For second time U.S. State Department warns Americans of possible terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan
February 12, 2011
(PanARMENIAN.Net) – For the second time in recent weeks, the U.S. State Department has issued a statement, warning Americans of a terrorist threat to Western targets in Azerbaijan and urging U.S. citizens to be vigilant.
In a security alert, the U.S. Embassy in Baku said there was a “potential for attacks in Azerbaijan, including against American interests.” It said the warning was “based on terrorist threat information.” It added that U.S. citizens in Azerbaijan “should remain vigilant, particularly in public places associated with the Western community.”
U.S. and U.K. have first warned their citizens of a terrorist threat in Azerbaijan in late January 2011.
Azerbaijan president says his army is the region’s most powerful; but Turkish newspaper says Armenia’s army is the most competent
The following article is reprinted with permission from PanARMENIAN.net, Yerevan.
Aliyev overestimates his army, threatens Armenia again
December 26, 2010
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev believes his army to be the most efficient in the region.
“We assign huge sums to army building and have great military potential. Our army is the most powerful in the region,” Aliyev said, adding that, nevertheless, the sides [Azerbaijan and Armenia] are trying to resolve the Karabakh problem through talks.
“Negotiations have produced no result so far and we should be ready for all. We purchase armament and train our soldiers to settle the conflict by the use of force if the talks fail,” he said.
At that, Aliyev noted that as long as Azerbaijani lands “are occupied, Armenia lives in fear.”
Meanwhile, Turkish Zaman daily views the Armenian army as the most efficient in the South Caucasus.
“Despite small territory and population, Armenia’s army is considered to be the most professional, efficient and competent in the region. Armenia never stops at what has been accomplished, planning new steps, with a 5-year army modernization plan among them.”
Reforms are being implemented in the light of possible Armenia-Azerbaijan collision. Armenia is closely cooperating with Russia in the defense sector: Russian military base deployment contract was extended. Arming in the country is in progress, and the fact shouldn’t be neglected by Armenia’s enemies,” the newspaper said.
The following analysis is reprinted with permission from RIA Novosti, Moscow.
The South Caucasus and the Russia-Turkey-Iran geopolitical triangle
© RIA Novosti
September 6, 2010
In connection with the recent visits of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Armenia and Azerbaijan political analyst Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, a senior fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations assesses geopolitical situation in the region and gives his opinion on the ambitions of other regional powers – Turkey and Iran.
Samir Shahbaz: What are Russia’s geopolitical interests in the South Caucasus?
Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky: Russia views the Caucasus security as an important issue. Consequently, we display caution on Nagorno-Karabakh issues and try to relegate them to the concerned parties, without dictating anything to anyone. Of course, we would like to see equitable and well-balanced international cooperation here. External influence should not upset the current balance because disruption could lead to unpredictable consequences. And nobody needs a new war. At any rate, Russia does not need such a war.
Shahbaz: Who would be interested in disrupting today’s relative stability in the region?
Nadein-Rayevsky: To be honest, this question implies only those who are interested in strengthening their own positions and weakening the positions of the main regional powers, primarily Russia. I don’t want to directly accuse any Western governments of this. But, judging by the actions of some non-regional players, it appears that their policy was aimed at upsetting the balance. At any rate, this is true of the developments in Georgia. Similar attempts are possible with regard to Azerbaijan. It appears that perfidious and dangerous information bombs implying that Azerbaijan planned to provide bases for U.S. forces, including those for operations against Iran, were not “dropped” by sheer coincidence. Azerbaijan emphatically denies any actions or even attempted actions against Iran. This is a correct stance because the situation might otherwise get out of control.
Shahbaz: What do you think about the actions of the two other important players bordering on the region, namely, Iran and Turkey?
Nadein-Rayevsky: Both countries have recently become visibly active in their own way. Previously, the Turkish policy could be perceived as a continuation and sharp point on the NATO “sword” in the eastern Mediterranean region. But the situation has now changed. The Republic of Turkey has long been formulating its policy in line with its national interests. The West, which is not used to this, frequently disapproves of various Turkish actions. In some cases, they even mention a veritable Russian-Turkish alliance which, of course, amounts to idle talk. Naturally, any strategic military alliance is also out of the question. These countries have different interests and goals. Nevertheless, there are common venues of cooperation, including the stabilization of the Caucasus.
