Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by David Stepanyan
Armenia's accession to the Customs Union will apparently strengthen Armenia's defense in case the conflict with Azerbaijan flares up, Cory Welt, Associate Director and Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the Elliott School, said when replying to ArmInfo's question. He thinks that Moscow will exert even more pressure on Baku to support Armenia more actively.
The expert thinks that Armenia's membership of the Customs Union will probably make Azerbaijan be more careful in the matter of use of force. In the meantime, Armenia's membership will not make Russia look for a political solution to the Karabakh problem more actively. The status quo does not so much meet the interests of Russia, but does not damage these interests either. So, the Kremlin has no reason to take the risk and change something.
Professor Welt has the impression that Russia exerts pressure on the countries that are considered to be its closest partners but betray Russia by establishing relations with the West. He pointed at the example of Georgia, on which Russia exerts no visible pressure. He thinks that Moscow mostly pressures the countries that expect some benefits from the relations with Russia. The Kremlin wants to make sure that these countries realize that these benefits depend on their foreign policy.
Cory Welt is sure that in the course of time Russia would seek to make Azerbaijan join the Customs Union. The expert also thinks that Russia would try to do that by means of the carrot diplomacy rather than the stick policy.