Monday, September 15, 2008


"The independence of Kosovo is a terrible precedent. . . They have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face."
~ Vladimir Putin.

Here's an interesting analysis of Turkey's newest dilemma, it's relationship with Russia, from Eurasianet:

"Turkey is torn between the latest developments, not only between Russia and Georgia but mainly between Russia and the United States and NATO as well. Even if we do not go back to the Cold War, at the point that we have arrived to today, Turkey cannot manage this crisis with ’platonic moves,’" said a recent commentary published by the English-language Turkish Daily News.

[ . . . ]

The Turkish-Russian relationship has changed dramatically in recent years, though. Today, Russia is Turkey’s largest trading partner, with trade between the two countries expected to reach $38 billion this year, up from $27 billion the year before. Russia also supplies close to half of Turkey’s crude oil and 65 percent of its natural gas, used both to heat Turkish home and to run many of the country’s power plants.

But following the invasion of Georgia, Turkey is suddenly facing the prospect of a resurgent Russian presence near its border. "There is a dilemma which Turkey faces," says Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. "Georgia is indispensable to Turkey’s overall Caucasian and Central Asian strategy, and is central to its claim to being an energy corridor."

On the other hand, he says, "Russia is mostly indispensable for the Turkish economy. What is at stake is Turkey’s economic stability."

Moscow forcefully reminded Turks of this fact when it imposed new trade restrictions in August on goods coming from Turkey, holding up Turkish trucks at Russian border crossings for lengthy inspections. For many Turkish observers, the new restrictions were a clear warning for Ankara not to pick the wrong side in the Georgia crisis. Turkish trade officials say they may lose roughly $3 billion over the short term due to the new Russian restrictions.

Turkey’s leaders, meanwhile, have been treading carefully around the Georgia issue. Although Turkey has publicly called for Georgia’s territorial integrity to be respected, it has refrained from embracing the stronger rhetoric coming out of Washington and Brussels. . .

And with good reason. Turkey was among the first countries to recognize the independence of Kosovo. It recognized Kosovo independence so quickly, in fact, that the Fethullahcı paper Zaman characterized the recognition as "rushed":

Turkey has become one of the countries that proceeded with quick recognition of Kosovo's independence; the decision was a surprise for at least some, given that Turkish authorities had previously announced that Turkey would not be the initial recognizer, but would ultimately honor the independence.

Skeptics also criticized the decision on the grounds that recognition of Kosovo's independence was inconsistent with Turkey's best interests in the region, further recalling that countries which currently deal with separatist movements opposed Kosovo's recent move.

It appears that the same author made a rush to judgment in defending the rush to recognition:

Most importantly, recognition of Kosovo's independence does not bear serious repercussions for Turkey; it is relatively a risk-free diplomatic move.

It was a rush to judgment that, in its haste, overlooked the fact that "Russia is mostly indispensable for the Turkish economy", as stated by İhsan Dağı. Analysts at the Eurasia Daily Monitor, operated as part of the pro-terrorist thinktank, the Jamestown Foundation, explained away Turkey's rush to recognize Kosovo independence as a mixture of "pragmatism and self-interest":

Turkey’s decision to recognize Kosova stems from a mixture of pragmatism and self-interest. Kosova represents both an opportunity and threat to Turkish policy. On the positive side, Ankara might be able to use the issue as leverage to gain recognition for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). This self-declared state was established after the Turkish military invasion in 1974, but so far the only significant international actor to recognize it is Turkey. On the negative side, if Kosova’s action triggers a burst of unilateral declarations of independence by national minorities clamoring for freedom across Europe or the world, Turkey’s Kurdish minority might join the bandwagon and begin agitating for similar action. Ankara cannot have overlooked the fact that a number of countries with significant minorities, including Spain, Kazakhstan, Russia, and China, have all declined to recognize Kosova’s independence for this very reason.

Let's call to mind a quote from an analysis on the Russia-Georgia-Ossetia situation from Noam Chomsky:

[Former US ambassador to Russia Jack] Matlock is not alone in regarding Kosovo as an important factor. “Recognition of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence was justified on the principle of a mistreated minority's right to secession - the principle Bush had established for Kosovo,” the Boston Globe editors comment.

