Astana to continue to play key role in mediating Azerbaijan-Armenia negotiations – US expert

Eric Rudenshold
Eric Rudenshold Photo credit: Rustem Kozhybaev/Kazinform

American experts gave their assessments of the outcomes of the first peace talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Almaty on May 10-11 this year in the interview with Kazinform News Agency's correspondent.  

Dr. Eric Rudenshiold, Senior Fellow for Caspian Affairs at the Caspian Policy Center, emphasized the symbolism of holding discussions of the South Caucasus countries in Almaty, where the Alma-Ata Declaration was adopted, which defined the borders.

Kazakhstan hosted this important event. I think the best result was that both ministers [of Armenia and Azerbaijan] announced the continuation of negotiations. It is important that the peace process remains behind closed doors, as the topic is very sensitive and requires strengthening the confidence of the parties. I am glad that they will continue discussions and are looking for ways to normalize relations," said Eric Rudenshiold.

The expert noted that there are many obstacles in the way of this process, many outside opinions, which interfere. However, all this influence is secondary compared to what the governments themselves and their leaders say.

At the same time, the observed changes are remarkable and these negotiations are absolutely important for the entire region as a whole, because everyone is interested in peace and supports this peace process.

Rudenshold believes that each side must find a way to contribute to the settlement of the conflict, and the joint work of the two countries is becoming very important and decisive.

The leaders of the countries and their citizens must look forward and see a better future for their states, together return to the way of life that was a decade ago, before this conflict.

The achievement of peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan will open up wide economic opportunities for the parties, because both countries are the core of the “East-West” transport corridor and they will be able to double its trade capacity.

All countries in the region believe that Kazakhstan is serious about finding not only a peaceful solution, but also providing, I do not know, a "secret sauce" that helps solve some problems, something that can unite countries. Kazakhstan is a really wonderful country that strives to find new opportunities and ways to solve problems, other than wars and conflicts, and I think these countries obviously appreciate this," Eric Rudenshiold summed up.

Kamran Bokhari
Kamran Bokhari Photo credit: Rustem Kozhybaev/Kazinform

 

Kamran Bokhari, Senior Director of the Eurasian Security and Prosperity Department at “The New Lines Institute”, noted that the meeting in Almaty between representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan is a good slow start to a longer process.

Currently, there is distrust between the conflicting parties and concerns about the issue of new territorial claims.

On top of that, the expert believes that there are no reasons for new conflicts between the Caucasian countries, since no country wants to get involved in a risky problem. However, countries need guarantees.

At the same time, Bukhari thinks that it is necessary to link the peace process with the economic prosperity of the parties.

In particular, Armenia and Azerbaijan must reach a peaceful settlement, because without it a dynamic transport route "Middle Corridor" linking the Central Asian region with Europe through the South Caucasus will not be possible.

Now it is necessary to strengthen trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and regional players will be much more effective.

The expert expressed hope that Astana will continue to play a key role in mediating negotiations in the long-term perspective.

“Azerbaijan and Armenia need a mediator, an organizer, a third party that both sides can trust, and this is Astana,” Kamran Bukhari noted.

Kazakhstan is a neutral country located on the other side of the Caspian Sea. The expert reminded Astana's good track record in facilitating negotiations on Syria and actively mediating the Iranian nuclear deal.

According to the expert, Kazakhstan is becoming a regional power with a large economy and a stable government, which has great influence in the world, which will contribute to achieving peace in the South Caucasus.

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