The S-400 missile system will in any case not be used elsewhere they were intended to be. Emmanuel Dupuy

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Interview with Emmanuel Dupuy, President of the Institute for Prospective and Security in Europe.

In Ankara, during the Putin-Erdogan meeting, were discussed bilateral relations and two problems – Kurdish and Syrian. Russia received an advance from Turkey for the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. What do You think about russian-turkish relationship and are there any opposites that Turkey will transfer S-400 to Azerbaijan or apply it on the border with Armenia?

Firstly, we must asses that Vladimir Putin seems to fill in the Middle East Power Vacuum that Donal Trump is unwilling as well as irrelevant to assume. The Russian president seems to have become the new « Cheikh » confirmed by the fact that everyone adknowledges him of being the real «  peace maker »  and «  security godfather » both in the South Caucasus as well as in the MENA region (Libya, Syria, Irak – and thus in regards to the Kurdish issue after the 25th of September Referendum assumingly preparing the independence process engaged by the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government – KRG –  Massoud Barzani). The most illustrative example of this new middle-east diplomatic strategy from Moscow, is the 3 billion dollars deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia that was pending the recent historical visit of Saudi king Salman in Moscow. This confirms this new geopolitical and local reality.

Secondly, despite the shooting down of the russian SU-24M jet on the Syrian border by turkish military, in november 2015, the Erdogan-Putin relation seem to work quite well. During their last meeting, they discussed about stabilisation in Syria, as they are engaged together in the Astana peace process along with Iran in order to de-escalate the conflict.

Thus, the S-400 surface-to-air missile system which Turkey as decided to purchase regardless of it’s appartenance to NATO was an important issue. Ankara is giving the signal in that manner of the reluctance of Turkey to collaborate with EU member states, concerning the iraqi-syrian agenda. Moreover, President Erdogan wants to play its own «partition»  when it comes to the monitoring of its allies and proxies in Syria (Turkmens as well as other armed militias still fighting the Assad Regime) as well as inside the KRG security apparel. I

t is commonly documented that 150 turkish special forces and 20 armed turkish vehicles are engaged against ISIS alongside with the Kurdish peshmergas since the beginning of 2015. Therefor, the S-400 missile system will in any case not be used elsewhere they were intended to be, thus the Turkish-Syrian as well as the Turkish-Irakian border. At this stage, the missile will not be deployed at the turkish border with Armenia. No risk then of having  a S-400 on one side/Iskander M & Iskander E ballistic system on the other (taking in consideration the confirmation of Russians troops in Armenia deploying the missile system), leading to what can become a middle range and short range ballistic missiles confrontation in the area.

What is your opinion about speech of president Serzh Sargsyan during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly that Armenia will declare the protocols on the normalization of ties with Turkey ‘null and void’ in spring of 2018? What can be the answer of Turkey? And is that was discussed in Ankara, during the Putin-Erdogan meeting ? Serzh Sargsyan’s speech at the UN General Assembly was mainly about the Karabakh issue with the traditional bullet points. Ilham Aliyev tried to justify “the right to war” on the one hand which he had lost in the result of the military actions in April, and on the other hand, he confessed that the issue of territories is not on the agenda of the international community. How do you comment on this?

The speech of Armenian president at NYC, in the occasion of the 72nd UN General Assembly was, in effect, not only focused on the blurred relation between Yerevan and Ankara, but also obviously about the Karabakh issue.The difficult relations between Armenian president and its turkish and azerbaïjanese counterparts, have not only been discussed in NYC, but will also be addressed during the Sotchi CIS meeting which will start the 11 of October. President Serzh Sargsyan insisted on the «  one sided »  responsibility of president Elham Aliyev. The majority of the 193 states represented at the United Nations all agree on the fact that no military solution is valuable to overcome a 25 years conflict. An obvious but yet difficult political engagement is needed not only to win a war but to win peace.

From frozen to resurgent, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan seems to be no longer on international community’s mind. The 1992 OSCE Minsk Group Process seems irrelevant, as both the United States and France tend to consider that it does not work when trying to prevent the resuming of violence, such as the 2nd to 5 of April 2016 fights.

An important number of States, among which neighbourhood countries such as Iran, Irak, Turkey and Georgia, assumes the fact that the issue of irredentist territorial claims must not burden the regional agenda, as the growing threats of expansion of ISIS outside of Syria and Irak and the answers to address the return of foreign fighters in their homeland is becoming a common subject of preoccupation as well as a shared responsibility. Therefor, any other agenda is secondary, as the global fight against terrorism is the new milestone of both Russian, American and European (mostly France, Great-Britain and Germany) diplomatic efforts and military engagement in the South Caucasus/Mena area.

