Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies

Seismic Shifts in Eurasia: The Changing Relationship Between Turkey and Russia, and its Implications for the South Caucasus

Reproduced by permission of the Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies (Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2003).

INTRODUCTION

May and June 2002 were the months of 'Russian summits'—the U.S.-Russia summit, which consolidated the steady progress made in relations since 2001; the Russia-NATO summit, which inaugurated a new Russia-NATO Council; the Russia-European Union (EU) summit, which gave the first acknowledgement of Russia's status as a market economy; and the G8 summit, which saw Russia finally accepted as a member of the club of advanced economies after a decade of distinctly second-class status. Together, the series of summits consolidated the positive trajectory in U.S.-Russian relations and thus in Russia's relations with "the West" since the events of September 11, 2001. Disagreements over a war in Iraq aside, this improvement in U.S.-Russian relations could ultimately have a transforming effect on the geopolitics of Eurasia and particularly of the South Caucasus, in part because it opens up the possibility of a new relationship between Russia and Turkey, America's primary strategic ally in the region. After centuries of imperial competition, frequent wars, and Cold War rivalry, a rapprochement and a pragmatic, stable economic and political partnership between Turkey and Russia in Eurasia would be tantamount to the reconciliation of France and Germany after the Second World War in Europe. It would change the nature of conflicts in the South Caucasus that have often been shaped by Russian and Turkish enmity. And it would open up prospects for economic development and integration in the Caucasus and elsewhere in Eurasia.

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