Turkey Wants To Strengthen Positions In Caucasus, Russian Expert


April 16 2010

Valeri Tursunov News.Az interviews Valeri Tursunov, president of the
Institute of Eurasian Studies.

What do you think about the prospects of normalizing ties between
Turkey and Armenia and how can this process change the situation in
the region?

I think any cooperation is useful if it is based on principles of
equal rights. Any cooling can result in the development of negative
tendencies. Therefore, when Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan
proposed the Caucasus platform initiative, it was clear that Russia,
Turkey and Iran are key players for achievement of stability in the
region. Therefore, certainly, any contacts are useful for the region
and mutual relations between the countries.

Why is Erdogan’s initiative recalled so rarely today?

In period of the August events in Georgia in 2008, I took part in one
of the conferences in Ankara. The initiative of Turkish Premier Recep
Tayyip Erdogan about the Caucasus platform envisioning normalization
of relations and elimination of conflicts in the region dated to that
period. Certainly, at that period the Caucasus platform was needed
to calm down the explosive situation after the armed conflict. As we
were not heard in the West and it was necessary to reduce tensions,
Erdogan understood this and put forward this initiative to calm down
the situation as the third power. The platform nominated by Erdogan
must have future. Merely, in period of its nomination it was immature
and now it is necessary to complete this idea through joint efforts. It
was necessary to continue developing this issue and raise the number
of its participants. It seems to me that Turkey tried to play an
important role, if exactly, to take the first place in the region.

Do you agree that the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border will
raise Russian investments in Armenia?

Certainly, the opening of borders will facilitate the transport
corridors and promote construction of highways and railroads, pipelines
and so on. But, probably, the Armenian side has its own opinion on
this issue, it is trying to find the access to the foreign market,
as it is stuck in isolation. Meanwhile, it has such a neighbor as
Georgia which is also unstable because in case of problems there
start delays with the supplies and failures. Therefore, Armenia can
be understood as a state; they are searching ways out of the situation.

But there are hindrances connected with recognition of the "Armenian
genocide" in this issue. No one will give up. Therefore, this process
will continue not as quickly as one would like it to be though it is
encouraging that all parties have started attempts to find the ways
out of the problem.

Meanwhile, along with the indicated facts, the relations between Turkey
and Russia are also developing in a separate space. In particular,
the planned visit of President Dmitri Medvedev to Ankara in May of
this year and the agreement to eliminate visa regime between the two
countries will promote further development of relations between the
two countries. This agreement will promote the increase in the number
of people travelling to Turkey.

How can the normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations affect
the resolution of the Karabakh conflict?

Russia’s position in the Karabakh issue is clear. We must settle the
Karabakh conflict peacefully. Meanwhile, there are some achievements
in negotiations after the long misunderstanding between the conflict

Countries as Turkey, Iran, Russia and the OSCE Minsk Group are also
interested in this issue. Meanwhile, this problem should be settled
so that it could become mutually acceptable both for Azerbaijan
and Armenia.

Which sphere in the Azerbaijani-Russian relations do you consider to
be incomplete?

The sphere which is covered too low in the Azerbaijani-Russian
relations is the work with the young people of our countries. By
means of the organization I lead, we managed to help five journalists
from Azerbaijan to continue education at the Moscow State University
for the first time. In other word, our organization finances their
education. All of them study well and one of them has been invited to
work by the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. And following negotiations
with the Azerbaijani leadership, in particular, with chief of the
public police department of Azerbaijan’s presidential administration
Ali Hasanov, it was decided to finance education of tens of journalists
from Azerbaijan to study at the Moscow State University.

In addition, for the first time we have opened the Russian Book House
in Azerbaijan which is currently the only one in the post-Soviet area.

Today, we consider the opening of the branch of the Russian Book
House in Ganja.

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