Online Press Conference with Nikolai Kapitonenko, Director of Center for International Relations Research (Ukraine)

NikolaiKapitonenko's picture
Nikolai Kapitonenko
Executive Director of Center for International Relations Research
Украина
On June 7, internet press conference with associate professor in Institute of International Relations Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, Director of the Center for International Relations Research, editor-in-chief of the journal UA: Ukraine Analytica Nikolai Kapitonenko (Ukraine) for Armenian media. 
 
The press conference was organized within the framework of the “Region” Research Center project Challenges to the Security of South Caucasus Countries and NATO – 2016 Supported by the  Public Diplomacy Division, NATO.
 
David Stepanyan (Armenia),
“Arminfo” News Agency
 
Question
Do you think the process of NATO enlargement to the East will continue, with Montenegro as the latest example?
 
Answer:
It will, but more slowly than we would want to. In my opinion, Russia did everything possible and impossible to make the entry of a number of post -Soviet countries intothe Alliance inevitable.
The annexation of territories, wars and violence can never bring a lasting geopolitical success. In addition, Russia is inevitably losing its power capacity.  Today, its share of word GDP makes about 1, 5%.  Therefore, it is going to be more and more difficult for Russia to attract the neighboring countries and to ensure their security.  However, a number of issues and circumstances will slow down NATO enlargement for now. It still needs some time and preferably peaceful environment. Effectiveness and reliability of the potential new members are needed. Thus, we can say, the question is not in "will it enlarge?" but in "when is it going to happen?”
 
David Stepanyan
“Arminfo”News Agency
 
Question
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Berlin, "NATO has no relation to Bundestag resolution characterizing the massacres of million and a half Armenians during the First World War as Genocide". Do you think “Armenian Question" is one of the mechanisms of inter-relations between Turkey and its partners in the Alliance?
 
Answer:
I think, “Armenian Question" is a sensitive issue for Turkey, but it is sensitive from the historical, moral and normative perspectives.  While the relations between Turkey and its partners in the Alliance, many of them having recognized the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire, are governed by other considerations- those be political, economic, trade and last but not the least security reasons.  Nevertheless, Turkey remains an important partner in all these areas, and in some of them even more important than it was two years ago.
 
Armen Minasyan 
Panorama.am
 
Question:
Do you share the opinion that the indirect statements of the international community and the mediators appeared to be one of the reasons for Baku be confident that it could unleash a war with impunity?
 
Answer:
I believe that the sense of impunity is not so much a result of statements and threats, but a result of the price to be paid. That is particularly evident today, when the international law is flouted, the security mechanisms do not work and the level of trust between the countries is low. Power, deterrence, alliances are becoming the main background and content of the security policy. In the modernworld, any aggression comes at a price and I do not think it can be ignored, wherever it might occur.
 
Armen Minasyan 
Panorama.am
 
Question:
How would you comment on the role of Russia in April events and subsequent developments in Nagorno- Karabakh?
 
Answer:
I think Russia is not in the best shape to respond to such kind of situations. Her efforts are already stretched across excessive front and although in most cases the Revisionist State strives to aggravate the situation, I think the April events in Nagorno-Karabakhwere not the case.
 
Armen Minasyan 
Panorama.am
 
Question:
Do you think Brussels considers Nagorno-Karabakh as one more competition platform with Russia?
 
Answer:
I think it does not.It is rather considered as a potential ground for unnecessary aggravations and problems. NATO does not have any potential benefits even from competing with Russia in this region.
 
David Stepanyan 
“Arminfo” News Agency
 
Question:
During and after theApril war in NK NATO confined itself to several calls for peace to both conflicting parties. Meanwhile against the background of clearly manifested incapacity of CSTO in course of the "four-day war" followed by shootings in the territory of RA, the Alliance could have shown serious initiative in stopping the fighting in the South Caucasus. Is the reason of such passivity exclusively the reluctance of Brussels to intrude into the zone, which Russia considers a zone of its interests?
 
Answer:
I think the reason is this. 
NATO's intervention in these regions is related to high risks, high price and scarcity of legitimate bases. In the capitals of the member states, they are perfectly aware of it and therefore they chose to act at the international level. In addition, we should not forget about the consensual mechanism of decision-making by the Alliance, considering, for instance, the interests of Turkey. This would significantly slow down the elaboration of one unilateral approach.
 
Armen Minasyan 
Panorama.am
 
Question:
How would you comment on Vienna Talks regarding the situation inNagorno-Karabakh? What is the position of North Atlantic Alliance regarding this issue and do you think that NATO has the leverage to influence the situation?
 
Answer:
The main result of the negotiations is the very fact of the dialogue at the highest level and the common commitment to peaceful resolution. Let us say, it is still difficult to achieve something similar in terms of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The result is predictable: no one is interested in escalation. The common stand of USA, France and Russia reflects the “general opinion" and for anyone interested in escalation will be hard to argue that opinion. Moreover, such kind of pressure mechanism has proven more effective, faster and more reliable than NATO (as well as Minsk format of negotiations on settling the Ukrainian crisis).
 
