We’ve had a number of blog posts featuring commentary from Zenyo Baran, and I think this contribution to the WSJ highlights an important area of concern for NATO, Turkey, Georgia, and stability in the Caucasus.
Nonetheless, Ankara sided with fellow NATO members in telling Georgia and Ukraine that they would be invited to join the alliance — albeit without any time frame. But now that Russia has waged war in part over this decision, the Turks will have to pick sides. Deputy chief of the Russian general staff Anatoly Nogoivtsyn already warned Turkey that Russia will hold Turkey responsible if the U.S. ships do not leave the Black Sea. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Ankara on Monday to make clear that Russia means it. Russia is Turkey’s largest trading partner, mostly because of Turkey’s dependence on Russian gas. More important, the two countries share what some call the post-imperial stress syndrome: that is, an inability to see former provinces as fellow independent states, and ultimately a wish to recreate old agreements on spheres of influence. When Mr. Putin gave a speech in Munich last year challenging the U.S.-led world order, Turks cheered. The Turkish military even posted it on its Web site. President Abdullah Gül recently suggested that “a new world order should emerge.”