Russian, Armenian Leaders Discuss Turkey In Fresh Talks - June, 2010

A cold reality that most Armenians simply do not understand (or simply choose to discount) Turks know only too well. Ankara and Baku know that the only thing standing between them and their prize in the south Caucasus - Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh - is Moscow. Thus, their attempts to neutralize the Russian factor in matters regarding Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. And whether anybody likes it or not, the Russian Federation will have the final say in this matter. With all due respects to the brave men and women serving in the Armenian armed forces today, without Moscow's support Armenians would simply be unable to mount an effective defense of Armenia if or when her larger neighbors decide to resort to violence.

Why my continuing emphasis on deepening Russian-Armenian relations? Armenia's very existence as a nation-state in the south Caucasus has historically been dependent on and shaped by its relationship with Russia. This was the case when Tsarist armies first entered the Caucasus over two hundred years ago and this is the case today. For the foreseeable future, Yerevan's relationship with Moscow is the alpha and the omega of Armenia's survival in the volatile Caucasus.

Regarding Moscow's stance on Nagorno Karabakh: Kremlin officials have been signaling their desire for many years. As part of a comprehensive peace plan they hope to broker, Moscow could expect Yerevan to relinquish control over some territories outside of Nagorno Karabakh proper. In return, Baku would be expected to recognize Nagorno Karabakh's independence or its reunification with Armenia. The degree and depth of the concessions that would be expected from Armenia is ultimately up to the diplomatic acumen of our politicians. Thus far, high-ranking military officials in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have been signaling that there has been no talk about giving back anything and that they are actually ready to liberate more lands if need be. In Armenian politics today these types of statements by our military representatives simply mean that Moscow has not been pushing the matter with Yerevan.
 

While some Russian officials joined their Western and Turkish counterparts in criticizing the elections recently held in Nagorno Karabakh, others like senior Duma official Kostantin Zatulin were actually on hand in Stepanakert to monitor the same elections. As a result, Baku announced that Zatulin along with the other Russian officials that traveled to Stepanakert would be banned from entering Azerbaijan in the future. To which Zatulin was reported to have replied -

“I am among the ‘blacklisted’ people but I should say that I never longed to visit Azerbaijan. I was there once, for a meeting of international council of Russian compatriots. I respect this country but I will not ask it whether I can travel to Armenia and NKR or not”
It's obvious that Moscow, befitting a superpower, is playing both sides of the political fence. While Russian politicians like Vladimir Zhirinovsky call for Nagorno Karabakh's independence, political observers in Russia like Alexander Dugin (see his interview with an Azeri news agency at the bottom of this page) seem to have been appointed by the Kremlin to pay some lip service to Turks. Alexander Dugin's entire premise that Yerevan is trying to break its dependence on Moscow by attempting to move closer to Washington, and that the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process is an Washingtonian project meant to weaken Moscow's position in the Caucasus are simply too silly to be taken seriously.

The current geopolitical reality of the matter is this: having a secure foothold in the Caucasus via Armenia/Artsakh and having effectively driven out Washington from the Caucasus in the summer of 2008, Moscow is currently courting Turks - as it keeps the Armenian sledgehammer hanging over their heads. Moscow's end game here is to gain the dependence of all its neighbors. And as long as Muslims, Turks, Iranians and Western interests remain in the South Caucasus region, Armenia will continue to remain Moscow's most valuable strategic partner.

Due to Moscow's long-term plans for the South Caucasus, I believe that the Kremlin will become actively involved in settling the Nagorno Karabakh dispute in the near future. The worst case scenario I fear is Yerevan being forced to cede some territories in exchange for Artsakh's independence or its unification with Armenia. A best case scenario would be if Baku continues to remain inflexible in its dealing with Moscow and Yerevan - because the status quo is in Armenia's favor. Having said that, a lot in this matter is still contingent upon our politicians and activists, contingent upon our ability to recruit, convince and/or manipulate Kremlin officials into our national cause. Sadly, however, I do not see much of an effort being put into this vital strategic matter by our diaspora. I am not only referring to the Russian-Armenian diasporan community but also to the American, European and Middle Eastern diasporan communities as well. As always, our time and energy in the diaspora is being wasted on obsessing over genocide recognition and crying at the feet of Western leaders.
 

