ArmInfo. Co-Chair of the Armenia- Israel International Public Forum, political scientist, Dr. Alexander Tzinker, in an interview with ArmInfo, shares his own vision of the reasons for the latest Turkish invasion of Syria. He forecasts the possible consequences of such actions for Turkey and for its leader Erdogan, lists possible directions for the development of Armenian-Israeli relations with the opening of the Armenian Embassy in Tel Aviv, comments on the role and reaction of Iran to these processes.
- Mr. Tzinker, '' Peace Spring'' became the third Turkish invasion after the ''Olive Branch" and the ''Euphrates Shield''. What is the reason for this consistent desire of Recep Erdogan to invade Syria?
Over the recent few years, the whole world has felt Erdogan's desire to turn Turkey into a regional leader, at least in the Greater Middle East. Naturally, if he wants to recreate the former Ottoman Empire, then Erdogan sees himself almost as the sultan of the "recoverd" Turkey. In my opinion, a lot of problems for Turkey arise precisely because of this desire. It is as a result of Erdogan's similar appetites that Turkey has problems with all its neighbors today. From the very beginning Erdogan has repeatedly tried to take part in the Syrian conflict. And today, the conflict has subsided, Syria has maintained integrity, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has survived as a result of unexpectedly successful actions of Russia, the Free Syrian Army controls less and less territories, and the United States supports the Syrian Kurds. It is clear that Ankara's plans did not include such a situation in Syria. The Turks initially had two goals: to grab, to get their piece from the collapse of this country, and to solve the Kurdish problem. By the way, Israel, in the person of Prime Minister Netanyahu, has already expressed readiness to render all possible assistance to the Syrian Kurds. All EU countries expressed resentment of the Turkish invasion of Syria. In response, Erdogan immediately threatened to open a route to Europe for refugees from Syria who found shelter in Turkey. But all these are just external games. Meanwhile, within Turkey, Erdogan also has problems. His party twice lost the local elections in Istanbul, and the departure from the AKP of Ahmed Davutoglu, at least, speaks of Erdogan's internal party problems. The best way to solve internal problems, as before, are victories in short-term small or large wars, over an enemy that is well known in Turkey. All this raises the rating. The reason why Erdogan's call for peace occurred right now is also on the surface. A little longer and there would be no territories at all under the control of the Free Syrian Army and, as a result, Ankara would have no pretexts for an invasion of Syria. But the Kurdish problem in this case remained in place. Considering Erdogan's problems with the EU, NATO and Trump, one gets the feeling that the invasion of Syria is nothing but cornered Erdogan's panic reaction to all these developments.
- Will Erdogan be able to solve at least the task to form a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria?
It seems to me that in the issue of control over the buffer zone there is a clash of interests between the United States and Turkey. And, given the complete unpredictability of Donald Trump, it is completely incomprehensible whether the United States will defend these interests. In this light, I find it difficult to forecast whether the US or Turkey will control the buffer zone. But I have no doubt that it will be created.
Today, the political relations between Turkey and Israel are really quite cold. And any statement by Erdogan in support of the Palestinian militants and unjustified attacks against the Israeli leadership make these relations even colder. Any patience comes to an end, it seems very likely that the patience of the Israeli leadership has reached its limit, and it has begun to take quite radical measures against Turkey. Among them, I would especially single out the decision of the Government of Israel, adopted a few days ago, to completely cease any activity of Turkey in Israel, which goes beyond the normal work of the embassy.
- The Armenian Foreign Ministry, at last, announced deadline, however rather approximate ones, for opening the Armenian embassy in Tel Aviv. Do you expect the opening of the Israeli embassy in Yerevan?
It seems to me that the Armenian embassy most likely will be opened in Tel Aviv in the spring of next year. There is a need for funding, need for an ambassador, etc. Israel, in my opinion, does not plan to open an embassy in Armenia yet. There are several generally accepted reasons for opening embassies. The first is the presence of a large-scale community, which gives the ambassador and consul a field for work. Israel has no such community in Armenia. The second reason is the volume of trade, which between our countries, unfortunately, is small. And finally, the third reason is financial - the opening and maintenance of any embassy requires money. At the same time, Armenia certainly has something to take in Israel. We perfectly understand the motivation for Armenia's very good relations with Iran. Nevertheless, the establishment of relations with Israel, at least, will help Armenia demonstrate neutrality and the ability to have parallel relations with unfriendly countries. And, of course, to demonstrate to Iranians its own independence in making sovereign decisions.
- As far as I understand, we have no problems with Iran in the matter of establishing relations with Israel:
I know that certain Iranian services for a long time asked their Armenian colleagues questions in the spirit of "why do you need relations with Israel"? I know that they were told that the independent foreign policy of Armenia does not imply friendship with one country to the detriment of the interests of another.
- Thus, it remains only to determine what the Armenian Embassy in Israel will do:
Recently, more and more often I hear statements from Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, the essence of which boils down to the fact that Armenians should live in Armenia. Similarly, we say that Jews must gather on Mount Zion, which, in fact, is Zionism. In order not to reinvent the wheel, it would be nice for the Armenians to adopt the repatriation system that had been worked out and tested in Israel for decades. To make a decision on returning to Armenia, any Armenian family must clearly understand what awaits it in the homeland. That is, all the conditions for the repatriation of Armenians to Armenia should be as clearly defined as the conditions for the repatriation of Jews to Israel. It seems to me that it is this very issue your embassy needs to work on. The volume of work is truly huge, but most importantly, it is accomplishable. There are other directions too.
- For example?
The struggle for Armenia after its entry into the CSTO and the EAEU has not ended. And here I would like to recall the excellent relations between Israel and the United States, which have further improved when Trump took the office. And it may very well be that one day peace treaty on Palestine becomes reality. At the same time, the Israeli leadership and personally Benjamin Netanyahu have very trusting relations with their Russian colleagues. It is these relations that enable Israeli aviation relatively safely to bomb in Syria the caravans with weapons sent by Iran to Hezbollah. And the representatives of the Russian Federation in Syria do not react to this at all. Thus, Israel gained a very decent experience of parallel relations with two essentially opposing powers. Somehow we manage to support and develop them. I am not saying that Armenia is in the same situation today, but it seems to me that studying the Israeli experience in building such relations would be very useful for Armenia. And the Armenian Embassy in Israel, if it desired so, could also work on this issue.
- On October 1, the EAEU summit was held in Armenia, which, in addition to the heads of the 5 countries of the organization, the leaders of Singapore, Iran and Moldova attended. Some colleagues are already assuming that in Yerevan a new level of cooperation of the EAEU with other countries, including China, was laid. Are relations with Armenia in the aforementioned context important for Israel?
It is no secret that Israel is holding consultations on cooperation with the EAEU. This is a vast market, which is purely economically interesting to us. Of course, here again, some questions arise. In particular, in view of the imminent start of the implementation of the Interim Agreement on the Establishment of a Free Trade Area between the EAEU and Iran. However, it is the economy that continues to be the engine of politics.
- As for example, the economic relations between Israel and Turkey:
Quite right. Moreover, the Israelis have never had any special antagonism towards ordinary Iranians. Accordingly, parallel cooperation, trade between Israel and Iran with the EAEU are quite possible, why not.