As negotiations between Armenia and Turkey for establishing relations enter a very sensitive and critical stage, one would assume that the two sides would use extreme caution and restraint if they are truly interested in a positive outcome.
While on the Armenian side, reaction to a provocation has been extremely restrained — even cowardly — the Turkish side does not seem to be under similar constraints.
The negotiation process began under President Biden’s advice — if not pressure — to Turkish leaders, but Turkey had to weigh the pros and cons of the initiative. For the Armenian side, the benefits are obvious; lifting of the Turkish-Azerbaijani blockade will open up the outside world for the Armenian market.
For Turkey, on the other hand, successful negotiations will pave a road all the way to Central Asia, where Ankara plans to extend its Pan-Turanic empire, while at the same time, the opening of the border will spur economic activity and prosperity for moribund eastern Turkey, or Western Armenia, now populated primarily by the Kurdish minority.
It remains to be seen if the Turkish government is really interested in the economic recovery of the Kurdish region, which may fuel demands for equal rights, democracy and even independence. There are also “hidden” Armenians among the Kurds, and the cross-fertilization of ideas with Armenians across the border may spark sentiments of irredentism.
As stated above, Ankara has to calibrate its act before getting too far in the process. Thus far, signs indicate that Turkey is a reluctant partner in the process at best, creating one obstacle after another, with nary a reaction or protest from the Armenian government.