ALEXEI PUSHKOV: “MOSCOW WILL DO ITS BEST FOR A POLITICAL RESOLUTION OF THE KARABAKH CONFLICT”
Vestnik Kavkaza, Russia
Dec 8 2014
8 December 2014 – 1:51pm
By Vestnik Kavkaza
2014 has been a difficult year for development of relations between
Russia and not only the Western countries, but also the South Caucasus
states. However, in the context of the complicated international
situation, the context with its neighbors became especially acute for
Moscow. The head of Russian State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Alexei Pushkov, comments on the prospects of relations between Russia
and the Transcaucasian countries for Vestnik Kavkaza.
– What do you think about the prospects of development of relations
with the South Caucasus states?
– Relations with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia are different.
Armenia is our ally. It is part of the CSTO. It has been decided that
Armenia will join the Customs Union and, if I understand it correctly,
there is talk about Yerevan joining the Eurasian Economic Union, which
will become effective on January 1, 2015. Azerbaijan is our strategic
partner, a friendly country, which, if I understand it correctly,
currently does not want to join any integration associations or bind
itself by any additional obligations. There are very good bilateral
relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, as far as I know, in the
spheres of politics and economics. Will Azerbaijan join the integration
mechanisms in which Russia is involved? I think this is a question
which is being reviewed by the leadership of this country. In any
case, it seems to me that Baku considers further developing relations
with Russia, whatever form these relations might take, and it is
especially important for us. We do not want to push anyone anywhere,
but it’s important to preserve a good foundation and positive attitude
in Russian-Azerbaijani relations.
– What is Moscow’s role in resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani
– In my opinion, Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the most difficult
conflicts existing in the former Soviet Union. Russia, as you
know, takes an active part in resolving [the conflict] and holding
negotiations between the leaders of the two states, uses its authority
to keep this frozen conflict from turning into an active one. In my
opinion, this is the essence of Russia’s role today and it is extremely
important. There is a big difference between a frozen conflict when
there are political solutions to it and between an active conflict
which is marked by a possibility of armed clashes and a worsening of
the situation. So I think that Russia will continue to pursue efforts
to create as many conditions as possible for a political discussion
of this issue, and not for a military resolution of the conflict.
– Could we speak about improvement of relations between Moscow
– The situation in relation to Georgia is much more complicated,
because Georgia has chosen the path of gradual rapprochement with
NATO. At the moment, the Georgian leadership says that there will
be NATO training centers built in Georgia. It is the only thing that
prevents the Georgian population from being fully “happy.”
Georgia has consistently emphasized its Euro-Atlantic orientation. It
has been done in a milder form than during Saakashvili’s term, but,
nevertheless, we have to admit that they are talking about the same
foreign policy doctrine.
In my opinion, Georgia is bringing unnecessary tension into relations
with Moscow, which are improving, when it makes political demarches
about the security arrangements that Russia signed with Abkhazia.
These agreements are simply confirming the status quo. Nothing new is
happening. There are no fundamentally new developments. Everyone knows
that Russia is Abkhazia’s guarantor of security. Everyone knows that
certain military-technical measures are being taken in this regard. I
do not think that the Georgian side is unaware of that.
Together with Abkhazia we are creating an international legal
foundation for them. That is, we are legalizing what exists de facto.
If Georgia wants to bring uncertainty into relations with Russia,
it wants to jeopardize those certainly beneficial aspects that have
been achieved in the framework of improving relations. In particular,
as you know, economic relations have improved, Georgia received the
opportunity to export its products to the Russian market, etc. This
is the choice of the Georgian leadership, but I have serious doubts
about whether it is beneficial for Georgia.
If Georgia takes a more balanced position, and realizes that certain
events have occurred, and that they will not be reversed and that
Russia has the right to defend its security when it is being constantly
challenged, including by Georgian NATO partners, a balanced position
would be more beneficial for Georgia and, of course, it would be more
acceptable to Russia. As a result, positive trends that have appeared
in our relations in the last few years would be maintained.