Karabakh threat in Georgia12.11.2010 | 14:09
While Georgian democracy keeps appearing in various ratings, Sakartvelo society is rapidly approaching prosperity and the government puts incredible efforts solving a heap of pending economic issues, political clouds from the East are gathering over Tbilisi. Georgia has strained relations with its closest neighbors - Azerbaijan and Armenia.
At today's press conference in Yerevan Nikolay Ryzhkov, Russia's co-chair of inter-parliamentary committee for cooperation between the Federal Assembly of Russia and the National Assembly of Armenia, acknowledged dead-end on settlement of the Karabakh conflict. "We have an impression that the situation over Karabakh conflict is rather complicated. We feel your and our neighbors are not sitting still. They make preparations. I believe there is a chance of finding constructive solutions for solving the problem but how will Armenians react to deviations from constructive decisions if there are any? I have serious doubts in this respect", - Nikolay Ryzhkov said.
His colleague for inter-parliamentary commission, first deputy chair of State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs Konstantin Zatulin is sure that the war can be avoided. "As far as I understand Azerbaijan is not ready for realistic approaches on resolution of Karabakh problem. Maybe, in response to this, Armenian society rejects talks on concession of occupied territories, even beyond Nagorny Karabakh. I personally think that if this could be agreed upon and co-chairing states had political will for it, the issue could have a positive outlook", - he remarked. Zatulin believes that independence of Nagorny Karabakh in exchange for return of territories around it to the Azerbaijani side would be the optimum alternative to solve the frozen conflict.
According to the politicians, the air is thick with a threat of a new armed conflict in South Caucasus. If hostilities break out all states in the region will be involved. Mamuka Areshidze, head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Caucasus, told GeorgiaTimes what threats Tbilisi faces with the conflict resumed.
"The main thing is that any hostilities in the territory of South Caucasus will put the region back in terms of economy and investments. No one will avoid serious losses. The Russian-Georgian conflict was a perfect demonstration of it. But it lasted only 5 days, and Yerevan-Baku strife, if it starts, will be much longer.
Resumption of hostilities in Karabakh is a blow to the economies of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's oil and gas pipelines leading to the West pass through Georgia. They will stop functioning which will cause a direct blow to Georgian economy. Besides, acts of sabotage are likely. The conflict might also flare up the situation in Georgia's regions where ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis live in compact communities. The main task of the Georgian leaders here is to stay away from the conflict. It won't be easy: pressure is put from all sides.
Tbilisi has established more or less normal relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Particularly with Azerbaijan. Most part of cargos going to Armenia arrive in Georgian ports. Yerevan will call for blocking Baku pipelines and Azerbaijan will insist on cutting goods supplies to Armenia. It is clear that neither Russia nor Turkey will stand aside from the conflict. Presently it is hard to predict their actions, but they will be immediate, no doubt. Political pressure on Tbilisi will be very strong. Hostilities in the territory of Georgia can't be excluded either. Logically it will entail Georgia's military involvement in the confrontation. The armed conflict in Karabakh is to common disadvantage - for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and South Caucasus on the whole. So no matter what deadlock is reached, military developments must be prevented at all costs".
Deputy head of State Duma committee for CIS affairs agrees with the expert from Tbilisi. He calls to remember the lessons of the last war in Karabakh. "We all know what it led to and I would not advise anyone to tempt fate since the balance pan is not in the hands of war initiators. Nobody has ever convinced me that even most modern weapons bought with the money equal to Armenia's budget will give superiority allowing Azerbaijan to solve the problems for years to come the way it wants", - Konstantin Zatulin remarked.