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16 10 2008 - Analysis Most recent developments in the South Caucasus
AZG Armenian Daily #188, 14/10/2008
Analysis Most recent developments in the South Caucasus
In order to prevent various comments, it is first necessary to put down that this article only aims at outlining the picture that has been formed by the Armenian foreign policy in the "new" period – from April 9, 2008 and after the stormy developments in the South Caucasus, leaving the comparative analysis of the previously carried out policy for the future.
At first glance, the period that embraces only six months may seem very short for the analyses, but it is distinguished by unprecedented activity and aturation that embraces all the basic directions of the Armenian foreign policy interests – Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, Armenian-Turkish relations including the issue of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, regional conflicts, geopolitical alterations, etc. Moreover, in April after the formation of the new government, Armenia got two new main performers of its foreign policy – the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and expectations of new emphases became quite actual.
Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement
More remarkable is President S. Sargsian’s speech at the 63rd session
of the UN General Assembly about the issue that is of vital importance
to Armenia. Unfortunately, that part of the speech is not only the most
unsuccessful but al so problematic with its three basic principles.

According to the first one, "self-determination right that is one of the fondamental tenets of the international law is the reason for banishment of the peoples, ethnic purges and genocides" (this and following quotations from September 26 issue of "Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" daily). It is hard to say who prepared the text of the speech, the Foreign Ministry or the President’s Staff, but it is evident that the reality is turned upside down. The right of self-determination is not the reason for ethnic purges and genocides
but the actions against recognition and application of it. When Indonesia was not recognizing East Timor’s self-determination right for a long time and was ersecuting the people claiming for self-determination, the UN not only coerced Indonesia into recognizing the right of self-determination but also nothindering from applying it.
Otherwise, it threatened to recognize Indonesia as a country that
committed genocide. Therefore, to declare that the right to self-determination is the reason for ethnic purges and genocides is quite consonant with the Azerbaijani well-known viewpoints.
According to the second principle of the speech of the Republic’s President, "We are far from the conception that the outcome of every
claim for self-determination should be separation" contradicts directly
both the Armenian party’s interests and the Principles of International
ALaw; the application of self-determination right. Self-determination
right is an international norm that has unreserved and mandatory erga omnes and jus cogens status. According to the "Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations" the aim of application of that right may be one of these three cases freely chosen by the self-determined people, a/ creation of a sovereign and independent state, b/ free joining with an independent state or unification with it, c/ some other political status". It means that the international norms define that only the self-determined people can decide which case of self-determination to chose. No country and international organization is competent to interfere in it.
The third principle used in the President’s speech on settlement of Nagorno Karabakh issue is the most unsuccessful, "In order to be efficient and stable the implementation of self-determination right through separation should get all parties’ consent". It is easy to notice that in essence this approach also contradicts the above-mentioned principles of international law. Moreover, it
conditions the efficient implementation of self-determination right by the zerbaijani consent, and by this logic, implementation of Nagorno
Karabakh’s right of separation will never be efficient, as Azerbaijan
will never give its consent to it. Azerbaija in may hardly dream of more
desirable wording by Armenia.
What is the reason of these blunders? Ignorance (of those who prepared
the speech) about the Principles of International Law and the
invulnerable arguments about the independence of Nagorno Karabakh?
Aspiration for inappropriate manifestation of "endurance" and
"broad-mindedness" in front of the international community? Superficial and careless attitude towards the issues of vital importance to the country?

Armenian-Turkish relations Similar questions of the recent developments in Armenian-Turkish relations arise as well. Turkish President Abdullah Gul a few days later after visiting Yerevan announced in Baku that after meeting with
President Sargsian he got impression that "Armenians are ready to
return the occupied territories". The Armenian side didn’t respond to
it in any way. While, in connection with such important issues, after
the bilateral meetings the sides either comment on the meetings with
similar formulations or if one of the sides has made an inadmissible
comment, the other side refutes it or gives its own viewpoint. In this
case, silence may be perceived not only as consent but also may raise
new questions – Which territories? In return for what? When? etc. If in
case of settlement negotiations reticence is an understandable and
acceptable principle, then after bilateral meetings the comments of one
of the sides should receive adequate response. Proba bly, Gul’s later
statement that "Turkey may improve its relations with Armenia only if
the latter sets free the Azerbaijani territories" was the answer to the

Of course, Armenia should conduct a policy full of initiative and in this context, inviting Gul to Armenia may be observed as a successful
step. Though that step was qualified as "football diplomacy", it shouldn’t art and end in football meeting. While the developments after Gul’s visit confirm that there were no preparatory meetings (it is not about the meetings for fixing of technical problems of the visit, but for the issues that would be discussed by the two presidents and possible arrangements) and they will not be, as the preconditions of the Turkish side remain unchangeable.

