BAKU: Azeri analyst says Karabakh conflict hinges on NATO status

Day.az, Azerbaijan
Nov 20 2006

AZERI ANALYST SAYS KARABAKH CONFLICT HINGES ON NATO STATUS

Vafa Quluzada, former state adviser on foreign policy, has said that
the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict depends directly on
Azerbaijan joining NATO. Speaking in an interview with an Azeri
website, Quluzada said that little effort is being made in reality to
resolve the conflict and that Armenia is merely a pawn in the hands
of Russia. He predicted that pressure would be put on the Kazakh
president by Russia once the latter begins to dislike Nazarbayev’s
policies. The following is the text of the interview with Vafa
Quluzada conducted by C. Ali entitled `Vafa Quluzada: "The solving of
the Karabakh problem depends directly on Azerbaijan joining NATO",’
posted on the Azerbaijani website Day.az on 20 November; subheadings
have been inserted editorially:

An exclusive Day.az interview with Vafa Quluzada, former state
adviser of Azerbaijan on foreign policy issues and political expert.

[Correspondent] A few days ago Karabakh separatists conducted
military exercises in immediate proximity of the line of contact
between troops. What, in your view, was the cause of this, and is
this occurrence connected with forthcoming visit in the very near
future to the region of conflict of the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk
Group and the negotiations between the presidents of Azerbaijan and
Armenia?

Foreign policy is a balancing act despite Russian pressure

[Vafa Quluzada] I believe that this exercise is an attempt to put
pressure on Azerbaijan, moreover not from the side of Armenia, but
Russia. In other words, Moscow wants it to be understood that the
Armenians can be thrown at us at any time.

[Correspondent] What is this pressure connected with?

[Quluzada] This is connected with the process of integrating
Azerbaijan into Euro-Atlantic structures, which is developing
sufficiently successfully. NATO requires even greater rapprochement
from Azerbaijan. So far we have been doing a balancing act,
developing good neighbourly relations with Russia, working with it
and, I would add, at the same time integrating into NATO in a
restrained manner.

However, in order to satisfy Brussels and Washington, Azerbaijan, in
their view, must undertake more weighty steps in this direction. And
that is why there is nothing surprising that Russia, which is afraid
of our rapprochement with the North Atlantic alliance, attempts to
use any sort of measures for applying pressure on Azerbaijan.

By the way, I consider such a measure, the holding of the second
Russian march on 21 December, on the anniversary of the birthday of
Joseph Stalin, which will involve the participation of radical
Russian nationalist forces. As is known, in the course of this first
"march", which passed recently, four Azerbaijanis were killed. And if
soon in Moscow they do not see manifestations of the withdrawal of
Azerbaijan from rapprochement with NATO, the second such attack by
Russian nationalists threatens to become bloodier, and I do not rule
out that with the further development of events our fellow
compatriots who live in Russia, this sad participation will also
befall Georgians.

"Armenia is pawn of Russia in Karabakh conflict"

[Correspondent] Is it possible to expect some new initiatives from
the latest visit by the co-chairmen on stepping up the process of
resolving the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict?

[Quluzada] It is not worth waiting for any new proposals from the
visit of the co-chairmen. All their proposals, just like the position
of the sides are well known. During his recent visit to Turkey,
President Ilham Aliyev said once again that the he will never approve
the option of a solution with Nagornyy Karabakh existing outside of
Azerbaijan.

True, the Russians have one option: the release of three occupied
regions of Azerbaijan in exchange for renewal by Azerbaijan of its
membership of the [CIS] Collective Security Organization [which Baku
left in 1999] and agreement to the creation of Russian military bases
on its territory.

That is, for the sake of an attractive, in principle, the idea of
release from the occupation of a number of large districts, Baku must
voluntarily forego its independence and become a vassal of Russia, of
the type that Armenia is. But we never will agree to this.

[Correspondent] The negative attitude of Baku to the Russian military
presence is understandable. But in what there can be the negative
consequences of Azerbaijan returning to the Collective Security
Organization? To reject receiving Russian arms at privileged prices
simply due to not wanting to accept Armenian servicemen. Indeed,
after all, we do participate together with Armenia in the CIS Council
of Ministers of Defence.

[Correspondent] One should realize that Armenia is not a state, which
resists us in the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. In reality Russia is
this state and Armenia is all of just a tool in its hands. Russian
State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov somehow called Armenia the advance
post of Russia in the Southern Caucasus, and this is the truth. But
the return of Azerbaijan to the Collective Security Organization will
unavoidably bind us to agree to the return of Russian servicemen.

[Correspondent] But in Kazakhstan, one of the member nations of the
Collective Security Organization, there are no Russian military
facilities.

[Quluzada] But then again there is an imposing Russian diaspora,
which in the case of Russia is for certain used to overthrow
President Nursultan Nazarbayev as soon as his policies stop suiting
Moscow. In Azerbaijan the Russian part of the population is not so
numerous to be able to use it for political purposes.

[Correspondent] Returning to the theme of the visit of co-chairmen.
Does it turn out then that this event in the current conditions is
just a formality of protocol?

[Quluzada] The illusions of community for each arrival by co-chairmen
were not substantiated initially. I believe that the mediators who
represent Russia, US and France, who have no connection at all with
the leadership of these countries, simply work independently. They
are perfectly aware of the lack of prospects for regulation in the
current under the present conditions so that the leadership of these
countries can occupy themselves with this problem.

Therefore, in such conditions, I regard the last quite optimistic
statements by American co-chairman Matthew Bryza to be simply
speculation. The work of the co-chairmen is only a show and showing
off.

About what progress it is possible to talk about when the leadership
of Armenia, having occupied Azerbaijani territories, declare that
Nagornyy Karabakh have never belonged and never will belong to
Azerbaijan, and Baku will never agree to the separation of these
lands?

[Correspondent] Does this mean that the possible meeting between the
presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia within the framework of the
quick CIS summit in Minsk is also doomed to failure?

[Quluzada] Yes, this meeting is absolutely senseless. In the current
conditions of incompatible contradictions between the presidents, as
was the case earlier, they will certainly have a cup of tea and
depart.

Conflict hinges on Azerbaijan’s NATO membership

[Correspondent] So are hopes for a speedy solution to the conflict
very illusive?

[Quluzada] Hopes for a settlement do exist and they are connected
with the further extension of NATO into the Caucasus and the
disintegration of the Russian empire. But these times are at hand.
The rising price of oil, which is the cause of the current existence
of this empire, is not eternal. And the Americans, after a speedy
exit from the Iraqi crisis will deal with Russia directly.

It is worth understanding clearly that in Moscow, as before, they are
still raving on about the restoration of the USSR, and as long as
Russia has imperial desires, it will be impossible to regulate the
Karabakh conflict.

The depressing demographic situation in Russia contributes to all of
this. According to forecasts, in the next 20 years, the Slav
population of this country will decrease by 50m people, and even now
the Muslim population of Russia is about 40m people. So in time
Russia will also become a Muslim country.

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