UNANIMITY AS GUARANTEE FOR RECOGNITION OF NKR
Konstantin ZATULIN, Director of the Institute of the CIS Countries and Andranik MIHRANIAN, a famous Russian political analyst are now in Nagorno Karabagh with a short visit on the occasion of awarding K. Zatulin with the medal "Mkhitar Gosh". The interview with the Russian political analysts is presented below.
- It is common knowledge that Azerbaijan has been torpedoing the negotiation process with the anticipation that pressure would be exhorted on Nagorno Karabagh by the international emissaries. Azerbaijan hopes that NKR would finally accept those conditions of the problem resolution which are unfavorable for the latter. In addition, both the co-chairmen and the member-countries of the OSCE Minsk Group have stated more than once that the solution should be found by the conflicting sides themselves. What is your assessment of the position of Azerbaijan? Is there any possibility that this sort of actions can be a success?
А. М. - I think that by impeding the negotiatios process Azerbaijan tries to meet several goals. Firstly, Azerbaijan considers that in the course of time the Russian influence in the region would weaken and Turkey would gain more weight, and that the attraction of the oil companies would create more favorable conditions for Azerbaijan in respect of receiving support from the West, NATO, and USA. Baku considers that in the course of time the political and economic position of Azerbaijan will strengthen and its military influence would grow. It hopes that sooner or later the problem would be resolved by the imposition of economic, political and military pressure. Will Azerbaijan succeed? I think that in the light of the existing reality no one would let Azerbaijan to implement this strategy. First of all, we know that the state system of Azerbaijan is extremely authoritarian. I would say that the soultanic regime governs there with one ruling family superior to the law. It is true that the Azeri leader is very experienced but at the same time he is very sick and old. As a rule, the process of transfer of power is rather painful for states like Azerbaijan. Russia would attempt to restore its position in the region to some extent. There is going to be keen conflict of interests. Turkey which follows the rationale of Aliyev, refers to "one nation but two states". The United States have started performing actively in the region. Nevertheless, I don't think that the West or the USA will be willing to be involved in the tricks that Azerbaijan is playing. If the USA embarks on the resolution of its problems in the region connected with Iran and Iraq, it would definitely prefer peace to de-stabilization here. Therefore, peace can be maintained if, first of all, additional compromises or trade-off in favor of Azerbaijan are not imposed on Armenia. Supposedly, the geo-political and geo-strategic interests of the USA will assume that the latter would demand more compromises from Azerbaijan. I think that because of the oil-related interests pressure could be exhorted on Azerbaijan for attaining stability in the region and ensuring the extraction and transportation of oil. This is why I consider that there is no need for the West and the United States impose additional serious pressure on Armenia in the view of their interests and the problems that they intend to resolve in Iran and Iraq. It is my understanding that they would probably try to find a compromise which would be committing for Azerbaijan and not Armenia.
K.Z. - I agree with all the points of the scenario pictured by Mr. Mihranian. It is my understanding that the strategy of Azerbaijan contains a critical flaw. In particular, there is the intention to speculate with the oil factor and the factor of the real and purported resources of the Caspian Sea for achieving the one-sided settlement of the Karabagh conflict and the problem of the interrelations with Armenia. It disturbs some superficial political analysts in Russia who think that the Armenians need to settle the problems related to their relations with Azerbaijan and agree to the proposed statuses of Nagorno Karabagh. They are concerned that in the near future Azerbaijan can raise big money from the oil extraction and finance a new war against Karabagh.
I think that the said flaw is connected with the concept of capital which, by its definition, is one of the most fragile substances in the world. As Mr. Mihranian noted, the attraction of considerable investments to Azerbaijan would positively assume certain conditionalities. It would be naive to believe that the investors would agree to a situation when the return from the oil extraction is spent for financing the war which, in turn, would endanger the existence of such investments. To me, it is a virtual world which is created just like the overstated figures on the resources of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea in order to exhort additional pressure on Armenia or Karabagh in the course of the negotiations. I am sure that no one would allow the present or future authorities of Azerbaijan to put on risk billions of dollars of investments for resolving the issues which in the view of many people in Europe or USA and even Russia are obviously settled.
- You have arrived here on the eve of an important political event, i.e., the presidential elections in Nagorno Karabagh. I understand that two days are not sufficient for arriving to sound conclusions. However, what is your assessment of the current internal political situation in NKR? Have you noticed any changes in the republic?
K.Z. - My previous visit to NKR was in last December. I think that the elections do not assume any threat to the internal stability in Nagorno Karabagh which often is the case not only in the conflict zones, but also in major states when there is the risk of dissension during the elections. For example, this happened in Russia in 1996 or in the United States because of the equal number of the ballots for George Bush and Albert Gore. I don't think that there is such risk in Karabagh.
- Can one say that the political environment in Nagorno Karabagh is moderate?
K.Z. - In fact, the atmosphere here is moderate. As we noticed during these two days, the people are busy with their daily life. I think that the existing negative internal exigencies are overcome. Definitely, today the atmosphere is peaceful in Nagorno Karabagh. I would like to emphasize again that it is principally important that a competitive democratic process in on here, and the format of the democratic elections is followed in the election campaign. From the prospective of the problem resolution it should be evident for the international emissaries that as at this moment there exists the state of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (even if has not been acknowledged officially) where the democratic principles are followed and the main institutions of the state are in place. At the same time, another state with a soultanic regime where quasi-democratic procedures dominate makes pretensions to Nagorno Karabagh.
А. М. - My visits to Nagorno Karabagh have become more frequent, too. Last time I was here as a member of the delegation of the Union of Armenians of Russia. To me, the atmosphere here in Karabagh is becoming more and more satisfactory. I agree with my friend who said that some exigencies and tensions which existed here are being overcome. This positive shift is also thanks to the sense of responsibility of the people and the understanding that they live on the border. Despite the fact that the country has been in the state of war for 8 years, the people are not desperate. It is an important and highly positive fact that even in the state of war the democratic institutions and procedures are in place in Nagorno Karabagh. Of course, it would be much easier to set up a wartime regime and claim that democracy is not affordable. This is indicative of the huge inner potential. In fact, NKR should start its way in the environment of democracy, competitiveness and mutual respect. I have the impression that there is unanimity with respect of the basic values and basic problems among the Armenians, especially the people of Nagorno Karabagh despite the external conflicts and confrontations. People understand that as a state Nagorno Karabagh can survive, and respect and recognition be achieved only if unanimity is ensured.
I would like to say a couple of words about the present president of NKR whom I know since the time when he was the minister of foreign affairs of NKR and led the negotiations with the representatives of international organizations in Moscow. It is my pleasure to note that he has gained a colossal experience as a diplomat and a politician especially in the context of confrontation which exists among rather serious diplomatic figures of the world. He has built valuable skills and knowledge from such experience. Nagorno Karabagh has an intelligent a well-cultures leader which is a rare case in the post-Soviet environment.