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Uladzimir Matskevich: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict today is of no use either to Armenia or Azerbaijan

05.04.2016  |  In the World   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Uladzimir Matskevich: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict today is of no use either to Armenia or Azerbaijan

By participating in all military and economic blocks with Russia, the Belarusian regime is trying to build the image of a neutral country and a peacemaker.

The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has burst out again after many years of sleep, and, seemingly, for no good reason. Baku accuses Yerevan in the escalation of the conflict, while Armenia, on the other hand, puts the blame on Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Russia seems to keep in the background. However, the common observation is where there’s Russia there is a war: Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdniestria, the war in Georgia, Donbas, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh yet again...

Which processes or forces have inflamed the Karabakh problem? What role does Russia play in the conflict?

The Head of Board of the International Consortium "EuroBelarus" Uladzimir Matskevich answered the questions of the “EuroBelarus“ Information Service.

- On the night of April 2 with no apparent reason hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh were renewed. The versions of the conflict escalation are diametrically opposite: Armenia blames Azerbaijan and Turkey; Baku accuses Yerevan. Who or what is behind the escalation of the conflict?

- Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan accuses Azerbaijan and accuses Turkey of complicity, while Turkey is the only country, which has explicably taken Azerbaijani side in the conflict. In his turn, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accuses Armenia of a provocation. All the parties involved in the conflict are accusing each other, without mentioning the most obvious party to the conflict - Russia.

It is clear that the third party to the conflict is, definitely, Russia that supplies arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has enough money to get it in big amounts. Moreover, Azerbaijan is three times bigger than Armenia in terms of the population.

But Russia doesn’t forget Armenia either; apart from supplies of arms estimated in millions of dollars, which was mentioned by Ilham Aliyev in his interpretation, it also claims to have stopped the unilateral hostilities, which is doubtful. Besides, Russia has a military base in Gyumri, while Armenia is a CSTO member.

Azerbaijan has Turkey as its ally, and despite close ties with Russia, it came to be in a strange situation when Russia-Turkey relations have aggravated. Turkey expressed its full support to Azerbaijan. At the same time Iran, which has been discretely supporting Armenia for the past two decades, didn’t comment on the conflict.

The party that is most interested in the conflict, and, at the same time, the party that is able to stop the conflict is Russia. The conflict is of use neither to Armenia or Azerbaijan, which doesn’t give up its claims to Karabakh and Azerbaijani regions annexed to Karabakh as a result of the 1992-1994 war.

- The former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called the resumption of hostilities a Putin's provocation against Azerbaijan and Turkey, since neither Baku nor Yerevan hold interest in the escalation of the conflict. Why does Russia need to inflame the fire that is going out?

- The conflict is of no use for Armenia or Azerbaijan. It might seem that Russia also has no direct profit in stirring up this conflict. Not having enough time to get out of the Syrian situation, being deeply stuck in the war in Donbas, Russia finds itself meddled in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict both as a supplier of arms to the warring parties and as a possible peacemaker all at the same time.

Why does Russia need this? The answer to this question is complicated by the tense situation in the Middle East and in this part of Asia. Aggravated relations with Turkey, caused by the Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict, not very clear and not very public normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia, the alliance with which is very urgent for Russia in order to affect the oil market. The position of Saudi Arabia on this question can be crucial.

At the same time Russia worsens its relations with Iran, which finds itself in the oil market again and isn’t inclined to support the position of Saudi Arabia and Russia that prevent the fall of oil prices. It looks like it’s beneficial for Russia to preserve good relations with Iran; however, Russia has frozen the supplies of S-300 missile systems to Iran, which created some tension in Russian-Iranian relations.

The relations are tangled so much that it’s extremely hard to untangle it using logics. The only thing left is to try to analyze the situation at the highest level.

Whereas at the highest level the situation is the following: with Putin’s appointment to the third term as the president, Russia is trying to regain the status of the great empire. Nobody needs the status of a great empire in the world today: economic globalization, the expansion of free trade area, EU expansion with its legal, humanistic norms aren’t conducive to the need of great powers. Therefore, Russia's desire to regain that status is extremely outdated.

However, Russia still wants to regain this status. How? There is only one way – by destabilizing the political, economic, and military situation in any part of the world, wherever it’s possible. Russia doesn’t pursue direct pragmatic interests in unleashing military conflicts or in meddling in conflicts in hot spots. It just adds fuel to the fire to continue destabilization and conflicts. If tensions are reigning in the world, a need for strong powers and the world's leaders capable of influencing the course of the conflict appears.

- By stirring up local conflicts around the world Russia has adopted the Soviet Union model. Has destabilization of the situation in the world become a major strength in the Russian foreign policy?

- Basically, yes. Russia has headed for stirring up the situation in any part of the world, which it is able to reach.

- Armenia has expressed the deep bewilderment regarding the Belarus’ statement on the developments around Nagorno-Karabakh. Is Belarus being meddled in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict?

- Belarus is one of six members of the CSTO, and therefore aggression against one of the members of the Organization directly concerns the other CSTO members, including Belarus. By participating in all military and economic blocks with Russia, the Belarusian regime is trying to build the image of a neutral country and a peacemaker. That’s why the military-political position of Belarus is directly determined by Moscow. Russia takes no steps to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and therefore Belarus refrains from such steps, too. Although Minsk could at least try to be a peacemaker in this conflict. But it is extremely hard: Belarus’ and Azerbaijan's positions in the Eastern Partnership have more similarities than the positions of Belarus and Armenia, even though all the three countries are the members of the EaP.

Russia puts Belarus, as well as Turkey, Iran, and other countries concerned, in a very complicated situation: on the one hand, it is necessary to agree the position with Moscow; on the other – the countries have to maneuver between Baku and Yerevan, refraining from supporting one side or another.

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