The oil men of the Bush administration have attempted to explain away the need for Kosovo independence as a principle of human rights and not as a principle of the free-flow of Caspian energy resources. In this respect, these liars are in complete agreement with UN Resolution 3103, which states:

1. The struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination and racist régimes for the implementation of their right to self-determination and independence is legitimate and in full accordance with the principles of international law.

2. Any attempt to suppress the struggle against colonial and alien domination and racist régimes is incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

3. The armed conflicts involving the struggle of peoples against colonial and alien domination and racist régimes are to be regarded as international armed conflicts in the sense of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the legal status envisaged to apply to the combatants in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and other international instruments is to apply to the persons engaged in armed struggle against colonial and alien domination and racist régimes.

4. The combatants struggling against colonial and alien domination and racist régimes captured as prisoners are to be accorded the status of prisoners of war and their treatment should be in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 12 August 1949.

5. The use of mercenaries by colonial and racist régimes against national liberation movements struggling for their freedom and independence from the yoke of colonialism and alien domination is considered to be a criminal act and the mercenaries should accordingly be punished as criminals.

6. The violation of the legal status of the combatants struggling against colonial and alien domination and racist régimes in the course of armed conflicts entails full responsibility in accordance with the norms of international law.

Now, the same author who rushed to judgment in defense of Turkey's recognition of Kosovo independence included the following ignorant remarks:

Skeptics refer to Turkey's ongoing problem with regard to Kurdish ethno-nationalism, suggesting that Turkey should not have recognized Kosovo's independence since this would set a precedent for the separatist Kurds. However this allegation is baseless simply because Kurds will not attempt to gain a state of their own unless they have to undergo the same process as the Kosovars did; in other words, if they are not subjected to inequality, repression and persecution, they will not show an ambition toward independence. Even if they did, their quest for creating a separate state would not be honored by the international community. This considerably alleviates Turkey's concerns in regard to the Kurdish problem.

Everyone knows--even if they lie about it or refuse to admit it--that the Kurds of Turkey have been subjected to nothing but "inequality, repression and persecution" since 1923. Everyone also knows--even if they lie about it or refuse to admit it--that the US has been instrumental in helping Turkey carry out "inequality, repression and persecution" against the Kurdish population of Turkey for decades. But now US power is on the decline in the region and will continue to be eclipsed by Russia.

Russia bitterly protested the independence of Kosovo and included a warning from Vladimir Putin:

"Our position is extremely clear. Any resolution on Kosovo should be approved by both sides," Putin said. "It is also clear that any resolution on Kosovo will set a precedent in international practice."

Analysts said the comments could mean that if Kosovo declares unilateral independence, Moscow could support independence for pro-Russian separatists in Georgia.


Russian President Vladimir Putin charges that Western support for the newly declared state, torn from Serbia this week, is "immoral and illegal" behavior that will provoke a global storm of separatism and explode the international order.

Turkey now finds itself in a dilemma of its own making. Russian payback for Turkey's rush to recognize Kosovo independence is upon it, with Turkey's economy and energy needs heavily dependent on Russian whim. When Russia settles the Georgian Question--and it most certainly will settle it according to its own criteria--Turkey can be pressured into settling its own Kurdish Question politically, one which is long bloody with "inequality, repression and persecution".

This is a goal that the PKK has long struggled to achieve, and current restructuring of regional relationships is a moment of opportunity that the Kurds of Turkey cannot let slip by.

In the meantime, Russia has issued warnings to Israel from both PM Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov, as it renovates a Syrian port for use by the Russian navy.

By the way, CNN seems to be in trouble in Russia for not airing its recent interview with Putin in its entirety:

The word on the street here is Putin is out for blood. It's payback time. According to a source with high-level government connections, the Russians are planning punitive actions against CNN. At this point, it is just a rumor, but they are preparing to kick out about half of the half-dozen Western journalists working at CNN's Moscow bureau. Sooner or later they're going to have to apply for a visa renewal and that's when it's gonna go down. They'll be denied, clean and quiet like. We can only pray that the tool Matthew Chance is up for a new visa soon.

Oh, it's definitely time for the media lapdogs to get their well-deserved comeuppance.

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