopolitical consequences would accompany the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations?

2. Research methodology

With respect to its theoretical essence, the actual method applied in this research is descriptive-analytical and for documentation and indexing, library and Internet materials have been used. In order to study the Turkey-Armenia relationship in the past and the present times and their processes, the paper, taking into account geopolitical views, tries to analyze political and economic consequences of normalization of such ties. Noteworthy, analyzing commercial ties of Turkey with southern Caucasian nations, due to inaccessibility to new resources, the above analysis could be based on 20032008 data acquired from the websites of the United Nations.

3. Theoretical bases of research

From geopolitical point of view, identification of geographical dimension of the research process is based on the logical calculation and the analysis process in the application of activities that have been left behind in the due course. By this way, geopolitical analysis of the region can be remembered as a suitable tool in assessing practical policies of governments (Dadandish, 2007: 77-78). However, the manner of geopolitical application overseeing the practical geopolitical knowledge aims to remedy human needs that it is constructed like other terms and theories to the extent that it is dependent on the world view, ideology, outlook and interests of users (Hafeznia, 2007: 1). Practical

application of geopolitics or in other words, innate feeling of geopolitical possibilities and understanding its deep impact on political development enjoy long historicity. In reality, it is geopolitical insight that causes the moral heroism of a leader who leads people to the course he had not traveled before. By this way, new powerful countries emerged whose creators easily understood the geopolitical needs. In other words, only geopolitics could give political leaders essential insight to identify actual needs for proper understanding of the world. This knowledge establishes relations between politics and geography and frees politics from useless and meaningful theories that could probably entangle the political leaderships into unproductive and unreal desires. Geopolitics convinces leaders to take into account a united and integrated territory (0 Tuathail, Dalby, & Routledge, 2003: 91-92). Therefore, unlike traditional, the modern geopolitics could be useful in boosting international cooperation and establishing peace. The modern geopolitical system emphasizes and concentrates on evolution of the political world as a system enclosed with different scales i.e. from local to national and to transnational level and a reciprocal spatial action and political process at all levels (national, regional and international) creates and molds an international geopolitical system (Cohen, 1994: 17).

4. Findings & research data

4.1. Turkey-Armenia relations & process of normalization of bilateral ties

Armenia that has the weakest relations with Turkey among its neighbors became independent in 1991 in the aftermath of the disintegration of erstwhile Soviet Union. Turkey was one of the first nation officially recognized Armenia on December 16,1991 and even did not hesitate to send humanitarian aid to this newly independent country. In 1992, apart from selling food grains to Armenia, Turkey, with the reason that Armenia was facing oil sanction from Azerbaijan, removed its electricity problems (Demirag, 2005-2006: 74). This issue was highlighted in a way that Turkey with such humanitarian posture aims at establishing direct relation with Turkish speaking nations in Central Asia through the Armenian and Azerbaijani territories hence; minimizes the growing pressure of the Armenian Diaspora in the global arena. Further, with the establishment of friendly relation with Armenia, Turkey wanted to minimize Russian influence Yerevan—a new step for resolving Karabakh problem. Even before recognizing the Armenian independence, the Turkish government, in April 1991 sent its ambassador in Moscow to Yerevan for talks aimed at boosting bilateral ties and showed its inclination to establish friendly relations with the newly Armenian government. That is considered as the first high level meeting with Armenians (Ozbay, 2011: 3).

However, considering that all countries try to establish transit, trade, commercial, political and even military ties with powerful regional countries and those with strategic location, geopolitical realities including geographical location, historical and cultural commonalities, aptitude toward each other play important role in establishing these ties (Valigholizadeh & Zaki, 2008: 22). The first prime

minister of Republic of Armenia too, during the early years of its independence, gave a complete support for normalization of Turkey-Armenia as well as Ankara as the best choice for establishing direct relations with the West and economic development of the country (Güngor, 2008: 18). Patrician made a lot of efforts to counter the negative media propaganda against Turkey such as media projection of Turkey as a threat to Armenia as well as improper historical prejudices and wrong approach of the two sides toward each other. Patrician even promised to counter such claims in the freedom declaration of Armenia. In part of his speech along Volkan Vural thus says:

"We cannot forget our past ever, whereas we also don't

want to continue with such a past, we want to provide

better future for our children" (International Crisis

Group, 2009: 2).

By this way, initially and for a short span, good relation continued between the two neighbors with the Turkish invitation for Armenia to become a member the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation that was founded by Turkey itself. Despite good bilateral relations in those initial years, the Turkish foreign ministry did not approve the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two hence; with the intensification of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem and the Armenian occupation of the region, Turkey closed its border to prevent military advancement of Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan and rejected western proposal of using Turkish land and air to send any humanitarian supplies to Armenia (Demirag, 2005-2006: 75).

