The conflict in Georgia was a unique situation

Tue 28 September 2010 06:15 GMT | 11:15 Local Time

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Pavel Podvig

News.Az interviews Pavel Podvig, researcher at Stanford University's Centre of International Security and Cooperation.

Do you believe than NATO-Russia confrontation period has already gone or it still exists? 
It depends on what one would consider a "confrontation". Certainly, there are different approaches to a number of security-related issues in Europe (and elsewhere). Sometimes the disagreements are quite strong. But I wouldn't say it is a confrontation.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said recently that NATO`s door remains open for Georgia. How sincere Secretary General was saying that, to your opinion?
NATO made a commitment to consider Georgia's application, so it is clear that they cannot take it back. My guess is that at some point it would be possible. It may take a decade or so, though, and might require a changed NATO-Russia relations.

How do you think Moscow may react to the possible accession of its neighbors (the CIS countries) to the Euroatlantic structures? Do you expect a new military invasion actions from Russian side as it was in 2008 against Georgia?

It's hard to tell. The Russian leadership would probably be cautious about increased cooperation of CIS countries with Europe, but it all depends on the context and on whether Russia is excluded (or feels excluded) from similar cooperative arrangements. NATO membership seems to be a line that Moscow doesn't want others to cross, but short of that a lot of cooperation with Europe would be possible.
On military invasions, I certainly hope not. It appears that the conflict in Georgia was a unique situation that does not exists elsewhere. So, I hope that this will not be repeated.

NATO is said to be willing to have a base in Azerbaijan, close to Russia and Iran. Do you think that NATO may really send troops to a CIS country?
This is hard to tell. Depends on what kind of a base. There are US bases in Central Asia, for example. Again, a lot would depend on the context and on whether Russia is included in the decision process in some form.

Azerbaijan is military ally of US and close neighbor of Iran at the same time. What kind of role can play Azerbaijan if the war against Iran will be unavoidable?

That I don't know. My understanding is that the US would not necessarily need military bases in Azerbaijan in a case of a conflict with Iran. I certainly hope that it will not come to a military conflict there. A military strike against Iran would be a serious mistake, in my view, and I certainly hope that Azerbaijan would recognize that it's in its interest to stay away from it (as it would be in everyone else's).

Lala B.




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