Sergey Sargsyan
Interview to “168 Hours” newspaper, May 16, 2008

1. How does the “balance of the geopolitical interests” expressed now in regard to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, and how important is that balance for the settlement process?

The balance of geopolitical interests regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict means just that the currently existing status quo is the most acceptable among really possible situations for the main regional and external actors.

The most probable passage from one situation to another, maybe, no less acceptable balance of the geopolitical interests, is resumption of the military actions. In their course, and most possibly for quite a long period after the end of their active phase, the situation in the region will remain unstable. Here are the new flows of refugees, as well as the prospect of the humanitarian catastrophe, the threat to the economical interests in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the oil and gas transit through the region, which is not in the interests of many.

It seems that the real and effective reaction of the international community to the resumption of the military actions in Karabakh will be defined by the speed of the military campaign, the dynamics and final result of the offensive/ defensive operations of the parties. And its vector will be aimed at establishing the situation in the “nearest” possible real and least costly balance of geopolitical interests – either the “old” situation, or any new one.

Understanding of existence of several situations of the balance of interests acceptable for the main geopolitical actors urges all parties to the conflict to evaluation of possible scenarios of its development and realization of the most acceptable one for the given party.

At present it expressed by the accumulation of the offensive military potential by Azerbaijan, i.e. purchasing of the heavy armament, reformation of all security and military structures. As for Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, they should consolidate their defensive potential, and develop of scenarios of passing from the passive defense to the active one. (В настоящее время это сводится к накоплению Азербайджаном наступательного военного потенциала – закупке тяжелого вооружения, реформированию всех своих силовых структур, а для Армении и Нагорно-Карабахской Республики – к укреплению своего оборонительного потенциала, разработку сценариев перехода от пассивной к активной обороне.)

2. To which main conclusions it is possible to come after recognition of Kosovo’s independence? Can it be an exclusion from the accepted international rules?

It is understandable that the international community is trying to create a “unique” technique for settlement for each “unique” conflict to reach “unique” results as long as in these conflicts all geopolitical actors, to say nothing of the neighboring countries, have different interests.

Recognition of Kosovo’s independence really can become an exclusion, but the point is that it will hardly become an absolute exclusion, taking into consideration the trends in development of the geopolitical processes; there will be others as well.

3. Which international institutes, from your point of view, are able to really contribute to security of the Armenian people, and which international mediation format is best for the Armenian party?

Those, responsing (?) meeting the following requirements:

– being really specialized on the settlement of the South Caucasian problems;

– having especially appropriated structures for the comprehensive and profound study of all aspects of the conflict;

– possessing a high international authority;

– uniting the states, but not on the ethnic or confessional basis.

For today they can be UN, OSCE, NATO, CSTO and SOC.

Even in the seeming or real conflict of interests among them, one of the main tasks of their existence is development of the equal regional cooperation and establishment of the long-lasting peace.

Stemming from these criteria, at present the most suitable structure for mediation in the search of the ways for settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group.

4. There are two approaches in the issue of importance of geopolitics: nothing depends on the parties to the conflict, so the settlement will be when the superpowers would like it; and the second opinion is, that settlement depends only on the parties to the conflict, and the complicated geopolitical processes, impeding the settlement, they are just suitable excuses for the parties. Which of these two explanations is more substantiated by your opinion?

The settlement of any conflict like the Nagorno-Karabakh one depends on the balance of military-political, economical potentials, moral-psychological state of the societies, the abilities and professionalism of the state governance of the parties to the conflict. It also depends on the importance of the situation when the conflicts still not resolved for the main geopolitical and regional actors. While the balance of forces between the parties to the conflict is preserved, in case if the conflict in reality (and not in perceptions of the parties to the conflict) does not pose danger to the regional and global actors, the status quo can last long.

As for the change of the geopolitical situation in the future it can be compensated fully or partially by an appropriate change of the balance of forces between the parties to the conflict. But leading such an active policy aimed for defense of interests in the conditions of the dynamic geopolitical processes needs carrying out of the effective multi-optional and multi-vector strategic analysis and prognosis. The party to the conflict that will be capable in shortening the time of its reaction to the regional or geopolitical processes, will be able to conduct more successful foreign and internal policies and will be less dependant from the external geopolitical processes.

5. The common features and differences in the post Soviet conflicts (the Nagorno Karabakh, Abkhazian, South-Ossetian, Chechen, Transniestrian conflicts)?

Among all indications of these conflicts that have a cardinal influence on their development the presence of the ethnic and confessional components can be pointed out.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has much more differences from the other conflicts:

  1. The process of the NKR’s secession from the USSR and Azerbaijani SSR was made with full compliance with all required legal and juridical procedures; NKR has more indications of the established state.
  2. Only in the case of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict among the other existing ones there are no peace-keepers with any international mandate.
  3. In case of resumption of the full-scale war, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict will pass to an open inter-state clash.
  4. The front line in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict’s case is the most equipped in the engineering and technological aspect; the sniper war continues.
  5. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has less poly-ethnic nature.
  6. In the conflict zone there was a forcible expel of the Armenian population from Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani population from Armenia and NKR. Not considering the humanitarian aspect of this problem, it is necessary to note that the lack of the potential “fifth column” resulted in the absence of the guerilla war; as for the intelligence-sabotage activity it is quite poorly exposed.
  7. There are no directs talks between Baku and Stepanakert, there are no any contacts between the parties to the conflict on the state (governmental ?) and public levels.
  8. The area of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is on the junction of the borders of three states. (at the interfaces between three states ?)