BAKU: Superpowers Do Not Need Karabakh As Independent State – Analys

May 18 2010

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

Karabakh separatists again plan to hold the so-called "parliamentary
elections" in Nagorno Karabakh which annoys official Baku. Which goal
do separatist pursue if their previous "elections" have never been
recognized by any of the states?

Since they consider that they have a self-determined state and all
institutions, the legislative body is one of these institutions. In
this case, being aware of the fact that Nagorno Karabakh has no
opportunity for self-determination under international law, Armenia has
started accentuating on human rights and democracy. In particular, they
want to prove that Karabakh is the so-called "democratic state" since
the so-called elections are held democratically and the regulation
there is held through elections. Thus, on the one hand they want to
demonstrate themselves as a island of democracy in the sea of autocracy
and urge to support them as fighters for democracy and human rights
and on the other hand they say they have not yet managed to become
part of Azerbaijan where the human rights are not respected, as they
say. On the whole, the whole "election process" in Karabakh aims to
show the world that their "state" has already been formed.

Do you think their efforts have been effective?

They have not yet gained anything from this. I am skeptical about
their possible recognition by someone. I do not think that after
events in Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both the West and Russia
would want to repeat the attempt of creation of a new independent
state. This means that no one needs this.

Azerbaijan is negative on Armenia’s position on the Karabakh settlement
because Yerevan has not yet given a clear and definite response on
the updated Madrid principles. What do you think about prospects of
these talks?

Here we should define clearly that Azerbaijan’s recent proposals on
Karabakh in the light of the restoration of the Turkish-Armenian
relations are quite constructive. That is, if Armenians reject
these proposals, it is unclear what they can agree on if they say
the independence of Karabakh is not enough for them and they want to
consolidate in the occupation areas that are not part of Karabakh.

That is in this case we should define two moments. First, Armenians
are not ready to settle the conflict as they are not the party which
can settle it and they are backed by the third powers. Second, they
have no clear understanding of what will happen after the liberation
of seven occupied Azerbaijani regions around Nagorno Karabakh. If
these regions held by Armenians as a security belt are liberated
Nagorno Karabakh will directly face the rest part of Azerbaijan. But
this opinion is nonconstructive, because there are many variants of
avoiding clashes. In particular, international peacekeeping forces
might be deployed here. On the whole, the Armenian side behave the
way that it is impossible to expect a positive response to Madrid
principles from it.

Since the Madrid principles are backed by the Minsk Group co-chairing
states that are superpowers, can they force Armenia to accept these
principles in the case Yerevan again attempts to hamper the negotiation
process like it has previously done?

Theoretically, this is the way it ought to be. But today the United
States is more engaged in domestic issues, while the problem of
Afghanistan and Iraq is still the top priority in foreign policy. This
means that they are even farther from the Karabakh conflict settlement
than to normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations. As for Russia,
it has traditionally supported Armenia and it is more interested in
continuation of the status quo. It should be noted that Russia is
also interested in the soonest opening of borders between Armenia
and Turkey because it has no land communication with its base in the
Armenian territory after the 2008 August war in Georgia. The opening
of the Turkish-Armenian border will enable Russia to communicate with
Armenia via Turkey. We should not forget that the reconstruction of
the Mezamor nuclear power plant in Armenia and construction of a new
nuclear power plant are possible by 2011-2012.

In this case it is necessary to supply Armenia with due equipment,
which can be done only by the railway. Currently, Russia has no
such way and the only opportunity will appear after the railway
communication between Turkey’s Kars and Armenian Gumri opens.

Can the process of the Armenian-Turkish normalization be launched
in case Yerevan torpedoes the Madrid principles of the Karabakh
conflict settlement?

I have a very cautious approach on this issue. If we compare
the current situation with that in 2008, I think the process of
normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia may resume
and the Turkish-Armenian protocols will be ratified. But it would be
more desirable for us if Turkey continues binding this policy to the
process of liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani lands. But I am a
little bit skeptical about it, since I think that Ankara can normalize
relations with Yerevan even without liberation of Azerbaijani lands.

What makes you expect such developments?

The matter is that the Armenian and Turkish sides have recently agreed
not to make any unilateral statements about the normalization of their
relations in the next two months. They have decided to wait till this
period is over. In addition, it was Turkey which started this policy
and it is facing some pressure, therefore, if Armenian side makes
any official statement about its readiness to liberate the occupied
Azerbaijani lands, Turkey will likely view it as sufficient for the
full scale normalization of ties with Armenia.

As we see, the Armenian side is protracting the process of the Karabakh
conflict settlement. Can this force Azerbaijan apply the forced way
of the conflict settlement or the forced way is not possible at all?

In general, Armenia is ready to conduct hostilities. But we know the
sad experience of Georgia that also tried to settle the problem of
restoration of its territorial integrity through war. Unfortunately,
a third party has interfered with this conflict and the situation which
can be even more difficult to solve than Nagorno Karabakh conflict has
appeared there. Considering this moment, Azerbaijan will certainly
see the reality and conjuncture that will appear at the moment when
the decision about the forced way of the conflict settlement is
taken. In this case, there are many factors, in particular, as to
the transcience of this war, our ability to liberate lands in short
terms and the further steps. The Karabakh conflict is not expected
to be settled soon, though there are optimistic moments that some
regions will be liberated in the nearest future. Turkey also puts such
demands. I think this is connected with Turkey’s wish to open borders
with Armenia and in this case there is no agreement with Russia for
it to agree on the return of some regions to Azerbaijan.