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Turkey

Turkey-Russia Feud Reignites Armenian Question

Since Turkey shot down a Russian military jet, discord between the two sides has escalated. The upshot could be unfreezing a war between Azerbaijan and an Armenian minority who have occupied its territories.

In the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh
In the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh
Olga Kuznetzova

MOSCOW — The furious discord sparked by the Turkish military shooting down Russia's Su-24 jet Tuesday has gained momentum, with Turkey now threatening to intervene in the long-running dispute between Russia's longtime ally Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Considered one of Europe's frozen conflicts, Nagorno-Karabakh was the scene of bloody fighting between 1991 and 1994 that killed tens of thousands during a war between Azerbaijan, where it is situated, and the ethnic Armenian majority who live there.

On the heels of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's explosive comments this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu is in Baku, Azerbaijan, for talks with the government leadership. During a week in which claims and counter-claims between Russia and Turkey escalated — and in a direct challenge to Moscow's ally Armenia — Davutoglu said, "Turkey will do everything possible to liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan."

This comment came after Russia indicated that it wants to make Turkey accountable for failing to acknowledge the Ottoman Empire's role in the 1915 Armenian genocide.

This has been a thorn in the side of the relationship between the two countries ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Armenia earlier this year, on the 100th anniversary of the genocide. That was in April, when Turkish authorities froze diplomatic co-operation because they were unhappy at Russia's recognition of the bloodbath.

Turkey has also reacted angrily to Russia's intention to impose sanctions on its economy and to inflict a political blow to Turkey's image by ending bilateral projects, such as the year of Turkish culture in Russia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not apologize for shooting down the Russian jet, insisting that the Turkish Air Force acted in accordance with the protocol of dealing with external threats. He added that any future violations would be met with the same response.

Erdogan told the France 24 news network that he tried to contact Putin by phone after the incident, but the Kremlin refused to put him through. Putin has expressed outrage that Turkey has not apologized or offered compensation, saying that Turkey is guilty of "treacherous backstabbing."

Erdogan, who until recently had a relatively good relationship with the Russian leader, has made it clear that he is prepared to see the relationship devolve. But despite the furor, it seems he does want Turkey to remain a Russian partner.

"We have a strategic partnership with Russia, and we have no reason to take aim at Russia," Erdogan said, although he acknowledged the significant differences in the two countries' approaches over Syria.

The Turkish president added that sanctions proposed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were steps "unworthy of politicians."

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Geopolitics

A Ukrainian In Belgrade: The Straight Line From Milosevic To Putin, And Back Again

As hostilities flare again between Serbia and Kosovo, the writer draws connections between the dissolutions of both the USSR and Yugoslavia, and the leaders who exploit upheaval and feed the worst kind of nationalism.

On the streets of Belgrade, Serbia

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

At high school in Kyiv in the late 1990s, we studied the recent history of Yugoslavia: the details of its disintegration, the civil wars, the NATO bombing of Belgrade. When we compared Yugoslavia and the USSR, it seemed evident to us that if Boris Yeltsin or Mikhail Gorbachev had been anything like Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, bloody wars would have been unavoidable for Ukraine, Belarus, and other republics that instead had seceded from the Soviet Union without a single shot being fired.

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Fast forward to 2020, when I visited Belgrade for the first time, invited for a friend's wedding. Looking around, I was struck by the decrepit state of its roads, the lack of any official marked cabs, by the drudgery, but most of all by the tension and underlying aggression in society. It was reflected in all the posters and inscriptions plastered on nearly every street. Against Albania, against Kosovo, against Muslims, claims for historical justice, Serbian retribution, and so on. A rather beautiful, albeit by Soviet standards, Belgrade seemed like a sleeping scorpion.

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