Russian, Armenian presidents to discussion situation in Caucasus - September, 2008

Besides discussions concerning bilateral trade relations and the volatile situation regarding Georgia, I have a very strong feeling that the two presidents will be discussing Armenian-Turkish relations as well. 

It's a bit hard to be optimistic sometimes because of how limited Armenia's assets are. Having assets (e.g. large population, powerful economy, large landmass, natural resources, powerful military) plays a big role in negotiations. As I said earlier, Turkey, as well as the other two Caucasus republics, have much more to offer Russia (and the West) than our tiny and landlocked republic. However, I'm not too worried about recent developments. While I realize that it's Moscow's self interests that are behind the recent warming of relations between Ankara and Yerevan, I also realize that Moscow has absolutely no interest in weakening the Armenian Republic. 

This is not 1921 and Bolsheviks do not occupy the Kremlin anymore. Days when Communists were giving away lands - like Crimea to Ukraine, Ossetia/Abkhazia to Georgia, Artsakh/Nakhijevan to Azerbaijan, Kars and Artahan to Turkey - are long gone. 

Worst case scenario would be for the Kremlin to incorporate Armenia within its federation. I don't know about incorporation... but close integration does not look too bad from my vantage point. Armenia cannot prosper under its current circumstances. To prosper, Yerevan has to be an integral part of a bigger, wealthier entity. My biggest fear here, however, is putting on-hold Armenia's land and reparation demands from Turkey because in situations like this nations like Armenia (nations with little national assets) don't have much say in what happens. The proposed Caucasus Union is Moscow's and Ankara's natural reaction to recent developments in Caucasus and to the region's geopolitical shift. 

Whether or not such a union will happen, whether or not such a union will work, and what it will all mean for Armenia, only time will tell. Therefore, we all need to pray for the good and hope for the best.

How could the proposed Caucasus Union impact Armenia?

In theory it can provide Armenia with much needed peace and stability, and it can also elevate Yerevan's status to a major/pivotal player in the region. Since the union in question is economic and political in nature and would recognize Russia's primacy in the region, Armenia does not have much to fear from it, in my opinion. As I said earlier, because Turkey is vulnerable, Moscow has been trying to drive a wedge between Ankara and the West. It seems to be working, thus far. Therefore, with the political situation in Georgia and the Black Sea region unpredictable and unstable, Moscow and Ankara are forced to seek alternative routes for their bilateral trade. This is where Armenia can be important for them. Armenia can potentially benefit from all this. But at what cost? I think it would be an immense mistake if official Yerevan decided to totally abandon its genocide recognition agenda. Nonetheless, I think recent developments translate well for the status of Nagorno Karabakh. With Turkey closely engaged with Armenia and Russia, chances are very-very slim (virtually nonexistent) that Azerbaijan will attempt a military solution to their problem.

What can Moscow do if Armenia decided not to go along with the agenda?

Moscow has total control over Armenia's gas/oil imports. Moscow controls Armenia's nuclear power plant. Moscow controls Armenia's economy to a great extent. Moscow controls Armenia's military to a great extent. Moscow controls Armenia's politicians to a great extent. So, what can Armenia do? To put it in a further perspective: with all the Western support (military, financial and political) Tbilisi had at its disposal, what was it able to do against Moscow? What has Azerbaijan, with all its oil wealth, been able to do against Moscow? The reality is, Armenia is in absolutely no position to "disobey" Moscow. What our leadership should be doing instead is using all its assets to diligently and persistently lobby Kremlin officials for the preservation of Armenia's national interests. We Armenians urgently need political activism in Moscow.


Arevordi

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Russian, Armenian presidents to discussion situation in Caucasus


