Monday, September 3, 2018

Turkey May Establish Military Base in Nakhchivan, Ankara Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 3 – In today’s issue of the popular Turkish newspaper Sözcü, prominent Turkish foreign policy commentator Zeynep Gurcanli says that Turkey may open its third foreign military base in Nakhchivan, the non-contiguous portion of Azerbaijan that adjoins Turkey (

            Gurcanli says that “on many issues,” Ankara and Moscow are allies but that the two disagree profoundly on Armenia; and Turkey wants to stress that it backs Baku on all things.  Her article came as Azerbaijani and Turkish forces conducted their regular annual military exercise in eastern Anatolia (

            The Turkish commentator says that Moscow would react negatively to the idea and she offers no evidence for her assertion or any comment on how Baku, which prizes its “balanced foreign policy” might react to what would be a fundamental tilt away from Moscow at least from the Kremlin’s point of view.

            Nonetheless, Gurcanli’s article has attracted enormous attention in Baku where President Ilham Aliyev continues to promote both close ties with Moscow, including possible membership in Moscow’s security grouping, and the concept of “one nation, two states” with regard to Turkey (

            Turkey already has bases in Somalia and Qatar, but it is most likely that Gurcanli’s commentary is intended to test the reaction of various parties to the idea of a base in Nakhchivan rather than an indication that Ankara is actively preparing to propose opening one or that Baku would agree given the certainty of Russian opposition. 

            But the article is nonetheless one more indication that Turkey under Erdogan is prepared to take a more active role in international affairs and to pursue its own goals regardless of the probable reaction of its past or future allies other than Azerbaijan. 

            It is also a reminder that for Ankara, the 1920 Treaty of Kars which gives Turkey special rights with respect to any change in the borders of Nakhchivan is still very much part of Turkish thinking. (On the significance of Kars, see

            For recent moves, Turkish and otherwise, in Nakhchivan, see this writer’s “Nakhchivan Again Site of Broader and More Dangerous Geopolitical Competition,” Jamestown Eurasia Daily Monitor 15:90 (12 June 2018) at  


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