Murat Yetkin

Journalist-Writer

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and his guest, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, observe the Victory Parade in Baku. (Photo: Mustafa Murat Kaynak – Anadolu Agency)

What Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in his Victory Parade speech at the Azadliq Square in Baku on Dec. 10 is noteworthy: “They have always told us that there would be no military solution for this [Karabakh] issue. We have proved that there is a military solution to this issue. Would we wait for another 30 years?

This is a summary of how Azerbaijan forced Armenia to sign a defeat agreement at the end of a 44-day military campaign in terms of international politics.

Moreover, this military solution has been accepted by the U.S., Russia and France, the core members of the Minsk Group, which was established to solve the Karabakh conflict. Thus, it was a regional example of how using power yields results and is accepted when diplomacy does not work.
This is actually what Turkey has been doing in Syria, Libya and now in the eastern Mediterranean since the 2016 coup attempt despite whatever its Western allies say. It is pushing for diplomatic solutions with military power, although the risk is high.

Support by Ankara, the loyalty of Baku

The fact that Turkey has stood by Azerbaijan in any case since the beginning crisis played a role in Baku’s victory, along with its rich energy resources that it has been serving to the world via Turkey. This support was not limited to Turkish-made TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles, which provided significant tactical superiority to Azerbaijan in its Karabakh operation. Turkey has offered military and political support to Azerbaijan in all periods since it declared its independence in 1991.

“Two states, one nation” slogan of Süleyman Demirel and Heydar Aliyev was embodied in relations with Azerbaijan.

Turkish presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers have made their first foreign trips to Azerbaijan together with Turkish Cyprus. The two countries have military training and procurement agreements.

Baku has never been disloyal to Ankara either. Aliyev invited President Tayyip Erdoğan and also the Turkish Armed Forces to the Dec. 10 Victory Parade. The ceremony was held under the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan. At one point when Erdoğa was speaking, Aliyev’s eyes were tearing. Turkish Defense Hulusi Akar, one of the secret actors of the process, was sitting right in front of Erdogan and Aliyev in the protocol.

Message from Erdoğan to Armenia

One of the common emphases in both leaders’ speeches was the expression “new era” in the Caucasus.

What Aliyev means with this expression is clear. He is aware that his rival gave in after being defeated on the battlefield. Aliyev will act with this self-confidence in relations with Armenia.

In Erdoğan’s speech, there were important expressions pointing to the next political era. For example, “If the people of Armenia learn a lesson from this, a new era may begin in the region,” he said. Vladimir Putin accepted a spot for Turkey at the Armenian-Azerbaijani debate, which was another sign for the start of this new era. Yet another sign was that Iran did not support Armenia this time, hesitating from its own Turkish minority.

When Erdoğan says “learning a lesson,” he means that Yerevan under the influence of the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. and France should keep its feet on the ground. The 2009 agreement that was signed by then-Turkish President Abdullah Gül and signed in 2009 during the rule of Abdullah Gül and then-Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was broken when the Armenian parliament named Eastern Anatolia as the “Western Armenia”. Relations between Turkey and Armenia can improve and even lead to the re-opening of the border gates if Yerevan adopts a political line that respects the territorial integrity of both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turkey had closed the border gates and suspended diplomatic relations when Armenia Azerbaijani lands in 1993.

NATO send Turkey sanctions warning to EU

When Erdoğan was attending the Victory Parade in Baku as Aliyev’s guest, the European Union was preparing to declare sanctions on Turkey, mainly because of the eastern Mediterranean conflict.

Two interesting developments took place on the first day of the EU’s summit that will last until Dec. 11. The first was that the draft text was leaked instantly. According to the texts, the sanctions will cover companies and individuals, not Turkey, and will start in March 2021, despite the objections of Greece. This means waiting for president-elect Joe Biden to take the seat in the White House. The second development was NATO’s immediate response to the draft text. NATO wants the European Union to consider that Turkey is an important member of the Western Alliance. NATO highlighted Turkey’s borders with both Iraq and Syria, its role in the fight against terrorism, especially against ISIL, and the millions of Syrian migrants it hosts.

The EU’s Turkey agenda would include the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. This was what rather France wanted since the voters of Armenian origin have an impact on the EU country. However,

However, developments have shown that NATO-member Turkey is also a counterweight to Russia and the Russian-Turkish observation force in Karabakh is an example of that.

This is why Aliyev’s statement that there was no diplomatic solution and “so we handled the matter in a military manner,” is only the tip of the iceberg. This remark might echo beyond the Azerbaijan-Armenia relations.

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