Alexander Tsinker: None of OSCE MG countries can settle the Karabakh conflict alone

Alexander Tsinker


It has become a kind of tradition in Armenia to blame the authorities for their unwillingness to appeal to the CSTO for support despite Azerbaijan’s provocations that claimed the lives of civilians in Tavush region, Armenia.  Don’t you think that Yerevan does not appeal to the CSTO intentionally? Otherwise, Russian “peacekeepers” will inevitably occur on the border and in Karabakh, won’t they? 

The CSTO charter says it is an international regional organization and its goal is to protect the territorial and economic space of the member-states by combined efforts of their armies and other forces against any external military and political aggressors, international terrorists, and large-scale natural calamities. However, since the very establishment of the CSTO, I have got an impression that it will not launch any specific actions in any specific region like NATO does now.  If the CSTO ever takes any specific actions, it is possible only at the request of a member-state and only against a country that has not been part of the former-Soviet Union. Therefore, in case the armed conflict with Azerbaijan resumes, the CSTO will not take Armenia’s side i.e. it seems unreal to me that the CSTO mechanisms can be used in Azerbaijan’s confrontation with Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh. This is what holds Armenia’s leadership from appealing to the CSTO for support, I think, irrespective of the new doctrine, which you have mentioned above and which might have well emerged in Armenia. On the other hand, countries strive for integration and Armenia’s CSTO membership looks quite normal in this light, especially that it helps Armenia get arms and increase its military potential.

Traditionally, Iran has played an essential role in the regional security system, though this is rarely mentioned. Can Iran claim the role of a serious actor in the Karabakh peace process after the sanctions are rescinded, considering its extensive border with the liberated territories?

As sanctions against Iran have been rescinded partially, that country has become a relevant topic. This country has always strived for regional leadership, though the last year’s sanctions created obstacles to it. The latest changes in Syria and Iraq, where Russia and the international coalition have launched air strikes and do not seek to start also land operation, make me think that Iran will undertake a land-based operation.  Actually, Iran’s first units have already been deployed in the territory of Syria. I think Tehran will cooperate with Russia rather than with the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. In this light, Iran’s regional role will increase. It is very interesting how the relations of Iran and Azerbaijan will be developing. I think, Tehran will continue offering its services in the Karabakh peace process, but it’s role will not be crucial in it. Even Russia cannot have a crucial role in the peace process, as the conflicting parties try to win it around and press each another. The 25-year-old conflict is deeply rooted in the conscience of both the peoples and any efforts to settle it from outside without reckoning with the conflicting parties will be rejected by the leaderships and peoples of Azerbaijan, Armenia and NKR.  It is evident that none of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states will be allowed to settle the conflict alone. Their immediate partners at the mediation mission will not let them do it. In addition, it appears to me that recently the OSCE Minsk Group has been meeting just to meet. Therefore, when the situation on the border grows tense, the Minsk Group just calls on the parties to observe the ceasefire and does nothing to expose either the reasons of the tension or who is behind it. Consequently, I think Iran can influence certain processes around Nagorny Karabakh, but not settle the conflict.

As a citizen of Israel do you believe that Iran’s nuclear program has become peaceful after the P5+1 deal?

No. I think the program has not changed. Simply, Iranians have become wiser, especially after their president was replaced. In other words, Iran has changed its mask or mouthpiece, but never its intentions, as ayatollahs are who govern the country. We think it was bad agreement, as it gives Iran an opportunity to continue its nuclear program. Yet, I don’t think that the third world war may be nuclear.

In other words, nuclear weapons are just deterrent weapons?

Sure, Iran strives for the family of the countries having nuclear weapons. And I do not think that even after becoming part of that family Iran will be able to attack Israel, though many do not share my views. Nevertheless, If Israel gets any reliable information and proofs that Iran continues its nuclear program for military purposes and the world community does not respond to it adequately, it will have to take relevant measures, as it had signed no agreements.

There is an impression that after Iran’s “return” to the global policy, Turkey that was gradually losing its positions in the foreign policy is now losing them even more rapidly. What do think about it?

