The clashes that recently resumed between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, located within the Azerbaijan territory that was occupied by Armenia three decades ago, has given rise to concerns in the international domain. While numerous countries are calling for an end to the clashes, Turkey provided strong support to Azerbaijan which wants to re-establish control in Nagorno-Karabakh with military operations.
Though there is a strong alliance between Turkey and Azerbaijan, according to Silvia Stoeber, a German journalist and expert on South Caucasia, Turkey’s strong support in the latest event indicates a new approach. Stoeber said Turkey’s involvement in the conflict and its increased support to Azerbaijan compared to previous years is new, and added, “The leadership of Azerbaijan may [thus] feel more motivated to escalate the whole situation.” Noting the Russian arms exports to Armenia, she said Turkey and Russia may become further involved in the “Nagorno-Karabakh crisis” than they were in past years.
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia concerning sovereignty rights over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the last three decades has been causing severe differences of opinion, which have even led to clashes at times. The predominantly Armenian region was given to Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union state of the time, however in the early 1990s, Armenia took control in the region following the clashes in which about 30,000 people lost their lives.
Though Armenia declared Nagorno-Karabakh’s liberation in 1991, the international community is yet to recognize this. Azerbaijan aims to take the region under its complete control and will use military force to achieve this if necessary.
When Armenia recently launched attacks to deepen its three-decade-long occupation it faced a grave defeat with Azerbaijan’s response. The Armenian army’s tanks and defense systems were destroyed. Just when Armenia was about to throw in the towel, Russia pressured Azerbaijan’s foreign minister to declare a ceasefire. Armenia was down on its knees. But when Russia intervened, Nagorno-Karabakh was taken from Baku with a Yerevan-Moscow scheme. This thus afforded Armenia, which was militarily in a tight corner, some room to breathe. Russia’s intervention was celebrated in Armenia among victory clamors.
Just as Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan are matters of “sovereignty” for Turkey and Azerbaijan as “two states, one nation,” a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh is Russia’s red line. Russia is the force that drove Armenia to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh years ago. Thus, Azerbaijan’s military operations in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh are matters of grave concern for Russia.
In his evaluations with respect to the developments on the Azerbaijan-Armenia line, prominent Russian security analyst Aleksandr Golts pointed out that Turkey’s involvement in the events may shift the balances in Caucasia. Therefore, despite Russia and Armenia’s opposition, calling Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Turkey to ceasefire negotiations must be reconsidered. Any negotiation without Turkey’s involvement will only knock the ball out of bounds.
ERDOĞAN: WAR SOLE SOLUTION FOR NAGORNO-KARABAKH CRISIS
In stark contrast to forces such as the EU, Russia, France, and the U.S. that have made calls to end the conflicts, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called onto Turkey and Azerbaijan to continue the war, saying, “It is time to end the crisis that started in the region with Nagorno-Karabakh’s occupation.” The global powers and the West, primarily the MINSK countries that carried out no legal procedure concerning the displacement of almost 1 million people in Nagorno-Karabakh after its occupation by Armenia, and the Azeri Turks who were subjected to inhumane tortures and massacres, have become Armenia’s partners in crime by overlooking these atrocities. Armenia’s withdrawal from the lands it occupied about 30 years ago will be possible only through war. This is why President Erdoğan’s statement that peace will come to the region only when Armenia withdraws from Nagorno-Karabakh is significant.
Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to listen to his own country’s analysts. If he does not want to experience chaos, he must avoid any policy or strategy that will involve Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, as any intervention in Turkey or Azerbaijan will draw the U.S. and NATO to the region.