August 8, 2009 - 19:03 AMT
Will "football diplomacy" continue into the autumn?
The agreement signed on April 22 between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Turkey is almost the same as the Madrid principles: a regular stillborn document for internal use.
The farewell visit of Mathew Bryza to the region in the position of an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair was, as usual, a bit scandalous and unequal; in a word, nothing new except for a new "imperative" used by the Department of State, claiming immediate handover of the five regions of Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan, and after a while also that of the remaining two. It is simply interesting who from the State Department will this time deny what Bryza said.

On the one hand, we understand the position of the American diplomat: if he really becomes the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, he will simply have to look "no stranger" in Baku. And for the sake of it, anything can be said in Yerevan. The positive point is that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have long ceased to comment on or even listen to what Bryza says, which is not true about Azerbaijan that with rapture picked up the "new" idea, giving it out as truth. However, in reality, even Baku knows that no agreement will ever be signed on the notorious Madrid principles. Moreover, Ilham Aliyev will not even be allowed to launch a war, and hinderers will be the very patrons who are interested in the normal operation of gas and oil pipelines. All this has been spoken and written about more than once and therefore is not worth repeating.

One can say that conversations around the Madrid principles filled up the summer, which this year was rather tense and rich in events. Similar political activity is, in our opinion, expected also in autumn: change of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs from the USA and RF, football match Turkey-Armenia, another Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Chisinau. Though until recently called into question, the meeting will most likely be held, and will have the same outcome as all the previous ones. However, the highlight of the fall in the region could become the refusal of the Armenian President to attend the football match in Turkey. The Armenian-Turkish relations will remain in the same limbo if Ankara is not able to find the strength in herself and desist from interfering in the Karabakh conflict. Better to say, either Turkey will return the "pass" or the football diplomacy will come to an end, without even starting. It's no secret that the agreement signed on April 22 between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Turkey is almost the same as the Madrid principles: a regular stillborn document for internal use, accepted in view of certain obligations before the USA, EU and Russia.

Autumn can also set certain equilibrium in Iran, which has been shaky since the presidential elections. Even if the reformers should succeed in repeating the revolution of 1979, it will by no means mean that Iran will go along the way of democracy in the western understanding of this term. In fact, the struggle in the neighboring country goes for spiritual leadership, not for ideas. So, nothing will change in Teheran and the only thing the USA can count on is that Iran will limit itself to a peaceful nuclear program.

As for Turkey, it will still have to deal with the case of "Ergenekon", but will also make attempts to bring to life Erdogan's program on the Kurdish issue resolution. The latter is highly improbable since the entire Eastern Anatolia Region, populated with Kurds, waits for relaxation of the Government to express their desire of autonomy. After it, not much time will be required for the establishment of the State of Kurdistan with all its negative consequences for Armenia. In that case we should be expecting unpleasant course of events, to say no more of it. Thus, it is much better for Armenia if Ankara solves the Kurdish problem the way it considers necessary, i.e. by periodically conducting raids and attacking the RSC bases. Armenians should never forget that in 1915 they were massacred by the hands of Kurdish troops…

As far as the Georgian-Russian relations are concerned, apparent deterioration is not foreseen: there will again be recriminations in aggression, border violation and similar "trifles". Mikhail Saakashvili will all over again complain to the West, enlist the support of NATO and the USA, which no more care about Georgia and find it much more important to normalize relations with Russia, which is not going to let the gas control valve out of their hands. Talks on South Stream and Nabucco could last until the end of the year, although no one can know in advance what course of events should be expected in these issues.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News