YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 1, ARMENPRESS: “I was badly informed and then I checked it with the French ministry of Interior. I can fully admit that I was mistaken. These cases are totally incomparable. The Safarov case is completely different.” says the expert of the European Policy Center (EPC) and columnist for "Today's Zaman" Amanda Paul in an interview provided to Armenpress. Generally known for her pro-Azeri and pro-Turkish views, she now made a strong turn-around: “The Safarov case definitely made it harder to solve the conflict, as it increased the animosity mainly from Armenian side towards Azerbaijan for pretty natural reasons. And I think we have undermined all the confidence building measures from civil society and NGOs that were going on in the region.” On the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Paul now suggests the inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiations, while advertising that the population of Karabakh must be represented including the Azeri minority: “if the end result is that they have to be resettled in Nagorno-Karabakh then they also need to be a part of the process, part of the talks too.” Paul drew a comparison with Cyprus where she praises the constructiveness of the much larger Greek Cypriot community, as it accepts the Turkish Cypriot community as a negotiating partner. Paul used to go under the name of Amanda Akcakoca, when she was married to a Turk. Asked about any potential bias to her work she strongly claims that there is none: “I don’t think Turkey has a role to play in Nagorno-Karabakh; it only had a counterproductive role. Turkey needs to stay out of that, it only makes things go backwards. So, it’s very easy for people to say that she is married to a Turk and that makes her biased, but that’s not true.” Paul chose not to mention that she is also ethnically half-Turkish and has been strongly socialized into political circles in Baku and Ankara.
Asked to comment on Paul’s surprisingly Turkey-critical views, Mr. Bedo Kurkjian – Demirdjian, communications officer of European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) in Brussels explained to Armenpress: “I think the EPC here in Brussels has put her under pressure after she published too many openly pro-Turkish and pro-Azeri articles. That’s probably also why she suddenly travelled to Yerevan. We’ve seen that before, for some weeks she will be critical towards Turkey and then things will go back to normal. Paul is here mostly considered to be the ‘mouthpiece’ of Azerbaijan in regard to new strategies and positions criticising Armenia, which we often first hear from her in public events, and later see them written as proposals of certain MEPs, pushed by the Azerbaijani lobby. I will believe in a real change if she criticises also Azerbaijan and if she will still do it in a year or two.”
Please find the full transcript below
Mrs. Paul, you are analyzing the situation in the South Caucasus and particularly around Nagorno-Karabakh for a long time. After Safarov extradition and pardon what do you think in what path the peace process will go and how we can overcome these tensions?
Safarov case definitely made it harder to solve the conflict, as it increased the animosity mainly from Armenian side towards Azerbaijan for pretty natural reasons. That’s the first point. And I think we have undermined all the confidence building measures from civil society and NGOs that were going on in the region. It would also undermine all the steps taken in Azerbaijan in a more positive manner. And certainly when you have presidential elections in both countries it’s very difficult to see how it is going to put some momentum into it. Of course, you know about the two foreign ministers holding separate meetings with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Paris and this is the first time that the foreign ministers are meeting after Safarov case which was not ina positive atmosphere.
In one of your interviews you had made a comparison between Varujan Karapetyan and Ramil Safarov, stating that Karapetyan was pardoned in Armenia. This information turned to be wrong. How would you comment on that?
Yes, you are right. I was badly informed and then I checked it with the French ministry of Interior. I can fully admit that I was mistaken. These cases are totally incomparable. Safarov case is completely different.
You were always pointing out that the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh needs to be involved in the negotiations. After Safarov case and the latest developments do you still think so?
There are several cases in the world where the communities were not comparable, but they managed somehow to work together or come up with some sort of solution. You know, the first thing that comes to my mind is Cyprus where Greek Cypriot community is far-far bigger than Turkish Cypriot community, but yet in the peace deal that is being negotiated, it is foreseen that Turkish Cypriots would have equal rights, which was the case since the independence of Cyprus.. . Greek Cypriots accept to negotiate a settlement in which Turkish Cypriots are equal partners and would havehigh level jobs. I know the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is not the same as in Cyprus and no conflicts are the same. I agree that Nagorno-Karabakh population should be part of the negotiations with the eventual solution being accepted by them. But we need to remember that there is an Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh that is also needed to be involved. And if the end result is that they have to be resettled in Nagorno-Karabakh then they also need to be a part of the process, part of the talks too.
You were married to a Turk. Does your personal background anyhow influence your research?
No, it doesn’t and it’s apparent why. I have always been clear about Turkish policies. Both in this conflict (Nagorno-Karabakh) and in Cyprus conflict. I don’t think Turkey has a role to play in Nagorno-Karabak; it only had a counter productive role. Turkey needs to stay out of that, it only makes things go backwards. So, it’s very easy for people to say that she is married to a Turk and that makes her biased, but that’s not true.
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