2928) Interviews: Aleksey Makarkin, Vartan Oskanian

  1. Eventually Karabagh, Abkazia, Ossetia Will Be Recognized By International Community, Professor Nicolai N. Petro
  2. Armenia Is In Difficult Geopolitical Situation: Aleksey Makarkin
  3. Vartan Oskanian’s Interview to Radio Free Europe: Armenian Society Must Accept Turkey as Neighbor
. .

Eventually Karabagh, Abkazia, Ossetia Will Be Recognized By International Community, Professor Nicolai N. Petro, August 12 2009
by RIA Novosti

--Do you think there is a potential for the U.S. and other Western countries to accept the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

History suggests that the only thing required to persuade the international community on recognition is determined perseverance in the face of adversity. Russias diplomatic recognition is a morale booster, but not decisive. If the Abkhazians and the Ossetians continue to insist on international recognition of their identity as a people and a nation, then past experience suggests that, sooner or later, the international community will have to yield to this reality.

--What is your take on what people in the US think of the conflict and Russias part in it one year on?

Western media coverage has definitely become more balanced since last November, when it was revealed that the two senior Western military officers stationed in Georgia by the OSCE, former British Army captain Ryan Grist and former RAF wing commander Stephen Young, both confirmed that Russian version of eventsthat Georgia had conducted an indiscriminate and unprovoked Georgian attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tsinkhval.

--What is your perception of the grounds for Russia to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia?

Here, again, we have two principles of international law that are in direct conflict. One is that the territorial integrity of a state should be sacrosanct; the other is the right of people to self-determination.... After the attack of August 2008, and the Saakashvilis vows to continue his campaign to reconquer Abkhazia and South Ossetia by any means at his disposal, Russia reluctantly came to the conclusion (on August 26 President Medvedev described it as choosing the lesser evil) that the only way to guarantee the survival of the Abkhazian and Ossetian populations on their own lands was to sign a military defense treaty with them. Recognition of their independence became a prerequisite, since such a treaty can only be signed with a sovereign state. Western recognition of Kosovos independence without Serbias approval, which took place in February 2008, merely established a convenient precedent for Russias actions.


Armenia Is In Difficult Geopolitical Situation: Aleksey Makarkin, Russia-based Center for Political Technologies First Vice President, Today Az, 6 August 2009,

Day.Az: How do you assess negotiations on resolution of the Karabakh conflict?

Aleksey Makarkin: Such conflicts are not solved quickly. In this case, the positions of the parties are directly opposite and the situation is very similar to the conflict in Northern Cyprus. This conflict has lasted for decades. There is unrecognized republic and a country patronizing this republic.

Referring to the Karabakh conflict, I should note that as a student in 199s I read books on the history of the conflict from both sides and remember that they differed for completely opposite interpretations and incompatibility of positions.

In the case of Northern Cyprus, both sides have a common goal - the desire to join the EU, but they can not agree with this regard. But in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, there is no such status. So I think that this conflict will remain status quo. Of course, it does not suit both parties, but in this situation other options are either unrealistic or even worse.

Q: How would you describe Russia’s policy in the Caucasus?

A: It is complicated. On the one hand, Russia has cut off relations with Georgia. But the war with Georgia was perceived as fair and positively evaluated in the Russian society. The relationship can be resumed only after Saakashvili steps down. This is a politician who does not accept the entire political establishment in Russia.

With regard to Armenia, there is opinion in Russian elite that this is outpost of Russian influence in the region. Armenia is very unhappy with this because no country wants to be someone’s outpost. Therefore, Armenia began to diversify its foreign policy. So, it began to build relations with Turkey and made a demonstrative step of awarding the Order of Honor to the Georgian president which was negatively accepted by Russia. But the Armenians deliberately did it to demonstrate independence and to show Moscow that Armenia is not outpost.

Relations with Azerbaijan is stable and from time to time this stability is broken by disputes over broadcast channels and cooperation with Georgia in the gas sphere. But in general Azerbaijan is not dependent on Russia in the energy context. On the other hand, Russia in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict is trying to behave like a “honest broker”, intermediary equidistant from both sides rather than a party involved in the conflict.

