Lavrov's comments recently about Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) alarmed many Armenians. Needless to say, Armenia is not a major power in the world today. Azerbaijan will continue having the political edge over Armenia in the region due to its geographic location and petrodollars for the foreseeable future. Thus, regardless of who won the war sooner or later Armenia will most probably have to give up some of the territories taken outside of the internationally recognized territory of Artsakh. I have no doubt, however, that Artsakh proper is safe. Naturally, my biggest concern is for the region west of Artsakh - Karvajar (Kelbajar) and Berdzor (Lachin). According to what we are hearing and seeing on the ground, however, no such concession is in the works. On the contrary, authorities in Artsakh are fortifying their control over the land and Armenian-Russian relations are better than ever. Since Georgia's defeat last summer, Moscow has been trying to strike a peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia and it trying to reconcile differences between Armenia and Turkey. Moscow wants to be the sole power broker in the region. Moscow is playing a delicate game of diplomacy. Unfortunately, we do not know details of what is occurring behind-the-scenes in Moscow, and the same applies to Ankara, Yerevan and Baku. Nonetheless, something is definitely in the works. Perhaps several years from now we'll see its results.

Arevordi

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Karabakh Peace Precondition to Turkey Relations, Echoes Lavrov


October, 2008

In an interview published Tuesday Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who visited Armenia Friday, echoed Turkey's calls for an immediate resolution of the Karabakh conflict prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia. "It [Armenia] really has few geographic and political options. As soon as the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement becomes a fact, Turkey will be ready to help Armenia forge normal links with the outside world, naturally through the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Yerevan," said Lavrov who was interviewed by a "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" reporter late last week as he flew to Yerevan to meet with Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. After the talks with Nalbandian he sounded cautiously optimistic about prospects for a breakthrough in the Karabakh peace process.

Lavrov said that Russia expects the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet again shortly after next week's Azeri presidential election and reach a framework peace agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh. He stressed the importance of a Nagorno-Karabakh resolution and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations for Armenia's security and economic development. According to Lavrov, Armenia should be keenly interested in a Karabakh resolution in the wake of the crisis in Georgia which he said exposed "the vulnerability of its position" and highlighted the importance of having an open border with Turkey. "Armenia has huge difficulties communicating with the outside world," he said. "It is in the fundamental interests of the Armenian people to unblock this situation as soon as possible.

Lavrov said that after the Russian-Georgian crisis, Turkey saw the "uniqueness of the moment" and the role it can play, as a neighbor to the Caucasus region to broker and actively involve itself in fostering stability in the region. "There remain two or three unresolved issues which need to be agreed upon at the next meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan," Lavrov told the "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" daily. "Our understanding is that such meetings will take place shortly after the forthcoming [October 15] presidential elections in Azerbaijan."

"As one of three mediators, we have a sense that an end is quite real," he said, adding that the two other mediating powers, the United States and France, also see a "very real chance" of a resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The mediators have been trying to get the conflicting parties to accept the basic principles of Karabakh peace that were formally put forward by them in November 2007. Senior French, Russian and U.S. diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group discussed the possibility of another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit during the most recent talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers held in New York late last month.

Lavrov said the future of the so-called Lachin corridor, which provides for the shortest overland link between Armenia and Karabakh, is now the main stumbling block in the peace talks. He did not elaborate. However, a top aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, struck a cautious note as he commented on Lavrov's upbeat statements in Yerevan. "Major issues have not been agreed upon," Novruz Mammadov told the Azeri Trend news agency.

