interview with Neil MacFarlane
, Lester B. Pearson Professor of International Relations, Oxford University.
- How would you evaluate tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone during the last weeks despite the "olympic ceasefire"?
Tensions in the conflict zone turned into commonness. The deaths of soldiers on both sides is part of a longstanding pattern of low-level conflict. That won’t go away unless there is a real negotiation process with a prospect of success. That prospect does not appear to exist.
Agreement not to violate the cease-fire agreement has existed, by definition, since the cease-fire was agreed in 1994 (twenty years ago). Cease-fire means “cease fire”. As for me, it haven't to be expected to comply with that agreement during Olympics days, as the ceasefire regime breached before.
-How real is a threat of a new war in the region?
Nobody has any obvious incentive to go back to war. There are too many uncertainties. So to my mind, the risk is no more serious than usual. But there is, of course, the risk of accidental war. The more tense it gets on the line, the higher that risk is.- How do you think, in what circumstances international community will pay more attention to the Karabakh problem?
There is no need to talk about international community on current issue. But the major players would pay more attention if they believed there was a serious prospect of resolving the problem. They still don’t believe that.- How would you estimate Armenian hope that membership in the Customs Union will include cooperation with internationally recognized Azerbaijan territory Karabakh region?
I would be surprised if Armenia got into the Customs Union easily. I would be even more surprised if Russia accepted cooperation with Karabakh. Russia pursues balance. So why would they choose to alienate Azerbaijan, as well as Turkey in that way?
- Azerbaijan has been trying to restore its territorial integrity by peaceful means, proposing to Armenia to benefit from regional cooperation after withdrawal of its troops from Azerbaijani territory. Is there any hope that Armenia will finally accept that proposal?
I think trying to restore territorial integrity by peaceful means is better than the alternative.
Armenia would have a lot to gain from regional cooperation. However, it seems pretty clear that they are not willing to go for this deal through abandoning their policy.