Zatulin: Karabakh Resolution Package Envisaging NKR Recognition And Return

Some interesting rhetoric has been coming out of Yerevan and Moscow regarding Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh). According to this information, Artsakh is expected to gain recognition and in return Yerevan is expected to return the "seven regions" taken outside of Artsakh proper. My biggest concern here is the fate of the territories west of Artsakh, the strategic region between Karvajar (Kelbajar) and Berdzor (Lachin). Besides, again we are making the mistake of obsessing over words that diplomats and/or politicians use. What is said and done are two different things. We simply don't know what is going on behind -the-scenes. We need to look at what is happening on the ground instead. What's more, Russian politicians are merely repeating what Armenian politicians have been saying since the early 1990s, namely that Armenia is ready for compromise in exchange for peace. None of this, however, implies that Armenia or Artsakh proper is in danger.

I was speaking to a well-informed friend in Yerevan about the military operation last August in Artsakh that succeeded in liberating large areas of land. Basing his opinion on the relative easy with which the operation was carried out, the low numbers of casualties on both sides, and the silence in which it was performed, he suspects that the operation in question may have been coordinated with Baku and Moscow. The three nations in question may be negotiating the distribution of the lands in question. It's now becoming increasingly obvious that high level negotiations have been taking place. And it seems likely that there will be some exchange of territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The populations in both nations have will first have to be prepared for this finale.

I don't know whether or not Moscow would like to see Armenia connected to Artsakh by a land bridge, or better... I'm not privy to Kremlin insider information. I have a good sense, however, that Moscow could careless about the matter. In final analysis, Moscow simply wants to resolve the on-going crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan under terms that appeal to its regional interests. So, if the land connection in question suites its interests, it will support it. In my opinion, the primary responsibility of connecting Armenia to Artsakh should be placed upon Armenian politicians. Instead of bitching and complaining and threatening to move closer to the West, as some Armenians tend to do when things don't go their way in Moscow, we Armenians need to draw on all our national assets to make a strong case within the halls of the Kremlin. We need to make a pan-national effort, a concerted/persistent effort to convince the Kremlin that connecting Armenia to Artsakh with a land bridge should be, in the geostrategic sense at least, very important for the Russian Federation.

One of the fundamental problems Armenia has is this: Officials in Russia realize that without their support the fledgling Armenian state cannot survive in the volatile Caucasus. Therefore, what leverage does Armenia have in dealing with the Kremlin? The realistic answer is, none. The only thing Armenia can do is attempt somehow turn its national interests to that of the Kremlin's.

Going by what I see, and by reading between the lines of the diplomatic rhetoric we have been hearing as of late, I believe that the Kremlin is attempting to reestablish itself as the region's supreme power - politically, militarily and economically. The reasons why Moscow would want to reinsert itself in the Caucasus region is self-explanatory. They wouldn't care how the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia is resolved - as long as Azerbaijan or Armenia don't become too powerful/independent as a result of it. As with all major powers, Moscow wants its borders populated by nation-states that are dependent on it. It's obvious that Russian policy makers don't want Armenia looking elsewhere for alliances and they feel threatened not only by NATO but by Turks in general as well. Therefore, Armenia is one of their principal ways of retarding the spread of Turkish influence in the Caucasus region.

However, because Moscow has a very lucrative economic relationship with Turks and Azeris they cannot openly or flagrantly antagonize them. While Moscow props up Armenia and ensures its security they also give Turks lip service. This is all just a nasty geopolitical chess game. As long as this game is being played our tiny, landlocked and impoverished Armenia will suffer stagnation and deprivation. This is why I am hoping for the quick and comprehensive takeover of the entire Caucasus region by Russia so that this fucking game would finally end and stability and economic progress could begin...

