Having emerged after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Azerbaijan and Armenia conflict is an extensive problem accompanied by an extensive political background and serves the political interests of certain people in various ways. It is for this reason that the way the problem emerged is not limited to a matter of land. Just as in the case of Cyprus, Georgia or Ukraine, the deep scars of “the clash of civilizations” manifest itself under the name of Karabakh in this instance. Therefore, the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is awaiting the development of a new global mindset.
Let’s go back to the not-so-distant past; as it is known, in 1988, the issues between the two countries escalated into a war. Between the years of 1991 and 1993, the wars resulted in Armenia’s military occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh region belonging to Azerbaijan and the conflicts continued after that. In 1992, by including Armenia and Azerbaijan among them, the US, Russia, France, Sweden, Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Holland, Finland, and Turkey created the Minsk Group to encourage the resolution of the problems between the two countries. Even though the conflicts subsided following the Bishkek agreement of 1994, the Minsk Group was far from solving the problems in between.
The western world and the Caucasus tried to settle their accounts via the two countries. Despite the fact that all sides entered a state of alertness after the 22-year period of calm had come to an end with a full-scale conflict resulting in the death of hundreds of people last week, no significant solution has been proposed aside from the cease-fire.
As of today, 7 regions of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, in other words, one fifth of Azerbaijan’s territories are under Armenian occupation. As long as the world continues to have two fronts, it seems that the status quo will remain unchanged.
Although Russia has assumed an intermediary role regarding the ongoing conflicts, many people blame Russia for the emergence of the conflicts. Azerbaijan’s inclination toward the West is given as the reason and the question, “Are all these warning to Azerbaijan?” comes to mind. Of course, it is a well-known fact that as a co-chairman of the Minsk Group, Russia has been trying to reshape the region and has carried out a generally unilateral policy for a long time. As in all the two-front issues, Russia is trying to make it apparent that it holds the initiative in this issue as well.
However, it is hard to tell whether the same reason applies to the latest conflicts. Even if that is the case, instead of adopting a policy that directly blames Russia, it will be a more proper course of action to be able to realize that the issue stems from the two-front problem and to lay the blame on the materialist accounts that instill in the world “the clash of civilizations” mentality.
In the days when we brought forward the issue of Ukraine, we stated that marginalized by the West for a long time, Russia had been acting on a defensive impulse toward putting its former allies under protection. While analyzing the issue, we added that Russia has had a long-felt longing for cooperation with the West but can’t elicit the same response. Problems with the NATO member Turkey in the wake of the issue of Ukraine have put Russia in a more unfavorable position in the eyes of the West. Therefore, it is not quite surprising for Turkey’s brother country Azerbaijan to become a current issue at this stage. Russia is looking for ways to bind its former allies to itself by any means necessary.
Let’s bring the important issue to mind that we mentioned at the beginning: The Karabakh issue is an artificial issue that is kept unresolved for the sake of the bipolar world settling accounts with each other. As long as the world maintains its two-sided appearance that is seemingly conciliatory but conniving in practice, the domestic turbulences within the countries at key positions will not end. In order to put a stop to this, the world needs integration. The West should desist from polarizing Russia further, and absolutely strive for strengthening its integrity policy instead. Of course, this situation will not serve the purposes of the arms dealers, those who profit from wars, and those who monopolized the trade routes. But favoring a world full of wars for the sake of self-interest means the total eclipse of the consciences. It is not even necessary to list the horrible consequences the current situation will give rise to in the future.
Turkey shares the responsibility in this regard. It has been quite elating to hear mutual temperate statements from Turkey and Russia recently. Resolving the recent artificial problem between the two countries as soon as possible is essential for both the people of the region, and Russia’s influence within NATO and within the Muslim community in particular. At this point, Turkey should adopt a pacific and intermediary stance regarding the Azerbaijan-Armenia issue. It is crucial for Turkey to act in unison with Russia on this matter, maintaining good relations with Russia, and winning the hearts of both Azerbaijanis and Armenians. There is no doubt that Azerbaijan is our brother country; however, Armenia should not be regarded as “the other side” either, and despite those promoting the conflict within the country, the fact that Turkey should look out for the Armenian people must not be forgotten. Azerbaijanis are indeed our kin; however, Armenians who lived among us, who coexisted with us for centuries are our brothers as well. Therefore, reconciliation of the two countries must be a priority for Turkey.
At heart, territorial issues are the consequences of realpolitik conflicts. Nations who prioritize affection do not pursue territorial ambitions. This is the case for Azerbaijan and Armenia as well. Before territorial ambitions, a policy that will enable the establishment of cooperation and solidarity between the two countries should be carried out. The logic of “territory first, agreement later” both serves the vicious self-seeking nature of materialism, and always leaves the problems unresolved just as we have been witnessing for years. Let’s start from the bottom for once; let’s get along well and be friends first, and the territorial disputes will be solved with ease afterward.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Arab News: