Looking at US-Turkish relations and Russian-Armenian relations - November, 2012

On November 02, 2012, the well known head of the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, Steven Blank, produced an interesting article in which he publicly called on Washington to openly embrace the bloody dictatorship in Baku as an ally of the United States. Then on the evening of November 14, 2012, the Azerbaijan-America Alliance in Washington DC organized a gala dinner reception at the Reagan Center -
According to a trusted source that attended the dinner reception, over 200 diplomats were present at the event. Reportedly, the VIP guests, mostly ambassadors and some thirty US congressmen, got small oil barrels and mini rugs as party gifts. Speaker of the House Boehner was also present. Interestingly, the president of the US Hellenic Association was there as well. Although the gathering was said to have been cultural in scope, an Azeri event organizer who spoke during the night emphasized the need for more US involvement in the region, and went on to suggest that Iran is indeed a problem. The same speaker also mentioned that the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 has caused Baku to think that something similar may occur to them, implying Russian support for Armenian Artsakh.

Yes, I understand: Boehner and Blank can hardly be considered Armenia-friendly. But, what about Armenia-friendly American officials?

Well, speaking of Armenia-friendly officials: Nancy Pelosi is one of the American empire's most "pro-Armenian" politicians and one that enjoys widespread support and adoration by American-Armenians throughout the US. Well, now, Nancy is raising a glass to toast the US's strategic partnership not with Armenia - but with Azerbaijan -


She is perhaps also sharing a few laughs with the Turks about the ever-gullible American-Armenian community and that silly thing called the "Armenian lobby".

Anyway, I don't want to make too much of this "pro-Armenian" US official's insulting photo op with Turkic barbarians, but I have to say this: What is it going to take to finally convince our idiots that US officials cannot - by the very nature of Western politics - be a friend of Armenians regardless of how many times Armenians bend-over for them? While they have been giving the American-Armenian community lip service, Western officials have also been actively conspiring against Armenia. But, despite it all, American-Armenian community representatives continue to proudly do the bidding of Washingtonian reptiles inside Armenia. In final analysis, Armenians in the US deserve every spit in the face they get from their beloved masters in Washington.
Closeness of relations between nations boils down to geopolitics. As a result, Western interests had gotten very close to the oil-rich dictatorship in Baku during the years prior to the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. The war in question
dealt a severe blow to Western plans in the south Caucasus and saw the liberation of south Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgian rule. The war may have been short-lived but its geostrategic implications were of historic proportions. The resulting new "reality on the ground" caused the West and its regional allies to take a big step backwards -

The Impact of the Russia-Georgia War on the South Caucasus - March, 2010: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/08/following-is-paper-produced-by-georgian.html
As Russia Reclaims Its Sphere of Influence, the U.S. Doesn't Object - April, 2010: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/10/overflowing-with-natural-resources-and.html
With the West's ambitious south Caucasus experiment  - Georgia - effortlessly mutilated by Russian forces, Baku has been feeling like a hostage to Moscow in recent years. Consequently, there have been efforts from Baku and Washington to revitalize their relationship. As you will see, pumping billions of dollars into Azerbaijani oilfields, diverting Israeli arms to the Azerbaijani military and training Azeri marksmen in American facilities is not deemed enough support for Baku by Washington insiders. Before I go on about Washington's growing hostility towards Armenia, I'd like to make a statement about Armenia's "political opposition" because no discussion about Turco-Western relations would be complete without also addressing Armenia's Western-led idiots.

Washington by nature cannot be a friend

Many of us know that historically the political West has been comfortably in bed with Turks. The existence of Turkey at the crossroads of the world (i.e. Asia Minor) has served Western interests very well for many years. Even as far back as the mid-19th century, the Western powers then, Franco-British forces, sided with the Ottoman Turks against the Russian Empire. During the Soviet era, Turkey played a very important role as a buffer for the West. Today, the Turks (regardless of the kind of government they have) continue to play a very important geostrategic role for Western officials. The existence of a powerful Turkey (regardless of whether it is on good terms with the Anglo-American-Zionist global order or not as long as it is not in an alliance with its Arab, Iranian or Russian neighbors) ensures that the Western world will have a zone of protection against the potential growth and spread of Arab nationalism, Iranian influence and of course Russia. 

