Dr.Karen Ohanjanyan, Coordinator of NKC ”Helsinki Initiative-92” Speech at Hague Center of Strategic Studies, 13.11.2009 With collapse of the Soviet Union and establishment of the newly independent states the region of South Caucasus started to gain a considerable place in geopolitical relations. The South Caucasus is high up on the global policy agenda due to great hydrocarbon resources of the Caspian basin, strategic communication and transit location of the region regarding supply of resources to global markets and possibility of solution of issues of geopolitical nature on one hand, and underdeveloped democracies and unsettled ethno-territorial conflicts, which endanger the region's stability and development, on the other hand. In the era of globalization and - this is clear from the example of the present-day South Caucasus - contradictions between countries, which shape global policy, are sharply aggravating. August 2008 became the first serious external display of contradictions, which could destroy the whole global security system, shaped after collapse of the Soviet Union and start of the global anti-terrorism campaign. The war, which Georgia waged, on the tip from Russia, against the self-declared independent state of South Ossetia, became a starting point in Russia's attempts to recreate a part of former empire on the ruins of former Soviet Union in order to change the geopolitical configuration of the current world order and to transfer it from uni-polar into bipolar or multi-polar one. Russia's unilateral recognition of two breakaway regions: South Ossetia and Abkhazia against the background of imitation of solidarity of the Western countries to Saakashvili's regime sharply changed mental conduct of all countries- players in the South Caucasus. It was obvious that conduct characteristic to a Russian bear was displayed, which did not hide its intention to impose its own game in the South Caucasus region. And if not the financial crisis, then it would be unclear what Russia would prepare for the South Caucasus. It was the change of mentality in connection with the new challenges, shaped in the process of Russia's aggression in regard of the sovereign Georgia that made Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan conduct a flashlight visit to Russia and announce about Regional Platform of Peace and Security, the ideology of which envisaged taking Armenia out of geopolitical isolation and making it a player in the South Caucasus and Asian Near East, that would enjoy equal rights. The actual reason of Turkey's attempts to normalize relations with Armenia should be considered in the context of this period, complex by its geopolitical consequences. Russia's aggressive conduct was endangering well- being and security of not only South Caucasus countries but of Turkey either. The reason of normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia should be considered in this very context. One should note that the negotiation process on normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is not new. Back during the rule of former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan confidential talks were held between the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers under the auspices of the ministry of foreign affairs of the Swiss Confederation. Conditions, which are set before Armenia by Turkey, connected with recognition of the Genocide were not acceptable for the Armenian side and that is why the negotiations went to a dead end. The negotiation process received a new boost due to soccer diplomacy of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who invited his Turkish counterpart to watch a soccer World Cup qualifier between the Armenian and Turkish teams. During the historic visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Armenia and his talks with the Armenian president ahead of the soccer match he was told two postulates of the Armenian policy, by accepting which it would be possible to start mending Armenian-Turkish relations. Those are: 1) No Armenian leadership will ever put into question the fact of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. All leaders of Armenia will be seeking recognition of the Genocide on the part of the global community during their activities. 2) The second postulate - the problem of Nagorny Karabakh. Interrelations and the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations should not be based on preconditions connected with the issue of settlement of Azerbaijani-Nagorny Karabakh conflict. These two approaches of principle of the Armenian leadership were proposed to the Turkish president in Yerevan. Later Armenia and Turkey started a hard, but a very encouraging negotiation process under the auspices of the Swiss ministry of foreign affairs. The negotiation process was intense and fruitful and already by 3 April 2009 texts of the protocols were initialed. Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan and then Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan signed under those protocols. The Armenian and Turkish sides did not publish the fact of initialing of the protocols in order to cause extra negative emotions from both societies and political elites of Turkey and Armenia.. At the same time representatives of the Turkish leadership started to openly link normalization of relations with Armenia to the issue of settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and vacation of Azerbaijani territories controlled by the Karabakh army. This was a direct violation of agreements achieved and did not comply with the initialed documents in any way. The conduct of the Turkish leadership caused a hailstorm of discontent in the Armenian society and Armenians all over the world. Under these conditions the Armenian leadership denied existence of any preconditions and moreover openly announced that it will not agree to normalization of relations with Turkey if the latter does not drop the preconditions. The official signature of the protocols by Armenia was seriously threatened. Under these conditions yet another pressure was put on the part of the USA, which is most of all interested in normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. In his address to the Armenian people on the occasion of yet another anniversary of the Armenian Genocide US President Barack Obama voiced the initiative of the road map, which is in essence nothing but signature of protocols and a time table of their implementation. Barack Obama's