During the press conference from Azerbaijan’s third city of Ganja on July 28, the speaker of the Turkish parliament Mustafa Şentop declared the need to expand economic cooperation between Ankara and Baku and create a joint Turkic army. The statement by the politician was made in view of a delegations visit of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to Azerbaijan that gave an additional weight to a message to the pro-Turkish ruling circles of the Azerbaijani political elite.
Meanwhile, not only regional, but also western authoritative experts are convinced that such initiatives in conjunction with the frequently increasing visits of Turkey’s high-ranking functionaries to Baku confirm the fact of amplifying dependence of the Azerbaijani political establishment, and personally the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, on Ankara.
In this regard, the question on whether Azerbaijan will save its independence in matters of international relations or sovereignty from “elder brother” Turkey is becoming a source of reasonable concern among political scientists.
Azerbaijan’s dependence on Turkey, obviously, grows in all spheres – military, economic, social and humanitarian. Experts point to an explicit aspiration of Ankara to establish itself in Azerbaijan, using mechanisms like the recently signed Shusha declaration.
In the long term, Turkey can set up its own military base in Azerbaijani territory (also, it will inevitably cause a tough reaction from Russia).
Therefore, the prospects of transforming Azerbaijan as an analogue of Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, which is actually more like a Turkish province, becomes more and more discernible.
Senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences and president of the Scientific Society of Caucasuslogy, Alexander Krylov, considers that such scenario organically fits into the policy of building a conglomerate of dependent states pursued by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – from North Africa to China.
However, the expert advises not to forget that the ruthless pursuit by Erdoğan of rebuilding the Ottoman Empire’s former power is fraught for Ankara with new conflicts and unpredictable effects.
Besides, the actual absorption of Azerbaijan by Turkey contradicts the interests of Iran, which remains the key player in Transcaucasia, along with the Turks.
Tehran is especially concerned by the fact that Turkey plays on the ethnic identity with the people of Central Asia and the Caucasus to broaden its own influence.
In particular, the Azerbaijani nationalist poem, read by Erdoğan during a Baku military parade devoted to the 2020 Azerbaijani victory over Armenia, caused a stir. The poem contains an appeal to reunite two Iranian provinces with Azerbaijan and caused a strong irritation in Iran.
This step should be considered not only as an artificial formation of a tense situation in the relations between Baku and Tehran, but also as stirring up separatist sentiments among ethnic Azeris in Iran, which constitute about one-third of the Iranian population.
They are mostly are integrated into the Iranian society and one should not forget that the Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is an ethnic Azeri.
Professor at Stanford University, political analyst Roland Benedikter, commenting on current situation, emphasized that Azerbaijan continues to become more and more dependent on Turkey every year.
According to him, Ankara considers Baku as a tool against their eternal regional rival – Iran, and that negatively impacts Azerbaijani-Iranian relations and regional stability.
As a result it becomes obvious now that Azerbaijan is forced to follow Turkey’s policies in relations with Iran and with other countries, on the insistence of Erdoğan.
At the same time, the process of absorption of the neighboring state by Ankara has significantly accelerated and it can lead in the near future to the loss of Azerbaijani national identity and, in addition, parts of internationally recognized territory.
The views of the author does not necessarily reflect those of Greek City Times.
Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijiani journalist born in Georgia with a focus on South Caucasus issues.