Today.Az tics/52634.html
May 27 2009

Interview Day.Az with Arif Yunusov, chief of Department of conflict
science of the Institute of Conflict Peace and Democracy

- How do you assess the outcome of Turkish FM's visit to Azerbaijan?

- His visit to Azerbaijan once again revealed the change in Turkey's
position on opening of borders with Armenia and establishing the
Turkish-Armenian relations. For example, if a couple of months ago
this topic was very relevant and some media even specified the date
of opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, now we hear opposite

It proves that Turkey was not able to improve its relations with
the EU for the sake of which it has made the issue of improvement of
Turkish-Armenian relations urgent. In late April, France and Germany
made it clear that there is no place for Turkey in the foreseeable
future. After that, the tone of statements by official Ankara has
changed as regards the EU and the prospects of establishing relations
with Armenia.

Seeing the dim prospects of establishing relations with the European
Union, the leadership of Turkey has decided not to lose Azerbaijan,
and therefore the rhetoric of official representatives of Ankara
on the issue of relations with our country and the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict has visibly stiffened.

- And what does the statement of the Turkish FM "let Armenia not act
in an artistic manner" mean?

- Apparently, it was a reaction to the recent statement by the
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan who said that Turkey can not be
a mediator in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement and that it
would be good if Turkey distances from the process of resolving this
conflict, if it really wants its early settlement.

- Do you agree with the statement of Sabina Freizer, Caucasus project
manager of the International Crisis Group that if the border between
Turkey and Armenia opens, it would allow Turkey to play a different
role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

- I would not simplify the issue and reduce the improvement
of the Turkish-Armenian relations only to the settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is a significant geopolitical issue. In
particular, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border would sharply
reduce the influence of Russia in our region and result in the real
intervention of the Turkish goods into the Armenian market.

Even now, in conditions of formally closed borders between Turkey
and Armenia, the trade turnover between these countries is about $
500 million a year. In addition, the opening of Turkish-Armenian
relations would lead to a change in the outlook of Armenians, who
are living with stereotypes about Turkey and Turks.

Naturally, all this would lead to an increase in the influence of
Turkey in Armenia and throughout our region. And in this connection I
think is not accidental that one of the parties, actively opposing the
opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, are the Armenian nationalists
from the party Dashnaktsutyun, who are aware of the threat of such
developments to their personal interests.