Can India Help Greece Counter The Turkey-Pakistan-Azerbaijan Axis That Just Overwhelmed Armenia?

The trilateral bloc of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan that was officially launched in 2017 is now strengthening after Ankara and Islamabad lent support to Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict where Armenia ceded the disputed land to Azerbaijan.

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In 2017, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov held a meeting with his counterparts from Turkey and Pakistan, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Muhammad Asif, in Baku where Mammadyarov said that the sides agreed to increase trade turnover, support each other in international organizations and intended to multiply partnership in the defense sphere. 

In the declaration adopted after the meeting, the ministers expressed their contentment with the existing bilateral cooperation among their countries based on the strategic partnership, mutual respect, and trust and reconfirmed their mutual respect and strong support for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders of states.

While the international community including France, India, Russia and the United Nations called for a ceasefire during the 6-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the conflicted region, Ankara offered military support to Azerbaijan. 

“The shift towards a more assertive policy coincides with [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s alliance with the ultranationalist MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] since 2015 and the strengthening of his rule after the failed coup in 2016,” Luigi Scazzieri, a research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, said to Euronews.

“More recently, the government has been motivated by a desire to boost support and deflect attention from a worsening economic situation in Turkey,” he added.

Pakistan also lent its full support to Baku. Pakistan’s armed force chief said that his forces fully support Azerbaijan’s position in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Anadolu Agency.

“CJCSC [Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee] said that Pakistan Armed Forces fully support Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in line with the several unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council resolutions,” according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistan army’s media wing.

With Turkey’s ongoing dispute in the Caucasus region, the trilateral bloc may now use similar cooperation, displayed against Azerbaijan, in creating an “anti-Greek” axis, said Pentapostagma.

Tensions between Ankara and Athens soared in August after Greece disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean as it tries to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan with Turkish President Erdogan

In September, Turkey withdrew its vessel from the sea in an attempt to resolve the dispute. However, last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece and Cyprus of failing to fulfill “promises” made during negotiations within the European Union and NATO and said his country would continue to give them “the response they deserve”, reported Aljazeera.

Turkey has redeployed the energy exploration vessel in the disputed sea. According to Turkish media reports, two navy ships are guarding the vessel in the sea.

“We will continue to give the response they deserve on the field, to Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration who have not kept their promises during talks within the EU and NATO platforms,” Erdogan said without clarifying what the promises were.

With Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan on one side, India and Greece recently had a security briefing about the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean region.

With Turkey’s increased bonhomie with its iron brother Pakistan in recent times, Greece is exploring an alliance of its own. Although supported by many European nations in its maritime disputes with Turkey, Greece is reaching out to a new player in the new global power tussle – India.

Relations between India and Turkey have soured in recent years. Turkey didn’t hold back on the one year anniversary of the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The country has openly taken sides with Pakistan and has also raised the issue in the United Nations drawing a sharp response from India. 

With the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it is yet to see how the Greece, Cyprus and Turkey dispute will pan out given the boiling military alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean region.