Day.Az interviewed Professor Michael Gunter, Tennessee Technological University USA.
-What should the Caucasus expect from President Obama's second term?
President Obama will concentrate in the short run on domestic issues dealing with a budgetary agreement to avoid a financial disaster, health care referred to as “Obamcare,” and finally gun control proposals after the latest mass murder in December at an American primary school that killed more than 20 children. In foreign policy, the Middle East including most importantly Israel, Iran, and Syria will be on his radar. -Some experts in Azerbaijan claim that the American policy in the region may be pro-Armenian with John Kerry, nominated as next US secretary of state, as Kerry is known for his pro-Armenian views and relations with the Armenian lobby. What you can say in this regard?
As is usual with American politicians, they take the narrow view of just their home constituents when in Congress, but the broader over-all view of what is best in US interests when in the Executive Branch. Barrack Obama certainly did this and so probably will his new Secretary of State John Kerry. This means that Kerry will not support the Armenian Diaspora as much as he did when he was only a US senator. -The South Caucasus faces several challenges such as Russian-Georgian relations, Karabakh conflict, and situation in the neighbouring Iran. How serious are these risks ? Do you expect a war in the region soon?
The South Caucasus seems to live in a state of perpetual security risks. Of course, they are serious, but I do not see any of them leading to an imminent military clash. - Armenia plans to launch a new airport in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan. How do you assess the probability of opening this airport and what will be its consequences?
The Armenians should be careful not to inflame the continuing volatile situation. Therefore, they should think twice before using this new airport.
-Recently, Former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza said that President Obama will never be as active in the Karabakh settlement as former Russian President Medvedev was. Do you agree with that?
As an immediate neighbour Russia will of course be more interested and active in regards to the Karabakh settlement than the United States. For the United States this is a much less important issue, and may be seen as a restriction against the US being more active in the region. -Do you agree with views that after withdrawal of NATO’s troops from Afghanistan the American interests in the South Caucasus will decrease?
It is likely that American interests will decline in the South Caucasus as its troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan. On the other hand, the U.S. remains very concerned about Iran’s possibly obtaining nuclear weapons and thus will find it useful to maintain an interest in events concerning the South Caucasus.