BAKU: ‘Moscow has more levers in NK conflict settlement than US’

news.az, Azerbaijan
July 16 2010

‘Moscow has more levers in Karabakh conflict settlement than US’
Fri 16 July 2010 | 11:48 GMT Text size:

Eugeny Volk News.Az interviews Dr.Yevgeny Volk, Deputy Director, The
Yeltsin Foundation (Moscow).

Is it possible to consider the recent tourney of US Secretary of State
Clinton over the post-Soviet area the proof of US intention not to
give away its positions in this region?

Whatever is said, under Obama’s administration the United States has
reduced its attention to the post-Soviet area and even rejected most
of its plans that existed under Bush’s administration. Primarily, I
mean the accelerated expansion of NATO through inclusion of a number
of former USSR states. In this respect, I think the events in Georgia
have had a serious impact on US policy. Very serious conclusions were
made in this respect. And in the light of that comprehensive threat
created for the United States in the southern perimeter (certainly,
this is primarily Afghanistan with the continued instability there,
Iran with its nuclear program and, finally, Iran which still creates a
problem for America). The United States has decided to get Moscow’s
support in exchange for the disavowal of its quite ambitious plans in
the post-Soviety area.

You see, the plans of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s NATO membership were put
off and this issue has almost been removed from the agenda. In this
context, I would view Clinton’s visit the preserved attention of the
United States to this region rather than the US reduced activeness in
this area. Nevertheless, Clinton’s visit has not demonstrated any
practical results. That is, no real progress has been reached in this
respect both from the viewpoint of the US agenda of foreign policy
tactical direction in this region and the interests of these countries
of the region.

Meanwhile, during the visit to Baku and Yerevan, the secretary of
state said the United States is not satisfied with the status quo in
the Karabakh conflict settlement in connection with which Washington
will strengthen its mediationĀ¦

Certainly, such declarations are very good and it is correct. But
frankly speaking I do not see the real tools that the United States
has for this solution in conditions when the US influence in the
post-Soviet area has weakened and the levers of pressure on Baku,
Yerevan and Moscow are far weaker than they were several years ago.

It is possible to say that such strong US ally in the region as Turkey
has recently demonstrated a greater independence of the United States.
In the main, Ankara’s positions go contrary to the US vision of the
situation in the region and in Middle East. Therefore, I think
Washington does not have such levers to accelerate the Karabakh
conflict settlement.

And what about Moscow?

I think Moscow has more levers. Here we can recall Medvedev’s meetings
with both Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan. This shows that Moscow can
be even more active and shows a great interest to this problem. But
again there are so many unsettled problems on the bilateral basis, I
mean Azerbaijan and Armenia, that today even such foreign influential
powers cannot promote this great layer of differences from the spot.

Can Moscow’s possible resentment over the growing competition with
Azerbaijan for energy markets of other countries, including Turkey,
Belarus and others play a role here?

There are always annoying factors but the Russian position, I think,
is that Moscow finds it important to strengthen its influence in
Central, Eastern and Western Europe. The importance of Belarus in
these positions is, certainly, maximally high, since this is a
direction of transit. There is an opinion that Russia’s foreign policy
is a foreign policy of Gazprom. One can agree or disagree on this, but
to certain extent it is backed by real things. On the whole, it should
be taken into account that in some spheres Azerbaijan is Russia’s
partner and in some spheres their interests are differing which, I
think, is the objective reality of today.

And at last, we would like to hear your opinion regarding the meetings
of the Azerbaijani and Armenian FMs in Almaty. Can it promote the
process considering the statements of the United States, Russia and
Kazakhstan about the intention to assist the solution?

I won’t exaggerate the importance of all these formal moments.
Certainly, the process is moving forth. Naturally, it involves most
powers which does not mean, however, that external factors in these
events may reach any breakthrough in the problem which has deep
historical roots, a serious political motivation, related to current
realities and the balance of powers in the South Caucasus, as well as
in Middle East and the world.

Certainly, such meetings are important in terms of clarification of
positions and possible rapprochement. But I won’t exaggerate their
important in terms of reaching any final result. It is quite obvious
that the Karabakh conflict settlement is an extremely complicated,
lasting process like any resolution is. You know that the process of
Middle Eastern settlement has been lasting for decades, there are some
achievements and some regress, though the participation of USSR, and
now Russia in the Middle Eastern conflict settlement also took place
along with Americans.

Here, most depends directly on the real situation on the line of
contacts between Yerevan and Baku. I think here no serious
breakthrough is expected despite mediation efforts of Moscow,
Washington, Astana and so on.

U.U.
News.Az

From: A. Papazian

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