Russian, Turkish moves exacerbate Armenian isolation
Signs of shifting balances in the Caucasus have been setting off alarms in Armenia, exacerbating its isolation due to new moves by key regional players Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Russia has recently made efforts to improve its relations with Azerbaijan, while Turkey has sought to mend fences between Baku and Tehran over Iranian-Armenian ties, an irritant for Azerbaijan. Iran provides an important economic outlet for Armenia amid its blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Iran has supported Armenia politically, as it feels its large Azerbaijani minority makes it vulnerable to Baku. Ethnic Azerbaijanis are the largest minority in Iran, making up about a quarter of the population. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran met two weeks ago in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia to try to improve relations. Efforts by Russia, another country with close ties with Armenia, to improve its ties with Azerbaijan have not gone unnoticed in Ankara, where Turkish diplomats say the 2008 conflict in Georgia affected Moscow's overall policies in the Caucasus. Russia wants to improve its ties with Azerbaijan in order to further encircle Georgia, and to create another avenue for reaching out to Iran, they said. A recent agreement signed between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran is seen as another sign of Moscow's new policies.