Moscow Warning Armenia Over European Integration Drive - July, 2013

Even to the casual observer, it has been very obvious that Moscow has had serious plans for the greater Caucasus region. Naturally, this plan is not meant to turn the Russian Federation into a benevolent entity in the region, it is meant to serve Russia's long-term national interests. After all, the Caucasus, north and south, is considered to be one of the Russian state's most important and most vulnerable regions for it sits on very strategic energy distribution routs and is heavily populated by Turkic and Islamic peoples. Russian officials also realize that the region in question also does not have much strategic depth because there are also regional threats right on Russia's southern borders as well.

Therefore, the importance of controlling the region cannot be overstated from a Russian perspective because its lose will lead to the weakening and perhaps to the eventual fragmentation of the Russian state. Consequently, the Caucasus plays a very vital role for Russian officials and strategic depth in the region (i.e. stopping threats far from Russia's borders) is something they have been diligently working on.

Therefore, we should all have by now come to the realization that Russia's southern border essentially begins in the south Caucasus and that Armenia is the only nation within the region today that fully serves Russia's short-term, mid-term and long-term interests.
 
Within the geostrategic formulations of high-level policymakers in Moscow, the existence of an allied Armenian state in the south Caucasus serves as an outpost against the spread of Western, Turkish and Islamic influences in the region. The existence of an allied Armenian state also serves as a check against Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

Nevertheless, had Russian officials been motivated solely by political, financial or economic gains, Armenia would have been sold to Turks and/or Azeris a very-very long time ago because Turks and Azeris (and their Turkic brethren in Russia) have a clear advantage over Armenia politically, economically, financially, as well as demographically. Armenia's geostrategic value is so great that not even Bolsheviks, who ransacked Russia and mutilated Armenia, thought it was wise to destroy Armenia. Therefore, despite the dire warnings we periodically hear from our Russophobes and Captain Americas, Moscow is not going to be betraying Armenia - for doing so will be betraying itself.

In the words of former deputy chairman of the Russia State Duma's Defense Committee -
Armenia is our only classic military-political ally...Armenia will not survive without Russia, while, without Armenia, Russia will lose all its important positions in the Caucasus...Even though Armenia is a small country, it is our forepost in the South Caucasus.  I would say that Armenia is more important to us than Israel is to the Americans - Alexsei Arbatov
The past two hundred years of the region's history have shown us that as long as there remains a Western threat, as long as there remains a Turkish threat, as long as there remains an Islamic threat in the Caucasus, and as long as Yerevan remains within Moscow's orbit, Armenia will continue to be a very important player for Russia.

The Russian Federation has for the past twenty years been Armenia's lifeline. Moscow has been providing Armenia with affordable energy, modern weaponry, economic trade and political support on the international state. Moscow has been helping Yerevan manage Armenia's nuclear power station, allowing large numbers of Armenians to work in the Russian Federation and send back remittances unrestricted. More importantly, Moscow has been securing Armenia's western border with Turkey, thereby allowing Yerevan to concentrate its limited abilities and resources on warding-off Azerbaijan on its eastern border. 

Thankfully, nothing on the horizon today leads me to believe that the symbiotic relationship that currently exists between the Russian state and the Armenians state is will be coming to an end anytime in the foreseeable future. I say this not because I have great confidence in the Armenian state's strategic foresight, I say this because I am confidant that Russian officials will do everything in their power (including direct military intervention) to make sure Armenia remains allied to Russia. Being that the Caucasus has the natural tendency of turning into a Turkic/Islamic cesspool, Armenia has historically been more than happy to remain within Moscow's orbit.

Thus, keeping Armenia within the Russian orbit (whichever way possible) is a fundamental element in Moscow's Caucasus policy. We Armenians can never lose sight of this geopolitical nuance for understanding this - and exploiting this - is the secret to turning Armenia into a regional powerhouse. But at the same token, not understanding this geopolitical nuance may one day destroy the Armenian state.
 

In other words, if Russian officials, who as we know are the hegemons of the Caucasus, are very confidant of Armenia's long-term allegiance to the Russian Federation, Armenia will be given the opportunity to become a major regional power. If, on the other hand, Russian officials are not able to place too must trust in Yerevan's allegiance to the Russian Federation, Armenia will be kept on a very short and tight leash.

Thus far, the latter seems to be the order of the day. 


While it has come to control much of Armenia's national infrastructure and has managed to sign far-reaching military agreements with Yerevan, the political climate in Armenia is something that Moscow, understandably, has not been very comfortable with.

Moscow's warning

Moscow's unease with Yerevan has recently made the news. Please carefully read the news reports I have posted below this commentary to acquaint yourselves to the scope of what I am refereeing to.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision not to pay Armenia an official visit after it was announced on a couple of occasions that he was on the verge of doing so, Gazprom's rate hike and its desire for gaining full ownership of Armenia's gas distribution network, and the large Russian arms sale to Baku recently should all be looked upon by Armenians as clear signals that Moscow is not very happy with Yerevan.

Russian officials have even gone as far as candidly and at times bluntly warning Armenian officials. Please read the brow raising comments recently made by former Russian Ambassador to Armenia Vyacheslav Kovalenko below this commentary. The troubling thing about this warning by Armenia's former Russian ambassador is that it is not the first time Russians are complaining about Yerevan's political fidelity. In 2011, Director of Russia’s Institute for Strategic Studies Leonid Reshetnikov made similar comments (article also posted below this commentary). In fact, even Russian President Vladimir Putin has complained about this matter in the past. 

Therefore, this is a serious matter and it may be reaching a climax. 

The fundamental issue at hand is Yerevan's "complimentary politics"; the Armenian desire to remain under Russia's protective militarily umbrella while entering closer relations with Western powers. 


Yerevan has been maintaining close ties with Western powers ever since its independence from the Soviet Union. But the problem is that there has been too much talk about a "Western tilt" in Armenia in recent years. Moreover, Yerevan has been signalling that it is seeking closer cooperation with the European Union. Not liking what it sees taking place, Moscow has been warning Yerevan about getting too comfortable with Western powers.  

If these warnings fail to stop Yerevan's European integration drive, I hope to see and I have no doubt we can expect drastic measures from Moscow. 

Days of "complimentary" politicking may be ending

Before I continue, I would like to state that I do not have firsthand information as to what official Yerevan is thinking. The current spat we are seeing take place between Moscow and Yerevan could very well be orchestrated between the two allied nations. For the sake of this commentary, however, I will approach this topic with the assumption that Yerevan is being genuine in its desire to enter into a closer relationship with Western powers against Moscow's wishes and use this opportunity to revisit some important geopolitical and sociopolitical factors. 


I must at this point address a fundamentally important topic that our "nationalists" in and out of Armenia seem to be having a hard time digesting: All nations are NOT created equal. As such, a nation like Russia will enjoy some benefits on the political stage that a nation like Armenia will not. In other words, the relationship between Russia and Armenia will never be equal. Expecting Moscow to treat Yerevan equally is like a house cat expecting a wild lion to treat it equally. It's not at all surprising that those vociferously complaining about the natural imbalance that exists in the relationship between Moscow and Yerevan are those serving Western powers. Therefore, our Captain Americas need to ask themselves this question instead: Does the Anglo-American-Zionist global order treat its allies equally?

Therefore, let's please stop talking about Armenia's "independence" or "freedom" to do as it wants and let's start talking about real life.


Incidentally, Yerevan wanting better relations with the West is similar to a US client state like Egypt far example attempting to enter into a relationship with Russia or Iran. Ask yourselves: How would Washington react if one of its "allies" attempted such a thing? Therefore, how should we expect Moscow to react if Armenia, Russia's closest ally in the strategic south Caucasus decides to get into a closer relationship with Western bodies (regardless of how this relationship is presented to the public)?

Nevertheless, while it lasted, Yerevan's "complimentary politics" of having good relations with both East and West was truly complimentary indeed. Yerevan was having its cake and eating it too - to the envy of its neighbors! In my opinion, while it lasted, Armenia's diplomatic corps deserved all the credit they got.

Moscow tolerated Yerevan's middle of the road approach when it was politically and economically weak throughout chaotic, post-Soviet years of the 1990s. More recently, Moscow tolerated this approach by Yerevan - as long as Yerevan did not seek to 'deepen' its ties with the West.  

But it now seems that Russian officials may have finally had enough of Yerevan's desire to indefinitely sit on the political fence (and perhaps even tilt a little Westward) while getting security guarantees from Moscow. From the looks of it, the happy days of Yerevan's complimentary politics may be coming to an end.


Taking into account the serious geostrategic wrangling that has been going on between Russia and the West throughout the region, I fully understand Moscow's concern with regards to Yerevan Euro-fetish. Taking into account the Western designs over Syria and Iran as well as Russia, I fully understand Moscow's concerns. Taking into account Moscow desire to reinstate its political, economic and military clout in former Soviet republics, I fully understand Moscow's concerns. 

Being that the Russian factor in Armenian politics is crucially important to Armenia's survival as a nation-state in the south Caucasus, I find it troubling that Russian officials have been going out of their way to raise the alarm. And I find it even more troubling that there is a deafening silence on this immensely important topic within Armenian society.

Either no one seems to care that Armenia is on the edge of a political disaster or no one seems to understand that Armenia is on the edge of a political disaster. 

While we are bombarded with brain-numbing nonsense about "corruption" and "democracy" and "civil society" and "genocide recognition" and political bickering on a 24/7 basis by our so-called news organizations and political pundits - not a single voice of concern has been raised about Yerevan's risky political pursuits. Not a single commentary has been produced by any one of our public figures or organizations about the serious repercussions of angering Armenia's one and only ally. This must be the height of our nation's political illiteracy.


A brief lesson in history

Because Armenia has been located on a very busy and dangerous global intersection (and also because we Armenians simply do not have the cultural and genetic traits to become a major, self-sustaining power) Armenians have sought to appease neighboring powers for much of the last two thousand years. This survivalist, almost instinctual habit of appeasement, known in diplomatic circles today as "complimentary politics", worked well for Armenian statehood when both sides (East and West or North and South) were equally powerful in Asia Minor. On rare occasions when regional players were equally weak or absent from the scene, Armenia was able to expand.

When only one of the two competing sides grew weak, however, Armenia faced the option of either moving fully under the political influence of the stronger side or - capitulate. 

As such, Armenia grew and shrunk and swung back and forth like a pendulum for the much of the first one thousands years of the Christian era. Even when Armenia had its short bouts of political independence and expansion, it remained dependent on regional powers for survival. Armenians finally lost their statehood to the Byzantines in 1045 AD essentially because they failed to present Constantinople a united front. Later incursions of Asiatic/Turkic tribes into Asia Minor dashed hopes of an Armenian revival until the arrival of the Russian Empire onto the political landscape of the region in the 18th century. Under this Russian/Christian umbrella, Armenians gradually rediscovered their nationalism and their national culture which eventually became the foundations upon which the Armenian republic would later be founded on in the 20th century.
 

Fast forwards to the modern Armenian republic: It was wise to pursue "complimentary" politics during the 1990s when the political West had become the sole power-broker of the world. The chaotic years following the Soviet collapse was a time when Russia, the traditional power-broker of the Caucasus for over two hundred years, was on its knees and there seemed to be no hope of it getting up any time soon. Therefore, while Yerevan recognized the importance or allying itself with the Russian Federation in the 1990s, they also realized that they had no choice but to open up to the West as well.

The urgent need to recognize and adapt

Simply put: We are no longer living in the 1990s. The problem for Armenia today is that a lot has changed in the geopolitical climate of the Caucasus since the 1990s. We need to recognize these changes in the region and adapt to it.  

This new period in Eurasia began in 2000 when Russian President Vladimir Putin rose to power and crushed the Western-backed Chechen uprising and it climaxed in 2008 when Russian forces soundly defeated Georgia's Western/Israeli/Turkish backed military. Russia's historic victory in 2008 reinstated Moscow's traditional role as the region's hegemon.

The following are some interesting reports about Russia's sudden resurgence as a superpower - 

That Was No Small War in Georgia — It Was the Beginning of the End of the American Empire: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2009/09/geopolitical-dimensions-of-current.html
Political analysts from around the world, including western ones, have been unanimous in their conclusions that as a result of Washington's setbacks in Georgia, the north Caucasus, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in recent years, Western powers have severely curtailed or abandoned their activities in the region. Therefore, everyone has been recognizing Moscow as the region's power-broker except as it seems Armenian officials. And this political ambiguity by Yerevan is only making Armenia's enemies happy.

Actively pursuing deeper relations with the West, at a time when Russia is resurgent and is actively seeking to win back its lost influence throughout Eurasia is not very wise to say the least. Yerevan is running the risk of turning its only ally into its worst enemy. In fact, with that region of the world on the very verge of a major international war, walking the middle of a dangerous intersection like the south Caucasus (an intersection where Russians do much of the traffic directing) may prove very hazardous for a fledgling Armenian state surrounded by predators. 

In other words, flirting with the West at a time when the Russian Bear is fully awake and very angry is @#$%ing stupid.

The following is something else that we all need to wrap our minds around: Turks and Azeris have the advantage of numbers and money to get a lot done in Moscow. In fact, Turks and Azeris are politically and economically very active in Moscow, much more so than us Armenians. We Armenians on the other hand only have Armenia's position in the Caucasus as Russia's strategic ally as our 'only' bargaining chip in Moscow.

A word of warning: Once Yerevan loses its historic leverage of being Moscow's closest ally in the eyes of Russian officials, Yerevan will undoubtedly face drastic repercussions. 

What is Yerevan thinking? Are we Armenians on the verge of repeating Georgia's mistake? I know that Armenians and Georgian love to compete against each other, but is Yerevan trying to show the world that Armenians are even dumber that Georgians? Just when Western powers have been at their weakest against Russia in the south Caucasus, our brilliant politicians are doing everything in their power to anger the only political entity on earth that can guarantee Armenia's statehood? This makes no sense to me.

If, as suggested above, this is all not a political ploy orchestrated between Moscow and Yerevan, it is a clear sign that Armenians officials, like their forefathers, are continuing the tradition of executing suicidal politics. it must be genetic memory. I strongly suspect it's been this kind of political illiteracy, indecision and shortsightedness behind why we as a nation have not been very successful in maintaining a viable statehood for well over two thousand years.

We need to learn to better asses who we are as a people and where we stand in this world as a nation. We also need to realize that the international community, powers of the day, sees Armenia as tiny, impoverished and a vulnerable nation with little potential. We need to recognize that there is only one major political entity in this world that sees great strategic value in having a close relationship with Armenia. We need to understand that Armenia cannot exploit its opportunities with Russia by working against Moscow's wishes. We need to work on concentrating our resources and efforts in better exploiting our relationship with the largest, one of the strongest and one of the wealthiest political entity on earth.

We also need to accept that some nations, like Armenia, are cursed by geography, genetics and culture to be dependent. Realizing that Armenia needs a suitable host to survive, it's time we begin thinking like parasitical Jews and pick our host wisely.

A lot of what I'm talking about here is bio-politics (i.e. the recognition of the fundamental role biology plays in the political world). Better understanding ourselves and our abilities will help us better assess - and exploit - situations as they arise around us. In other words, we cannot be the proverbial house cat that looks in the mirror and sees a lion because such types of cats get killed rather quickly when let out in the wild. 

Another thing our Qaj Nazars need to be reminded of is this: The only reason why Azeris and Turks have remained on their side of their borders for the past twenty years is their fear of Russia and not because they fear the "all powerful" Armenian Diaspora. And those who continue placing hope on "international law" or the West coming to Armenia's aid in time of need, should only look at Northern Cyprus, Kosovo and Syria to realize that international law or the political West wont be coming to Armenia's aid once Turks or Islamists begin infesting the south Caucasus. 

Russian arms, Russian military training, Russian financial investments, Russian economic trade and Russian political protection have been the only reasons why Armenia is not under the threat of an imminent invasion from the east and from the west. 

As a nation are we ready to undermine the only factor that is helping Armenia secure its western border against Turkey and is helping a cash-strapped Yerevan compete against a big spending Baku? Are we really thinking this through? 

Enter PM Tigran Sargsyan

It would be wise not to pay too much attention to those that say Russia holds great influence over Armenian officials. The reality is that there is in Yerevan today two major political/ideological camps. There are those in the pro-Russian camp, generally speaking the old guard in Armenia and those in the pro-West camp, generally speaking the Western educated younger blood in the government. The Armenian military for the most part enjoys very close relations with Russia, but it also maintains good ties with certain NATO countries. Most of the political opposition in Armenia today (represented by Raffi Hovanissian, Jirayr Sefilian, Vartan Oskanian and Paruyr Hayrikian) serve Western powers. Let's also not forget that Armenia today also hosts one of the largest CIA-front offices in the world, the US embassy in Yerevan.

As you can see, Russia does not have free reign in Armenia. This is  the prevailing political climate that has been making Moscow work hard to control Armenia's national infrastructure. Knowing that it simply cannot compete against the Western world's lure or its psy-ops, Moscow is seeking to do things the old fashioned way - control strategic assets inside Armenia to ensure Yerevan's allegiance. 

In my opinion, had Moscow not been in control of Armenia's strategic assets, Yerevan would have wondered off a long time ago... to Armenia's detriment. Nevertheless, with the government divided between the two competing camps and with the political opposition being more-or-less an instrument of Western powers, what we have is an Armenia today that is naturally gravitating towards the Western world. There are in fact high level officials in Yerevan representing this Western tilt.

What few people know today is that PM Tigran Sargsyan is World Bank/IMF trained. In my opinion, as well as in the opinions of many political observers, the Armenian Prime Minister represents Western interests in Yerevan. The same man was behind the decision to sell Armenia's meager gold reserves some ten years ago. It was most probably done as part of a Washington-led global campaign to artificially elevate the value of the US Dollar by the drastic devaluation of the Armenian Dram, at the insisting of the World Bank.

Similar to how FM Vartan Oskanian was part of President Robert Kocharyan's "complimentary politics" in which a Western operative would be given a high ranking position in Yerevan, PM Tigran Sargsyan represents Western interests inside President Serj Sargsyan's administration. In addition to the role played by Armenia's political opposition, I personally believe that men like Tigran Sargsyan have also been behind Yerevan's overtures to the EU in recent years. For what it's worth, it should also be mentioned that Tigran Sargsyan's brother, Colonel Armen Sargsyan, also Western trained, was Armenia's defense attache in Washington from 2002 to 2008. He is currently serving as Armenia's ambassador to China.

As mentioned above, President Serj Sargsyan's Deputy Chief of Staff, Vigen Sargsyan, was also educated in the US. In fact, Vigen Sargsyan got a Master's Degree from Vartan Oskanian's and Raffi Hovannisian's Alma Mater, the CIA-affiliated Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. I have not mentioned Vigen Sargsyan in any of my previous commentaries in the past simply because I do not have good knowledge of his politics. But being that things are coming to a head, I wanted to throw his name out there as well. In other words, I think we also need to keep an eye on Vigen Sargsyan. Actually, the topic of Western trained and educated Armenians officials reminded me to share with you the following blog commentary - 
Armenia today is rife with Western leaning officials and political opposition figures. The fundamental problem I see here is Yerevan's twenty year old policy of "complimentary politics". Being open to the political West has essentially resulted in the saturation of Armenian society and Armenia's political landscape with Western trained, educated and financed activists and politicians on both sides of the political, ideological and financial fence. 
This is no longer the 1990s. The moment of reckoning may have in fact finally arrived. With Moscow systematically moving forward in reclaiming its lost spheres of influence within former Soviet territories, and with the geopolitical situation intensifying throughout the region, we can expect more pressure to be placed on Yerevan by Russian officials. With the political climate getting more-and-more polarized in the world, Moscow may yet want Yerevan to completely cut its ties with the political West. Therefore, it would be wise to look at recent gas rate hikes, arms provisions to Baku and harsh statements by Russia's former ambassador to Armenia as ways with which Moscow has been warning Yerevan about getting too close to the West.

I can't blame Russia for not trusting Armenians 

Let us stop and think for a moment: Two high level Armenian officials currently serving in government, Tigran Sargsyan and Vigen Sargsyan, and the two top opposition figures, Raffi Hovanissian and Vartan Oskanian, have been prepared to a large degree for their current roles in Armenia by Washington. What does all this tell us? Do you still believe hysterical nutjobs like Paruyr Hayrikian when he says Armenia is turning into a filthy Russian province? I can't in all honesty blame Russians for not trusting Armenians because I MYSELF DON'T TRUST ARMENIANS!


