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Prospects of resolving Karabakh conflict

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, December 9
The dialogue which has begun between Armenia and Turkey and the prospects of establishing relations between these two countries have engendered speculation about the changes this might bring to the region. One of these might be the weakening of Turkish-Azerbaijani ties, as the Azeris maintain that relations between Turkey and Armenia should depend on the satisfactory resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The Turkish authorities maintain that any kind of radical change in the region should take place in the context of relations between all three countries, but this has not convinced the Azeri side, which is continually expressing its utmost concern about the change of position of its strategic partner, Turkey.

Maybe some clarity will be added to the Turkish position before Prime Minister Erdogan meets US President Barack Obama. In an interview the Turkish PM has stated that resolving the Karabakh conflict is a precondition for opening the Turkish-Armenian border. Erdogan has asked the leadership of the USA and Russia to facilitate the quick resolution of this conflict. Baku is enthusiastic about such developments. Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov has expressed his hope that the normalisation of Turkish-Armenian relations will take place only after the regulation of the Karabakh conflict. If Turkey is firm in this position and does not change it Turkish-Armenian relations will only normalise at some uncertain future date, because relations between Yerevan and Baku are unlikely to improve in the near future. Armenia is reluctant to return the Azerbaijani territory it has occupied, whereas Azerbaijan is very much opposed to granting Karabakh any kind of status which will suggest that it is an independent state or is likely to be treated as one in future.

For time being it is unlikely that there will be any serious breakthrough in this area of South Caucasus relations. Turkey is waiting for encouraging news from Karabakh and so is Azerbaijan. The Armenian leadership is not prepared to make serious concessions in this direction, so most probably the present situation will not alter no matter how many football matches Gul and Sarkisian attend together. The question is how Turkey will manage to walk the tightrope between seeking better relations with Armenia and refusing to improve relations unless Armenia does what Turkey knows it is never going to do.