September, 2008

Presidents Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia meet in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi later Tuesday to discuss the current situation in the Caucasus and new large-scale bilateral cooperation projects. "The sides will consider joint projects in the processing industry and transport that will facilitate a doubling of Russian capital investment in Armenia over the next few years," a Kremlin source told Itar-Tass. Medvedev and Sargsyan took the offices of president in their respective country this year with an interval of a month from each other. Sargsyan made trips to Moscow March 24 and June 24 and a trip to St Petersburg June 6 where he attended an informal summit of the CIS. “This meeting will become yet another event in the meaty and trustworthy dialogue between the two countries that aim develop their versatile strategic partnership,” the source said. “The sides will exchange opinions on the situation in the Caucasus and on some pressing issues of the Russian-Armenian agenda, and Medvedev will also tell Sargsyan about Russia’s assessment of the situation that has taken shape in the wake of Georgia’s aggressive actions, which brought about the only possible decision to recognize the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” he said. “Russia has a definitive leading position among Armenia’s foreign trade partners,” the source said adding that bilateral trade had grown 40% in 2005 and 70% in 2006. The tendency was fortified by a further 66% increase of trade to 821 million U.S. dollars in 2007. From January through July this year, trade grew almost 20% versus the same period of 2007 and stood at 400 million U.S. dollars. “Russian companies become the largest foreign investors in Armenian economy, as their accumulated investment has exceeded 1.3 billion U.S. dollars,” the source said. “The bulk of this investment streams to the energy sector, the banking business, mining and metallurgy, the construction industry, telecommunications, and information technologies.” “However, the energy sector remains the focal point for investors,” he said. “Work is underway to draft a medium-term agreement on Russian natural gas supplies to Armenia from 2009 through 2011, and efforts continue to set up a united economic facility on the basis of the operating and new units of the Razdan hydro power plant.” “Russian lending institutions show interest towards greater presence in Armenia’s banking system, and their share in the aggregate registered capital of Armenian banks has gotten over a 25% mark,” the source said. “In August 2007, the Russian diamond corporation ALROSA and the Armenian government signed an agreement on cooperation in diamond cutting and xxxelry making, and special steps will be made this year to develop cooperation in that area,” he said. “Cooperation in the nuclear power industry is moving to a quality new stage,” the source said. “Along with assistance to ensure safe operations of the Armenian nuclear plant, Russian companies are ready to take part in the supplementary prospecting and development of uranium ore deposits and construction of a new power unit at the plant.” “Our cooperation in the humanitarian sphere is developing dynamically, too, as cultural festivals in the format of the Year of Armenia in Russia and the Year of Russia in Armenia have turned into feasts of communication between the two peoples,” the source said. He added that Armenia is taking part in the programs of diversified humanitarian cooperation in the CIS format.

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2....8773&PageNum=0

Sarksyan in Moscow before possible Gül visit

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan is scheduled to pay an official visit to Russia today at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin announced yesterday in a brief statement. The timing of Sarkysan's visit is widely found to be meaningful, as it comes only days ahead of an expected visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Yerevan. While Gül said over the weekend that he was still considering whether to accept an invitation from Sarksyan to watch together a World Cup qualifying game between the Armenian and Turkish national soccer teams on Saturday in Yerevan's Hrazdan Stadium, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan indicated, also over the weekend, that Gül would respond positively to the invitation. Last week, Sarksyan's office announced that he would depart for Sochi on Tuesday for a working visit. "During the meeting the parties will discuss the future development of the Armenian-Russian strategic partnership and will dwell on issues of Armenia's forthcoming presidency of the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO]. The interlocutors will also discuss regional and international issues," his office also said then. Also this week, probably after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan today in İstanbul, a Turkish Foreign Ministry delegation will visit Yerevan to discuss a proposed platform for the troubled Caucasus. The Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, proposed by Turkey as a mechanism to develop conflict resolution methods among the Caucasus countries, is planned to be made up of Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/de...1898&bolum=102


A realistic look at the situation:


Ruben Safrastyan: importance of Gul’s visit to Armenia shouldn’t be exaggerated


Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s decision to arrive in Yerevan is conditioned by drastic changes in the geopolitical situation due to Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the RA Academy of Sciences, prof. Ruben Safrastyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “In an attempt to resume the normal course, Turkey offered a ‘Caucasian platform’. Moreover, it wants to gain a foothold while Russia increases its presence in the Caucasus. That is why Gul agreed to pay a visit to Yerevan. However, the basics of Turkey’s policy toward Armenia will not be changed,” he said. The importance of Gul’s visit to Armenia shouldn’t be exaggerated, according to him. “The Armenian President has done right. Under the circumstances, Turkey just tries to pursue a more flexible policy towards Armenia. I do not think that Ankara will sacrifice its national interests to relations with Azerbaijan. Furthermore, don’t forget about the Armenian Genocide resolution that is likely to be put on agenda again, with Democrats coming to power,” prof. Safrastyan said. As to the possibility of Gyumri-Kars railroad startup, he said, it’s quite real, because Russia is interested in the project, which will somehow suspend Kars-Tbilisi-Baku initiative.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=26870

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