Turks, the Zionist state, Sunni Islamic kingdoms, Wahhabist terrorist organizations and more recently segments within the region's Kurdish populations are some of the levers with which the Judeo-Western world manages the strategic Middle East.

As a result of certain geostrategic realities that propel Western interests in the region, the Western world will not, to say the least, have the best of intentions towards Yerevan. In other words, because Armenia is small, remote and poor; because the Armenian nation has historical problems with Turks/Azeris; because the Armenian nation is a strategic ally of the Russian Federation; because the Armenian nation has very friendly relations with Iran, the Western world will not look upon Armenia favorably.

The Western world's problem with Armenia is simply a matter of geostrategic calculus.

Significant numbers of Armenians today, however, seem to have a very difficult time accepting this reality. How could a political entity heralded around the world as a champion for "human rights" and "democratic values" be so antagonistic towards a small, impoverished, vulnerable and embattled nation? How could the political West be so hostile towards a cultured people that has suffered so much pain and misery in recent history? 

The promotion of American Exceptionalism by American officials (i.e the self-bestowed divine right to make or break nations simply because America is special) and the global spread of American/Western pop culture (i.e. consumerism, pop music, movies, fashion, etc) has managed to drastically alter the perceptive abilities of significant numbers of Armenians, particularly English speaking Armenians in the western world. 

Attempting to combat this modern phenomenon is one of the main motivations behind this blog.

As we watch Washington's crimes against humanity and ecology around the world; as we watch Washington provide support for Turks and Islamists against Arabs, Iranians, Armenians, Serbians, Greeks, Cypriots and Russians - let us once again remind ourselves that this is the same Washington that Armenian "activist" visit to get their inspiration - and some times their funding - against the Armenian state... of course all in the name of "civil society" and fighting "corruption"!

In other words, as Washington continues to conspire against Armenia, some Armenians are continuing to conspire against Armenia for Washington.

Armenians in service of the empire

Washington is the same political entity that subversive organizations such as Policy Forum Armenia (PFA) and Civilitas get their funding and most probably their directives from. This is the same political entity that is behind men like Raffi Hovanissian, Vartan Oskanian, Richard Giragosian and Paruyr Hayrikian. This is the same political entity who's close NATO ally continues to blockade Armenia. This is the same political entity that has been spearheading efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide. This is the same political entity that has been actively trying to distort Armenian history. This is the same Washington that has been promoting Globalism (an Anglo-centric, Afro-Judeo venerating, pseudo-cultural abomination being imposed upon humanity), genetically altered foods, religious cults, Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, Azeri-film festivals and gay parades inside Armenia.

Despite its growing hostility towards Yerevan, Armenians continue to serve the American empire.

As Washington chases imperial dreams in the south Caucasus, they are cleverly using their levers of control to empower "anti-corruption" activists in Armenia to weaken the pro-Russian government in Yerevan. In other words, as Western officials pursue their self-serving geostrategic agendas, they are encouraging the self-destructive peasantry within Armenia's political opposition to make Armenians chase their tails with silly nonsense. 

I would like to remind the reader again that Armenia's most pressing problems today are geopolitical, geographical - and cultural - in nature. Until these fundamental problems are not somehow solved, Armenia will continue to suffer from severe socioeconomic and sociopolitical ailments even if all of Armenia's dreaded "oligarchs" turned into pretty little angels overnight.

