An expert in South Caucasus matters Viktor Yakubyan answered the question of the IA REGNUM reporter regarding Eurasian prospects of Armenia, as well as the influence of the Karabakh conflict on the process of Yerevan entering the Customs Union. To recap, the other day in Astana the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev stated that Armenia could join the Customs Union within the borders recognized by the UNO. Kazakhstani President reminded that in that very limits Armenia had joined the WTO.
REGNUM: There was nothing about Karabakh in Nazarbayev’s statement, nevertheless the context is out of doubts – it is definitely about Karabakh. Why has the leader of Kazakhstan raised this issue in such public even demonstrative way? Which is the point of such presentation?
The point of such demonstrative presentation was clear already in few days – in Turkish Bodrum, where Nursultan Nazarbayev had a meeting with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. This presentation continued with Nazarbayev’s invitation for Turkey to become an associated partner of the Eurasian Economic Union. Thus Kazakhstan undertakes the function to lobby and guide the Eurasian project in the Turkic world. In the current geopolitical situation, such activity of Nazarbayev is of extreme importance for Russia, which is interested in strengthening of political and trade-economic relations with Nazarbayev as well as Turkey within the frameworks of the CU.
Another matter is whether such demonstrative presentation of Nazarbayev was of anti-Armenia character? To my mind, no. In reality after the statement of the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan that Armenia had had no intentions to strive for NKR inclusion into the Customs Union, so matter was settled. And in my opinion it was the result of the so-called multi-vector foreign policy of Armenia, when the President is dealing with the main thing – relations with Russia, and the lower officials go deeper into the rhetoric of relations with the West. In this case in the traditional pair “pro-Russian President – pro-European Prime Minister “ the new Prime Minister of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan had his debut. In Brussels he stated that both Karabakh and Armenia are the common customs territory, as if Karabakh follows Armenia everywhere. I.e. some lack of skills of Abrahamyan in foreign policy reveals.
The comment of Nazarbayev was the answer to these and other various semi-official assumptions of Armenian politicians that entering of Armenia into the CU leads to automatic spreading of the new customs regime also on the NKR. The assumptions of Armenia incited an understandable reaction of Azerbaijan, appealing to Moscow, Minsk and Astana with demands for explanations. Nazarbayev gave those explanations.
REGNUM: So Armenia is not a party to the talks on its entering of the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU), and acts rather as a driven entity. This is indirectly proven also by the reaction of Serzh Sargsyan to the outlined question of Nazarbayev and contradictory information of the representatives of Armenian power? The “information hunger” in the issue of Armenian integration, etc. What threats occur for Armenia in the established situation?
To my mind, Eurasian integration is an unbiased geopolitical process provided by the current economic situation in the world. The same, as the process of the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Free Trade Area developed by the USA and the EU. Armenia, as any other country, has become a member of the political process of joining this or that union, as it was required for its economy and security. No one is going to thank Armenia for it. The choice was done on the ground of its own interests.
Russian vector is the most active and integrated into the system of political and military interests of Armenia, and it has turned out to be objectively dominating. There can be no threats on the way within the limits of the current priorities. Contrary, there would be threats and their acute growth in case of the alternative choice, which is demonstrated today in Ukraine.
As for the reaction of Serzh Sargsyan, he probably didn’t expect such move of his Kazakhstani colleague, although there are no doubts that he was perfectly aware of his considerations. But as it has been already mentioned, Nazarbayev gave importance not to the reaction of Armenia, but to the plans of Azerbaijan and Turkey, with which Kazakhstan has multiple big projects and significant prospects. The ability to influence the wants of Armenia, to influence Armenian-Russian relations is another trump card for Nazarbayev within the relations with Baku and Ankara.
REGNUM: Does Kazakhstan act on behalf and observing the interests of the Eurasian Union or just its own?
Time will show, as well as further moves of Baku.
REGNUM: The statement of Nursultan Nazarbayev made evident the fact of influence of Azerbaijan on the integration processes with the participation of Armenia. That is to say Armenia obviously depends from Azerbaijan. How great this dependence is and which means may Baku use to accumulate its pressing potential?
I wouldn’t talk about one-sided dependence of Armenia from Azerbaijan in this case. If Azerbaijan wanted to join the Customs Union, the issue of the new customs border of the union would be in the agenda again. Eventually the problem of Baku is that it is not able to control the processes in Nagorny Karabakh. And nothing will change after entering of Armenia into the Customs Union. Taking the factor of Karabakh out of the matter of Armenia’s joining the CU, the influence of Azerbaijan on the integration way of Armenia vanishes. It is also senseless to accumulate pressing potential. The matter of Karabakh cannot be regulated this way.
Another thing is that activity of Nazarbayev raises an interesting question among the experts – what are the chances to regulate the matter of Karabakh (and this also involves release of Armenian-Turkish border) within the frameworks of the Eurasian integration process with the participation of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey? This would be a perfect option of settling South Caucasus for Russia. In case of Baku’s choice in favor of Eurasia there shall be no alternative left for Georgia. Then the matter of Abkhaz railway release shall be solved. But these are only optimistic assumptions. Now the most important is the fight for Azerbaijan, and here Kazakhstan and Russia act together in a tandem, which only reduces military risks for Armenia.
Translation from Regnum