Russian political analysts’ views on prospects of Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement – ANALYSIS

Russian political analysts’ views on prospects of Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement – <font color=red>ANALYSIS</font>
# 30 May 2009 11:32 (UTC +04:00)
The process of settlement of the conflict, which arose as a result of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan and occupation of 20 percent of the territories of the sovereign state, is attentively followed in Russia, co-chairing country of OSCE Minsk Group.

But Russian political analysts do not assess the St. Petersburg meeting of Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan unambiguously. Experts’ assessments range between pessimism and optimism. The majority of Russian political analysts consider that the process of negotiations is positive, almost all consider that real and significant results will not be achieved in St. Petersburg. APA’s Moscow correspondent learned the opinion of political analysts on the prospects of settlement on the eve of the meeting and Russia’s mediating role.

Sergei Mikheyev – Vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies

There has not been and is no improvement in the settlement of the conflict. I consider that we only witness intentions and statement on paper, there is no real improvement. Armenia does not accept the fact that Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding occupied regions are a part of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan does not and will not agree to give independence to Nagorno Karabakh.

The positions of the sides do not coincide and I do not see any sings of compromise. It is especially difficult to perceive what compromise may be achieved in this situation. As is known, such kind of conflicts remain unsolved for a long time, for example, the problem of Cyprus remains unsolved, though enough sides have been involved in the process of settlement. I think Prague meeting and forthcoming St. Petersburg meeting have already confirmed ineffectiveness of the process. The positions of the two states do not coincide.

It is impossible to support the position of one of the sides, either. The mediators, including Russia, should support either Azerbaijan or Armenia. There is no third variant, because the positions of the sides are so unambiguous that either Azerbaijan’s or Armenia’s position should be fully supported. There is no other choice. The mediators do not want to make this choice, as such a choice does not meet the interests of Russia, US or France. It favors the mediators to keep more or less normal relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. That’s why the root of the conflict is not in the mediators, but in the noncoincidence of the positions of the sides. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan put the mediators before the choice – either Baku or Yerevan. It is obvious that the mediators have few opportunities to manoeuvre in this situation.

Alexander Konovalov – President of Institute for Strategic Assessments

No significant improvement can be expected from the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents. Continuation of the negotiations, the leaders’ meetings mean much in itself. Russia’s mediation in the process is an important factor, too. The words that Azerbaijan agrees to establish corridor between Karabakh and Armenia are noteworthy. I do not know to what extent these thoughts display the already passed decisions, but the fact shows that the leaders are seeking ways to move the process off dead center. The main thing is that the two presidents perceive it is impossible to advance the process of settlement through military way, war can destroy the whole process, the work done up to now. Though there are no strategic expectations, I am satisfied with the continuation of the process. The process will have an end sooner or later. I think the process will not end with war, because in order to wage war there is no need to meet, agree on something. With some exceptions war never begins with negotiations. If the leaders discuss the problem, this in itself denies the supposition of military conflict.

Vladimir Jarikhin – Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS countries

I am sure that permanent relations, such high-level meetings are of great importance. In the end, this is a long, tiring process leading to compromises. Positions are always strict in the negotiations. Azerbaijan’s position is principled, because the question is the national interests. No one promised that such a complicated problem will be solved at one stroke. I want to underline once more that negotiations are better than lack of negotiations. Both sides should welcome any mediation, particularly the mediation of Russia, one of the greatest states of the world. I consider that this problem is complicated because peace agreement is possible only through serious compromise of the sides. Of course, this compromise will not be assessed unambiguously by Armenian and Azerbaijani people. In both countries they will say “we lost” and we should be ready for it. And only the mediation of the big neighbor Russia will help the leaders to find variants for compromise.

Kirill Tanayev – Director General of Foundation for Effective Policy

The problem is that Azerbaijan-Armenia relations are very complicated. There are no decisions that will fully satisfy the sides. That’s why every meeting between Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev is of great importance, such steps play important role to move the situation off the dead center. I think attempts of Russia and other mediators aim to achieve some improvements. Actually, pessimism will have negative influence on the process of negotiations. But thinking patiently we will see that the process of negotiations is good. There is no war, bloodshed, victims – this is already good. And everything gives ground to say that the situation is improving. It is not known when the process will end, but Petersburg meeting of the presidents is of course very important.

Andrei Areshev - Deputy Director General of Strategic Culture Foundation

After the Prague meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents, Armenia made its position much stricter. Unless the conflicting parties and mediating states have achieved compromises, there will be no improvement in the process of negotiations, as well as Aliyev-Sargsyan meeting in St. Petersburg. I am sure that military solution to the conflict favors none of the sides. Principle improvements are noticed only in the mediators’ activity, and political freezing of the conflict. Increase of military clashes between the sides, frequent violation of ceasefire, military exercises of both sides should not be ignored.

Grigori Trofimchuk – Vice-president of Strategic Development Modeling Centre

If Russia does not use all opportunities in cooperation with Azerbaijan, it will possibly not find such a chance once more. Everything, or at least much depends on Russia in these relations. If Moscow does not normalize the relations in Russia-Armenia-Azerbaijan triangle, the situation may move up to war like in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia should determine its position and to determine the position in favor of Azerbaijan favors Moscow. Unfortunately, Russia does not use formats of unique cooperation with Azerbaijan. Moscow should not be afraid of putting forward the initiatives on releasing the occupied Azerbaijani territories, Turkey bravely does it. In case of inactivity, other players can drive Moscow out. Russia should also determine what status of Nagorno Karabakh is favorable for it. Otherwise it is useless to deal with the settlement. Azerbaijan is pursuing a very successful varied policy, but this variety will end for official Baku when there is a need to determine the position concerning Iran, Nabucco etc. Armenia needs to establish relations with Azerbaijan, because Azerbaijan is the leading country of the region. Establishing good relations with the neighboring state meets the interests of Armenia. But unfortunately, Armenia and Azerbaijan is the best couple to create an everlasting conflict like Arab-Israel in the Caucasus.