Despite this, Turkey in 1995, reestablished air link between Istanbul and Yerevan, showing gratitude and its intention for ties with Armenia. In the meantime, with the governmental order, Turkey began repair and renovatation of cultural and artistic remains of Armenian in different parts of the country (Ozbay, 2011: 4). However, these steps could not prove effective in normalization of ties hence, with the arrival of President Robert Kocharian in 1998, relations between the two entered into a difficult stage. Kocharian, with his insistence on the international recognition of Armenian genocide by Turks a one of his priorities in the Armenian foreign policies, took a complete hostile turn toward Turkey (Lütem, 2007: 1033). In such circumstances, after the 2001 EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Summit in Brussels, EU members invited both Turkey and Azerbaijan to abborgate Armenian boycott arguing that the continuation of such process would encounter problem in the way of Turkish entry to the European Union (Demirag, 2005-2006: 75). Under this framework, the European Parliament, in its special report on October 6, 2004 confirmed to approve the issue of Armenian Genicide (Simsir, 2005: 238). However, to do away with such international pressures, Turkey proposed to open ways for Turks and Armenians to come together by using archives in the two and other countries to study the issue. But the Armenian government believes that the Turkey-Armenia differences are political and none of the historian could solve it. In other words, Armenia avoided any scientific research about the alleged "genocide" and scaped historical realities to the maximum extent. Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoggan, in his speech in 2008 said:

"We often encounter with this issue in the European Union. Irrelevant claim never gives result. If the two parties are sincere in their claims, we have displayed our documents, you also come and show your archival documents and let a group of impartial researchers and historians study these documents, and whatever step is needed, we will do that" (Fakir, 2005).

As a whole, the existing problems between the two countries continue to prevail cold atmosphere in the future bilaterla ties. Although, over the past two decades, as mentioned earlier, a number of steps have been taken by the two especially by Ankara for the normalization of ties. Those steps include the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC) under the framework the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation that is a non-governmental organization and the aims behind this was to establish direct trade and cooperation between the two countries (Kyureghian & Heboyan, 2004: 2). Further, in 2007, under the framework of efforts of the Turkish government for establishing ties with Armenia, Akdamar Church in Turkey, after its repair and renovation was inaugurated as historical and artistic museum in the presence of Gagik Gorgian, Armenia's Deputy Minister of Culture. In the same year, air link between Anatolia and Yerevan was reestablished. Apart, 2008 was considered an important year, with reference to steps taken for normalization of bilateral relations including application of "cheese diplomacy" and "football diplomacy" (Ozdal, 2009: 70). As such, a plan "Caucasian Cheese Circle" was presented with the aim of establishing peace and cooperation in the Caucasian region through normalization of Turkey-Armenia relation (The Economist, 2008: 45). Apart, Turkish President Abdullah Gul became the first Turkish head of state to visit Armenia on September 6, 2008 after he accepted the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to attend a FIFA World Cup qualifier football match between the Turkish and Armenian national football teams. Both of the presidents and their countries' respective press reflected positively on the visit setting the ground for a thaw in diplomatic relations that is expected to have made great progress in time for Sargsyan's reciprocal visit to Turkey in October to watch the return match (MFA, 2009a).

The most peak point of this process was steps by foreign ministers of Turkey and Armenia to sign a five-point agreement under the meditation of Switzerland in October 2009. The agreement emphasized on the normalization of relations, opening of borders, recognizing Kars deal and joint study about the alleged 1915 genocide. On this basis, the two countries prepared and agreed upon two protocol: the first about diplomatic ties and the second about development of ties in different fields and domains each of which with different contexts and paragraph and some of them are as :

- Reciprocal recognition of borders between the two countries based on international law.

- Opening of common borders

- Re-commitment with regard to avoiding any kind of political step that could not be compatible to their cordial relations.

- Establishing cordial relations with the aim to serve nation and development of bilateral ties in political, economic and cultural domains etc.

- Establishing diplomatic ties from time of the execution of protocol and expansion of diplomatic representation (MFA, 2009b).

These protocols are remembered as historical steps for boosting ties between the two countries. It was decided that the protocols, after signature, would be sent to respective parliaments and would be executable once approved by legislative bodies. However, in April 2010, issuing a statement, Armenia declared that since the Turkish parliament did not approve the protocols in a reasonable time, it is necessary to stop the execution process of the protocols with Turkey. In this statement, it was emphasized that until Ankara prepares to follow up the protocols without preconditions, the Armenian parliament would not hold a debate on this issue. These steps were taken at the time when the Supreme Court of Armenia accounted the two protocols as legal in January 2010 and despite the fact that Armenia insisted that it had not abrogated the protocols and only suspended the normalization process, Turkey avoids approving these two protocols in parliament.

Although Turkey had criticized Armenia for halting the process of normalization of ties but in reality, the Turkish authorities were worried after they encountered with fundamental problems for getting parliamentary approval for the above protocols. The most intense problem was the effort of opposition groups for exploiting this by portraying the weakness of the government as well as its non-achievement on the Turkish scenario. To minimize the growing criticism of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Turks wanted that by organizing trilateral meeting of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia, it would try to free five of seven townships under the occupation of Armenia in return for Karabakh and opening of the borders hence; it would be able to turn the public opinion from deepening of Turkey-Armenia relations and it would suggest that Ankara's actions about the normalization of relations is in the interest of Azerbaijan.

As a whole, the process of normalization of ties that intensified after signing of the two aforementioned protocols aimed at establishing diplomatic ties that was faltered with a sudden and unexpected statement by the Armenian government and hence, was a severe blow to the normalization process. However, after the declaration of the Armenian Supreme Court that approval of protocols does not mean Yerevan's connivance to the issue of Armenian genocide, practically, Turkish hopes faded away referring to overcoming this issue and recognizing borders of the two countries from the side of Armenia.

