Turkey’s joining the Council of Europe and NATO in 1949 and 1952 respectively, and the launching of the EU accession process in 2005 had provided a progressive institutional framework for Turkey’s relations with the West. But our democracy started to falter as the Arab spring threw the region in turmoil. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP), lacking foresight, put all its eggs in the Muslim Brotherhood basket. It assumed a leadership role in the regime change project in Syria. Non-interference in Arab affairs ceased to be an axiom of Turkish foreign policy.
On Monday, Presidents Putin, Aliyev, and Prime Minister Pashinyan held a second trilateral meeting in Moscow, exactly two months after the first one on November 9, 2020.
They signed another Statement which focuses on the “unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region”. To achieve that, a trilateral working group co-chaired by deputy prime ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia and Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation is established.
With the signing, by President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan, of the Russian-brokered statement on a complete ceasefire and the termination of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh the conflict has entered a new phase.
The last round of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan started on July 12, 2020. During the war between 1988-1994, Armenian forces had occupied not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also the seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan before a Russian-brokered ceasefire was declared. Thereafter peace talks were mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States. Since all three co-chairs are long-time supporters of Armenia, the Group only served to preserve the status quo. i.e. continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the seven Azerbaijani districts.
The fundamental reality of foreign relations is that a country’s international standing is largely a reflection of its internal strength. And this invariably depends on respect for the rule of law, strong institutions, and national consensus on where the country should be heading. And geographic location largely impacts a country’s foreign policy. This is a given which can constitute a challenge.