Source: http://www.asbarez.com/index.html?sh...70_10/7/2008_1

Russian Defense Minister Visits Armenia


Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov paid a brief and apparently unplanned visit to Yerevan over the weekend to discuss his country’s close military ties with Armenia. The Armenian Defense Ministry said Serdyukov arrived in Yerevan late Friday and flew back to Moscow the next day after meeting with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. A short ministry statement said the two men discussed “issues relating to bilateral military cooperation.” It gave no details. Russia’s Defense Ministry could not be reached for comment on Monday, and its website had no information about the talks. The Russian embassy in Armenia had no comment on their details. Serdyukov traveled to Armenia as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wrapped up a two-day trip to Yerevan that focused on the aftermath of the Russian-Georgian war and the future of the Russian-Armenian relationship. Lavrov and his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian reaffirmed their government’s intention to strengthen its military and economic components. Unlike Lavrov, the Russian defense chief did not meet President Serzh Sarkisian and avoided any contacts with media during the trip. He went into talks with Ohanian as Armenia hosted NATO-led military exercises reflecting its growing defense and security links with the West. The Armenian government has made clear that it will not reconsider those ties despite the Georgia-related spike in tensions between NATO and Russia, Armenia’s closest military ally. Lavrov indicated on Friday that Moscow is not concerned about the development of NATO-Armenia ties seeing as Yerevan is not seeking eventual membership in the U.S.-led alliance. Armenia’s official military doctrine, unveiled last December, states that Yerevan will increasingly work together with the armed forces of NATO member states in reforming its military and contributing to international security. It commits the Armenian military to expanding its involvement in Western-led peace-keeping operations abroad. But the doctrine makes it clear that “strategic partnership” with Russia will remain the bedrock of Armenia’s defense policy. It says the two countries will continue to maintain close military ties both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia assumed the rotating presidency of the Russian-led alliance of six former Soviet republics last month.

Source: http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeni...9E2AFF6B4A.ASP

ARMENIA'S BALANCED POSTURE


"It was obvious that the Georgian President had a more hospitable and generous attitude to our country's President than to the President of Azerbaijan. I am gratified to emphasize the fact that our country's posture on the Georgian-Ossetian conflict was noticed, recorded and estimated in a proper manner. Armenia's balanced posture in this particular case was conditioned by the interests of our country; however, the interests of our neighbor and strategic ally were also taken into consideration. But we can't say the same about Azerbaijan. Our country's President also demonstrated political boldness in such a delicate situation. Instead of speculating the exacerbated relations between its neighbors and strategic allies, he tried to achieve the peaceful solution of all the problems," KIRO MANOYAN finds.

Source: http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg246558.html

In related news:

Russia ‘Not Worried’ About Armenia’s NATO, Georgia Ties

Russia is not alarmed by Armenia’s growing cooperation with NATO and welcomes its main regional ally’s efforts to expand economic ties with Georgia after the recent Russian-Georgian war, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. Visiting Yerevan, Lavrov also sounded cautiously optimistic about chances of a breakthrough in the Russian, U.S. and French mediators’ efforts to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Sparking talk of a new Cold War, NATO and Russia effectively froze their relations following Moscow’s August military campaign against Georgia that was strongly condemned by the West. Armenia, which maintains close military ties with Russia, has made clear that this will not deter it from continuing to implement its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO. Just last Monday Yerevan began hosting three-week NATO-led military exercises shunned by the Russians.

“We are not worried about that,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian. “We too maintain the formats of our relationships with NATO countries. We have a Russia-NATO council that continues to exist, even though some members of the alliance would like to suspend discussion of important issues.”

Lavrov said his country’s sole problem with NATO is the U.S.-led alliance’s readiness to continue to enlarge eastwards into what Russia calls “near abroad.” “We have no differences with our Armenian friends on what kind of a NATO we want to interact with and how,” he said. Lavrov added that Russia “can only welcome” Armenian-Georgian economic agreements that were reportedly reached during President Serzh Sarkisian’s visit to Tbilisi earlier this week. Sarkisian and his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili, vilified by the Kremlin for his aggressive pro-Western policies, announced that their governments will join forces to build a mountain pass in western Georgia that will significantly shorten travel between Armenia and the Georgian Black Sea cost. The Georgian ports of Batumi and Poti process at least 70 percent of cargos shipped to and from Armenia. These vital supply routes were temporarily disrupted during the Russian-Georgian conflict.

“I hope that these agreements will prevent a repeat of situations during the Caucasian crisis that resulted in artificial obstacles on Georgian territory to the traffic of goods to Armenia,” Lavrov said. “I think these agreements will contribute to the economic development of our ally.”

