Comprehending the political balances of the Caucasus requires viewing the region from a broad historical perspective.
After the empires collapsed, the Caucasus spent many years under Russian rule. Russia dominated the geography where the Turks lived in the Caucasus, starting from the Tsarist period and well after its collapse during the Soviet era.
It took a long time for all states to fall into the arms of the Russian-controlled Soviet Union, either through being occupied or agreement with Russia. By the time of Stalin, the “Russification” process was completed, control was established, and the people living in the Turkish states were outworn. While the oppressed communities continued to live in their cities, Siberian exile was inevitable for many Turkish tribes.
But by the ’90s, it was hard for Russia to maintain its presence as a closed, communist state. Just in this period, the Gorbachev initiative of two-term-change (Glasnost and Perestroika) came into play, and Russia, in a way, turned itself into a Russia-controlled group of countries – Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – by giving the freedom to the states it was containing.
With this move, Mikhail Gorbachev perhaps saved Russia, which would emerge as a global power 20-30 years later. Of course, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were very miserable days for the people. While nonentity and poverty continued, on the other hand, the middle class or income equality introduced by Soviet socialism began to deteriorate with liberal approaches in the new period. Russian Federation has experienced such socio-economic unrest for almost two decades.
Shifting balances of power
By the irony of fate, while Western dominance was tacitly weakening globally, China emerged as a new power. New balances revealed the China-West conflict, perhaps pushing the Russia-West rivalry into a secondary priority. The power of the United States was not enough to take care of the entire world alone. Gradually, the global spheres of influence turned into regional ones. While maintaining its relationship with the CIS and Russia-backed countries, China has also become quite assertive.
One of the most significant recent developments in the Caucasus has been the increasing trust level between the Turkish states, parallel to Türkiye’s strengthening and successes. Türkiye’s recently accumulated economic power and strength played a crucial role in the defeat of Armenia by Azerbaijan, along with the support of the Republic of Türkiye in the Karabakh War.
According to the equation outlined in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict: Peace will be favorable to both the future of Azerbaijan and Armenia and strengthen Türkiye’s relations in the region. Armenia will be the one who will benefit most from such peace, and its economy will develop and become stronger.
Thus, the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) gained influence gradually. We shall most likely observe the increasing trade in natural gas, oil and technology products around the Türkiye-led OTS in the upcoming years.
The states conduct diplomacy, spend on defense expenses, and build infrastructures for a better economy, hence the welfare of the people. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s transformation in Türkiye is an infrastructure revolution. As of today, like European states, the Republic of Türkiye has a well-developed infrastructure that one can build everything on it. This infrastructure will then be instrumental in further strengthening regional relations, trade, diplomacy and security solidarity.
The “Century of Türkiye,” voiced by Erdoğan’s leadership, is considered from the point of view of all Turks. It may be the third Turkish Renaissance in history, and the events seem to progress in that direction.
Source: Daily Sabah