Wed 29 February 2012 11:19 GMT | 11:19 Local Time

News.Az interviews member of the Russian Academy of Political Science,
doctor of political science, professor Andrei Baranov.

Do you think that Vladimir Putin will continue the active mediation
role in Karabakh settlement, which was played by Dmitriy Medvedev,
in case he returns to presidency in Russia?

I suppose that the newly elected president of Russia, whoever is
elected, will continue and intensify the mediation of our country in
Karabakh settlement. Russia is strategically interested in overcoming
forced conflicts-the heritage of the USSR collapse, in stability on
its southern borders, cardinal intensification of economic, transport
and cultural ties with the South Caucasus countries. The candidate
to Russian president Vladimir Putin has a stable popularity among
voters, judging from sociological data. If he wins the elections,
the personal experience of foreign policy activity gained in the
2000's will help settle the conflict.

What role did Dmitriy Medvedev play as a Russian president in terms
of making achievements in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict?

As is known, Dmitriy Medvedev organized the tenth meeting of the heads
of Azerbaijan and Armenia in January of this year. This meeting can
be rated as moderate positive. In their joint statement of 23 January
of this year, the heads of all the three states, voiced readiness to
accelerate the agreement on main principles of the Karabakh conflict.

All participants to the negotiations admitted that an achievement has
been made in coordination of these main principles. The mediation of
Russia, United States and France, as the Minsk Group co-chairs was
assessed positively.

All the same, the political scientists and journalists of the
countries involved in the conflict give skeptical assessments to the
proposed measures of settlement. The potential of public diplomacy
in accelerating the fair resolution of the conflict is also assessed
skeptically in both Azerbaijan and Armenia. In addition, Medvedev's
term is close to completion and the reduced activeness of diplomatic
efforts before inauguration of the new head of the Russian state is
quite natural.

In a declaration passed by results of the meeting in Sochi, the sides
fixed common understanding that further progress requires renouncing
of maximalist positions. Will Azerbaijan and Armenia further be able
to renounce their maximalist positions to achieve progress in the
conflict settlement?

Azerbaijan and Armenia are not ready today to soften their maximalist
positions to achieve serious breakthrough in the conflict settlement.

I would risk to suppose that the main motive of the obstinacy of
the sides is equal: the fear that the opponent will get guaranteed
advantage for its success: military, diplomatic, demographic and
others, which means it will apply force in a unilateral way. That
is the solution depends on the guarantees of the observance of the
contradictory interests of the parties, while no such guarantees have
been created.

It is necessary to have the rational approach the gross weight of the
Karabakh conflict in the overall geopolitics of the Greater Middle
East. A number of region, interconnected in the logic of communicating
vessels appear in the macroregion. Azerbaijan and Armenia are seemingly
waiting for the outcome of the escalation of military preparations
against Iran, the result of the November presidential elections in
the United States. If the United States and NATO establish their
geopolitical domination in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan and Armenia
will have to make their positions closer though the example of Cyprus
shows that even EU membership did not result in the fair resolution
of the conflict.

What can be the implications and threats of the new war around Karabakh
conflict primarily for Russia, which is a direct neighbor?

Possible escalation of the Karabakh conflict and its return to
military actions would have sharp negative implications for Russia. In
particular, migration to Russia, including illegal, from the conflict
area may rise. The confrontation line would attract mercenaries and
terrorists, while turning into a 'black hole' of spreading violence.

The peacekeeping efforts of the OSCE and mediating countries would
be discredited. Frozen secessionist conflicts in the post-Soviet
space would be reanimated under the influence of the Karabakh 'case',
probably in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, western
part of Macedonia and Northern Kosovo.

Thus, the multipartite negotiation process with unbiased international
arbitrage remains the best method of solving the Karabakh conflict.