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TPQ's Winter 2017 Issue
Protracted Conflicts in Turkey's Neighborhood:
Between Cold Peace and Hot War

Winter 2017 Vol. 15 No. 4

From the Desk of the Editor
Süreya Martha Köprülü

The Winter 2017 issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ) marks a significant 15-year milestone in providing independent and balanced analyses on dynamics in Turkey and its neighborhood. Over the past 15 years, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to presenting all sides of the debate, encouraging critical opinions, and upholding the principles of freedom of speech.

Amid an increasingly polarized political and intellectual environment, as well as global challenges to liberal democratic values, TPQ sustains an important role in fostering candid discussions about the complex challenges facing Turkey and its role in the regional and transatlantic context. In doing so, we have tried to highlight perspectives from the government and opposition parties, as well as engage international actors in the country’s neighborhood and beyond. I want to express our appreciation to our contributors, readers, stakeholders, and advisory board members for your support over the last 15 years. I would also like to acknowledge our Publisher and our former Editor in Chief of 13 years, Nigar Göksel, for their vision, dedication, and invaluable contributions to the publication.

In this issue of TPQ, we examine political flashpoints and protracted conflicts in Turkey’s neighborhood – in particular, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and Ukraine. Several of our authors critically analyze the underlying sources of conflict and attempts towards a resolution, while others focus on the foreign policy implications of Turkey’s domestic dynamics following the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

The Ukrainian Crisis: The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission
Ertuğrul Apakan & Wolfgang Sporrer

TPQ Author

“On 21 March 2014, against the backdrop of internal and regional tensions, the 57 participating States of the OSCE (including Ukraine and the Russian Federation), decided unanimously on the deployment of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), with a mandate to contribute to reducing tensions and to help foster peace, stability, and security. The Mission was tasked to engage with authorities on all levels, including civil society, ethnic and religious groups, and local communities to facilitate dialogue on the ground.”

“From May 2014 onwards, already shortly after the Mission’s deployment, a rapid and sharp military escalation occurred. Nevertheless, the civilian monitors of the SMM remained in place in the middle of the armed conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, and continued to provide vital information about the military escalation and the situation on the ground.”

“The SMM in Ukraine is a unique case, where a civilian Mission is both implementing its mandate through monitoring, and reporting on the security situation in an ongoing conflict and thus, contributes to both preventing and resolving the conflict. This experience and the example of the SMM has the potential to be helpful for conflict management and prevention in other parts of the OSCE region. ”

A Common Vision for a Way Out of the Cyprus Conundrum
Ahmet Sözen

TPQ Author

“The security issue, under serious discussion officially for the first time, is indeed the key to solving the remaining internal aspects of the Cyprus conflict. So far, however, the positions of the relevant sides, especially the two 'motherlands,' Greece and Turkey, have been rather maximalist. Until now, each side has engaged in positional bargaining and stuck to their respective opening position in the negotiations.”

“Combining a holistic perspective of security with a ‘common vision,’ is the ideal formula towards both a settlement and consolidated peace on the island. This common vision should aim to create the right institutions in the future united federal Cyprus with the capacity and the resilience to deal with its security problems by itself.”

Revisiting the Cyprus Question and the Way Forward
Andreas Theophanous

TPQ Author

“The defining period for the Turkish Cypriots was 1963-64 which led to their withdrawal from the government, the creation of enclaves and the subsequent establishment of the ‘green line’ in Nicosia separating the two communities. This was preceded by intercommunal violence and the bombing of parts of Cyprus by Turkey.”

“A multi-regional or even a bi-regional functional federation based on an integrationalist approach may indeed lead to a unified state with viability and sustainability. Nevertheless, it will be difficult to implement this option overnight. Thus, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement which addresses constructively the objectives and the concerns of all interested parties in the next few months, it is important to reassess the importance of an evolutionary process to resolve the Cyprus problem.”

The “Four-Day War”: Changing Paradigms in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Zaur Shiriyev

TPQ Author

“Broadly, the four-day war resulted in improving Azerbaijan’s tactical positions along the Line of Contact. In terms of gaining a psychological advantage, the success dispelled the myth that the Armenian defensive line is highly capable of launching any attack. Baku also sought to go beyond rhetorical threats – demonstrating that it has the capability to use force to liberate the occupied territories if necessary. This was borne out of the four-day war’s small territorial gains.”

“The initial expectation after the April clashes – following the ceasefire brokered by Moscow – was that increased international awareness would see the West and Moscow cooperating to bring both sides to the negotiating table. Armenia, a security ally of Moscow, questioned Moscow’s role in the escalation of the conflict. The Russian leadership’s soft rhetoric also raised questions as to why Moscow tolerated the conflict. The rationale in that respect was that non-interference would ultimately lead to more arms purchases by Azerbaijan, a long-time client of Moscow.”