The following are some older blog commentaries addressing this topic - 
Russian expert: U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia:  http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/10/russian-expert-us-ousting-russia-from.html 
New Western-led Opposition Slogan in Armenia: "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians!"  http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/10/russia-wants-armenia-without-armenians.html
After taking a close look at Armenia's pathetic political landscape, how can we ever blame Moscow for not feeling entirely comfortable about Armenia? Armenia today is saturated with Western operatives. In fact, had it not been for a handful of men like Robert Kocharyan, Serj Sargsyan and Seyran Ohanyan (i.e. the NKR clan), Armenia would have been turned into a cheep brothel servicing Western powers and their Turkish allies in the region a very long time ago. While Moscow generally speaking controls the Armenian head, the West is increasingly coming to control the Armenian body. Another generation at this rate and Armenia will be fully at the mercy of Globalist forces and their Turkic-Islamic allies in the region... that is if Armenia is not turned into a bloody war zone by Russians for Moscow will sooner destroy Armenia than lose it to the West.

It pains me greatly to say this but we Armenians are Armenia's worst enemy. We Armenians have still not learned how to best use our position in the south Caucasus. 

A lot of us are under the silly impression that Armenia is a "European" nation. Such notions are an insult to Europeans and Armenians alike. In the big picture, Armenia is as European as Turkey, for religion no longer has any bearing on the matter. It should also be said that modern Europe is a mere shadow of its former albeit great past. Western civilization/European culture is in a steep decline today due to its post-Second World War subservience to Anglo-American-Zionist/Globalist forces. If Europeans do not free themselves from their suicidal multiculturalism, interracialism, homosexuality, liberalism and "Holocaust" worship, Europe, as we knew it, will disappear by the end of this century. 

Instead of recognizing who we Armenians really are, instead of recognizing our natural place in the world, instead of collectively jumping at the historic opportunity Moscow has been providing us by saturating the Kremlin with Armenian activists and businessmen, we Armenians are doing our best today to turn the Kremlin against us. Major elements within the ARF, the entire House of Horrors known as Armenia's "political opposition", Raffi Hovanissian, Vartan Oskanian, Levon Petrosian, Paruyr Hayrikian, Policy Forum Armenia, Civilitas, Sardarapat and a whole slew of Western funded NGOs and news organizations championing everything from "gay rights" to "vagina monologues"... have all proven that Armenians are self-destructive and politically illiterate. And a great many of Armenian officials both in and out of Armenia and both sides of the political fence have proven that their political allegiances are for sale.

Those in the middle get run over


If Yerevan refuses to act like a good, reliable ally for Moscow, especially since Yerevan exists ultimately because of its alliance with Moscow, why should we expect Russia to act in Armenia's best interest? If we are actively seeking to have intimate relations with Moscow's antagonists, what right do we have to complain when Russians seek good relations with Armenia's competitors. 

Britain's Margaret Thatcher once said: Those who stand in the middle get run over. 

The East is rising, the West is in decline and Armenia is in the middle. The moment of reckoning is upon us. If official Yerevan pushes forward with its desire to get deeper involved with the West, we can all expect Armenia to eventually get run over once again. One of the strongest criticisms I have had about President Serj Sargsyan has been his attempts to make all sides happy. Appeasement for all has unfortunately been his modus operandi - domestically and internationally - since 2008.


What the president fails to realize, however, is that when you try to make everyone happy, no one is happy, including yourself. What the president also fails to realize is that when you remain in the middle you will go nowhere - at best. 

Although I believe President Serj Sargsyan is of the pro-Russian camp in Armenia, he is nonetheless politically weak and does not have a very strong resolve. President Serj Sargsyan's administration also has Western-leaning officials like the World Bank/IMF trained Tigran Sargsyan and the Fletcher School educated Vigen Sargsyan (no relations) embedded deep within it.

I believe the Russian Director of Strategic Studies Leonid Reshetnikov when he says the desire for personal financial benefits is the primary reason why high-ranking Armenian officials are working closely with Western powers today. This makes perfect sense to me. While Russians are using their money to provide Armenia weaponry and buy into Armenia's national infrastructure, Western money, on the other hand, and a lot of it, is being pumped into various "programs" by organizations such as the British Council, USAID, IMF, NED and Soros' "Open Society". It's this kind of "financial aid" (a Western term for Western bribes) that Armenian officials are salivating after. It's this kind of financial aid that will make Armenian officials eventually sell their homeland to the highest international bidder and move to the beautifully manicured, high end suburban neighborhoods of London, Washington DC, Boston, New York and... why not Tel Aviv. 

Let's also not forget the pressure that our politically illiterate, genocide obsessed, Western-leaning nutjobs in the Armenian Diaspora have also been putting on Yerevan. A lot of the Western drive we see in Armenia today is due to the Armenian Diaspora from western nations and the Middle East. The Armenian Diaspora needs to put aside its arrogance, hysteria, obsessions and political illiteracy and realize that their homeland, Armenia, can survive without them but their homeland cannot survive in a violent and unforgiving place like the Caucasus without Russia. 

Let’s also realize that there are no free meals or soup kitchens in politics. 

Therefore, Moscow will do whatever is necessary to keep Armenia dependent on Russia. And I hope Moscow will do everything to ensure Armenia’s dependency because independence from Russia ultimately means dependence on Turkey and Western energy interests.

Armenia is located in a hotly contested strategic geographic location on earth, a location where major powers have their sights set upon. Armenia is also located in a region of the world that has been mostly under Russian influence for over two hundred years and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Russia has been, is and will continue being the alpha and the omega of the Caucasus. This is what we Armenians need to recognize - for not doing so will lead to the lose of Artsakh or even worst.

Nevertheless, Armenians are once again replicating the suicidal policies of their forefathers. As an Armenian nationalist, I hope to see Moscow do whatever is necessary (whether its assassinations, financial blackmail, political pressure or otherwise) to keep our self-destructive peasantry both in and out of Armenia dependent on Russia, and I hope to see Moscow do whatever is necessary to force Armenia into the Eurasian Union. 

A message for our EUrotic idiots

It would be wise to remind ourselves of the old adage: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." If our well intentioned patriots continue their path, we will once again mourn the lose of Armenia one day. What our Captain Americas, EUrotic idiots and their brain-dead followers fail to realize is that it has been their type in Armenian society that has kept Armenia tiny, poor, desolate and vulnerable for centuries. In other words, Armenians are simply continuing their forefathers destructive policies. It must be genetic memory. Many Armenians today continue to think that the European Union is the answer to all of Armenia's ailments, even as the union in question has been imploding in front of our very eyes. In other words, as Europeans themselves are desperately seeking ways to abandon the sinking ship known as the EU, our idiots are enthusiastically seeking ways of jumping onto it. This is an absolutely brilliant display of Armenian-style politics! 
Do Armenia's EUrotic idiots (many of whom claim that Moscow's Eurasian Union is no good because Armenia does not have a common border with Russia) realize that Armenia does not have a land connection to the European Union? 
Do these people really think that the European Union is coming to the Caucasus?
Do these people really think that Georgia is going to last much longer being a staging center for Western, Israeli and Turkish interests?
Do these people really think that the European Union itself is going to last much longer?
Do these people really think the European Union is the answer to all of Armenia's problems?
Do we want Armenia opening up to Europe, who's closest regional partner is Turkey or to Russia, who is Armenia's strategic partner? In fact, isn't Russia Armenia's only ally?
Don't Russian officials see Armenia as a major strategic asset worthy of protection? Haven't Western powers traditionally been in bed with Armenia's enemies?
Isn't Russia Armenia's largest trading partner, where Armenian products are well known and respected? Therefore, isn't Russia as well as other former Soviet nations a large market that is ideal for Armenian products?
Don't we have in Russia the largest and the most affluent Armenian diaspora, and one that is strategically situated to help Armenia both politically and economically?
Isn't Armenia closer to Russia - geographically and culturally - than to Europe or America?
Isn't the EU designed to be exploited by Western powers (i.e. US, UK, France and Germany)?
Is Armenia ready for Western social engineering? In other words, is Armenia ready for multiculturalism, interracialism, militant-liberalism, sexual perversions, third world emigration and Holocaust worship?
Finally, have our EUrotic idiots been watching events taking place in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Spain?
The case I just briefly outlined for joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Union may sound very logical and compelling, but for some strange reason a lot of this obvious logic and political wisdom seems to be escaping many Armenians. It may be the genetic trait I keep writing about that causes Armenians to be politically illiterate and self-destructive; the genetic trait that makes Armenians look at an old enemy like the political West and somehow sees a friend and when looking at a natural friend like Russia somehow sees an enemy. This is the bottom line: Geographically, economically, culturally and genetically, Armenia is a Eurasian nation. Armenians need to wake up from their silly EUrotic fantasies and American wet dreams and realize that the economic pact proposed by Moscow is where Armenia rightfully and naturally belongs - 
As Eurasian Union nears Armenia, West goes into panic mode: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/12/as-eurasian-union-nears-west-is-going_15.html
I find it utterly unfathomable that we have idiots enthusiastically seeking membership in the EU. I find it utterly unfathomable that we have people in positions of power still seeking to enter into a close relationship with those responsible for the bloody carnage in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. I find it utterly unfathomable that we have people in positions of power still seeking to embrace those who can't even say the word "genocide". I find it utterly unfathomable that we have people in positions of power still seeking to embrace a political entity that has essentially been responsible for Turkey's twenty year old blockade against Armenia.  I find it utterly unfathomable that we have idiots that still seek a greater role in Armenia for one of the world's most dangerous monsters, the USAID.  I find it utterly unfathomable that we have idiots that still seek a greater role for the World Bank/IMF in Armenia, which is similar to turning over one's finances to a global mafia cartel.

After all these years, I have come to one conclusion: One must search the deepest African jungle or the remotest Arabian desert to find a tribe of people more politically illiterate than us Armenians. The more I experience our people the more I realize that we are not ready for statehood.