Please revisit the following blog commentaries for more insights regarding the topic of combating corruption in Armenia, the political West and Armenians in Washington's service
Clinton Reassures Armenian Rights Groups - September, 2010: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/hillary-clinton-reassures-armenias.html
Serj Tankian, Dashnaktsutyun and the Continuing Media Blitz Against Armenia - August, 2011: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/08/serj-tankian-gets-exploited-armenia.html
Marie Yovanovitch, Raffi Hovannisian and Regime Change in Armenia - March, 2011: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/03/marie-yovanovitch-and-raffi-hovannisian.html
Panel Discussions Calling for Chaos in Armenia - February, 2012: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/01/washington-sponsored-panel-discussions.html
In my opinion, when it comes to combating "corruption" I think Armenia has more to learn from Russia's experience than from the West. In fact, Yerevan needs to follow Moscow's footsteps.

A simple matter of priorities

Before one can fully concentrate on internal/domestic matters and begin to flirt with limited forms of democracy, it first needs to stabilize its political landscape, find reliable trade partners, solve its external problems and secure its borders.

After Vladimir Putin's bloodless coup in 2000, it took Moscow over ten years to get its geopolitical and economic problems solved for the most part before it could slowly begin to embark on a domestic campaign to tackle issues pertaining to lawlessness in the country. In other words, it took the powerful Russian state over ten years to cleanse Russia of its 1990's era criminals and secure its borders - before it began looking into its domestic issues. It's a matter of strategic priorities. With the nation's power structures back safely under Russian control and with various geopolitical matters solved during the past several years, Kremlin officials are only now beginning to feel confident enough to begin seriously addressing pressing sociological issues in the country. 

Similarly, we Armenians cannot realistically expect there to be an effective "fight against corruption" in our poor, landlocked, remote and blockaded nation stuck in one of the most unstable and volatile neighborhoods in the world - especially by those who are taking their orders from the West! 

As usual, our Western-led anti-corruption yahoos in Armenia have it all wrong. This is what I mean when I say Western officials want us to keep chasing our tails with pursuits that are unobtainable and may in reality cause sociopolitical instability. The following is a very recent sample of how activists in Armenia's Sardarapat Movement are attempting to sow political instability -
Նախախորհրդարանի ստեղծման մասին Հայտարարությունը http://www.lragir.am/index.php/arm/0/country/view/74559
Նախախորհրդարանի ստեղծման մասին Ասուլիսը https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6WegQlGXiE
They are more-or-less attempting to create a parallel government in Armenia ahead of the up-coming presidential elections there. This is their way of seeding Armenia's political landscape for unrest in the near future. Taking into consideration the low caliber of the individuals involved, I personally do not think they will be successful in their attempt to overthrow the Armenian government. However, I do think that these people are still capable of doing some damage. At the very least, they can set the country back a few years similar to what Levon's criminals did back in early 2008.

Do not be fooled their their lofty rhetoric, it's all sound and fury signifying nothing. Armenia's political opposition today is made up of clueless idiots, 1990s era criminals, self-serving opportunists and Western agents. When it comes to Armenia's volatile political landscape, Armenians simply must be mindful of the following: Those waiting on the political sidelines in Armenia to take control if the current regime falls are direct and indirect, willing and unwitting servants of the Anglo-American-Zionist global order. In other words, those currently in position to exploit political turmoil in Armenia are those that can easily lead the young republic down the path of destruction.

This is why true Armenian patriots that genuinely care about the health and well-being of the Armenian state will stick with the devil they know.

At this point, we can only hope that as with other things that have traditionally trickled down to Yerevan from Moscow, President Putin's anti-corruption campaign currently in full gear in the Russian Federation will also manage to reach Armenia eventually. Although we are recently seeing signs of this in Yerevan, I would like to see more done to curb Armenia's 1990's era criminals. I am confidant that as Moscow secures its Eurasian fortress and begins to address its pressing domestic matters, Yerevan will follow suit.

In the meanwhile, however, what Armenia does not need are the services of our Captain Americas. As a general rule, anything that is conceived, led, inspired or funded by the political West must be suspect. Therefore, any political activist in Armenia that maintains any kind of ties to the political West must likewise be considered suspect.

