‘The status quo works to Russia’s advantage’ – analyst

news.az, Azerbaijan
May 22 2010

‘The status quo works to Russia’s advantage’ ` analyst
Sat 22 May 2010 | 05:03 GMT Text size:

Thomas Ambrosio News.Az interviews Thomas Ambrosio, an associate
professor of political science at North Dakota State University.

They say that the West already lost the fight with Russia over CIS
area (Ukraine, Moldova Kirgizia and Georgia in particular). How would
you comment on this opinion and what about Azerbaijan? Do you expect
increase of Russian activity here?

I would agree with your characterization. It appears that the Obama
administration’s strategy vis-a-vis Russia is based on acquiescing to
a de facto sphere of influence for Moscow within the former Soviet
Union. Of course, they would not say this, but the ‘reset’ offer
seemed to imply that the US would take no steps in the region which
could be taken by the Kremlin to negatively affect their interests.
With the focus on multilateralism and a consensus-based foreign
policy, this is the inevitable outcome, given Russian interests,
capacity, and policy. Specifically in regard to Azerbaijan, this
overarching tendency is reinforced with a desire by the Obama
administration to reverse the policies of its predecessor — to be the
un-Bush, so to speak. Since Azerbaijan was a crucial component of the
Bush administration’s foreign policy toward the former USSR, the
alliance was bound to be downgraded. This, of course, allows for more
Russian activity.

Moscow says that it CIS countries to decide to be a member of EU and
NATO or not. Do you think that Russia might agree with membership of
Azerbaijan or even Georgia in NATO?

I can not imagine a scenario, given the current political
constellation in Moscow, in which Russia would look positively on the
expansion of NATO into the Caucasus. Moreover, I do not see any
scenario in which NATO would offer security guarantees to these
countries. The EU might be another matter, but even then, the EU’s
serious problems preclude any expansion for the foreseeable future.

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 do not believe that this it is due to the Armenian-American lobby.
Instead, the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement that the Obama
administration has pushed for (which is now, for all intents and
purposes a dead letter) was part of a larger strategy of engagement
with the Muslim world. By seeking an easy diplomatic ‘win’ with an
Ankara-Yerevan normalization of relations, it was hoped that (a)it
would make the Obama’s attempt to ‘reset’ with the Muslim world that
much easier, since a major sticking-point in relations with Turkey
(the genocide issue) would be eliminated; and, (b)it would have a
positive spillover effect in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, I believe
that the Obama administration underestimated the willingness of Turkey
to normalize relations with Armenia in the absence of positive
movement on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The Turkish leadership made
this point clear before and after they signed the Protocols — a
message that was consistent, clear, and unwavering. Although the
issue was not mentioned in the Protocols, everyone had to know that
this was hanging over the Ankara-Yerevan agreement.*

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

It is possible if Baku decided to use force to ‘resolve’ the Karabakh
question. Right now, the status quo works to Russia’s advantage: by
having 1/7th of its territory occupied, Azerbaijan remains unsettled
and, by being isolated and living under the threat of the Azeri army,
the Armenians remain dependent upon Russia.

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

This might have positive effects within the South Caucasus,
especially if Turkey could pressure Azerbaijan to make concessions on
Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia could pressure Armenia. However, this may
be the case only some time down the line. Right now, the issues of
energy pipelines is the focus and a grand bargain on South Caucasus
politics seems unlikely

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 can not imagine a situation in which Yerevan would allow Turkey to
be a mediator in Nagorno-Karabakh. I know that this has been floated,
but it seems like a non-starter, especially given the suspension of
the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement. In order to be a mediator, a
country must be trusted at some basic level by all sides to a dispute.
Certainly this can not be said of Turkey from the Armenian

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?

Tehran almost got the two sides to sign an agreement in the early
stages of the conflict. However, the key to a ‘frozen’ conflict such
as this is not how many mediators are involved, even if we assume that
they all have good intentions. Instead, it centers around the
intractable positions of both sides, how they view their interests and
the likely endpoint of any negotiations, and, ultimately, whether they
have a true interest in peace. Thus far, with a decade-and-a-half of
negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh, we have seen no substantive progress
on the fundamental issues dividing the Armenians and the Azeris.
Before every summit (of which, there have been many), the optimists
hint that a settlement is at hand: "This is the one!" After the
summit, they always say that it was a good discussion and that some
ill-defined ‘progress’ was made. However, the dynamics between the
two sides remains the same. Frozen conflicts are frozen for a reason.
The prospect of breaking out of that logic and moving away from the
entrenched positions of the disputed parties is a herculean task. We
do not see that happening now.

