BAKU: Zurab Todua: "Nagorno Karabakh Is Too Expensive For Armenia"


July 28 2008

Day.Az interview with famous Russian political scientist Zurab Todua.

– How would you comment on the fact of confidential talks between
the Armenian and Turkish diplomats?

– I do not see a sensation in the news about the talks between
representatives of Turkey and Armenia. Such talks have been held
at times almost since the first day of existence of independent
Armenia. As is known, former president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan
directly set the task to his subordinates to search opportunities
and ways of settling the problems in the Armenian-Turkish relations,
including the opening of borders, restoration of transportation
communication and problem of "genocide" in the mid 1990s. At that time,
he failed to do it.

Yet the frozen relations between the two states can not be
eternal. Nagorno Karabakh is too expensive for Armenia. The currently
extremely low living conditions in Azerbaijan, economic problems,
striving of Armenian and Nagorno Karabakh residents to leave the
country is a direct result of the blackade and the abnormal life,
it led to.

Moreover, Azerbaijan is isolated from all regional economic
projects. The people can bear miseries in the state of patriotic
spirit and readiness only for a short historical period.

People want to study, work, establish business, create families,
bring up children and on the whole, use all opportunities, offered
by the life, especially, when they see the intensive development of
some other countries of the former USSR.

Thus, I think most Armenian residents will treat the fact of
talks, at least, with understanding, though, there will also be
exceptions. There will be such people, who will call it a "betrayal
of national interests" and "surrending positions", and "accommodation".

– How will Russia, which considers Armenia, "Russia’s outpost in the
Caucasus", according to speaker of Russian State Duma Boris Gryzlov,
react on improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations?

– I am sure that Russia will not make a tragedy of it. Everyone is
aware that the attempt to normalize contacts between the two states
is made in pragmatic sense.

Armenia will not stop being the strategic and military and political
ally of Russia after it reconciles with Turkey. On the contrary,
Russia, which maintains close trade and economic relations with
Turkey, will have more opportunities for new perspective and large
scale projects, which Armenia can join, though theoretically.

At the same time, there are definite politicians in Armenia, who
consider it necessary to distance from Russia and become close to the
West for the country’s favor. They are not influential so far. But the
most important is that they do not take into account most circumstances
which do not allow to speak seriously about future of Armenia, as
well as many other USSR states, if not all of them, without close and
normal relations of Russia, for Russia is a part of the so-called
BRIC group (Brazil, Russia, India and China), which outstrip all
other countries of the world for their development level. Today, the
rates and scales of Russia’s development in all spheres and fields
of economy, technique and science are astonishing. By economists’
estimates, in 10-15 years the group will take a leading place in the
position. It is absurd to speak today of cutting relations with Russia.

– Do you mean, you do not believe in possible separation of Armenia
from Russia by choosing the western orientation in its further
external policy?

– Like in other regions of the world, to separate from a big
neighbor, means to doom oneself to miseries and hardships, isolate
people from various opportunities. It is only possible for political
reasons (as in case of Cuba, Taiwan and so on), but it will always
be artificial. Thus, for example, Baltic states have long tried to
make everything possible to limit relations with Russia, trying to
hurt it. They have been restricting the rights of Russians, residing
there. Last year Estonia passed a decision on the transfer of the
Bronze soldier.

In the end, Russia got sick and tired of it. It ceased oil transit
via the ports of Estonia and Latvia (65,000,000 tons of oil per year),
rejected the services of the oil refinery in Majekae (Lithuania). Now,
oil will be transported via the city-port, which is under construction
40 kilometers away from the border with Estonia. The gas transit will
be conducted by the North European gas pipeline by the floor of the
Finnish gulf.

The irreparable losses of the budgets of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
makes from $1.5 to 2 bln per year for each of these states. Now
terminals in Latvia and Estonia are idle, the oil refinery in Majekae
is just a peace of corroding iron. But Baltic states create fantastic
and unreal plans of their use, though they are not interesting for
anyone, except for themselves. Who will dare to state that this was
the result of the wise policy of Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn?

For which strategic purposes and tasks does Armenia need to follow the
West and separate from Russia? This question has no logical answer. It
means that such talks are unfounded.

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

– No, it is not ready to it and, moreover, I think this issue will
remain extremely painful for Armenia and Armenians for long. This
problem occupied an important place in the system of political views
of the Armenian society. It is impossible to change it in a short
period of time. Only within a long period of time this problem may
become secondary and a part of the history in the perspective. It
may occur in the case of the start of the process of normalization
of Armenian-Turkish relations.

As for Nagorno Karabakh, it is quite obvious that opening of borders
and return of territories are not the same things. It is odd, that
such formulation of a question occurs. Does someone in Azerbaijan
really thinks that in exchange for opening of the Armenian-Turkish
border, Armenia will agree to return Nagorno Karabakh? I suppose,
only softening of Yerevan’s positions at the talks is implied.

– In this case, do you think Turkey may give up Nagorno Karabakh for
its interests?

– The problem of Nagorno Karabakh concerns primarily the Azerbaijani
government and society. It would be strange if Ankara was concerned
with it even more than Baku. We should realize that Nagorno Karabakh
problem does not occupy either the first or the second and even the
third places in the external policy of Turkey. Turkey’s main problem
is CE accession. It is necessary for the economic development of
the country. EU’s provision are stiff. It demands changes in the
Turkey’s policy towards the Turkish Republic of Northern Cypris,
normalization of relations with Armenia and initiation of a dialogue
with kurds. Turkey is in a very complicated state. It supports
separatists of Northern Cyprus and at the same time fights Kurdish
separatism. It is a hard business. Only rich and strong countries can
conduct a policy, based on mutually exclusive principles. Turkey is
not rich or strong and it is impossible to demand from Turkey what
is above its abilities.

At the same time, Azerbaijan does not seem too wilful to return its
territories. Let’s imagine the following situation: President of
Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev declares that patience of the Azerbaijani
people has been exhausted and it will settle the Karabakh problem
independently. Then Azerbaijan will start hostilities. How many
volunteers will go to the front to return the lost lands? How much
money will your officials spend for army needs? How many of them will
reject their villas, yatchs and limos and other luxurous things to bear
wartime hardships and miseries alongside with ordinary citizens? How
many victims is the Azerbaibaijani society ready to give for the sake
of the return of the occupied lands? If you give an honest answer to
this question, you will admit that Turkey has a right to take care of
its national interests, which also envision normalization of relations
with Armenia.

– And the last question. Do you think Armenian-Azerbaijani relations
may improve after the thaw in Armenian-Turkish relations?

– What do you imply under "improvement" of the Armenian-Azerbaijani
relations? If you mean prospect of "return" of Nagorno Karabakh,
then it is unreal. On the whole, Armenian-Turkish dialogue will not
have a serious influence on the Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, I
think. There is no place of naivety in the politics and Turkey and
Armenia primarily settle their own tasks at the negotiation table.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS