Aliyev's threats must be taken seriously - February, 2008

When reading, bear in mind that the following article is written by a representative of the Armenian Assembly of America (Washington's very own spokespeople within the Armenian community in North America), featured within Washington's very own news outlet in Yerevan, Armenianow.
Arevordi

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Karabakh Commentary: Aliyev's threats must be taken seriously


Special to ArmeniaNow By Jirair Haratunian Past Chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America Board of Directors

February, 2008

One of Armenia's top generals, Colonel General Seyran Ohanian, recently cautioned that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's frequent threats to resume war against Karabakh and Armenia must be taken seriously. Aliyev's latest foray was a proclamation that "War with Armenia is not over; only the first stage is over." He added, "Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent." Aliyev's bellicosity aside, his regime budgeted one billion dollars this year to modernize and train its military forces. That billion dollar military budget is what prompted General Ohanian to caution that Karabakh's and Armenia's security problems are real.

Flushed with oil revenues, Baku's diplomatic posture regarding Armenia and Karabakh has become publicly arrogant and uncompromising. Unfortunately, American indulgence towards Baku has served to embolden Aliyev. Washington views Azerbaijan as a strategic asset in its confrontation with Teheran over Iran's growing nuclear capacity. Coupled with this are the massive investments, largely sponsored by Washington, for the new Caspian pipelines that carry petroleum and natural gas to Western markets from Azerbaijan through Georgia, to Turkey. These, of course, circumvent Armenia and were designed to bypass Russian territory. Washington's motives are as much political as economic. Proof of this were statements made in Baku by Senator Richard Lugar, Republican from Indiana and minority leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who asserted, "The long term (American) interests are not to allow Russia to be dominant in the South Caucasus and Central Asia."

Little wonder then that Azerbaijan believes geography and abundance of oil will ultimately succeed in imposing its will on Armenia and Karabakh, and confident enough to threaten war with impunity. It must be said though, that United States and European diplomats have cautioned Baku, perhaps too mildly, against renewed warfare. They have in mind, of course, that the billions of dollars invested in Caspian oil production and delivery could be jeopardized in the event of a new conflict. Also, during their last visit to the region, the co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group cautioned that war would be devastating for both countries. Instead, they lobbied for their latest written proposal as the best basis for an agreed framework for peace negotiations.

Where the Karabakh problem is heading is hard to discern. But what is clear is that Azerbaijan continues a ceaseless political and economic offensive against Armenia on multiple diplomatic fronts. Currently, the Nagorno Karabakh question has been inserted onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly. It is part of a resolution submitted by the GUAM coalition of states comprised of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, to condemn the independence efforts of Nagorno Karabakh and other frozen conflict regions of the former Soviet Union. Ironically, this movement coincides with a contradictory effort led by the United States that calls for the independence of Kosovo. Its supporters repeatedly claim that Kosovo is a unique case that needs prompt resolution. They assert that Kosovo is not a precedent for other unresolved separatist conflicts. Russia disagrees and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, is unsure. He told the news agency Trend that it is very hard to predict the influence of the declaration of independence of Kosovo on Nagorno Karabakh and other "frozen conflicts." In any event it appears certain that Kosovo will be declared an independent state in the near future despite Russia's objections, without a UN Security Council endorsement and, even the unanimous concurrence of the European Union.

Is Kosovo a precedent for Karabakh's independence? The answer is ambivalent. Nonetheless, Baku is fearful of Kosovo's independence because it strengthens Armenian claims, and Armenia has said that the Nagorno Karabakh question is predicated on its own historic roots. However, there are more similarities than differences between Kosovo's circumstances and Karabakh's. Each emerged as a result of military actions that defeated Serbian and Azerbaijan armed forces. It took a NATO force to expel Serbian forces and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was created through the victory of its own security forces. In both instances oppressive regimes that ruled over ethnic minority regions were expelled. New governmental processes were instituted in both regions. However, in Karabakh its new republic resulted from the free will and independent actions of its citizenry while in Kosovo NATO authorities still exercise oversight and control over the levers of government. Thus, whether or not Kosovo constitutes a precedent in the eyes of Kosovo's western supporters, they will be hard pressed to choose between the validity of one over the other. In the end, it is principle not precedent that should and hopefully will determine Karabakh's future.



In other news:


“Zerkalo”: Moscow to Intend to Turn Armenia to Russian Enclave


At least political scientist Mubariz Ahmadoglu thinks so

“Armenians are more fearing Azerbaijanis than Turks. Actually while discussing the issue of “genocide of Armenians” at US Congress Azerbaijanis adhere more active position than Turks. It makes Armenians almost furious”. This statement was made by the head of the Center on political innovations and technologies, Mubariz Ahmadoglu, at annual briefing dedicated to analysis of events of the passed month in South Caucasus and in the world. Accordingly to tradition introduced by him political scientist drew attention to neighbors, situation of which attracts more and more attention on the eve of presidential election. Situation in Armenia is aggravating with the speed of light. “You won’t believe but all going on there remind African countries where everything can be expected. Thus, most recently Ter-Petrosyan blocked the road of presidential cortege of Kocharyan. Can you image it in any other country? I have never met it myself but in the countries of far Africa”, underlined M. Ahmadoglu.

Continuing the issue of elections in Armenia M. Ahmadoglu added that Ter-Petrosyan is more acceptable for Armenia and for neighbor countries. Ter-Petrosyan is favorable for Russia, however, Kremlin prefers to see Serg Sarkisyan in the presidential chair, he holds. “It is understandable as Russian politicians stake on Sarkisyan hoping to turn Armenia to the likeness of Kaliningrad enclave”, stressed M. Ahmadoglu. Is this stake invented by Russia? Answering this question M. Ahmadoglu said: “In case Ter-Petrosyan wins election, he promises to open railway communications with Azerbaijan. Actually it can be profitable for Russia as opening of railways would serve for evident closeness of region and north power”. Accordingly to him during the time of Soviet period 85% of products for South Caucasus were transported through this route. Given circumstance would serve as cement sticking together Caucasus and Russia. But apparently Kremlin can’t get free from imperial intentions.

Accordingly to M. Ahmadoglu Moscow is blind not only with regards to future president of Armenia, but it ignores what Armenians do on south borders. “Armenians of Krasnodar recently have become more active up to applying to European structures for any reason”, noted political scientist. Accordingly to him, Russia attaches no importance to it but it would be good to do so “as Armenians want to split North Caucasus”. He added that unfortunately Russia takes such warnings as anti-Armenian statements. “Following orders of the States Armenians do their best to destroy North Caucasus and Russia doesn’t want to understand it. When we speak about it Russia takes it as anti-Armenian statements coming from Azerbaijan”, said he. Analyzing situation on North Caucasus from where as political scientist believes every day there come hot news reminding military chronics M. Ahmadoglu continued making not comforting conclusions. Particularly, he warned that in case situation in this part of Russia doesn’t change for better then the threat of North Caucasian disorders will penetrate South Caucasus. “Russia can’t control situation in North Caucasus any more. Stability in our region any time can be shaken”, said he.

Judging by statements of Mr. Ahmadoglu, it turns to be that Russia and Armenia are just bitter enemies. Following M. Ahmadoglu version Russia wants to turn Armenia even not to “advanced post” but to Russian enclave in South Caucasus. And Armenia in turn is striving for destabilizing situation in North Caucasus that is to break down Russia. At the same time both states are actively cooperating not only as CIS member-states but also within the frames of Treaty on Collective Security that is they are military and political allies. As party to Treaty on Collective Security Armenia unlike Azerbaijan has chance to acquire weapons following Russian prices, but we pay for Russian weapons following world prices.

These countries are so hostile that Russia is going to help to construct the second atom station in Armenia. And due to this cooperation Armenia declines profitable proposal of EU. “EU doesn’t finance projects realized by two countries and for this reason it won’t finance construction of atom station as Armenia is going to construct new station jointly with Russia”, declared EU commissar on foreign relation and European policy of neighborhood, Benita Ferrero-Valdner, in Yerevan. She also underscored that Metsamor atom station is old enough and should be closed. “We allotted 30 mln Euro for maintenance of security of station however it is necessary to close it”, she underscored. Such are hostile relations between Armenia and Russia. And comparing Armenia with Africa in connection with blocking the road of presidential cortege of Robert Kocharyan, respected political scientist just went too far. We don’t know how often it happens in Africa but most recently anti-globalists blocked all roads leading to the venue of meeting of president to break summit of G-8 in civilized Europe. And as a consequence presidents had to get the venue with the help of water means. Authors highly value the role and merits of Mr. Ahmadoglu in information war against Armenia. However we would like him to be more cautious while selecting facts and arguments the number of which is large enough…

Source: http://www.demaz.org/cgi-bin/e-cms/v...56&n=001339&g=

Armenian scenario


On February 19, a head of state will be elected in what is for us a friendly and very important country. The elections in Armenia are very similar to those Russia will hold in March. The successor of the current president will run for the top position; he is being opposed by representatives of the former government, and his long standing opponents. As in Russia, the current government's nominee - Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian - has every chance of success. As in Russia, the popularity of the current government in Armenia rests on economic success. When Robert Kocharian's team came to power ten years ago Armenia was in a desperate position. It had suffered several years of economic dislocation, absence of electricity and heating. Today, Armenia, a country with no energy resources or any other tangible natural resources, has one of the world's most dynamic economies. Its economy grew by 13.6% last year, one of the fastest rates in the world.

But statistics as such are of little interest to the voters. What matters for them is how those statistics reflect their well-being. During the past year, average incomes increased by 24.7%, while inflation did not exceed the Russian old dream rate of 6%. Last year's parliamentary elections testified to serious public support for the current government. The ruling Republican Party, led by Sarkisian, together with its ally and rival Prosperous Armenia, headed by Gagik Tsarukian, received more than half of all votes and two thirds of seats in parliament. Now this alliance has shored up its power even further - at the presidential elections Tsarukian will support Sarkisian. This partnership is as hard hitting as that between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev in Russia. The latest polls give Sarkisian 47.5% of all votes, which are likely to guarantee his victory in the first round.

Today, Yerevan looks like an enormous construction site. The prime minister and his political consultants do not have to ponder over election scenarios - Sarkisian is travelling all around the country, and telling his compatriots about ambitious plans for spreading the gas network, road and house construction, and the eradication of poverty. He does not need a detailed program, and has drafted a short document on the consolidation of statehood and promotion of the principles of justice. Sarkisian cannot be accused of weakness or lack of experience - before heading the government, he served in various positions in security-related ministries, and his name is associated with military victories in Karabakh. Relations with Russia and the West are a big part of the election campaign. It is hard to notice anti-Russian attitudes in Armenia - Russia is associated with hope and support. But the same is true of anti-Western sentiment, which is only natural considering the existence of the influential Armenian Diaspora countries such as the United States and France. Sarkisian has a well-deserved reputation of a pro-Russian politician. He has known Putin for a long time, since he worked in CIS security-related agencies. But he is quite open to cooperation with the West, which practically eliminates the possibility of a foreign country conducting a large-scale campaign against him, as has sometimes happened in post-Soviet republics.

In this position it will be difficult not to win. No opposition candidate stands a chance, unless the government makes the mistake of paying too much attention to them. For the time being, the most prominent rival is the recent Speaker of Parliament and close associate of the current leader Artur Bagdasarian, who the polls put in second place with 13.4% of votes. He has suddenly turned into a vociferously pro-western critic of the regime. An active participant in every recent campaign, the leader of the National Unity Party, Artashes Gegamian, is in fourth place with a rating of 4.7%. Ex-Prime Minister Vazgen Manukian, and the leader of the historical Dashnak Party Vice-Speaker of Parliament Vaan Ovannesian are well known in the country. But the biggest sensation was the decision of the first Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian to run for the presidency. It has given not quite understandable hope to many opponents of the current government to defeat it. It is comparable to Mikhail Gorbachev running in the election race in Russia (he ran for the presidency in 1996 but with no success).

Ter-Petrosian is trying to prove the unprovable - that he was a more successful leader than Kocharian and Sarkisian. But his compatriots have not forgotten the first half of the 1990s. Moreover, Ter-Petrosian had to resign when under Western pressure he displayed readiness to make tangible concessions on Karabakh and relations with Turkey. Such conduct is not forgiven in Armenia. It will be difficult for him to prove his good attitude to Russia. It was he who shut down all the Russian schools in the country. Half of the voters will not support him under any circumstances, and he can hardly hope for more than third place and 7% of votes.

Could the consolidation of the opposition change the situation before the elections? It seems unlikely, primarily because none of the opposition leaders is accepted by the others. Ter-Petrosian, who is the loudest in claiming the leadership of the opposition, is also the most resented by the others. Sarkisian's opponents will not form a political alliance. The West is not likely to support an oppositionist, either. Moreover, now that international observers have, with a few reservations, declared the elections in neighboring Georgia quite legitimate, they will find it rather difficult to give the Armenian elections a lower rating for fear of looking ridiculous. Unlike in Georgia, the elections in Armenia are being held according to schedule; TV channels have not been shut down; opposition supporters are not behind bars or in exile, nor under criminal investigation. International monitoring will be very serious - almost 300 observers in 1,923 constituencies.

Russia would like to see Armenia a stable and dynamically developing country with a responsible government oriented towards constructive relations with it. Strategically, Sarkisian's nomination suits Moscow, which has given him support at the top level. It would be appropriate to take steps that would demonstrate our readiness to render Armenia substantial economic assistance. Regrettably, the pro-Russian forces in Armenia have been recently weakened by Moscow's decision to increase prices on gas exports. Considering our financial capabilities Russia should list Armenia as a priority recipient of its direct foreign aid. The main thing is not to overdo with the public demonstration of our support. The United States has been giving tangible assistance to Armenia for a long time. Our policymakers should consider the role Armenia could play in building relations with Georgia. For Armenia, which is under transport blockade, transit via Georgia is a lifeline. The more tense Russian-Georgian relations are, the more this lifeline is threatened.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080207/98622236.html

Zubkov to Yerevan to discuss Russian-Armenian cooperation


Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is embarking on a two-day official visit to Armenia on Tuesday evening during which he will discuss a wide range of issues of Russian-Armenian cooperation. On Wednesday morning, the Russian government head will meet Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and speaker of the National Assembly (parliament) Tigran Torosyan, as well as will hold talks with the country's Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan. The sides plan to sign bilateral agreements. Zubkov will visit the Armenian Apostolic Church’s Mother See - Holy Echmiadzin for a conversation with its head - Supreme Patriarch, All Armenian Catholicos Garegin II. The Russian prime minister will lay a wreath at the memorial to the victims of genocide of Armenians of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. After the proclamation of independence and sovereignty of the two states this is the fifth visit paid by Russia’s government head to Armenia. Yerevan officials hope that the arrival of the Russian prime minister will serve as a stimulus for the development of, first of all, bilateral economic relations. “Russia is steadily assuming the positions of one of the main investors in the Armenian economy,” Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin who co-chairs the Intergovernmental Commission for economic cooperation with Armenia said at a Russian-Armenian economic forum that has recently been held in Yerevan by the Armenian government and all-Russian non-governmental organisation Union of Armenians of Russia.

Levitin recalled that Russia’s major investment projects in Armenia include the construction of gas-energy facilities, purchase by the VimpelCom company of assets of the national communications operator ArmenTel, buying by Russia’s Vneshtorgbank (VTB Bank) of Armsberbank (Armenian Savings Bank), modernisation of the Yerevan aluminium plan RusAl-ArmenAl, of energy capacities of the Sevan-Razdan hydropower plant cascade, rehabilitation of a number of Armenian enterprises by the company International Business Centre founded by the Russian RASKO corporate group. The results of an international tender for the concession management of the Armenian Railway Company have been recently summarised. Russian Railways (RZD) was announced the winner. The foreign trade turnover between the two countries in January-October grew by 63 percent reaching 623.7 million US dollars. The Russian and Armenian sides have been recently discussing “possibilities for the implementation of new large-scale projects.” So their interaction in the sphere of the nuclear power industry is advancing to a new stage. “The Russian side is ready to invest in the follow-up exploration and industrial development of uranium deposits in Armenia” that reach 60,000 tonnes, according to forecasts, as well as to provide assistance to the country in the prolongation of the service life of the Armenian nuclear power plant and construction of a new nuclear power generating unit. Direct industrial relations of Russian regions with Armenia are developing involving over 70 constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

The system of modern interaction bodies is working stably, in particular, the Russian-Armenian Intergovernmental Commission for economic cooperation. The Trade Mission of the Russian Federation in Armenia was established in 2006 and the opening of an office of the Rosoboronexport arms exporting company in Yerevan is planned. “Russian capital is feeling very comfortable in Armenia,” Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan is certain. In the total volume of foreign investments in the real sector of the Armenian economy made in the period from 1991 to October 2007, Russian investments accounted for almost one billion dollars or one-third of the total. “The legal field regulating trade-economic relations between Armenia and Russia, an atmosphere of effective cooperation between the two countries’ governments, as well as the presence in Russia of a large and active Armenian community give our businesspeople ample opportunities for the development of mutually advantageous activities in different sectors of the economy,” believes Sarkisyan. Nevertheless, “economic relations between Armenia and Russia so far do not correspond to the level of political strategic partnership between the two countries,” President of the all-Russian non-governmental organisation Union of Armenians of Russia and of the international union of Armenian NGOs World Armenian Congress Ara Abramyan believes.