5. Main obstacle in normalizing Turkey-Armenia relations

In their bilateral ties, both Turkey and Armenia have strategic interests beyond merely relying on diplomacy. The advantage and benefit of these long-term objectives impel these two countries more toward détente. Armenia

will follow strategic aims and objectives such as minimizing structural military and economic dependence on Russia, removing land blockade and exit from geopolitical isolation, solving national financial crisis and peaceful transition to free economy as well as response to social crisis like preventing wide-scale migration of Armenians and weakening the position of Azerbaijan. Access to these aims depends upon strategic, political and mental changes toward its western neighbors. Turkey also focused on its important aims such as minimizing the US and the European pressures for opening of borders, entry to the European Union, help strengthen regional security and solve Karabakh problem under the framework of UN Security Council resolutions, preventing damaging prestige of Turkey due to continuous claim of Armenian genocide, quick and conformable advances of projects of transferring Caspian sea and Central Asian energy resources to Europe and strong influence and presence in the Caucasian region in its competition with Russia and Iran. Realizing important parts of these aims completely depends on Ankara's revised policy with regard to its relations with Armenia (Banihashemi, 2009: 138-139). However, there are other factors affecting the approaches of these two countries and have brought them to the dead end. It is to the extent that one cannot be certain about the future bilateral ties. This political dead end and trends can be briefed as follows:

- With reference to complex geopolitical realities of the Caucasian region, probably it can be said that none of the factors is more effective than the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh in geopolitical relations of Armenia with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh has tied up to geopolitical interests of these three governments, in such a way that its role cannot be ignored for political dead end between Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia. Evidently, on the one side, any positive compromise between Azerbaijan and Armenia would lead to easing of other problems between Turkey and Armenia or vice versa. On the other, with respect to deepening geopolitical ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey, undoubtedly any relation between Turkey and Armenia without taking into account the interests of Azerbaijan would create friction in Turkey-Azerbaijan ties (Valigholizadeh, 2010: 96).

- The Armenian government, without any basis, identifies the 1915 incident by Ottoman rule as genocide and has often emphasized this issue in the international arena. The efforts that were often entertained by some European powers and Americans not only damaged the international status of Turkey rather deranged the economic and political relations of Turkey with any country that officially identified the Armenian claims (Banihashemi, 2009: 125).

- Armenia does not completely recognize its borders with Turkey. Apart, the declaration of freedom and the Armenian constitution apparently includes the alleged genocide claims as well as territorial claims on east of Anatolia (Anadolu, 2009). In these documents, a term "Western Armenia" is also visible and above all, there is a statement about extraterritorial rights and cordial

neighboring relations that has not signed yet by the Armenian government (Kamer, 2009). Likewise, in its official researches, Armenia uses Ararat Mountain (Agri Dagi) located inside the Turkish territory as its symbol. Even, the name Ararat is abundantly seen in different domains such as cinema or the naming of cities. In other words, this trend has no conformity with its pure intention.

- This action and similar political behavior in a way cause obstacle in the way of Turkey-Armenia relations. As discussed before, the influence of Diaspora and pressure groups in Armenia show their existence. These pressure groups, in every circumstance, have been critical to efforts of the Armenian government for mending ties with Turkey hence; they force it to retreat. In the same way, growing social sensitivity with regard to this issue in Turkey too has made the governmental efforts more difficult. This difficult condition, though, may not be in the present existing condition in Armenia but Turkey has been encountering with other obstacles as well and that is the government of Azerbaijan. People of Azerbaijan and Turkey consider each other as "one nation with two governments". And through this, it can be understood the importance the Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia enjoys among the Turkish nation. In fact, this was the real reason of closing border posts between Turkey and Armenia. Thus, it can easily be perceived that any inclination of the Turkish government for opening of borders with Armenia would encounter with opposition from people and the government of Azerbaijan. Indeed, the expectation of the people and government of Azerbaijan includes conditional normalization of ties and opening of borders, throwing Armenia out of occupied region and solution of Karabakh dispute under the framework of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

6. Place of Armenia in commercial ties of Turkey with southern Caucasus

From geo-economic point of view, the southern Caucasus enjoys special importance in the foreign trading domain of Turkey and an assessment shows a rising commercial ties of Turkey with regional countries. Actually, with respect to domestic and international economic scales, this region with about 16 mn population cannot be considered such macro-economic values but its communication and strategic location makes it the most advantageous. The Turkish export to the southern Caucasian countries was nearly $340 mn in 2003 that grew to 488% in 2008 and comparatively reached to about $2000 mn. Considering Graph 1, the Turkish export to these regional countries was noticeable year-by-year. In the meantime, the highest volume of Turkish import from this region was worth $1228 mn, the most remarkable part of it was related to oil and gas from Azerbaijan.

It is noteworthy that the total Turkish export to Armenia in 2007 was $267 mn that alone accounted to 13% export to Caucasian countries. However this ratio, compare to $33 mn in 2003, shows a growth of 710%. In the meantime, imports of Azerbaijan and Georgia with $807 mn and

Graph 1. Turkey's total trade with southern Caucasus - data reference (UN Comtrade, 2007).

$916 mn from Turkey were 3 and 3.4 times the Turkish export to Armenia. Similarly, the total trade of Turkey with Azerbaijan and Georgia between 2003 and 2008 was nearly $5184 mn and $3640 mn respectively that was 8.5 and 6 times of the total Turkish trade to Armenia in the same period with $613 mn. Other important point is that the total Armenian import in 2008 was $4101.2 mn which included 15% of the Turkish export. This ratio was 3.68% in 2007.

As can be observed in Graph 2, Turkey had no imports from Armenia between 2003 and 2008. As such, Armenia has the weakest trading ties in the southern Caucasian region. Armenia, not only lacks commercial ties with Azerbaijan rather according to a 2008 data, though the total foreign trade of Azerbaijan with Georgia was $813 mn, this ratio for Armenia was just $117 mn.

Evidently, in case of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations and resolution of Azerbaijan-Armenia disputes, the development of regional economic cooperation is not improbable. Consequently, along with regional growth and transition would also help boost volume of Turkish trade to the region. In reality, the current level of ties, taking into account annual growth of trade, the continuation of this trend is certain. In the existing circumstances, with reference to macro economic indicators of regional countries, growth dimension seems impossible in short span however; the existing potentials of these countries are fundamentally unable to create a space for such a wider growth. Specially, in case of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, based on existing evidences, one cannot expect higher growth in the existing volume of the Turkish trade. If we take into account Turkey-Georgia commercial ties, the total volume of the Turkish trade to Georgia was about $1178 mn in 2008 that naturally includes a share of indirect Armenia import from Turkey. In other words, due to the

Graph 2. Turkey's foreign trade with southern Caucasus countries - $ mn.

closing of borders between Turkey and Armenia, the onesided trade could take place indirectly via Georgia.

Moreover, a comparison of Armenia based on its economic and population indices shows that the country not only enjoys the lowest population with regard to the extent of market rather the rate of GDP growth is also smaller than other regional countries. Based on this, as Graph 3 shows, Armenia in comparison to Azerbaijan has the highest volume of trade with Turkey, has a population less than half of Azerbaijan and its GDP growth is also far away from the existing level of Azerbaijan. As such, it is a fact that Armenia would not have remarkable commercial ties with Turkey considering its existing economic potentials. Despite this, one cannot ignore geo-economic importance of Turkey-Armenia ties in the wake of changing foreign policies of Armenia as well as fostering acceptable and logical foreign policies (Table 1).

Considering earlier discussion, the assessment of development of Turkey-Armenia ties would only be the imperfect bilateral perspectives. On the other side, the need to take into account the region as a collection must be the real basis of the discussion. In fact, with growth and development of social, political and economic ties between regional countries and their ratio of influence upon each other, the regional

economies can gradually enjoy better potentials. That is the point where Turkey's trading ties with regional countries can witness remarkable growth. Although, from political point of views, normalization of relations with Armenia would boost Turkey's regional status but economic achievement seems impossible in a short span.

With regional stability, the most important advantages of economic and political ties of Turkey, apart from growth of regional exports, can be creation of ideal condition for transfer of energy resources through Armenia. Moreover, the growth of little export potential of eastern cities of Anatolia in the vicinity of southern Caucasus, minimizing security danger of eastern borders, revival of economic condition of border towns and minimizing migration from eastern region of Turkey can be other social advantages of its relations with Armenia, although, the effect of such relations in a short and average spans should not be exaggerated.

7. Geopolitical consequences of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations

With reference to present strategic ties of southern Caucasian countries as well as strategic importance of the

Graph 3. Turkey's total trade with southern Caucasus from 2003 to 2007 - $ mn.

Table 1

Population and GDP growth rate in southern Caucasus (2007).

Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia

Population 8.58 3.07 4.38

GDP Growth Rate 25 13.7 12.3

Reference: The World Bank, 2013.

region in geopolitical and geo-economic competitions undoubtedly, the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations would lead to transformation in regional geopolitics and geo-economic equations. These transitions, from the point of view of each government of the southern Caucasus, peripheral powers and world hegemonic players are of much importance.

In the internal regional dimension, transformation in Turkey-Armenia relations could be an important sensitive point in determining the fate of the Karabakh crisis. This transformation, contradictorily, influences the two governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia. At a first glance, development of Turkey-Armenia ties weakens the situation and regional backing of Azerbaijan. As seen, the first sign of this transition caused for time a cold relationship between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The expectation of the people and government of Azerbaijan includes conditional normalization of relations and opening of borders, throwing Armenia out of the occupied region and solution of the Karabakh dispute under the framework of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Based on the strategy of Ankara, on one side security and economic motives of Turkey and Azerbaijan for Armenia vis-a-vis resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis and other occupied region, are important cards and tools to convince Yerevan in future. On the other side, putting condition to boost ties from Turkey to accept Security Council resolution from Armenia based on resolving and settling the Karabakh dispute under the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, an important legal pressure pyramid on Yerevan to the world public opinion as well as request to big powers for peaceful resolution to the crisis (Banihashemi, 2009: 135-136).

