Will the monument to Russian pilots keep standing in Nagorno Karabakh under Azerbaijan's rule? Do the Azerbaijanis intend to commit acts of genocide against the Armenians who did not leave the republic? Why is Turkey an enemy of Russia? Is Azerbaijan going to join NATO? Will Russia maintain its presence in the South Caucasus? Pravda.Ru asked these and other questions to political scientist Alexey Bychkov, director of Cooperation Institute of International Relations.
"There is a monument to Russian pilots in Nagorno Karabakh — the pilots who were killed in a helicopter crash there three years ago. Do you think the monument will keep on standing there with Azerbaijanis in power?
"The answer to this question will reveal Baku's real attitude towards Russia. If we take the geopolitical situation in the region as a whole, then Turkey is in no way an ally but rather an enemy to Russia. This is clear to everyone, no matter how Erdogan is trying with play with it. Turkey controls Azerbaijan completely — this is part of a large pro-Turkish space that is being formed around Russia. This is also a negative phenomenon that Russia should keep in mind in the future.
"The Turkish leadership, no matter whether it is pro-Western or pro-Turkish, will never be pro-Russian.
"When there was a civil war in Turkey, the Soviet Communist Party was helping Turkey with weapons, money and what not. Turkey retained its statehood under the onslaught of the Entente and was not disintegrated. We helped Turkey, but the Turkish leadership then destroyed the entire leadership of the Communist Party of Turkey, although they promised to preserve the party and give it a political opportunity to exist. This is how Turkey abides by its agreements with the Soviet Union and Russia. This is generally an oriental approach to politics. We need to understand that Turkey is not an ally of Russia by any means."
"Nationalism has been on the rise in Turkey lately. This is a threat to the Armenians, including to those of them who live in Nagorno Karabakh. Will the Azerbaijanis oppress the Armenians?
"The events that took place in the beginning of the 20th century are not going to happen again, not in that scale. Of course, national hatred persists. The Azerbaijani military and the military police will not treat the Armenian population as the Azerbaijani population. The attitude largely depends on the serious will of the leadership of Azerbaijan and on Moscow's influence on Baku.
"The warm relationship between Putin and Aliyev is the only good thing that exists between Russia and Azerbaijan today. As long as this warm relationship persists, Russia can call Azerbaijan its ally in the region, albeit a relative one. We will see all this in relation to the monument to the Russian pilots, as well as in relation to the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. Most Armenians prefer not to risk their lives — they simply leave, unfortunately."
"Do you think Azerbaijan will try to join NATO? Turkey may invite Azerbaijan to become a NATO member as a partner."
"With Aliyev in power, Azerbaijan is not going to join NATO. President Aliyev is not interested in this. NATO is no longer what it used to be and everyone can see it. This could be a political card for bargaining with Moscow, though. Azerbaijan may start asking for benefits and privileges for not joining the alliance."
"What are Russia's prospects in the South Caucasus?"
"Russia is going to maintain it presence in the region. The sphere of Russia's primary geopolitical interests embraces the countries of the former USSR:
Russia will never abandon these territories. It can stop participating in these games only when it ceases to exist as a state. Russia is one of the leading geopolitical players, and it is interested in expanding its geopolitical interests, the further the better. Not by military means, of course, but Russia's political presence there is going to grow because these countries mostly look up to the West now, unfortunately.