Aliyah Fridman

E. Nalbandyan: "The Report Is Obvious Disorder; Its Author Has Never


12:25 21/05/2010


"The points over Karabakh conflict in the report aren’t consonant
with Madrid principles, L’Aquila statement, and Moscow declaration,"
Armenian FM Edward Nalbandyan declared at joint news conference with
his Argentinean counterpart Jorge Taiana commenting on CE plenary
session adopted 2216 resolution points.

The author of the resolution is Bulgarian deputy Yevgeni Kirilov. The
resolution covers South Caucasus frozen conflict, particularly the
resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"The European Parliament calls on to make negotiating processes more
active, to reject all those activities guided by armed solutions. The
sides are also called on to avoid 1994 adopted ceasefire violations,"
CE resolution says.

"The definitions are obviously in a disorder, and I think, one of the
reasons is that the author of the paper has never been to Karabakh,
to the region and has never talked to European Union member, OSCE MG
co-chair French representative. That’s why some points just oppose to
EU disposition expressed in Athens paper 2009," Armenian FM declared
criticizing the CE paper.

The Public Council Is Against Creation Of Foreign Language Schools I


MAY 19, 2010

YEREVAN, MAY 19, ARMENPRESS: The Public Council is against creation of
foreign language schools in Armenia. Chairman of the Public Council
Vazgen Manukyan called upon the Armenian government at the meeting
with the reporters to recall the bill on creation of foreign language

"The Public council discussed the issue on creation of foreign
language schools and a decision has been made that the approaches
presented in the bill do not correspond to the state interests. It is
necessary to find other way," V. Manukyan said. He suggested creating
Sunday schools, where the children may study certain subjects in
English. V. Manukyan noted that there are countries where the basic
education in foreign language schools is being implemented in mother
language and non-obligatory subjects in foreign language.

"The viewpoints are being voiced that local rich Armenians send their
children to study abroad and if foreign schools exist in Armenia they
will stay here. This phenomenon always existed and is specific only to
our nation. For a part of rich people it is an increase of authority,
opportunity to be seen good in the eyes of society. They do not need
learning chemistry or physics in English," V. Manukyan said.

The chairman of the Public Council suggests developing schools of the
republic and increase the quality of education. According to him,
for Armenian the education system is as important as the army. It
was mentioned many times that it is very important when a child
receives basic education in the mother language and then learns
foreign languages.

Vazgen Manukyan reminded that in not far past there were Russian
schools in Armenia where Armenian children were studying. The 90%
of graduates of those schools do not know the history of the Armenian
people and had issue of writing in Armenian language. According to him,
education is not only giving knowledge, it also forms character.

Yerevan Water Tariff May Remain Unchanged


May 21, 2010 – 17:36 AMT 12:36 GMT

According to RA Public Services Regulatory Commission draft resolution,
the water tariff will up by AMD 14 starting July 2010, yet Yerevan
Mayor’s Office subsidies will keep it the same: AMD 181.

The PSRC will pass the final resolution concerning Yerevan Jur
application at May 25 sitting.

On February 6, 2010, Yerevan Jur CJSC applied to the PSRC requesting
to review Yerevan water supply tariff, with its possible 14,3% increase
(from AMD 181 to 206,98) starting July 2010.

Armenia, China To Develop Cooperation


May 21, 2010 – 16:31 AMT 11:31 GMT

Armenian National Assembly Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan met with Chinese
Ambassador to Armenia TianChangchun.

Congratulating the diplomat on the appointment, Mr. Abrahamyan
voiced hope for further development of Armenian-Chinese relations and
suggested conduction of business forums to encourage entrepreneurs
in both countries.

"Despite the distance, our states should expand cooperation,"
Ambassador Changchun said, for his part.

BTA Bank Announces SMB Support Campaign


May 20, 2010 – 14:30 AMT 09:30 GMT

BTA Bank CJSC has announced small and medium business support campaign,
offering special crediting rates at 13-16% per USD 10 000-50 000 loan.

Loans provided for a term from 6 months to 4 years will be secured
on real estate.

The campaign is carried on in all BTA subsidiaries from May to
July 2010.

BAKU: ‘Armenian-Turkish Protocols Was The "Landmark" In Relations’


May 19 2010

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that positive relations
between Turkey and Armenia would be in the interest and stability of
the region.

In an exclusive interview with the A.A. correspondent, Ban responded
to the questions on Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, Alliance of
Civilizations, and Turkey’s EU membership.

Commenting on the recent developments in relations between Turkey
and Armenia, Ban said the protocol, aiming at boosting relations,
was the "landmark" in relations.

Ban said he knew that there was a long lasting historical matter
between the two countries, noting that, "however, positive and
harmonized relations between Turkey and Armenia, being the two
important countries of the same region, would be extremely important
both for the stability and peace in the region and for the cooperation
of the peoples of the two countries."