David Stepanyan 
“Arminfo” News Agency
 
Question:
Which regions are today considered by the Alliance as areas of its direct responsibility? Did the latest geopolitical upheavals (the Middle East, Ukraine, and Karabakh) resulted in any changes in this area?
 
Answer:
The question about the borders of NATO’s area of responsibility has been on the agenda for a long time. This question in its turn follows the expanded understanding of security, which goes beyond the borders of member-states. The discussions on this issue are resumed every time the evolution of security systems faces crisis. Judging by the statements and comments made during NATO Summit in Newport the responsibility area is a wide perception and it includes North Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Caucasus, and even Afghanistan with its record-setting peacekeeping mission under the aegis of NATO. Apparently, this is the right approach. The transnational threats and values with norms have become the part of the securityconcept. That means security of the member states is closely related to security of their neighbors. I would say that the more unstable the situation near the Euro-Atlantic region, the wider NATOdefines its responsibility area.
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
Mr. Kapitonenko, has NATO's attitude towards the issue of Ukraine’s membership to the Alliance changed fundamentally over the past 1, 5 years, after the secession of Crimea and its annexation to Russia?
 
Answer:
From my point of view, European security situation has not undergone any fundamental changes over the past 1, 5 years: usual institutions are partially destroyed; The Eastern Partnership has become more of a problem than a solution; Russia opted for revisionism; and NATO is adapting to the new challenges. Consequently the unreadiness of NATO to Ukrainian membership remains as high as it used to be. Today Ukraine, as well as 1,5 years ago – it is a bunch of additional risks, high level of uncertainty and poor contribution to overall security. I would say that NATO increasingly recognized the necessity of deepening partnership with Ukraine, but is still notready for Ukraine to enter the Alliance.
 
Artsakh Press News Agensy
artsakhpress.am
 
Question:
In your opinion, what is NATO's stand on the escalation of Karabakh Conflict, taking into account that two co-chairing countries of OSCE Minsk Group are NATO member states?
 
Answer:
Reflecting the position of its member-states, NATO will seek to return Karabakh conflict to "frozen" condition, or in conflictology terms – to a latent phase. There is no positive outcome for NATO in the scenario of escalation. There already are enough security challenges and NATO will try to prevent or reduceany of those to an acceptable minimum.
 
"Hetq" Online Newspaper 
Question:
After the NATO-Russia Council, which was convened for the first time following the Ukrainian crisis in May of this year, if I am not mistaken, NATO officials announced that they intend to review the OSCE Vienna Document, on which the post-cold war security system between Russia and Europe was built. As to your point of view, will this revision reflect on security of Ukraine and on the possibility of settlement of relations between Russia and NATO?
 
Answer:
This statement, of course, is very much belated. The necessity of revision of the European security system fundamentals became obvious immediately after the so-called "Referendum” in Crimea, because something that did not anyhow fit in the frameworks of the existing world orderhappened. Russia is strong enough to destroy the accepted security foundations and principles. At the same time, in my opinion, it is weak for creating or imposing those of her own. The relations between Russia and NATO are moving towards the direction of geopolitical rivalry, which will be asymmetric in contrast to that at the times of the "cold war".  As I was convinced for a long time, aggravation of geopolitical rivalry is fraught with new risks for Ukraine. However, right now we do not really have a choice, because the state system is at the stake. Right now NATO is conscious about the danger of Russia's actions for the region as a whole. Thus, the Alliance has a strategy on this issue and knows Ukraine’s place in that strategy.
 
Karine Asatryan 
«A1+» TV company
 
Question:
What is NATO's position regarding the issue of selling weapons to the parties of the conflict?
 
Answer:
We faced this same issue in Ukraine during the past two years. It taught us the following lesson: It is not NATO selling the weapons;it is the member-states. Whatever the support of NATO for Ukraine, it does not affect the decision on supplying American weapon here. I guess the reverse scheme works two: NATO member-states sell their weapon to whomever they want to, if the latter not involved in the embargo.
 
Tigranuhi Martirosyan
Tert.am
 
Question:
1. Mr. Kapitonenko, you recently stated that the sudden escalation isnot beneficial neither for Turkey, nor for Russia. Could you please explain, what do you mean by saying that? Doesthat implythatthe conflicting parties announced the truce after four days of war due to efforts of Russia?
 
2. The presidents of the conflicting parties will meet for the second time after the 4-day war in June. Do you think the negotiations will help to achieve peace?
 
3. Is the placement of peacekeepers in Karabakh possible?
Thank you.
 
Answer:
1. The escalation of the conflict in Ngoro-Karabakh is fraught with risks rather than possibilities neither for Turkey nor for Russia. That is why it is not beneficial for either of them. From my point of view, both Russia and Turkey will try to return the conflict to the frozen state (which they already did). Russia has bigger opportunities to influence the situation, because her role is greater.
 