At one time Russia was discontent with Azerbaijan’s participation GUAM, but this discontent has passed, as time showed incapacity of the organization. Thus, I believe that our relations are stable. There is no conflict.

Q: What impact will Russia-Azerbaijan relations have on Baku’s participation in the EU Eastern Partnership program and Nabucco energy project in future?

A: I think that Nabucco is a greater irritant for Russia than Eastern Partnership. The point is that the Eastern Partnership besides Azerbaijan includes a variety of countries such as Belarus, Moldova, etc. Therefore, Russia does not perceive it as an imminent threat. There are just some jealousy in the implementation of such projects, but nothing more. Russia is worried about the military expansion of Europe. But now Europe does not want to grow in the military context.

Nabucco is seen as a threat to Russia’s energy interests. Previously, Russia did not react sharply to Nabucco, as it did not believe in its implementation. Now following the signing of the agreement, prospects for the project in terms of implementation have improved and therefore Russia’s attitude to the project could become more sharp which, in turn, could affect Russia's relations with Azerbaijan.

Q: Is intention of the Armenian authorities to improve relations with Turkey also demonstrative step or a strategy?

A: This is a strategy that gives show off against Russia. The normalization is possible as Armenia is in a very difficult geopolitical situation and it has to change some of its early policy approaches.

Now the normalization is unlikely, but in future it will be possible.

Vartan Oskanian’s Interview to Radio Free Europe: Armenian Society Must Accept Turkey as Neighbor, 2009/08/05, Natasha Harutyunyan

Today political analysts Hrant Bagratyan and Gurgen Arsenyan spoke about Armenian-Turkish relations at a press conference. Mr. Bagratyan argued that President Sargsyan must travel to Turkey for the return football match between the teams of the two countries and that it would be foolish not to go.

“I believe that it would be a major blunder to place the issue of the Genocide on the table. We shouldn’t let Turkey get the upper hand and they would be pleased if President Sargsyan didn’t go.

We must work with the Turkish society. We must be on the alert. Turkey is twenty-five times larger than Armenia and ninety times stronger economically. We must act accordingly,” said Mr. Bagratyan.

He added that the comment by President Sargsyan that he would only make the trip if Turkey opened the border was childish and that he must continue what he started.

Mr. Arsenyan stated that he believes that one can see fundamental development in Armenian-Turkish relations. He added that development of relations and the removal of problems can only benefit Armenia.

Given that the two analysts have a background in economics, reporters asked what Armenia would gain, in economic terms, with the opening of the border.

Mr. Arsenyan said that any given entrepreneur in Armenia could triple their capacity once the border was opened since Turkey has an internal market of some 80 million souls. Mr. Bagratyan agreed, saying that an opened border with such a large country would benefit Armenia as well as Turkey.

“Opening of the border with Turkey would mean the partial removal of the monopolies in Armenia. This would be a serious step since the Armenian regime is propped up on private monopolies. If the president wants to do away with this situation he should be taking real steps. The Armenian economy wouldn’t have fallen 17% if it was free of monopolies. If he wants to remove these monopolies he should start regulating the communications sector,” Mr. Bagratyan said.

Mr. Bagratyan described Yerevan as a very expensive city. “Gas, electricity, and even water are more expensive than in cities without water. There is a crisis in the world and such prices aren’t to be found in general. All of it is the result of monopolies.”

Razmik Says: August 5th, 2009
Wake up! Smell the coffee…

It doesn’t matter what you believe in. Turkey has one and only one agenda and that is the destruction of Armenia.

Getting philosophical about it will never change anything. Turkey knows exactly how to play the game to “look” as if its interested in open boarders and friendly relations. The reality though is far from that and the sooner we realize that and work on alternatives the better.

Alternatives do exist. So long as we think outside the box.

Haygaz Says: August 7th, 2009
people are free to express their opinions publicly. but if they call themselves political analysts and spread nonsense, it is ridiculous. These two are the most shortsighted persons ever cal find among politicians. They want to feel a few more dollars in their pocket, that is it.


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