In the international political economy, ownership and control of energy routes can have wider strategic profits like access to cheaper energy for domestic needs, secured investment, transit incomes and influence on the flow of energy resources and its use as political and security pressure pyramids (Saghafi-e Ameri & Taghizadeh, 2008: 26-27). However, the lack of diplomatic and economic ties of Armenia with Turkey and Azerbaijan has caused lack of possibility of utilizing geopolitical potentials to strengthen national economy and continued attachment to Russia. With no resolution of the Karabakh crisis, Armenia is excluded from big international and regional economic projects in Caucasus and facing boycott and isolation more than before. Omission of Armenia from important energy transit projects like Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines and its non-participation in the under construction Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line project and Ankara-Baku-Tbilisi expressway would incur long-term strategic and economic damage for Yerevan. Likewise, absence of Armenia in these projects especially NABACO plan means loss of historical economic

opportunities, energy safeguard and even regional security and separation of political and economic fate of Armenia (Banihashemi, 2009: 129).

In fact, the economic boycott and the Armenian isolation by Turkey and Azerbaijan caused big gap in economic and communication cooperation domain in the southern Caucasus. From this, the development of Turkey-Armenia relations in the medium term and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations in the long-term would pose a great obstacle in the way of economic structures of the Caucasian region and the isolated Armenian economy would be linked to dynamic economy of Turkey (Ferit Temur, 2009) and developing economy of Azerbaijan. This important transition can be considered as an introductory step toward the entry of Armenia to regional and global economy. However, the entry of Armenia in this process is a strategic aim of this country. In other words, this transition, on one side, responds to domestic crisis and on the other side, an important step in the course of economic freedom of this country and minimizing its structural economic dependence on Russia. The result of this transition in the medium and long run is dominance of economic logic on behavior and relations of Caucasian countries, decreasing military and defensive expenditure as well as driving it toward economic developmental substructure. Perhaps, the most important outcome of Turkey-Armenia ties would be the beginning of fundamental transformation in the domain of energy and communication routes. However, it must not be ignored that the Armenian entry into energy transit arena as well as big projects like NABACO and Trans Caspian and likewise its participation in the communication projects in southern Caucasus such as Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line, BakuAnkara expressway, and Black Sea coastal expressway are conditional to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.

From the point of view of the Iranian profit, it must be pointed that Armenia is the only non-Muslim neighbor of Iran and had the least political and security challenges to Iran among its all Muslim neighbors and perhaps, the main reason is the Armenian need of Iran in order to establish its contact with the outside world and establish a kind of balance of power in the southern Caucasus. With reference to the fact that Armenia has problem with Azerbaijan on its eastern border on the issue of Karabakh, it too feels insecure in the north after August 2008 incidents with Georgia and in the west, it has fundamental problem with Turkey. It would be unrealistic to imagine that Iran-Armenia relations would be completely influenced by the development of Yerevan-Ankara ties. However, this new transition would certainly limit the Iranian presence in the political and economic equation of Caucasus with respect to relieving Armenia from traditional attachment with Iran (Koozegar Kaleji, 2009: 18). Other event is also remarkable i.e. if Turkey fails to preserve Azerbaijan's national interest in the course of its normalization of ties with Armenia, certainly we will witness to Turkey's rejection by Azerbaijan and at the same time its closeness to Iran. This is also true about Georgia. In fact, distancing of Georgia from big economic projects as well as flow of foreign trade of Armenia could incline this country more toward Iran.

Normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations also has a particular extra-regional outcome. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, special regional system gradually emerged in Caucasus with three main players i.e. Russia, Iran and Turkey. In fact, security, historical and cultural interests of these countries as well as three others in the southern Caucasus led to gradual coordination and détente between them where Russia, Iran and Armenia are the one side and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia on the other. Over the past two decades, each of these groups has expanded political and economic cooperation and competition in the form of some of the organizations or big regional projects. Since, Armenia and Turkey are on the reciprocal regional competition and the past hostile relations have provided a particular identity, a transition in their relations would break the bipolar regional system that has strengthened in the last two decades. In other words, Armenia's entry to this process that is unavoidable to eliminate boycott, geographical isolation and renovation of economic and industrial substructures could change the regional power equation in the favor of Turkey.

From the point of view of western interests i.e. Europe and the United States, development of Yerevan-Ankara ties means shortening of space for Russia and Iran in the Caucasus especially in the field of energy, especially with two crucial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and NABACO projects. The Turkey-Armenia ties could provide suitable ground for American influence in the Caucasian equation. From the point of view of Washington, with its active participation in regional equations, Armenia's dependence on Iran and Russia will be diminished and could bring this Christian country with enough cultural similarities with the western world as well as its strategic location closer to the West (Koozegar Kaleji, 2009: 19). Armenia would take a big step in case of normalization of its relations with Turkey. Likewise, there are two factors in determining the European Union attitude toward the region. One is effect of existing and under-constructed energy pipeline projects in the region on the energy security of the EU. Second is the European cooperation policy especially with its intension to help six republics of erstwhile Soviet Union. With this attitude, cooperation with Ukraine, Moldavia, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been anticipated in different domain such as backing of governmental organizations, economy as well as border security (Çomak, 2009).

