During Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

There Are Results and There Are Not

by Mubariz Ahmadoglu
, head of the Centre for Political Technology and Innovations

Source: 525 qazet, Baku, in Azeri, April 11, 2001

The Key West talks are over. The new US administration has for the first time paid serious attention to the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. For the first time both the mediators and experts from the countries in the conflict have been involved in the settlement. For the first time the mediators have appealed to Iran as a regional country to help in the resolution of this conflict. For the first time Heydar Aliyev made such a harsh statement at such a meeting. For the first time the mediators have said that serious results have been achieved in the talks. For the first time a high ranking diplomat represented Russia. We should note that conflicting assessments of these talks, which were very difficult and complex, are natural. So, have these talks given any results? The answer is as simple as the question itself: yes and no. These are some of the results:

First, the mediators, especially Russia and the USA, have realized that leaving this conflict unresolved is not in their interests. The money coming from the Caspian region, particularly Azerbaijan, should be divided. Russia needs a source of income in addition to its own oil to solve its social and economic problems. The income generated by Western capital in the CIS, particularly in Azerbaijan, could be such a source for Russia. We should note that Russia has limited possibilities to create such sources of income by itself. The West needs to earn money in a stable way. The West can give Russia a source of income, while Russia ensures stability for the West. At least Russia will remain calm. This could be seen as the greatest success of the Aliyev government. The great powers will reject the "stick" aspect of their favorite "carrot and stick" policy and use only the "carrot".

Second, tensions could arise when sharing the dividends from the resolution of the conflict between the USA and Russia. We are talking about political tension here. The "spy war" created a Cold War atmosphere on the eve of this meeting. Competition of this kind is favourable for Azerbaijan in the settlement of the conflict.

And third, the appearance of differences between the initial outlines of the settlement models by the USA and Russia is another result. According to my observations, the US model is based on the following formula: concessions to Azerbaijan in communications and to the Armenians in Karabakh's status, i.e.. communication between Azerbaijan and Naxcivan should be established and the security of this communication ensured. The USA is presenting this as a big achievement for Azerbaijan and demands of Azerbaijan to agree to something slightly less than "common state" status [for Karabakh]. Incidentally, we should note that communication with Naxcivan is a great achievement for us and a great loss for Armenia. However, this communication has greater importance for the USA than Azerbaijan. The West acquires alternative access to the South Caucasus and Georgia is relieved of Russia's pressure as a result of these communications. The only reason for pressure on Georgia is its role as the West's gateway to the region. The West should create such a gateway in Azerbaijan and will do this sooner or later.

Russia's model is as follows: Naxcivan's links with Azerbaijan remain as they are. Nagornyy Karabakh is given a status similar to Naxcivan's. Another agreement could be signed for this. I repeat that these are my observations. Those involved in the Karabakh settlement no longer see any problem concerning Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and the return of refugees. They believe that these issues will be solved soon. This is the fourth result.

At the same time, there have been no results, because:

First, no document has been signed.

Second, at such meetings the sides usually issue statements, but this time t hey did not do this.

And finally, the presidents did not meet officially and Armenian President Robert Kocharyan spoke as a "touchy child".

US President George Bush's meeting with the president should not be construed as an achievement in the talks. On the eve of his departure Heydar Aliyev said that he would visit Washington and meet the US administration members. This was his wish. Aliyev appealed to Bush for a meeting. How could Bush reject his request? This is a kind of process where Aliyev depends on Bush and Bush depends on Aliyev. Bush met Kocharyan along with Aliyev to strike a balance between the sides. Iran's role should also be blamed for the failure of the talks. Anyone, for instance Iran, could violate a fragile agreement. Thus, Iran should not be ignored. This idea comes from the new French cochairman.

[Passage omitted: this is the beginning of a new stage in settlement; there will be lively economic cooperation in the region]

I found Aliyev to be fed up at this meeting. Aliyev, who is a patient person, is fed up with the Armenians not realizing current realities, the double standards of the mediators and the biased and apathetic position of the great powers. I think that Aliyev is now in a bellicose mood.

The Armenians' reference to the results of the war, not international law, can only exacerbate the martial mood of a bellicose person. In addition, it is possible to enjoy other benefits of the war. We trust in the strength of the Azerbaijani army. I can also observe that the Armenian army is weakening. The Armenians are afraid of a war. Aliyev knows all this. Simply, there are certain issues related to time, conditions and places which should be discussed.
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