Turkish diplomacy remains silent – ANALYSIS

Turkish diplomacy remains silent – <font color=red> ANALYSIS </font>
# 19 February 2009 09:32 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Official Ankara’s recent position on Nagorno Karabakh conflict is the subject of discussions of the country’s media. Radio Liberty’s Armenian service reports about the Turkey’s retracting of its term concerning Nagorno Karabakh for normalization of its relations with Armenia caused confusion. Turkish diplomacy remains silent. Turkish Foreign Ministry and Turkish Embassy in Azerbaijan declined to answer whether Turkey retracted its term concerning Nagorno Karabakh or not.

It is important to pay attention to the chronology of developments and statements to imagine the essence of the issue. APA reported quoting turkgundem.net website on February 12 that one of the participants of the Armenian-Turkish talks as saying that Ankara retracted its previous term of withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied lands of Azerbaijan for establishing the official relations and opening the borders with Armenia. The radio claimed that only term of the Turkish government now is the establishing of joint commission of historians for investigation of 1915 events.

There are reasons of such kind of reports. If we pay attention to the recent developments, we cans see that Turkey played an active role in geopolitical arena of South Caucasus. The war between Georgia and Russia exposed the policy pursued by the US and Russia in South Caucasus. Official Washington’s approach towards all issues from its point of view, Moscow’s strict resistance to it and its inadequate impact on Georgia questioned hopes for two super powers. Turkey took an initiative and attempted to own regulative lever in South Caucasus and it was very understandable. Turkey’s Caucasus Stability Pact, visits to Moscow, Yerevan and Baku showed that Turkish officials had taken a serious interest in the issue.

Turkey’s attempts on taking an initiative in South Caucasus cannot be separately considered from interior affairs and integration into European Union.
It is obvious that the European Union laid commitments on Turkey and one of these commitments is the normalization of the relations with Armenia. No doubt the campaigns “We all are Hrant Dinks!”, “Let’s apologize to Armenians!” are linked to this issue. This explains Turkey’s milder attitude towards Armenia recently. At first sight, Abdullah Gul’s visit to Armenia, Sarkisian’s visit to Turkey, moreover a number of meetings on the highest level created impression that Turkey is active in the South Caucasus, but the real essence became obvious later.

Long before, leak of information from Turkish official circles to the local media raised doubts that official Ankara had changed its position. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s interviews and various statements strengthened these doubts. It is not accidental that in Germany, and later during his recent visit to Azerbaijan Ali Babacan preferred to avoid media’s questions about changes in Turkey’s position in terms of Nagorno Karabakh problem. Foreign Minister’s repeated statements that Turkey and Azerbaijan separately had talks with Armenia showed that the unique position of Azerbaijan and Turkey with respect to Armenia had changed.

On February 12, visiting the line of contact in Goranboy region, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Hulusi Kilich expressed Ankara’s traditional position on Nagorno Karabakh problem. An hour later Armenian service of Radio Liberty spread the known information and media again asked Hulusi Kilich to comment on the issue. At that time the ambassador told APA that he was returning from Ganja to Baku, he noted that he would concern himself with the issue and make a statement after returning. Besides, Hulusi Kilich said he did not believe it. But despite media’s appeals Turkish ambassador did not say a word. He only said: “I am not the ambassador, who speaks in the street”. Turkish Foreign Ministry was also closed for Azerbaijani media, nobody wanted to answer such a short and concrete question. On February 13, Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said in his statement to Anadolu agency: “The current process between Turkey and Armenia aim at normalizing the relations between the two countries. On the other hand, Azerbaijan and Armenia are also having a dialogue. The processes are parallel. It is expected that an improvement on one side will have a positive influence on the other side. We do not comment on the information based on some sensations.” As seen, there is nothing more than the repeat of Ali Babacan’s traditional expressions.

Turkish government said the issue on the level of Deputy Prime Minister Geybulla Geybullayev and State Minister Cemil Chichek was not true. The said it was a lie and provocation and that Turkey did not retract from its condition in terms of Nagorno Karabakh. On February 17, Turkish parliamentarian, head of Turkey-Azerbaijan friendship group Mustafa Kabakchi told APA on behalf of Turkish state that the report was groundless.

It is interesting that the deputy prime ministers of Turkey have made statements while the Foreign Ministry is keeping silence.
It causes several assumptions. First, part of the government officials have no idea about these talks; second, some of the Turkish authorities don’t share this position; third, announcements of the state ministers and parliamentarians, who have not been involved in the Turkish-Armenian talks, have no special responsibility. However, Ali Babacan, who has directly participated in the talks, told journalists clearly that he prefers to keep silence. For example, early this month Babacan told journalists in Munich that they targeted to normalize relations in the region. “We begin talks with Armenia to normalize relations in the region. If we achieve the normal relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, it will change many things in the region. If we achieve these changes, it will be advantageous for all parties. Now we should talk behind the closed doors and let to make public only what we want to announce.”

Today Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his opinion on this issue. “There is no any change in our position on Karabakh, which could differ from the official position of Azerbaijan. We determined our positions together and are continuing it together up to date. It is out of question. We are sharing the official position of Azerbaijan and are staying behind this position up to date. Azerbaijan’s fairness in the Karabakh issue is clear and it was described in the UN resolution too”.

However Erdogan left many questions without answers. How important is the Nagorno Karabakh issue in the Turkish-Armenian relations? How long will Turkey continue these talks if Armenia doesn’t withdraw from Nagorno Karabakh? May Turkey open the borders with Armenia before finding the solution to the Nagorno Karabakh problem? Will the part of behind-closed-doors talks about Azerbaijan be announced, or they will announce only what they want?
We are looking for the foreign minister of Turkey and ambassador of Azerbaijan to find answers to these questions.

…..Azerbaijan is in waiting!