If Yerevan was pragmatic, it would understand how Armenia’s economy would benefit from trilateral cooperation - Expert | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

25 July,

If Yerevan was pragmatic, it would understand how Armenia’s economy would benefit from trilateral cooperation - Expert

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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a speech on the importance of the post-conflict development in the region during the videoconference discussions for “the South Caucasus: Perspectives for Regional Development and Cooperation” organized by Nizami Ganjavi International Center on 20 May.

According to him, the attempt for the creation of Azerbaijan-Georgia-Azerbaijan trilateral format is a one of the key works for the strengthening of peace and stability in the region of the South Caucasus.

President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is ready for this.

'Post-conflict development is an important area. At the same time, I believe that testing contacts in the South Caucasus as a whole can become an important area. Today, Azerbaijan has ties with Georgia, Armenia also has relations with Georgia, but there were no contacts or cooperation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Maybe the time has come to consider the possibility of trilateral cooperation. We are ready for this,' said Ilham Aliyev.

Referring to this issue, President Aliyev also stressed that the United States, with using its potential, could play significant role in causing conditions for the foundation of the South Caucasus tripartite format. He said that the US should convince Armenia to work for peace and reconciliation in the region.

To clarify the internal and external aspects of the possibility of the South Caucasus trio, Eurasia Diary conducted an exclusive interview with Taras Kuzio, Professor in the Department of Political Science at National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, as well the well-known researcher on the Post-Soviet studies.

Talk by Taras Kuzio at The Diplomatic Academy — Austrian Marshall Plan  Foundation

- First of all, how would you assess President Ilham Aliyev’s speech on the possibility of the South Caucasus trio?

- While desirable, I do not believe that Armenia is ready for the normalization of relations with Azerbaijan. The shock of defeat for Armenia remains very deep, not only because of its military disadvantages and weaknesses in 44 days war. It is also shock of defeat that Armenian nationalism always looked down at Azerbaijan and Yerevan lived under a mythical illusion that the weak Azerbaijan of the early 1990s which was defeated would be forever like this. It is as though the Armenian intelligence services went on extended vacation and did not see the rise of an energy superpower next door or the modernization of Azerbaijan’s armed forces using modern technology from Israel, Turkey and elsewhere. Therefore the Second Karabakh War took place between an Armenian army using 1980s Soviet equipment and a twenty first century Azerbaijani army. The defeat was a profound shock to Armenian identity which will take a long time to repair; until this happens I do not believe Armenia will agree to joint economic and trade projects because Yerevan would believe it would be the “younger brother” in such a relationship due to the weakness of its economy and scarcity of resources.

- According to some experts, the full solution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the establishment of permanent peace and reconciliation would lead to the creation of the South Caucasus tripartite format. What is your opinion about this?

- The “full solution” of the NK conflict is very far in the future for two reasons. Firstly, Russia has no interest in a final resolution because if a “full solution” happened there would be no more need for a Russian “peacekeeping force.” Russia sees these not as “peacekeepers” (Russia has never resolved any conflict in the CIS) but as a permanent military base. Secondly, Armenia has not accepted the reality of defeat and until it does so, the Armenian minority in Nagorno-Karabakh will not agree to negotiate with Baku for the creation of some kind of self-governing status and recognizing they live inside sovereign territory of Azerbaijan.

- Do you think that Azerbaijan could carry out the economic and energy projects with Armenia within the framework of trilateral cooperation?

- No, because of the answers to question one. Nationalism is not rational, it is a romantic impulse from the heart. If Yerevan was pragmatic and used its head, not its heart, it would understand how Armenia’s economy would benefit from trilateral cooperation. But, for the moment nationalism is far stronger than pragmatism in Armenia.

- From your opinion, how much the US has potential to generate suitable conditions for the foundation of the South Caucasus tripartite format in the near future?

- The US has been absent from the South Caucasus under Presidents Obama and Trump while France was biased supporting Armenia, allowing Russia to dominate the Minsk Group. Washington should return to the South Caucasus and help build a pro-Western axis of Turkey-Israel-Azerbaijan-Georgia to geopolitically counter Iran and Russia. The US should support Azerbaijan’s attempts to broker Israeli-Turkish talks to improve their relations and recognize Azerbaijan as a new energy superpower and medium military in the region. Turkey is a member of NATO while Israel is a close US ally and is a Major Non-NATO Ally. The US should also offer Georgia and Azerbaijan the status of Major Non-NATO Ally.

- What could be stance of regional countries – Russia, Iran and Turkey, to Azerbaijan-Georgia-Armenia trilateral cooperation?

Azerbaijan-Georgia-Armenia trilateral cooperation is unlikely and would be undermined by Russia and Iran. Turkey would be a supporter, as should the US and NATO.

By Yunis Abdullayev

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