'Clinton May Initiate Meeting Between Azerbaijani And Armenian Presidents'

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Interview with member of the Azerbaijani Parliament, political scientist Rasim Musabayov.

Q: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her tour of the South Caucasus intends to discuss issues of settlement of the Karabakh conflict in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Can this interest of the current U.S. administration achieve progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict?

A: The U.S. has always demonstrated a willingness and interest in promoting the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. While at the same time, the United States has always understood that it is hardly feasible task. The countries mediating the Karabakh settlement are not in an easy situation at the present time. For example, the newly elected French President, Francois Hollande, has little foreign policy experience, and he is now more concerned about the crises in the EU, and therefore he is unlikely to come up with an initiative on the Karabakh settlement.

As for the U.S., the U.S. administration has left Russia the function of moderating the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents. Such a function is preserved in Russia even though it yielded no result. As for the U.S., President Barack Obama and his administration engaged in other international issues, and Hillary Clinton herself said recently that she ends her political career.

That is, U.S. leaders are now not going to pay attention to the issue of Karabakh. But despite these factors, I suppose, that Clinton during the stay in Baku and Yerevan may initiate a meeting between presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. I think that she will hold an appropriate probing in Baku and Yerevan. However, the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents may occur if the two sides come closer so much that will result in progress.

Q: Does the U.S. side have leverage over Azerbaijan and Armenia, so that they take a constructive position on Nagorno-Karabakh?

A: The U.S. continues to remain the sole superpower in the world, and therefore, support of this country in this or other international issue is important for Azerbaijan and Armenia. The U.S. can not have an impact on Azerbaijan. However, I believe that this impact the U.S. may have on Armenia. In fact, the assistance of Americans to Armenia has been sufficiently serious. However, I believe that the U.S. does not have critically defining features in order to compel the parties to accept the proposed peace plan of Washington.

Q: Clinton during her visit to Yerevan also intends to discuss with the Armenian side the question of normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. What are the interests of the United States in the matter of opening the Turkish-Armenian border?

A: In the U.S. administration, the politicians of this country have interests related to the Armenian diaspora. In addition, the opening of borders between Turkey and Armenia, first of all, will allow Turkey, in general, NATO to advance in this area, and secondly, the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations will to a large extent relieve Armenia from the need to cling to the Russian coat-tails. However, Armenia is ready to restrain its claims to Turkey in exchange for that Ankara could force Azerbaijan to give up Karabakh in favor of the Armenian side. It is clear that Turkey will not be able to do so and never will do so. But in practice, I do not think even the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border will remove the existing antagonism between Turkey and Armenia and Armenia's claims against Turkey.

Q: The U.S. State Department in its recent report indicates that "the ethnic Armenians with the support Armenia continue to control most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and seven surrounding territories." To what extent can this statement in the report of the U.S. State Department be considered satisfactory?

A: It's not the first time that this formulation is stated in the report the U.S. State Department. That is, by the report the Americans formally recognize the fact of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories. In addition, Russia and France adhere to a similar position, i.e. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. But at the same time, neither the US, Russia nor France recognizes the fact of Armenian aggression.

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