Thomas de Waal, a British journalist and writer specializing in Eastern Europe and the Cuacasus (Carnegie Endowment), considers Azerbaijan the biggest challenge to the normalization of the Armenia-Turkey relations.
In a recent interview with Tert.am, the analyst expressed a strong belief that the two countries would have longed reached an accord and opened border if not the Azerbaijani factor. “If it hadn’t been for Azerbaijan, I think that the [Zurich] Protocols – and the entire the process – would have worked. And the Armenian-Turkish border would be open now.
“Today Azerbaijan located very effectively in Ankara. Since the influence of Azerbaijan is growing in Turkey – SOCAR is a very powerful economic player – President [Ilham] Aliyev expresses solidarity with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan; during the coup, he very strongly supported [the Turkish leader].
So the relations have got really stronger between Azerbaijan and Turkey, which means that it’s [the Armenia-Turkey process] got very difficult now,” he said.
Asked to comment on Armenia’s decision to annul the protocols only ten years after their signing, the expert said he is somewhat uncertain about President Serzh Sargsyan’s move. “I am not sure I understand why this was done. I think that it was possible to leave these protocols on the shelf for a better day. So I don’t think it was a constructive step. Having said that, I guess we have to wait for a moment when this whole process can begin again in a new geopolitical environment”
Addressing the Armenian leader’s earlier statement that the country would be willing to embark on a normalization process with a revised document, the analyst said he thinks that the everything would be easier if the two processes (Armenia-Turkey and Armenia-Azerbaijan) were separate. “But I see that they are closely linked as it’s very difficult to solve one without the other.”
Mr de Waal agreed that the international community lost its interest in the protocols after the signing in October 2009. “We certainly know that the international community likes a success story, so when the protocols were signed, everyone who was there – [US Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton, [High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy] Javier Solana and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov – [were actively engaged in the process]. As it begins to fail, the international community unfortunately loses its interest,” he added.