The Georgia crisis was high on the agenda of his talks with Nalbandian and Sarkisian. Lavrov said the Armenian side reaffirmed its adherence to joint statements on the crisis issued by Armenia, Russia and four other ex-Soviet states aligned in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The CSTO criticized last month Georgia’s ill-fated August 8 attempt to win back South Ossetia but stopped short of denouncing it as an act of aggression. “The Armenian side voiced support for Russia’s active role in promoting peace and cooperation in the region,” Nalbandian told reporters, commenting on the talks. Armenia also hopes that Russia and Georgia will ease their tensions “as soon as possible” because it wants to retain simultaneously good relations with both nations, he said. “Armenia is interested in that, and we will do everything we can in that direction,” added Nalbandian.

The two ministers said they also spoke at length about international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which are spearheaded by the French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Lavrov reaffirmed Russian support support a Karabakh settlement, saying that it holds the key to peace and stability in the entire South Caucasus. “The parties have agreed on a number of very important points that are contained in the document which the co-chairs -- Russia, the United States and France -- submitted to the OSCE [in November 2007,]” he said. “There also remain unsolved issues, but there are a number of variants that allow us to solve those unsolved issues. I hope that the planned further contacts within the framework of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement will help us move forward.”

The mediators hope that Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev will meet again and finalize the framework peace deal before the end of this year. Such a meeting would most probably take place after Azerbaijan’s October 15 presidential election, which the incumbent Aliev is widely expected to win.

Source: http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeni...B205A98204.ASP

Armenia, Georgia Pledge Closer Ties

The presidents of Armenia and Georgia have pledged to strengthen bilateral economic ties and further simplify border crossing procedures for their citizens after their first face-to-face talks since the Russian-Georgian war. President Serzh Sarkisian met his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili and other Georgian leaders on Tuesday during a two-day visit to Tbilisi. Saakashvili was reported to stress the importance of Georgian-Armenian economic integration as they spoke at a late-night joint news conference in his residence. "The Georgian-Armenian border should be and already is a border of friendship," Saakashvili said, according to the Georgian Caucasus Press news agency. "We have agreed to work more closely. I have instructed the ministers of finance and economy to visit Yerevan in order to ensure that border crossing procedures are as simple as possible." "I think that recent developments in Georgia have clearly demonstrated how important regional cooperation is, how everybody suffers from problems and conflicts and how important it is to solve all the issues quickly," Saakashvili said. "I am sure that the future of the Caucasus lies is in the creation of a single market,” he added.

Saakashvili also announced that he and Sarkisian agreed to set up a Georgian-Armenian consortium that will seek to attract foreign funding for the construction of a mountain pass in western Georgia which he said will significantly shorten travel between Armenia and the Georgian Black Sea cost. Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti process at least 70 percent of cargos shipped to and from Armenia. The two supply routes were temporarily disrupted during Georgia’s brief but devastating war with Russia. The Yerevan government has sought to maintain neutrality in the Russian-Georgian conflict, anxious not to upset Armenia’s most important neighbor and closest military ally. But it has implicitly blamed Georgia for the August 8 outbreak of fighting in South Ossetia that provoked a harsh Russian retaliation and escalated into an all-out war. Sarkisian appeared to repeat his thinly veiled criticism of the Georgian government’s ill-fated attempt to win back South Ossetia. “I believe that it is impossible to resolve existing problems through military intervention,” the Regnum news agency quoted him as telling journalists in Tbilisi. “The Caucasus is an object of big [foreign] interests and we must do our best to use those interests to the benefit of our peoples,” he said. “We must review our relationship and do everything to again improve them. I am sure that we will really be useful to each other,” added the Armenian leader. Saakashvili signaled his satisfaction with Yerevan’s stance on the Russian-Georgian dispute when he thanked Sarkisian for “expressing support for Georgia’s territorial integrity.” He went on to give Sarkisian a Medal of Honor, a top Georgian state award.

Source: http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeni...C17532870C.ASP

Russian MFA Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko Interview With RIA Novosti Concerning Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov's Working Visit to Armenia

Question: Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov will pay a working visit to Armenia on October 3 at the invitation of Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia. What is the agenda of the upcoming talks?