diversion from his promise to the Armenian Diaspora in the USA to utter the word "genocide" in his address was perceived by the all of the Armenian people as an attempt of the US administration not to harm the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations to the detriment of recognition of the fact of the Armenian Genocide by the USA. The criticism of the Armenian authorities, which were accused of defeatist moods and betraying interests of the whole Armenian people was increasing and reached a moment when the Armenian president had to announce that he will go to the soccer match in Turkey only if the Armenian-Turkish border is open or if conditions for opening it will be created. The leaderships of Armenia and Turkey have experienced incredible pressure on the part of the USA, Russia and EU, so that the protocols be signed. And already on 30 August the content of the agreed principles was published. And the mechanism had been already launched. According to the time-table already six weeks after the publishing , the foreign ministers had to sign the protocols. I will later touch upon reactions of the Armenian, Karabakh and Azerbaijani societies to the possibility of signature of the protocols and their future implementation. Now I would like to draw your attention at the atmosphere in which signature of the protocols was taking place. Before the signature Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu tried to interpret the protocols in his own way, and an incident took place due to this. According to an arrangement and the protocol of the Swiss ministry of foreign affairs the signature of the protocols should be taking place in a university under music of an orchestra, with official speeches of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Turkey, the USA, Russia and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. Five hours ahead of ceremony of signature all speakers should have sent texts of their speeches to the Swiss foreign minister, and through her all the rest were to familiarize themselves with the texts. The Armenian delegation duly sent the text of the speech of the Armenian foreign minister to the Swiss, Turkey did not do this and was playing for time. Turkey's intention was extremely clear, according to their logic Armenia will not be able to frustrate the signature at that critical moment. When the Armenian side demanded from the Turkish side that it is provided an opportunity to familiarize itself with the text of the Turkish minister, Davutoglu's speech, the Turkish side showed a paper to an employee of the Armenian foreign ministry , which contained grave diversions from the arrangements. The Armenian ministry of foreign affairs and the Armenian foreign minister stopped departure for signature. The text of the Turkish minister contained a paragraph with a loose interpretation regarding the Armenian Genocide and elements hinting at preconditions for opening of the border connected with Karabakh. Hillary Clinton stayed in the room o the Armenian foreign minister for two hours, and her deputy, Phillip Gordon - in Davutoglu’s room, convincing to sign the protocols on: 1) Development of bilateral relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic o Turkey 2) On establishment of diplomatic relations. At Clinton’s suggestion the ministers would not make speeches not to focus attention on discords. As for reports disseminated in Russian mass media that as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a message to Nalbandyan so that he signs, - this did not happen. This is nothing but an attempt to save Russia’s face and show the whole world that Russia settled the conflict that emerged and the treat of frustrating signature of the protocols. Hillary Clinton was the one who did her best in order that the protocols be signed. Let’s consider the protocols, which cause a hailstorm of indignation among the Armenian public and the Armenian Diaspora, and also ambiguous attitude in Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Armenians are worried by two things, that the protocols do not point directly to, but there is a thought that creeps in the subtext on Armenia’s concession to Turkey in the issue of the Genocide. This is the intention on setting up a commission, which will deal with the historical issues, including for ''making issues more precise by means of impartial scientific studies of historical documents and archives and making assumptions''. The Armenians believe that the fact of the Genocide is not subject to being put into question and being discussed. At the same time the logic of the Turkish leadership is clear - on one hand establishment of such a commission will allow to drop the issue of recognition of the Genocide from the agenda in international arena as long as the commission works and activities of the commission can be prolonged for many years. On the other hand, if the commission comes to an unambiguous conclusion (which is quite problematic for different agendas of the Armenians and Turkey) on the Armenian Genocide, which did take place, then it would be much easier for the Turkish leadership , to recognize the fact of the Genocide and to apologize to the Armenian people proceeding from conclusions of the Armenian-Turkish commission. Not only Turkey, but also the USA and the European Union, and even a few Western countries, which already recognized the fact of the Genocide, are interested in establishment of such a commission. In this regard one should point out the words of an influential US senator, Richard Lugar, who is dealing with political processes in post- Soviet space. Lugar is sure that the Armenian-Turkish sub-commission, defined in the protocols, which in the framework of an intergovernmental commission of the two countries “contributes to elimination of discords around 1915 events. Debates around incidents of 1915 impact the US policy and practically every year they are initiated in the US Congress. This is something unhealthy for us and for our ties with Turkey and Armenia”, Lugar said. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the USA would make it more difficult to implement of the declared intentions of the US administration and its allies on deblocking the Armenian-Turkish border, which plays a significant role in the new Afghan campaign of the US administration. The Associated Press reported that according to an unnamed source in the US Department of State, the USA are interested in deblocking of the Armenian-Turkish border, in the first place, in connection with the possibility of opening a new corridor to Afghanistan. A transit corridor from Iraq, via Turkey and Armenia to Azerbaijan – to the Caspian coast, and then to Middle Asia can become an alternative to an unstable route via the (Persian) Gulf and Pakistan. Proceeding from this logic, it is impossible to achieve this goal without settlement of the Azerbaijani-Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Serious pressure on leaderships of the countries involved in the conflict is obvious and it is aimed at speediest settlement f the oldest and the bloodiest conflict on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The fact that not only the USA, but also Russia is interested in settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in the context of deblocking of Armenian- Turkish border, is amazing. The USA’s benefit is strategic, military-political and economic, Russia's benefit is economic. Although Russia has grave political risks either - this is in the first place giving Turkey access to the South Caucasus Region, which will break Russia's total hegemony. However, under conditions of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis, which hit the Russian economy worst of all, made Russia to restrain its imperialistic ambitions and preferring the economic benefit. Achievements of Russia and Turkey on construction of the South Current gas pipeline via Turkish maritime belt is an element of Russia's pragmatic approach to contemporary challenges. At the same time improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations and opening of the Armenian-Turkish border makes Russia's role in the South Caucasus very delicate, especially in the context of settlement of the Azerbaijani-Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Against the background of seeming pressure on the Armenian side with the aim of vacating territories f Azerbaijan controlled by the Nagorno Karabakh army, Russia achieved Azerbaijan's consent on transit of Azerbaijani gas via Russian infrastructure capacities. On one hand Russia, backing opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, and simultaneously, putting pressure on Armenia in the issue of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, achieved both a split between Azerbaijan and Turkey and the promise of the Azerbaijani leadership to reconsider its intention to transport Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbon resources to global markets via Turkey’s territory. That Azerbaian’s and Turkey’s relations have abruptly cooled down is proven by the fact that at a recent session of the Azerbaijani cabinet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that ''the unsettled status of transit issues between Azerbaijan and Turkey makes Baku search for new markets for Azerbaijani gas’’. The Azerbaijani president believes that due to excessive tariffs of transit of gas via Turkey’s territory, which are 70 per cent above market prices, Azerbaijan has been deprived of the opportunity to export its gas to Europe for almost 2 years already. Besides this led to delay of the second stage of development of Shah Deniz - one of the largest in the world gas-condensate deposits on the Caspian shelf, which required direct investments to the tune of 20 billion dollars. At the same time Ilham Aliyev especially emphasized that Azerbaijan sells its gas to Turkey at a price, which is three times lower than global prices. Such rhetoric and accusations to Turkey show that Azerbaijan made its choice after the Armenian-Turkish protocols has been signed. Azerbaijan accuses Turkey of betraying interests of the younger brother regardless of assurances of the Turkish leadership that it would not open the Armenian-Turkish border without vacation of occupied territories. At the same time, having achieved Azerbaijan’s reorientation towards Russian geopolitical and economic interests, Russia clearly understands the possibility of losing Armenia out of its control. An excessively rough and speedy pressure upon Armenia aimed at vacation of territories and unquestioning acceptance of the Madrid principles of settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict can create conditions under which Armenia will distance itself from Russia and would more and more turning towards the West via possibilities of opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. In such a case, de-freezing of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict with catastrophic consequences of the whole South Caucasus region is not excluded. It is also certain that absence of communications between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Turkey and Armenia, weak opportunities f Armenian-Georgian interactions have at large predetermined weak implementation of international communication and energy regional and trans-regional projects. This led to the necessity to refuse from the ideology of isolating Armenia form global projects, and beginning its accelerated involvement into international projects. Opening of the Armenian-Turkish border is a start in this direction. Moreover, this is the beginning of diversification of Armenia's geopolitical conduct and the USA''s and the West's greater involvement into Armenia's economic and political life. Russia is aware of this threat. If Russia's instantaneous benefit is in reorientation of Azerbaijani economic interests towards its geopolitical and economic ones, then in the long term loss of influence in Armenia will not only reduce its possibilities to control the situation in the South Caucasus, but can impact relations with Iran either. Armenian-Turkish relations cannot but impact the Armenian-Iranian relations either. Iran turned out to be the most consistent country in its relations with Armenia for the past 20 years. The Armenian leadership and Armenians of the whole world value the capacity of Armenian- Iranian relations and will do their best in order that opening of Armenian-Turkish border does no weaken Armenian-Iranian relations in any way. In this regard it is necessary to point out that the Iranian leadership approves of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and sees their development as a guarantee of stability in the region. Probably, one of important components of the interest of the West in normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is to be closer to Iran via their improvement and to have an opportunity to adequately react to challenges which