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 Monday, October 19 2020 17:42
Ani Mshetsyan

Armen Sarkissian: Ankara`s actions in the Caucasus could also pose a  threat to the EU

Armen Sarkissian: Ankara`s actions in the Caucasus could also pose a  threat to the EU

ArmInfo. In an interview with POLITICO, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian touched upon the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

As the press service of the RA President reports, Armenian President  wants NATO to explain Turkish involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh.   Famous analyst Ben Judah conversed with the President of Armenia  Armen Sarkissian. He referred to that interview In POLITICO and  published an article on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and present  situation. Its abridged and translated version is presented by  President's Office below.  

"Armen Sarkissian says Ankara's actions in the Caucasus could also  pose a threat to the EU.  Armenia's president is demanding answers  from NATO over the involvement of Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.  Armen Sarkissian says he's ready to travel to Brussels to confront  the transatlantic alliance over Ankara's actions in the Caucasus and  warn the European Union of the threat they pose to the bloc's  security.  

"If I go to Brussels," he said in an interview with POLITICO, "I  would like to speak to the NATO leadership as to why this very  strange situation is taking place where Turkey, a full NATO member,  is involved in a war that has nothing to do with NATO. How on earth  is it that a NATO member is acting as freely as a cowboy and NATO  does nothing? Does this mean they have a green light from NATO?" 

Turkey threw its weight behind traditional ally Azerbaijan when the  frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh reignited last month. The  fighting has cost hundreds of lives, with both sides accusing each  other of killing civilians.  

Armenia is accusing Turkey of sending fighter jets and Syrian  mercenaries to Azerbaijan. Ankara has denied this, though several  media reports have documented the presence of Syrian fighters and  F-16s. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has acknowledged Turkish  F-16s are present in the country but claimed they were not used in  the fighting.  

Sarkissian said he wanted to visit NATO's Brussels headquarters to  "get explanations" as to why "Turkish weapons, drones and F-16 are  involved in the process of bombing Armenia and Armenian civilians in  huge numbers. These are NATO-made weapons: the engines from Austria,  the avionics are from Canada and the parts of the rockets are from  Britain and so on." 

Sarkissian said he was also ready to travel to Paris, London and  Berlin to make Armenia's case to European leaders. "I am ready to  tell [Angela] Merkel," he said, "that I understand that Europe is  busy with other things and everyone is busy with COVID-19, but dear  Madam Chancellor what you are probably not seeing clearly is that  there is another disaster coming from the Caucasus to you that is not  a biological virus but the virus of instability and war." 

Sarkissian said he wanted the German chancellor to understand that  "the war of Turkey and Azerbaijan risks creating another Syria. Or  making Turkey the creator and the ruler of an energy crisis to  Europe." (Pipelines crucial to the EU's energy supply pass close to  Nagorno-Karabakh.) 

In contrast, he does not feel the need to remind French President  Emmanuel Macron about the conflict's potential geopolitical  ramifications. "I think that Macron understands that instability in  the Caucasus is going to hit the larger region and then it will  affect Western Europe," Sarkissian said. "He understands that the  Turkish presence in Azerbaijan will make Southern Europe and Central  Asia all dependent on Turkey and Turkey will emerge as a regional  superpower and that is what [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan  wants to achieve." 

France, home to a sizable Armenian minority, has seen a bill  introduced to the parliament to recognize the Republic of Artsakh or  Nagorno-Karabakh.  Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said  he expects France to recognize Nagorno- Karabakh but a measure  actually passing remains highly unlikely.  

Sarkissian said he would be "very happy" if France recognized the  breakaway region. "As Armenians, we have always believed that a  solution has to be reached through peaceful negotiations and in order  not to make things worse, this has restrained us from recognizing the  Republic of Artsakh until now." He added: "But of course if we don't  see light at the end of the tunnel we will recognize Nagorno-  Karabakh." 

Armenia is seeking to present the war to Brussels as part and parcel  of Turkey's growing assertiveness, which has brought Ankara into  conflict with EU member countries across the region. In Libya, Turkey  has intervened on behalf of the U.N.- backed government against  France-backed militia leader Khalifa Haftar and in the Eastern  Mediterranean, Turkish ships are searching for energy resources in  waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus.  

"You get the impression," said Sarkissian, "that Erdogan is creating  instability and breaking the status quo all around. In this sea of  instability, Turkey feels quite calm and is swimming as it gives them  a chance to play with everyone." 

Sarkissian said that Europe's and NATO's seeming inability to  influence Ankara risked their credibility.  

"I am calling on everybody in Brussels to put pressure on Turkey. But  first, they have to decide what is acceptable as these Turkish  actions are going to hurt NATO, its prestige and the very idea [that]  it is an alliance that is there to defend against an enemy." 

He stressed that he believed Turkish intervention would permanently  reshape the geopolitics of the South Caucasus by turning Azerbaijan  into a springboard for Turkish influence across the wider region and  its crucial pipeline network. 

He also warned that Syrian mercenaries could prove a long-term  destabilizing factor in the region: "They will create another zone of  instability there menacing Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Iran." 

Beyond Europe, Sarkissian lamented that countries were busy with  other things, such as the upcoming U.S. election.  

Russia - a treaty ally of Armenia that has in the past also delivered  weapons to Azerbaijan - has so far opted not to back Yerevan  militarily. The Kremlin has, however, been the lead diplomatic force  in the conflict in recent weeks, negotiating a failed cease-fire.  

"I appreciate what President [Vladimir] Putin and Foreign Minister  [Sergey] Lavrov are doing," said Sarkissian.  

Armenian officials have repeatedly said they view the conflict not  merely as a clash over disputed territories but as a continuation of  the 1915 Armenian genocide, which saw as many as 1.5 million  Armenians killed by the Ottoman Empire.  

Sarkissian claimed Turkey wanted to "not only to teach a lesson to  Armenia and tell Armenia what happened 105 years [ago] but say 'why  don't you shut up, Armenians' as you will have another genocide in  2020 and this will happen under the eyes of [the] international  community." 

Turkey and Azerbaijan say Baku's war is about ending the occupation  of territories that are internationally recognized as part of  Azerbaijan.  

Yet Sarkissian insisted: "They are fighting a war of ethnic cleansing  to make a piece of land without Armenians."


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