Although generally speaking Armenians, American-Armenians in particular, have a difficult time admitting it to themselves, Washingtonian/Western funded organizations in Yerevan, regardless of their stated goals, are in Armenia to pursue agendas that are ultimately detrimental to the newly created republic.

Armenia in the eyes of Russians and Americans

Steven Blank's above mentioned article appears below my commentary. Please read it. Steven Blank is not someone that should be taken lightly. He is a Washington insider. He is in fact a very accurate representative of what Washingtonian interests are in the south Caucasus. Therefore, if we Armenians want to know what Washington is thinking or planning we simply need to listen to what the Steven Blanks of America are saying and not what the Frank Pallones of America want us Armenians to think. The few Armenia-friendly officials in Washington exist only to provide the American-Armenian community with lip-service and keep it hopeful. Armenia-friendly American officials is essentially how the empire manipulates and controls its Armenians subjects.

When it comes to Yerevan-Washington relations, the calculus is rather simple: Armenia's friends are Washington's enemies and Armenia's enemies are Washington's friends. Thus, when it comes to matters pertaining to Armenia, we cannot trust American officials. By extrapolation, when it comes to politics in Armenia, we cannot trust Armenians with Washingtonian connections.

As long as the world's geopolitical cards are stacked they way they have been in recent decades, Washington will continue to look at Armenia as either an enemy state or as an obstacle to its imperial ambitions in the south Caucasus. Due to various reasons, however, Washington has traditionally refrained from being openly hostile against Armenia. And not wanting to be on the receiving end of America's overt hostility (as well continue receiving financial benefits) is precisely why official Yerevan has devoted considerable amount of time and resources in keeping its ties with Washington somewhat active. 

Yerevan must be aware, however, that as the American empire's geostrategic pursuits in Eurasia and in the Middle East suffer setbacks, Washington will grow increasingly anti-Armenian.

As the Western agenda throughout Eurasia and the Middle East begins to slowly unravel, their "humanitarian" and "democratic" masks will gradually come off. The coming presidential elections in Armenia will also serve to compound the matter because ever since President Sargsyan began moving closer to Moscow soon after his presidential victory in 2008, American officials have not looked upon Yerevan very favorably. In the coming months, we can therefore expect to see them intensify their attacks against the Armenian state through the exploitation of their most favorite levers operating inside Armenia.

We Armenians need to somehow grow out of our political illiteracy and put aside our love of all things American and come to the recognition that the political West,by its very nature, is not and cannot be Armenia's friend.

If there still remains any doubt as to what side of the political fence Washington is on when it comes to Armenia, the articles following this commentary should be self-explanatory and they should help the reader finally come-to-terms with Caucasian realpolitik and Armenia's place in it. I have posted a fairly large sampling of various different news articles and political assessments from Western, Armenian, Turkish and Russian sources. My intent in doing this is to help the reader compare Washington's rhetoric regarding Armenia with that of Moscow's, and in doing so reveal the geostrategic role Armenia naturally plays in the south Caucasus. 

In an article appearing in Russia Today, Mikhail Aleksandrov, a political analyst working for the Institute of CIS made the following comment about Moscow's military presence inside Armenia -

In another article produced by Russia's Pravda, Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues Konstantin Sivkov is quoted as saying -

If Turkey attacks Armenia, it will be treated as an attack on Russia. Russia would fight on Armenia's side with all its might. If necessary, Russia could use nuclear weapons against Turkey, both tactical, and if need be, strategic. This is defined in the military doctrine of the Russian Federation. Armenia is fully protected with the Russian umbrella of both conventional forces as well as strategic nuclear forces.
Alexsei Arbatov, the former deputy chairman of the Russia State Duma's Defense Committee defined Russian-Armenian relations with the following words -