As far as Azerbaijanian-Turkish relations are concerned, both countries signed a strategically important treaty prior to Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Yerevan. They say Turkey voices an absolutely pro-Azerbaijanian stance on many issues, primarily Nagorno-Karabakh. To be fair, it should be noted that the Turkish Government does not go to extremes and acts in line with the real situation. Turkey, an influential regional player, hopes to obtain sizeable dividends from its active policy. Turkey wants to become a key energy hub for the transportation of energy resources to western, central, southern and even northern Europe. Some projects, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline, are currently being implemented.
Turkey also prioritizes relations with Iran because it receives natural gas from them. This does not always go smoothly, and acts of sabotage have taken place. Moreover, Turkey is seriously interested in developing Iranian mineral deposits. Although the United States reproaches and even threatens Turkey, Ankara invests in Iran. This is happening at a time when Washington has imposed serious sanctions on investment in Iran. Previously, it was forbidden to invest over $20 million in various energy projects in Iran. And now such restrictions have become even more strict. Western Europe is also involved in these sanctions. They are assuring us that such sanctions are not directed against the Iranian nation’s well-being. But an objective assessment of the situation shows that all this is empty talk. Of course, sanctions take their toll. By restricting gasoline exports to Iran, the West is dealing a serious blow against the everyday life of Iranians. Iran which lacks refineries has to import most of its petroleum. Just like Russian companies, Turkish companies have ignored the ban and trade with Iranians. Although Turkey is a NATO member, it has not joined the sanctions, continues to improve relations with Iran and maintains permanent bilateral contacts. However, Western conjecture about an Iranian-Turkish alliance and some kind of Islamic solidarity are groundless. Both countries preach Shia and Sunni Islam. However, Shia Muslims account for 8% of the Turkish population, Shia Islam is not popular in Turkey. So, any talk of Islamic unity is far-fetched. But economic interests are an important factor. And Turkey is willing to facilitate Iranian oil and gas transits via its territory, although much remains to be done in this respect.
Speaking of Iran’s interests in the Caucasus, Tehran has repeatedly offered its services in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Iran is willing to act as a mediator in this area. Iran maintains a sufficiently cautious policy which is non-hostile toward Armenia. This could be expected in connection with good-neighborly Iranian-Azerbaijanian relations. Moreover, Iran trades with Armenia, supplying gas and building railroads together with transport monopoly Russian Railways.
The following article is reprinted with permission from NEWS.am, Yerevan, Armenia.
On Turkey’s challenge to Russia’s “Caucasian triumph”
August 25, 2010
RF President Dmitry Medvedev’s state visit to Armenia overshadowed the earlier begum Turkish-Azerbaijani meetings. On August 16-17, Turkish President Abdullah Gul was on an official visit to Baku. A Turkish-Azerbaijani agreement on strategic partnership and mutual assistance was signed during the visit. The document provides for the deployment of Turkish military units in Azerbaijan or, in other words, the creation of military bases of Turkey, a NATO member, in the country.
Following the Russian leaders’ visit, Russian and Armenian experts, speaking of a new level of bilateral relations, addressed the possible enhancement of Turkey’s role in the region in the context of the latest Azerbaijani-Turkish agreements. Talking to NEWS.am, Head of the Russian Center of Military Forecasts Anatoly Tsyganok voiced the opinion that a Turkish military base might be deployed in Nakhichevan as well. “It can be supposed due to Gul’s gentle hints in Azerbaijan,” he said. Many other Russian experts, addressing the recent developments in Armenian-Russian relations, have spoken of Armenia’s increasing role in the region, Russia’s greater strategic role, pointing out closer Turkish-Azerbaijani military ties.
“Turkey’s latest actions, as well as possible deployment of a military base in Azerbaijan, are nothing but a challenge sent to Russia. It is surprising Russian experts are not frank about it,” the military expert Artsrun Hovhannisyan told NEWS.am.
