NATO is reviewing the policy and position of Turkey but this discussion is still an informal conversation with a certain extent of openness and scrutiny, rather than official or working discussions.
NATO member states which have certain agreements on common and other political issues have launched relevant consultations, involving also the military. Earlier the main initiators of this discussion were France and Greece but now basically all NATO member states are interested in it. NATO cannot be isolated from common political problems and processes and is involved in the political discussion in one way or another which dwells on the problems of behavior of different states.
Recently the United States has been interested in spreading this discussion but is trying to stay an outsider, enabling other states to take the initiative on the problems of the Turkish policy.
The opinion that Turkey formally observes NATO statutes is not true. Turkey is setting forth increasingly more unrealistic demands on behalf of NATO, first of all on the issues of activities of the alliance regarding different defense and security issues. Besides the problems of Cyprus, Turkey demands from NATO major efforts to ensure its defense and security although there are no real threats. For instance, it has demanded assistance to attend to minor misunderstanding on the border with Syria.
In other words, not only is it trying to involve NATO in the regional conflict but gets involved in these processes itself, using the legitimate decision of NATO. During the preparation of NATO summit in Chicago Turkey demanded not to change the communiqué on conflicts and crises, including the Karabakh conflict. It totally contradicts to the goals of NATO and the nature of its policy. A more important problem is the destructive position of Turkey on the Security Pact signed between the EU and NATO.
Experts think NATO and the EU are becoming increasingly worried about Turkish activities in the Balkans where it supports unilaterally the Muslim countries and ethnicities, which is contrary to the principles and policy of the West. According to experts, NATO’s activities in the Mediterranean and the Near East could be more active were there not the threat of Turkey’s military intervention as a member of NATO.
The military maneuvers of the United States, Greece and Israel in the Mediterranean did not involve Turkey on the latter’s wish. At the same time, new interests of different countries and groups are forming in the Mediterranean who are creating new regional blocs. In the West Mediterranean new realities will emerge in defense and security areas.
Currently the relations between Greece and Turkey in the areas of defense and arms are transparent, they know about each other everything they need. But it does not mean that there are no problems in these relations. Turkey wants to lead the race for weapons and Greece has reported this to NATO for a number of times.
Greece is not trying to form a military or a political bloc in the Balkans against Turkey. That would be absurd and impossible, considering the legality of Greece to NATO and the European Union. Nevertheless, it is impossible to overlook Turkish expansion in the Balkans. Greece thinks that it has played an important role in defending the rights of orthodox people in the Balkans with war and missions of NATO. The situation in the region could have been different, much fairer if Greece did not participate in NATO discussions and peacekeeping missions.
The key issue in the relations of the EU and NATO with Turkey remains the issue of Cyprus. At the same time, there is a more serious issue with a long-term and strategic meaning, namely the regional policy of Turkey which worries the West. This aspect of the problems will render the Turkish policy a leading factor of the new crisis in NATO. This crisis has already begun.
Considering the recent developments, of interest are the reflections on a possible Turkish intervention in a possible conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and NATO’s point of view on the Turk-Azerbaijani treaty on defense and security. Nothing can be ruled out in the large-scale war, especially if Azerbaijan is defeated. NATO has no evaluations. There are evaluations of the state of the military forces of the South Caucasian states based on information from different sources of the region.
Despite considerable acquisition of weapons by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Azerbaijan still maintain the balance and to some extent Armenia continues to have advantage in terms of both arms and effectiveness of military personnel. Azerbaijan has a lot of problems in the army and is not ready to launch a war in accordance with the plans it has worked out. Turkey knows about this.
The key external preventive factor is the cooperation of Armenia with Russia and CSTO. In the regions of the Black Sea and the Caucasus the balance between the key states of Russia and Turkey is maintained.
NATO and the EU do not approve Turkish interference in the possible development, and if Turkey makes up its mind, the issue of its stay in NATO will be brought up automatically. However, it will have big trouble because it will thus lose its role in international and economic relations, tough sanctions will be imposed which will be difficult to overcome. NATO and the EU, as well as the United States and France are interested in Armenia, and they are ready to help not only the preparation of Armenia to war but also hold a pro-Armenian position in the dialogue with Turkey.
The agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan is not legitimate from the point of view of NATO statutes and rules. Turkey has not discussed this agreement with NATO and has thus withdrawn it from consideration by the alliance. In accordance with this agreement, Turkey must provide military assistance to Azerbaijan, that is military intervention. However, it is contrary to NATO statutes and rules. NATO members have no right to military actions without a resolution of NATO or UN. No resolution is expected from either in case of a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The result of Turkish intervention will be its secession from NATO.
As to how decisions on defining the aggressor in a possible war between Armenia and Azerbaijan will be made, NATO and the international community will know who the aggressor will be but they will hardly give a unilateral assessment. NATO and the EU will try to stop military actions, using political levers.
The U.S. administration has good information on the situation in the South Caucasus and has no illusions regarding the simplicity of the settlement of the Karabakh issue. The United States will most probably try to demonstrate to the affected side – Azerbaijan – and to its ally Turkey its readiness to make efforts to resolve this problem. Obama administration would also like to demonstrate its positive attitude to Armenia and the U.S.-based Armenians.
The United States aims to ignore the French and Russian policy in the region, first of all regarding the Karabakh issue. At the same time, there are no significant differences between the U.S. relations with the United States and France. The Americans allow for the political and diplomatic efforts of France and intends to use its influence on Armenia. Russia is given the role of an independent actor in the process of settlement, keeping its role in the Minsk Group. Although, there may be a U-turn in the U.S.-Russian relations on the Caucasian region.
These thoughts reflect the real state of things, and it would be wrong to deny the main constraints on Turkish intervention in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan but in a big regional war the reality will be significantly modified. The U.S. and NATO proceed from the assumption of a controlled war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which will allow them prevent further escalation in the region on which the current views of the Atlantic policy makers and politicians are based.
Will Turkey be reluctant to see its protectorate Azerbaijan defeated, especially if it understands that all its partners in NATO want the military defeat of Azerbaijan and, at the same time, a strong Turkish-Russian confrontation to show Turkey its real place in the regional policy?