Leyla Tagiyeva

Tue 02 February 2010 | 08:31 GMT

News.Az interviews Arif Yunus, director of the Department of conflict
studies at the Institute of Peace and Democracy.

President Ilham Aliyev is preparing for a visit to Germany within the
framework of which he will hold negotiations with chancellor Angela
Merkel on cooperation between our countries. What do you expect from
this visit?

Azerbaijan has a good cooperation with Germany which is one of quite
active partners of our country in most issues. It is clear that the
energy factor is becoming special not only for Germany but also
for the whole Western Europe especially in the light of Russia's
actions of the past years. As is known, Russia holds policy of the
gas blackmail and the overall situation is complicated, therefore,
naturally Europe started to pay greater attention to alternative
energy sources. In this regard, the interest to Azerbaijan has become
obvious and the fact that Germany pays attention to Azerbaijan is
quite clear. I think the negotiations on energy problems will play
the main role during this visit. The energy factor will be the main
one during Ilham Aliyev's visit to Germany. Meanwhile, the security
problem will also be connected with the same energy issue. It means
that every time when our region, South Caucasus and Azerbaijan are
implied, these two moments including the energy factor and the energy
factor security problem are in the first place. It is clear that in
case the Karabakh conflict stops being frozen and the hostilities
start, this will affect the energy projects. Therefore, the task is
to avert this. Our energy projects will be threatened in case Russia
intensifies activity in our region and the 2008 war in Georgia proved
this. Thus, Ilham Aliyev's visit to Germany implies negotiations on
definite issues connected with the supplies of our energy sources and
the discussion of the opportunities to protect these energy sources
from possible challenges.

You have said that Russia holds the policy of the gas blackmail, but
as far as I know Germany has no problems with it, because they managed
to agree on Russian gas supplies including within the framework of
the project of the gas pipeline via the Baltic Sea.

First, Russia is an unreliable partner. Gas supplies via the Baltic
Sea are just a project which has not yet been launched. The main flow
of Russian gas to Europe goes via Ukraine while the Russian-Ukrainian
relations are really shaky. On the other hand, though Germany and
Italy have good relations with Russia, this is not a guarantee. For
some reason, Russia is perceived in the West as an unreliable partner
because it mixes up policy and economy. In the result, one prefers to
reinsure despite good relations. Let's take, for example, Azerbaijan.

As is known, Russia has demonstrated a great interest in our gas
and we are now selling a part of our gas to it. Azerbaijan did it
because Russia has offered favorable conditions. But this has caused
concerns in the West, because if Russia becomes a monopolist today, it
will be able to raise prices tomorrow. No one is insured. Therefore,
the alternative routes for Europeans mean the protection of their
security. Russia is not a reliable partner even if Europeans have
good relations with it.

Which place do you think Nabucco project will occupy during I.Aliyev's
negotiations in Berlin?

This issue will be raised by all means and there can be no doubts
about it. If the Americans have raised this issue, it is clear that
the Nabucco project will be implemented. By the way, the main claims
regarding this issue are presented to Azerbaijan and Turkey. Thus,
this issue will be raised. However, it does not mean that it will be
settled. I suppose some people rush to bury this project in vain. This
project will be as long as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. It was
also implemented not at once, there were many problems, people in
Russia buried it several times but today it is functioning. It is
clear that some time is required to settle and implement many issues
connected with Nabucco. I think this is a normal event. The process
goes slowly, it requires large funds, over $11 bn. Therefore, we
should not think that the project will be implemented in two-three
years, but we should also not think that it will be buried. This
is merely a process that will reach its logical end soon. Merely,
now Germany will naturally discuss this issue. I do not think that
all issues will be settled now but some part will find its solution
while the rest will be settle afterward.

Which opportunities will the participation in the Munich security
conference create for Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan's participation in such events is a plus for the country.

The planet has really grown small. It is not by accident that they
speak of globalization and geopolitics. It only seems that the remote
Singapore has nothing to do with us. But if crisis starts there,
this will impact us. We are all connected with each other. Therefore,
Azerbaijan should always take part in all projects that are connected
with it. For example, it may partake in world energy and economic
forums though, perhaps, they do not discuss Azerbaijan but they will
discuss world issues. The same refers to the Munich conference. I
have always supported Azerbaijan's participation in such events to
be aware of the developments in the world.

Can such conference or meetings within its framework pave way for
Azerbaijan to settle the Karabakh conflict?

Yes, it can in terms of perspectives. The Munich conference is not
aimed at the resolution of definite regional conflicts in our region.

The Karabakh conflict is mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group while
the Munich conference is not held for this purpose. However, if the
Karabakh issue is raised at such conferences and put on the same level
with the global energy problem, this will promote West's understanding
of the need to take the intensive resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

For example, why did they manage to settle the Yugoslavian conflict
so quickly? Because Europeans understood that if they do not do
this, the conflict may influence them. They understood that they are
tied. Our region is too far in terms of the conflict settlement. The
West's approach in our case is: it is not terrible if the conflict is
unsettled, the most important thing is that there is no war or that
their economic interests are not affected. Meanwhile, such high level
conferences allow Europeans to understand our problems and realize
that we are not too far away. We should inform the Europeans that
the conflict meets not only our but also their interests. Therefore,
I would like to say that this conflict will not promote advancement
in Karabakh process tactically but it will help strategically. This
is another level.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress