Iran and Turkey in the South Caucasus: Competition and Cooperation

Document Type : Original Article


University of Tehran, Department of Political Science


The vacuum of power in the South Caucasus during the post-Cold War period has shaped the nature of rivalries between the regional and extra-regional powers. Iran and Turkey have special interests in the region in large part due to geographical proximity and historical background. The three newly established republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia have created new opportunities for Iran and Turkey, but they have also been the sources of new threats for their neighbors. For Iranian policymakers, Azerbaijan and Armenia are of special importance because of their common borders. Through a geopolitical analysis, the author tries to answer the following questions: What is the nature of the rivalry between Iran and Turkey in the South Caucasus? What are the differences in these two countries’ foreign policy attitudes toward the South Caucasus? The main conclusion is that the competition between Iran and Turkey has been multifaceted and covers cultural, economic and political issues. Iran has adopted a more independent stance in its relations with the South Caucasus, and at the same time it is trying to limit the power and influence of the U.S. in its peripheral area. Whereas Turkey has shown its preference for a multilateral approach in collaboration with the West. Trying to gain a foothold in the region, both countries formulate and implement foreign policies aimed at expanding their political and economic interactions with these South Caucasian states.


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