Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vladimir Soccor: "Conflict resolution will never be possible, if it depends on Russia".

Day.Az interview with Vladimir Soccor, US political scientist, senior research officer of Jamestown's Foundation (US)

Separate leaders of the western countries start to toughen their criticism of Russia for the military aggression against Georgia. Can any means of pressure on Moscow be applied in this case and how can it occur?
- It is a difficult question as the West lacks economic means of pressure on Moscow. Russia has an advantage for the first time in its history. This has never occurred in the Russian history. West's economic means are now too limited.This means that resistance should be conducted on the political level. For example, the European Union should stop talks with Russia on strategic partnership and non-visa regime.Moreover, NATO members and even countries, which want to join this organization, should change their priorities and focus on the defense of the national territory against Russian aggression.The best divisions of the Georgian army, which were in Iraq and fought on the US side, did not participate in the defense of their own country. Moreover, under US recommendations, most countries created military divisions for participating in the peacekeeping activity or anti-terror operation beyond their own borders , including in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. But it turned out that the defense of one's own country should be the primary thing.
- Which conclusions should Azerbaijan draw from the events in South Ossetia?
- The first conclusion for Azerbaijan is that Washington today remains even a greater strategic partner and ally for Baku. Certainly, the United States should perceive it correctly. The United States, which reacted to the events in Georgia so late and passively, should realize that the main geopolitical game today is for the Black Sea and Caspian regions.Russia has undertaken this operation in Georgia, realizing that there is no rival to its policy in the Caucasus, as the United States is busy in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with the Iran problem. These three conflicts weaken the United States.Washington has chosen wrong priorities. I think in fact, the leaders of all the countries, locating between the eastern borders of the European Union and NATO and the Caspian Sea, should tell the United States that the priority it has chosen are erroneous and that the destiny of the Euroatlantic community, US strategic position in the world and stability of the North Atlantic alliance depends on its policy in this area. Here the correlation of powers in the modern world will be defined. Independence and security of these countries and export of energy sources via these countries from the Caspian basin to Europe should become the main priorities of the US policy. Yet this understanding is now weak or completely absent in Washington.
- Can the Russian peacekeeping mission be spoken of following the events in Georgia, especially in the resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus?
- By the events in Georgia, Russia has made a sort of a revolution in the issue of peacekeeping. It showed the ability to hold military actions of any scale and in any place under pretense of peacekeeping.The peacekeeping mission of Russia has always been an absolute lie. Russia participated in the very beginning of conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan as a party and held these wars. Russia and Armenia are the direct initiators and the participants of war in Karabakh. Thus, to speak of the Russian peacekeeping and Russia's role as a mediator in the conflict resolution is merely ridiculous, which is proven by the experience of the last 15 years.
- Does it mean that the conflicts, which involve Russia as a mediator, will never be settled?
- Yes, the resolution of the conflict will never be possible if it depends on Russia. There will only be an official or unofficial annexation of the territory by Russia.
- Can the South Ossetian script repeat in Nagorno Karabakh?
- The situation with the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict differs from what is now going on in Georgia for the number of aspects. Nagorno Karabakh does not border on Russia and Moscow does not raise the issue of "Russian citizens", "compatriots" and so on and the most important is that there are no Russian servicemen in Nagorno Karabakh. I would like to note that this occurred owing to the principal position of Azerbaijani diplomat Araz Azimov, who in 1994 made a categorical statement against displacement of the peacekeepers of the "third countries", in other words, Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh.
- One of the main objects, subjected to Russia's attack during war against Georgia, became the BTC pipeline. Does it pose a threat to the future of the regional energy projects?
- Following the incident in Turkey and the attack of Russian aviation to the BTC pipeline, distrust emerged about the security of this pipeline, which has never occurred so far. After it, Georgia, BP, SOCAR and other companies suspended operation of export terminals in Batumi and Poti and even partially in Supsa. The absence of significant reservoirs means suspension of oil exports, which in turn imply losses for the companies, the state budget of Azerbaijan and Georgia and transit countries. It also caused distrust of investors, who see that security of export pipelines in Turkey and Georgia is not too strong and may stop financing transit projects with participation of these countries.
Russia seems to try to redirect export of Caspian energy source from West to North, to Russia, which is one of the consequences of war in Georgia, which is weakening the position of all Caspian states, transit countries and European states. It proves once again that Russia is by no means West's partner. The recent events in Georgia damaged illusions of the United States and Europe regarding Russia. /Day.Az/

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