BAKU: Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement Over – Azerbaijani Expert

Feb 11 2010

Rovshan Ibrahimov News.Az interviews Azerbaijani political scientist
Rovshan Ibrahimov.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said yesterday he was about to send
the Turkish-Armenian protocols on normalizing relations to parliament.

On the other hand, the Turkish side is a long way from ratification.

How would you comment on the situation?

This is propaganda by Armenia. The leadership of the country
understands that the situation has reached a climax when Armenia
will be blamed for the failure to ratify the protocols, especially
after the decision of the Constitutional Court. Yet, it is clear
that Turkey has used the Armenian Constitutional Court ruling to
take a step back and not ratify the protocols, as the situation has
changed since the time of their signing. By sending the protocols
for ratification to parliament, the Armenian president wants to show
that they have the will and that the failure is, therefore, Turkey’s
fault. This is logical. But there is no guarantee that the Armenian
parliament will ratify these protocols.

What is the fate of the negotiation process?

I think the process has ended. Everything has been frozen. The
thing is that Turkey also understood that it would be better to keep
everything unchanged than to lose ties with Azerbaijan for something
unknown. This process is gradually being reducing to nought and these
protocols will not come into force.

While visiting Great Britain, Serzh Sargsyan said that the resolution
of relations between Armenia and Turkey may give an impetus to the
Karabakh settlement process. Is this opinion justified?

It is like putting the cart before the horse. By doing so he wants
to show that Armenia is constructive while its neighbours, Turkey and
Azerbaijan, and destructive. By this statement Sargsyan wants to say
"open the border and then we will think of how to settle the Karabakh
conflict". Though, again we see that the chain of logic is broken. The
Karabakh issue must be settled first and then the border opening is
possible. Again, the opening of the border with Turkey will be a
window letting in air to Armenia, as President Aliyev has already
said. But this will again be breathing through a mask. It means
that even if the border with Turkey opens, Armenia will get only a
temporary reprieve. Meanwhile, our long strategy to isolate Armenia
from all regional programs could suffer serious damage. Therefore,
Azerbaijan insisted that Turkey take a realistic approach to things
and understand its real priorities. Turkey has already realized this.

How do you assess Turkey’s ability to influence the Karabakh

Their ability is minimal. Turkey earlier thought that if it developed
relations with Armenia, Armenia would be tied to it for economic and
other reasons which would give levers of pressure on Yerevan to settle
the Karabakh problem. Later Turkey understood that the Karabakh issue
cannot be settled by Armenia and its solution lies in Russia’s hands.

Therefore, Turkey tried two approaches. In the first Turkey tried to
persuade the United States to put pressure on Russia to change the
situation. But the United States does not consider it appropriate at
the current stage. It’s not in the US national interest. Turkey’s
second approach was to reach agreement with Russia. But then Putin
said openly that the opening of the border and resolution of the
Karabakh conflict are two different issues that cannot be discussed
in a single package. Therefore, Turkey realized that it has no levers
to settle the liberation of the five districts around Nagorno-Karabakh.

In this case, we see that Turkey has taken a step back in order not
to spoil relations with Azerbaijan.

President Aliyev said recently that if Azerbaijan resumes military
action to liberate Nagorno-Karabakh, then this must be considered an
internal affair of Azerbaijan. Does this correspond with us holding
negotiations with Armenia, rather than Karabakh?

Here, we should single out two points. The thing is that Article 51
of the UN Charter defines the right of a country to self-defence in
case of occupation. This is part of international law. In this case
we have four resolutions of the UN Security Council regarding the
occupation which have not been fulfilled by the Armenians. They say
openly that the occupation was conducted by Armenian armed forces, not
the "liberation forces of Karabakh". That is, Armenia is recognized
as a party to the conflict. This is about international law. Thus,
Azerbaijan preserved the right to liberate its lands and there are
no time restrictions on the restoration of its territorial integrity.

On the other hand, as for the speech of President Aliyev that the
liberation must be considered Azerbaijan’s internal affair, in this
case there is the well-known regulation that Karabakh Armenians, who
are Azerbaijani citizens, are under occupation. And these citizens must
be freed as state order is restored to these territories. Thus, these
will be not hostilities but the restoration of order by the Interior
Troops. This does not fall under Article 51 of the UN Charter. This
is the natural right of any state to restore order in its territory,
especially when the occupied lands are recognized as part of Azerbaijan
by all countries.

May this statement by the president lead to Armenia distancing
itself from the negotiations and telling us to negotiate directly
with Karabakh?

Armenia has itself brought the resolution to the international
level in order to hamper the resolution of the Karabakh conflict
as an internal conflict of Azerbaijan. In this case Azerbaijan may
act as Russia did in Chechnya, saying "this is my business and I am
restoring order in my territory". Armenia has brought the conflict to
the international level itself. Armenia has also never said that it
is a party to the conflict. It has just said that it represents the
interests of Nagorno-Karabakh, because the latter is not a recognized
party and is unable to hold negotiations with Azerbaijan.

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