come from the Iranian leadership. At the same time, irrespective of certain vigilance on Iran’s part in connection with strengthening of the Western presence in immediate proximity t the Iranian border, improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations is viewed there also as a possibility of change of the West’s attitude towards Iran and Iran’s participation in regional and global projects. As for economic relations with Iran, an Armenian deputy foreign minister, Shavarsh Kocharyan, said that deblocking of infrastructures that connect Armenia and Turkey does not at all mean suspending projects with Iran. This refers both to the railway and other infrastructure and energy projects linking Armenia to Iran. In the whole settlement of relations between Armenia and Turkey cannot be carried out to the detriment of the developing relations between Armenia and Iran. The prospect of opening of the borders cannot but impact Armenia’s relations with Georgia, which after the blockade of the territory of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh on Turkey’s and Azerbaijan part became the major transit country in the South Caucasus region. Armenia’s dependence upon Georgia as on a transit country is so great that Armenia always closed eyes on crying facts of violation of rights of Armenians in Georgia, including violence over Armenian cultural monuments and loose interpretation of Georgia's history by Georgian leaders after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recently Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan speaking about the rights of Armenians in Armenian-populated Javakheti region of Georgia, noted the necessity of assigning the Javakheti region a status of a cultural autonomy. No one could imagine such a thing in the period of worsening of Armenian-Turkish relations. At that time such a sentence would mean beginning of Armenia's blockade on the part of Georgia either. However August 2008 events made the predictable conduct of the Georgian leadership vulnerable, and if Georgia carried out unfriendly actions in Armenia's regard it could have received a hot conflict on its territory. Of course, the statement of the Armenian president also contains influence of Russia, which tries to do it best to destabilize situation in Georgia and by means of Armenians to take infrastructures running through Georgia's Armenian-populated region under its control. However the brave statement of the Armenian president is mostly based on possibilities of opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, which along with infrastructure projects with Iran, will diversify Georgia’s and Armenia’s transit opportunities. At the same time, as an Armenian deputy foregin minister, Shavarsh Kocharyan, fairly noted in his interview to the Regnum news agency: “If one views the regional processes in the global aspect, normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations can only contribute to raising the level of Armenian-Georgian cooperation to a higher level, because in the context where a degree of communication dependence is present, a factor of use of such a dependence may emerge. And normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations will allow Yerevan and Tbilisi to continue cooperation without such possible complications. Moreover, taking into account the tension in the South Caucasus region, a greater involvement o various layers stems from interests of each of them individually. So, Georgia may lose in small things, but wins in a greater one from normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations''. After the war of 2008 in the South Caucasus, when illusions of the European Union countries and the USA on establishing democracy in a separate country and its integration into NATO and the EU broke in an instant, it became apparent that a new geopolitical situation emerged in the South Caucasus region and the Asian Near East, and that this situation may bury not only multi-billion investments of transnational companies and intergovernmental international entities in the South Caucasus region , but real Western presence in the South Caucasus either. The thing that happened after Russia divested from Georgia he self-proclaimed states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and connected with reorientation mainly of Azerbaijani foreign and economic policy from the West to Russia and to the East (Iran), and the threat of recurrence of Russia's August adventure, made the USA and EU change their strategic conduct in the South Caucasus already in regard of the Azerbaijani- Nagorno Karabakh conflict. It is quite obvious that with loss of the breakaway regions and with establishment of an authoritarian regime at present Georgia has lost its attractiveness as of a country via which the West sought to carry out is geopolitical interests in the regions of South Caucasus, Asian Near East Middle and Central Asia. It is also obvious that the only possible chance for the West to keep its shaken positions in the South Caucasus was Armenia's involvement in the game devised by the USA and EU, with dividends both for Armenia and countries in the region as a whole. This game envisages gradual withdrawal of Armenia out of Russia's total control, by diversifying its political bias and economic capacity. However, it is quite obvious that without settlement of the Azerbaijani-Nagorno-Karabakh conflict it is impossible to achieve Armenia’s full-fledged reorientation from Russia to the West. The settlement f the Nagorno Karabakh issue is quite complicated in the context of interests of the West both in use of hydrocarbon resources and communication capacities of Azerbaijan and in connection with the West’s new policy in regard of Armenia, which in many things replaced Georgia’s role in the South Caucasus. I view contradictions between the content of the text of the Armenian-Turkish protocols and verbal interpretation of the Turkish leadership on existence of preconditions for opening of the Armenian-Turkish border , namely vacation of all territories occupied by Karabakh troops during hostilities, the so-called Azerbaijani territories, which are security belt for the people of the Nagorno Karabakh. I believe this is done in order to maintain the capacity of relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, in order to prevent another depolarization in the South Caucasus, which can be currently seen as Russia-Azerbaijan on one hand and Armenia-Turkey-West on the other