Armenia’s Place in the New South Caucasus

A rapprochement with Turkey makes sense, but several obstacles remain.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan last fall dramatically changed the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus, and Armenia’s strategy is beginning to change to reflect it. Last week, Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan said Turkey no longer had any reason to keep its border with Armenia closed. Ankara shut the border with its eastern neighbor in 1993 over the conflict in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh – parts of which are since November under Azerbaijani control while other parts are patrolled by Russian peacekeepers. This comes a couple of months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed a six-party platform to develop cooperation between the states in and around the South Caucasus, including Armenia. Opening up the Armenian-Turkish border risks further empowering Turkey, a historical enemy of Armenia, in the Caucasus. But Armenia is out of options, and rapprochement would free up trade and economic opportunities for Yerevan that may be irresistible. Difficult Past Armenian-Turkish relations have always been strained. Armenia became part of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. Later, Persia seized Eastern Armenia – which today composes the entire territory of Armenia – while Western Armenia remained under the control of the Ottomans. By […]

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