Azeri consul in LA: "Turkey recognizes Azerbaijan's leading regional role"
Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan's consul general in Los Angeles, comments on the Turkey-Armenia protocols for News.Az.
How would you comment on the signing of the Turkey-Armenia protocols?
President Ilham Aliyev has stated Azerbaijan's position very clearly. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry has also issued a statement on this issue. Therefore, I think there should be no uncertainty about the Azerbaijani view on the Turkey-Armenia protocols.
Azerbaijan's objective is to see a secure, prosperous and integrated South Caucasus region. This is possible only as a result of resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Any attempts to treat the symptoms rather than the real problem cannot bring sustainable change and could, in fact, lead to a deteriorating situation in the region. In short, while the issues of Turkish and Armenian perceptions of the past remain symbolic, the real issue of the border between Armenia and Turkey is directly linked to the real fact of Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijan's internationally-recognized territories.
How may the signing of the protocols affect settlement of the Karabakh conflict?
Both our friends in Turkey and in the Western capitals are saying that this can somehow help resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. However, as President Aliyev stated, so far there are no facts to support such an assumption. Quite the contrary, Armenia may see this as an excuse to be even less constructive.
In order for the Turkey-Armenia bilateral protocols to play any positive role for the region as a whole and for the conflict resolution in particular, the Minsk Group co-chairs should intensify their efforts to convince Yerevan to move towards a peaceful settlement with Azerbaijan, while Turkey needs to keep the promises it made to Azerbaijan and to its own people.
Might exclusion of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from these documents at the very last moment affect Azerbaijan's policy on Turkey and Armenia?
I am not familiar with the details of how the protocols have been negotiated, so I can't say whether the reference to the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan had been included or removed at a later stage.
What is clear is that the Turkish leadership has repeatedly reiterated that any further progress on Turkey-Armenia normalization is dependent on progress in resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. This is a reflection not only of the promises made but also of a realistic understanding of the serious threat posed by the unresolved state of the conflict.
Furthermore, Turkey recognizes Azerbaijan's leading regional role and understands that the situation in the region will change significantly for the better not when one border is open, but when both Armenia's borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey open as the result of a peaceful settlement.
Is it true that the United States forced Turkey to sign these protocols to drive Russia out of the South Caucasus?
Turkey is a strong nation, which increasingly sees itself as a major regional power. I don't think that Turkey can be forced to sign the protocols. Turkey has successfully resisted external pressure on other occasions, so an inability to do so in this case would be highly surprising. Moreover, both the United States and Russia supported the protocols. Therefore, it is hard to see how this strengthens the United States in the region at Russia's expense.
In general, simplistic theories of competition do not apply in a region as complex as the South Caucasus. This is why the Azerbaijani leadership has always maintained a balanced policy of regional cooperation with all partners based on Azerbaijan's national interests. As experience has shown, the best way for the United States to strengthen its position in our region is to expand relations with its reliable partners, such as Azerbaijan, on a mutually beneficial basis. Of course, the key to that remains a real effort to reach a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
There is an opinion that it would have been easier to come to a settlement with the Armenian leadership if it were not for the interference of the Armenian diaspora. How do you explain the radicalism of the US Armenian diaspora?
It might be too early to make a judgment on this. After all, we only now see that Armenia is taking steps independently from its diaspora. Once Armenia acts as a rational independent nation, perhaps its policies and vision can be more pragmatic. This requires its leadership to take a more strategic view of Armenia's own future and its place in our region. It seems, unfortunately, that we are not there yet.
In the case of radical elements within the Armenian diaspora, this is a problem of various groups that have incorporated highly ideological perceptions and ideas of ethnic superiority as part of their identity. This is the result of a long process of propaganda. It may also take a long time to overcome it.
06.10.2007 MDB dövlət başçılarının növbəti zirvə toplantısı keçirilir Oktyabrın 5-də Azərbaycan Respublikasının Prezidenti İlham Əliyev MDB üzvü olan ölkələrin dövlət başçılarının növbəti zirvə toplantısında iştirak etmək üçün Tacikistanın paytaxtı Düşənbəyə yola düşmüşdür.
Düşənbə hava limanında Prezident İlham Əliyevi Tacikistanın nəqliyyat və kommunikasiyalar naziri Əbdürəhim Aşur və MDB-nin İcraiyyə Komitəsinin sədri - icraçı katib Vladimir Ruşaylo və digər rəsmi şəxslər qarşılamışlar.