Azat Artsakh - Nagorno Karabakh Republic [NKR]
30 June 05

Azeri-Armenian relationships are one of the fundamental factors,
directly affecting the formation of a new geopolitical architecture
in the post-Soviet South Caucasus. The martial law lasting in Armenia
and Azerbaijan for 13 years now because of the unresolved issue of
Karabakh, on the one hand, does not allow these countries to use
their full potential for economic and social development, and on the
other hand, enables the world and regional powers to manipulate this
factor to solve their geopolitical, economic and strategic issues.
With the current confrontation the concerns of Armenia and Azerbaijan
about security make them look for foreign allies. As a result Armenia
and Azerbaijan have been involved in such military and political
alliances, the front line of confrontation between which directly
passes across the South Caucasus. Thus, Armenia joined the CIS
Collective Security Treaty, while Azerbaijan aspires to enter NATO,
being a member of the overtly pro-Atlantic GUAM alliance which is
a rather military and political than economic alliance. The content
of the Azeri-Armenian relationships is one of the chief reasons for
the absence of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, which
aggravates the vague military, political and economic situation in the
region. These actualities directly impact the implementation of any
economic project, making them too politicized. This was particularly
the case with the project of pumping Caspian oil to the world markets
via Turkey. Although economically it seems to be more favourable
if the pipeline passed through Armenia, it was decided to build the
pipeline through Georgia. The implementation of the project TRASECA
runs into serious hindrances again because of being politicized. The
Iranian-Armenian, Azeri-Iranian, Armenian-Georgian, Azeri-Georgian,
Russian-Armenian, Azeri-Russian, Azeri-Turkish, Armenian-American,
Azeri-American and even Turkish-American relationships depend to some
extent on the Azeri-Armenian relationships. Several years ago proposals
were made in Baku to form a new alliance by Azerbaijan, Turkey and
Israel, which was to be targeted at the Iranian policy in relation
to the legal status of the Caspian Sea and Armenia. In response,
staring military cooperation with Moscow, Iran set out to establish
"the alliance of three" with Greece and Armenia in counterbalance
to GUAM. All this comes to prove that the rehabilitation of the
Azeri-Armenian relationships through resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict based on compromise is one of the chief preconditions for
establishment of lasting peace and stability in the region. But is
this likely to happen in the near future? In order to forecast the
development of the Azeri-Armenian relationships it is necessary
to define the chief components underlying the foreign policies of
Baku and Yerevan. These components bear both positive and negative
charges. And the future content of the Azeri-Armenian relationships
will be greatly determined by the fact which component, positive or
negative, will prevail in the "Azerbaijani" policy of Yerevan and the
"Armenian" policy of Baku. Unfortunately, Baku's political line on
Armenia is currently based mainly on the negative component. Thus,
Armenia is perceived by Azerbaijan as a country which: claims to the
territory of Azerbaijan; implements a policy of usurping Azerbaijani
territories by artificially causing the issue of Nagorno Karabakh;
is interested in dividing Azerbaijan on the basis of ethnic and
territorial features and supports the separatist aspirations of the
ethnic minorities living in the country, particularly the Talish and
the Lezgi peoples; "annexed" the "historical lands of Azerbaijan",
Zangezour and the basin of Sevan; is hostile to the natural strategic
ally of Azerbaijan - Turkey; is an obstructing factor against the
implementation of the strategic issue of Turkey and Azerbaijan to
bring together and unite the Turkish-speaking states and peoples of
the post-Soviet space; has "artificially divided" the territory into
"continental" and "exclave" (Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan)
parts; is highly interested in setting up and developing cooperation
(including military cooperation) with "undesirable" countries
for Azerbaijan and Turkey, such as Russia, Iran, Greece, Syria,
Turkmenistan, and others to form "anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani"
alliances; "caused" the death of tens of thousands and deportation of
hundreds of thousands of ethnic Azerbaijanis (from Armenia as well).
This is the incomplete list of the negative components that determine
the Azerbaijani foreign political line on Armenia. Combined with this,
the "Armenian" policy of Azerbaijan is based on the recognition of a
set of circumstances by the Azerbaijani authorities, which comprise
the positive component of the "Armenian" policy of Baku. Among these
are: the recognition of Armenia by the international community
as a country which aspires to adopt the rules and values of the
Western democratic society; the perception of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict by the West as an issue of the political status of Nagorno
Karabakh and the security of its Armenian population; the interest
of the West represented by the OSCE to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict on the basis of compromise in the framework of the OSCE;
improving relationships between Armenia and the countries in the
neighbourhood of Azerbaijan - Russia, Iran, Georgia, Turkmenistan;
the interest of the US and Europe in establishing lasting peace through
an acceptable resolution of the ethnic and political conflicts in the
South Caucasus; the aspiration of the US to establish relationships
and cooperation between Turkey and Armenia, dictated by the strategic
plans of Washington in the South Caucasus; Armenia as the country
with the most effective army in the South Caucasus. Because the
set of the negative components of the "Armenian" policy of Baku
shows that having such a country in its neighbourhood as Armenia is
"a threat to the security" of Azerbaijan, Baku authorities have to
seek for ways of eliminating this threat. There are three possible
ways: increasing the military capacity of Azerbaijan to use force
against Armenia; conducting a policy of provoking the international
community to use international isolation against Armenia and using
force against Armenia without the direct participation of Azerbaijan;
a foreign policy of improvement of relationships and cooperation with
Armenia from the position of the "economic capacity" of Azerbaijan.
It is true that there exists the fourth way as well. It is the
blocking of the resolution of the Karabakh issue, which means a
"cold war". However, it is not thought to be promising since it
does not lead to the isolation of Armenia as a factor of threat to
the security of Azerbaijan. The "Azerbaijani" policy of Yerevan too,
is chiefly based on the negative components. Thus, Armenia perceives
Azerbaijan as a country which: claims to the territory of Armenia; had
annexed the historical Armenian territory - Nakhichevan and Karabakh;
seeks to launch a policy of ethnic cleansing of Armenians; is actively
involved in the fulfillment of the idea of Pan-Turkism by Turkey, that
is the unification of Turkish-speaking nations under Turkey; does not
wish to have in its neighbourhood an Armenian state, therefore provokes
the international community to place economic, military and political
pressure on Armenia; rejects the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh
issue by the principle of self-determination; is ready to resume
military actions against Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia at any time
favourable for it and resolve the conflict through force. The main
positive components of the "Azerbaijani policy" of Armenia are: the
interests of the US, Europe and Russia in Azerbaijan as a country
which has an important geo-strategic position in the region, rich in
energy resources; the aspiration of the US and Europe to conciliate
Armenia and Azerbaijan on the issue of Nagorno Karabakh on the basis
of compromise achieved through mediation. It is important to notice
that the negative components determine the attitude of Armenia and
Azerbaijan towards one another, whereas the positive components
are mainly determined by external factors which are to be taken into
consideration both by Baku and Yerevan. This means that if Armenia and
Azerbaijan were not under external influence, the armed conflict would
be inevitable. The evidence to this is the military actions started by
Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh immediately after the dissolution
of the USSR. The conclusion is outlining already: the prospects of
improvement of relationships between the two countries will be vague
unless at least some of the positive components of the "Armenian"
policy of Azerbaijan and the "Azerbaijani" policy of Armenia come true.