President Gul’s visit to Azerbaijan on August 15-17 was not mere coincidence. It was planned in advance, as Turks knew Armenia and Russian were going to sign a document on military base #102. “Gul’s visit was ‘a counterblow’ to Medvedev’s Caucasian triumph, which made it clear Turkey laid as serious claims to the South Caucasus as Russia did,” the expert said. He stressed that the current Turkish administration is the author and bearer of Neo-Ottomanism.
Hovhannisyan believes Neo-Ottomanism is a political ideology aimed at extending Turkey’s influence over the borders of the former Ottoman Empire. This ideology also supports Pan-Turkism and lays claims to leadership in the entire Islamic and Turkic world. “Gul, Erdogan and Davutoglu told the whole world their foreign policy was aimed at restoring the once great influence of the Ottoman Empire. However, Russia is the first world power preventing this ideology from becoming reality. So it is really surprising that Russian experts hardly address the topic,” Hovhannisyan said. Delegating greater powers to the Russian military base or the Turkish-Azerbaijani agreement on strategic partnership can by no means be considered local factors. Turkey is making obvious moves to bring the South Caucasus from under Russia’s control. In response, Russia should make a bolder step, the expert said.
“Rumors about possible reopening of a Turkish military base in Nakhichevan are circulating at various levels. I think it is absurd, and Russia should properly respond at a state level. Under a Moscow Treaty of 1921, Russia and Turkey pledged to deal with any issue related to military presence in Nakhichevan. Even a soldier’s presence – to say nothing of a military base – is a matter of bilateral intergovernmental discussions,” the expert said. Abrogating or even revising the treaty poses a great risk to the region. “An explosive situation may develop, with potential hostilities of a much larger scale than the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – Nakhichevan’s geographical location is of strategic importance for Pan-Turkism programs,” Hovhannisyan said.
The Armenian expert also commented on his Russian counterparts’ opinion that in making moves toward Nakhichevan Turkey would not damage its relations with Russia – Ankara and Moscow signed agreements on large-scale investment programs. “The needle for injecting Turkey is presently in Russia’s hands. It should be remembered, however, that Turkey has changed several doctors over the past several hundred years – France, Great Britain, Germany and the United States – and, after being strengthened, aimed its power at Russia,” Hovhannisyan said. Taking advantage of the fact of its getting out of the U.S. control, Turkey is strengthening its ties with Russia. On a large scale, it is one more step to get a new donor for economic development.
Turkey will remain Russia’s traditional rival, as it seeks to extend its influence over entire Central Asia, as far as Siberia, the entire Caucasus, as far as the Volga River and Tatarstan, as well as the Crimea and Ukraine. “As to the Russian needle, Turkey may replace it with a Chinese or Indian one tomorrow. Or it will continue on the Russian needle, ‘doing its business’,” Hovhannisyan said.
NEWS.am reminds readers that during the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh the press circulated rumors about Turkish companies in Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan, which pledged to defend Nakhichevan. Indeed, Russians repeatedly faced big and little problems after ignoring or underestimating the Turkish factor. For example, the Turkish army has for a long time been implementing a re-equipment program worth hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars. Besides numerous types of modern weapons, it plans to purchase 100 U.S. fighters of the 5th generation, whereas Russia only recently started the relevant development work.
The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Rick Rozoff.
Central Asia: U.S. Military Buildup On Chinese, Iranian And Russian Borders
© Rick Rozoff
August 11, 2010
On August 4 the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, concluded an official visit to Australia during which he met with the nation’s acting Chief of Defence and officials from the Department of Defence. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, despite its name, has strayed far from its point of origin 61 years ago, extending its grasp from North America and Western Europe to Asia and the South Pacific.
Di Paola’s deliberations with his Australian counterparts centered on “the need for NATO to work together with strategic partners like Australia, given that Euro-Atlantic security is more and more interconnected to Euro-Asian and Asian-Pacific regions.”
