TODAY.AZ / Politics

If Turkey continues dialogue with Armenia without movement on Karabakh, Azerbaijan will have to act: research fellow at European Policy Center

25 September 2009 [14:35] - TODAY.AZ
Senior research fellow at the European Policy Center and an expert on Southern Caucasus Amanda Akcakoca spoke to Day.Az in an interview.
Day.Az: The new U.S. missile defense system might reportedly be deployed somewhere in the Caucasus. Some experts claim that the U.S. sees Turkey, Balkans and Israel as potential counties to do so. Could the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan be one of the possible options?

Amanda Akcakoca: As to the U.S. ballistic missile defence system I doubt very much that it could be placed at the Gabala radar staion in Azerbaijan. If I remember correctly the Russian's have once before proposed this idea, that the U.S. and Russia "share" Gabala, in return for the US dropping the missile defense system initiative, and it was rejected by the Americans. It would probably not fly because I doubt the U.S. would want to have the Russians looking over their shoulder; and secondly because Gabala is in short and direct range of well known Iranian missiles. And lastly, I cannot imagine Baku desires to have increased foreign military presence on its soil either US or Russian. As for Turkey, given the increasingly close relations with the Kremlin, I can't imagine Ankara would even contemplate such an option. As the others, depends on what they would get out of it.

Q: Do you believe that with the newly appointed U.S. OSCE co-chair Robert Bradtke, the U.S. policy on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will change? Oris it just a staff change?

A: I doubt very much that the appointment of new US OSCE co-chair Robert Bradtke will change U.S. Policy towards Karabakh. Matt Bryza was very dynamic and popular so he is quite a tough act to follow.

Q: What predictions can you make about the upcoming Caspian summit, which is expected to be attended by all heads of the Caspian littoral states? Can any decision on the Caspian sea status be reached?

A: The forthcoming summit in Baku will be aiming to continue to discuss how to solve all the contentious issues but it will take a lot of political will to do this as each as their own individual agendas. The west will be hoping for a solution of the Caspian Sea status because without it, it jeopardizes plans for the famous Nabucco pipeline which will need gas supply from central Asia to be successful in the long run?

Q: How will the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict move forwards after the signing of Armenian-Turkish protocols?

A: It is far from guaranteed that the protocols will get the necessary ratification in either the Turkish or the Armenian parliaments. Although, the AKP has a majority there are factions that are not supportive of the agreement (along with the opposition parties) because it is not tied to movement on the Karabakh conflict and in particular withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. And again, the Armenian leadership will not have any easy job getting support for the bill which goes against the interests of the diaspora community which has considerable political influence in the country.

Regarding the link to Karabakh one can only presume that some significant diplomatic efforts are going on behind the scenes now to push for developments that would result in withdrawal of Armenian occupying troops. A lot depends on the will or Russia. If they want something happen it will. As for Azerbaijan, we will have to wait and see for their final reaction. If Turkey goes ahead without movement on Karabakh they will have to react. This could mean endangering Caspian gas resources to the west - although this would not necessarily be in Azerbaijan's benefit in the long term - but at the very least the special relationship that turkey and Azerbaijan have enjoyed for a long time will never be the same again.The forthcoming summit in Baku will be aimed at continuation of solving these issues.

T. Teymur

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