In the meantime, it seems that Kremlin, too, is trying to adjust its relations with Armenia based on its ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey because, from its geopolitical interest to counter NATO strategy, Russia needs at least normal relationship with Azerbaijan and Turkey. In fact, Russia relentlessly tries to keep America away from regional problems hence; has tightened its grip over Caucasus. Among other reasons, Russia's closeness to Azerbaijan is a powerful pressure that it incurs on Armenia. On the other side, Moscow tries to proceed with three-minus-one choice (Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia minus Georgia), by keeping Azerbaijan away from Georgia, it has isolated this country and placed it at bottleneck (Caucasus Bulletin, 2008: 42). Although, Russia did not lose anything in the last brief war with Georgia, however, considering its bad experience, does not want the region to

witness another conflict and in reality, the regional peace in the way of Russian interest is the utmost desire of Moscow. Moreover, with its support to the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, Russia wants to attract the attention of Turkey and develop Moscow's ties with Ankara as well as protect reciprocal confidence that have emerged between the two sides over the past few years (Aras, 2009).

Russia is in the process to have good relationship with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. From the Russian point of view, while Armenia is important in strategic and military domain, Azerbaijan enjoys enough energy and financial resources. On the other side, Russia considers itself in a position that it is obliged to attract the satisfaction of the two. Likewise, with the reopening of Turkey-Armenia border, a principal part of the Armenian trade would be accomplished through Turkey's Trabzon port instead of Poti Port of Georgia. This means, following its aim, Russia will be able to dismiss the Georgian monopoly on the Armenian trade. It is worth to mention that Russia, apart from military victory in Georgia, also accomplished a political victory by giving official recognition to the freedom of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. By this way, a complete secession of its relations with Georgia became more and more evident with the Armenian isolation. From Russian point of view, reopening of Turkey-Armenia borders, development of ties would bring calm to Russia's strategic partner of Armenia in southern Caucasus hence; would free it from Georgian attachment. Moreover, with normalization of Turkey-Armenia relation, energy pipeline and communication of the West would transfer to southern region i.e. Armenia from Georgia. However, in case of reemergence of a war between Baku and Yerevan, the past scenario would be repeated and Russia would be on the Armenia side while Turkey would come on the Azerbaijani side hence; such an incident can easily cause friction in Moscow-Ankara ties that are currently considered the biggest trading partners.

Strategic outcomes of normalization of relations from the point of views of Turkey are distinct from others. The renormalization of Turkey-Armenia relations is considered a kind of diplomacy to establish peace (Sanberk, 2009). From the point of view of Turkey that has taken important step for its dream membership of the European Union, relations based on peace and stability with neighboring and peripheral countries enjoy special importance. Under the framework ofmulti-dimensional foreign policies, Turkey, on the one hand follows the policy of rapprochement and resolving problems with its neighbors through dialog and on the hand, with the aim to create a peace band in its surrounding, it poses itself a mediating player in regional crises. In fact, if nothing is achieved from Turkey-Armenia ties, the essence of Turkey's peace efforts will be in question. With the idea of assistance to establish a ground of cooperation in the region and Turkey's collaboration to establish regional stability was aimed at normalizing bilateral relations. Boosting its relations, Turkey would certainly evolve itself a big regional power (Aras & Ozbay, 2009: 7-8).

Likewise, Turkey follows the policy of strengthening ties of southern Caucasian countries with the West and weakening Russian influence on these countries. Turkey's advanced relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia lucidly explain this aspect. Simultaneously with mending Turkey-

Armenia ties, distancing of Yerevan from Russian and its closeness to the West would seem a great victory. Likewise, the normalization of ties would lead to the presence of Turkey's private sectors in the Armenian market hence; would revive trade in southern Turkey. Simultaneously, taking international energy and communication routes through its territory, Turkey wants to transform itself the most important energy transit country in the world that is only possible with regional peace and security. The troubling Turkey-Armenia relations thus are considered a main obstacle.

8. Analysis & findings

With due attention to what has been discussed before, despite some big obstacles in the way of normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, with reference to regional geopolitical realities, development of bilateral ties could be a great opportunity and distinct bottlenecks in regional geopolitics. Presently, Armenia is considered the weakest country in the southern Caucasus but with respect to the geopolitical condition, it is playing key role in the region. In other words, foreign policy orientation of this country is more positive in geopolitical formation than the rest of countries. As such, a change in the foreign policy of this country toward peripheral nations especially Turkey and Azerbaijan can bring ups-and down in the total geopolitical equations of the region. In fact, the normalization of bilateral ties and withdrawal of Armenia from economic and territorial isolation, taking into account political, economic and security structures of Azerbaijan and Georgia especially in regional stability, would gradually decrease the Armenian attachment to Iran and Russia from defensive-security aspect as well as economy and energy and would strengthen ground for presence and participation of Armenia in security and economic projects of the West hence; strong presence of Turkey industrial, commercial, energy sectors in Armenia and the whole Caucasus and even in the Central Asia would be smoother. As such, if Turkey could boost its ties with Armenia under the framework of national interests of all regional countries then perhaps it can be said that Turkey would swallow the whole region, providing that the whole region acts in coherent way. This also as other regional countries do not have satisfactory relations with the two northern (Russia) and the southern (Iran) fronts. Moreover, the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, other than the interests of regional countries, would be profitable for Armenia only. In other words, ignoring interests of other regional countries in the process of normalization of such ties would simultaneously lead to loss of Turkey's interests in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Consequently, Turkey would not only lose the game in mending ties with Armenia rather will lose its current place in the region. As such, what most political experts believe in evolution of Turkey's place in the region would not be accomplished so easily. Again, in case Turkey attracts the satisfaction of the whole region, even in that case, it cannot be hopeful of major short-term geopolitical and geo-economic achievements. Evidently, based on predictions, in case Turkey and Armenia are unable to attract the complete satisfactions of Azerbaijan and Georgia in

