Vestnik Kavkaza
Nov 29 2011

German expert on the Caucasus from the Berlin 'Science and Politics"
Foundation, Professor Hoeve Halbach, shared his view of the ongoing
processes in the South and North Caucasus with a VK correspondent. The
third part of the interview touches upon the situation in Armenia
and the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

- Mr. Halbach, how can you comment on the series of resignations of
top officials in Armenia? What are the chances of Serge Sargsyan in
the next election race?

- I haven't yet formed a clear picture of the developments which are
taking place in the internal political scene of Armenia. I think we
should wait for the elections. I don't think a change of power will
necessarily take place, however, it is possible. The former president
Levon Ter-Petrosyan is an outstanding opposition figure. Speculation
on the return of Robert Kocheryan to political life at the side of
the current president Sargsyan is also interesting. At the moment
the internal political situation in Armenia is not clear.

- Some people in Azerbaijan think that in the case of Ter-Petrosyan's
rise to power a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
will be possible...

- Yes, this opinion is understandable, as in the past Ter-Petrosyan
was overthrown because of his readiness to compromise in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a result, in 1988 the Karabakh group
came to office, headed by Robert Kocheryan. That is why a return to
the presidential position by Ter-Petrosyan could have consequences in
the sphere of settlement of the conflict. But I don't think he will
risk and dare a direct compromise. I think a big problem in this
conflict is the threats of power elites that conflicting political
forces will use a readiness for compromise for their own internal
political interests. This aspect plays a significant role. However,
space for compromise is rather limited.

- Considering the absolutely opposite positions of the conflict
parties, what kind of compromise can there be at all?

- How does the road map of the conflict settlement look? Does it
presuppose a package or phased variants of a settlement, what steps
should be taken? One of the crucial moments is the irrevocable
withdrawal of Armenian military forces from the territory around
Nagorno-Karabakh before what should be done with Nagorny Karabakh can
be understood. The territories around Nagorno-Karabakh are bigger
than Nagorno-Karabakh itself. Most Azerbaijani refugees came from
these nearby territories. I think Azerbaijan should focus on these
territories first of all and establish conditions for withdrawal
of the Armenian army from these regions. But it won't achieve this
goal through bellicose oratory. The erritories which are regarded by
Azerbaijan as occupied are a security belt for Armenia.

Interview by Orkhan Sattarov, exclusively to VK.