“The US is Concerned Over Russia’s Growing Presence in the South Caucasus” - 2007

“The US is Concerned Over Russia’s Growing Presence in the South Caucasus”

2005

The country that tries to solve the Karabakh problem by force will be expelled from the Council of Europe, Azeri Press reports PACE President Rene van der Linden as saying. Van der Linden does not consider the CE membership possible for the country that would use armed force to resolve the conflict, if a new war breaks out in Nagorno Karabakh. In this case PACE will have to discuss the possibility of that country’s further membership in the CE. Van der Linden urges the parties to the Karabakh conflict to stop their bellicose statements and to realize that the conflict can be resolved only by peaceful measures. Van der Linden also says that if Azerbaijan holds non-democratic elections, the mandate of its PACE delegation will be reviewed.

In his turn, head of the public and political department of the Azeri president staff Ali Gasanov says: “If they in the Council of Europe want to freeze the powers of our delegation, let them do that. But nobody has the right to threaten us.” “Azerbaijan is an independent state and has its own state interests. And nobody, including PACE President Rene van der Linden, has the right to threaten us,” says Gasanov. (Echo)

The two radar stations built in Azerbaijan with the US’ support are intended for strengthening the frontier control, Trend reports Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov as saying in Washington. He says that “those stations are part of our program to protect Azerbaijan’s state frontier.” Mamedyarov explains that the problem of frontier control arose after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “Now we are an independent state and must do it by ourselves, particularly, protect our sector of the Caspian Sea. And here we certainly cooperate with the US.” Mamedyarov confirms that in the framework of this cooperation Washington provides Baku with special equipment.

“All this equipment will go into Azerbaijan’s property.” He notes that the project to build radar stations has no direct relation to the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the energy projects in the republic. “We do cooperate to ensure the security of the BTC, we have several programs. But they are parts of the general measures to fight terrorism and to protect oil platforms, as most of our oil comes from the sea. We are interested in the US’ experience, and the Americans share it with us,” says Mamedyarov. He says that the Azeri-US military cooperation is “quite good in principle.” “The US helps us to reform our army so that we can face the present risks and challenges in the region.” “In this context our cooperation is quite active,” says Mamedyarov.

The US is concerned over Russia’s growing presence in the South Caucasus, US congressman, chairman of the sub-committee on foreign assignments Jim Kolbe said at a news conference in Baku on April 13. One of the first questions was about Section 907 (Adopted in Oct 1992 and cancelled by the Senate in 2001, Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act forbade the US government to provide direct assistance to Azerbaijan because of that country’s blockading Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh — REGNUM).

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Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/cultura/625801.html

ZATULIN: RUSSIA IS NOT INTERESTED IN SOMEBODY TRAINING IN SOUTH CAUCASUS LIKE IN IRAQ

Among South Caucasian countries only Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are interest in maintaining the status quo in the region, Member of the Russian State Duma, Head of the CIS Countries' Institute Konstantin Zatulin has declared at the international conference called "Caucasus without Conflicts and Terrorism. Dialog of Civilizations at Caucasian Crossroad." According to him, Azerbaijan is not interested in maintaining the current situation, as its interests concerning its territorial integrity are infringed. "Today, elites of nations criticize the Soviet rule, but they take from the past what is profitable for them, in particular, Georgia and Azerbaijan like the borders they had under the Soviets," the MP noted. According to Zatulin, Georgia is not interested in maintaining the status quo either: "it is interested in soonest settlement of Abkhazian and Ossetian conflicts in its favor."