Nevertheless, it would be wise to recognize that the south Caucasus is merely one bad event away from turning back into a Turkic/Islamic cesspool. And Armenia is one Western-leaning president away from disappearing again. If we are to collectively continue like this we will either become a Turkish province once again (a worst case scenario) or an Iranian province (a better case scenario). If we are to collectively continue on this political path, I much rather we simply hand over the house keys back to Moscow (a best case scenario). At the end of the day, it's better to hold political demonstrations in front of the Russian embassy than in front of the Turkish or Iranian embassies.


What can EU member Bulgaria teach Armenia?

Some nations have gone through total destruction in recent history, yet they are at the forefront of development, modernity and civilization. Some nations have every reason in the world to be heaven on earth, yet they are a total mess. Similar to how nations such as Germany and Japan show us that success in nation-building is cultural and genetic, peoples such as Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Bulgarians should be teaching us Armenians that failure in nation-building is also cultural and genetic (i.e. a matter of bio-politics).

Bulgaria's sad plight in particular has been in the news most recently. Similar to Greece which has been systematically reduced to being a subsidized nation barely making a living on German handouts, EU member Bulgaria seems to be on the verge of becoming a failed state. 

However, in stark contrast to Western news reports about Armenia, reports about Europe's most destitute nations are never approached with incendiary political presumptions or insinuations by mainstream news agencies in the West. In other words, they can't complain about Bulgaria's "oligarchs" because all of Bulgaria's "oligarchs" reside in Brussels, London and Washington. They cant even blame Moscow this time. Therefore, there is no Western agenda to foment political unrest or a regime change in places such Bulgaria. As a result, Western propagandists avoid seasoning news stories with political incitement. As messy as Bulgaria is, as far as Western officials are concerned, Bulgaria is slowly developing and progressing... because it is bending-over to Western institutions and not Moscow or anybody else. 

The most important lesson a nation like Bulgaria (as well as Greece, Romania, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus) should be teaching Armenians is that Western or European integration is not a cure for any of Armenia's most pressing problems. Armenia's most pressing problems today is geographic and geopolitical. Armenians need to understand is that closer integration with the Western world will not help it in any tangible way... other than perhaps increase the numbers of suicides, rapes, homelessness, child pornography, sex tourism, marital divorce, single parenthood, teenage pregnancies and homosexuals. The following are some of the modern "Western values" plaguing the world today - 
Closer integration with the Western world will also bury Armenia with western products, start a massive exodus of Armenians into EU nations and may even commence the influx of third worlders into Armenia. For a small, impoverished and vulnerable nation like Armenia, "Western integration" simply means adopting an Anglo-American-Zionist agenda (i.e. slavery to the US Dollar, slavery to Western corporations, multiculturalism, interracialism, sexual perversions, destruction of the traditional family unit, destruction of the national church and the eradication of nationalism). For a small, impoverished and a south Caucasus nation like Armenia, "Western integration" also means indirect subordination to Ankara.

Of course I am speaking about this without the Russian factor. In my opinion, if Armenia's integration into Western structures do not destroy it, Moscow surely will. Moscow will sooner turn Armenia into a bloody war zone before allowing it to move under a Western umbrella .Armenians also need to understand that despite it being tiny, remote, impoverished, landlocked, blockaded and surrounded by enemies in one of the most violent regions of the world, Armenia has done quite well. And as primitive and nasty as they may seem at times, our "oligarchs" in Armenia are much preferable to any Western, multinational-mega-corporation that would be running the show in Armenia once the nation is subjugated by Western powers.

There are corporations as well as individuals in the US, UK, Turkey and Israel that can buy virtually all of Armenia. The only thing today standing in the way of these from flying to Armenia and purchasing the entire country have been Russians and Armenia's "oligarchs". With closer EU integration, Armenia will be - literally - sold to the highest international bidder. But the average Armenian today is too blinded by emotions, too arrogant, too politically illiterate to understand any of this. 


I am in no way trying to excuse the deplorable behavior of Armenia's monopolists but we must realize that Western integration promises to be even worst for Armenia. Please read the following news articles about Bulgaria in the context of what Armenia has been going through in the last twenty years and keep in mind that Armenia has been a tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked and a blockaded nation surrounded by enemies in a very violent region of the world - 
Power rustlers turn the screw in Bulgaria, EU's poorest country: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/06/us-bulgaria-government-idUSBRE92508J2013030
There you have it folks, this is membership in the EU for a nation that perhaps resembles us Armenians more than any other EU nation today. Despite it being tiny, remote, impoverished, landlocked, blockaded and surrounded by enemies in one of the most violent regions of the world, Armenia has done remarkably well - thanks in large part to its decision to remain under Moscow's protective umbrella ever since its independence from the Soviet Union.

We all need to somehow put aside our massive egos, debilitating emotions and Cold War biases and recognize that Armenia's future, for better or for worst, lies with Russia. In my opinion, Armenia needs to pursue its Russian course even if it has to shed its ties with the Armenian Diaspora. At the end of the day, and in the big picture, Armenia's future looks brighter than that of most European nations. At the end of the day, and in the big picture, Armenia's future looks better than that of its immediate neighbors. In the meanwhile, our hysterical compatriots in the Diaspora and our Captain Americas in Armenia need to stop their poisonous and self-destructive nonsense and begin the long and arduous process of nation-building within a Russian/Eurasian context.


Armenia has only one choice 

Imagine the south Caucasus as a table where Turks, Azeris, Iranians, Georgians, Islamists, Armenians, Western energy interests and Russians sit. Now imagine this "Caucasian table" effectively without its Russian resident. In another words, imagine the region without a powerful Russian presence. Now imagine what clout or leverage our tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked, inexperienced, embattled and blockaded homeland will have at that table. Make sense?

In the big picture, undermining Russian influence in the south Caucasus is essentially what our Captain Americas and nationalist nutjobs are seeking today.

To remind you again: No Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus. 

At the end of the day we must all realize that all international relations are ultimately political in nature. Opening Armenia to the West will anger Moscow. Angering Moscow runs the risk of taking Armenia and/or Artsakh out from under Moscow's protective umbrella. Taking Armenia out from under Moscow's protective umbrella will make Armenia dangerously vulnerable in a region of the world where Turks, Islamists and Western energy interests are powerful.

Armenia needs to stay clear of a Western trap regardless of how inciting the Western lure may be. Armenia needs to remain securely under Russia's protective umbrella - even if this ultimately means a lower standard of living in the short term for the average Armen.

Being that it is tiny, impoverished, landlocked, remote and blockaded by a genocidal, Turkic NATO member on its western border and a genocidal, Turkic aggressor on its eastern border, Armenia has only one choice when it comes to picking its friends in the Caucasus region. Yerevan has no choice but to align itself fully with the Russian Federation and concentrate its limited energies and resources on further developing its north-south axis.

Yerevan has no choice but to rely on Moscow, but in doing so it must also do its best to cultivate the political climate in the Kremlin in its favor.
Sadly, we are not doing this.

Being that Armenians are well placed throughout Russian society and because the Russian Federation is a superpower with great economic potential and its leadership sees Armenia as a strategic partner in the south Caucasus, Armenians have an unprecedented historic opportunity to impact politics in the Kremlin. Despite all this, however, it's not Armenians that are constantly lobby in the Kremlin - it's Turks and Azeris.

Instead of saturating the Kremlin with Armenian businessmen and political activists from around the world, we are bombarding the Kremlin with insults. Instead of moving forcefully to further develop Armenia's strategic ties with Russia, we have legions of our politically illiterate peasantry (many of whom just happen to be Russophobes from the US) putting pressure on Yerevan to distance itself from Moscow. 

We must always bare in mind that geostrategically Armenia does not serve the interests of Western policymakers. Simply put, Armenia is too small, too poor, too remote and it has too many problems with Washington's friends in the region (i.e. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan) and is too close with Washington's enemies in the regi0n (i.e. Russia and Iran) -
US working to strengthen relations with Turks and Azeris: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/11/us-working-to-strengthen-relations-with.html
Whereas Armenia is a strategic asset for Moscow and for Tehran, Armenia is an obstacle for the West. After all, the only reason why the West is in the Caucasus region is to curb the growth of Russia and Iran and to exploit Central Asian energy. Consequently, Armenia has but only one choice when it comes to picking its friend. And suggestions that our fragile homeland in the volatile Caucasus is too reliant on Russia is a moot point.

A newly formed, tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked and blockaded nation located in one of the most hostile political environments on earth cannot be "independent" despite our best efforts. Nevertheless, putting aside the fact that other than a handful of political entities on earth there are no truly independent nations today, what we are once again failing to realize is that if Armenia somehow managed to cut its crucially important umbilical cord with Moscow and somehow attained "independence" (that is if Moscow allowed it) Armenia would by default be at the mercy of its regional enemies for survival. Bare in mind that Tehran is barely surviving the Western aggression against it and its future remains unpredictable.

Therefore, Armenia's "independence" from Moscow would ultimately mean its "dependence" on Ankara, Washington, London, Tel Aviv, Brussels, Tbilisi and Baku. 

It would be wise to recognize that Russia, for better or for worst, is Armenia's only security guarantee in the region. At the end of the day, Armenia lives today because of the Russian factor in the region's recent history. In the big picture, had Ivan not come down to the Caucasus some two hundred years ago, and stayed there, Armenia's modern day Captain Americas and EUrotic idiots would still be herding goats or making donkey saddles somewhere in eastern Turkey or northern Iran.

Arevordi 
July, 2013

***

Former Russian Envoy Vyacheslav Kovalenko Warns Armenia Over European Integration Drive

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Armenia will receive few tangible benefits and risk alienating Moscow if it presses ahead with an “association agreement” with the European Union instead of joining a new Russian-led union of ex-Soviet states, according to a senior Russian diplomat.

Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who was until recently the Russian ambassador in Yerevan, issued the unusually stark warning on Monday in an interview with the news website of a Moscow-based youth organization promoting the Eurasian Union, a brainchild of President Vladimir Putin.

Kovalenko noted that Armenia is close to signing the association accord with the EU and therefore reluctant to seek full membership of the existing customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which Putin hopes will be the starting point of his Eurasian project. 

