Does Russia have an interest in stalling the Turkish and Armenian talks? This was one of the issues addressed recently in an ArmInfo interview with Eugene Chausovsky, Eurasia Analyst at Stratfor (www.stratfor.com). This independent think tank provides insights into political, economic, and military developments. When asked about the Turkish-Armenian Protocols, Chausovsky said he believes they stalled and likely will remain deadlocked for the foreseeable future. He sites the Armenian President’s decision to freeze the protocols as an indication that Sarkisian is ready to halt the negotiations indefinitely.
Addressing the Karabakh issue as one of the stumbling blocks in the Turkish-Armenian dialogue, Chausovky says that no matter what consensus Turkey can build with Armenia over Karabakh, there is little consensus between Armenia and Azerbaijan on this issue. The Stratfor analyst believes one such example is Azerbaijan’s refusal to recognize the upcoming parliamentary elections in Nagorno Karabakh.
Stratfor also beliefs there’s not much international mediators can bring to the table in the stalled Turkish-Armenia talks.
“Turkey appears to have re-focused its attention on strengthening relations with Azerbaijan, and the primary outside power involved in negotiations – Russia – has a strategic interest in preventing Turkish and Armenian talks from moving forward,” said Chausovky.
The anaylist said that officials of Azerbaijan vocally threatened Armenia of the risk of war, recounting Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev’s words that Azerbaijan could hit all areas in Nagorno Karabakh and in Armenia proper.
“If Armenia decided to attack Azerbaijan ‘s energy production facilities, Azerbaijan would strike Armenia ‘s nuclear facility,” said Abiyev.
Chausovky believes that these threats sound like a description of a certain plan of a new war. He said that while war cannot be completely ruled out, it is unlikely that a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia will occur in the near future, unless there is a serious provocation by one of the countries.
“The US and NATO would like to avoid this at all costs, as they are currently bogged down in wars in the Middle East and South Asia,” said Chausovky.
A renewed war, according to the analyst, could threaten to spread elsewhere in the region and beyond. However, Chausovky believes, the Turkish government will not pursue meaningful peace talks with Armenia without first addressing Azerbaijani concerns over the breakaway territory.
“The current geopolitical environment is pushing Russia and Turkey to work with — instead of against — each other,” said Chausovky. “The recent meeting between the two sides showed this, as it included issues such as working towards deals that would allow Russia a stronger foothold in Turkey’s energy sector, give Turkey the opportunity to mend relations with Azerbaijan, and secure a crucial source for natural gas to supply the European market.”