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.
In describing what Russia's reaction would be to a possible invasion of Armenia by Turkey or Azerbaijan, Alexander Khramchikhin, Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis said -
This by the former Russian ambassador to Armenia,  Vladimir Stupishin -
In my view, the true settling of the Karabakh conflict suggests complete rejection by Azerbaijan of the primal Armenian lands. It is possible to resolve the problem of the refugees by providing them with opportunities in places where they live now. How come in almost every discussion on Karabakh the only refugees that are being consistently mentioned are the Azeri refugees? Why can’t the Armenians return to Baku, Gyandja, Sumgait, Artsvashen, Getashen, etc.?
And this by Senior researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky -

Russia will never cede Armenia for improving its relations with Turkey. This is a matter of principle. There are things one can sacrifice, but there are things one cannot. The point is not so much that two million Armenians live in Russia and many of them are Russian citizens. For Armenia Russia’s steps must never be bad. The point is that even the Yeltsin Russia perfectly realized that it must not waive Armenia’s interests, not mentioning Putin, who clearly sees the national interests, at least, the clear ones. He is trying to extrapolate them for the future. I simply can’t imagine that Russia may yield Armenia – if Russia does this it will lose all of its positions in the Caucasus. Russia should understand one most important thing – there are partners and allied countries with whom one should keep up the sense of alliance and duty.
These highly influential men in Russia couldn't be more candid or more accurate in their assessments of the current geopolitical situation in the south Caucasus or more pro-Armenian. The rhetoric expressed by Alexsei Arbatov and Kostantin Sivkov in particular is quite similar to the kind of rhetoric we often hear expressed by American officials about the Zionist state. These two men basically outlined the fundamental geostrategic importance of Russia's presence in the south Caucasus (an importance that real Armenian patriots feel instinctually) as well as Armenia's extreme importance in the eyes of Kremlin officials.

Now, let's compare the above quotes about Armenia with what US officials (real policymaker and influential people and not handlers like Evens, Pallone and Schiff who are tasked with giving our American-Armenian sheeple with lip-service) have had to say about Armenia.

The following comments were made by George Friedman, the director of a much respected political Think Tank based in Washington -
“Turkey should speak to Armenia not of Nagorno Karabakh. It should discuss reducing Russia’s role in this country. The presence of Russian troops in Armenia does not meet Turkey’s interests. In such conditions, the opening of borders with Armenia is of no use for Turkey, on the contrary, it may spoil its relations with Azerbaijan. So keep Armenia isolated in this case.”
A Washington insider, Steven Blank, had this to say -
"The violence plaguing the Arab world should move U.S. policy makers, decision makers and experts to consider how and why the U.S. should strengthen stable, pro-American governments in Muslim countries against internal or external threats.  Azerbaijan exemplifies such states. Though it is still an emerging democracy, born from the shadows of the Soviet Union, it has stood squarely with the U.S. against terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia and throughout the world, all at considerable risk to itself... If war resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia’s recent military and diplomatic exercises have served notice that no doubt with Moscow’s and Tehran’s encouragement and help, that it would attack Azeri pipelines that carry much-needed oil and gas to America’s European allies."
Another Washington insider and former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Matthew Bryza, had this to say -
"Thinking strategically about Azerbaijan doesn’t mean sacrificing Western values. Struggling reformers in Iran can look for inspiration to neighboring Azerbaijan, also a Shiite-majority country but one in which a 1,400 year-old Jewish community enjoys strong state support and where women gained the vote a year earlier than their American sisters. The United States and its European allies would be wise not to write off Azerbaijan, and instead pursue the full range of interests – and values – they share with this small, but strategically significant country"
Another Washington insider, Michael Rubin, had this to say -
"Sadly, Armenia remains largely antagonistic to the United States. In 2009, Armenia voted with the United States on important issues at the United Nations less than half the time; In contrast, Israel voted with the United States 100% of the time. Armenia has also embraced Iran to the detriment of U.S. interests and security. Armenia has even reportedly supplied Iran with weapons, which the Islamic Republic used to kill Americans"
And in another article, a character named Stephen Schwartz, an American-Jew that has supposedly converted to Islam had this to say -
"1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Serbian terrorists – is the most prominent recent symbol of Moscow-backed genocidal aggression in Europe", "Armenia also assaulted Azerbaijan", "Muscovite strategy of Slav-Orthodox assault on vulnerable Muslims had been visible not merely in Afghanistan, but in Europe, too..."
These words should not surprise or shock anyone because these men are merely expressing thoughts/opinions that have been widespread in Washington for a very long time. 