“European countries offer Armenia to follow the ‘more for more’ principle,’” he told EvrazesNews.ru. “A question arises in this regard: what real assistance, except for advice and promises for the future, has the EU provided to Armenia in the past year? By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path. As they said in ancient times, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’” 

The Association Agreement with the EU, Kovalenko warned, would mean that “allied relations between Russia and Armenia have their boundaries.”  “With the signing of that agreement by the EU and Armenia, there will probably be greater tendency take into account one’s own interests in our relations, which is what the EU does. While certainly remaining allies, we will be developing bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial footing.” 

In that context, the diplomat, who headed the Russian mission in Armenia from 2009 until March 2013, quoted prominent Armenian intellectuals who viewed Russia as the sole guarantor of Armenia’s survival a century ago. “Armenia can only live with Russia or not live at all,” he cited one of them as having said a century ago. 

The remarks are the clearest indication yet that Moscow is unhappy with Yerevan’s apparent determination to avoid joining the Russian-led unions and seal the association deal with the EU instead. Despite holding no concrete position in Russia’s Foreign Ministry at present, Kovalenko apparently did not retire from the Russian diplomatic service upon completing his mission in Armenia. The 67-year-old career diplomat kept a low profile and was very cautious in his public pronouncements during his four-year tenure in the country. 

President Serzh Sarkisian insisted earlier this year that Yerevan is not under Russian pressure to join the Eurasian Union, dismissing intense speculation to the contrary in the Armenian media. Sarkisian and other Armenian officials have repeatedly voiced support for “integration processes” in the former Soviet Union. However, they have stopped short of explicitly advocating Armenia’s accession to the new bloc promoted by the Kremlin. 


Sarkisian reaffirmed his administration’s intention to move much closer to the EU when he visited Poland last month. The Armenian people, he argued, are “carriers of European values.” 

Kovalenko seemed to scoff at these remarks. “Nobody says that CIS countries, including Armenia, must look at the world through Russia’s eyes,” he said. “Every independent state is free to make a political choice and that is right. But isn’t there an ongoing devaluation of these European values?” 

The Russian diplomat pointed to the West’s “irresponsible” and “immoral” policies in the Arab world. “Under the guise of a fight for democracy, they provoke color revolutions, make threats and use military force,” he told EvrazesNews.ru. Kovalenko also blasted Western officials and pundits for branding the Eurasian Union project an attempt to restore the Soviet Union.


Leonid Reshetnikov: U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia

The Heritage Party leader was there, but stood among the crowd.

One cannot confidently state that Armenia is a staunch ally of Russia in the South Caucasus, Leonid Reshetnikov, Director of Russia’s Institute for Strategic Studies, told journalists in Rostov, Rosbalt reports.

The political and socio-economic situation has worsened in Armenia over the last few years. He pointed out that over 50% of the Armenia’s population emigrated to Russia, including numerous intellectuals that are friendly to Russia. While ordinary people are concerned over the possibility of Russia leaving the Caucasus, intellectuals and government officials are of different opinions, the expert said.

 

Reshetnikov pointed out the U.S. has become more active in Armenia. It is no coincidence that the U.S. has the “world’s largest embassy” in Armenia. “It means that the Central Intelligence Agency created a regional agent network, which is common knowledge. That is why 300 to 400 officers are working there as diplomatic or technical staff,” the expert said. According to Reshetnikov, the United State’s aim is to break the only link that is still an obstacle to their efforts to form a “Russia-free” one in the Caucasus.  

This is also the aim of the United State’s efforts to reconcile Armenia and Turkey. “A few years ago I happened to talk to Armenia’s top officials. Even then, in private talks, they used to say: ‘The United States is a great power, why are we looking at Russia? We had better look at the U.S.’ I said to a top-ranking official: ‘The U.S. will not give you money for the country’s development. It will give a loan for sewerage in Yerevan, and top officials will use the money for personal enrichment. Americans have never given anything except for purpose loans to bribe the ruling top. The face of the official I was talking to showed he shared my opinion of the U.S. line. He liked that idea of Americans giving money for the ruling top,” Reshetnikov said. 

He pointed out that Russia’s weaker positions in Armenia will be palpable within the next couple of years.

Source: http://news.am/eng/news/50156.html


Russian Diplomat Decries Armenia’s EU Integration

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A Russian diplomat has openly criticized ongoing talks on the Association Agreement between Armenia and the European Union, in a further sign that Moscow is unhappy with Yerevan’s reluctance to join a new Russian-led union of ex-Soviet states.

Aleksandr Vasilyev, the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, compared the negotiating process late on Tuesday with Western powers’ and the Soviet Union’s infamous treaties with Nazi Germany that cost several Eastern European states their independence.

“The separate, confidential negotiations between the European Union and Armenia, whose details are being concealed from the public and everybody else, are putting us on our guard,” Vasilyev told a roundtable discussion in Yerevan organized by an Armenian group promoting “Eurasian integration.”

“You remember how such negotiations ended in 1930s. At first there was the [1938] Munich conspiracy and then the [1939] Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Those agreements did not bring Europe anything good,” he warned, according to the Armenian newspaper “168 Zham.”

Vasilyev said that Armenia will soon have to make a fateful choice between European and Eurasian integrations. He predicted that political life in the country will therefore heat up in the coming weeks.

Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who was Russia’s ambassador to Armenia until March, issued a similar warning less than two months ago. He said Yerevan will receive few tangible benefits and risk alienating Moscow if it presses ahead with the Association Agreement.

“By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path. As they said in ancient times, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’” Kovalenko said.

The Armenian leadership appears to have been under Russian pressure to pledge to join a Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states which President Vladimir Putin hopes will be built around Russia’s existing customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration has given no such promises, pushing instead for the signing of the far-reaching deal with the EU. It is due to be initialed at an EU summit in November.

The EU is also planning similar agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The Russian government has warned Ukraine against signing such a deal, including through de facto trade sanctions that were briefly imposed earlier this month. It has exerted no such pressure on Armenia so far.

Officials in Yerevan have expressed confidence that Armenia will avoid an open confrontation with the Kremlin because unlike  the three ex-Soviet states it is not seeking to eventually join the EU through the Association Agreement. They also argue that Armenia remains strongly committed to its military alliance with Russia.

Vasilyev’s remarks prompted strong criticism from pro-Western Armenian pundits on Wednesday. Davit Shahnazarian, an opposition politician and analyst who held top security posts in the government in the 1990s, said: “Russian diplomats and other officials must be a bit more cautious in their evaluations and realize that Armenia is a sovereign state, that it does appreciate its strategic security cooperation with Russia. But that must be mutually beneficial and they should in no case meddle in our internal affairs.”

Stepan Grigorian, another prominent analyst who headed Armenian missions in Moscow in the mid-1990s, claimed that the Russians have failed to come up with attractive alternatives to European integration and are now resorting to “primitive pressure.”


Armenia, Europe Edging Closer to Association Deal

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A visit Wednesday by the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle to Armenia, signaled that the European Union and Armenia are edging closer to an association agreement, which has been in the works since last year.

At a meeting between Fule and President Serzh Sarkisian, parties praised Armenia-EU relations, the important cooperation carried out in the Eastern Partnership framework, and the progress made on negotiations for the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which constitutes an integral part of the Association Agreement.

The participants of the meeting noted the progress in cooperation regarding population mobility, underscoring that the Agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission have already been signed and are now undergoing the process of ratification. Füle also spoke about the preparation for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, where a final agreement is being anticipated. Sarkisian stressed that Armenia is determined to continue reinvigorating large-scale reforms implemented in different areas and is anticipating added assistance in the process.

Füle also met with Foreign Minister Nalbandian, who welcomed Europe’s continued support of Armenia’s reforms. The two discussed issues related to the negotiation process within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. Füle hailed the positive developments in Armenia-EU relations, underlining that Armenia is one of the frontrunners of the Eastern Partnership Program and reiterated the EU’s commitment to maintain its support for the process of reforms.

Füle voiced hope that the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement would be pre-signed during the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. The parties stressed the importance of ratification of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements. In the context of Armenia’s presidency of the Council of Europe, the two attached importance to cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Unclear Geopolitical Directions of Armenia

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Yerevan is trying to make a choice between the European Union and the Russia-led Customs Union. Despite all the assurances of some Armenian experts that the West and Russia do not put pressure on Yerevan, there is quite different evidence.

Between the West and Moscow there is an "undercover" struggle for greater influence in the South Caucasus. Russia, jealously relating to the position of its former satellites from the former Soviet Union, is trying to keep Armenia in its orbit of influence. The U.S. and EU also do not intend to give up their positions. According to the director of the Center for Regional Studies Richard Giragosian, although Armenia is a strategic partner of Russia and here there is a Russian military base, the U.S. is ready to lead a very persistent struggle for Armenia. The U.S. will not be satisfied with only one Georgia. Armen Badalyan, political strategist, thinks that Armenia is the missing piece in the puzzle of the South Caucasus for the West: "If we look at a map of the South Caucasus from a little distance, we will see the following picture: Azerbaijan is very strong in its position – there is oil, gas, and transit routes for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Georgia is fully oriented to the West, where the society has become pro-Western, not to mention the political elites, and the United States can only maintain this trend. As for Armenia, it is ruled by Russia. "

Meanwhile, the choice between the initialling of an Association Agreement with the EU (in Vilnius in November this year as part of the "Eastern Partnership") and the possible entry into the Customs Union has not been made yet. On the one hand the Armenian officials and MPs from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) show commitment to European values and European integration as a major priority of foreign policy, and on the other hand, the fact that it is impossible to solve military problems in one block, and economic - in another, is mentioned.

Until very recently, the uncertainty in the position of Yerevan did not cause irritation of the two opposing centers. However, each process has its own logic - the beginning, the development and the denouement.

The following chain of events is indicative in this respect. On the eve of the official visit of Serzh Sargsyan to Poland with a difference of one or two days Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and a frequent guest of Armenia, CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha visited Yerevan. According to official reports, the agenda was the discussion of issues included in the program of cooperation between Security Councils of Armenia and Russia, and Bordyuzha was in Yerevan within the forum of political scientists and experts of the CSTO member states. Then, on June 26 Sargsyan went on an official visit to Poland, where there was something that can to some extent be considered a turning point in the process of choosing between the two directions for Armenia.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski told his Armenian counterpart about the need to choose, because Armenia cannot conclude Association Agreement with the European Union and at the same time be part of the Customs Union. Komorowski, responding to the statement by Sargsyan that Armenia is building activities not on an "either-or" but on an "both-and" noticed that he understand the desire of Armenia to develop the best possible relations with Russia, but it is impossible to act at the same time on two different economic areas. So the West has shown some irritation about vague position of Armenia and showed Yerevan a "yellow card".

