Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement on creation of Azerbaijan-Russia-Turkey trio format during his Moscow visit. Some days ago, meeting of the leaders of three countries at energy congress held in Istanbul then statements of Turkish and Russian FMs on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict made actual again the above-mentioned format and its effects on processes in the region. In parallel with this event Turkey has increased steps on support to Free Syrian Army, joint fight against ISIL in frame of Operation "Euphrates Shield” .
Elkhan Mehdiyev, political analyst, head of the Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution answered to questions of "Kapsi” about this issue.
-How do you think, Azerbaijan-Russia-Turkey format can make positive impact on most optimal resolution variant of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict ?
- The closest relations Russia has with Turkey and Azerbaijan, it will be much more interested in solving the problem. As, Russian-Armenian relations established on the base of historical and modern contradictions between Russia and Turkey, as well as, Armenia has always tried to take advantage of it. At the same time, Armenians established relations with Russians over Turkish fear. Therefore, Armenians have had various baseless claims against Turkey. But today, Armenian claims lose their strength after mutual integration and warm relations are established between Russia and Turkey. Consequently, Armenia’s significance will reduce for Kremlin. When Official Moscow sees more benefits come from Turkey and Azerbaijan, it will effect to the resolution process of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
However, it is questionable whether this impact will be a decisive or not.
-After Russian warplane shut down Turkish-Russian relations got worse. However, after a while Turkish President R.T.Erdogan made a sharp volt-face in the foreign policy and took steps to restore and warm relations with Russia as before. Such a volt-face can be observed in Turkey’s Syria policy?
- By the warplane incident between Russia and Turkey in November of the last year, Turkish-Russian relations were at the highest level as well as, Putin and Erdogan’s personel relations were close and friendly. At that time Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was not on the agenda of bilateral relations. In this regard, different from the statements and opinions reported on media, I don’t believe that Azerbaijan, more accurately, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is on the agenda of the negotiations led recently by Erdogan with Putin . But Syrian issue was discussed in bilateral relations also at the two leaders meetings. As this issue brought almost a war between the two countries, while invasion of Azerbaijan’s lands, and Armenian issue could not have so much impact to relations as this one. Currently, Turkey made significant changes on its Syrian policy. Firstly, official Ankara changed his previous policy on Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, Turkey deployed troops into Syria after negotiations led with Russia. The main change in Russian-Turkish relations is that. As an answer to official Ankara’s foreign policy, Russia agreed to move away PKK and ISIL terrorists from Turkish borders.
-Recently, collission of Russian-US interests in Syria has reached a peak. To what extent is such tension dangerous for the region ?
- Such situation in the region does not promise anything positive. Over collission of interests of big states Syria turned into a center of war and debris. Tensions of Russian-US relations over Syrian can be regarded as a temporary period. As there is uncertainty in the US government. There is completely uncoordinated situation between the U.S Department of State and Ministry of Defense. Barack Obama's presidency has come to an end and new government must be formed. After a change of the current government I hope the situation would be different from the present level. However Russia has not changed anything in its Syria policy. Bashar al-Assad already controls more than 40-45 percent of territory of the country. Central government and the army are also controlled by him. At the moment, the fighting forces are also on the side of Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, Russia military air forces also give support to Bashar al-Assad. Russia intends to deploy a permanent base its naval facility into Syria. Thereby, real powers in Syria are Russia and Bashar al-Asad. In this regard agreement on Syria’s future must be reached more with Russia than other forces.
-Formerly, statements were made on creation of a new state in the territory of Syri. What is the current situation in this regard ?
Like Syria, Turkey, Russia and Iran are also interested in the issue of preservation of territorial integrity of Syria. Therefore, the issue of territorial integrity of Syria will be actual in future negotiations too. Even the federal system established in Syria, the country's territorial integrity will be remained. However, as I mentioned Bashar al-Assad already controls more than 40-45 percent of territory of the country and it raises a question about the issue of federalization.
- Turkey Air Forces joint with coalision forces strike ISIL positions in Mosul while in frame of operation "Euphrates Shield”. Turkey gives support to Free Syrian Army. However, the local government does not support Turkey's military operations in the second largest city of Irag, generally, in the area of Iraq. What are your thoughts on this?
-Turkey’s military intervention in Mosul is a questionable issue. Neither central Irag government nor US government and forces don’t welcome it. So entry of Turkish air forces to Mosul is a subject of negotiations. This is a controversial issue.
-When one of the western state leads a military operation in Iraq or Syria under the pretext of " terrorist hunt”, it substantiates this decision and nobody protest against this. But when Turkey acts like those countries and leads anti-terrorism operations near its borders that controls various terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria it is condemned by the West.
- The United States overthrew of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Over the past decades, the U.S spent trillion dollars in Irag. The current Irag government was established by US. In a word, US dominates in Irag. Interests of the West have been protected by the central government and Kurdish autonomy. So the west does not want the third force here. That is why Turkey’s intervention in Iraq was condemned by Iraq government and US. The US and western states show the same attitude towards Syria. However, influence and role of US is limited here. The West is able to intervene only by air forces. Considering public opinion in US Barack Obama has not deployed here its troops. It only donates money and weapon to Kurdish groups. Consequently, Turkey’s interests collide with US because of it.
According to the official Ankara, the Kurdish groups which US provides with a weapon is a branch of PKK terror group. Generally, today the situation in Syria is completely different. After Russia’s intervention in Syria the Western states changed quite a bit in direction of struggle. Now, they determined not to accept Russia’s existence in Syria than solve the problem.