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South Caucasus
Georgi Vanyan, interview


News.Az interviews Georgi Vanyan, chairman of the Armenia-based Caucasus Centre of Peace-Making Initiatives

- What can you say about the intensification of talks on Karabakh, specifically the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in St Petersburg and the visit of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to the region?

- Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemen clashed between these two events. Can this be considered a sign of the intensification of negotiations? Can the official debates about this incident be considered the intensification of negotiations? Can active forecasts of imminent war by the analytical community be considered a sign of the intensification of negotiations? The same can be applied to the different versions of what districts Armenia has agreed to surrender, the deployment of foreign bases and different versions of accelerated changes in the situation. Can we consider the differences in the Russian and English versions of the statements of the presidents of the co-chairing countries a sign of the intensification of negotiations?

- The visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to our region was important. What can you say about her statement that “it is time to complete work on the main principles to launch the development of the final peace agreement”?

- The visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region had an important moral and psychological effect. It reminded us of the chance to be a part of a civilian world.

- State Department official Mark Toner said the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement were complementary. What is your opinion?

- The process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is a qualitatively new regional process that can put an end to the so-called “post-Soviet” regional situation in which Armenia acted as a brake on integration and peace negotiations. The process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is important as the catalyst for resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The Bolshevik-Fedayeen Armenian ostrich is finally obliged to take its head out of the sand and accept the realities.

- How do you assess current developments in Armenian-Turkish relations?

- Armenian-Turkish relations have moved to a high level. This is a great achievement. The process of normalization of relations between the two countries has been planned and implemented has started in a new space for political culture. Unlike the format for the OSCE Minsk Group, this process cannot be frozen, since the responsibility of the parties is clearly fixed and it is impossible to put on a show of activity in this case.

- Should we expect the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border this year?

- We shouldn’t. There is the problem of the ratification of the Armenian-Turkish protocols in the parliaments of the two countries. There is the of the decision of the Constitutional Court of Armenia which the Turkish side has protested about. The normalization process is in deadlock, it requires political will and active diplomatic work to return to dialogue. This should be expected in the near future. The limit of destructive steps has been exhausted and Armenia and Turkey should either have relations or the normalization process should be declared to have failed.

- What are the prospects for a Karabakh conflict settlement? Is there a peace solution to the issue?

- There is a peace solution to the issue. The peace solution is not kilometres of land or the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The peace solution is a solution that will ensure security in the conflict area and the security of the region. Today it is difficult to say whether the process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group fosters the search for this peace solution or not. Unfortunately, we, the conflict parties, and the community and political leadership, deceive ourselves - the current perception of the OSCE Minsk Group as the international community's mechanism of negotiations about which there is no choice does not mean that only this process should dictate to us what to do, what to think and where to look. On the contrary, the peace solution can be found only in alternatives - new processes, new formats, new ways of thinking.

Do you consider the resumption of hostilities in the conflict area possible?

Until a peace solution is found, there is a threat of a resumption of hostilities and there is an equal threat of the adoption of solutions by force, i.e., the creation of a new status quo which maintains the risk of a resumption of war.

Kamala Mammadova