DW: Turkey dreams of its own Silk Road

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The opening of the Zangezur corridor under negotiation in the southern part of Armenia is giving wings to Turkish dreams for economic control of the Central Asian countries.

The latest news coming from Ankara and Yerevan could be described as the first steps towards the “melting of the ice” in Turkey-Armenia relations after the Armenian Genocide in the First World War. A few days ago, Ankara announced the resumption of charter flights to Armenia, which in turn lifted the arms embargo.

Special envoys from Turkey and Armenia are meeting in Moscow today to discuss the normalization of bilateral relations. At the negotiating table, which will be coordinated by Russia – and this has its own significance – will be an old Turkish dream, the Zangezur corridor, which would pave the way for Turkey via the Caspian Sea to Central Asia. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Turkey has sought to become a leading power there and establish zones of political and economic domination in historic “Turkestan”, from eastern Turkey through the Caucasus countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Caspian Sea, and from there to central Asia. in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Great interests from the Zangezur corridor

“Ankara has long dreamed of a Turkish Silk Road,” he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Emin Sirin, a former member of parliament for Erdogan’s AKP party and now a television commentator and columnist. “Turkey is able to open a passage to Central Asia that does not pass through Russia and Iran. After a successful foreign policy based on military means, now is the time to seek dialogue to achieve foreign policy goals. and this is especially true in Central Asia. ”

The Turkish journalist argues that this is not related to dreams of a great Turkey, but much more to economic interests in the region. “The market there offers huge potential,” he points out. Speaking to FAZ, Stefan Meister of the German Foreign Policy Association emphasized that Turkey’s ambitions were not welcomed by Moscow and Tehran, which have influence and – mainly Russia – interests in the Caucasus and the former Soviet Union. . He recalled that after the war in the Caucasus in 2020, a ceasefire agreement was signed, which provides for the creation of the corridor in Zangezur under Russian supervision. That is, Russian armed forces, not Turkish ones, will guarantee free passage. “Ankara will remain dependent on this project of great strategic importance for the good mood of Moscow.”

Armenia also has great interests in this corridor. After the lost war of 2020, it depends almost entirely on Russia, and its supply is entirely through Georgia and Iran. “The country needs open borders with Turkey, where Armenian Prime Minister Nicole Pasinian sees an opportunity unfold,” Stefan Meister told FAZ. “Even if, because of the defeat in the Caucasus, he seems to be politically finished, he could stay in power, and there the Armenian president sees an opportunity to present to his people a success in order to survive politically. Armenia urgently needs counterweights to sovereignty of the superpower Russia, the sovereignty of Armenia passes through the opening of the border with Turkey “. So the ice-breaking attempt under Moscow’s tutelage seems to be as close as ever. Maybe reconciliation.

Relaxation in Turkey-US relations as well?

For the newspaper Rheinische Post there is another incentive for Turkey’s rapprochement with Armenia. As the columnist points out, Ankara-US relations are in crisis for the first time in years and have worsened even more since Joe Biden became US President. “Biden is the first American president to officially recognize the Armenian genocide, he even called on his Turkish counterpart last year to open its borders with the country. Now Ankara hopes that any normalization with Armenia could help relax relations. and with the USA “, the newspaper speculates.

The correspondent of the French agency describes in a very characteristic way the atmosphere in the Turkish city of Akaya, in the most northeastern part of the country, last station to Armenia, “where on the railway lines, 10 km from the Armenian border, sit only birds and birds. the mountains are laden with snow. ” The director of the Akaya Merchants’ Union says that since the border was closed, the area has become a dead triangle of the country. “The border (with Armenia) is our only door to abroad.”

Will the first direct contacts of the two envoys in Moscow open this door? “There is no guarantee that this initiative will succeed,” the Rheinische Post reported. “Why possible resistance by Turkish nationalists against the opening of the border or a resurgence of the conflict in Karabakh could put an end to the negotiation process. “The two countries have blamed each other for the escalation.”

Irini Anastassopoulou

SOURCE: Deutsche Welle

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