Restart in Turkey-Armenia relations: What is Erdoğan seeking?

Turkish turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkey's economy is in a precarious position, with the lira declining more and more everyday, reaching a record low, and intensifying instability and crisis in the neighbouring country.

Nevertheless, the specific situation was chosen by Ankara in order to "proceed with the normalisation of relations with Armenia," as Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated in his speech to Parliament on the 2022 budget.

Çavuşoğlu said "we will soon appoint joint special representatives for the normalisation steps with Armenia. We will also start charter flights between Yerevan and Istanbul in the coming days."

In a geopolitical quicksand, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is attempting to "open" an approach to Armenia by appointing a special envoy to Yerevan.

In the recent conflict between the two Caucasian countries, Turkey unapologetically supported the Azeri side. It should be recalled that the last attempts at a Turkey-Armenia rapprochement in 1993 failed.

International analysts wonder what Ankara intends to do with its initiative. And why now?

Does Turkey want to show the international community that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has been resolved?

It is the necessary and preconditional step before the establishment of the proposed "3 + 3" platform, a regional body comprising of South Caucasian states and their neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as Iran, Russia and Turkey.

"It is clear from the opening to Armenia that Erdoğan wants to play the role of regional ruler," said the professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations. Center for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at the Sotiris Roussos Institute of International Relations.

"He believes he can do it because the Armenians are in a very difficult position militarily and politically.

"The military is at its weakest point, as seen in the latest developments with the Azeris recently invading and occupying areas of Armenia and Yerevan seeking Moscow's intervention," said Professor Sotiris Roussos.

The Head of the Centre for Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies said "The Turkish President sees it as an opportunity to become a regional ruler, who will determine peace in this region, relations between the states, etc."

"Erdoğan will not interfere with Georgia or other issues of the Caucasus (Ossetia, etc.)" as they are a "red line for the Russians," he added.

The professor explained that since Armenia is "in a difficult position, obviously it will also talk to Turkey. But the talks between the two sides are not expected to lead anywhere."

"Armenian distrust of Turkey is so great, especially after the role it played in the last war with Azerbaijan, that it is impossible for anything to really happen," he concluded.

According to Vivi Kefala, professor of International Relations at the University of the Aegean, with the unexpected "opening" to Yerevan, Ankara is seeking "to attract public opinion, achieving a supposed success abroad."

In addition, the professor added: "Turkey wants to play the benevolent giant of the region and therefore does everything because there is a 'magic' leader."

On the other hand, if they are going to be members of the same "3 + 3" platform, obviously they will have to normalise their relations.

Undoubtedly, there is a background that has not seen the light of day. This move did not come out of nowhere, if you look at the map, you can see what happens to the oil pipelines.

"The pipelines are another reason why Erdoğan wants to normalise relations and wants to participate in this platform," concluded the Middle East expert.

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