I'd like to remind the reader that Friedman, Bryza, Blank and Rubin are Aleksandrov's, Arbatov's, Stupishin's and Sivkov's American counterparts.

As you can see, understanding the dangers of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance has been the main motivation behind my pro-Russian stance. I have been using various cyberian venues to cry out about Russia's crucially important presence in Armenia for nearly a decade. For nearly ten years I have been attempting to help Armenians recognize that Russia is the single most important factor in Armenia's existence as a nation-state in the Caucasus today. As I have repeatedly said, no Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus! The day Russia is forced out of the Caucasus is the day the region will turn into a Turkic/Islamic playground financed by a consortium of Western and Israeli energy interests, and not even a million of our "Dashnak fedayees" or "anti-corruption" crusaders will be able stop it from happening. This sobering realization seems to evade many, if not most Armenians today.

And this brings up another point: It's the Mikhail Aleksandrovs, Alexsei Arbatovs, Vladimir Stupishins and Kostantin Sivkovs of the Russian Federation that the Armenian Diaspora needs to be working on as obsessively as they work on genocide recognition if not more so, because at the end of the day politically tying Russia to Armenia (i.e. Armenians harnessing Russia's immense potential for Armenia's benefit) is simply much-much more important for our fledgling homeland than having any nation recognize the Armenian Genocide, including the US, including Turkey...

Armenia would benefit immensely if Armenians simply came to the realization that the keys to Armenia's economic prosperity and national security lies in Moscow.

Yet, many of us are still wasting time kissing feet in Washington.

In real political terms, what has our supposedly "powerful Armenian lobby" in the US accomplished all these years? In real political terms, nothing! Here is the latest thank you to the ass-kissing American-Armenian community from Washington -
Genocide Denier Named State Dept. Spokesman: http://asbarez.com/113581/genocide-denier-named-state-dept-spokesman/
We are wasting our time and limited resources in an anti-Armenian viper's nest. The time has come to take our pan-Armenian activism to the Kremlin, our strategic ally, in fact our only natural ally. And instead of acting like a bunch of worthless Arabs complaining about Jews doing this or that in the US, let's for once stop admiring Jews and start acting like them. Let's learn from what Jews have done in the US by aggressively and collectively work on becoming a ubiquitous presence in the Kremlin.

When it comes to political matters relating to Armenia, I ask the reader to compare the reporting styles of Russian news agencies to American ones. The following blog post from a little over two years ago is related to this topic -
Russian Patriarch Visits Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/08/notice-subtle-yet-significant.html
Virtually every Russian official or state representative that has visited Armenia has paid the Armenian Genocide memorial complex an official visit... but the Western press cannot even say the "G" word? Russian-Turkish economic trade is much greater in volume than the American-Turkish trade... yet Moscow has the courage to publicly state that it is ready to defend Armenia against Turkey but the American press cannot even say the "G" word? There has been an anti-Armenian agenda inside Washington for many decades. Yet, come April, we still have fools in the American-Armenian community that drop their pants and bend-over with hope every single time.

This reminds me of yet another wonderful work by Russia's RT. On the twentieth anniversary of Armenia's independence, RT featured the following documentary about Armenia -
20 years post-Soviet: Armenia (RT website):http://rt.com/programs/documentary/twenty-years-armenia-first/

Youtube - Armenia: 20 years post-Soviet (1/2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alF81CB-zhc&feature=related

Youtube - Armenia: 20 years post-Soviet (2/2):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sh5PXQ7PdE
In this RT produced documentary, the Armenian Genocide was acknowledged; Armenia's prehistoric history was acknowledged; the Armenianness of Nagorno Karabakh was acknowledged; the earthquake... the Turkish blockade... the first Christian nation... the monasteries... Mount Ararat... Armenian brandy... Khachkars... 

