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Turkish parliament will not ratify protocols: chief editor of Moscow-based newspaper

20 November 2009 [11:24] - TODAY.AZ
Interview with chief editor of Mowcow-based ‘Konservator’ newspaper of Azerbaijani origin Rustam Arifjanov.
Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents are expected to meet in the second half of November. What can one expect from the presidents’ meeting?

It should be noted that presidents’ meeting was formerly preceded by foreign ministers’ meeting while this time it will be opposite of it. The heads of state will meet roughly in the second half of November and ministers will meet later.

I must say that this is not the usual format which suggests that may adopt some decision at political level and foreign ministers will be develop ways to implement them. However, there is no feeling that a breakthrough will happen in settlement of the conflict any more. The positions of both countries are still really opposed.

However, the situation has changed to a certain extent. Turkey and Armenia signed protocols some time ago which urges Armenia to take some decision on Karabakh and puts Azerbaijan in a new situation.

The ratification of protocols in the parliament of puts country’s leadership in a very difficult position. There are too many people both in pro-government and opposition forces who are wary of ratification. The coming debates in parliament and in society play into the hands of Azerbaijan, because many things will be called by their names. And I'm not sure that Turkish parliament will ratify the protocols any time soon.

There are many forces also in Armenia who do not want protocols to be ratified. President Sargsyan recently took steps that seem unreasonable. What is the reason? Harmed relations with the diaspora or a desire to somehow recover, or something else?

The fact is that the diaspora is not experiencing economic hardship from the current situation in Armenia. For them the question of "genocide" is a matter of historical, ideological, political nature while it is of economic nature for Armenia which is in a blockade. Therefore, a number of parties in the country including Dashnaksutun who live through diaspora’s money, do not want to establish relations with Turkey.

But the Armenian parliament is composed of not only those parties, but also a number of others who believe that opening the borders will improve life in Armenia. They alsounderstand that no profound changes will happen. I do not think that the Armenian business will move towards Turkey because Armenian businessmen are well aware that there will not be accepted with open arms. As the Turkish business, they will face all sorts of obstacles in Armenia.

Why then to jeopardize the real financial inflow from diaspora for the sake of dubious economic benefits from establishing relations with Turkey?

First, Sargsyan’s precarious position forces him to take such steps. Both people in the country and the diaspora believe that the last  presidential election was illegitimate. Despite the outward political calm, they can recall it to Sargsyan any time. Naturally, in such a situation he needs to rely on someone. First, he relies on Russia. We all are aware of Russian military bases in Armenia and that country’s major energy companies have already been bought by Russian companies. In part, it all calms Sargsyan.

However, Azerbaijan has surely heard about the latest message from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the federal government. Speaking about foreign policy, he noted a clear pragmatic approach not to take any action contrary to the country’s interests which often occurred earlier. That is, if Russia’s support to Armenia harms Azerbaijan-Russia relations, the Kremlin will support Armenia no longer.

Armenia realizes it. Therefore, Sargsyan is hastily seeking other support sources. Actually, they do no have many sources. This is the U.S. and Europe. However, the latter constantly put pressure on Turkey to establish relations with Armenia while they demand Armenia to withdraw its claim of recognition of the so-called "genocide".

The upcoming discussions of protocols in the Turkish parliament will be very tense. MPs will be continually link opening of borders with the return of occupied Azerbaijani lands. As a result, parliament is likely to not ratify the protocol, and the president of the country will have to do nothing, but shrug his shoulders.

Do you think Turkey has chances to become leader in the region?

Of course, it is beneficial for world powers that Turkey will be not only a regional leader, but leader of entire Muslim world. Not Iran or even Saudi Arabia, but Turkey. This country is more understandable for them and besides it is also a secular state. The fact that the country is being ruled by pro-Islamic forces do not worry them. So, they will provide all possible support to Turkey.

With regard to regional leadership, it is worth paying attention to establishment of relations with Syria, and even with that part of the Iraqi state which is autonomous and headed by the Kurdish government. After all, the Kurdish problem is very painful for Turkey. But once Americans eventually leave Iraq, it will be possible to save the country only by creating a separate Kurdish and Arab states. Otherwise, the bloodshed would be inevitable.


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