TODAY.AZ / Politics

Zeyno Baran: "Even if Armenia recognizes independence of Nagorno Karabakh, none of the countries, including its ally Russia, will support it"

07 April 2008 [12:07] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Zeyno Baran, head of the programs on Eurasian policy of Hadson Institute (the United States).
-What is a purpose of your current visit to Azerbaijan?

-I want to hold a number of meetings to discuss issues, regarding energy and some regional problems here.

-You have arrived in Baku from Bucharest, where you took part in the NATO summit. Possible accession of two post-Soviet republics-Georgia and Ukraine to NATO was stressed during the event. Is Azerbaijan's accession to NATO real?

-Indeed, Georgia's and Ukraine's accession to the alliance was discussed during the summit. It is important that the date of their accession has already been declared and due decision was made.

Thus, NATO, by admitting Georgia, will enter the Caucasus, and then the accession will be possible for Azerbaijan.

It should be noted that Ukraine and Georgia were more active in the striving to access NATO, but I think Azerbaijan will also become the member of the alliance in the end.

Will NATO membership help Georgia and Azerbaijan to settle conflicts on this territory?

-I can cite the example of Turkey and Greece. If these countries were not NATO members in culmination period of the conflict, they would have experienced greater tenseness in relations. But the NATO membership stabilized the situation timely.

Therefore, if Georgia becomes member of NATO, its relations with Russia would be more independent than now as Russia will not be able to put such pressure on Georgia. For instance, Russia avoids confrontation with Poland and Lithuania, which have become NATO members.

At the same time, it is not known, whether problems of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be settled before or after Georgia's accession to NATO.

-What do you think of the failure of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries to support the UN resolution, which fixed support to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan?

-On the whole, the Minsk group did not want the resolution to be raised. Presidential elections have been held in Armenia not long before, and a new President was elected. I think Azerbaijan should have worked moreat this issue before raising it. I think it would be better for it to avoid raising the issue.

Nevertheless, the United Stattes, Russia and France, which are mediators of the conflict settlement, were able to express a single position on the said issue. In the result, they decided to vote against and explained it by the fact that the support of resolution would have undermined their influence on Armenia. By saying no they faced Azerbaijan's resentment. The co-chairs wanted to make amendments to the resolution but in the end they decided to say no. In the result each side was discontented.

If the Karabakh problem was so easy, it would have been settled long before. The further resolution of the Konflict depends both on Azerbaijan and Armenia. The inauguration of the new president of Armenia will take place on April 9. If the sides can see the perspective, they will be able to take further steps.

Official Baku should agree that the co-chairing countries, are not supporters of Yerevan, only because they voted against resolution. They recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. I think the mediators should explain their position to the Azerbaijani people. The people of Azerbaijan should not think that the co-chairs are unfair.

I understand the Azerbaijani side when they say: "If the United States recognize territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, why don't they support us?". But the Azerbaijani powers should make the position of the OSCE Minsk group for themselves and explain it to their people.

-The working president of Armenia Kocharyan, inspired by the Kosovo precedence, spoke of possible soonest recognition of independence of Nagorno Karabakh by Yerevan. Is this step real and what will be the results?

-I think the president said it to consolidate positions of his country before talks with participation of the new President of Armenia. But the independence of Kosovo was recognized by another reason. Kosovo was controlled by NATO and was de-facto independent. In the result this independence was recognized officially, despite the protests of some countries, including Serbia and Russia.

But if Armenia takes this decision, no one will recognize Nagorno Karabakh. No one will understand it. In the reality it will be like recognition of independence of Northern Cyprus only by Turkey.

If Armenia recognizes independence of Nagorno Karabakh, this decision will be support by no one, including the Minsk group, including Russia, which is Yerevan's ally on some issues. Therefore, I do not take such statements of the Armenian leadership seriously.

-What do you think of Armenians' reproaches that the objectivity of US co-chair of OSCE Minsk group Matthew Bruza in the Karabakh issue was spoiled after he married Zeyno Baran of Turkish origin?

-(Smiles) Certainly, these statements are groundless. Being professional diplomats, we execute decisions of our country. The United States conducts its own policy regarding the said region. Certainly, the relations of the United States with Turkey and Azerbaijan differ, but at the same time, there is a need to consolidate US-Azerbaijani relations. We see Azerbaijan as an important partner for Europe in the sphere of energy, we see a growing economy, expansion of not only oil but also non-oil sector and striving for democracy.

The relations between Azerbaijan and the United States are on a high level. Me and Matthew Bryza do not take anyone's side. Being an American diplomat, he executes the policy of the United States.

For example, the US Ambassador has not yet been appointed for Armenia, as the congress has not confirmed a certain candidacy due to its well-known position on the so called Armenian genocide, corresponding to the position of the official Washington. Anyway, the new ambassador should adhere to position of the US Presidential Administration, which implies non-recognition of the genocide of Armenians.

Personal life should not be confused with state policy.

-Your husband has recently done unexpectedly optimistic statements regarding prospects of Karabakh conflict settlement. At the same time, he ofjen rejects saying so in his interview to reporters, explaining that he was misunderstood in Baku or in Yerevan. He did the same rejecting his statement made in his interview to Day.Az in Mardrid by results of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan held last year. Anyway, how do you assess prospects of the conflict resolution, being an influential political scientist and a spouse of the mediator of the conflict?

-The co-chairing observing the internal and external policy of Azerbaijan and Armenia for already 10 years, can made optimistic conclusions. I can say that I am not so optimistic, but I am not participating in the talks. Both Bryza and other co-chairs meet with Presidents and Foreign Ministers of the two countries and they are well aware of the talks.

As for Matthew Bryza's approaches to the problem. they are really optimistic. This is not a mere optimism. This is an optimism, caused by enthusiasm in search for the problem resolution. Certainly there are moments on which the parties have not yet achieved a compromise. But for example Bryza was also optimistic when prospects of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline construction, when many spoke of the difficult implementation of the project. But he was optimistic, he saw the problem, analyzed it and looked for the ways of its resolution.

It should be optimistic while settling a problem to bring positions of those who are dealing with the issue resolution, to a common denominator. It is difficult to settle the problem if one lacks optimism. Today, a new stage starts with Sarkissyan. Ceryainly, Sarkissyan, arises negative association due to his Karabakh past. Yet, both Azerbaijan and Armenia long for the problem resolution. This is an old conflict which need fair solution to be approved by both parties.

I hope the problem will be settled this year. I think the Aliyev and Sarkissyan did not meet in Bucharest as Sarkissyan has not been inaugurated yet. As is known, the elections in Armenia were accompanied with domestic political tenseness and Sarkissyan needs to restore situation in his country, prove his legitimacy and win the trust of people. We will see whether the leaders of the two countries will be able to find a resolution, which would be useful for their countries and the whole region. Anyway, the countries would not be willing to return to the past, the period of way.

Anyway, the people of the two countries and primarily, hundreds of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs would win if this problem is settled by the end of the year.


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