In an interview with Tert.am, Bagrat Estukian, the Armenian language editor of the Istanbul based weekly Agos, warned of real hazards linked to Turkey’s possible intervention in the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) peace talks.
Commenting on the meeting held between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group mission, Estukian said he doesn’t ever expect the country to mainatain an unbiased stance on the entire process.
“That’s a dengerous step as Turkey cannot possibly be ubiased in the Nagorno-Karabakh [conflict settlement] process. And given that the disagreement is between two sides, all the rest are required to demonstrate neutrality. Turkey, as you know, is fully [an interested] party; hence its engagement cannot possibly bring any contribution to the process,” he said, stressing the urgent importance of keeping the country maximum away from the negotiations.
Asked why Turkey rememebered about Karabakh now that it is totally preooccupied with the Syrian issue in Idlib, Estukian said he believes that they country is thus trying to gain dividends on the international arena. “The impression is that the Tuirkish authorities think the more they have problems abroad, the easier it will be for them to maintain power inside the country. Turkey has problems in both the Easern Mediterranean and Libya, let alone Syria. Unsatisfied with that though, it now seeks a mediatory role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process. Western countries permanently give the go-ahead to such adventurous policies by Turkey. And their support was great also over the Syrian issue. This is why I am not in the least surprised at the developments that took now,” he said.
Estukian did not even rule out a possible bargaining over Karabakh. “That’s a permanent cause of trouble for us. The kind of scenario always being in place, Armenia, regrettably, is not in the least protected here. With little and weaker economic potentials and zero chances to offer big markets to [countries] abroad, Armenia is permanently in a vulnerable situaion,” he added.
Commenting on Cavusoglu’s call upon the international mediators for working ″more effectively″, as well as the Armenian foreign minster’s subsequent response making references to the Bible (‘Physician, heal thyself’ – Luke 4:23 ), Estukian stressed the importance of a strong-worded rebuff to any action by Turkey. “The entire world – the United States, Russia and Europe – avoid using tough and abrasive language when it comes to Turkey. Those responses, though, do not sound adequate. Turkey demonstrates a rude treatment to all. When speaking about the Syrian issue, for example, [President Recept Tayyip] Erdogan threatens to ‘knock everybody’s heads off’. The use of a civilized language would be more correct in response to all this,” he added.
As for Armenia’s possible reaction to Turkey’s repeated claims, Estukian stressed the urgency of a strong opposition to the Minsk Group format under such circumstances. “The OSCE Minsk Group was formed for resolving the conflict, but we have not seen any progress in those efforts to date. With the 1994 ceasefire being repeatedly breached for years, we keep losing soldiers. Our expectation was to eventually reach an agreement in the war in which we turned out a winner, but that doesn’t happen. And Turkey’s engamagement cannot bring any contribution to the [conflict] settlement process at all,” he said.