Australia is the largest troop contributor among non-NATO states to the Alliance’s war effort in South Asia, providing 1,550 troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
In an address he delivered at the Australian National University in Canberra, the head of NATO’s top military body (whose first head was General Omar Bradley) spoke on the bloc’s “New Strategic Concept and the relationship with Global Partners”:
“In this new context, because of the vulnerabilities created by globalization and the rapid pace at which it occurred, it is all the more essential for us to maintain global connectivity if we are to successfully tackle 21st Century challenges and trends.”
NATO, the world’s only and history’s first international military bloc, now counts among its members and global partners at least 70 nations on five continents, and has troops from seven Asia-Pacific nations (Australia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Tonga) serving under its command in Afghanistan.
It has expanded from the northern Atlantic Ocean region over the equator to the Antipodes and the reach of its operations extends from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic, from Africa’s Gulf of Guinea to the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.
As Admiral Di Paola maintains, securing the safety of Washington and Brussels requires the expansion of a U.S.-dominated military alliance into “the Euro-Asian and Asian-Pacific regions.” Having subdued and subordinated almost all of Europe through membership and partnership expansion over the last eleven years, at its Lisbon summit this November NATO will formalize its 21st century Strategic Concept in respect to placing the European continent under a U.S.-controlled interceptor missile system and expanding military partnerships into those corners of the planet so far left unincorporated into the network of the global, expeditionary military formation among other initiatives.
NATO troop deployments, utilization and upgrading of bases, armed combat operations, air patrols, naval surveillance and interdiction, armed forces training programs and regular military exercises now occur on the borders and off the coasts of China (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan), Iran (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates) and Russia (Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine). There are no longer buffer states between the Western military alliance and major non-NATO nations in Eurasia.
At the same time the Pentagon is escalating at an unparalleled pace military provocations near China – the recently concluded Invincible Spirit war games in the Sea of Japan with the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS George Washington, the same aircraft carrier docking in central Vietnam along with the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain on August 8 for unprecedented naval exercises in the South China Sea, the Pentagon announcing that the George Washington will soon enter the Yellow Sea near China’s coastline – and leading the largest-ever Khaan Quest military exercises in Mongolia with the participation of, for the first time, troops from fellow NATO nations Germany and Canada along with France, as well as four Asian NATO candidates that were included in Khaan Quest 2009: India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Mongolia shares borders with China and Russia.
Russia, China and Iran are the only major nations outside Latin America that serve as serious barriers to American worldwide military expansion and dominance. By driving into former Soviet territory in the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia, the Pentagon and NATO are completing their military advance on all three nations. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are situated in a compact zone between China, Iran and Russia, and all but Uzbekistan border one or more of the three nations.
Notwithstanding the deadly upheavals in Kyrgyzstan this April and June, the U.S. and NATO have substantially increased the deployment of troops – at least 50,000 a month – and equipment through the nation for the West’s 150,000-troop, nine-year war in Afghanistan. Washington and Brussels have activated the Northern Distribution Network to transport supplies to the Afghan war front from ports on the Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas through the Caucasus and Central Asia, pulling Azerbaijan and the five Central Asian states deeper into the Western military phalanx.
This year leading Pentagon, State Department and NATO officials have paid visits to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, including the first trip by a U.S. secretary of defense in five years and a secretary of state in eighteen years to the first-named state. In April President Obama secured military overflight and transit rights from his Kazakh opposite number, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in a nation adjoining China and Russia.
U.S. ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan, preeminent post-Soviet space hand Matthew Bryza, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 20 that his future host country, “located at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, and bordering Iran,” immediately after September 11, 2001 “offered us unlimited overflights… for our military aircraft.”
He added: “Today, Azerbaijan continues to provide valuable overflight, refueling, and landing rights for U.S. and coalition aircraft bound for Afghanistan.
“Azerbaijan has also contributed troops to U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan, as well as Kosovo and Iraq… Azerbaijan has also remained a steadfast supporter of Israel.”
At the same hearing the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, connected the war in Afghanistan and beyond with America’s trans-Eurasian energy campaign against Russia and Iran: Troops and military equipment go to the east and oil and natural gas to the west by the same route.
