BAKU: Armenia Unlikely To Make Serious Concessions On Karabakh In Sh

April 27 2010

Steve Larrabee APA interviews Steve Larrabee, senior analyst and
Distinguished Chair in European Security at the Washington DC based
think tank RAND Organization.

What are your views regarding US President Barack Obama’s policy of
blaming Turks but still avoiding to use the word "genocide" with
regards the events of 1915. And how do you see the next steps of
Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan?

President Obama’s failure to use the word "genocide," while not
totally unexpected will be a big disappointment to the Armenians
and is likely to reinforce the current stalemate in the normalization
process between Turkey and Armenia. Turkey will continue to insist that
the normalization process with Armenia cannot be fully implemented
without visible progress toward a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh
issue. Armenia, however, is unlikely to make serious concessions on
Nagorno-Karabakh in the short-term. Faced with a divisive internal
battle over constitutional reform and an increasingly polarized
political environment at home, Erdogan is unlikely to expend
significant energy or political capital on pushing the normalization
of relations with Armenia, especially with national elections looming
on the horizon. As a result, the process of normalization between
Turkey and Armenia is likely to lose momentum but not completely
collapse. Behind the scenes the two sides are likely to seek to
prevent a total collapse of the bilateral dialogue on normalization
of relations in the hope that the dialogue can be revived in a serious
way after the Turkish national elections.

How do you see the final result of the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement
that is supported by US?

The normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia would
have important benefits for stability in the Southern Caucasus. It
would enable Armenia to reduce its dependence on Russia and Iran and
allow it to strengthen its ties to the West. However, the process
of normalization of relations between Ankara and Yerevan must take
into consideration the legitimate security interests of Azerbaijan
and should be complemented by an intensified effort by the United
States and its European allies to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Coming to the US-Azerbaijani relations, what is the influence of the
recent events on them?

In this regard, it would have been better if President Aliyev had
been invited to the nuclear summit in Washington. This would have
provided an opportunity for President Obama to talk to all three major
actors with major stakes in the dialogue and would have avoided the
negative impact on U.S.-Azerbaijani relations which arose because of
Azerbaijan’s exclusion from the summit. While continuing to support
the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, in the
aftermath of the nuclear summit, the Obama administration should
intensify efforts to patch up relations with Azerbaijan and resolve
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.