Interview of Day.Az with Robert M. Cutler, Senior research fellow in the Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Carleton University, Canada
- Do you think that the Obama Administration pays enough attention to the South Caucasus region and Azerbaijan in particular?
- The United States and Azerbaijan have every reason to continue the positive relations that have existed for over 20 years. They have a common geopolitical interests in common values. It is true that the present administration in Washington has not paid much attention either of Azerbaijan or to the region in particular.
Part of the reason for this is the strength of the Armenian lobby in the United States, which is heavily concentrated in the state of California, itself an important state for the Democratic Party. There was a reflection of the Armenian lobby strength and the dependence upon it by the Democratic Party, in the attempted rapprochement that you will remember, between Turkey and Armenia, which Turkey undertook under American pressure.
But also it must be said that the current Administration has failed to show much foreign policy leadership in any part of the world. So in this respect, its negligence of the South Caucasus is only part of its overall negligence.
- Some hold the opinion the Karabakh problem harms Armenia more than Azerbaijan and it would be easier to solve the Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia (which is in economic crisis) if there were no interruption from Armenia diaspora, which refuses any compromises. How would you comment on this point of view?
- It certainly it is true that the Karabakh problem harms Armenia more than Azerbaijan. The Armenian occupation of Karabakh has over the years left the country no alternative to its dependence upon Russia, not only militarily but also economically, with the result that it had no alternative other than to join the Customs Union recently when Moscow applied the pressure. By doing this, it closed the door to the European Union in its own face after long and arduous progress towards signature of an accord next month in Vilnius, which Brussels has now excluded as impossible.
Concerning the influence of the Armenian diaspora on the situation in Karabakh, it is well known that the diaspora has contributed much financial aid (such as sponsoring the construction of the new road in the Lachin corridor) as well as political support and influence to certain parties in Yerevan.
Indeed it is possible to say that in the early post-Soviet period, the political and ideological divisions and disagreements, inherited from the revolutionary era prior to the establishment of Bolshevik power in the region, and which decades of Soviet power had eradicated there, were re-exported back into domestic Armenian political life from the diaspora, where those divisions and disagreements had survived. This political influence, combined with well-known indigenous Karabakhi influence, effectively determined the course of domestic Armenian politics, including the policy towards Karabakh.- Are the West and the U.S. in particular able and really interested to achieve some progress in the settlement?
- It is unfortunate that the U.S. has probably gotten used to the situation, and given what is happening in Syria and other parts of the world, it is unlikely to give significant attention in the near future.
As for the European Union, it can be counted on, perhaps, to make certain declarations, but it has no real force, either diplomatic or military, to apply for the purpose of changing the situation on the ground.- The US ambassador to Baku named Iran one of the major topics of the US-Azerbaijani dialogue. Are the interests of Baku and Washington the same towards Iran?
- Strategically the interests are the same, although of course the tactical implementation of measures in favor of those interests differs, because of the distinct geopolitical location and considerations of the two countries.