Arevordi

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Zatulin: Karabakh Resolution Package Envisaging NKR Recognition And Return


October, 2008

The situation in the Caucasus has considerably changed. Russia has broken relations with Georgia, one of the five states of the region, Konstantin Zatulin, Russian Duma member and director of Institute of CIS Studies said during Yerevan-Moscow TV space bridge. "We understand that with the hope to resolve the Karabakh problem in favor of Yerevan, the Armenian authorities used to strain Karabakh's aspiration to develop relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he said, adding that Russia wants to see both Armenia and Azerbaijan mitigate positions on the issue in order to avoid the Georgian scenario," he said. "The situation at the contact line between the Karabakh and Azeri armed forces tensed during the war in South Ossetia," he said. "At that I should mention that a resolution package envisaging NKR recognition and return of 7 regions was developed long ago. The most important thing to do now is to prevent any kind of violence in the region and interference of third states, which want to re-open the wounds," the Russian politician said.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27446

Armen Ashotyan: Armenia Has a Joker - Recognition of Karabakh


Armenian parliament member Armen Ashotyan doesn't share the optimism about soonest resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. However, Armenia would be glad if Russia recognized NKR, according to him. "Russia has lingered with recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia for a long time. But after the recognition, its officials said it was a forced measure meant to guarantee security of the breakaway republics. I think Armenia has a joker, that is de jure recognition of Nagorno Karabakh in case of necessity," he said, adding that NKR's statehood development is not inferior to that of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "Armenia wishes the interests of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic were taken into consideration in the settlement process," Ashotyan said.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27444

In related news:

A Northern Neighbor Growls, and Azerbaijan Reassesses Its Options


This country has always had tricky geography. To its north is Russia. To its south is Iran. And ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union it has looked west, inviting American companies to develop its oil reserves and embracing NATO. But since Russia and Georgia fought a short war this summer, its path has narrowed. Azerbaijan, a small, oil-rich country on the Caspian Sea, has balanced the interests of Russia and the United States since it won its independence from the Soviet Union. It accepts NATO training but does not openly state an intention to join. American planes can refuel on its territory, but American soldiers cannot be based here.

“Azerbaijan is doing a dance between the West and Russia,” said Isa Gambar, an Azeri opposition figure. “Until now, there was an unspoken consensus. Georgia was with the West, Armenia was an outpost of Russia, and Azerbaijan was in the middle.” But with the war in Georgia, Russia burst back into the region, humiliating Tbilisi and its sponsor, the United States, which issued angry statements but was powerless to stop Russia’s advance. It was a sobering sight for former Soviet states, and one that is likely to cause countries like Azerbaijan to recalibrate their policies. “The chess board has been tilted, and the pieces are shifting into different places,” said Paul Goble, an American expert on the region, who teaches at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy in Baku, the capital. “What looked balanced before does not look balanced now.” A Western official said, referring to Azerbaijan: “Georgia was very much a wake-up call.

This is what the Russians can do and are prepared to do. Georgia events underscored their vulnerability.” Azerbaijan will be under more pressure from Russia when undertaking energy contracts and pipeline routes that Russia opposes, said one Azeri official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. Officials from Russia’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, on a trip here this spring, offered to buy Azerbaijan gas at European prices, rather than at the former reduced rate. That offer, if the Azeris chose to accept it, could sabotage a Western-backed gas pipeline project called Nabucco. Rasim Musabayov, a political commentator in Baku, said that under the new conditions, many Azeris think that selling gas to Russia is not such a bad idea. New projects carry political risks, he said, and if Russia “will pay us a price we agree on for our gas, why build something new?” “You can’t have a foreign policy that goes against your geography,” he added. “We have to get along with the Russians and the Iranians.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was weak, with a collapsed economy and a scattered, inconsistent foreign policy. Azerbaijan used that to its advantage. Now Russia is stronger and speaks in one voice, and Azerbaijan has to be more careful in its relations with its big neighbor. Georgia is now so hostile to Russia that working with it as a partner in the region is increasingly difficult, said Borut Grgic, chairman of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Ljubljana, Slovenia, an expert on Caspian energy infrastructure. “Azerbaijan will never seek E.U.-NATO integration at the expense of functional and working relations with Russia,” he said. The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, he said, “is making this balance difficult to sustain.” At no point in the crisis did Azerbaijan take a position that would have made Moscow bristle.

When the fighting began, Azerbaijan appealed to Russia, asking it to preserve its infrastructure in Georgia — a port, an oil terminal and a pipeline. Moscow agreed, according to Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov. Azerbaijan helped European diplomats enter Georgia while it was under attack, but when the leaders of Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland traveled to Tbilisi to express solidarity with the Georgians, the Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev, did not make the trip. And after Vice President Dick Cheney visited Baku in September, Mr. Aliyev flew immediately to Moscow for talks with the Russians. But the issue closest to this country’s heart is that of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area in its southwest where Armenian separatists formed an independent enclave in the 1990s. For years, Azerbaijan has tried, through international mediation, to reclaim the territory and allow Azeri refugees who fled to return.

