BAKU: ‘Better Turkish-Russian Relations To Create Atmosphere More Co

June 1 2010

Paul Kubicek News.Az interviews Paul Kubicek, chair of the Department
of Political Science, Oakland University, Michigan.

Do you share an opinion that the US is not playing so active role in
the CIS region as it used to play in a recent past?

I don’t think the West has lost the light completely. Obviously,
Russian influence has increased, but that does not mean that Russia
is the final “victor” in this geopolitical competition. I don’t think
Yanukovych’s victory in Ukraine puts that country in the “Russian”
camp, as it still has European aspirations, and Georgia obviously
wants to remain a US ally. I would expect more Russian interest in
Azerbaijan (e.g. investments in oil and gas, inducements to ship oil
through Russia), but nothing like in Georgia or Kyrgyzstan.

Do you think that Russia might agree with membership of Azerbaijan
or even Georgia in NATO?

No, I do not. I think NATO membership for these states would disturb
Moscow, although whether Russia could actively prevent it as another
question. However–and Azeris may not like this–I do not foresee
NATO membership for Azerbaijan for at least 10-15 years, at best.

It seems that US forgot the Karabakh settlement and has changed it
for support Armenia by various means (economic assistance, pushing
Armenian-Turkish border issue etc). Is it happen because of influence
of Armenian lobby or there are any other reasons?

I think the US wants to reward both Turkey and Armenia for resolving
their issues, hence more aid to Armenia. The Armenian lobby may play
a role in this, but obviously it is not so strong that the US is
recognizing the genocide of 1915.

Do you think that Russia may use the “Georgian scenario” in Karabakh,
other conflict zone in the South Caucasus?

Because Karabakh does not border Russia, this seems unlikely. Plus
Azerbaijan is not causing Russia as much trouble as Georgia did.

However, if Azerbaijan were to try to take Karabakh by force, Russian
intervention might be possible.

Russia and Turkey has been developing a close collaboration, especially
during the last 2 years. What is your opinion, may this collaboration
be fruitful for the stability in the South Caucasus region?

That is a good question, and I am not sure that this cooperation is
directed at the South Caucasus. However, if relations between the
two sides improves, they might be able to work together on regional
issues like Karabakh. My sense is that better ties between Moscow
and Ankara should be welcomed in the region.

Turkey wishes to be a mediator in the Karabakh conflict. Do you believe
that Armenia might agree with this and what kind of role can Turkey
play in the peace process?

I do not think that Turkey–by itself–can be the peacemaker. Armenia
would want someone else (e.g. Russia) involved as well. Hence, better
Turkish-Russian relations would create an atmosphere more conducive
to peace.

Iran recently expressed a wish to be involved in the Karabakh
settlement. What do you think about such proposal from Iran, which
is a great regional state but has it own big problems?

I think Iran is looking for a way to say that it is solving problems,
not creating them. I do not take this proposal seriously.

From: A. Papazian

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