‘Shusha Declaration’ Is Virtual Declaration of War against Armenia

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While the West views, sometimes with sarcasm and at other times with apprehension, the Kremlin’s efforts to revive the former Soviet Union in a different shape or form, it allows Turkey to continue its global plan to bring Turkic nations under its sway.

Thus far, Turkey has used the West’s generosity and military might to become the second most powerful entity in the NATO structure, only to use that status to serve its immediate agenda, exercise independent policy and even at times defy the West, as it did when it purchased S-400 missiles from Russia, forbade the use of Incirlik air base during NATO operations and slaughtered the Kurdish forces allied with the US in Syria.

Therefore, it is not difficult to forecast that Turkey may become more independent or even hostile to the West in the long run. Many polls already indicate that there is no love lost between the Turkish public and the West.

Thus, the belief in the West that Turkey’s self-serving course can be restrained at any point is not realistic.

It is true that Turkey suffered a setback in Kazakhstan, which fell under Moscow’s control after Nursultan Nazarbayev was ousted from the political stage, but Ankara has been regrouping its forces to move ahead with its imperial plan.

Incidentally, the Central Asian republics — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — with their huge reserves of oil, gas and uranium, are in the sights of the three powers now embarked on empire building: Turkey, Russia and China.

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Turkey had begun the process of absorbing Azerbaijan a long time ago, and it began that process with the motto of “One Nation, Two Countries.” The process culminated with the 44-day war against Armenia in 2020, when Turkey offered the glory of victory to Azerbaijan, for the price of taking over that country economically and militarily. At this time, Turkey has consolidated its grip over Azerbaijan so much so that the motto can be rephrased as “One Nation, One State.”

In addition to being offered military victory, President Ilham Aliyev has been given the license to rob the country, as it was revealed through the Panama Papers and the $700 million real estate deal in London.

The Shusha Declaration formalizes that union and lays the foundation of pan-Turanist empire. (The Azerbaijani victors lost little time in reverting the name of the city to its Turkic form.)

The Shusha Declaration was proclaimed on June 15, 2021, but was ratified later by the parliaments of the two countries only recently.

The military component of the Shusha Declaration is a game-changing development in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. When Armenia and Azerbaijan fought each other in the past, their military strength was almost on par; that is how Armenia won the Karabakh war in 1994 and forced a ceasefire on Azerbaijan. Today, however, when Azerbaijan’s army is integrated with that of Turkey, the hopes of recovering Karabakh are dashed to the level of recovering Armenian lands in historic Armenia from Turkey.

In addition to presenting a threat to Armenia, the declaration is directed, in the long term, against President Vladimir Putin’s plans to bring Central Asian republics under Moscow’s rule as part of “Union States.”

Additionally, the declaration is directed against Iran, the perennial competitor of Turkey in the region, with an ethnic Turkic minority in the north. The Azerbaijan Province in Iran has already been a target for Baku, since the rule of President Abulfaz Elchibey. That plan is also in sync with Turkey’s aspirations on its way to building a Turanic empire.

The Kremlin, rather than anticipating Turkey’s growing influence through its expansion through Central Asia as a threat to its own plans, may use the fear factor it generates to entice Armenia into the “Union State.”

It is not idle speculation to state that the Shusha Declaration is the cornerstone of the future Turkic empire, as the declaration itself states: “Combining efforts in promoting joint activities on the regional and international plane aimed at the stable development of the Turkic world.”

Although the declaration states that it is not aimed at any third party, it refers to Armenia and attacks it directly regarding the issue of the Genocide, the Zangezur Corridor, the Kars Treaty and the Armenian identity of Karabakh.

Thus: “Thus the parties, stressing that Armenia’s unfounded claims against Turkey, attempts to distort history and politicize historical facts through their distortion, harm peace and stability in the region, strongly support the efforts of Turkey in this context, which has opened its archives in connection with the events of 1915 in order to encourage the opening of archives in Armenia and other countries and enable research to be conducted on this topic by historians.”

Turkey, and by association, Azerbaijan, believe that their distorted logic may validate their claim on the issue of the Genocide. Since they know that Armenia’s “claims are unfounded,” then what will be left for the historians to discover from scouring the Turkish archives that they purport are open to scholars?

Since the majority of Genocide scholars have expressed their verdict on the Armenian Genocide, as have major countries, who cares anymore about Turkey’s sanitized archives? The louder the condemnation of the international community is, the more laughable Turkey’s denialist efforts become.

The Shusha Declaration also lays plans for the region in complete contempt of Armenia’s sovereignty, where it states, “The parties note that the opening of the corridor connecting Azerbaijan and Turkey between Western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Zangezur Corridor) and, as a continuation of the corridor, the construction of the Nakhichevan-Kars railway will make an important contribution to the development of transport and communication links between the two countries.”

This statement assumes already that Turkey and Azerbaijan own the territory of Zangezur, that they can go ahead confidently to lay their plans. This tramples on Armenia’s sovereignty and deserves to receive public outcry as well as legal action to stop the incursion into Armenia’s territory.

The declaration also makes reference to the Treaty of Kars of 1921 between Bolshevik Russia and Mustafa Kemal’s Grand National Assembly. Neither entity was recognized by the international community at that time. The treaty, however, was imposed on Armenia.

The Treaty of Kars placed the Armenian region of Nakhichevan under Azerbaijani control. On the other hand, it drew the current border between Armenia and Turkey. Since its independence, Armenia has not recognized the treaty because that could sound the death knell on any future claims on historic Armenian lands. Turkey has been conniving to force Armenia to recognize the treaty and the forthcoming negotiations between the two countries will offer yet another opportunity for Turkey to corner Armenia into ratifying it.

Keen observers at the Kremlin have certainly not missed the fact that the declaration is directed against their future expansionist plans. And embroiled in the current Ukraine crisis, they consider it better to ignore it. The rulers at the Kremlin have not even reacted to President Aliyev’s recent provocative actions; indeed, right during the face-off between Russia and Ukraine, Aliyev visited Kyiv to sign an agreement which has a military component.

In another action, when President Biden threatened Russia to shut down the Nord Stream 2, which supplies gas to Europe, Aliyev offered Azerbaijani gas instead. For that, he received public thanks not just from the European leaders, but from the Secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, which underlines the political nature of Aliyev’s actions.

President Putin, instead of reacting angrily to Aliyev’s actions, invited him to Moscow to sign a treaty of alliance with Azerbaijan. In the maze of the Caucasian politics, it is difficult to pinpoint the factor of tolerance that President Putin has demonstrated with regard to President Aliyev.

If Moscow has some reasons to ignore the Shusha Declaration, Armenia has none, because the declaration not only jeopardizes its current sovereignty, but is also challenges its future aspirations and legitimate claims.

The issue was brought up in parliament by the opposition there. A special sub-committee was formed and the topic was discussed. The ruling majority refused to come up with a statement, in order not to hamper the forthcoming negotiations with Turkey. It was argued that future peace prospects could be impacted. Unfortunately, the issue was reduced to the level of domestic squabbling and the members of the ruling party believed that they carried a victory against the opposition, whereas the issue is much bigger than that — it’s the very existence of Armenia.

If Armenia will conduct negotiations with its hands tied, the outcome does not auger well for the future.

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