Since the war this summer, the Russians seem to have grabbed the initiative. President Dmitri A. Medvedev, on a trip to Yerevan, Armenia, this week, said Russia was pushing for a meeting between the Azeri and Armenian presidents. “I hope such a meeting will take place in Russia,” he said, Reuters reported. Russia has traditionally backed the Armenians, but times are changing. “One of the positive effects of the Georgian crisis is that the Kremlin will try to show that they are not crazy guys,” an Azeri official said. “That they can be good neighbors, too.” The Russian attitude toward Azerbaijan, one Azeri official said, was that “the U.S. has come to your country and is plundering your natural resources, but not giving you any support. Why not go with us instead?” Mr. Cheney, on his visit to Baku, also pledged to redouble efforts, causing some Azeris to remark ruefully that it took him eight years to make the trip. Ali Hasanov, an official in Azerbaijan’s presidential administration, said concrete progress would win many points in Baku. “If a big country takes a position, stands on the side of unbroken territory, we will follow its interests,” he said.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/23/wo...3azeri.html?em

AZERBAIJAN: POTENTIAL PIPELINE DEAL COULD HELP SETTLE NAGORNO-KARABAKH ISSUE


Economics may hold the key to breaking the stalemate in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Turkish and Azerbaijani officials reportedly are seriously mulling the possibility of Armenian participation in the long-planned Nabucco pipeline project as part of a comprehensive Karabakh peace pact. Turkey is leading efforts to energize the Karabakh peace process. Turkish, Armenian and Azerbaijani officials met in New York on September 26 to discuss the Karabakh issue and other security matters. That meeting kindled hopes that a settlement could be achieved by the end of 2008. Although details of the recent discussions have been scarce, some experts believe that the three sides have probed a possible bargain under which Armenia would become part of the Nabucco pipeline plans, in return for a greater degree of flexibility concerning Yerevan’s position on Karabakh. Yerevan’s willingness to modify its long-standing demand for Karabakh independence would appear to be the key as to whether this latest push for Karabakh peace can be successful.

Azerbaijani officials seem willing to work with Armenia on the Nabucco project, if Yerevan shows sufficient flexibility on Karabakh. "Of course, Azerbaijan has set political conditionality related to the Karabakh conflict on this [Nabucco] issue," Elhan Shahinoglu, the director of the Baku-based Atlas center for political research, told EurasiaNet. Turkish analyst Sinan Ogan, the chair of the Ankara-based TURKSAM think tank, said that the topic of Armenia’s participation in the Nabucco project came up during US Vice President xxxx Cheney’s recent, controversial visit to Baku. "There are serious plans to involve Armenia in this project. Turkey and Azerbaijan were against this idea at first, but now Armenia’s participation seems realistic," Ogan said in comments broadcast September 19 on Voice of America radio. Initial indicators are that the three sides did not make significant headway on the Karabakh issue during the September 26 meeting in New York.

On September 28, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan flatly admitted that ’there are no concrete results yet," according to a report distributed by the RIA-Novosti news agency. Turkish President Abdullah Gul also revealed that there has not yet been any movement on the matter of Turkey ending its economic embargo against Armenia. The AzerTaj news agency reported Gul as telling a Turkish diaspora group on September 28 that "no talks over the border [re-]opening with Armenia are possible before Armenia’s liberation of Azerbaijani occupied territories." While the notion of linking a potential Armenian role in Nabucco to the Karabakh peace process has not been raised publicly, Gul came close to making a public admission on September 10 during a diplomatic trip to Baku. "No doubt that the fast liberation of the occupied [Azerbaijani] territories would be an important step and it would encourage very efficient economic cooperation in the region. Pipelines and transport communications would cover the entire Caucasus region," Gul said in Baku. Shahinoglu, the Baku political analyst, believes the peace process is now at a delicate stage.

