Nov 30 2009

Elin Suleymanov News.Az interviews Azerbaijan's consul general in
Los Angeles, Elin Suleymanov.

What do you expect from Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to
the United States?

Turkey is among the key allies of the United States, therefore, during
the visit the sides will discuss a wide range of issues. Washington is
greatly interested in Turkey's support of US initiatives in Afghanistan
and on Iran as well as the Middle East. Of course, we want the visit
to result in an increase in efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict
as well as in a more realistic approach to the full integration of the
South Caucasus. Moreover, there is a need to demonstrate a strategic
approach to the export of Caspian oil and gas and energy security.

Can we expect the visit to speed up the Karabakh settlement process?

I hope Erdogan will raise the issue of the need for the resolution of
the Karabakh conflict as soon as possible, as he did in his recent
statements. Today, I think, few people doubt that the welfare of
Armenia is directly bound to the Karabakh conflict settlement.

Attempts to ignore the real problems of the region at the expense of
symbolic tactical steps are harmful and have negative implications.

Therefore, we can expect that an open exchange of views between our
US and Turkish partners will lead to a comprehensive assessment of the
situation in the region, especially in the context of their long-term
interests. The main element of any analysis is the understanding of
the threat posed by the unsettled regional problems.

Have the positions of Turkey and Azerbaijan become more important
for official Washington since Barack Obama came to power?

Azerbaijan's position is reinforced thanks to the pragmatic and
balanced policy based on national interests conducted by Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliyev. This policy is a continuation of the strategic
course laid by national leader Heydar Aliyev, the main priority
of which is to strengthen our statehood and raise the welfare of
the Azerbaijani people. Moreover, Azerbaijan does not view itself
separately from the region, being aware that regional welfare creates
favourable conditions for the further development of our country.

Therefore, Azerbaijan, which builds its relations on a mutually
profitable basis, is a valuable and reliable partner both for the
United States and other countries. US President Barack Obama and other
senior US officials have already spoken about it. Washington should
take steps to implement the plans earlier voiced by President Obama.

To attain its goals, Obama's administration should obtain the support
of reliable friends such as Azerbaijan and Turkey.

And finally, do the Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas in the United
States manage to resist the Armenian diaspora there?

The Azerbaijani diaspora has recently stepped up its work. We have
witnessed numerous events held by US Azerbaijanis. For example,
there is a plan to hold a conference of the US Azerbaijanis Network
in Chicago in the near future. Yet I do not want to view the activity
of the Azerbaijani diaspora only in terms of confronting the Armenian
diaspora. The Azerbaijani community has a wide range of interests from
contribution to intercultural dialogue to participation in debates
on global energy security. At the same time, it should be noted that
the formation and strengthening of the diaspora is a long-term process.

Meanwhile, we should not forget that the Armenian diapora is among
the most organized ethno-political groups in the United States.

Unfortunately, some radical circles within the Armenian diaspora
continue to see developments in our region only through a prism of
narrow ethnic interests and confrontation. For example, differences
between Yerevan and the diaspora and within the diaspora itself over
the Turkish-Armenian dialogue turned into an attempt to present
the Karabakh issue as a factor uniting Armenians. It means that
confrontation with neighbours, in particular, blatant attempts to
legitimate ethnic cleansing in Shusha, has become a uniting factor.

Anyway, the decisions about the future are taken in the region,
not within diaspora circles.

What can you say about the role of Turkey and Azerbaijan in the South
Caucasus region in the near future?

Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan is the leading country in the South Caucasus.

This position will be strengthened through cooperation with Georgia,
Turkey and other partners. In turn, new opportunities are opening
for Turkey. Ankara may use this situation to strengthen its positions
in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The statements of Turkish leaders
prove that Ankara understands Azerbaijan's role in this regard.