Foreign Policy: Russia’s Influence Extending in Karabakh

The following is an interesting article regarding how positively Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh Republic) view Russia. The author of the article, however, inline with CIA front office ArmeniaNow policy, had to make several inaccurate/half true remarks to balance out the overall pro-Russian tone of the article. It was stated that Stepanakert more-or-less rejected Moscow's peace plan and that Armenians in Artsakh distrust Russian troops due to Russian actions against the Armenian population of the region during the early stages of the conflict...

Three points to address here:

1) If Moscow for whatever reason decided that it definitely wants to station combat troops (peacekeepers) in Nagorno Karabagh - what Armenian in his/her right mind would think that Yerevan or Stepanakert can stop them from doing so? From supplying arms to supplying nuclear fuel, from delivering oil/gas to investing billions of US dollars in the Armenian economy Moscow more-or-less owns Armenia.

2) If Moscow for whatever reason decided to settle the conflict in question without the participation of Stepanakert - what Armenian in his/her right mind would think that Yerevan or Stepanakert can stop them from doing so?

3) When Moscow moved against the Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh during the early stages of the conflict in Artsakh it was not the Russian Federation doing so it was Communism. Soviet troops under a red flag moved against Armenians at the time. Understandably, Communists at the time were simply defending the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union. As we saw later, the collapse of the Soviet Union created a new geopolitical realities in the region.



Foreign Policy: Russia’s Influence Extending in Karabakh

December, 2008

After the signing last month of the “Moscow Declaration” (by the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia) Russia’s role in Armenia’s and Karabakh’s domestic and foreign policies has become one of most fervently discussed topics here. During the past year the slant towards Russia in the policy of Karabakh authorities became obvious, while Karabakh leaders’ good feelings for Russia are obvious as well. And it’s not accidental that more and more Russia-based Armenian businessmen are attracted to Karabakh’s restoration and development. Right after President Bako Sahakyan’s coming to office in 2007, a new restaurant named ‘Rossia’ opened in Stepanakert next to a Soviet era cinema carrying the same name. Russian-Armenian businessmen, Russian experts participating in “international” conferences, sessions, discussions, became frequent guests in Karabakh. Many explain such interest in Russia by the fact that before his appointment as the Head of NKR National Security Service in 2002, Sahakyan had been working in Moscow and acquired many friends.

One of the most vivid expressions of friendship became Russia-based businessman Samvel Karapetyan’s promise to donate $15 million to the construction of a new building for Karabakh’s Republican hospital. The current hospital was built in 1935 and is no longer fit for its intended purpose. For the past decade Karabakh authorities have been trying to convince sponsors, mostly American, to allot money to the construction of a new hospital, but because it’s very costly, no progress has been made in that respect. After Sahakyan came to presidency, finally land was found to room the hospital building, digging and earthwork started, and the project was on its way. Where all the money previously collected for these purposes went, nobody knows. Instead Karapetyan has now offered to finance the whole project.

Karapetyan declared the $15 million as his donation to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. It was the biggest donation the Fund has ever had during the 11 years of its telethon history. Until then the record holder was Kirk Kerkorian, who promised to double the total amount of money collected during one of telethons and donated some $5 million. There are other examples of Russian philanthropy in NKR. Quite recently the Republican Children’s Hospital was put in commission in Stepanakert. It was reconstructed by financial support of Russia-based entrepreneurs. General Manager of ArmRosgazprom Karen Karapetyan was present at the opening ceremony. Twelve years after passing the Law on Languages (declaring Armenian as the state language in educational institutions), the first state school with Russian bias opened in Stepanakert. Starting September 1, classes at school N3 are held in Russian. Before 1996, 3 out of 10 schools of the capital were with Russian bias. Examples abound, added to the fact that the majority of remittances to Karabakh are from Russia, where many families having left their homeland now live.

It’s in this highlight that Russia activates its efforts in the settlement process of the Karabakh issue. The Moscow Declaration did not receive, though, a unanimous response in Karabakh. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its comment that despite the positive impulses expressed in the item about exceptionally political means of settling the conflict, the absence of Karabakh’s signature reduces the declaration to zero. The hearsay that Russian peacekeepers would be placed in Karabakh wasn’t approved in Karabakh either, as people can still remember how Russian servicemen acted during the “Ring” mission, in the course of which 40 Armenian villages were deported.

Nonetheless, Karabakh authorities treat with awe their relations with Russia. “The fragile peace we have today is Russia’s merit, especially during the first stage that followed the signing of agreements. Naturally, we want- and we are not hiding it- Russia to wield more influence on the settlement of both our and similar conflict,” said President Sahakyan in his interview to Azat Artsakh newspaper. “Because Russia has also historical responsibility for what’s happening in the region. However, that’s a world -scale problem and countries like the USA, France, Great Britain also carry some responsibility for what’s taking place in the South Caucasus. And they are, naturally, pursuing their own interests, which is, to my mind, quite normal.”


In related news:

Russia, Armenia Seek Broader Ties - Putin

Russia and Armenia plan to take measures to bolster their bilateral cooperation, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said ahead of talks with his Armenian counterpart Tigran Sargsyan on Friday. "The results we have achieved [in our cooperation] are far from being the limit for our countries. We plan to increase our cooperation," Putin said. The overall amount of Russia's accumulated investment in the Armenian economy totals $1.6 billion, and bilateral trade grew by nearly 17% in 2007, he said. "I believe it is quite useful to expand the Armenia-based operations of major Russian companies like Gazprom, Inter RAO UES, RZHD and some banks, including VTB," the Russian prime minister said. Joint projects in areas such as the fuel and energy sector, non- ferrous metals, transport, construction, and information technologies hold great promise, Putin said. Armenia and Russia have a strategic relationship, Prime Minister Sargsyan said. Such consultations are important and useful amid the ongoing global financial crisis, he said. "We should coordinate our efforts, which will obviously make it easier for us to deal with the difficulties facing our economies today," the Armenian official said.


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