BAKU: Alexander Iskandaryan: "Turkey May Give Up Nagorno Karabakh Is


July 23 2008

Day.Az interview with famous Armenian political scientist Alexander

– How does Armenia assess the fact of secret talks between the Armenian
and Turkish diplomats?

– There is nothing secret in the fact of contacts with the
Turkish side, in the Armenian political class it is a secret of
Polichinel. Contacts are the permanent event and are not something
new. Moreover, there are numerous international formats, in which
Armenian and Turkish diplomats meet permanently, not speaking of
the activity of permanent diplomatic mission in Istanbul-Armenian
representation in BISEC.

– Can you say how wide the Armenian-Turkish contacts are?

– Well, they can not be called too expanded, though not small
as well. Several flights are operated per week, there is a bus
communication, sufficient number of tourists direct from Armenia to
Turkey, mostly to the regions of the country, bordering on Armenia
and where there are numerous Armenian monuments. Trade is conducted
via the third countries.

– What will the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border give to Armenia?

– It will give much. Of its four neighbors Armenian borders are closed
with two of them, thus, the opening of the border with one of them is
important. Even so more, the point is not the arithmetics. Turkey is
Armenia’s western neighbor and the way to Europe lies via it, which
is more direct and cheaper than the currently operating Georgian-Black
sea route. Armenia’s main trade balance is with European countries.

– Is Armenia ready to stop the activity, aimed at recognition of the
"genocide of Armenians" and return of the occupied lands of Azerbaijan
in exchange for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border?

– As for the first point, I am afraid the point is not
Armenia. Activity on recognition of the "genocide" is mainly conducted
by the lobby of local Armenian organizations in the country of
residence. These are the political parties of Armenia abroad and
public organizations and some influential individuals abroad and so
on. They are often supported by non-Armenian organizations or just
people, by some reasons sympathazing Armenians or having negative
attitude to Turkey.

Certainly, Armenia does not stay aside of all these processes but it
is unable to stop it no matter how strong its wish is. "Genocide"
is an important part of the self-conscience of Armenians abroad,
whose main members are the direct descendants of those who survived
"genocide", it is a part of their family history, and often a basis
of their identity.

On the whole, it should be reminded that the fight for recognition
of the "genocide" existed when there was no Armenian state at all
(and was sometimes even stronger than now).

As for the second part of the question, I would say "no". The
relations with Turkey and with Azerbaijan are different things. Though,
interconnected, but different. The degree of tensions is different,
parameters are different, circumstances are difference and priority
of the issue for Turkey and Azerbaijan is different. Moreover, "the
value of the issue" has been exagerrated. No one will give up security
of Karabakh for opening of borders as these are different things.

I do not belittle Turkey’s issue for Armenia, but it is clear that
Turkey would have opened borders ten years ago for territories,
if Armenia proposed it.

– Do you think Turkey may exchange Nagorno Karabakh issue for its
own interests?

– Sure. Moreover, I think it will really occur, if no cardinal changes
occur. The point is when it will occur. Azerbaijani lobby plays its
role in Turkey, as well as internal factor, working for prolongation
of the current state. But the dynamics of processes is in favor of
positive changes.

– In this case: can the improvement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations
be expected following a thaw in Armenian-Turkish relations?

– I am afraid it is unreal to expect improvement of
Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in the political perspective. It does
not mean that it can not be expected in the historical perspective. I
can not know what will happen in fifty or hundred years. But
nothing on the political horizon shows prospect of such betterment
and relations with the third countries (in this case, with Turkey)
can hardly reverse this situation.