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It’s Time for Armenia and Azerbaijan to Speak Without a Mediator: Russian Expert

Armenia should not put its hope on Russia, as well as on Azerbaijan’s military weakness, while Baku should understand that Karabakh does not belong to Moscow, said Political Expert Group (Moscow) leader Konstantin Kalachev during an interview to Echo.az.

"It seems in Azerbaijan, that they see Armenia as Russia’s vassal and nothing more. They reject the Armenian perspective. If it really is that way then they must come to an agreement with Moscow over Karabakh and earn their sympathy. Let Russia decide what it wants to ask for Karabakh and everything will be good. By using the Karabakh case, Russia can construct relations with Azerbaijan, while they can’t return Azerbaijan to its former autonomy, and there is no point if Azerbaijan enters the Customs Union or not. Armenia has its opinion regarding this issue. Thinking that Russia will break Armenia is being naive.

Russia’s foreign policy toward the South Caucasus is entirely based on a different approach. Those approaches rule out the implementation of violence against permanent allies. Yes, Russia is not against having more influence over Baku, which is already happening, for example, the selling of arms. But that does not at all mean that they are preparing to exchange one ally for the other. Russian diplomacy does not work like that and the game is much more nuanced. It is not possible to “serve Karabakh on a tray to Azerbaijan” because it does not belong to Russia.

In its turn, Armenia should not overestimate today’s realities. It is obvious that Armenians do not consider Azerbaijan a strong military state. The latest incidents consolidate that confidence that Azerbaijan is not ready for a military solution. The issue is that if they do become ready then it may be too late to come to an agreement. While putting hope on Russia is entirely an act of self-deception. Nevertheless, it is not important who the mediator is. What is important to acknowledge is that one side is enough for war, while two sides are necessary for peace. This is my personal opinion."

֊ Do you think that land can only be returned via military solution?

"If you want peace, prepare for war. They won’t give it peacefully. While an exchange is possible only in case of Azerbaijan’s strategic advantage and the country's willingness to put aside its emotions. Forgive me, but at the moment everything is directed towards anti-Armenian hysteria. On Facebook, I read the statements of Azerbaijani journalists about Armenians. There is not even a scent of compromise in them. While the possibilities of war are limited, territorial exchanges would be a way out of the narrow path of war.

It is obvious, however, that the influential third party powers are in the interest of keeping the status quo, while the authorities in Armenia for objective and subjective reasons, would barely be prepared for any compromise. Personally, you can not suspect that I do not have respect or sympathy toward the Armenian side. And, therefore, I think that the time has come to think of compromise. Then I think the conditions may really be of a compromising nature.

It is time for Azerbaijan and Armenia to learn to talk to each other and come to agreements without a mediator. Others are only gaining and fulfilling their interests from this issue. With respect to the USA and love for my fatherland, Russia."