Turkey’s Security Sector after July 15: Democratizing Security or Securitizing the State?
Metin Gürcan & Megan Gisclon

TPQ Author

“The reforms affecting Turkey’s security sector after July 15 have been extensive in both scope and scale. However, how effectively and efficiently these reforms have been implemented remains questionable amidst the growing crisis in security and constant threat of attack. July 15 ushered in a new era of reform in what the authors have called 'revolutionary civilianization.' As we have seen, one of the ways in which the putschists harmed the Turkish state the most was by disrupting the will and the capacity of Turkey’s security sector, particularly the Turkish Armed Forces, to continue with its ongoing institutional transformation.”

“It is imperative that a healthy approach to Turkish security sector reform (SSR) is one that is well-regulated and transparent. Civil and democratic control, effectiveness and efficiency, social legitimacy, and the credibility of the Turkish security sector in the international security environment are at risk of falling apart if the present political polarization continues to affect Turkish SSR.”

Turkey’s Role in the Arab Spring and the Syrian Conflict
Şener Aktürk

TPQ Author

“Turkey’s vocal support for democratization in the context of the Arab Spring brought the geopolitical identity-related contradictions between Turkish and Western preferences to the fore. The Arab Spring provided an opportunity for Turkey to reassert itself as a recently democratized Muslim-majority polity with ambitions to exert a democratizing influence across the Middle East.”

“There is a major gap between Turkey’s self-identification as a democratic polity, and the depictions of Turkey in the Western media. At present, Turkey appears as a self-identified democratic polity that is not necessarily accepted as such by the Western democracies. Turkey did not receive the support of its Western allies in facing its two most important and immediate internal security threats, namely, the PKK’s offensive starting in July 2015 and the Gülenist coup attempt in July 2016.”

Shifting Human Smuggling Networks Along Turkey’s Borders
Ayşem Biriz Karaçay

TPQ Author

“To control the ‘unwanted’ irregular entries, the EU began to externalize its migration and border policies through extraterritorial state actions, ranging from bilateral/multilateral engagement to migration management practices in and by third countries. Along this line, in order to foster the remote control of irregular entries, international security cooperation and surveillance – both across and within nation-states – were greatly increased on the borders of neighboring facilitated through agencies such as Frontex.”

“Longer and more dangerous routes means more people get injured or die while crossing borders, which then leads to public outrage and calls for even more stringent border controls. At Europe’s frontiers, an industry of border controls has emerged, involving European defense contractors, member state security forces and third countries, as well as a range of non-security actors. Whenever another ‘border crisis’ occurs, this industry grows again, feeding on its own apparent ‘failures.’”

The Karabakh Conflict after the “Four-Day War”: A Dynamic Status Quo
Mikayel Zolyan

TPQ Author

“There have been a number of major incidents on the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border, ever since the 1994 ceasefire two decades ago. A dramatic increase in the number and intensity of the incidents was observed long before the April events: since 2014, tension started to increase, both in terms of quantity of incidents and the nature of the weapons used.”

“The situation in the conflict zone remains tense: the explosive situation in the wake of the April incidents could not be neutralized by one or several meetings, even at the highest level. The four-day war radicalized the societies and the political elites on both sides of the conflict. In the case of Azerbaijan, the April events have arguably led to a situation in which Baku is unlikely to accept the need for compromise – at least a compromise that would be more or less acceptable for Yerevan and Stepanakert.”

Turkey and Russia: A Fragile Friendship
Hasan Selim Özertem

TPQ Author

“The shooting down of the Russian jet was a result rather than a cause of the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Russia. Both parties chose to deepen bilateral cooperation on economic matters, but ignored discussing existing regional problems in a constructive manner. While they continued to act strategically with the drive of economic interests, the conflicting approaches to regional problems eroded mutual trust that bilateral relations were based upon.”

“The reinvigoration of ties between Russia and Turkey in June 2016 introduced new dynamics in the relationship. There are efforts underway to deepen coordination and there are signs of cooperation in political and economic spheres. However, relations are not developing via institutional links, but rather are being steered by the political leaders in Russia and Turkey. In this sense, bilateral relations are more actor-driven. In the post-crisis reset, both Putin and Erdoğan are more prone to coordinating with each other, rather than acting unilaterally.”

Opportunities & Setbacks in the Cyprus Geneva Negotiations
Ayhan Dolunay and Dilan Çiftçi

TPQ Author

“One month after the Geneva talks, the decision of reviving enosis celebrations in schools – a 1950 referendum of the Greek Cypriot preference to annex the island to Greece – led to increased tensions once again between the two leaders. A political crisis emerged at the first meeting following this referendum; Anastasiadis abruptly abandoned the talks while discussing the decision to celebrate enosis, under the auspices of Special Advisor Eide.”

“Throughout the long history of the Cyprus problem and during the Geneva talks especially, one of the major disputes was the issue of security and guarantees. The Turkish Cypriot side wants Turkey to be a guarantor in the new partnership. For Turkish Cypriots, however, it is clear that there cannot be a solution in Cyprus without maintaining the system of security guarantors.”

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