Voice of America
June 29 2011

Our topic today will be Nagorny Karabakh settlement discussion, and
commenting on this issue will be our guest Evgenia Voiko, leading
expert at the Russian Center of Political Processes.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fail to reach agreement on Nagorny Karabakh
after a meeting in Russia's Kazan. As we see, the two countries
interpret the principle of territorial integrity differently, and they
draw different borders on the map. So, does that mean that progress
is most unlikely?

This situation shows that similar conflicts like, for example,
a conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, can be solved only by
military ways, because neither Armenia, nor Azerbaijan are going to
make any confessions. So, I think that this failure was an expected
result of these negotiations. I think that both in Yerevan and Baku
officials are interested in supporting status quo in the region,
just not to be the initiator of any further conflict.

Unfortunately, Nagorny Karabakh is one of many such conflicts in the
CIS. So, what prevents the CIS from resolving these conflicts through
its own efforts?

I think that there are several reasons. One of the reasons is that the
administration of the CIS has no mechanisms to solve such conflicts.

We can see that all of these conflicts are solved only by key
countries, and Russia is a key actor in such conflicts. So, we see
that there are no authorities, no actors that are going to solve this
conflict. The second reason is that there are no legal mechanisms to
solve this conflict, to solve this problem of territorial integrity,
and so on. The third reason is that Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as
Georgia and so on, are not interested in solving conflicts in favour
of one or other country, in favour of their rivals. So, I think that
there are no both CIS legal mechanisms and international mechanisms
how this conflict can be solved. It is a very old conflict which
touches traditional aspects, ethnic aspects, national aspects, some
state aspects, etc. So, it is a very different problem, and there are
just no legal mechanisms and political willing to solve this conflict.

And how would you describe the current Russia's role as a mediator?

I think that Russian authorities are trying to increase Russian role
in that conflict, especially in the absence of French interest in this
conflict, because we can see that France is interested in solving its
domestic problems, as well as the United States is solving its problems
in some hot spots like in Iraq and in Afghanistan. So, nowadays
Russia is the only actor, the only mediator that can influence the
conflict and that can direct it in this or that direction. Moreover,
Russia is a neighbor, a colleague of both Armenia and Azerbaijan in the
post-Soviet area, so it has more political, more economic instruments
to control the situation and to arrange negotiations between these two
countries. The level of trust to Russian authorities is significantly
higher than, for example, to the United States, or to France.

And how do you think whether Armenia considers the possibility of
recognizing the independence of Nagorny Karabakh?

To some extent yes, but I think that it will not take place in the
near future, because I am afraid that this decision will not be
popular among the international community, and especially among the
Russian authorities. I think that it is just an Armenian threat to
make Azerbaijan stop its military rhetoric, but I am not sure that
this decision will be supported by the international community and
by the Armenian elite.

Is there a high risk of hostility being resumed?

Yes, I think that the risk exists, but the situation in the near future
will remain as it is now, because we see that Armenia and Azerbaijan
are interested in this. This military rhetoric which is typical
for Azerbaijani authorities is also a threat to stimulate Armenia
to make some confessions, to make some steps forward Azerbaijan,
especially in the territorial questions. But the question is also
in the international behavior. How, for example, Russian diplomatic
structures, as well as American diplomatic structures, will behave
in this situation? Which side will they support? What will be their
attitude towards the conflict? What will be benefits from Russian
mediation in the conflict?

Do you agree that the recent emergence of two new states in the South
Caucasus will reflect on the Karabakh settlement?

I do not think that it will reflect, because three years have passed
since 2008, and the situation practically did not change. So, I
think that these are quite different conflicts, different cases,
and Russian authorities usually underline that they are not going
to translate the situation in Nagorny Karabakh. I think that the
nature of these two conflicts differs, and moreover, Russia has no
any personal interest in the conflict, Russia is only a mediator in
contradiction with the conflict of South Ossetia and Abkhazia where
Russia was practically the other side of the conflict, the second side.

What is the ideal solution to the Nagorny Karabakh problem nowadays,
and what is the foundation for a successful compromise?

Analyzing positions of two sides, the ideal situation is to remain as
it is now, because we can see that Azerbaijan is going to implement
some military methods in this conflict in case Armenia does not make
any confessions. But I think that, of course, Azerbaijani authorities
realize that they do not have any international support, any military
support from, for example, North Atlantic Coalition, from Russian
authorities, etc. I am definitely sure that it stops Azerbaijani
authorities from any strict measures, any military measures. Speaking
about Armenia, the situation differs because the position of Armenian
authorities is not so stable as it may seem, because, for example,
they have very strong opposition, they have some contradictions
in the Armenian elite, and I think that it brings some instability
in the domestic political situation in Armenia, and the situation
in Nagorny Karabach in this case might be in favour of Armenia,
of administration of Sarkisyan, just to show that Sarkisyan and his
administration have possibilities, have some political instruments
to solve this very old conflict.