Interview with Nesrin SULEYMANLI, Expert of the Geo-strategic Center of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
Interview by Ilgar GURBANOV - Strategic Outlook
What is the main reason for Mountainous Karabakh still remains under occupation so far?
Unresolved conflicts in the former Soviet Union turned to the tragedy of nations after the collapse of USSR. Aftermath it gave a ground for frozen-conflicts in Post-Soviet space and it caused to break-up of Soviet ideology and increased the conflicts among new independent states.
The main reason of remaining as unresolved of Mountainous Karabakh problem is the result of geopolitical struggle in the world and region, as well as, the result of occupational-nationalist policy of the Armenian-lobby. Those factors complete each others. In fact, Mountainous Karabakh conflict turned from ethnic conflicts to international geopolitical struggle.
Russian Federation also pushed forward for Mountainous Karabakh conflict in order to keep region under its control. The failure to resolve this conflict intended to keep both Azerbaijan and Armenia dependent from Russia. Some entities, which consider the democratic development of the region and integration of region countries as threat to their national interests, are not interest in the solution of this problem. The interests of those entities are coincided with the interest of Armenian lobby. And some powers can successfully advantage of this reality.
Of course, one must take into consideration the unconstructive policy of Armenia. This country continues to violate internationally recognized border of the Republic of Azerbaijan and to keep under occupation of territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan without any attention to international norms. The reason of the failure in negotiations held for the solution of conflict is the result of Armenia does not commit to the norms of international law.
How can you describe the stages of conflict solution initiatives on Mountainous Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia?
Mountainous Karabakh conflict emerged in the Soviet era. USSR just threw this conflict to table in order to keep Azerbaijan and Armenia closer to Soviet supreme government. At that time, this conflict was internal. After the collapse of USSR, Mountainous Karabakh conflict turned to international conflict. Since this era, a lot of international efforts were tried for the solution of this conflict. For example, efforts of the presidents of the Russia and Kazakhstan, including efforts of Iran. However, all those efforts remained without any result. In 1992, OSCE involved in this conflict as a mediator in order to promote the solution of conflict. Then, Co-chairs Institute was established and mediation still continues in this order.
Could occupied territories of Azerbaijan have an impact on Azerbaijani energy policy and could Azerbaijan use its energy potential as a tool in the solution of Mountainous Karabakh problem?
It is obvious that Azerbaijan is famous with its vast hydrocarbon resources. These resources are very important in terms of provision of energy security of European countries and development of the region. Due its geographical position, it is possible to deliver energy resources of Central Asia and Caspian basin through Azerbaijan. Therefore, Europe is eager to see stability in Azerbaijan.
However, Azerbaijani officials repeatedly stated that, Azerbaijan is a reliable partner and is seeking to cooperate with all the countries on equal economic bases. Notwithstanding, Azerbaijan consider the liberation of the occupied territories as main priority in its foreign policy, it declared that we will not use the energy resources for political purposes and pressures.
Could new signed TANAP agreement have an impact on the solution process of Mountainous Karabakh problem?
TANAP is the opportunity in order to provide the energy security of Europe and diversification of energy provision of Europe. New discovered energy field is important to avoid energy needs on global level. TANAP is also significant in terms of geopolitical interests. With the implementation of this project, unification of South Caucasus region to Europe will strengthen. This project will assume great importance for transportation of energy resources of Central Asia and Caspian basin to Europe. In this way, it is possible to decrease energy dependence of Europe.
In a nutshell, its sustainable work will insure energy sustainability of Europe. But, its sustainable activity depends on how its security will be provided. In this regard, European countries will have an interest in security of the region for safe activity of TANAP.
The main source of threat in the region is Mountainous Karabakh conflict. It is fact that, TANAP project might weaken the gas monopoly of Russia. In order to prevent it, Russia could make some provocations under the Armenian flag around Mountainous Karabakh, from where passes TANAP. In order to deprive Russia from such kind of provocations, solution of Mountainous Karabakh must be agenda of European countries.
If the problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be resolved, is it possible the implication of any project (pipeline or railway) through Armenia?
Dozens of times, Azerbaijan stated that, it will not cooperate with Armenia, which occupied its territories. Occupational policy of Armenia deprived her from the entire grandiose projects in the region. Azerbaijani Government stated that, if the Armenia will give up its occupational policy and will show political willingness in the solution of conflict, it will be begun renewing process of the infrastructure of Mountainous Karabakh and opening of communication lines between two Republics. Aftermath, participation of Armenia in the huge economic projects would be possible.
Economic potential of Azerbaijan is very high that, without its participation any grandiose economic project cannot be realized in the region. Azerbaijan can cooperate with Armenia in case of it will give up its occupational policy.
Is it expected the war factor in the solution of conflict and if the war will be occurred how can estimate the approach of Central Asian countries?
Republic of Azerbaijan supports the approach of peace talks for conflict solution. Azerbaijani officials repeatedly stated that, possibility of peace talks for the conflict solution still did not finished. If such opportunities will be finished, Azerbaijan will use another tools to liberate its occupied territories. According to the Article 4 of UN Charter every country has a right to use military way in order to liberate its occupied territories.
Central Asian states support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It is true that, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is the member of Collective Security Treaty Organization created by Russian initiative. Armenia is also the member of CSTO. Notwithstanding, alliance relationship make them to come together, Azerbaijan will conduct military operation within its own territories in case of war. According to the treaty, Organization can get involved in war in case of Azerbaijan will violate the Armenian borders. Even in such case, one can assume that, Central Asian states will keep their neutrality.
It is a long time that OSCE Minsk Group’s (which in involved in the solution of conflict) initiatives still remain without any result. Is it possible to include to Turkey to the list of co-chairs?
The reason of ineffective performance of OSCE is unconstructive position of Armenia and not being more pressure by co-chair states to Armenia in order to give up its occupational position. Unfortunately, there is not a different attitude to both invader country and occupied country and OSCE co-chairs does not put pressure to Armenia in order to commit its obligation arising from the resolution of UN Security Council and European organizations on Mountainous Karabakh.
To change the format of mediators of conflict does not seem real and expedient for the near future. Because, current co-chairs is the leading countries of the world and permanent members of UN Security Council. It needs fully to utilize their opportunities and reputations for the solution of conflict. If they will be changed, it will take a long time in order to get acquainted about the conflict and negotiation process might be blocked by the same countries in case of if it will not meet the interest of global countries.
Including of Turkey to the list of co-chairs is possible. However, Armenia does not support this idea. But “co-chair-ship” of Turkey would be accepted if European powers will put a pressure and it will contribute to the solution of conflict.