Even Russia seems more reluctant to foster a hard line over the disputed South Ossetia and Abkhazia occupied territories over Georgia during the 2008 war, taking also in consideration that the Ukrainian issue since 2014 has considerably weakened its diplomatic positions.

In conclusion, one must also take in consideration that the referendum in Kurdistan (25 of September) and Catalunya (1st of October) will most certainly focus on the importance of multilateralism (UN proposition of mediation for Kurdistan and EU proposition for a neutral engagement in regards to the issue of autonomy, self determination and independence in Catalunya) and more likely also focus on the importance of regional mechanism of confidence building measures.

Thus, the urgency to enhance a new diplomatic and security agenda allowing all of the states implicated in the settlement of the Karabakh issue (Armenia and Azerbaijan + « strategic » neighbors such as Russia, Iran and Turkey) and international « mentors » such as European Union, United States – to whom I would add China, on behalf of it’s «New Silk Road » and «  One Belt, One Road » project – to propose a new approach.

This new way of thinking could and should be compared to the P5+1 (5 permanent membres of the UN security Council + Germany and EU) mecanism which lead to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the Vienna agreement on Iranian nuclear issue in july 2015.

The next political and legal process against Baku began on the international arena (Israel, Council of Europe, Bulgaria…). And the draft resolution on the application of Magnitsky Act to Azerbaijan was submitted to the US Senate. It seems that Azerbaijan has almost come close to the dangerous line of the rogue state. What do you think?

The «  Magnitsky Act » , also known as the «  Rule of Law Accountability Act »  is in priority not to say exclusively dedicated since voted as a bipartisan bill in 2012, to punish Russian officials, mostly the ones considered to be responsible for the death of Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. It is true that some Republican senators are now willing to enlarge it to Azerbaijan, based on the internet leaks and Washington Post and USA today last two months articles having lead to the «  Caviar diplomacy »  accusations.

But these accusations have to be broadly understood in the scope of a political tentative to « dilute » in a way  the impact of focusing only on Russia’s corruption habits as american-russian relations are fading from stable to confrontational, and as some close advisors of the White House actual Administration may be convicted for having had close ties with russian interest during the last Trump electoral campaign.

The tentative to focus on other CIS states such as Azerbaijan cannot in any case be considered as relevant, at least in regards to the Magnitsky Act, since it was not voted for that purpose.

Michigan became the 8th US state that recognized the independence of Artsakh. How do you assess this process? What can recognition lead to, how will it affect the political process around Karabakh?

I tend to not believe that one can take in consideration that the accountability of recognition by non state entities is accurate. Otherwise, honesty must prevail. On that behalf, when the Senate of Michigan makes this statement, let us not forget that, prior to that, 20 other american states went in a complete other direction, considering, on behalf of the 1992 UN 822/853/874 and 884 resolutions, the recognition of the integrity of the whole of the territory of Azerbaijan, thus including Karabakh !

On 25 September, a referendum on independence was held in Iraqi Kurdistan. Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the referendum, the official Yerevan preferred to refrain from assessments. What could change in the region after independence?

First we must wait and see if the referendum process will lead to the independence of Kurdish Irak ! If the votes are high in favor of that perspective (92,73%) it is not yet sure that president Barzani will proclaim the independence, or at least not immediately. Furthermore, political as well as electoral agenda comes in as well, as the presidential elections, which have not been organized since 2013 should take place next year…

When it comes, therefore, to an eventual impact of the regional territorial claims and demand for larger autonomy or independence, one as to be cautious. I don’t believe, personally, that the Kurdistan example will « impact » on the Karabakh issue. One, not to say, the essential reason for that, lies in the global agenda that tends to put in emphasis that when it comes to minority policies, the basis of compromise and cooperative diplomacy, leading to the withdrawing of territorial claims on behalf of wider autonomy and deeper decentralization processes is widely more relevant. This as been experienced in Europe, at the end of the last century in Finland (Aland islands), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Austria (South Tyrol) and is now a solution to the stabilisation of aweakened states burdened by terrorism and insurgency (Northern part of Mali, for example).

I do believe that what as been possible every where else around te planet can be possible in South Caucasus.

By Gayane Khachatryan



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