"Armenian-Azerbaijani border is more important than Armenia's flirting with Macron"
    Dmitry Verkhoturov in touch with Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  20 October 2022 - 13:38

    Matanat Nasibova

    Caliber.Az presents an interview with Russian expert, publicist, and civil activist Dmitry Verkhoturov.

    - How would you comment on the drills of the Iranian army on the border with Azerbaijan?

    - I've already said it many times: Armenia is a window for Iran to carry out trade, and since Tehran is under sanctions and few countries trade with it, this problem is solved there by using exactly Armenian territory. Apparently, Iran transports both goods and money through Armenian territory. I think this is the same reason why the border with Armenia is of strategic importance to Iran, and Tehran would very much hate to see this trade corridor closed.

    - How do you see the current process of normalisation of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations with the participation of European mediators represented by Brussels?

    - Frankly, I do not see any progress in the negotiation process. Obviously, there is a strange political game played by Pashinyan with unclear goals and the same unclear results, which causes bewilderment and condemnation even in Armenia itself. It is therefore unlikely that any agreement involving European mediators can be called a breakthrough in the negotiation process. In fact, a commission should have been established to delimit and map the borders and to resolve the disputed issues peacefully. In this case, we could talk about some progress. But so far, in my opinion, there are no positive trends.

    - The other day the French President unflatteringly spoke about the Russian policy in the South Caucasus and, in particular, about the mediating role of the Russian Federation in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. How would you comment on this outburst by Paris?

    - As far as I can judge from Macron's style, this leader is always trying to stir up the conflict in the South Caucasus and in this case to create problems for Russia with the expectation of distracting it from the Ukrainian problem. It is clear that this calculation will not pay off, nevertheless, it is an attempt.

    Another thing is that for Russia it is important to maintain stability in the South Caucasus and for this, it is doing everything possible so that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be resolved peacefully. It is in Russia's interest that the neighbouring states peacefully coexist in a common geographic space.

    In the same context, I would also mention the Türkiye factor. The current situation has given Türkiye a historic chance to become a very influential country, which has happened to mediate so many conflicts. I would presume that even in the Prague meeting with Erdogan and Pashinyan the role of Türkiye is visible. It is clear that Ankara is also, like Russia, trying to resolve this conflict, and its mediation efforts may prove useful in the negotiations between Baku and Yerevan.

    - The French political establishment has recently stepped up its anti-Azerbaijani campaign noticeably. What is behind these processes?

    -The current logic of European politicians is difficult to understand, as they often act against their own interests. In this case, France should not have pushed Azerbaijan away with anti-Azerbaijani resolutions. I assume that this is how Paris is trying to pressure Azerbaijan to be more flexible towards Armenia.

    -Why did Armenia initiate the deployment of the EU mission on the border with Azerbaijan?

    - I think that having put forward the idea of placing an EU mission on the border with Azerbaijan, which, by the way, has already failed, Nikol Pashinyan wanted to serve the European Union and hoped to gain something from this for himself personally. I don't think that the European observers will change the conflict situation in any way, firstly, because they cannot be trusted, and secondly, they have no authority to solve the problem.

    On the other hand, the issues regarding the Armenian-Azerbaijani border are an internal matter for Baku and Yerevan. Yes, they can invite Russia and Türkiye as a mediator - together or separately, but the presence of European observers on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, in my opinion, will not bring any progress in the negotiation process.

    - Judging by your answers, the probability of signing a peace agreement in the foreseeable future is very low.

    - I don't think we should expect a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan to be signed any time soon, as the conflict is protracted, there are many actors involved and therefore many interests. Accordingly, the peace process will also take a long time. At this stage, it is relevant to delineate the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in order to resolve all contentious issues. This is more important than Armenia flirting with Macron and the EU.


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