The Russian-Turkish conflict is dangerous for the South Caucasus region with its fragile security architecture, says turcologist Vahram Ter-Matevosyan. VERELQ News and Analysis Center published an interview with him on December 22.
Some experts say Erdogan has ambitious plans and attempts to recreate the Ottoman Empire. How feasible are such assumptions?
No one can give a complete answer to this question. Erdogan has been in power for 13 years and he has lost hold on reality in many matters. Considering that he is determined to retain his grip on power, the possibility of his extraordinary and unpredictable steps is increasing.
Why did the Turkish air forces attack the Russian Su-24?
It was much spoken about. Both political and professional assessments have been given to the incident. Regardless of the true motives of the attack on the Su-24, Russia used it as an opportunity to gain a foothold in the region and to question the far-sightedness of Turkey and its supporters.
Do you think the Russian-Turkish relations will keep deteriorating?
Sure, Putin has personally confirmed that he sees no prospects for normalization at the political level in the near future. Russia benefits from this because it no longer has to inform Ankara of its steps or wait for naughty response. The sooner Turkey realizes its mistake, the sooner it will return to the Syrian process. By the Russian leadership’s assurances, the air space of Syria is closed for the Turkish air forces. A question arises is to whether Russia is interested in Turkey’s prompt excuses?
Do you think Turkish intellectuals support Erdogan’s policy?
There is no consolidated intelligentsia in Turkey for obvious reasons. Erdogan has numerous supporters and outspoken critics. Liberal and left-wing intellectuals are the arch enemies of Erdogan. Gullen’s supporters are also influential enough. However, the conservative part of the intelligentsia keeps supporting the Turkish president.
How will the Russia-Turkey tensions affect the region and Armenia in particular?
The security in the South Caucasus is rather fragile. Having three conflict zones, the region is extremely sensitive to any conflict situation near its borders.
What do you think about the defense declaration signed by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan?
Turkey and Azerbaijan have been actively involving Georgia into their security triangle for 10 years already. Georgia has gradually found itself in the political, economic and cultural “tongs” of Ankara and Baku. Treaties, agreements and declarations were signed earlier as well. Turkey and Azerbaijan benefit from dealing with stable and predictable Georgia. Otherwise, the plans to ensure their own energy security will go to pieces.
In response to the question about the visit by leader of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş to Moscow and his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the expert said the HDP leader’s visit to Moscow is noteworthy for several reasons. “At first sight, the delegation’s visit to Moscow may seem an attempt of Turkish authorities to normalize the relations with Russia. This topic may be discussed at the meeting, but over the past few months, the HDP has been trying to establish cooperation with Russia, China and Iran. The HDP is popular enough in Europe; however, the party’s leadership thinks it is necessary to work with other centers of force, too.