Today.Az, Azerbaijan

Vladimir Sokor: "Conflict resolution will never be possible, if it
depends on Russia. There will only be an official or unofficial
annexation of the territory to Russia"

16 August 2008 [12:10] - Today.Az

Day.Az interview with Vladimir Sokor, US political scientist, senior
research officer of Jamestown's Foundation (US).

- Separate leaders of the western countries start to toughen their
criticism of Russia for the military aggression against Georgia. Can
any means of pressure on Moscow be applied in this case and how can it
occur?

- It is a difficult question as the West lacks economic means of
pressure on Moscow. Russia has an advantage for the first time in its
history. This has never occurred in the Russian history. West's
economic means are now too limited.

This means that resistance should be conducted on the political
level. For example, the European Union should stop talks with Russia
on strategic partnership and non-visa regime.

Moreover, NATO members and even countries, which want to join this
organization, should change their priorities and focus on the defense
of the national territory against Russian aggression.

The best divisions of the Georgian army, which were in Iraq and fought
on the US side, did not participate in the defense of their own
country. Moreover, under US recommendations, most countries created
military divisions for participating in the peacekeeping activity or
anti-terror operation beyond their own borders , including in Iraq,
Afghanistan and the Balkans. But it turned out that the defense of
one's own country should be the primary thing.

- Which conclusions should Azerbaijan draw from the events in South
Ossetia?

- The first conclusion for Azerbaijan is that Washington today remains
even a greater strategic partner and ally for Baku. Certainly, the
United States should perceive it correctly. The United States, which
reacted to the events in Georgia so late and passively, should realize
that the main geopolitical game today is for the Black Sea and Caspian
regions.

Russia has undertaken this operation in Georgia, realizing that there
is no rival to its policy in the Caucasus, as the United States is
busy in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with the Iran problem. These
three conflicts weaken the United States.

Washington has chosen wrong priorities. I think in fact, the leaders
of all the countries, locating between the eastern borders of the
European Union and NATO and the Caspian Sea, should tell the United
States that the priority it has chosen are erroneous and that the
destiny of the Euroatlantic community, US strategic position in the
world and stability of the North Atlantic alliance depends on its
policy in this area. Here the correlation of powers in the modern
world will be defined. Independence and security of these countries
and export of energy sources via these countries from the Caspian
basin to Europe should become the main priorities of the US
policy. Yet this understanding is now weak or completely absent in
Washington.

- Can the Russian peacekeeping mission be spoken of following the
events in Georgia, especially in the resolution of the conflicts in
the South Caucasus?

- By the events in Georgia, Russia has made a sort of a revolution in
the issue of peacekeeping. It showed the ability to hold military
actions of any scale and in any place under pretense of peacekeeping.

The peacekeeping mission of Russia has always been an absolute
lie. Russia participated in the very beginning of conflicts in
Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan as a party and held these wars. Russia
and Armenia are the direct initiators and the participants of war in
Karabakh.

Thus, to speak of the Russian peacekeeping and Russia's role as a
mediator in the conflict resolution is merely ridiculous, which is
proven by the experience of the last 15 years.

- Does it mean that the conflicts, which involve Russia as a mediator,
will never be settled?

- Yes, the resolution of the conflict will never be possible if it
depends on Russia. There will only be an official or unofficial
annexation of the territory by Russia.

- Can the South Ossetian script repeat in Nagorno Karabakh?

- The situation with the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict
differs from what is now going on in Georgia for the number of
aspects. Nagorno Karabakh does not border on Russia and Moscow does
not raise the issue of "Russian citizens", "compatriots" and so on and
the most important is that there are no Russian servicemen in Nagorno
Karabakh. I would like to note that this occurred owing to the
principal position of Azerbaijani diplomat Araz Azimov, who in 1994
made a categorical statement against displacement of the peacekeepers
of the "third countries", in other words, Russian peacekeepers in
Nagorno Karabakh.

- One of the main objects, subjected to Russia's attack during war
against Georgia, became the BTC pipeline. Does it pose a threat to the
future of the regional energy projects?

- Following the incident in Turkey and the attack of Russian aviation
to the BTC pipeline, distrust emerged about the security of this
pipeline, which has never occurred so far. After it, Georgia, BP,
SOCAR and other companies suspended operation of export terminals in
Batumi and Poti and even partially in Supsa. The absence of
significant reservoirs means suspension of oil exports, which in turn
imply losses for the companies, the state budget of Azerbaijan and
Georgia and transit countries. It also caused distrust of investors,
who see that security of export pipelines in Turkey and Georgia is not
too strong and may stop financing transit projects with participation
of these countries.

Russia seems to try to redirect export of Caspian energy source from
West to North, to Russia, which is one of the consequences of war in
Georgia, which is weakening the position of all Caspian states,
transit countries and European states. It proves once again that
Russia is by no means West's partner. The recent events in Georgia
damaged illusions of the United States and Europe regarding Russia.

/Day.Az/