Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

The ’one nation, two states’ baloney

New Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been working so hard ever since taking office that it is getting difficult to follow where he is and with whom he is meeting.

After flying from a meeting of the foreign ministers of Islamic countries in the Syrian capital of Damascus to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, Davutoğlu issued a quite striking statement in a joint news briefing with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov. "A strong Azerbaijan means a strong Turkey," he said. This is an approach stemming from the concept of "one nation, two states." It may be music to the ears, but how true is this "concept"?

A two-day workshop on "Turkish-Armenian relations" hosted by SETA in Istanbul continues. Another meeting on the same topic will be organized by TESEV on Friday. And next week, a meeting similar to the European Stability Initiative will be held in Istanbul. "Normalization" in Turkish-Armenian relations seems to have become clogged over the "Azerbaijan condition." But it also seems to be the main topic for the activities of non-governmental organizations and think tanks.

The SETA workshop is being held behind closed doors and the "Chatham House rules" are being applied. In other words, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker or speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. Armenian and Turkish participants are bringing the "one nation, two states" concept to the agenda. I have written my opinion here before. So to share what was told in this meeting will not be violation of the Chatham House rules.

I believe that the "one nation, two states" concept is invalid, wrong not only in terms of "political requirements" but also historically. The majority of people living in Turkey and an overwhelming majority of Azerbaijanis share a "common identity" and a "cultural closeness" on account of coming from the same ethnic background. There is no doubt about it. We can also talk about traditional mutual love.

However, all these things are not enough to describe Turkey and Azerbaijan under the concept of "one nation, two states." In the aftermath of World War I, in the period from 1918 through 1921, Turkey and Azerbaijan met at a crossroads for a short time until the Soviets came to rule first in Azerbaijan, and then in the entire Caucasus. Before the Ottomans period, as Turks were just about to step in to Anatolia, we could talk about "one nation," but then again, the concept of "nation" back then was quite different from what we have today.

Examples of "one nation, two states" situations today include Greece and the South Cyprus Greek Administration, which is officially called the Republic of Cyprus, in addition to Albania and Kosovo. If Turkey claims to be a "modern state" based on the "citizenship principle," which it is, it cannot generate a special status for Azerbaijan such as a "one nation, two states" notion because where will we put the millions of Kurds who are not assimilated? They are our citizens. Where would we place our non-Muslim Armenian citizens in such a concept?

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All right, but is referring only to Azerbaijan by the "one nation, two states" notion disadvantageous? Yes, it is. The concept limits Turkey’s role as "a regional power." Under this concept, Turkey could not play its role in the Caucasus, could not normalize relations with Armenia and could not open its borders. And it would also limit Turkey’s influence in the entire region.

Therefore, this approach and its imperative policy would not create a "well-intentioned" solution for the Karabakh issue because such an approach would bind Turkey’s Caucasus policy to Azerbaijan. In this respect, to set the equation as "A strong Azerbaijan means a strong Turkey" is wrong. But the opposite is correct: "A strong Turkey means a strong Azerbaijan." The first formulation leaves Turkey outside the Caucasus, therefore weakening it.

"Our message to regional actors, especially to Armenia, is quite clear. The regions should be cleared of occupations and tensions," said Davutoğlu. That is correct. What he meant here is a solution to the Karabakh issue, and an end to the Armenian occupation in Azerbaijani territory, where five parts in the Karabakh region are totally, and two more partially, under Armenian occupation. This is the problem. How will this be accomplished? How will the Karabakh issue will be resolved and how will the occupation be ended? There is no answer to these questions yet. The Karabakh issue broke out between 1988 and 1992. The seven sections of Azerbaijani land were occupied in 1992. Since 1994, there has been no solution, though a fragile ceasefire continues.

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Davutoğlu also sees the Minsk Group, in which Turkey is a member but is taken seriously, as a tool for solutions. "The Organization of Security and Cooperation for Europe, or OSCE’s, Minsk Group and the international community should make every effort to resolve this issue," he said. For years, there has been no one making efforts for a solution in the Minsk Group, except for the three co-chairs, Russia, the United States and France. The Minsk Group co-chairs, in a report released in July 2007, stressed that reciprocal principles are the solution but that they are at the end of their creativity in determining, formulation and application of these principles. And that they didn’t think a different result could be reached in additional meetings with new brokers on either side. If the parties cannot agree on the principles introduced, then they should exert efforts for an alternative in order to find common ground for a solution. In short, the co-chairs expressed that they were fed up with the Karabakh issue.

The co-chairs of the Minsk Group are not even ambassadors. It can be rightfully said that the Minsk Group could not create "adequate pressure" on Azerbaijan and Armenia to find a solution. If Turkey asks for an upgraded representation in the Minsk Group and positions itself in a spot to find a solution, it could play more effective role than this "joint discourse." But Turkey cannot claim such a position by keeping the Armenian border Ğ the only one closed in Europe Ğ shut.

Opening the border has nothing to do with the solution. However, problems with Syria about sheltering members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, didn’t cause the Hatay border to be closed down. And the Turkey-Greece border has never been closed despite the still-unsolved Cyprus issue, in addition to the array of problems between the two countries, from continental shells to the FIR line.

Under these circumstances, if you keep saying that the border gate between Turkey and Armenia cannot be re-opened without finding a solution to the Karabakh issue, you tie Turkish foreign policy to Azerbaijan and make Turkey’s playing a regional role impossible.

The point the "one nation, two states" notion will eventually reach only weakens the power of your state.
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