In my opinion, Armenian President Serj Sargsyan has been pursuing these political matters brilliantly. We need to unite behind our president. Our unity will leave a positive impression on current political players, especially the Kremlin. Sadly, I don't see this happening today. Other than a few lowly voices in the wilderness, the entire Armenian nation is against our president, and a significant portion of them are also against Armenia's crucial alliance with Russia. When Russians see Turkish officials entering the Kremlin, they see the entire Turkish people united behind them. But when they see our lowly president entering the Kremlin, Russians realize there is no one else behind him. This situation leaves an utterly negative impression on policy makers in Moscow and elsewhere, which also serves to weaken the Armenian president's position in crucial negotiations.
 

Instead of wasting time and money pursuing senseless political goals in Washington, Armenians need to make a pan-national effort in the halls of the Kremlin. For better or for worst, Moscow is the Alpha and the Omega of Armenia's political existence today, and nothing and no one will be changing this reality for the foreseeable future. Therefore, let's all realize this, accept this, and try to exploit this situation to its maximum. Moreover, we can find comfort in knowing that Moscow will not be abandoning its centuries long strategic friendship with the Armenian nation, especially now when it holds the clear advantage in the Caucasus and has absolutely no reason to weaken itself by strengthening Turks. It is simply up to us Armenians to exploit this unique relationship with a regional superpower to its maximum potential.

Leading a nation of Armenians must be the most difficult and the most thankless job in the world – and doing it in a tiny, poor and landlocked nation surrounded by enemies in the volatile Caucasus must require superhuman strength. I feel for our president. This is the time to put aside our massive egos, our petty self-serving interests and our obsessions over the genocide and get behind our nation's leadership. We need to present the world a united front. The world is fast changing. There are serious geopolitical shifts occurring today all across the globe. We may actually be in the initial stages of a major world war. We don't have a choice, we need to be politically flexible to keep our heads above the coming turmoil.

Arevordi


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Russian, Armenian Leaders Discuss Turkey In Fresh Talks

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The presidents of Russia and Armenia discussed the future of Turkish-Armenian relations during fresh talks held in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday. They made no public statements afterwards. The talks coincided with the second and final day of a European Union-Russia summit, also held in Rostov-on-Don, and came just three weeks after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s high-profile visit to Turkey. Opening the meeting with Armenia’s Serzh Sarkisian, Medvedev said they will discuss Russian-Armenian economic ties and “regional issues” of mutual interest. “I have had several important trips [abroad] during which — I won’t hide that — we also discussed the situation with the Turkish-Armenian settlement and some other issues,” he said in remarks publicized by the Kremlin.

“I have had contacts with some European colleagues. So I have something to tell you, something to share with you,” added Medvedev. “Working meetings are very important,” Sarkisian was reported to reply. “I think that this is a very good format.”

Neither the Kremlin, nor official Yerevan released any details of their ensuing conversation. Sarkisian’s office said only that Medvedev agreed to visit Armenia in August. The office announced on Monday that Sarkisian has been invited by his Russian counterpart to pay a two-day “working visit” to Rostov-on-Don. It said the Armenian leader will attend an annual horse race organized by Medvedev and meet with the governor of the Rostov region as well as leaders of the local Armenian community. There was no word on the agenda of his meeting with Medvedev. Medvedev reportedly discussed with Turkish leaders the stalled process of normalizing Turkey’s relations with Armenia, Russia’s main regional ally, when he visited Ankara last month. He reiterated Moscow’s stated support for the success of that effort strongly backed by the West.