Turkey has problems perhaps with all its neighbors now, despite Ahmet Davutoglu’s policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” As the Kurdish problem has grown tense along with the situation in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Turkey has even more stuck in all these problems. The past elections for Erdogan were not successful, as his party failed to gain majority in the parliament even when the situation in the country was not tense. Now, to achieve success at the upcoming elections, he needs to suppress the pro-Kurdish Party. Actually, this is what he is doing now. Turkey’s seeming economic and political success ended yet long before this. The uncertainly of the Syrian scenario makes Turkey’s influence shrink like “The Magic Skin.”  Turkey needs to decide finally whether it is with Russia or U.S. It is very difficult for Ankara to do it, as there is no common stand on it in Turkey. Actually, Turkey is not and will hardly become as strong politically and economy as it was five years ago. This seems impossible also as Iran flexing muscles.

The goals of the United States and its coalition are generally clear. What is Russia seeking in Syria? 

Unlike U.S., Moscow is acting crudely, but efficiently in Syria. I think Russia’s actions in Syria are the right step by Putin. First, he needed to distract the attention from Ukraine. Second, he needed to bring Russia back to the group of the countries that decide something in the world. Third, he needed to return to the Middle East.  Moscow has good relations with Egypt, Iran, and not bad relations with Israel whose relations with U.S. have been spoiled certainly. All this does mean that Russia is back to the club of super powers. After all, it would be silly to lose a base in the Mediterranean. In addition, Russia did not forget about how they had bailed on it in Libya, and will not let it to repeat in Syria. Therefore, the Alawite state with Russian bases in Syria will remain, irrespective of whether Assad will remain in power or not. I think that Russia and U.S. will finally achieve an agreement over Syria, and Assad, particularly.  A new leader will come to power in Syria through elections that will be recognized by all, whether it is good or not.

What about the “Islamic State”?

I think it will disappear at a certain stage. I am more concerned about Europe, where most of the ISIL militants are migrating to, rather than the “Islamic State.” Recently I was in the center of Europe: Vienna, Budapest, and I saw not so pleasant scenes there. Refugees have flooded the biggest cities in Europe. By the way, it is very strange refugees. It seems to me that these are not refugees, but a kind of mass exodus, resettlement, which might be organized by someone. Such resettled people will number about one million in Europe by the end of the year. This will affect mostly the developed countries of Europe: Germany, France, and England…

Who and why has organized that resettlement? 

It is a not an easy question. I am not sure that U.S. is behind this. I can just say that much has changed in Europe and in the world, generally, after the idea of Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok emerged. It was exactly after Putin, Merkel and Sarkozy caught up the idea of the tri-polar world – U.S., China and Greater Europe – that discrepancies started inside Europe. It is quite probable that U.S. is the main opponent of that project, as it strives for the world domination. As to the problem of re-settlement, the aging Europe needs migrants, labor force, at least to ensure Europeans with pensions. This is another reason why Europe receives migrants.

As far as I understand, the latest wave of migrants leaves for Europe to live of doles, not to work?

That is why refugees strive for Germany. Doles and social housing programs in Germany enable migrants to live and do nothing, and to keep their families. This is what prompted a dramatic decline of the integration of Turkish migrants in Germany. The first wave of migrants – I am speaking about to end of the last century – tried to learn language, get job and integrate into the German society. Their next generation realized that it is quite possible to live on dolls and “retired into shell.” Mosques in Germany have become a place for actively communication and formation of a new world outlook of Muslims in the heart of Europe.

Angela Merkel has acknowledged that fact recently…

Unfortunately. It means that our concerns are grounded. I hail Slovenia’s response to the situation. That country said it is ready to receive only Christian refugees, as it has no mosques. Australia did almost the same. What I feel when looking at the processes in Europe is concern and pain. The Old Word is turning Muslim and less and less attractive for life and tourism. Therefore, if Europe takes no measures to change the system and the terms of receiving and integrating migrants,  “The Mosque of Notre Dame de Paris” anti-utopia novel of Russian writer Yelena Chudinova will turn into real description of Paris.


Talked David Stepanyan