Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Vali Golmohammadi said that the plan, presented by Mr. Erdogan to establish a regional coalition between the six countries, has no clear dimensions, adding: Media outlets close to the government, the Foreign Ministry and Turkish think tanks have not covered the news of the plan, so it seems that the plan had been exposed under specific conditions in which Mr. Erdogan had been placed.
He added: Of course, the Turks usually have the strategy of presenting a plan in a forum that has an audience and then wait to see what the position of the other players is and provide details based on that information, therefore, so far the reaction of the countries that are the addressees of this six-member coalition is not clear for Ankara and for this reason they have not gone into the details.
Targets of the Six-Country Coalition Not Clear
Stressing that the purpose of the coalition should also be considered, the expert on Turkey’s affairs said: Coalitions are usually formed for common interests or threats. In relation to Mr. Erdogan’s plan, we can enumerate a series of common interests, but those interests can hardly bring the six countries together.
Golmohammadi continued: If we look at the issue from economic and geo-economics dimensions; on the question of energy transit and basically transit exchanges, goods and services; a corridor has been mentioned in Paragraph 9 of the Karabakh ceasefire agreement which links Turkey from Nakhchivan to Azerbaijan and connects it to Central Asia and the South Caucasus, and from there to the Chinese markets. These are a series of common interests that could pave the way for economic cooperation but alone cannot serve the interests of all.
Referring to Turkey’s wide-ranging differences with Moscow over regional energy equations, he said: I believe that in the near future, Turkey will have the same differences with Iran; therefore, basically, the strategy of the countries in the region is diverging from each other and cannot lead to common interests.
Golmohammadi, stating that formation of an alliance among those countries due to common threats also has a vague perspective, and said: What is the threat and where is it coming from? Does this threat oversee the threats that Turkey and Azerbaijan actually envision for themselves or not? I am sure that Tehran and Moscow have fundamentally a different view.
Referring to Erdogan’s remarks that Mr. Putin also agrees with the formation of the coalition, he added: If such a debate really exists, it seems that Russia has been affected by its relations with the West and has been involved in it in terms of attracting Turkey, because basically the Russians in recent years, have moved towards accompanying Turkey in many of their diplomatic and regional initiatives and want to keep Turkey in their camp.
Saying that Russia also needs a regional consensus on its regional interests and policies, including the issue of Crimea accession, the guest researcher at Bilkent University in Ankara explained: Turkey has not yet accepted the accession, and there is a trend that the republics that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union have taken small and large steps towards relations with the West, which has worried Moscow. Perhaps if Putin agrees with such initiatives, it is due to such trends in the region and with an aim of maintaining the balance or creating a new balance.
Turkey, Halfway Partner of Key Players in the Region
Meanwhile, Golmohammadi described Turkey’s recent approach to the Black Sea and South Caucasus equations and its relations with Ukraine and Georgia as being against Russia’s interests, saying: From this dimension, Russia does not want such alliances take shape that Turkey focuses on and it will definitely have a series of anti-Russian dimensions. The key and main players in the region view Turkey as a halfway partner; a player who is constantly rotating his approaches and positions, and through this he intends to produce a playing card in order to increase its bargaining power against rivals and allies, of course, Western allies.
He stressed: Details of this plan, its common interests and threats are not clear and there is this ambiguity that basically to what extent bringing those countries together can be realistic and practical. For these reasons, it is not possible to have a very positive view to its practicability; because, basically the multiplicity of the players with different and sometimes conflicting preferences and desires, as well as the high permeability of the structure of security developments in the region and presence and influence of some foreign players such as NATO, the EU and some conflicts such as Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Crimea and Karabakh, make it impossible to have a positive perspective of such diplomatic initiatives before its targets and details became clear.
The university professor also referred to Iran’s plan in connection with the Karabakh conflict and said, unfortunately, Iran’s plan was not welcomed, adding: This plan was closer to the field realities in terms of dimensions. In fact, compared to the current ceasefire agreement, Iran’s plan could greatly maintain peace and the ground situation in the region, as it could maintain a balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan and other players which are actually the beneficiaries there.
The expert on Turkey’s affairs, commenting on the Ankara’s decision to form a six-party coalition, elaborated on the change in Turkey’s foreign policy as compared to the first decade of 2000, and said: We are witnessing an increase in the direct Turkish military activity in our surroundings. Turkey has had direct military operations from the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa to Syria and Iraq, and the Persian Gulf to South Caucasus which is considered as its peripheral environment. It can even be predicted that the Turks will probably have a direct military entry into Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
Emphasizing the need to pay attention to Moscow’s intentions to pave the way for Ankara to become one of the main players in the region and not creating deterrence in this direction, the university professor said: These issues seem to be strongly influenced by the course of Moscow’s relations with the West and the importance it may have in Turkey and the new international situation for Russia.