Renowned American expert on Eurasia, an expert on foreign policy, security and international relations and head of Russian-Eurasian programs at the Heritage Foundation, Ariel Cohen, spoke to Day.Az in an interview.
Day.Az: How could you comment on the fact that Azerbaijan, tired of waiting for Turkey’s constructive approach in negotiations on gas exports, began to consider alternative oil transportation routes?
Ariel Cohen: It is a clear signal that Azerbaijan will be prepared to develop relations with Russia's Gazprom. I admit possibility of Azerbaijan's participation in the "South Stream" project which could lead the Nabucco project to wither away. This, of course, will be negatively perceived in the United States which relies on Nabucco.
Another possibility is Azerbaijan’s participation in the "White Stream" project which will run via Georgia, Black Sea and onwards to the Eastern Europe. But there will be a great discontent by Russia.
Q: What are your views about this process?
A: This is a strong signal to Ankara which needs to be interpreted on the backdrop of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and Turkey's policy to move away from cooperation with Western powers, including Israel.
I think the Turkish leadership moves away from domestic and foreign policy, which were founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and which were a basis for the secular Turkish Republic. If this policy does not meet a rebuff within Turkey, such a dangerous policy from circles with secular and pro-Western orientation could lead to instability and tension in the South Caucasus and across the area ranging from the Iranian-Turkish border to the eastern Mediterranean.
Q: How do you see Turkey’s future policy?
A: If Turkey is seriously keen to continue and develop fraternal relations with Azerbaijan, it may reconsider its gas pipeline policy and take a serious return to the negotiating table. If, on the other hand, Turkey continues to focus on Russian and Iranian gas, it cannot only lead to a deterioration of Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, but also to a deterioration of U.S.-Turkish relations, because the United States still considers Turkey a reliable ally, and relies on Iraqi, Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas and the Nabucco project. Evolution of Turkey as U.S. ally - both geopolitical and valuable – causes serious questions both in Baku and in Washington.