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Experts: Kazakhstan's role to be positive, but not decisive in talks over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

16 February 2010 [11:20] - TODAY.AZ
The role of Kazakhstan as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in 2010 will be positive, but not decisive in talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, experts say.
"Solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be a goal for Astana, Azerbaijani political scientist Tofig Abbasov said.

"It corresponds to its political ambitions, because Kazakhstan is country, confidently positioned as a functioning entity."

During his visit to the region, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev highlighted priority for Kazakhstan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and even expressed hope that 2010 will be a breakthrough.

According to Saudabayev, Kazakhstan attaches "exclusive importance to the region and international assistance in addressing a number of challenges facing the countries located here.

"We will be trying to completely use the historical closeness and similarity of the mentality of our peoples, good and trustful relationship between our heads of State Nursultan Nazarbayev and Ilham Aliyev to achieve a possible progress in resolving the "protracted conflicts" peacefully," said Saudabayev during his visit to Baku.

The observers are pinning their hopes on Kazakhstan as the OSCE chairman, who may also mediate in the conflict. Kazakhstan's role in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict may acquire a resultant character for several reasons, said Abbasov.

"First of all, Kazakhstan is a country which has equal relations with the conflicting sides," said Abbasov, expert of analytical group of "Lider-TV".

Secondly, it is a country of region and has more grounds to mediate than the troika of co-chairmen of the OSCE, because the United States, Russia and France are more engaged with the tug-of-war in the context of their uneasy relationship, and the Karabakh issue is nothing more than means for them.

According to Kazakh expert Dosim Satpayev, on the one hand, Kazakhstan has some strong positions in the CIS, since it supports close relations with many countries of the CIS, including many countries that are in a state of latent conflict such as Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Kazakhstan has good relations with Yerevan, given the fact that Armenia is part of such organizations as the CSTO," director of the Risk Assessment Group (Kazakhstan) Satpayev said.

Kazakhstan has also good relations with Azerbaijan, because it is a neighbor on the Caspian Sea, the expert said.

According to Abbasov, the entire experience of mediation involving the so-called international forces, structures, "troika" and "four" is a well-established fiction.

"It is better to trust on those who did not manage to become skilled in the opaque battles for tasty morsels ...," he said.

However, experts are skeptical that the country's chairmanship will be able to make any impact on solving this problem.

According to Satpaev, Kazakhstan is good in the role of mediator because the mediator role is usually played by those who have a neutral position, while at the same time, may try to bring these or those sides to the table, but the question arises, how Azerbaijan and Armenia are themselves prepared to this.

"A more representative group [the OSCE Minsk Group] works over Nagorno-Karabakh, so I think that during the year Kazakhstan will unlikely have many opportunities and potential to solve this problem or move it from the dead point," said Satpayev.

"Nevertheless Kazakhstan has fewer resources and experience in this regard, because this issue is so sensitive and so delicate that it is impossible to solve it with one swoop, taking into account that Kazakhstan has a very different mission."

European expert Michael Emerson also supports the same opinion.

"The Minsk Group with US, Russia and France has tried very hard together with Azerbaijan and Armenia for years. So far as I can see the questions of the final statement over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is nowhere near consensus between the two parties," the expert said.

"Though Kazakhstan proposes itself to mediate that is not clear, as the Chairmanship role is not very strong in mediation and there is in any case the Minsk Group forming that which is on the auspices in the OSCE," Michael Emerson, Director of the European Neighborhood, Foreign and Security Policy programme of the Center for European Policy Studies, told Trend News in a telephone conversation from Brussels.

According to him, Kazakh chairmanship can certainly be informed about the work of the Minsk Group and can talk to all parties.

"But I doubt whether Kazakhstan wants to take a strong substantive position on resolving the final state. I might be surprised, but I would doubt it," he said.

"I am not sure that Kazakhstan and the OSCE Presidency can do much about that, Emerson said. It is easy to say that they will do their best and the progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement will be achieved this year. That doesn't mean anything".

According to Satpaev, Kazakhstan does not intend to spoil relations with either Azerbaijan or Armenia.

"It wants to make this year maximally without conflict, and go down in history as the first state of the former Soviet Union, which took this position, while no one expects it to solve the painful problems in these or other conflict zones," said the expert.

/Trend News/

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