Monthly Review - Wednesday, June 1, 2011 0:01 - 0 Comments
Digest of Azerbaijan media for May 15-31
by News Digest
Official Baku, has called on official Yerevan to stop wasting time on the resolution of Karabakh conflict. According to Araz Azimov deputy foreign minister of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan is concerned that while the time goes by, no viable developments are taking place. He called on Armenia not to overuse the good will of Azerbaijan and its willingness to participate in meetings organized by Russia.
According to the Ministry of Defense in Azerbaijan, a wave of new military exercise was launched in the front line. Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said the training involved personnel from the land troops and air forces.
Speaking on May 18th at the Senate meeting in the US, Philip Gordon referred to US and EU efforts in the Caucasus in ensuring progress. However Gordon noted, territorial disputes remain main obstacles to achieving stability. Gordon also mentioned of US intentions in enlarging its partnership with OSCE Minsk Group in order to assist Armenia and Azerbaijan in reaching a peaceful resolution.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry reiterated its demand for Armenia expressing its attitude towards OSCE mediated basic principles document in order for the ministry to move on with further resolution process.
The principles include return of occupied territories surrounding Karabakh; interim status for Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Karabakh through legally binding expression of will.
Minister of Foreign Affairs in Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov spoke of Azerbaijan’s demands as part of the negotiation process- withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied Agdam and Fuzuli at first stage. Azerbaijan’s minister spoke of another alternative with Armenian withdrawing from 5 occupied regions at the same time.
Leader of the Armenian party “New times”, Aram Karapetyan, speaks of the possibility of war in his remarks on the current status quo of the conflict. “Everything is leading towards large scale war, and international community is trying to prevent this by pushing the sides towards peaceful resolution. Karapetyan also touched on US and other Western countries attempts to convince Armenia for concessions in return for the open Turkey- Armenia border. However Karapetyan believes this is unlikely especially as he notes even in current leadership of Armenia there are those who are strongly against such concessions.
Involvement of Karabakh Armenians in the negotiation process will only be possible once Armenia removes its military forces from Azerbaijan’s territory said Rasim Musabekov. Musabekov who is also parliament member noted that as long as Armenia is occupying Azerbaijani territories, and its military forces are present on Azerbaijan’s soil, Karabakh Armenians cannot be part of the negotiation process.
News.az interviewed Jeff Goldstein, senior policy analyst for Eurasia at the Open Society Foundation in DC on US role in the Caucasus, future of Karabakh conflict and US priorities. According to Goldstein, US currently pre- occupied with other regions, namely Central Asia rather than the Caucasus given Central Asia is the only alternative route for US troops in Afghanistan. In his comments on Karabakh, Goldstein noted of the absence of will in both Yerevan and Baku leaderships necessary to make compromises (also referring to the lack of democracy) as well as absence of full involvement on behalf of mediators who seem to fail in bringing out enough leverage in forcing parties in reaching a settlement.
Mubariz Ahmedoglu, director of the center of political innovations and technologies, believes the meeting of presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Kazan in June is going to be crucial in the negotiation process of the conflict. Ahmedoglu also referred to recent statement made by the President of Armenia on Karabakh being one of the reasons in the dissolution of the Soviet Union commenting that even the President of Armenia himself approves that Armenia has always been conflicting and never loyal to any of the leaderships of governments they have been part of.
Vladimir Yevseyev comments on the possibility of war and relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in his interview with Day.az. According to Yevseyev, Azerbaijan can free some of the territories of Nagorno Karabakh within a month however, it wont be possible to fully resolve the conflict in a month either. That is why political scientist believes that unlike other conflicts, Karabakh conflict doesn’t have a military solution.
What is more worrying according to Yevseyev is the possibility of Karabakh turning into another South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This Russian expert notes this, based on recent talks between Armenian Ambassador in Tehran calling for Tehran support the referendum in Karabakh.
As to the question of whether Russia will align with any of the sides of war does break out, Yevseyev noted that Russia will take on the neutral position.
EU plans to active its support in strengthening trust and will continue advocating against changing of border through military power. EU also is prepared to work with other international organizations and key partners in building post- conflict scenarios for re- construction.
Alexandr Skakov, who is the head of the working group at the Caucasus and Central Asia Institute, believes it is not worth of expecting much out of the statements made by Russia, France and US (the three countries plan to make a statement on Karabakh during the G8Summit) regarding the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Political expert also notes that while there is a general understanding that possibility of an outbreak of war is high, the countries at war, must the first ones to understand that war wont bring any positive results to the situation. Only this kind of thinking adopted by the conflicting parties might have a positive result.