Sargsyan’s return from Warsaw was marked by a few odd statements. For example, the Armenian authorities, who had previously strived for European integration, suddenly began to talk excitedly about the preferences of the CU, when all the hints by Moscow faced the Karabakh issue, and the authorities pointed to the need for Armenia's accession to the Customs Union only with Nagorno-Karabakh. MP from the RPA Aik Babukhanyan said: "Our political field is much closer to Russia than to the European Union."

Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan tried somehow to clarify vague position of Armenia, which has never happened before, "Armenia has never had a goal to join the EU. In those documents, around which there are negotiations, there is no European perspective, it is only the harmonization of relations. This is a substantial difference. "

Then a sociological survey suddenly appeared conducted by the so-called cooperative Gallup - GALLUP International Association of Armenia. According to the survey, in Armenia, 61% of respondents positively perceive the CU, 26% are indifferent to the issue, and only 4% are negative about it. The reality is that the vast majority of the population shows almost no interest in either any possible long-term prospects of joining the EU or the possibility of early prospect of joining the CU because of the dire socio-economic situation, and therefore do not have any idea about these processes.

Nevertheless, the presentation of the results of the survey was accompanied by a commentary by political analyst Sergei Shakaryants known for his overtly pro-Russian position that in case of failure of the Eurasian way, it cannot be ruled out that Russia could "organize" the war in the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, given that recently Russia once again used its favorite weapon of pressure - raised the price of gas. All this suggests that the revolution in the consciousness of the Armenian authorities could have occurred under pressure from Moscow. The West is clearly worried by the tilt towards Moscow. A manifestation of this concern has unfolded six weeks ago due to an organized, systematic discrediting in the media of the representatives of the ruling regime and the Prime Minister of Armenia TigranSarkisyan.

Source: http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/politics/42361.html

Which Way Will Armenia Tilt?

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On February 18, Armenians will cast their ballots for president. Although eight candidates have registered, victory and a new five-year term for incumbent Serzh Sargsyan are a foregone conclusion. Still, this election is not meaningless. The conduct of this poll is important, as will be Sargsyan’s choices after the poll. If the international community gives the election a clean bill of health, it will increase Sargsyan’s legitimacy. He will have the opportunity to enact much needed reforms in order to move closer to the West or, perhaps as likely, avoid tough reforms and move Armenia – already broadly sympathetic to Russia – further into Moscow.

Upon first winning the presidency in February 2008, Sargsyan faced a legitimacy crisis. Some have claimed that he has used his position and connections – he was sitting prime minister and had served previously as secretary of the national security council and defense minister – to rig the election against Levon Ter-Petrossian, a former president. At least ten died in the ensuing protests. This year, Sargsyan faces little resistance, with Sargsyan’s slide towards authoritarianism and Armenia’s lack of democratic institutions leaving the opposition fractured and divided. His most formidable opponents – Ter-Petrossian and wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, chief of the Prosperous Armenia party – both declined to run.

That Sargsyan effectively gets a free pass does a disservice to Armenia, which faces formidable obstacles to its development. When Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili inherited a corrupt and inefficient state in 2004, he stamped out government corruption and reformed Georgia into a Western-leaning economy. On January 31, 2013, the World Bank issued a report, Fighting Corruption in Public Services: Chronicling Georgia's Reforms,” praising Georgia for tackling corruption and noting that Georgia can serve as an example for other countries facing similar challenges.

Armenia will find no such praise. Its government remains corrupt and inefficient. The country was among the worst hit during the 2008-2009 economic crisis, with GDP shrinking by 14 percent in 2009, according to the IMF. Since then, Armenian GDP has grown slowly – at an average annual rate of approximately 3.5 percent between 2010-2012. In contrast, Georgia grew by an average annual 6.6 percent in the same three years. In 2010, according to official statistics, 35.8 percent of Armenia’s population was living below the poverty line – an increase from 27.6 percent in 2008. And, while neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan welcome foreign investors, organized crime keeps most foreign investors out of Armenia. The Armenian Diaspora – who care deeply about Armenia’s success – have long ago concluded that investing in their homeland is a thankless task that will pay dividends neither individually nor for Armenia.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians now flee the country for better prospects. Younger, more educated Armenians head to the West, while their older, blue-collar compatriots head north to Russia. The Russian government has welcomed these migrants, and has helped place them in areas of Russia facing population decline. While Russia might use these Armenians to mitigate its own demographic problem, the same migration merely exacerbates Armenia’s.

Last April, the European Commission estimated that one-third of Armenia’s population had emigrated since Armenia’s independence in 1991. Visiting Armenia in December 2012, one young Armenian told me that if she or her peers had even small hope that the economy would improve, they would stay. But few see such hope. Meanwhile, a full sprint into Russia’s embrace may compound Armenia’s problems. In recent years, Armenia has become Russia’s primary foothold in the South Caucasus. Russia’s influence in Armenia is vast not only political and economic, but also military and cultural. Armenia depends on Russia for gas; Russia owns Armenia’s communication and railway networks, and has extended a lease for a Military Base in Gyumri until 2044.

The Kremlin also hopes to bring Armenia into a Russia-led Customs Union – a precursor to the so-called Eurasian Union, which Russian president Vladimir Putin hopes will be a counterweight to the European Union. With aid, however, the West has leverage.

Since 1992, the United States has provided Armenia with approximately $2 billion in development and humanitarian assistance, the highest aid per capita among the former Soviet states. Although the U.S. reduced funding in 2011, when the Millennium Challenge Corporation penalized Armenia for failing to enact political reforms, the European Union compensated with an augmented aid package and is currently negotiating a free trade accord. It is now up to Armenia to choose which direction it wishes to go: Will it join the West and a community of democracies and liberal economies, or will Sargsyan tilt Armenia more toward a Kremlin-led community of increasingly autocratic former Soviet states.

Source: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/15/which-way-will-armenia-tilt/#comment-363487

Association Agreement Appeal: National Platform calls for greater publicity in Armenia-EU deal

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The Armenian National Platform of the EU Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum has expresses concern over the lack of action to familiarize the Armenian public at large with the contents of the Association Agreement that Armenia wants to initial with the European Union in several months.

In this regard, representatives of the National Platform issued appeals both to the government of Armenia and European Union institutions. They, in particular, called on Armenian officials to start a more open dialogue with society in order to avoid ‘distortions and possible manipulations of public opinion regarding European integration’.

“We cannot but be concerned over the fact that on the one hand we sign documents envisaging various reforms, but in practice very few changes take place. It cannot but have an impact on the public’s attitude to the contents of the documents, causing its mistrust,” Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardyan, who coordinates the National Platform, said during discussions on Monday.

Stefan Fule, the EU’s Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, who visited Yerevan last week, expressed confidence that the Armenia-EU Association Agreement will be initialed at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November. The agreement would allow Armenia to become closer integrated with the European Union including within the framework of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area to be established as part of the process.

It is before the initiating of this Agreement that Armenia’s National Platform calls for the Armenian government to ensure an open dialogue as well as pursue policies that would be in harmony with the values declared in the Agreement, refusing to simply imitate fulfillment of international obligations.

The organization embracing a number of civic groups at the same time urges EU institutions to show more consistency in the application of its ‘more for more’ principle.  It is remarkable that representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia as well as of the Prosperous Armenia Party were not present at the discussion despite the fact that invitations had been sent to them.

Opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Vladimir Karapetyan said that as long as the document was not made public one could not say with certitude that it did not include a provision that would be unacceptable to Armenia. Karapetyan reminded the Turkish-Armenian diplomatic protocols in which some saw a compromise on the Genocide recognition matter.

“Who would have thought that this government would agree to establish a commission of historians?” he said. Karapetyan stressed that the ANC was a proponent of European integration, but said it had a number of reservations.

“This is a first of all the inconsistency that we can see among some of our European partners. Before the presidential election Fule made statements on several occasions, calling on our authorities to adopt a new code, etc. But there was no response from the European side [to the lack of this reform]. During his latest visit there was no word of March 1 [2008 unrest] victims,” said the ANC representative.

Giro Manoyan, Director of the International Secretariat of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) Bureau in Yerevan, also raised concerns regarding Armenia’s possible involvement with the Russia-initiated Eurasian Union. He said that some ‘contradictory messages’ were coming from Russia and that clarity was needed in this matter.

“Even though Armenia’s authorities say that no condition of making a choice has been set to Armenia, the signals coming from Russia suggest that such a condition has been imposed on Armenia,” he said.

Source: http://armenianow.com/news/47697/armenia_national_patform_eu_association_agreement

EU/USAID Funded Silk Road Corridor Project Launched in Armenia

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The Armenian, Georgian, Greek, and Turkish partners of the Black Sea Silk Road Corridor (BSSRC) Project celebrated the official trans-regional launch of the project at Noravank Monastery in Vayots Dzor, Armenia on July 16.

BSSRC is a joint-project between NGO partners in Georgia, Greece, Turkey, and Armenia to create a 3000 kilometer-long tourist trail stretching from Thessalonica, Greece to Meghri, Armenia. The project will also fund the development of applications for iPhones, iPads, Android and Windows smart phones and tablets.

The Project is funded by the EU office through its Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme, with co-financing for Armenia from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project.

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea, Ambassadors of Greece, Georgia, Italy and China, and representatives from the Armenian Ministries of Culture, Economy, Transport and Communication, as well as the Holy See Etchmiadzin delivered remarks during the event.

Participants watched performances from the Areni and ShatinVillage dancers and musicians, took part in a bread and salt ceremony with local villagers, toured the monastery complex, and visited a local winery.

“BSSRC is yet another chance to promote the Armenian civilization as part of the world’s cultural heritage. This project opens a cultural exchange with neighboring countries, which will also increase the competitiveness of the tourism industry and positively affect the quality of infrastructures and services. This project will enhance the significance of Armenia as a tourism destination, which is an important precondition for the sustainable development of the Armenian tourism industry,” noted Armenian Travel Bureau Head Hovhannes Margaryan.

