Master’s Thesis: Armenian and Turkish Relations between 1991 and 2010: The Failure to Achieve a Breakthrough in the Aftermath of the Cold War


After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the relations between the Armenians and the Turks entered a new phase with the establishment of an independent Republic of Armenia. The inter-state interactions that followed took place in a context that also included regional players, the international community, as well as the organised Armenian Diaspora. This thesis argues that the difficulty to come to a lasting regional peace can be explained by (1) the relative weakness on the part of the Armenian state vis-à-vis Turkey, as well as (2) the unstable domestic political situation in Turkey in the 1990s coupled with the ineffective foreign policy of the AKP government in power in Ankara since 2002. A few schools of international relations theory are employed to assess the relationship: realism, liberalism, institutionalism, geopolitics, and constructivism. Given the differences in power and interests of the two states, the resulting asymmetrical relations are best explained using a constructivist approach, which helps shape a concluding section on the national psychology that underlies the interaction between Armenians and Turks, including narratives of identity and how they inform policy. The thesis concludes that, as a complex issue, with the involvement of the United States, the international community, and even with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict not too far removed, and also with neither the Republic of Armenia nor the Armenian Diaspora having enough clout to shift policy one way or another, Turkey remains the factor with the greatest potential to influence proceedings. It is domestic political considerations and the consequential unclear positions and self-contradictory actions on the part of Ankara that have gone the farthest to maintain the instability and anti-climaxes characteristic of the Armenia-Turkey story between 1991 and 2010. And therefore it will be changes within Turkey itself that will bear the greatest consequences for the future of Armenia-Turkey relations.

Download the full paper here: Master’s Thesis – Nareg Seferian – June 2013