“I am concerned that the continuing absence of a Senate-confirmed U.S. representative there [Azerbaijan] could impede progress toward several U.S. national security goals. Our Committee has worked closely with our Envoy for Eurasian Energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, to promote the expansion of the Nabucco pipeline, the key element of a southern energy corridor that would stretch from the Caspian region to Europe.
“Progress on this measure will allow our allies to diversify energy supplies, while providing nations in the region with a focus for closer cooperation. The Nabucco pipeline’s commercial and political viability will depend on both Azerbaijan’s commitment of its indigenous resources and its willingness to serve as a transport hub for Central Asian energy across the Caspian from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and possibly other countries.
“A close partnership with Azerbaijan and other nations in the South Caucasus will also be essential to ensure the transit of supplies to our troops in the Middle East and to resolve complex disputes concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.”
Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH in charge of the Western natural gas project from Kazakhstan to Europe, underscored Lugar’s point this June in stating “Europe is interested in the purchasing of natural gas from Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iraq and Turkmenistan via the Nabucco pipeline. We came into agreement. Iran’s participation in this project is not a point at issue.”
In the same month Agence France-Presse quoted the U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan, Ken Gross, confirming that the Pentagon plans to construct a new military facility in the Central Asian nation: “The plan [includes] almost $10 million to build [a] national training center for the Tajik armed forces.” The new base is to be called the Karatag National Training Center and, according to Gross, could house U.S. military personnel.
The August 7 edition of the Washington Post substantiated earlier reports that the U.S. plans to establish a comparable base in Kyrgyzstan, which like Tajikistan borders China.
The article revealed that “The United States is planning to move ahead with construction of a $10 million military training base in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the site of a bloody uprising in June… Called the Osh Polygon, the base was first proposed under former Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev as a facility to train Kyrgyz troops for counterterrorism operations. After the ouster of Bakiyev… discussions continued under the new Kyrgyz president, Roza Otunbayeva, with whose government Washington is trying to broaden relationships… Osh Polygon will consist of a secure garrison compound with officers’ quarters and barracks for enlisted personnel, plus range facilities, firing pistols, rifles, crew-served weapons and explosive ordnance…”
Earlier this month the EurasiaNet website posted a feature titled “Is the U.S. Violating Turkmenistan’s Neutrality with the NDN?” Quoting a Russian source, the piece describes the role of the U.S. and NATO Northern Distribution Network (NDN) in the Turkmen capital: “U.S. freight transited through Ashgabat is in fact military in nature and even constitutes criminal contraband. Airport employees claim they saw armored vehicles, combat helicopters and crates of ammunition. These reports challenge both the notion of Turkmen neutrality and the supposed nature of the bilateral agreement between Turkmenistan and the U.S.”
Turkmenistan is a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace program, but its government doesn’t acknowledge supporting U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention those being prepared against Iran, its neighbor to the north.
However, “The U.S. has gained access to use almost all the military airfields of Turkmenistan, including the airport in Nebit-Dag near the Iranian border, which was reconstructed at American expense. In September 2004, at the Mary-2 airfield, U.S. military experts appeared and began reconstructing the facility with the help of Arab construction companies, which provoked the protest of Moscow… An American military contingent is located in Ashgabat to oversee the operations related to refueling of military airplanes. NATO is also trying to open up a land corridor to bring freight by road and rail…”
With regards to Uzbekistan, where German NATO troops remain at the Termez airbase although the U.S. military was ousted in 2005, Leonid Gusev of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations was cited last month maintaining that “The U.S. is interested in close cooperation with Uzbekistan, as the Central Asian country is strategically important for the U.S.” and that “Uzbek authorities have recently strengthened cooperation with the U.S. and other Western countries.”
Gusev added: “Now non-military goods are delivered through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan for NATO troops.
“There is a free industrial and economic zone, ‘Navoi,’ in Uzbekistan on the border with Afghanistan. It is the main transit point for shipments of goods to Afghanistan.
“This zone may soon be transformed into a transcontinental forwarding air point, which will link the Far East, South-East Asia, South Asia and Europe… [T]he U.S. plans to build a new military base near the Uzbek border to turn Uzbekistan into an important transit point for access to Afghanistan… It is planned to build an operational center, living accommodation, [a] tactical operations center, warehouses, [a] training complex, logistics center… etc. within this project.”
