Male Speaker: [IB] KGW and also [IB] foundation. Could you briefly mention Russia’s position on this issue? It seems to me that Russia has good reasons to actually not to support the Turkish army well since it would kind if, their domination on [IB] but on the other hand, [IB] was the one that played a white role in pushing [IB] protocol during the negotiations concerned.
Interviewee: Yeah, it’s a god question, it’s hard to really have a definitive image of what, definitive idea of what is the Russian position on this. When you look at the statements, statement on record, number of Russian leadership have argued that normalization between Armenia and Turkey is a good thing, so they support the protocols and they want this not to be linked to other issues. So there seems to be a convergence between the message coming from Washington and the message coming from Moscow. The complicating fact there is that we have to understand what would be the Azeri position in all of this because if Azerbaijan, if we listen, what we hear from Azerbaijan in the Turkish press, in the Turkish perception is that if Turkey passes the protocols, if Turkey basically has diplomatic relations with Armenia and opens the border, this will create major resentment in Azerbaijan and there’s this perception that Azerbaijan will be very angry with Turkey and they look at options in the region and a kind of realignment of Azeri policy. Now to what degree this is real, this is perceived, but in any case there is such a perception in Turkey and in the Turkish talking point with Americans is always concerned about, you know, we would be happy to pass the protocols but you should understand that if we pass the protocols, we may lose Azerbaijan. That’s part of the Turkish talking point. So losing Azerbaijan means what? If you are Russian, does that mean that Azerbaijan that is angry with Turkey, that is angry with its western partner? What kind of options would they have? So there’s this perception that they may go pro-Russian, that they may be any good for Russia. So therefore, there’s this politic calculation, wouldn’t Russia benefit from Azerbaijan turning against Turkey? So you get into this calculations and then you question about whether Moscow is really sincere in one thing, the passage of the protocols because that would mean Azerbaijan which shows harsh reaction and that may be good for Moscow because that would mean Turkish-Azeri relations are deteriorating and that Azeri-Russian relations are getting better. And this maybe too simplistic, it may not reflect the whole calculation, but it gives you an idea of the complexity of the situation. So in many ways, I think the Russian position on record is a positive one.
They support reconciliation, normalization of relations, however, to what degree they’re really sincere, I’m not sure. Of course the 800 pound girl in the room is the fact that Russia has a more aggressive policy in the caucuses. Why is Armenia after all so willing? That’s the big question that we should ask ourselves, too. Why is Armenia willing to sign these protocols? Why do they want normalization with Turkey? We know why Turkey wants it. Zero problems with neighbors, to avoid major problems with the United States. The many dimensions for Turkey to accept that Turkey is getting what it wants after all, historical commission. What’s in it for Armenia? I think the Armenian position and [IB] interested in someone who could be more articulate on this or have more insight. In my opinion, Armenia doesn’t want to depend on Russia. Armenia wants a western corridor for itself. Armenia wants basically a, after it has seen what happened to Georgia in 2008, it no longer wants to be basically… It doesn’t want to put all eggs into the Russia basket. So for Armenia, this opening to the west, if there is an Armenia opening in Turkey, there’s a much more serious Turkey opening in Armenia and that makes strategic sense and that would improve relations with the United States, that would improve relations with Turkey, down the line maybe the European Union and down the line also it may create legitimacy for a solution in Nagorno-Karabakh. One thing that I think is important is not to forget that the current leadership of Armenia is from Nagorno-Karabakh itself. They are not western Armenians, they’re eastern Armenians and they are people who fought in Nagorno-Karabakh and have won. Therefore they have a sense that they have achieved victory and this allows them, to a certain degree, more pragmatic. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re not as traumatized by the legacy of the genocide because I think they still carry the weight of the genocide on their shoulders, but they can be more pragmatic on the question of genocide because they have won in Nagorno-Karabakh and that allows them to be more pragmatic. That’s one other factor why I think if turkey has a chance to normalize relations with Armenia, it may do it under a leadership that comes from Karabakh rather than another leadership that puts the genocide question as a precondition. So that’s why we’re facing a kind of historical opportunity here with someone like Sargsyan and that may not be there in the future if there’s a new Armenian leadership that wants to put actual genocide recognition as a precondition.