“The Silk Road was an important trade route in history, and this historic destination contributed to the development of various countries. Today we are trying to revive the Silk Road Corridor as a tourism destination and a hidden treasure,” noted Firat Polat, Deputy President of the Economists’ Association from Turkey.

According to the Greek partner representative, Pyrrhus Mercouris, the new mobile phone technologies will allow visitors to access information and data about interesting places to visit and information on tourist services. This online system will be presented to tour agencies and tourism professionals, particularly focusing on how historic monuments and eco-sites are linked and displayed through GPS and on the mobile phone application, and how they can use the trail to promote tourism packages and thus make local attractions more accessible to tourists.

“This project links Georgia with Silk Road trails in Armenia, Turkey, and Greece, which is important in encouraging cross border communication and people-to-people understanding of the diverse cultures located along the Silk Road Corridor,” noted Simon Kopadze, Director of “Tadzreli” Foundation in Georgia.

Source: http://asbarez.com/111589/silk-road-corridor-project-launched/

USAID, Ministry of Justice to Improve Armenia’s Legal System

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On July 11, the USAID-funded Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project and the Ministry of Justice of Armenia signed a letter of intent to implement business-enabling reforms in Armenia and develop the country’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern and Minister of Justice, Hrayr Tovmasyan.

From July 2013 to December 2014, the parties will jointly implement a range of activities, including a thorough study of the current ADR system. Through the EDMC project, USAID will support the Ministry of Justice in the drafting of primary and secondary legislation and in conducting public hearings and roundtable discussions with stakeholders. The activities will seek to not only improve the system, but also to raise public awareness of the reforms and to build the confidence of the business community in the ADR system.

Following the signing ceremony, the EDMC project will host a high-level conference on July 12, 2013, with the participation of Armenian and American judges. United States federal judges Ricardo Martinez and Robert Lasnik will share the American approach to ADR as an international best practice, and will conduct a mock arbitration and mediation.

Source: http://asbarez.com/111333/usaid-ministry-of-justice-to-improve-armenia’s-legal-system/

US Geological Survey Completes Armenia Shale Gas Resources Study

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U.S. Geological Survey representatives have completed study of Armenia’s shale gas resources, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern said in response to a question from the ArmInfo new agency. He said that the U.S. specialists launched their work last year. Now, they are in Washington to process the data received. Thematic survey results will be presented to the Government of Armenia later, the ambassador said.

On August 3 2012, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Armenian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Isle of Man-registered International Minerals & Mines Ltd. It is paving the way for the exploration of Armenia’s shale reserves. Should large-scale commercial extraction proceed, Armenia’s energy find could grant the country a measure of energy independence and, with it, newfound geopolitical freedom.

The Aug. 3 deal comes on the heels of another agreement between the Energy Ministry and the U.S. State Department in June to cooperate in energy exploration, commercialization and investment. This agreement plans “cooperative assessment and technical studies of Armenia’s energy resources, including any potential shale gas resources.”

According to the Armenian energy ministry, the August agreement is the result of an international shale gas conference sponsored by the U.S. government, which has offered exploration grants to Armenia and other countries. Previous assessments suggest Armenia’s hydrocarbon reserves are small.

The US Geological Survey, which is identified in the June memorandum as a technical partner in the joint effort, identified 44 million tons of in-place shale oil reserves in the Aramus region based on a 1994 study. The Armenian government, however, raised the figure in a 2005 report (.pdf), listing 17 million to 18 million tons of shale oil reserves in Ijevan, Shamut and Jermanis and 128 million tons in Dilijan, reported the World Politics Review.


Armenian opposition leader meets with US official in Washington

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Opposition Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian, who was on a visit to Washington, met with Deputy Secretary of State Eric Rubin on Monday.  In a private meeting at the Department of State, the two discussed not only Armenia’s domestic democratic challenges, but also its international challenges, including “a righteous resolution to the conflict surrounding the Mountainous Karabagh Republic and a true recognition of the Armenian Genocide and Great National Dispossession of 1915,” according to the Heritage Party’s official website. At the same day, Hovannisian delivered a keynote address to an audience of diplomats, policy-makers, and intellectuals at the George Washington University Law School. The event, “A Conversation on Armenia,” was co-sponsored by the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Policy Forum Armenia, and the Armenian Bar Association.  After the event he gave interviews to representatives of the local and international media. “The United States will recognize the voice of the Armenian people,” said the Armenian opposition leader, in particular. Hovannisian, who finished second in Armenia’s presidential race last February and continues to dispute the official reelection of President Serzh Sargsyan, pledged to go on fighting for a ‘New Armenia’ when he left Yerevan for a tour of the United States last month. The Heritage party leader called on all political and civic forces in the country to consolidate for a fresh push against the “de facto” government in fall.

Source: http://www.aysor.am/en/news/2013/06/04/raffi-hovhannisyan/

Philanthropic Support Fuels Growth for AUA Undergraduate Program

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The American University of Armenia (AUA) continues to garner overwhelming philanthropic support for its new undergraduate program, set to launch in the Fall of 2013. Recently, AUA received $50,000 from Dr. and Mrs. Noubar Ouzounian of California and $25,000 from the San Francisco Armenian Professional Society. AUA will utilize the generous commitment of $50,0000 by Dr. and Mrs. Ouzounian to build a strong foundation for the new Bachelor’s program.

“It is our intention to provide young Armenians the opportunity to obtain a world class education that will prepare them to compete on a global level and build for themselves and their country a brighter future,” said Dr. Ouzounian. “It was through my education at the American University of Beirut that I was able to elevate myself and have a higher standard of living. I would like to provide students in Armenia with the same opportunity through the American University of Armenia.”

The donation of $25,000 from the San Francisco Armenian Professional Society will enable AUA to outfit 5 mobile audio-visual carts to enhance undergraduate classes, lectures, and workshops.

“We believe in what AUA stands for and continue to support its mission for education and professionalism,” said Dr. Agheg Yenikomshian, president of the San Francisco Armenian Professional Society. “Our donation will make a positive difference in supporting the development of higher education in Armenia.”

The new undergraduate program is an unprecedented expansion that will quadruple AUA’s student body over the next five years.

“The university is proud to have supporters such as Dr. and Mrs. Ouzounian and the San Francisco Armenian Professional Society,” said AUA President Dr. Bruce Boghosian. “These gifts will allow AUA to further its mission of providing accessible, high-quality education for the next generation of Armenian professionals while making AUA a destination for international students.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values. AUA is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 985 Atlantic Avenue, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, (510) 748-9001.

Source: http://asbarez.com/110024/philanthropic-support-fuels-growth-for-aua-undergraduate-program/ 

East or West?: Armenia at geopolitical crossroads ahead of 2013 election

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An agreement on visa regime facilitation for citizens of Armenia traveling to European Union-member countries is due to be signed in Brussels today, December 17. Armenia has waived the visa requirement for citizens of EU countries who will travel to this South Caucasus republic after January 1. And this is in the case when Europe and Russia are unable to agree on visa facilitation.

The end of the year has proved rich for Armenia in terms of visits of European officials and activation of U.S. policies. Late last week Yerevan hosted a troika of top diplomats of EU-member countries – the foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and Bulgaria, Carl Bildt, Radoslaw Sikorski and Nikolay Mladenov, respectively.

Welcoming the ministers in Yerevan, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stressed the importance of deepening cooperation between the countries within the framework of the Eastern Partnership program. According to the parties, Armenia-EU relations are developing intensively. They also noted that Armenia has made good progress in negotiations on the Association Agreement, and the negotiations on agreement on the establishment of a deep and comprehensive free trade area have proceeded successfully. These agreements could be signed as early as in November 2013.

Polish FM Sikorski highlighted the importance of the February 18 presidential election in Armenia. “The election process, we believe, must rule out even the slightest possibility of formulating any accusation. This is very important from the point of view of the Eastern Partnership summit due to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, next November,” he told a joint news conference of the three diplomats and Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian in Yerevan on Friday.

The visit of the EU diplomatic troika overlapped with the visit of the State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, Yves Rossier. The Swiss diplomat said that Switzerland considers it important to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with Armenia. He discussed with Armenian leadership the possibility of expanding areas of cooperation and exchanged views on cooperation within international organizations.

Simultaneously, at the December 15 special convention of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) that formally nominated him for reelection, President Sargsyan unveiled his election manifesto in which as priorities he mentioned the following: strengthening allied relations between Armenia and the Russian Federation and implementing programs to enhance strategic cooperation, development and expansion of friendly partnership with the United States, continued policy of rapprochement with Europe, strengthening of relations with the European countries.

In other words, Sargsyan is not going to get off the course of so-called complementarity”, but will deepen the foreign-policy “diversification” as far as it is possible. Russia does not seem to be quite satisfied with this course, and it is not a coincidence that the end of 2012 has also brought the news of Russian monopoly Gazprom planning to raise the price of natural gas for Armenia.

Russia’s prime minister, leader of the ruling United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev sent a message to the RPA convention delegates, warning that the decisions of the convention would “have an impact on the future of the country and, therefore, on the Armenian-Russian relations that have a nature of strategic partnership.” Perhaps he expected Sargsyan to include more categorical statements about relations with Russia in his election program.

For his part, in his message of greeting to the RPA gathering, President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Wilfried Martens confirmed full trust in Sargsyan, describing his reform agenda as the only credible agenda for the implementation of “significant and sustainable changes” in Armenia.

”We are all Europeans. Armenia belongs to Europe. We share the same heritage, and, therefore, the same fate. Due to the Armenian president and prime minister’s works, the RPA has proved to be the leader for changes. I have no doubt that after two months the Armenian people will make the right choice to have consolidated democracy and subsequent changes in the country,” the EPP leader added.

And in the White House, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, who was on an ‘innovative’ visit to the United States, was received by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Armenia was visited by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Thomas Melia. During his meeting with the Armenian president the sides pointed out the importance of the process of democratic reforms in Armenia, and efforts aimed at ensuring the rule of law. It was emphasized that the development of Armenia is impossible without serious steps in this direction. Apparently, Washington intends to support Armenia’s “decisive steps”.