Answer: This is not the first meeting of our minister with his Armenian counterpart. Edward Nalbandian, appointed to the post of Minister by a decree of the President of Armenia this past April, has already visited Moscow twice this year. At the upcoming Russian-Armenian talks a substantive, forward-looking exchange of views will take place on topical issues related to the deepening of mutually advantageous allied partnership and on key international and regional problems.

Question: How is cooperation evolving between Russia and Armenia at different levels? In particular, how do you assess the dynamics of bilateral political dialogue?

Answer: The highly dynamic evolution of relations between Moscow and Yerevan in recent years stems largely from the sides maintaining a regular, content-saturated political dialogue, at the highest level in particular. This creates a favorable atmosphere for the expansion and improvement of Russian-Armenian cooperation in different fields. The ministers will touch upon certain topical issues in Russian-Armenian relations. Over the recent period, economic problems have moved to the fore in cooperation between Moscow and Yerevan. Russia confidently leads among the major foreign economic partners of Armenia. Primary attention is being paid to interaction in the fuel and energy sector.

Question: What themes will be touched on during the talks between the Russian and Armenian ministers of foreign affairs?

Answer: Closer cooperation towards security and stability in Transcaucasia will figure high on the talks' agenda. The ministers will discuss conditions in the region after the recent irresponsible and adventurous actions of the current Georgian regime that led to the dramatic events at the southern borders of Russia. Our assessments of the situation, resulting from Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia and from the decisions taken by Russia to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, will be conveyed to Edward Nalbandian. We look forward to the continuation of our joint close work within the CIS and CSTO (considering that Armenia currently chairs the Organization) as well as in other prestigious international organizations, including the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE.

Question: Will Nagorno Karabakh settlement issues be discussed?

Answer: Yes, of course. This complicated problem remains urgent. Russia intends to continue assisting the parties in conflict to find a mutually acceptable solution. Supporting in this context the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia reaffirms the invariability of its principled stand on Nagorno Karabakh settlement. We presume that the chief responsibility for the final choice of a settlement formula lies with the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis themselves. Russia would be ready to back up the solution option which will suit the parties in conflict, and in the event of a compromise agreement being reached – will act as the guarantor of the settlement.

Sergey Lavrov's upcoming visit must contribute significantly to an effective pursuit of the Russian and Armenian leaderships' course toward the all-out development and consolidation of bilateral relations, including their foreign policy component.

Source: http://www.isria.info/RESTRICTED/D/2...ber2008_14.htm

RUSSIAN INVESTMENTS IN ARMENIA OVER $1.3BLN

Russian investments in Armenia have exceeded $1.3bln, RF Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters following his meeting with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandyan. "We are satisfied over the real progress in most of the issues. Over the past months, we have recorded an increase of around 20% in the bilateral trade turnover. Russian investments in Armenia have exceeded $1.3bln. It is a considerable sum, and the investments must of course be effective in the interests of our economies and peoples," Lavrov said. According to him, at the meeting in Yerevan, the sides held a detailed discussion of bilateral relations and cooperation in dealing with regional and international problems. "We held frank and businesslike discussions, which is expected of strategic partners. We are satisfied over the fact that the agreements reached by the presidents, including the ones reached during their repeated meetings, are being implemented," Lavrov said. He pointed out a high level of Armenian-Russian cultural ties. "This is a traditional field of cooperation, which is aimed at maintaining and development of contacts between our peoples," Lavrov said. He also pointed out a higher level of political coordination within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). "Armenia plays a special role in this process, especially as a country chairing the CSTO now. I think that all the plans, including the ones of cooperation between the foreign offices will be realized in future as well," Lavrov said.

Source: http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg246184.html

Armenian, Russian Defense Ministers Discuss Bilateral Military Cooperation

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan of Armenia and Anatoly Serdyukov of Russia met Saturday to discuss bilateral military cooperation, the RF Defense Minister's spokesman, col. Alexei Kuznetsov said. "Today, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who is on a working visit Armenia, met his Armenian counterpart to discuss issues referring to bilateral military cooperation," he said, Russian media reports.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27263

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