hand. Armenian-Turkish protocols produced ambiguous reaction in the Nagorno Karabakh society. If the leadership of Nagorno Karabakh backs in a reserved way the intention of the Armenian leadership to unblock relations between Armenia and Turkey, although the president of Nagorno Karabakh announced unambiguously that interpretation on preconditions of the protocols, regarding vacation of territories controlled by Karabakh troops, are not permissible for future settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. At the same time, taking into account dependence of the Karabakh authorities on Armenia, one can assume that the Nagorno Karabakh authorities will not counteract to the process of implementation of arrangements between Armenia and Turkey. On the other hand, in Nagorno Karabakh political circles the authorities of Nagorny Karabakh imitate a process of expressing discontent with the content of the protocols and their verbal interpretation on the part of the Turkish leadership. One act is quite apparent – if that real preconditions exist in the protocols, which are not published anywhere, and in case of Armenia's intention to start the process of implementation regarding withdrawal of troops form Nagorno Karabakh and vacation o so-called occupied territories, a total rebellion of Nagorno Karabakh will start and militaries will be the first one to rebel. The territories about vacation of which the Turkish leadership numerously stated as a precondition for opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, have been serving as an efficient safety belt for the population of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic for 15 years already and at the same time are already a part of the existing system of regional and global security. And any attempt to break this existing and stable system of security will provoke a process of destabilization not only in the South Caucasus region. Fortunately, lately the Armenian leadership has realized the whole danger of involving into the process of negotiations on vacation of territories. I mean the negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group around the Madrid principles, the cornerstone of which is withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. In Armenia, the foreign minister and the president in particular, who are holding talks with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group (representatives of France, the USA, and Russia), did not ascribe special importance to the text of the coordinated Madrid principles, which, being attractive at a first glance, had an underlying meaning. First of all this referred at a possibility of holding a referendum on the future status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic… To the discredit of the Armenian diplomacy, which unlike the Azerbaijani one (which engaged whole entities, including foreign ones, into work on the text of future agreements on settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, and at the same time achieved results of the talks to its benefit), it (the Armenian diplomacy), in the framework of the negotiations under inertia of the last two years was practically guiding Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to capitulation and loss of positive dividends, which de-facto shaped as a result of rebuff of Azerbaijan’s military aggression against the self-proclaimed sovereign state of Nagorno Karabakh. And it has been few months only that upon realizing a grave defeat in the negotiation process in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group , the Armenian president has set up a group of experts to study all agreed documents and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group and development of recommendations both on amendments to and interpretation of the texts and guidance of the negotiation process in order to eliminate undesired consequences for the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. So this group has developed a document, which is written in a very simple language, so that it is clear to even to people who are not professional diplomats, and which reflects all faults made by Armenian diplomats, and also recommendations on the course of holding the negotiations, and also attempts to change or to ignore the already coordinated (but inadmissible for Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic) provisions of the future agreement. This document was introduced to the Armenian authorities as guidance for actions. This document has had its positive impact. Already starting from summits in Saint Petersburg, in Prague, and then the CIS summit in Chisinau, where presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia in presence of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group continued talks on coordinating the document on settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Armenian side demonstrated a new approach, which is based on extension of elaboration of details of already coordinated issues, and as a result the Azerbaijani side demonstrated non-constructivism and total disregard of interests of the Armenian side. Statements of the Azerbaijani side on lack of progress in the talks are explained by this. Moreover the USA, France and Russia have reduced their optimism on achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Karabakh issue by the end of the current year. Turkey's aspiration to link opening of the Armenian-Turkish border with vacation of Azerbaijani territories did not take effect. Even Azerbaijan’s threat to start a military operation in case of break of the talks and refusal of Armenians to withdraw from the territories, is no more that topical for the Armenian side because at present Armenia’s military doctrine is being reoriented from a defensive nature to challenges coming from Azerbaijan. Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic are ready for war and are convinced that implementation of the Madrid principles will lead to war sooner or later. In this regard it is extremely important to realize the whole significance of the Armenian-Turkish protocols, implementation of which will allow increasing stability in the South Caucasus region, to start serious integration and investment projects in all spheres of human dimension. In this context the level of trust of population of the South Caucasus and Asian Near East will grow and problems, which have come to the present as ballast from the past, will be being solved significantly more easily.