Armenian demarche?: Discussion of geopolitical choices on in Yerevan after Sargsyan skips two major ex-Soviet summits

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Discussions are on in Armenia regarding what other arguments Moscow may use to persuade Armenia to join the emerging Eurasian Union, a major post-Soviet reintegration effort initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan did not attend the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 28, nor did he travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, the following day for the EurAsEC summit there, which gave rise to speculations that thus the Armenian leader showed his determination not to bow to Russian pressure.

On May 30, while answering questions in the National Assembly, Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shavarsh Kocharyan reaffirmed that Armenia is going to initial Association and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreements with the European Union in November, and if it joins the Russia-led Customs Union, it will not be able to do so. At present Armenia is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area, and that’s enough, Kocharyan hinted.

In order to attract Armenia to its reintegration zone Russia has recently used several methods. In particular, it has stated about the strengthening of its military base in Armenia and, through some experts, has been spreading rumors about the possibility of renewed hostilities in the Karabakh conflict zone.

Sergey Kurginyan, a Russian pundit who ardently advocates the establishment of the Eurasian Union, visited Armenia recently. He frightened Armenians with gay marriages and a possible law on incest in Europe, suggesting that Armenia should not deal with such Europe but should rather choose a healthier way – the Eurasian Union. He also said that Armenia alone would not survive and it had to join one of the empires.

Kurginyan also said that the United States and Turkey were building a Sunni zone in which Armenia will not survive without Russia. Earlier, Russia raised the price of natural gas for Armenia, which resulted in some anti-Russian sentiments in the country.

A number of Armenian pundits have also begun to actively promote the Customs Union and the continuation of the Armenian-Russian “strategic alliance”. In particular, many of them have tried to present Sargsyan’s decision to attend the summits in Bishkek and Astana not as a demarche against Moscow, but as an ordinary matter, saying that relations between Armenia and Russia remains “brilliant”.

Meanwhile, the latest CSTO and EurAsEC summits were very important for the future of these organizations. The CSTO summit discussed the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan planned for 2014 and the possible deterioration of the situation in Central Asia in this regard. The CSTO decided that it was responsible for this zone, which can become a hotbed of terrorism and drug trafficking.

By refusing to travel to Bishkek, Sargsyan, in fact, declared about Armenia’s non-participation in the CSTO’s future operations in Afghanistan or around it, which could spell a demise for the Russia-led defense pact of six post-Soviet nations that does not have combat experience yet.

As for the EurAsEC summit in Astana, Ukraine submitted its application for an observer status in the Customs Union during it. Ukraine also intends to sign an Association Agreement with the EU in November. Russia has failed to make Ukraine abandon this plan. The absence of Sargsyan from the summit could also mean that Armenia does not want even an observer status in the Eurasian Union.

One can already now come across headlines in the Armenian press like: “It only remains for Russia to send troops to Armenia” or “Who else would Moscow send to persuade Yerevan?”.

Meanwhile, Artur Baghdasaryan, the secretary of the National Security Council of Armenia, on Thursday denied any political motives behind President Sargsyan’s absence from the summit in Bishkek, stressing that Armenia’s relations with Russia remain “excellent."


Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan trigger Armenian backlash

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The sale by Russia of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan caused a wave of discontent in Armenia. What particularly angered many local politicians and experts was the sale of Smerch rocket launchers, which are considered to be one of the deadliest weapons.

First Armenian political analysts and experts loyal to Russia had to prove that nothing bad had happened and that Russia did have the right to sell arms to Azerbaijan, as it gives Armenia weapons almost for free.

Then Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordyuzha had to come to Armenia to assure partners in Yerevan that the sale of arms to Azerbaijan was pure business and that in order to “maintain the balance” Russia was also arming Armenia.

Not all in Armenia, however, were convinced and some experts and politicians began to even express opinions through media that Armenia should undertake symmetrical measures by refusing to continue to host the Russian military base, declaring about its withdrawal from the CSTO and moving to terminate its agreement on strategic alliance with Russia.

But the most remarkable thing is that this time around discontent was also raised in Karabakh. Independent Karabakh MP Vahan Badasyan made a tough statement, accusing the Armenian authorities of allowing themselves to become too much dependent on Russia to the degree that Moscow now determines the policy of Armenia in the Karabakh issue.

Then, in an interview with karabakh-open.info first commander of the Karabakh Self-Defense Forces (1990-91) Arkady Karapetyan accused Russia of preparing a ‘new genocide’ of Armenians in Karabakh. Describing the combat characteristics of Smerch systems, Karapetyan said he did not want to sit and wait until Azerbaijan uses this lethal weapon against his family. He said that Russia must choose – either business or brotherhood. And if it chooses business over brotherhood, let the Russians pay for the military base in Armenia, he emphasized.

On July 2, in Yerevan, during the presentation of the revised version of the book ‘Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Between Peace and War’ an interesting polemic took place between its author, senior associate at the Washington Carnegie Endowment specializing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Thomas de Waal and Director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Alexander Iskandaryan.

“After the accumulation of a certain quantity and quality of weapons on both sides of the conflict the resumption of hostilities becomes unlikely. Accumulation of arms triggers the mechanism of deterrence based on threat. In this respect, I do not agree with Thomas de Waal that the likelihood of renewed hostilities has increased, on the contrary, it is decreasing,” said Iskandaryan.

De Waal, in his turn, stressed that along with the process of accumulation of arms tensions are rising in the region, which at one point will get out of control, as it happened during the First World War. Meanwhile, active citizens in Armenia are now discussing questions like: will the asymmetrical armament of Azerbaijan and Armenia by Russia lead to renewed hostilities and why the Armenian leadership does not express a tough stance on the matter?


Hayrikian considers it necessary to freeze relations with Russia

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Armenia should freeze its diplomatic relations and all the agreements with Russia, the chairman of Union for National Self-Determination (AIM) Party Paryur Hayrikian told a press conference today. According to him, Russia sells arms to Azerbaijani that constantly threatens to start a war against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. “The state does not take any steps in that direction so the opposition and citizens must unite, hold rallies and demand a change of power. If an attempted murder had not been committed against me and if I had become president of Armenia, I would have taken measures in that direction,” Hayrikian declared. Hayrikian was shot and wounded in January 2013 during his bid for the presidency.


Armenia to Sell Shares to Russian Gas Giant
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The Armenian government seems ready to sell its remaining 20 percent share in the domestic gas distribution network to Gazprom in order to subsidize the recently increased price of Russian natural gas delivered to Armenia. The Russian energy giant revealed late on Monday that its chief executive, Alexey Miller, discussed the matter in Moscow with Armenian Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian.

“In the course of negotiations the aspects of Russian gas pricing for Armenian consumers were discussed,” Gazprom said in a statement. “The meeting also looked into the possibility of increasing Gazprom’s stake in ArmRosGazprom (ARG) to 100 per cent.”

The announcement came amid Armenian government efforts to secure funding for subsidizing the Russian gas price, which officially rose by 50 percent to $270 million per thousand cubic meters in April. A 30 percent subsidy promised by the government has meant that the price hike will be much less drastic for Armenian households. Armenian officials have said that Yerevan is seeking a Russian “grant” to finance the subsidy. But they have given no details of that arrangement so far.

The Armenian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources refused to comment on the Gazprom report on Tuesday. A ministry spokesperson said that only Movsisian can give relevant explanations.

The government was already rumored last year to have ceded its 20 percent stake in ARG to conceal a secret rise in Russian gas price and make sure Armenian voters are unaffected by it until the February 2013 presidential election. Government officials dismissed this speculation, saying that the gas price remains unchanged. However, Armenian customs data showed that ARG paid considerably more for Russian gas than was officially reported in 2012. Opposition lawmakers were quick to criticize the government’s apparent readiness to place ARG under full Russian control. Gazprom currently owns 80 percent of the gas network.

“This once again shows that our authorities are not capable of doing anything,” said Artsvik Minasian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. “They can declare that we will get a grant but we won’t get it or will cede more state assets in return.”


Russia’s Putin expected to pay official visit to Azerbaijan

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to Azerbaijan, media in Baku reported today, citing diplomatic sources. “The visit of the president of Russia will take place in the middle of August,” wrote Novosti-Azerbaijan, quoting its “well-informed” source, who said that the two sides were at present preparing the program of the visit through diplomatic channels.

While there is no official announcement about the visit from the Kremlin, media in Azerbaijan speculate that cooperation in the oil and gas sector will become a focal point of Putin’s trip. The visit will come on the heel of the announcement of acquisitions of Russian offensive weapons and military hardware by Azerbaijan worth a total of $1 billion, which elicited a mixed reaction in Armenia, Russia’s ally and Azerbaijan’s military arch-rival in the region.

The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh is also likely to feature as a subject of talks between Putin and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Baku. Putin has not paid a visit to Armenia since he returned to the Kremlin in the capacity of president in May 2012 despite at least two invitations from his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan extended during his visits to Moscow.

The last time Sargsyan invited Putin to Yerevan was during his trip to the Russian capital in March – the first foreign visit to be made by him since reelection the previous month.

Some observers have lately speculated about a growing unease in the traditionally good relations between the two strategic allies in the wake of Armenia’s bid to initial an Association Agreement with the European Union later this year which would presumably block the possibility for the ex-Soviet country’s future integration into the Russia-led Eurasian Union and other integration formats such as the current Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

On the official level, however, neither Yerevan nor Moscow have yet confirmed any differences over the matter. Moreover, the two governments have reportedly been boosting their military cooperation in the recent period.

Source: http://armenianow.com/news/47750/armenia_russia_vladimir_putin_azerbaijan_visit 

Manucharyan: Armenia-EU Association Agreement will be a slap to Russia

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Currently, Armenia is facing growing challenges, former member of Karabakh committee Ashot Manucharyan told reporters in Yerevan. “Europe and Russia have become major challenges for Armenia, but the biggest challenge is the situation in Armenia,” he said. The speaker stressed that Armenia should maintain friendly ties with Russia. “Armenia’s signing the EU Association Agreement will be a slap to Russia, and will lead to a response from Russia,” Manucharyan said. According to him, Russia has understood that gas could later be sold for market prices to Armenia as well as the issue of Armenian migrants in Russia could be raised, which would be a deadly blow to Armenia.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2013/07/19/manucharyan/