2. In my view, peace in the full sense of that word is unattainable right now.  It is desirable and possible to go back to the latent phase of the conflict. Territorial conflicts with historical heritage are extremely difficult to settle, and the present-day disbalanced security systems in Europe alas do not foster such a settlement. 
 
3. Just as in case of other "frozen" conflicts, the peacekeepers initiative faces two challenges: Russian veto in the United Nations Security Council and problems in OSCE activities. In case of Nagorno-Karabakh, as it seems to me, it is easier to de-escalate the situation through pressure and diplomatic efforts, rather than by deployment of peacekeeping mission.
 
Tatev Harutyunyan 
Aravot.am
 
Question:
Armenia and Russia are trying to establish a unified air defense system and the initiative will be discussed in the National Assembly of Armenia in the near future. Will this initiative have negative impact on NATO's attitude towards Armenia? Do you think NATO willconsider Armenia as a hostile country?  Is there a risk that some serious communication channels with NATO will be closed for Armenia?
 
Answer:
Establishment of Joint Regional Air Defense System is fraught with serious consequences for regional security in Caucasus, but not for the relations between NATO and Armenia. Armenia-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan has taken into account the nature of the relations between Armenia and Russia, particularly Armenia's membership to CSTO.  In my opinion, nothing new is going to happen in this well-established format of relations in the triangle of Armenia-NATO-Russia. NATO as well realizes the importance of communication with all the countries of the Region. The narrowing of such possibilities means only complication of the situation and thus is unlikely.
 
Tatev Harutyunyan
Aravot.am
 
Question:
Will the participants of NATO Summit in Warsaw be criticizing Azerbaijan for launching an offensive in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh?
 
Answer:
I think that Warsaw rhetoric will generally reproduce the reaction of the Alliance officials to the escalation of the conflict in April. That is to say to call upon the parties to peaceful resolution of the conflict. Direct criticism of Azerbaijan is unlikely in this scenario.
 
Artak Barseghyan 
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
On June 2, 2016, the German Bundestag adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. A number of Ukrainian MPshave also come out with such initiative. What is the likehood of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Ukrainian Rada taking into consideration the current developments in Ukrainian-Turkish relations?
 
Answer:
I think that the probability is very low. Genocide is a very sensitive topic for the Ukrainians. The Holodomor events of 1932-33 are regarded by many as a genocide of the Ukrainian people, which on an emotional level brings together the nations that have suffered from any kind of violent actions. Nevertheless, politics is politics. At this point,the relations with Turkey are in many aspects too important to Kiev to put them at risk.
 
Artak Barseghyan
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
Ukraine supplies weapons to Azerbaijan. What do you think of it, taking into consideration that EU and USA adhere to embargo? 
 
Answer:
Suppling the Ukrainian weapon to Azerbaijan is in full compliance with bilateral agreements and the multilateral export control regimes; it is by no means directed towards any third party. Ukraine consistently advocates peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict. We should as well consider the fact that Ukraine has reduced the export of weapons more than twice during the past two years.
 
Artak Barseghyan 
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
How would you assess NATO’s current role in the post-soviet space, in terms of nearest possible membership of Ukraine and Georgia to the block?
 
Answer:
It is as always quite a difficult role. On the one hand, NATO is an effective tool for deterring Russia and it is perceived as such by many in Ukraine and Georgia. On the other hand, NATO is the "demon" around which Russia structures its foreign policy in post-Soviet space.  To find the balance, to determine its role and to shape the strategy regarding Russia- these are the priority tasks for NATO, fulfillment of which will determine regional security in Europe. This will as well help to understand the perspectives of membership of Ukraine and Georgia. The most likely scenario in my opinion is deepening cooperation with these countries, yet without membership. There is a high potential for this process now, I would say that this potential is higher than the potential for the Membership Action Plan, which was denied in 2008.
 
"Hetq" Online Newspaper 
 
Question:
What are the key expectation in Ukraine from Warsaw NATO Summit 2016? What are the expectations of NATO itself?
 
Answer:
Ukraine is counting on NATO's political support in terms of territorial integrity and on the approval of the support package ofthe Alliance concerning practical measures: support in the military and security sector reforms, operation of trust funds, joint trainings, coaching, etc. NATO, in its turn, is expecting stability and predictability from Ukraine. This is the main reason for President Poroshenko’s participation in the Summit.Actually, the main problem lies in the fact that NATO still don’t know what to expect from Ukraine. It is difficult to expect long-term commitment from the partners after 25 years of trading the foreign policy. I hope we will be able to send signals to NATO that we are willing to cooperate, even if we do not enter the Alliance in the nearest future. I also hope that Ukraine will be able to show that its experience in resistance to hybrid war is a valuable experience, which can be useful for the Alliance.

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