Russian political scientist: Azerbaijan should continue to take maximally strict position on the reopening of Turkey-Armenia borders – EXCLUSIVE

Russian political scientist: Azerbaijan should continue to take maximally strict position on the reopening of Turkey-Armenia borders –<font color=red> EXCLUSIVE </font>
# 07 April 2009 16:29 (UTC +04:00)
-How much is the probability of the reopening of borders against the background of broad discussions, despite the statements of Turkish President and Prime Minister “The borders with Armenia will not be reopened, unless Nagorno Karabakh conflict is solved”?

- I would assess this probability as fifty-fifty. The probability of the reopening of borders is equal to not reopening of borders because of some reasons. Some media outlets have launched strong propaganda, it shows that there is no smoke without fire. It means that the issue on the reopening of borders is being seriously considered as one of the variants.

-How do you ground 50 percent probability of the reopening of borders?

-Such a variant of agreement is possible. It means that borders are reopened and Armenia releases occupied Azerbaijani regions.

-Can it be attributed to Armenian Foreign Minister’s statements that Nagorno Karabakh issue is not on the agenda of Turkey-Armenia dialogue?

-Frankly speaking, I would not view the situation in the South Caucasus in the context of such senior officials. Very serious diplomatic game may be played here. The history shows beginning from the 19th century that diplomats fulfill their diplomatic duties by not telling the truth. Therefore, I am not going to say that the statement of the above-mentioned instance is true, nor accuse him of telling a lie.

-There are reports that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev refused to attend the conference “The Alliance of Civilizations” in Turkey protesting against the issue on the reopening of Turkey-Armenia borders. How can this fact and all this information campaign launched on the reopening of borders influence Azerbaijan-Turkey relations?

-I think that if Turkey-Armenia borders are opened in exchange for Armenia’s releasing the occupied territories to Azerbaijan, it will surely play the role of a strong PR for Azerbaijani authorities. Because from practical point of view it will be the first serious step for the solution to Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The other issues will recede into the background. But in order to achieve this, Azerbaijan should continue to take maximally strict position. Azerbaijan should demonstrate that any deal, agreement on this issue can be realized only if Azerbaijan’s interests are defended in the South Caucasus, as well as Nagorno Karabakh as much as the interests of the participants of the situation.
-How do you think, should the situation around Nagorno Karabakh play role of basis for Armenian-Turkish dialogue, or Turkey and Armenia are able to stand aside of this issue during discussion of their relations?

- I consider that the second 50-percent probability has in view such variant. According to this variant, Ankara opens the borders and instead of this doesn’t get any guarantee from Armenia toward its partner and ally Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is not only the Turkey’s strategic partner, but its ally also and it was stated for many times in highest political level in Turkey. It is not difficult to understand that this variant will worsen the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations enough. It is out of interest of Turkey, which intends to play role of moderator in the South Caucasus. Therefore I am skeptical of such variant. Turkey must take the interests of Azerbaijan and all parts in the South Caucasus into consideration.

-What of variant is close to Turkey in current phase?

- Turkey has any plan and it is possible that this plan was already agreed with the Barack Obama’s administration. It seems, according to this plan, the opening of the borders is reviewing as first step toward forming of new realities for the security in the South Caucasus, including solution to Nagorno Karabakh conflict. What is the guarantee of this plan? Have Ankara, Washington, even Moscow a guarantee for this plan? The question is about the guarantee for realization of promises given to the parts.

-If Armenia doesn’t fulfill its duties taken according to this plan, it will be never late to close the borders.

- Principally, it is so. But it will be short diplomatic views to violate the agreement or to fulfill it not fully. No one wants to risk in this situation and all contradictory signals from Ankara, Yerevan, from the parts of negotiations are arisen from that. It is some test for Barack Obama.

-US President Barack Obama noted in his address to Turkish parliament that the actions should be made toward opening of borders and solution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. What do you think, is there relation between the opening of borders and Nagorno karabakh issue?

-Absolutely. It is one of the plans, rather a part of the plan proposed by Obama to Ankara and accepted probably with understanding. Otherwise this position wouldn’t be publicized. Obama is an American leader welcomed by the international community and he listens his partners and allies. If this issue was not agreed previously, US President wouldn’t publicize it.

-Do you mean seven regions around Nagorno Karabakh occupied by Armenia speaking about the regions to be returned to Azerbaijan?

- Yes, you are absolutely right. There is very important issue, what regions are mentioned in the plan. There are some regions with military strategic importance, which gives some superiority during the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. There is a question what regions will be liberated concretely. It needs to think about this issue seriously. I think, even the most optimistic scenario will offer no concrete decision, but any declaration or protocol of understanding because the process of specification or agreement will take long time.