Seeking for Normalization in the Caucasus in the Shadow of Conflicts

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The new status quo which has emerged in the South Caucasus geopolitics in the aftermath of the Second Karabakh War has centralized the regional role of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Otherside, Russia has displayed its influence maintaining through mediating the ceasefire agreement dated 10 November 2020. Indeed, the Moscow administration played the role of a peace-building actor yet again at the point of giving an end to the attacks launched by the Armenian Army on the axis of Lachin and Kelbajar at the date of 15-16 November 2021 and demonstrated its hegemony in the region. Consequently, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia come into prominence in the geopolitics of Caucuses, can be argued.

On the other side, Armenia is facing a tearing dilemma. Both in the Armenian community and the military and civil bureaucracy of the country, pro-occupation tendencies continue to the obtained. Thence, Armenia occasionally organises attacks and violate cease-fire by the act in the direction of revisionist approximation. Despite this, it is seen that Yerevan gave the green light to the normalization process in the region and tried to be a part of developing projects. Therefore, the recent conflicts caused the pro-occupation cadres in Yerevan to be disappointed once again. In fact, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who accepted a ceasefire with the mediation of Russia on November 16, 2021, announced on November 18, 2021, that they accepted Moscow’s proposal for the processioning of the border with Azerbaijan.[1] 

In the light of the developments mentioned above, three critical steps are expected to be taken within the scope of the normalization processes in the region. The first of these steps is the issue of determining the borders, which causes tension on the Armenia-Azerbaijan line. The announcement that Moscow’s offer was accepted by Yerevan indicates that a positive process can be experienced in this regard.

The second step is the realization of the Zangezur Corridor. As it is known, the corridor provides a continuous land connection in particular between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan, in general Turkey and the Turkish World. Additionally, the corridor come into prominence in the context of energy and transportation projects and thus, its become beneficial for Yerevan, not just Ankara and Baku. Although it is seen that Armenia loiter over the issue regarding the realization of the corridor and is affected by the provocative statements of some regional states, both the expression of opening the transportation corridors in the 9th article of the Moscow Declaration dated 10 November 2020 and the reality faced by the pro-occupation groups on 16 November 2021, prognosticated that Armenia will not be able to resist the opening of the Zangezur Corridor for a long time. With this regard, joining the regional cooperation process may convince Yerevan and but provocative statements of some regional states that will sabotage the developments may provoke pro-occupation groups in Armenian politics must be expressed. Nonetheless, it is predictable that Armenia, which is at the stage of making critical decisions on many issues from its historical identity to its geopolitical orientation, and actually experiencing the pains of this intensely, will be willing to set a timetable for the opening of the Zangezur Corridor, and that developments that will serve the search for regional cooperation, prosperity and peace in this direction.

The third step is the Six-Country Cooperation Platform proposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan during the Victory Ceremony in Baku on 10 December 2020. As it can be understood, Turkey and Azerbaijan already are the architects of this project. Also, Moscow has been driven away from the strategy that aims to contain the Turkish World since the Second Karabakh War and gave weight to act together with Turkey and the Turkic States within the global power competition. Yerevan, despite the social and political trauma caused by the defeat of the Second Karabakh War, is trying to integrate international society. Thus, the main concern for regional peace is the attitude of Georgia and Iran. Furthermore, the approach of these two actors, become more of an issue, not just the Six-Country Cooperation Platform but also for the border conflicts and Zangezur Corridor. In other words, the regional stability and the future of the peace process are closely related to steps taken by Tbilisi and Tehran.

As it will be remembered, since the Russia-Georgia War in August 2008, Tbilisi’s relations with Moscow have had problematic content. In this regard, the distant attitude of Georgia towards the Six-Country Cooperation Platform is known. This situation is unsuspectingly understandable. In this sense, the Tbilisi administration demands the territorial integrity of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to be respected by Russia. however, without gathering all parties at the same table it is not seen possible to get a solution for existing disputes. In a world where even Germany and France, which has been experienced hostility throughout history, are able to come together under the umbrella of the European Union (EU), the Six-Country Cooperation Platform is not just about the problems on the Azerbaijan-Armenia line; at the same time, it can be a tool for overcoming the disagreements in Russia-Georgia relations. Rather than the political understanding which is shaped based on a conflict and disagreement scope, the process of cooperation that creates an interdependency and is framed by win-win logic will be led to the community of the region to have a prosperous life.

