Journalist Aykan Sever, who is in Yerevan, assessed Turkey's position in Karabakh clashes.
In your opinion, what kind of a role did the government of Turkey have in Karabakh clashes?
On Karabakh border, the clashes has been getting intense. However, the recent clashes were not usual. Heavy weapons were used and Azerbaijani forces planned operations for seizing land. It is thought that there are two reasons for this operations. On the one hand, Azerbaijan thought that the other party is weak and they are able to seize land if it is necessary and on the other hand, Turkey supported them. The former is unrealistic and the latter is obvious. This is also reflected in Erdoğan's statements. After Turkey downed the Russian plane, the first country it made contact with was Azerbaijan. This is not a coincidence. It is obvious that there is a reciprocal motive between Turkish and Azerbaijani governments.
And this is the reason why the clashes were unusual. There is another thing that is unusual in this process. In Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, it was expected that Sargsyan and Aliyev will come together. That didn't happen. We don't know why. There could be some additional motives.
The main reason why I see a connection between the war in Syria and situation in Karabakh is that I think that there is an ongoing postmodern re-sharing process worldwide. In Syria question, the US and Russia recently became allies, though it is implicit. And Erdoğan is not included in the process, though he is the one who acts as if his future depends on this issue. We can assume that Erdoğan government's need for creating a new frontier against Russia is the main reason of the current escalation of clashes in Karabakh. There are rumors about ISIS fighters' inclusion in the war. If it is true, there might be a purpose of inciting clashes between Christians and Muslims, along with the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I hope this won't happen.
In '90s, Karabakh question incited nationalist attitude in Turkey toward Armenians. What kind of a role did the recent clashes have in the escalation of nationalism?
It is true that Erdoğan captivated at least the west of the country with nationalism. This is the easiest way for justifying the state violence in Kurdish cities.
Nationalism is widely reciprocated in Turkey. Erdoğan talked about Asala in the US and this indicates that he wants to create a frontier by making all his enemies identical. This might sound like a conspiracy theory, but mentioning an organization that doesn't exist anymore might be indicating that he had been expecting the recent clashes.
Erdoğan government got what it had expected from this situation, at least in terms of internal politics. He uses the clashes as a means to strengthen the nationalist motives. He kept talking about the uselessness of Minsk Group. It can be thought that he wants to have an authority in this process.
What does Azerbaijan expect from the clashes?
Aliyev, in his own way, has a wise partnership with Turkey. However, this doesn't him help to solve the current economic and political problems. The recent clashes will be enough for Aliyev to avoid all kinds of problems with the help of the spirit of “national unity and solidarity”. Given the nationalist character of Azerbaijani opposition, I don't think that people will hit the streets for protesting Aliyev because of Panama papers.
What is your observations about Armenia in this process?
In the face of the recent clashes, people and government of Armenia and diaspora acted in solidarity. Considerable amount of aid was sent to the region. It was also interesting that middle-aged people, who fought for Karabakh in the past, enlisted themselves instead of young people; they didn't want young people to die for this. It can be said that nationalism and militarism are strong motives in Armenia as well.
In your article, you suggested some solutions...
Here is what can be time in the short term: giving Karabakh a national status. This might be independence or autonomy under Armenia. With the supervision of an international committee, providing compensation for people and institutions who were damaged and suffered because of Karabakh war. Freedom of travel, settlement and habitation with international guarantee in Azerbaijan-Armenia-Karabakh, including Nakhcevan.