Friday, September 18, 2009
By CENGİZ AKTAR
Not all Azerbaijanis are the same, of course. Thinking that nations are homogenous or they think alike is not right. Yet, various views are being voiced in Azerbaijan, and we note them as long as the Azerbaijani dictatorship allows. However, when it comes to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict we do not hear much other than "someday Armenians will have to evacuate the Azerbaijani territory because we have oil but they are poor." We haven't heard of a reasonable solution yet.
On the contrary, Azerbaijan and, for that matter, Armenia, being anti-democratic countries, there is no solution other than ethnic cleansing-based land swap in sight.
This is also the point where Turkey is stuck, too. Turkey, having a border conflict with Armenia for years now, faces an impasse. The Karabakh region is not a piece of land over which the issue can be settled easily through democratic and modern ways. The dialogue and reconciliation approach Turkey considers as part of the government's Kurdish move is not the answer to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and will not be on the agenda in the near future. The nationalist soul mates, Republican People's Party, or CHP, and Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, and the Azerbaijani authorities are aware Turkey's dilemma. This is the reason they hopelessly keep repeating to pressure the government that the unique solution in the Karabakh issue is the return of the territory to Azerbaijan. This is a very thin and dangerous line for the government and the reformist circles. At the end of the day, vague language of protocols signals that the Turkey-Armenia border can be re-opened if Armenia withdraws from five Azerbaijani regions neighboring the Karabakh territory. In fact, to expect more moves, at least for now, is nonsense if we want to see a re-opening of the border.
In this context, it is important to note irresponsible attitudes of the CHP and MHP regarding Turkey's democratic future. For instance, the MHP is ready to shamelessly deny the contacts they had before the death of the legendary MHP leader Alparslan Türkeş with the then Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian for the sake of reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is eager to defy nationalist emotions through the myth of "two states, one nation" where no one knows what exactly it means. But Azerbaijan is a state that somehow fails to recognize the Turkish Cyprus, an issue dear to nationalist circles.
There is a coalition of forces trying to sabotage Turkey's initiatives, to block its way ahead and to leave the country alone in seclusion. Efforts of civil groups in support of the "openings" are as important as the government's will power. Similarly, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, should be able to support the opening toward Armenia, as they do regarding the "Kurdish opening."
Is it Cyprus' turn?
Could a Greek/Cypriot opening possibly follow the Armenian and Kurdish openings? The latest developments nurture concerns and pessimism as much as prudent optimism. Not much new information came out of Davutoğlu's contacts in Turkish Cyprus. The reunification talks are as important for Turkey as they are for the island. If the Armenian and Kurdish questions are the two legs, the Greek/Cypriot issue is the third leg. Any development in this aspect will be serious enough to provide steps for durable political stability in the country. The government is partly in control of the Armenian and Kurdish initiatives. However, it is difficult to say that it is in full control over the Greek/Cypriot issue. While ongoing counter terrorist operations against the PKK have the potential to derail the Kurdish opening, the compulsory blessing of the army in the Cyprus issue has similar potential to derail the negotiations. The invisible side at the negotiation table for the Cyprus talks is perhaps the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK. The very same TSK is said to show force and doing sorties over the Dodecanese and Lesbos Island. In other words, may God protect us from "closures" in the Greek/Cypriot matter as we try to make openings in the Armenian and Kurdish conflicts. Possible tensions on that end may have the potential to harm the other initiatives.