Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.9
By Elena Kosolapova, Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The Armenian government hurts the interests of its own people by its irrational policy, the principal of The Tool Shed Group, LLC (TSG, LLC), a consultancy that advises foreign governments, NGOs and corporations in the realms of strategic communications, politics and policy, Jason Katz said in the article on The Hill newspaper website.
"Few regions of the world are, in general, as prosperous, stable and reliably Western-oriented as the South Caucasus," Katz, who is also former head of Public Affairs and Public Relations for the American Jewish Committee, based in Los Angeles, said in the article.
" "The South Caucasus has become, with one exception, one of the most cohesively prosperous regions in the world and amongst the most influential and affluent in the former Soviet Union."
"Comprised of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and peripherally Turkey, the South Caucasus region is, mostly, energy rich and stands as a much needed and viable alternative for European natural gas supplies in the near-term and well into the future," according to the article. "Read that as an alternative to the chaotic, military and foreign policy driven natural gas from Moscow."
Recently, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia met in Turkey's northeastern province of Kars to discuss regional cooperation, said Katz. He went on to add that this fourth trilateral summit included meetings between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey - Elmar Mammadyarov, Tamar Beruchashvili and Mevlut Cavusoglu.
"Conspicuously absent from this meeting and, indeed, from all discussions on regional development, energy and general regional prosperity was Armenia," Katz said. "Armenia, another former Soviet Republic, has oddly chosen to excuse itself from the growing prosperity of the region."
Katz says Armenia has taken a decidedly different path, a path that has necessitated all but the complete surrender of Armenia's sovereignty.
"As the other nations of the South Caucasus have embarked upon and continue to navigate independent foreign and economic policies leading to prosperity for their people, Armenia has increasingly become a vassal state of the Russian Federation in direct contradiction to the best interests of their people."
Katz said that Armenia's borders and airspace are patrolled by Moscow. "In fact, Armenia is the last of the former Soviet Republics to host Russian military bases, even recently signing agreements to keep them there well into the coming decades - 2044," according to Katz. "Recently, Russia's FSB, a successor to KGB, issued a press statement about its operation in Armenia, nominally a foreign state!"
Katz also notes in the article that as the South Caucasus region and surrounding regions seek closer links with the European Union, Armenia has opted to join the Eurasian Customs Union.
"Armenia even joined nations like North Korea, Syria, Sudan and a couple of other rogues, voting against Ukraine's territorial integrity at UN in 2014," said the article.
"This is all done against the backdrop of an increasingly poor nation in Armenia and a severely dwindling population as a result of mass exoduses of Armenians to other nations due to the dire economic situation there," said Katz.
He believes the answer to Armenian prosperity is sadly quite simple.
"Leave behind the shackles imposed by the Russians, past wars with Azerbaijan and embrace the future, again in the best interest of the Armenian people."
"At the twilight of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a war over the Azerbaijani lands of Nagorno Karabakh and its surrounding districts," said Katz. "Following ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis in Nagorno Karabakh and surrounding regions, Azerbaijan possesses nearly a million refugees, designated as internally displaced peoples. In their place is an unrecognized area, even by Armenia, seeking to be the second failed Armenian state. During the fighting, Turkey closed its border with Armenia in solidarity with Azerbaijan."
"Fast forward more than 20 years and the entire region is fabulously prosperous while Armenia stubbornly holds on to Azerbaijani lands and is thus left in the cold," said the article. "Speaking at a joint press conference following the meeting, Cavusoglu of Turkey eluded to the real players, the afore mentioned nations, hold out hope for Armenia's involvement, as Turkey's Cavusoglu pronounced that Turkey supports respect for Azerbaijani and Georgian territories, adding that he hopes Armenia will also cooperate."
"Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Mammadyarov added that problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia have yet to be solved," said the author. "International agreements should be the basis for a solution," said Mammadyarov, according to the article.
"Armenian leadership must do itself a favor and in doing so save the sovereignty and viability of their nation," Katz said.
He went on to add that in particular, Armenia needs to return the occupied lands of Azerbaijan with an ironclad agreement that Azerbaijanis will return to their homes and lands and that ethnic Armenians will be protected and given the same rights as any other citizen of Azerbaijan.
Based on this gesture, Armenia should work with Turkey to reopen their mutual border, Katz said. "If events of WWI are an impediment to these negotiations, Armenia should agree to a tribunal of scholars to explore exactly what happened in WWI and what to do about it all these years later."
Armenia needs to work to repair ties and relationships with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, said the article. Then, it is needed to force the Armenian Diaspora to use the considerable money spent on lobbying related to the issues of events in WWI and Nagorno Karabakh to invest in Armenia's economic survival, according to the author.
Following these steps, Armenia should engage in talks on regional development and be a player in existing and future projects, Katz said.
"Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey are open to solving this frozen conflict, furthering and expanding regional development and integration and most of all Armenia will be better off and stronger for it," said the article.