YUSUF ÇıNAR: AZERBAIJAN SHOULD MAINTAIN ITS GOOD RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA
•Rouhani, the President of Iran, in his statement to a Russian news agency said, “We have very good relations both with Russia and Turkey, and are deeply sorry about the crisis that emerged between the two countries”. Rouhani stated that “they will do anything they can in order to settle the tension between two countries”. Also, Rouhani informed that “the gradual deepening of the crisis is not good for both of the countries”. We would like to hear your opinion on this subject.
Iran is a country that gets good results through taking “soft” steps in the region. We can say that there is a significant amount of interest on Iran from European countries, particularly France. Iranian foreign policy efficiently utilized the conflict in the region. While keeping tense relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran develops intense and close economic and political relations with the US, EU, China and Russia. If we look at the big picture, the most important reason why Iran becomes prominent in world politics today is because she tries to stay away from the "being part of conflict" understanding practiced by other countries in the region. I can say that Iran wishes to assume the role of being the mediator, the role Turkey actively assumed between the years 2002-2012. However, I cannot state that Iran gained enough trust from the countries in the region to play a such part. A mediator should be able to gain the trust of conflicting parties. I can say that Iran did not make any attempts at preventing or ending the tension between Turkey and Russia. In fact, it can be argued that the continuity of the tension between Turkey and Russia increased the regional effectiveness of Iran. For this reason, I cannot say that Iran sincerely wishes to end the Turkey-Russia tensions because of her own national interests.
•Before the plane crisis, the relations between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Putin were extremely good. Yet, cold winds are blowing between two leaders, when do you think these winds will stop?
Black Sea became a Russian lake with the annexation of Crimea. Following the plane crisis, Russia settled in Syria. This is to mean that in a way the North and the South of Turkey are suppressed by Russia. After this period, it is not convincing to say the relations between Turkey and Russia will return to how they were back in the old days, not in a short period of time. I foresee that the relations between Turkey and Russia will become more and more tense in the near future. Especially the 90 km area between Arfin and Kobani on the Syrian border is the red-line of Turkey. If this area gets under the control of PYD with Russian help, Turkey may have to respond in a violent manner. Turkey will, to say the least, try to prevent this 90 km area from getting under the direct control of PYD. This is because Turkey regards PYD and PKK as a continuation of one another. PYD’s surge of control in the Turkish border will extremely risk Turkey's border security. The fact that PYD will conduct a diplomatic mission in Moscow on the February 10th shows that Turkish-Russian relations will not recover in the near future.
•Political experts foresee that Armenia will take advantage of the tension between Russia and Turkey and make new moves on the allegations against Turkey. It is being said that they will collaborate with the Kurds, and especially with the PKK. Your thoughts on this matter.
AKP expressed the “nationalism” discourse in the November 1st elections, a discourse they never used since 2002. Therefore, it does not seem possible that an attempt intended to revive the relations between Armenia and Turkey will come from Turkey. Through Russia accepting the Armenian Genocide allegations, Armenia is focused on striving to make the countries that are under the Russian influence accept it as well. With these developments Armenia has started the process of having an intense cooperation with Russia against Turkey. The greatest risk that awaits Turkey in the future is the possibility that the clashes in Diyarbakır Sur, Şırnak Silopi and Cizre will never end. In other words, it is the risk that Turkey's perception of “civil war” will become permanent. It is evident in the intelligence reports that PKK and Russia draw nearer via PYD. Russia may help PKK continue its clashes in Turkey via PYD, without having any direct relations with them. It is worrisome for Turkey that among the PKK members who were killed in Diyarbakır there were foreign snipers.
•It seems Azerbaijan is obliged to make a choice in the Russian-Turkish relations, but is on Turkey’s side since she is at war with Armenia. Do you think Russia can use this situation in the resolution process of the Karabakh issue, that is, will this affect the resolution process in a negative way?
Azerbaijan is the brother country of Turkey. In my opinion, Turkey does not want Azerbaijan to strain her relations with Russia in a such tense environment. Instead, Azerbaijan should maintain good relations with Russia. This is because on the tensions between Russia and Turkey, Azerbaijan can play a “calming” role in the region. In fact, she can be a means of dialogue in Turkey’s relations with Russia. In my opinion, it is not positive for the national interests of Azerbaijan to directly confront Russia. This is because in this period the Russian-Armenian cooperation may gradually widen the Karabakh issue and bring forth permanent results in favor of Armenia. If Azerbaijan will fight a war for Karabakh, I certainly do not think this period is the right time for it.