Turkey, despite being an immediate neighbor of the South Caucasus or Caucasian countries and having a shared history because of the Ottoman domination of this region, has only recently expressed an interest and developed a foreign policy towards the three South Caucasus republics. Since their accession to independence in 1991, Ankara has established unique ties with these nations. However, Turkey is not the only regional power to be looking into its neighborhood. Two other neighbors, which have also historically dominated this region, are manifesting a likewise legitimate interest: Russia and Iran. In fact, with the end of the Soviet Union, the new geographical configuration in the area fed the expectation that a new struggle for influence in this region would soon be revived amongst the old empires: the Russians, the Safavids, and the Ottomans and their heirs, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. But this confrontation has not taken place.
Strengths and Constraints of Turkish Policy in the South Caucasus
Just after the end of the Soviet Union and the emergence of three independent states in the South Caucasus Turkey started to manifest a real interest for this region. Energy issue, which is the key issue in this Turkish policy since the beginning, is expected to remain the key priority for Turkey because of its growing economy. Ankara tries to have a balanced relations with the three South Caucasian countries, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, but for multiple reasons, Turkey’s policy in the South Caucasus is still determined by its relations with Azerbaijan who is the best ally and economic partner for Ankara.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and İlham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan in Baku, Azerbaijan. AA / Vugar Ibadov
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