Asked to comment on Alliance of Civilizations Initiative, Ban said
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Spanish Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero started this initiative and now the
initiative got much support from the international community.

Ban welcomed inclusion of the United States to the Alliance of
Civilizations Friends Group, indicating that this would contribute
to the understanding among cultures.

Ban said he would attend the third forum of the initiative which
would take place at the end of this month and would see Erdogan there.

UN Secretary General said lack of respect and understanding in
different cultures and beliefs lied in the basis of many incidents
in the world based on violence.

When recalled that some European leaders opposed to full membership
of the EU and asked if he believed that Turkey would be a member
of the EU one day, Ban said he knew that Turkish government carried
talks with its European counterparts to be a full member and that he
closely followed the developments.

Ban said negotiations regarding Turkey’s EU membership should continue
between Turkish and European leaders.

BAKU: Turkish FM: Speed Achieved In Talks On NK Conflict Strengthens


May 19 2010

Increase in the intensity on the Nagorno-Karabakh talks strengthened
hopes for a settlement of the conflict, Turkish Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu said in his interview with "Eco Vision", which is
the official body of the Association of Azerbaijani and Turkish

"The speed achieved in the negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh
strengthened hopes for a settlement of the conflict," he said.

Ankara wants to achieve concrete results within a short time and the
peaceful settlement of the conflict, Turkish FM said.

"Turkey has always supported the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen in
the negotiations for a peaceful settlement. It closely observes the
progress of negotiations and repeatedly states about its desire to
achieve concrete results within a short period of time", he said.

General parameters of resolving of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
appeared. The parties are close to each other on these parameters now.

The continuation of a sincere and constructive dialogue, exchange of
views and achievement of general conclusions are important factors",
Davutoglu said.

Azerbaijan is Turkey’s main partner in the South Caucasus region,
Davutoglu said.

"We are pleased with leadership of Azerbaijan in the region. We are
glad to cooperate with this country to achieve similar goals. The
important factor here is the continuation of a sincere and constructive
dialogue, exchange of opinions and achievement of general conclusions,"
Davutoglu said.

Continuing the dialogue, Turkey and Azerbaijan as brothers overcame
the barriers of obstacles in 2009 in the development of the region,
appeared amid the development of the South Caucasus, Turkish Foreign
Minister said.

The process of normalizing relations with Turkey, Armenia should be
considered as a part of the process of establishing lasting peace and
stability in South Caucasus, Davutoglu said, expressing his opinion
on the protocols signed between Ankara and Yerevan.

"The transformation of the South Caucasus into a zone of cooperation
and security, elimination of conflicts in this region are necessary to
ensure good future and prosperity of countries. Creating an environment
would be useful not only for Armenia, but also all countries in the
region," he said.

Heritage Calls On Authorities To Recognize Independence Of Karabakh



Heritage Party and its parliamentary faction demand the Armenian
authorities to recognize the de jure independence of the Artsakh
Republic and to take the first step for that purpose, i.e. not to
delay any more and vote in favor of a bill over the recognition of
the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh proposed by Heritage.

On May 18 member of the Heritage Party Zaruhi Postanjyan presented to
the parliament some other demands of Heritage such as taking further
steps for the international recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh,
to inhabit the thinly-populated regions adjacent to Karabakh, etc.

Recalling the on May 19 the Nagorno Karabakh will hold its next
parliamentary elections – by which the Karabakhi Armenians will
demonstrate to the world that there is a second Armenian state on
Earth – Postanjyan reminded the Armenian authorities that Armenia
has not yet officially recognized the independence of Nagorno Karabakh.

"I am reminding those [political] figures who frequently make
statements about territorial concessions that there are the
Constitutions of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh according to which
it is only the citizens [of these two states] that can make decisions
about changes in the borders not the officials who are in charge of
temporary and unlawfully obtained positions," said Postanjyan.

An Event Entitled "Peace" Dedicated To Children’s Day


MAY 18, 2010

YEREVAN, MAY 18, ARMENPRESS: On June 1, an event entitled "Peace"
will be organized in Moscow Park of Yerevan on the occasion of the
International Children’s Day on the initiative of "Hope Bridge" NGO.

Coordinator of the event Hasmik Khacheryan told Armenpress that about
200 children from kindergartens, inclusive schools and of preschool
age will take part. The goal of the event is once again to draw the
public attention to the issues of disabled children.

That day a globe will be placed in the park, on which paper doves made
by children will be hung. An artificial tree is also intended to place
in the park, on which paper flowers made by children will be fastened,
"It is very important that on Children’s Day children are not only
in the role of a spectator but are also direct participants. It is
evident that the attitude of the society toward disabled children
has changed," H. Khacheryan said.

Music, dance groups and individual performers will come forward
with performances.