Presidents of Russia, US and France, called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “demonstrate political will and complete the work on the main principles during the upcoming Azerbaijan- Armenia summit in June”. The statement further concludes that any further lengthening of the negotiation process will only jeopardize the status of the conflict. The leaders underline the importance of solving the conflict through peaceful means only and that the time has arrived for all parties to the Karabakh conflict take a step towards peaceful resolution.
Aleksey Vlasov, Russian political scientist believes involvement of EU in on-going conflict resolution discussions will only mean strengthening of the negotiations. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be any major structural changes in parties already involved in negotiation processes. In fact, EU’s involvement will only add to the dynamism of the negotiation process with Baku, Yerevan and other countries’ meetings.
EU decision came after their report on “Renewal of European politics of neighborhood”.
Unlike Vlasov, another expert, this time from the US, has doubts EU’s role and any results that its involvement would bring to the negotiation table. Svante Cornell, director of the Central Asia Institute as well as Caucasus University at John Hopkins. Cornell notes that while EUs involvement would be good, it is unlikely that it would bring any serious changes especially as Karabakh right now is like a ticking bomb. According to Cornell, in order to active EU’s involvement, France should become more active as one of the OSCE Minsk Group members especially as the group is not really active in its actions.
Commenting on a recent statement made by Russia, US and France, deputy director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia, Sergey Ryabkov says Russia is sure that chances for peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict were never higher especially if we are to look at some of the most recent statements and resolutions adopted on Karabakh. According to Ryabkov, “some big coordination work was carried out and now there is a chance for progress and compromises”.
In his interview with NEWS.az Dennis Sammut, director of UK based organization LINKS commented on the recently adopted statement by US, Russia and France as a positive development. According to Sammut, this statement shows the willingness of the international community in resolving the Karabakh conflict. Sammut noted that the statement should in fact be perceived as an encouragement to the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to finalize the negotiation process. Sammut also stressed the importance of the upcoming six months in terms of the diplomatic activity centered around the negotiations.
This an official line adopted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Azerbaijan following the adoption of a statement by the US, France and Russia. Armenia’s immediate withdrawal is significant especially in order to begin return of internally displaced people to their homes and re- building communication lines in the region. Azerbaijan’s foreign office is concerned that despite concrete international position on the situation, Armenia still continues with lengthening the process and thus prevents the sides form reaching a peaceful resolution.
Analyst at the International Crisis Group, Sabina Freizer believes it is not a good time for changing Minsk Group format especially as co- chairs believe the conflict parties are almost done with negotiating the “base principles”. However Freizer notes, that if a full agreement wont be reached with regard to the “base principles” in the upcoming months, then the international community will have to seriously think whether the negotiation format and chosen strategy are actually effective.
Some experts believe that EU’s involvement in the negotiation table means possibly replacing France with another EU member state.
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu commented on the recent statement adopted by the US, Russia and France. According to the ambassador, the statement means significant alterations to the negotiation process. For starters, there is a definite timeline pushing for concrete results. This, according to Bulbuloglu, means the heads of bigger governments want to resolve this conflict and do this within the framework of international law. Bulbuloglu believes that the most important thing right now is to make the first step.
In an interview with NEWS.az Azerbaijan’s parliament member Ulvi Guliyev referred to the recently adopted statement by US, France and Russia as being vague. Instead, it should have specifically called on Armenian forces to start removing its troops from the occupied territories said Guliyev. Parliament member further criticized the statement for falling short of calling out on the aggressor- Armenia- and instead calling on both countries to demonstrate political willingness in reaching a final resolution on the conflict. This in return only encourages Armenia to continue making speculative statements and further disrupting the negotiation process.
Mubariz Ahmedoglu, director of the center for political innovations and technologies, believes this is what Armenia wants and expects out of the upcoming meeting between heads of states in Kazan. To omit this situation, co- chairs must seriously consider taking serious steps towards Armenia and its attempts to provoke signing of any document. Perhaps suggests Ahmedoglu one of the things to be done is to spread information on possible refusal of variants on peaceful resolution.
Novruz Mamedov, head of the foreign relations department under the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan while announcing of the next upcoming meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia organized by the President of Russia mentioned the importance, Azerbaijani leadership attaches to this meeting. Mamedov, added that its not just Azerbaijan but also OSCE Minsk Group Co- Chairs who have hope vested in this meeting.
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