their bilateral ties, it is expected that with such ties, in a short term, and cross displacement of strategic friendship in the region would lead to a kind of lateral weakness and strength of traditional ties between players that cannot consider the above process constant and results may be the establishment of a kind of extra-regional power balance and ties in the southern Caucasus.

It is worth mentioning that safeguarding the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan with resolving the Karabakh dispute is the most important factors in the national policies of this country. Since, the Karabakh issue is tied up with geopolitical games of big regional and extra-regional power, the issue has encountered with more complexity. By this way, it can be imagined that without taking into account the interest of Azerbaijan, the normalization of Turkey's ties with the biggest historical enemy of Azerbaijan could put relations between these two historical partners at odd. In fact, if Azerbaijan feels that it is placed in the bottleneck on the issue of Karabakh from its greatest friend and ally, it would lead to the biggest and the heaviest geopolitical isolation of Azerbaijan in its post-freedom period. However, geopolitical logic shows that Turkey is following its own benefit in the region and would not cease its profit by sacrificing Azerbaijan.

From the point of views of dominant regional powers too the probable outcomes of the normalization of Turkey-Armenia ties has encountered with particular complexities. For instance: from Russian point of view, the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations as well as resolution of the Karabakh crisis would help bring Azerbaijan and Turkey closer to Moscow and this will remarkably diminish the Western influence in the region. Moreover, role of Russia will increase in the geopolitical equation of the region. On the other side, from the West's point of view, the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations as well as resolution of the Karabakh crisis would help bring Armenia closer to the West. Although the bilateral ties are directed to big economic plans of the west, however; one cannot see the simultaneous descent (from Russian point of view) and evolution (from western point of view) of western place in the region. As such, the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations perhaps could maintain a kind of balance between dominant powers providing that such bilateral ties take into account the interest of other regional countries. Otherwise, as told before, neither Turkey will be successful nor others by changing strategic friendships. In fact, it is Russia that will be the only victor in this sensitive game with the fulfillment of Azerbaijani auspices.

9. Conclusion

With reference to what has been discussed above, the southern Caucasus region, especially due to its location on the energy transit route to the EU, it is also important for Europe so far as the security is concerned. As such, the EU supports the expansion of Turkey-Armenia relations. From the European point of view, this issue is linked to the process of Turkey's membership to the European Union. The US, too, wants the early resolution especially it gives much importance to issue in order to safeguard the security of energy pipelines. Likewise, Russia, in order to fulfill its own

strategic aims in Caucasus, supports the normalization of ties. However, with respect to geopolitical logic, such a consensus from big powers has only tactical dimension and undoubtedly is not ever lasting.

From the point of view of Turkish interest in the region, an assessment of commercial ties of regional countries recounts the presence of a very weak economic and trading network. Similarly, economic and population indices of Armenia indicate that this country does not enjoy much economic potentials. However, if we take into account the development of Azerbaijan-Armenia ties in the shadow of the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, in such a case the economic growth and gradual expansion of region commerce would not be impossible. Naturally, in such a condition, development of Turkey's commercial ties with Armenia would not cause bitterness so far as Azerbaijan or Georgia is concerned. Furthermore, in such circumstances, geo-economic importance of the region would provide ground for the EU, the US and Russia for investment hence; economic competition between these big powers would be more than before. To accomplish all, bilateral ties between Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijan, fostering complete coherent political and logical decisions are necessary along with resolving all existing obstacles.

As a whole, with respect to geopolitical process, a single dimension to the normalization of Turkey-Armenia ties would result in failure. This issue alone would lead to tactical and sectional changes in the relationships of southern Caucasian countries with regional and extra-regional players hence; with respect to the essence of ideological interests, it would not remain constant for either side. Consequently, the whole region must be taken as a coherent collection and the acquired results from this collection must also be put to assessment. The normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations, in short or long-term, would be beneficial for both Armenia and the region as a whole. However, politically, in case of fulfillment of the above aspect in the medium-term, a long-term Turkish interest could be discussed as well. Because, the Turkish efforts for establishing regional stability, apart from strengthening international as well as geopolitical status, would be to boost its influence in the Caucasian region. And so, with this process, one more obstacle seems to be removed from the way of its becoming member of the European Union.


