Best option is to link opening of Armenian-Turkish border to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement: British expert

Best option is to link opening of Armenian-Turkish border to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement: British expert

Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 17 / Trend E.Ostapenko /

The best option scenario now would be to link the opening of the Turkey-Armenia with the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, British Transatlantic Institute Director Ziba Norman said.

"But, the political realities dictate that it will not be that smoothly achieved. There are too many players who are looking to derail the process. Not least, those in power in the Nagorno-Karabakh itself," Norman wrote Trend in an e-mail.

Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers Ahmet Davutoglu and Edward Nalbandian signed the Ankara-Yerevan protocols in Zurich Oct. 10. Diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey have been broken due to Armenia's claims of an alleged genocide, and its occupation of Azerbaijani lands. The border between them has been broken since 1993.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. General Assembly's resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.

According to Norman, the U.S is looking to enhance ties with Armenia, for example, by drawing "Armenia into the NATO partnership action plan.  Opening the Turkey-Armenia border is a very important aspect of this, so support for Serzh Sargsyan will be essential if this is to be realized."

Regarding the U.S. Congress granting financial aid to the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh, Norman noted that the U.S assistance to Armenia has declined compared with previous years, despite Obama's promises to the Armenian lobby on the eve of taking office.

"This shows the Obama Administration have understood the real political realities of the situation and will not blindly support one side, the expert added.

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate approved a bill on the general appropriations for the 2010 fiscal year, according to which assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh will be allocated to the amount of $8 million. Any restrictions on the implementation of programs in Karabakh have been removed.

President Serzh Sargsyan's foreign policy dissatisfies the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. and this group is the group that lobbied for the allocation of money and trying to derail the peace process.

"By making a concession to the Diaspora lobby, who have argued for these funds to be unrestricted, the US may hope to ease conditions for negotiations," Norman believes.

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