Any potential breakthrough will likely require the United States and Russia - two of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - to set aside their present differences and engage in diplomatic cooperation, Shahinoglu suggested. "Obviously, there is a completely new dynamic surrounding the evolution of talks on the Karabakh conflict, creating unique opportunities for a breakthrough," Shahinoglu said. "However, this dynamic could [possibly] result in resumption of the war, if the great powers - first and foremost Russia and United States - continue to differ fundamentally on their approach to the future of South Caucasus region." Shahinoglu added that the Kremlin was not especially interested in seeing the Turkish initiative concerning Karabakh succeed. He reasoned that the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and the settlement of the Karabakh question, as well as Yerevan’s potential involvement in Nabucco, would all do considerable harm to Russia’s geopolitical interests in the Caucasus.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/department...v093008a.shtml

Kremlin Calling: Russia in New Push For Karabakh Peace Plan


The Kremlin appeared to be one step ahead of Washington this week as the Russian president extended an invitation to the Armenian and Azeri leaders for talks in Moscow that may prove decisive for the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process. The Russian intention to play a more decisive role as a mediator in the longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan became apparent during Dmitry Medvedev’s official visit to Yerevan earlier this week. At the same time, Medvedev appeared to be calling on the Armenian leadership to determine their foreign-policy priorities. Visits by top officials are no longer a surprise in the South Caucasus given the increasingly tense situation in the region as contradictions between the countries interested in the “political re-shape” of the South Caucasus are entering a phase of culmination.

The fact that two visits were taking place in Yerevan simultaneously – by Russian President Medvedev and NATO’s special representative to the South Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons – is one of the characteristics of the modern stage of the development of political processes in this region. On October 20, shortly before Russia’s Medvedev was due to arrive, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with NATO’s Simmons and said that “the European orientation is one of the priorities on Armenia’s foreign-policy agenda and cooperation with NATO is a major element of it.” Sargsyan also stressed that Yerevan would continue interaction with the US-led military alliance regarding it as a component of Armenia’s security. It is probably because of this that in his main speech in Yerevan Russia’s head of state accentuated attention on the vital necessity of introducing a coordinated international policy by strategic allies that Armenia and Russia consider themselves to be.

“Coordinated actions in the international arena are a serious factor of security, strengthening of positions in both the region and the world and it has become particularly noticeable in recent years,” Medvedev stressed. In this regard, the Russian Regnum news agency notes: “If the president of Russia suddenly starts to speak to the president of Armenia about the need for ‘coordinated actions’, it means that Armenia simply has made Russia face a fact in some area of its foreign policy without first notifying Russia of this. And Russia diplomatically points out that such actions of Armenia do not contribute to collective security and weaken its positions in the region and the world.”

Source: http://armenianow.com/?action=viewAr...D=1206&lng=eng

Russia Decided to Increase its Influence on Armenia And Azerbaijan via Active Mediation in Karabakh Process

The nature of the Armenian-Russian relations and the latest developments in the South Caucasus added savor to Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Armenia, an Armenian MP said. “Speaking about the Armenian-Russian relations, we proceed from two basic points. First, it’s the centuries-old friendship, which underlies bilateral relations. Second, it’s the policy, which is materialized due to global developments. The recent events in Georgia highlighted this approach in the Armenian-Russian relations,” Armen Ashotyan, chairman of the RA NA standing committee of science, education, culture, youth and sports, said during Yerevan-Moscow TV space bridge today. Russia is not just a strategic partner for Armenia. Yerevan is interested in Russia’s assistance in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement process, according to him. At the same time Ashotyan remarked that “Armenia and Russia do not satisfy each other’s geopolitical needs in the region.” “From this standpoint, the Armenian-European-American and Russian-Turkish-Azeri flirts should be taken easy, since they complement national interests Armenia and Russia can’t offer each other,” he said, adding that Russia decided to increase its influence on Armenia and Azerbaijan via active mediation in the Karabakh process.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27443

Alexander Iskandaryan: Old South Caucasus Vanished After Five-Day War

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Armenia was unusual, because it was a visit to a new South Caucasus, an Armenian political scientist said. "The old South Caucasus vanished after five-day war. Presently, Russia and other states should interact with the region which entered a new stage of development. Medvedev's visit was an attempt to sound the situation. I think that the Armenian-Russian relations should be further built in the context of recent Georgian events," director of Caucasus Institute, political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan said, adding that Armenia values relations with Russia, U.S. and Georgia. Touching on the regional conflicts, he noted that the tendency of "non-resolution of conflicts" prevailed in the region during the past 17 years. "I do not have optimistic expectations, despite officials' statements," he said. "The Moscow-Washington rivalry has become more vivid. Armenia has to take it for granted," Iskandaryan resumed.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27445

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Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will therefore be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis. To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself... or else, I will not post your comments, especially if they are, in my opinion, nonsense. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.