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Turkey's global strategy: Turkey and the Caucasus

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Turkey has had long-standing links with the region called the ‘South(ern) Caucasus’, comprised of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, including the de-facto independent entities of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The area was, for a long time, the scene of intense competition between the Persian-Sassanid and Ottoman Empires, before its gradual incorporation into the Russian Empire during the fi rst half of the 19th century. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkey has become a major regional player through direct investments, and the trade and transportation links tying the Caspian basin to the outside world over Georgia in circumvention of Russian territory, most important among them the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. But the weight of both history and ethnic kinship has distorted the operation of material interests, even under Ankara’s new, zero-problems foreign policy. The historical legacies of massacre and confl ict during and after World War One continue to weigh down on relations between Turkey and Armenia, and the close political interaction between Ankara and Baku – encapsulated in the slogan ‘One nation, two states’ – remains a major ethno-political factor shaping the regional environment.

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