Moreover, the Armenian side took one more reverence announcing that after establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of borders they may set up a commission to discuss the issues of the Genocide. It’s a pity, but we should dmit that Armenia is taking the bait.
Creation of the commission is meaningless in itself, as in scientific
circles there are magazines, seminars, conferences, etc. that discuss various issues. Scientific discussions don’t need creation of intergovernmental institutions. At the same time, it is evident that even in case of creation of similar commission it will be fruitless as the two states will involve scientists to present their viewpoints that will keep their (their states’) positions up to the end. Similar commission can have only one meaning and aim; during the whole period of its existence Turkey will gain a strong factor to suspend the subsequent recognition of the Genocide; to show other states that "if Armenia is ready to discuss the issues of those "incidents" then by
what logic are you going to recognize the Genocide?" An example of Armenia’s involvement in those fruitless initiatives was the tripartite meeting of the foreign ministers in New York. Usually representatives of three states meet when one of them becomes a mediator in case of strained relations, or if there are complex issues referring to the three sides equally. Turkish mediation in the issue of Karabakh conflict settlement may be hardly admitted seriously not only because of its preconditions but also showing no less interests in the
solution of the conflict than Azerbaijan, which, according to
Azerbaijani official viewpoint, excludes discussion of any issue with
Armenia. What was the topic of those discussions? In what scopes of
principles? What was Armenia’s position on the solutions of the
discussed issues? If Karabakh issue was discussed, where was the
representative of the most interested side – Nagorno Karabakh? General,
customary explanations don’t give answers to any of these questions.
Similar meetings are not only fruitless but they also devalue Armenia’s announcements of respect or the right of Nagorno Karabakh people to self-determination. In this connection, the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh have the exclusive right to declare the position on it. If Armenian authorities really want to increase the significance of the National Assembly, they should at least take into consideration the proposals of the National Assembly April 29 statement for the process of Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, including provision of participation of Nagorno Karabakh representatives in the process as internationally recognized party. As long as Armenia does not realize
this plain truth and does not take rational steps to return Nagorno Karabakh to the table of negotiations, Bryzas of different calibers
will continue to talk nonsense that the issue will be settled in the framework of Azerbaijani territorial integrity, and the official representatives of Armenia will keep silence with "broad-mindedness".
Turkey will continue collecting parts of its mosaic picture as a regional leader or at least an important "player". Only in this scope become meaningful both Gul’s visit and tripartite meeting of the foreign ministers, also Turkish initiative to create "Stability and Cooperation Platform", which is and will be nothing than a title, as a country that keeps closed the borders with its eighbor and makes preconditions for establishment of normal relations should at least renounce its preconditions in order to affirm its sincerity. But it could be in a case when as a result of Armenia’s serious and substantial arguments Turkey saw that its efforts were in vain. The slogans for establishment of good-neighborly relations and not passing on a painful heritage to future generations cannot win Turkey over.
Quite the reverse, Turkey feels like a fish in water especially during the review of the borderlines of the areas of influences in the region.
In the beginning of the 20th century when almost the same processes
were taking place in the South Caucasus with almost the same
performers, Turkey crashed down by Antanta was able to present false
"documents" to Russia creating favorable conditions for itself. Today,
when the United States and Russia push one another to settle down in
the South Caucasus, Turkey actively weave its picture to affirm its
important role in the region. A striking illustration of it is Turkish
President’s speech at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. But
what does Armenia gain from participating in all of these? Nothing;
with the exception of a short-term PR-action and several "encouraging"
announcements of foreign officials.
It is time to understand that any visit, meeting or negotiation is
given a meaning and aim when the scope of issues to be discussed are
worked out beforehand; the preparatory groups come to an agreement with
each other about the so > lutions (if not final solution then they take
steps toward it ) of the issues. After, all of these are presented to
the public. Geopolitical alterations and Armenian-Georgian relations
The Russian-Georgian war in August not only gave rise to exposure of
the struggle for the areas of influences in the South Caucasus between
Russia and the United States, but also became a serious geopolitical
issue having a relation to the review of Russia’s role in the world
policy, settlement of the conflicts, etc. Though various variants and
comments were made about the motives for starting a war by the
President Saakashvili, it seems more probable that the following schema
was the basis of the initiative – Georgia started the war on the
threshold of the World Olympic Games that could have two ways out:
either the factor of the Games become decisive and under the pressure
of the international community the war stops and Georgia has a symbolic
achievement (Saakashvili keeps his promise of land-gathering), or what
happened in reality – Georgia "got rid of" Abkhazia and South Ossetia,
which were obstacles to being integrated into NATO; Georgia got real
perspectives of voluminous investments. Russia gained the
above-mentioned territories and appealed for a new role in the world
processes. The United States entirely "tore" Georgia from Russia and
gained a real territory in the South Caucasus to settle down fully. Of
cour se, the people of Georgia need time to "understand" that it was the best variant for them.
What did Armenia gain and lose? Until now different analysts speak of
only one achievement – Azerbaijan probably understood that it is
impossible to settle the conflicts by military way, though the history
of mankind testifies that the conclusions after the wars have a short
life, at the same time, the conflicts of Georgia in spite of everything
got a military solution in favor of more powerful Russia.
The losses of Armenia – damaged and not fully reconstructed transport
links with Georgia, loss of 670 mln US dollars, leading of a crusade by
the West in favor of the principle of territorial integrity that will
complicate the settlement of Karabakh issue. Of course, we should take
into account the objective difficulties – geopolitical unfavorable
position, the most unfavorable confrontation of the Russian-Georgian
couple, etc. Anyway, Armenia cannot change those factors and the
solutions should be found under those circumstances. Armenia chose the
passive neutrality – silence, in contrast to its neighbor Turkey, which
took a position of active neutrality. Future developments once again
proved that passivity may only decrease the losses at best, but it cannot provide achievements, all the more in relations like Armenian-Georgian, where the outward and content differ abruptly. The statements of the centuries-old friendship of the Armenian and Georgian people don’t even arouse a smile. The relations between the neighboring states cannot be established on the basis of similar primitive formulas. Isn’t it time to see that Georgia prefers to deal with not Armenia in case of any alternative? Are the issues of mutual interests
formulated? Which is Georgia’s interest that will induce the latter to
cooperate actively with Armenia? When will the provincial thinking and
primitive policy on the issue of Javakhk end? Development of Armenian-Russian relations after Russian-Georgian war is
a separate issue. New and important stresses are laid on the issue by
Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov in an interview published in October
7 issue of "Rossiyskaya gazeta". By the way, a perceptible change is
noticeable in the Russian position on Turkey and Azerbaijan.

