Master’s Thesis: Armenian and Turkish Relations between 1991 and 2010: The Failure to Achieve a Breakthrough in the Aftermath of the Cold War

Abstract

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the relations between the Armenians and the Turks entered a new phase with the establishment of an independent Republic of Armenia. The inter-state interactions that followed took place in a context that also included regional players, the international community, as well as the organised Armenian Diaspora. This thesis argues that the difficulty to come to a lasting regional peace can be explained by (1) the relative weakness on the part of the Armenian state vis-à-vis Turkey, as well as (2) the unstable domestic political situation in Turkey in the 1990s coupled with the ineffective foreign policy of the AKP government in power in Ankara since 2002. A few schools of international relations theory are employed to assess the relationship: realism, liberalism, institutionalism, geopolitics, and constructivism. Given the differences in power and interests of the two states, the resulting asymmetrical relations are best explained using a constructivist approach, which helps shape a concluding section on the national psychology that underlies the interaction between Armenians and Turks, including narratives of identity and how they inform policy. The thesis concludes that, as a complex issue, with the involvement of the United States, the international community, and even with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict not too far removed, and also with neither the Republic of Armenia nor the Armenian Diaspora having enough clout to shift policy one way or another, Turkey remains the factor with the greatest potential to influence proceedings. It is domestic political considerations and the consequential unclear positions and self-contradictory actions on the part of Ankara that have gone the farthest to maintain the instability and anti-climaxes characteristic of the Armenia-Turkey story between 1991 and 2010. And therefore it will be changes within Turkey itself that will bear the greatest consequences for the future of Armenia-Turkey relations.

Download the full paper here: Master’s Thesis – Nareg Seferian – June 2013

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The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

The final frontiers: The various borders between Armenia and Turkey

For many in the US and fans of its pop culture, the expression ‘the final frontier’ is immediately associated with TV shows and movies set in the future, following the adventures of a spaceship on its explorations of the far reaches of the galaxy. Today, and on this very planet, a kind of frontier exists that has not quite reached its finality and that finds itself drawing more than one line — the border between Armenia and Turkey.

That the Armenian and Turkish peoples have historical baggage between them is not news. One reason for that phenomenon is the fact that different pieces of territory that have over the course of millennia been referred to as “Armenia” are located in areas that make up present-day Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, even Syria and Iraq, apart from the Republic of Armenia itself. But, for the most part, the places that bear some Armenian heritage or other fall within Turkey today — and that heritage is almost entirely ignored, incessantly facing disrepair or purposeful destruction. The neglect becomes more evident when contrasted with the care given to the rich Ottoman heritage present in the country.

It is the past century in particular that has generated and sustained friction between Armenians and Turks. This is unsurprisingly accounted for by the historical legacy of the massacres and deportations of Armenians and other Christians of Asia Minor and Anatolia that took place in the late 19th and early 20th century, as the Ottoman Empire was drawing to a close and the Republic of Turkey was entering the arena of history. The qualification of that time period is disputed. Referred to as the Armenian genocide by most outside of Turkey and Azerbaijan, the characterization of “genocide” is disputed within the Turkish narrative. Continue reading