2944) Turkey Is Working On Armenia While Russia, On Azerbaijan

Manvel Sargsyan
Senior Analyst
Armenian Center for National and International Studies, Yerevan

After the more than one-month long intense developments connected with actualizing Armenian-Turkish relations, the talks with respect to shortly achieving success in this initiative now have decreased . . somewhat. Subsequently, on the road to collaboration, the enthusiasm changed into a cool calculation of the gains and losses of each side. In Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan’s “Turkish” course was criticized, as many viewed that this course provided the sole dividends to Turkey and risked Armenia’s interests. And different international assessments followed soon thereafter.

For example, the renowned Marshall’s Foundation published an analytical paper entitled “Turkey and Armenia Talked, But Can They Walk Together?” The analysis states: “Serzh Sargsyan started a diplomatic reconsolidation game with the Turkish authorities and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the first president of Armenia, evaluated this game as a ‘great and unsubstantiated risk.’” And the analysts draw this general conclusion: Turkey should not shoulder the dark past of the Ottoman Empire while the Armenian diaspora should not think that it can jeopardize—either today, or tomorrow—Armenia in order to close the historical account. That is to say, everyone perceives the depth of the contradictions that have accumulated in relations between the Armenian and Turkish peoples.

It is unnecessary to speak about a quick solution to these contradictions. Apparently, this is why the first phase of the aforesaid enthusiasm ended so fast, but the political and diplomatic life in and around this region did not ease because of it. On the contrary, the passions boiled with a new vigor. It is an altogether different matter that the Turkish diplomatic initiatives have been replaced by American and Russian initiatives—and that the center of diplomatic activity has shifted to Azerbaijan. The visits of international diplomatic circles seem now to have been reduced to mere symbolism: Azerbaijan essentially has been offered free choice between the Russian and Western proposals. It is all too obvious that, in this case, meaningful diplomacy has been replaced by unconcealed bargaining on a variety of issues—and specifically on the issue of Mountainous Karabagh.

Alarmed by the August events in Georgia, Azerbaijan now behaves in a very constrained manner. Furthermore, all hopes that the priority in the resolution of the Karabagh problem will pass to Turkey did not come to fruition. And it is not so easy to choose between the proposals made by the empires since their terms are extremely conflicting. Therefore when the US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visited Azerbaijan on October 2, he stated that the United States was in favor of a conflict resolution that was based on territorial integrity and in consideration of other international precepts. But it is difficult to firmly assess the essence of this approach. The aforementioned statement gives Azerbaijan no guarantees that the problem will be resolved in accordance with its views.

The issue is much more complex when it comes to Russia. There are growing rumors that Russia is holding private talks with Azerbaijan concerning Mountainous Karabagh. Even information was disseminated on a specific settlement plan by Russia. In general, this refers to the following steps: 1) The Armenian troops are relocated to the border of former NKAO while the Russian troops are deployed along the entire border; 2) The Lachin Corridor is handed over to Azerbaijan while the Russian troops secure transportation along the corridor; 3) The Armenian troops slowly are removed from Mountainous Karabagh and the latter’s police force is deployed there; and, 3) The status of Mountainous Karabagh is discussed at a convenient moment. It is evident by the diplomatic gestures and pronouncements made by the Russian officials that the talks concerning such negotiations are meaningful.

October 8, 2008

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Turkey Is Working On Armenia While Russia On Azerbaijan.pdf


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