Solution to Karabakh conflict should not be expected soon - Finnish expert

News.Az interviews Dr. Igor Torbakov, Senior Researcher, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Russia and Turkey have recently strengthened bilateral cooperation in almost all directions of interaction and continue growing them. How can this factor influence the stability in the South Caucasus?

Potentially, the coordinated actions of Russia and Turkey in the region could promote stability in the South Caucasus and regulation of regional conflicts, Naturally, Russia is a more influential player in the Caucasus: Ankara has to coordinate its actions with Moscow for implementation of any tasks of its Caucasus policy. The recent decision of the two countries about the creation of the interstate mechanism-the Supreme Council of Cooperation-on the basis of the political leadership is dictated not only by the intention to develop bilateral relations but also by the understanding of the need to coordinate efforts on stabilization of the region.

Russia has historically had a traditional influence on the South Caucasus. Is it timely to speak here of the jealous attitude toward intensification of another big regional superpower-Turkey?

Naturally, Russia is cautiously watching the activist external policy of Turkey. The ideologists of Ankara’s new course speak of the strategic depth and historical responsibility which motivate Turkey’s interest to the South Caucasus. Meanwhile, Russia considers itself to be the Caucasus superpower and the main guarantor of regional security. There is an element of “jealousy” here, but Russia also understands that Ankara’s capacities are extremely limited.

How do you think Turkey has advanced in the attempts to reduce tensions in the South Caucasus?

The modest achievements of Turkey in raising stability in the South Caucasus prove both the extreme complicacy of problems and limited potential of Ankara. The new regional forum proposed by Turkey-the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform-remains a low effective mechanism for the resolution of regional problems. Frankly speaking, it should be noted that the leading Turkish politicians understand the difficulties of implementation of their initiatives. Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu has recently said that “existence of conflicts is a ground for appearance of such a structure and the main obstacle in the process of implementation of the idea”.

Turkey has made it clear that it will improve relations with Armenia only after this country withdraws from the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. People in Yerevan, as well as Russia and the West, consider that both problems should be settled in separate. What do you think about this?

Thinking realistically, it is possible to say that these two problems (really not bound in the Turkish-Armenian protocols) can be settled only in process of parallel settlement.

Azerbaijan and Armenia interpret the regulations of the Helsinki final act differently: Baku speak of the supremacy of the principle of territorial integrity as basic in international law, while Yerevan demands for the execution of the rights of Karabakh Armenians for self-determination not inside Azerbaijan’s framework but as a formation of independent state at the occupied lands. How do you see the resolution of the problem?

The appeal of the parties to a more profitable  principle of international law should not be surprising – this is a normal event. On the abstract level the problem of correlation between the two principles is just unsolvable as they are (like other eight “Helsinki principles” completely equal. However, as specialists on international law say, a principle is an abstraction not working beyond definite historical circumstances. Thus, the issue is not which principle must prevail but which of them is more applicable in the said definite circumstances. It is quite clear that the conflict settlement is possible only if both sides are ready for serious compromises.

Do you think the Karabakh conflict settlement is close?

As the parties seem not to be ready for serious compromises, the soonest solution to Karabakh conflict should not be expected.