Another subject that worries Georgia is the risk, due to its current position on the main route of energy transportation to the West, will lose its monopoly position. This is why there is a possibility of Georgia’s turn against the realization of the Zangezur Corridor. Tbilisi prioritizes its national interests in this concern. Certainly, this concern is natural. However, if all countries demonstrated a will for cooperation, it can be stated that Georgia would not like to fall outside of the regional processes. Also, Tbilisi does not challenge regional peace; on the contrary, Georgian authorities even declared that they could mediate between Baku and Yerevan in May 2021.[2] Thusly, despite all the restration, Georgia is slanted towards peacebuilding in the region. Besides, there are also cooperation processes that have been carried out for years in a healthy way on the Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia line. If Tbilisi’s understandable concerns can be resolved and it may lead to ensuring the adopting an approach that contributes to regional peace.

Another actor whose approach to creating a regional peace environment is a matter of curiosity is Iran. In fact, when “Six-Country Cooperation Platform” came into prominence, Iran welcomed this development warmly, and then Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been started to visit regional states. This creates an expectation that Tehran would embark on a constructive attitude but Tehran has displayed a stance that objects to the cooperation processes in the region, both due to it does not desire a powerful Azerbaijan because it creates an encouraging effect on the Turkish population inside its borders and because it is refraining from the ineffectiveness of the Armenian route, which is used to overcome the sanctions.

Finally, this behaviour of Iran manifested itself in the customs crisis also indicated that Iran is set against the realization of the Zangezur Corridor, too. At the same time, Iranian decision-makers have expressed their opposition to the create an alteration in borders on all occasions. Indeed,  Iranian President Ibrahim Reisi said, “Changing the borders is unacceptable.” message in the meeting of Iran’s Ambassador to Yerevan Abbad Badahshan with the High Secretary of the Armenian Security Council Armen Grigoryan, should not be neglected.[3] This denoted that Tehran’s statement, which is in favour of solving the regional states’ disputes among themselves at the discursive level; nominately has against the imperial intervention of outside actors, are rhetorical. As a result of this, the interest of France and the United States of America (US), which turned a blind eye to the occupation to maintain for years under the name of the Minsk Trio, has increased again. The announcement that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will meet with Pashinyan on December 15, 2021, in Brussels indicates that the EU, and therefore France in particular, and the West in general, have increased their interest in the region by virtue of escalation of tension, in which Iran is also effective.

As a result, the conflicts that took place on 15-16 November 2021 showed once again that pro-occupation policies are being condemned to fail, and at the same time, this crisis also embodies opportunities that will open the door to regional cooperation. It is obvious that the cooperation to be built in line with an understanding that prioritizes the solution of regional disputes by regional states will contribute to prosperity and peace. For this, the gains to profound from the process by the actors who approach the cooperation processes with a distance, especially Pashinyan’s taking more courageous steps, should be revealed.

[1] “Armenia Accepts Russian Proposals to Fix Border with Azerbaijan”, Hetq,, (Date of Accession: 19.11.2021).

[2] “Armenian President Arrives in Georgia for Official Visit”, Armradio,, (Date of Accession: 12.05.2021).

[3] @CeyhunAsirov, “İran’ın Erivan Büyükelçisi Abbas Bedaşhan, #Ermenistan Güvenlik Konseyi Başkanı Grigoryan ile görüştü. İran Cumhurbaşkanı: “Sınırların Değişirilmesi Kabul Edilemez””, Twitter,, (Date of Accession: 16.11.2021).

Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN
Dr. Doğacan BAŞARAN, 2014 yılında Gazi Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2017 yılında Giresun Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda sunduğu ‘’Uluslararası Güç İlişkileri Bağlamında İkinci Dünya Savaşı Sonrası Hegemonik Mücadelelerin İncelenmesi’’ başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Doktora derecesini ise 2021 yılında Trakya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı‘nda hazırladığı “İmparatorluk Düşüncesinin İran Dış Politikasına Yansımaları ve Milliyetçilik” başlıklı teziyle alan Başaran’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Uluslararası ilişkiler kuramları, Amerikan dış politikası, İran araştırmaları ve Afganistan çalışmalarıdır. Başaran iyi derecede İngilizce ve temel düzeyde Farsça bilmektedir.