It is already the second month that Russia takes a pretty cautious
attitude towards Azerbaijan. First, immediately after recognition of
independences of Abkhazia and South Ossetia Mr. Lavrov hurried to
announce that Nagorno Karabakh is a different case as in connection of
the first two one a war, ethnic purges, attempt of genocide took place.
In the interview published in "Rossiyskaya gazeta" Mr. Lavrov touched
upon the settlement of Karabakh conflict in full details saying almost
nothing of Azerbaijan. Of course, after "losing" Georgia Russia’s
sensitivity to Azerbaijan is quite comprehensible
, as in case of losing
it Russia will not only lose its influence on Azerbaijani power-bearing
substances but also will have to renounce its ideas of expanding areas
of influences in the south of the Caucasus. At present, it is not even
important to Russia that Armenia is a member of CIS countries in
contrary to Azerbaijan. While speaking of the settlement of Nagorno
Karabakh conflict S. Lavrov underlined several times, "Armenia’s colossal difficulties in contacts with the outer world", underscoring
that "there are not many geographical and political ways out" of that
situation. "As soon as Karabakh conflict settlement becomes a fact, Turkey will be ready to help Armenia in establishing of normal relations with the outer world", said Russian Foreign Minister at the same time reminding that only two-three issues remain unsolved (first` the issue of Lachin) in the issue of Karabakh conflict settlement. It is easy to take the hint – solve those two-three issues in the way that is acceptable to your neighbors and you will achieve the "Turkish way of life". But why does Russian Foreign Minister direct Armenia towards Turkey? Maybe Lavrov really believes in the "traditional course of Ankara" (according to it, regional countries should be given the right
to solve the issues of Caucasian and contiguous countries independently) or the future of the Turkish "Stability and Cooperation Platform"? Assuredly, no! Russia should see that it is only a bluff like the program to propagate the Communist ideology in the East at the beginning of the last century. The main aim is clear: Turkey has problems with Armenia, which is greatly influenced by Russia, the latter has expectations of Azerbaijan that is strongly influenced by Turkey. Solution of Turkish problems does not contradict the Russian
interests and vice versa. Consequently, Russia and Turkey have an
opportunity of agreement driven by their interests and they try to realize it. The price that Armenia will pay for it will be not so much the issue of the Armenian Genocide but the schema of Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, when each element and detail is of exceptional and unprecedented importance. Armenia has no right to be mistaken. Artsakh may not endure a new 70-year temptation. In this case, it will not be difficult to deal with Armenia.
The situation in the South Caucasus gains new qualities and the perspectives of further developments change abruptly because of the United States that settled down irretrievably, the unprecedented activation of the European Union and Russian-Turkish recurrent cohabitation. In this case, Armenia needs a foreign policy of a new quality both on regional developments and the issue of Karabakh conflict settlement in order not only to record a success but also to void failure.
The results of the last six months testify that the changes in the forei
gn policy of Armenia have only advocating and PR nature and it cannot meet the forthcoming challenges on the basis of it. Even if it is attractive in a short period of time, it is fraught with serious consequences for the continuous period of time.
While today the foundation of the long-term developments are being laid
down in the region.
By Tigran Torosian, Doctor of Political Sciences, former Speaker of the National Assembly, Translated by L.H.
Mihran Keheyian London

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