Medvedev also appeared to sidestep implicit Turkish calls for stronger Russian pressure on Armenia, which Ankara says is essential for achieving a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement and thereby unlocking its fence-mending negotiations with Yerevan. Still, he said Moscow will consult with the Turks in its Karabakh-related diplomacy, prompting concern in Armenian political circles. Opposition politicians and some analysts in Yerevan claim that the Russian leadership could pressure Armenia to make more concessions to Azerbaijan for the sake of Russia’s increasingly warm and deep rapport with Turkey. Armenian leaders dismiss this speculation. They also rule out any Turkish involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations jointly mediated by the United States, Russia and France. Earlier this year, Sarkisian praised the Russians for publicly rejecting the Turkish linkage between a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. The EU likewise favors an unconditional establishment of diplomatic ties between the two neighbors and opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

Medvedev and Sarkisian already discussed the Turkish-Armenian normalization and the Karabakh dispute at their previous face-to-face meeting held in Moscow in late April. It came one week after Sarkisian’s talks in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “As close partners, as strategic allies — I’ve picked a more precise term — we must see each other often,” Medvedev told Sarkisian. He thanked the Armenian president for attending last month’s celebrations in Moscow of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. “I was very pleased with that,” added Medvedev. “And, of course, that demonstrates the extent of the closeness of our states and their desire to develop strategic ties in the future.”

Source: http://asbarez.com/81509/russian-armenian-leaders-discuss-turkey-in-fresh-talks/


Azerbaijan Wants to Isolate Russia From Karabakh Conflict Resolution

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Representative of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun in Russia, President of the Russian-Armenian Commonwealth organization Yuri Navoyan said that all the efforts of Azerbaijan are aimed at preventing Russia’s interference in the conflict settlement in case of resumption of a war in Nagorno Karabakh. Baku is trying to neutralize Russia’s influence in the OSCE Minsk Group on the Karabakh conflict settlement, Navoyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “Turkey also raises issues concerning Armenia before Russia. In my opinion, the Armenian authorities and Diaspora should work in this direction to prevent similar steps against both Armenia and Russia,” stressed Navoyan.


Five Russian lawmakers declared personae non gratae for observing Karabakh polls

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The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has declared five members of Russia's lower house personae non gratae for observing parliamentary elections in the disputed area of Nagorny Karabakh, a spokesman for the ministry said on Wednesday. "The decision is final. This list may be extended," Elkhan Pulukhov said. However, he conceded, the measure might be reviewed if the five lawmakers admit that their involvement in monitoring the elections was "deliberate malice." The predominantly ethnic Armenian region, at the center of a dispute between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia since the late 1980s, elected its 33-seat parliament on May 23 with a voter turnout of almost 68%. Konstantin Zatulin, one of those declared persona non grata, said the decision was a "demonstrative measure."

"I was an observer during presidential and parliamentary elections in Nagorny Karabakh more than once," the lawmaker said, adding it was "surprising" that his decision to take part in monitoring the polls sparked such a reaction "for the first time." The other members from the State Duma considered persona non grata in Azerbaijan are Igor Chernyshenko, Kirill Cherkasov, Tatyana Volozhinskaya, and Maxim Mishchenko. Azerbaijani officials have called the elections in Nagorny Karabakh "illegal," saying they could seriously harm Armenian-Azerbaijani peace efforts.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorny Karabakh first erupted in 1988, when the region claimed independence from Azerbaijan to join Armenia. Over 30,000 people are estimated to have died on both sides between 1988 and 1994, when a ceasefire was agreed. Nagorny Karabakh has remained in Armenian control and tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have persisted. The conflict has been mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group that comprises the United States, Russia and France.


Armenia should not flirt (play games) with Moscow, as its a wrong move

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Day.Az interview with Alexander Dugin, Professor, Doctor of Political Sciences, Director of the Center for Conservative Studies at the Moscow State University School of Sociology, leader of the International Eurasian Movement, famous Russian political scientist.

Recently, Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh conducted another unrecognized parliamentary elections. UN, OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries as well as Russia have declared that they do not recognize the “elections” ...