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2....1721&PageNum=0


Russia is making energy agreements with Armenia


Russian premier minister Viktor Zubkov is to make an official visit to Armenia on 5-6 February at the invitation of his counterpart Serge Sarkisyan. During the visit Russian premier is to meet Armenian president Robert Kocharyan. Though Russia is to elect a new president on 2 March and Armenia on 19 February, both countries are to preserve concession of political power what means that the dialogue between two counties is to be continued and developed. Economic cooperation is to be in the center of the negotiations this time, further development of Russian –Armenian trade-economic and investment cooperation in particular. Russian-Armenian trade index has grown on 60 % for the last two years. Both Russian export and import have increased. The turnover between two countries was more than $0,7 billiards in 2007.

Russian premier points out the high tempo of investment cooperation. Russian companies invested in Armenian economy about $175 million in 2007, $100 million out of them were direct investments. The total sum of Russian investments in Armenia has amounted to $1 billiards. The prime-ministers are to discuss energy cooperation of two countries which remains the priority brunch of economic partnership. It should be noticed that Russian companies Gasprom, RAO EES, Russian Railways, diamond producing company ALROSA, RUSAL, Sistema, Vympelcom, Bank VTB. Russia satisfies all Armenian demands in gas, the supply agreements are sighed up to 2009. At the moment Russia and Armenia are considering Armenia’s proposal of building an oilprocessing plant on its territory with Russia and Iran’s assist. The discussion is at the very start and lots of questions touch oil supply point. One of the spheres of Russian-Armenian cooperation is the electric power industry. Armenia is a country with overabundant energy; it can export its energy to other countries. The energy sector has been restored for the inner usage.

At that Russian Gasprom is interested in completing the building of the fifth block of Razdan Thermal Power Plant. The four working blocks of this plan are owned by Russia. As for nuclear energy cooperation Russia is fulfilling its entire obligations on a long-tern contract on nuclear power supplies for an Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. The prime ministers are likely to sign bilateral agreements on cooperation in nuclear energy sphere. The progressive development of Russian-Armenian economic cooperation is restrained by transport factor. The problem can be improved with launching a regular railway-ferry between the port Kavkaz and the port Poty (Georgia). In January the Russian Railways has obtained concession on the company Armenian Railways. The two sides are expected to sign a protocol on changing a bilateral agreement on free trade from 30 September 1992. The document is to meet the WTO norms and requirements. The sides are to sign an agreement in the sphere of information technologies, post office and electronic connection. The Russian delegation headed by Mr. Zubkov is made up of about 20 officials from federal administration and heads of large companies. The Russian prime-minister is to visit the memorial complex Tsitsernakaberd, which is dedicated to the victims of Armenian Genocide and located overlooking Yerevan.

Source: http://www.russia-ic.com/rus_interna.../in_depth/677/


Russia major investor and economic partner for Armenia


Russia is Armenia’s major investor, RF Prime Minister Victor Zubkov told a news conference in Yerevan. “The accumulated volume of Russian investments amounting in $1 billion strengthens our intention to develop cooperation. Joint programs are being successfully implemented. They cover new sectors, including atomic energy, diamond production and communications,” he said. “Russia also maintains the status of Armenia’s leading economic partner. The commodity turnover accretion made 60% and is approaching $1 billion,” he added. For his part, Armenian Foreign Minister Serzh Sargsyan said that the potential of the Armenian-Russian relations is huge and the figure of $1 billion is a matter of near future, Novosti Armenia reports.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=24774


Russia to deliver first Sukhoi SuperJet-100s to Armenia


Armenia will be the first country to receive new Sukhoi SuperJet-100 airplanes from Russia, the Russian transport minister said on Wednesday. The SuperJet 100 project is a family of medium-range passenger aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau in cooperation with major American and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace, and Honeywell. "The first aircraft will be supplied to [Russia's flagship carrier] Aeroflot, and the first delivery abroad will be made to Armenia," Igor Levitin said. He said a $50 million contract for the delivery of two airplanes to Armenia's Armavia airline in 2008 was signed last September. Russia and Armenia intend to raise bilateral trade to $1 billion, the countries' prime ministers said on Wednesday. In 2007, trade turnover exceeded $0.7 billion. Sukhoi head Mikhail Pogosyan said his company anticipates growing demand for SSJ-100s once they enter the market. The aircraft maker said last month it is planning to sell 150 new Sukhoi SuperJet-100 aircraft, saying so far it had 73 contracts. It plans to manufacture at least 700 SuperJet 100s, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China. The list price of a 95-seat base model is $28 million, but the company is currently working on both smaller and larger capacity modifications. The SuperJet 100 has an estimated $100 billion market for around 5,500 planes, through 2023.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080206/98506960.html

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