Anadolu. (2009). Turk-Ermeni ilifkileri'nin Dunu Bugunu [Past and the future of Turkish-Armenian relations]. ermeni.html, 08.13.2009. Aras, B. (2009). Ermenistanda Durum Nedir? [What is the situation of

Armenia]. Sabah. 09.09.2009. Aras, B., & Ozbay, F. (2009). Turkiye ve Ermenistan: Statuko ve Normallesme Arasinda Kafkasya Siyaseti [Turkey and Armenia: Caucasian policy between status quo and normalization]. SETA Analiz. No: 16. Banihashemi, G. (2009). Outlook for the power balance in the Caucasus in the context of developments in relations between Turkey-Armenia. Strategic Research Journal, 46,115-144. ^andar, C. (2009). Zihinleri Afmak, Sinirlari Afmak [Opening minds, opening borders]. id=11538156&yazarid=215, 29.04.2009.

Caucasus Bulletin. (2008). International studies and research Institute of Abrar Moaser, Tehran.

Cohen, S. B. (1994). Geopolitics in the new world era, reordering the world). USA: Westview Press.

^omak, i. (2009). Karabag Sorununda Uluslararasi Konjonkturun Onemi [Problem of the importance of the international conjuncture about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict]. BiLGESAM. index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=455:karaba-sorununda-uluslararas-konjonktueruen-oenemi&catid=86:analizler-kafkaslar&Itemid=148,16.09.2009.

Dadandish, P. (2007). Geopolitical discourse in Central Asia: areas of interaction between Iran and Russia. Geopolitics Quarterly, 7, 75-96.

Demirag, Y. (2005-2006). Guney Kafkasya Politikasi [South Caucasus policy]. Kafkasya Ara$tirma ve Analiz Dergisi, 1, 74-75.

Fakir, C. (2005). Ermeni Sorunu: (ozum [The Armenian question: solution]., 07.07.2009.

Ferit Temur, S. (2009). Degismekte Olan Kafkas Jeopolitigi ve Rusya [The changing geopolitics of the Caucasus and Russia]. http://www.turksam. com/tr/a1844.html.

Gungor, B. (2008). Turkiye- Ermenistan Sininnin Aplmasi Neden Gun-demde?: jeoekonomik Bakis [Why opening of Turkey-Armenia border? Geo-economical overview]. International Journal of Economic and Administrative Studies, 1,11-34.

Hafeznia, M. (2007). Humanist geopolitics. Geopolitics Quarterly, 9,1-4.

International Crisis Group. (2009). Turkiye ve Ermenistan: Kaliplari Kirmak, Sinirlari Afmak [Turkey and Armenia: Opening minds, opening borders]. Kriz Grubu Avrupa Raporu No. 199.

Kamer, K. (2009). Turkiye-Azerbaycan-Ermenistan Ufgeni [Triangle of Turkey-Azerbaijan-Armenia]., 04.07.2009.

Koozegar Kaleji, V. (2009). Improve relations between Turkey and Armenia and its impact on Caucasian developments. Strategic Report No 295. Tehran: Strategic Research Center.

Kyureghian, G., & Heboyan, V. Opening Armenia-Turkey border: measuring the economic impact. International Food and Agribusiness Management Association 14th Annual World Food and Agribusiness Forum & Symposium, Monteux, Switzerland, 2004.

Lutem, O. E. (2007). Turkiye ve Ermenistan'in Guncel iliskileri [Current relations of Turkey and Armenia]. In Ermeni Ara$tirmalari 2. Turkiye Kongresi Bildirileri, 2. Cilt. Ankara: Asam Yayinlari.

MFA. (2009a). Turkiye Ermenistan Siyasi iliskileri [Political relations between Armenia and Turkey]., 15.12.2009.

MFA. (2009b). Turkiye Cumhuriyeti ile Ermenistan Cumhuriyeti Arasinda Diplomatik iliskilerin Kurulmasina Dair Protokol [Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia]. pdf, 25.12.2009.

O Tuathail, G., Dalby, S., & Routledge, P. (2003). The geopolitics reader. London and New York: Routledge.

Ozbay, F. (2011). Turkiye-Ermenistan iliskileri [Turkey-Armenia relations]. BiILGESAM. Report No 25.

Ozdal, B. (2009). Turkish-Armenian dialogue: Is this the beginning of a long process?. Ortadogu Analiz, No 10 (pp. 67-75).

Saghafi-e Ameri, N., & Taghizadeh, S. (2008). Pipeline politics. Central Asian Research Journal, 27, 25-42.

Sanberk, O. (2009). Baris Diplomasisi [The peace diplomacy]. http://www. 2009&ArticleID=954339.

Simsir, B. (2005). Ermeni Meselesi (1774-2005) [The Armenian question (1774-2005)]. Ankara: Bilgi Yayinevi.

The Economist. (2008). A Caucasian cheese circle.

The World Bank. (2013). World development indicators. http://databank. isshared=true&ispopular=series&pid=1. http://databank.worldbank. org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx? isshared=true&ispopular=series&pid=20.

UN Comtrade. (2007). United Nations commodity trade statistics database., 06.04.2010.

Valigholizadeh, A. (2010). Study of the effects of normalization in Turkey-Armenia relations in Azerbaijan relations with Turkey. Central Asian Research Journal, 71, 79-106.

Valigholizadeh, A., & Zaki, Y. (2008). Study of Iran's geopolitical and geo-economical position for CIS countries. Geopolitics Quarterly, 13, 21-56.