Unrecognized entities hold similar election periodically. We can see this not only in Nagorno-Karabakh, but also in other self-proclaimed "republics". This is done to show that in spite of everything, there is normal life in the "republic" dominated by democratic processes. Let’s pay attention to the reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Russia has always voiced support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. However, I believe Moscow never before showed such a strong reaction to the “elections” in Nagorno-Karabakh. This shows that Moscow is extremely displeased with Armenia’s trying to get closer to Washington. Secondly, this shows a rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, Moscow and Baku, which recently have reached a new stage. I note once again that Moscow is dissatisfied with Serzh Sargsyan’s policy and I think he will draw conclusion from Russia’s reaction.

May Russia’s reaction become more serious if Yerevan fails to change its policy?

I think, Serzh Sargsyan will take Moscow’s signal into consideration. I believe Armenia should understand that it should not flirt with Moscow because its a wrong move. It's a dead end. Armenia should not forget that as a state it exists at the expense of Russia.

We all are witnessing active rapprochement of Ankara, Baku and Moscow on many issues. In your opinion, may this influence resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Current situation of conflict is profitable for Moscow. It is necessary to have a real look at things. No matter what happens, Armenia is still very close to Russia. It remains Russia’s partner and ally. The rapprochement is a wonderful chance for Azerbaijan to take advantage of the situation to resolve the conflict in its own favor. The solution can be facilitated if Azerbaijan withdraws from GUAM.

As we know, Armenia has not yet expressed its attitude to the updated Madrid Principles. In your opinion, what will be Armenia’s response?

I think Armenia will delay the answer as long as possible because it is satisfied with the current state of affairs. Armenia cannot agree on the Madrid principles, because it will not agree with return of Azerbaijanis to occupied lands. As you see, Armenia has created a mono-ethnic entity in the territory of "NKR" by means of ethnic cleansing and does not wish to see Azerbaijanis there. The situation is similar to Kosovo, but even in the Albanian Kosovo there are Serbian enclaves inhabited by ethnic Serbs. And, as we know, there are no Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh. The United States did its best to ensure that Kosovo is separated from Serbia and even recognized it as an independent entity. So, Armenia’s mistake is that it hopes that the U.S. will do likewise with regard to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, in this case, Washington will never deal with Karabakh the same as it was with Kosovo...

Source: http://www.today.az/news/politics/68715.html


Konstantin Zatulin: I’m not going to ask Azerbaijan whether I can travel to Armenia and NKR or not

Member of the Russian State Duma Konstantin Zatulin described Azerbaijan’s decision to ban the entry to the country for a number of Russian politicians as absurd. “I am among the ‘blacklisted’ people but I should say that I never longed to visit Azerbaijan. I was there once, for a meeting of international council of Russian compatriots. I respect this country but I will not ask it whether I can travel to Armenia and NKR or not,” he said. The politician explained Baku’s reaction as the consequence of the Armenian-Turkish dialogue. “I do not believe that Nagorno Karabakh will ever be under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction again,” Zatulin said. “I always visited NK when I was invited to observe elections. Today, I wonder whether citizens of other countries were banned to enter Azerbaijan, because there were foreign officials observing the May 23 election as well.” “Nagorno Karabakh has been holding elections for 16 years already and the point is that Baku has no possibility to accuse this republic of any human rights violations. Moreover, I want to mention that the power is not inherited in Karabakh, unlike Azerbaijan. So, no ban will make me change my position on the issue,” he concluded.


Konstantin Zatulin: Militant Statements a Mere Caucasian Bluff

“Russia, the US and the European Union need to work out a common position on Nagorno Karabakh,” Director of the Institute of CIS States, member of the Russian State Duma said at an international conference in Yerevan entitled “The Situation in the Caucasus and the Prospects for Regional Security.” “I have always said that the conflict should be solved on the basis of mutual concessions,” Zatulin reminded, adding that “Karabakh should get independence in exchange for some territories currently under NKR control.” The Russian MP does not believe that Azerbaijan will launch a new law, since Azerbaijan’s economy is growing, while military actions can frighten investors off. “Threatening revenge is a mere Caucasian bluff,” Zatulin said.

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