ISTANBUL — Two roads diverge in theSouth Caucasus and the newly electedAmerican administration can takeeither one. On the one hand it can sup-port steps or cooperation and can markthe very irst example o the new worldorder by permanently ignoring the sig-nals o domestic politics; or on the otherhand it can prioritize domestic politicalpressures, thus contributing to ragility and instability in the region.The election o Barack Obama as the44
president o the United Statescreated an optimistic global climate,particularly or those seeking multi-lateral settlements o internationaldisputes. The 2008 release o
(www.transatlan-tictrends.org) reports that the strongleadership and unilateral approachdeining U.S. oreign policy duringthe Bush administration has receivedvery little support, especially rom theEuropean public. The survey showsthe leadership style o President-electObama is perceived as a new era orenhanced cooperation between theUnited States and the European Union.The “Armenian” issue—with reer-ence to the international pressure torecognize the Armenian GenocideResolution—is an early opportunity orObama to deine his approach o U.S.oreign policy.Amid the hopeul atmosphere in thechanging global environment, Turkey remains in a diicult position. Thecurrent government hopes to improverelations with Armenia and diuse theenduring security concerns o the Turk-ish electorate toward this ignored neigh-bor; however, these ambitions mightbe hindered by the potential passageo the Armenian Genocide Resolution(HR106) in the U.S. Congress. Turkishrelations with Armenia and Armenianshave always been a crutch or Turkey in-ternationally, providing strong evidenceor those Turks claiming that Turkey has no riends. Debate, internationally,over the Armenian genocide issue is adominant actor inluencing Turkey’sskeptical approach toward its historicalallies—e.g. France, the United States—as well as some o its new neighbors.Ordinary Turkish citizens, presumably having little inormation about andlimited interest in international prob-lems, and tend to see the “Armenian”issue as an instrument o internationalpowers. A key actor in that group o international powers is the well orga-nized Armenian Diaspora, which enjoysconsiderable inluence in Washington.However, Turkish public opinion onthe Armenian issue cannot be under-stood solely rom an internationalperspective. It must be contextualizedwithin Turkey’s domestic ramework.Historical and contemporary actors,such as inherited ears about “external
Two Roads Diverge in the South Caucasus
by Dr. Emre Erdoğan
an teaches social statistics at Istanbul Bilgi University, Department o Political Sciences and International Relations.
views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GMF.
Summary: Two roads diverge in the South Caucasus and the newlyelected U.S. administration can takeeither one. On the one hand it cansupport steps for cooperation andcan mark the very first example of the new world order by permanentlyignoring the signals of domesticpolitics; or on the other hand it canprioritize domestic political pres
sures, thus contributing to fragilityand instability in the region.The election of Barack Obamain the United States created anoptimistic global climate, particu
larly with those seeking multilat
eral settlements of internationaldisputes. However, Turkey faces animportant dilemma under a chang
ing global environment. The currentgovernment hopes to improve rela
tions with Armenia and diffuse theenduring security concerns of theTurkish electorate; however, theseambitions might be hindered by thepotential passage of the ArmenianGenocide Resolution (HR106) in the U.S. Congress.