Expert: Europe must play more active role in resolving conflicts on territory of European continent

Politics Materials 13 March 2010 13:54 (UTC +04:00)
Trend News interview with the Director of the Russia-Eurasia Center of the Council on Foreign Relations of Germany Alexander Rahr, specifically for the Yeni Azerbaycan newspaper
Expert: Europe must play more active role in resolving conflicts on territory of European continent

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 13 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva/

Trend interview with the Director of the Russia-Eurasia Center of the Council on Foreign Relations of Germany Alexander Rahr, specifically for the Yeni Azerbaycan newspaper

Trend : How would strengthening the role of France, particularly the EU, affect the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement?   

Alexander Rahr: France has certain tools of pressure on the conflicts, since it has a definite position in the European Union, not always identifying itself with the EU. France sees itself as the former empire, with its geopolitical interests, so it would be good if it makes an initiative.

However, there are several problems here: firstly, the U.S. does not much allow France into the South Caucasus region and secondly, it needs to take into account that one of the most powerful Armenian lobby in the world exist in France that can prevent Paris from playing an objective role in resolving this conflict.

With regards to the EU as a whole, I believe that Europe should play a more active role in resolving conflicts on the territory of the European continent and not give all to American geopolitics. But the problem is that the EU countries have no consensus and clear mechanisms for implementation of policies of peacemaking and settlement.

Q: How important do You consider the role of Kazakhstan, as the OSCE chairman this year, in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which announced its priorities to resolve protracted conflicts?

A: I would wish Kazakhstan all the best in peacekeeping in the former Soviet Union territory. Astana would be a great mediator, showing that not only Russia can be a peacekeeper in the former Soviet Union territory and play a leading role.

Unfortunately, the West does not want to inject new energy into the OSCE and Kazakhstan's hands are tied with many things. The OSCE has no serious tools, the organization has recently gone on the backward in international politics. Now the primary and dominant role in Europe is played by such institutions as NATO and the new structures inside the EU. OSCE is slowly dying, and perhaps, Kazakhstan could revive the organization. However, it is difficult when many members of the OSCE are not interested.

Q: How will recent developments in the U.S. Congress with the adoption of resolution on the so-called "Armenian genocide" at the lower house affect the process of the Armenian-Turkish negotiations?

Q: The U.S. government opposes against the recognition of the so-called "Armenian genocide". So, the current government in the U.S., Barack Obama's government really stands for genuine peacemaking, trying to prevent tensions between Turkey and Armenia. Those that happened at the lower house of Congress are an attempt of American neoconservatives in pursuing their policy, hindering Obama's policies. This is an unconstructive and dangerous policy to make such decisions in Congress, when country's whole policy is directed to open borders between Turkey and Armenia, allowing the South Caucasus to join the West.

Q: Recent developments with the "reboot" between the U.S. and Russia talk about Washington's desire to enlist Moscow's support over Iran's nuclear program. Will Moscow support Washington in this regard? 

A: Preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be in Russia's interests. Pretty scary thing is that over the past 10 years such nuclear powers as Pakistan, India and North Korea appeared on Russia's southern borders. Therefore, Russia should be interested in the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. However, in my opinion, Russia is afraid of something larger than the nuclear threat, namely that NATO forces and the U.S. will surround it, not only from the west, but also from the south. Russia fears that the U.S. could return to Iran as it was in the period of Shah Mohammed Reza Pehlivi, it will have bases in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, then Russia will be isolated and surrounded by the U.S. military infrastructure.

But one day Russia will have to choose between two evils. What it will choose is the big question: to help the U.S. or wait for the emergence of another nuclear power on its borders. There is no chance of winning. There is only an opportunity to choose the lesser of the two evils.

Q: The Italian Eni Company's head proposed to merge the gas pipeline projects of South Stream and Nabucco. He thinks that it will reduce the cost of these projects, in particular, investment and operating costs. He said it will accelerate the return of funds invested in the project. How do you think, is this idea feasible?

A: It is not just possible, it is necessary! Europe does not need two pipes and Nabucco- this is a purely political project that did not had an economic ins and outs, but was designed to limit Russia's influence as a gas supplier to Europe from Central Asia. If all parties agree and the pipe id laid in the building, in which the Russian companies will take part and Russia will be able to monitor the gas passage, receiving money for the transit of its fuel, the very logic dictates that there must be built one pipeline.

In the end, presently, not politicians, but investors decide everything and many Western companies are already inclined to join Nabucco and South Stream. The question now is whether Russia will cooperate with the investors and companies willing to implement such a project.

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