Last week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted Afghan and Tajik presidents Hamid Karzai and Emomali Rahmon in Tehran and, according to a Reuters report, “Iran’s president told the leaders of Afghanistan and Tajikistan… that the three neighbors could provide a counterweight to NATO in Asia once foreign troops quit the region.” Advice that China and Russia would also be wise to heed.
Ahmadinejad was quoted during a meeting with his counterparts stating “The Europeans and NATO are not interested in the progress of our three countries. Those who put pressure from abroad are unwanted guests [and] should leave, sooner or later.”
With the announcement of new U.S. military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in addition to the indefinite maintenance of those in the latter country, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and with American and NATO military strength in Afghanistan at a record 150,000 troops, there is no indication that the Pentagon and the North Atlantic military bloc intend to leave the strategic arc that begins in the South Caucasus and ends at the Chinese border.
1) North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, August 5, 2010
2) Azeri Press Agency, July 22, 2010
4) Azeri Press Agency, June 23, 2010
5) Agence France-Presse, June 26, 2010
6) Walter Pincus, U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan remains on track despite tensions, Washington Post, August 7, 2010
7) EurasiaNet, August 1, 2010
8) Trend News Agency, July 15, 2010
9) Reuters, August 5, 2010
10) NATO Pulls Pakistan Into Its Global Network
Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Pentagon Chief In Azerbaijan: Afghan War Arc Stretches To Caspian And
Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Broader Strategy: West’s Afghan War Targets Russia, China, Iran
West’s Afghan War And Drive Into Caspian Sea Basin
Azerbaijan And The Caspian: NATO’s War For The World’s Heartland
Mr. Simmons’ Mission: NATO Bases From Balkans To Chinese Border
Rick Rozoff publishes the blog, Stop NATO.
The following article is reprinted with permission from NEWS.am, Yerevan, Armenia.
What did Turkey promise to Azerbaijan?
July 28, 2010 17:10
The Turkish government promised that the Turkish-Armenian border will not be open until Armenians resolve the Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan’s General Consul in Kars Aykhan Suleymanov said in the course of his visit to the city of Igdir, Turkey.
He also noted that the Turkish government’s stance on the issue is unambiguous.
The following article is reprinted with permission from NEWS.am, Yerevan, Armenia.
New U.S. administration gets to South Caucasus, Georgian expert says
July 2, 2010
There will be no crucial changes after Hillary Clinton’s visit to the region, as it will probably be a fact-finding one, the Georgian expert Pata Zakareishvili told NEWS.am.
“One should not expect much from the visit, the new White House administration merely got down to our region. In the course of her meetings with the South Caucasian leaders, Hillary Clinton is likely to put emphasis on the U.S. policy in the South Caucasus. Besides, she will inform the presidents of the arrangements made in the course of Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to U.S.,” he stressed. The expert stated that on the whole the visit should be considered in the light of Russian-U.S. relations. Zakareishvili believes the U.S. is not trying to compete with Russia in the South Caucasus, as there is a certain arrangement between Moscow and Washington.
“There is definitely a specific range of issues to be discussed with each state: South Ossetia and Abkhazia with Georgia, the Karabakh conflict with Armenia and Azerbaijan. I think that in the light of recent developments on the contact line, Clinton will persuade Yerevan to put aside ‘offences’ and remain committed to its commendable position in the talks,” the Georgian expert said.
Pata Zakareishvili also commented on the possible deployment of U.S. forces in Azerbaijan in the light of recent escalation over Iran: “I do not think that this issue will be underscored during the meetings in Azerbaijan. First, Russia will be dissatisfied with the deployment of the U.S. troops in the region. The sides agreed to continue efficient cooperation during Medvedev’s visit. Secondly, Azerbaijan itself will object to it so as not to worsen its relations with Iran. Thirdly, the U.S. does not need it as well, as the American infrastructure in Turkey is sufficient to keep an eye on Iran,” Zakareishvili noted.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to visit Armenia on June 4-5.