According to Zatulin, Armenia has no internal problems that could bring about collapse of the country, which cannot be said about Georgia and Azerbaijan. "In Georgia, apart from Ossetian and Abkhazian conflicts, there is a problem of Samtskhe-Javakheti (Armenian-populated region in Georgia - REGNUM), there is a problem in Marneuli District, where Azerbaijani population lives, there is a problem with Megrels and Adjarians. And in Azerbaijan, apart from Nagorno-Karabakh conflict there is a problem with Talysh and Lezgin population," noted the Russian MP. "Distance from Russia to Caucasus is less than from the USA, and Russia is most of all interested in maintaining peace, even with unrecognized republics. Our priority is peace in the region," Konstantin Zatulin noted adding that Russia is not interested in somebody training in South Caucasus like in Iraq.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/641377.html

Baku And Yerevan Proxies for Russia-US Struggle, Says Stratfor

American intelligence center Stratfor warns of a possible rekindling of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia as Baku funnels oil revenues into its military budget, increasing expenditures by five times, reports the news agency Regnum. Behind the Armenian-Azeri conflict is the struggle between the US and Russia, Stratfor says, as the greater powers use the South Caucasus nations as proxies in a regional power play. According to Stratfor analysts, after the 1994 "Deal of the Century" agreement signed between Baku and international oil companies, Azerbaijan saw the ground shifting on the Nagarno-Karabakh question. And following the building of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the country's western orientation grew in tandem with its income. Azerbaijan is spending more and more on its army. In 2004, military expenditures were USD 175 million. By 2008, the total will be closer to USD 1 billion. Armenia, lacking the astronomical influx of soft money Baku is receiving, has upped military expenditures by 20 percent, from USD 125 million to USD 150 million. Analysts say that Armenia, failing to benefit from energy spending in the South Caucasus, is relying in large part on an influential Diaspora to push for more funds from the US. "Though Armenia's neighbors avoid this politically and economically, they leave it a tiny chance for the trade development. Armenia has open relationships with Tehran. In March in 2007 the natural gas pipeline Iran-Armenia opened between these states-though the pipeline, together with the majority of the country's infrastructure, is owned by Russia," reads the Stratfor report.

Source: http://www.messenger.com.ge/issues/1...eco_1394_2.htm

Russian expert: Military settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict is an affair that will result in collapse of Azerbaijan

National consensus has been reached in Nagorno Karabakh regarding the fact that “the republic must be an independent state,” so victory of one or another candidate at the presidential election will not radically change on the general situation, head of the Caucasus department at the Institute for CIS Studies Mikhail Alexandrov said. “The matter concerns nuances. For instance, Bako Saakyan is quite moderate and is orientated towards connection with Armenia and talks with Azerbaijan. Masis Mailyan is tougher, he opposes returning of seven occupied areas to Azerbaijan and speaks for a more autonomous from Yerevan negotiation stance,” Alexandrov said adding that in any case, the key direction in Stepanakert will be dialog. At the same time, he noted that Ilham Aliev’s hopes for returning Karabakh through dialog are naïve. “A military settlement is an affair that will result in collapse of Azerbaijan as a state. It is unreal for Baku to win over Armenia and the NKR, no matter how strongly they increase their military spending,” the expert believes. The matter concerns not only money, but efficiency of the Army. “Besides, Armenia is connected with Russia by military agreements; the most up-to-date military equipment is supplied there at lower prices. Some types of weapons are impossible for Azerbaijan to acquire in foreign markets; nobody will sell them to it. So, it will be ungrounded to hope for superiority and a Blitzkrieg,” the analyst stressed adding that “this form of being looped” can result in Azerbaijan losing the seven areas of the Nagorno Karabakh security belt. Now, he believes, there is still an opportunity to implement the formula “peace for territories”: Azerbaijan recognizes Nagorno Karabakh independence and the latter returns the territories. “However, now, the time is not serving Baku. The Kosovo precedent that, most probably, will end with a one-sided recognition of the territory’s independence by the West will only encourage Karabakh in its intentions. ‘The Fifth Column’ and a coup in Stepanakert are ruled out, because there is no single Azerbaijani there,” Mikhail Alexandrov is quoted as saying by PanARMENIAN.Net.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/860576.html

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