No Future in Turkish Initiative to Mediate Karabakh Conflict, Says Safrastyan

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s recent efforts to mediate a resolution in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbain outside the Minsk Group format have no future, Armenia’s top Turkologist, Ruben Safrastyan, told reporters on Wednesday.

The OSCE Minsk Group continues to be the best format for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to Safrastyan, who is the director Oriental Studies Institute at the Armenian National Academy of Science.

Turkey’s recent overtures to Armenia on the opening of borders and the establishment of relations are “diplomatic tricks,” aimed at consolidating Turkish influence in the Caucasus, he added.

Safrastyan explained that Armenia’s significance to stability in the region has grown in the wake of the brief but devastating Russian-Georgian conflict, which cut off the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and hurt Turkish energy revenues. This reality, he added, now compels Turkey to seek Armenia’s participation in its proposed Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.

Official Ankara announced plans to create a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform that would include the three South Caucasus countries plus two regional heavyweights, Turkey and Russia, following the conflict. The regional framework, if realized, will allow Turkey to extend its influence into the Caucasus at a level unseen since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

According to Safrastyan, Armenia was able maintain its longstanding policy of complimentarity, preserving its role as an ally of Russia, its ties with Georgia, and friendly relations with the UN and Europe.

“Armenia not only managed to conceptualize its national and state interests, it also l them clear to Russia, Georgia and the US,” Safrastyan said. “Armenia proved that it is committed to a strategic partnership with Russia, and the Russian Federation does not conceal that the importance of Armenia is growing.”

It is therefore important for Turkey that Armenia has a positive attitude toward Ankara’s latest diplomatic initiative, he noted.

Armenia’s significance in the region, however, will not impel Turkey to drop its longstanding preconditions for establishing relations with Armenia, Safrastyan said. “Turkey will continue posing its deman’s on Armenia: refusal from the policy of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, unilateral concessions on the Karabakh issue and recognition of [Turkey’s] territorial integrity with reconfirmation of the Kars Treaty,” he said.

But Armenia will not make concessions, according to Safrastyan.
“Armenia has two trump cards to resist the deman’s posed by Turkish diplomacy,” he explained. “Armenia can suspend the talks at any point, which is not favorable to Turkey and Armenia can disagree with the platform, thus making Turkey’s [Caucasus platform] initiative senseless.


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