It was all there! 

Had this wonderfully positive documentary been produced by the US government, I have no doubt that our proud American-Armenian community would have had one big collective orgasm and the film would have gotten massive diasporan viewership worldwide. However, since the documentary in question was produced by them pesky Ruskies in Moscow, who as we are told are constantly trying to depopulate Armenia and sell it to Turks, chances are you have not yet seen it.

Ok, that was very nice of RT, but what has Washington, the beacon of democracy, done to commemorate Armenia's independence?

Well, a couple of years ago they had one of their fledgling vermin, from the Hovanissian family of course, produce a scathing article attacking the Armenian state in the mainstream US press on the eve of Armenia's independence day celebrations. Garin Hovanissian's garbage called "Who Will Decide Armenia's Destiny - Patriots or Tyrants?" can be read in the following blog commentary from 2010 -
Who will decide Armenia's destiny -- patriots or tyrants? (September, 2010):http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2010/11/today-modern-republic-of-armenia-turned.html
And for Armenia's 2oth anniversary last year, the "Carnegie Endowment For International Peace" sponsored a panel discussion called "Lessons Learned From 20 Years of Independence and Statebuilding". During the event, three of Washington's Armenian whores in Armenia called for revolution, chaos and upheaval as a means of uprooting "entrenched corruption" in ArmeniaThe following is the link to the now infamous panel discussion -

These self-destructive peasants, whores and mercenaries presenting themselves as representatives of Armenia in Washington are the Armenian version of Libya's NTC and Syria's SNC, minus the Al-Qaeda connection. These filth would be the ones on CNN and BBC enthusiastically explaining and excusing the NATO bombing of Armenia if God forbid that day ever arrives. And believe me, that day would arrive the very next day after Armenia is deprived of its Russian military presence.

Without a Russian military presence in the region, the West is fully capable of placing Armenia under Turkish, Azeri and/or Georgian oversight... or just simply shatter it into pieces like what they have done to Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The only real lesson that should have been learned by Yerevan during the past twenty years was to stay as far away from Washington as possible. Sadly, however, that is a lesson that has not yet been learned by our people. 

Folks, the Cold War is long over. The Soviet Union is long gone. It is time to wake-up from our deep hypnosis and recognize that Washington has become a source of evil in Armenia and in the world. Those of us who do not see this are either deaf, dumb or blind. 

Fearing that emerging powers may one day begin to compete against them, the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance has been on a global rampage in recent years. They are seeking to maintain their control over the world's strategic reserves of energy. They are seeking to maintain their control over the world's commodities exchange. They are seeking to maintain their control over the world's major trade routes. Their long-term geostrategic intent is to curb the growth of potentially competitive powers before they rise. They want to destroy Iran, contain or weaken Russia and keep China dependent.

And as long as Yerevan is on bad terms with their allies and on good terms with their enemies, Armenia will remain an obstacle for them. This is the bottom line.

Armenians must finally learn that the last thing on the minds of Western officials is democracy, fair elections, freedom or gay rights. Armenians must learn that the political West is simply interested in pushing Russia out of the region, curbing Arab nationalism, subduing Iran and freely exploiting Central Asian energy. Armenians must understand that in the grand geostrategic scheme of the current world we live in, Armenia is nothing but a nuisance for the Western alliance.Therefore, any Armenian today that maintains any ties with Western institutions, regardless of their intentions, is ultimately a traitor to the Armenian homeland.

The following articles should help the reader finally come-to-terms with Caucasian realpolitik and Armenia's place in it. Please make time and read them, some are particularly eye opening.

November, 2012


 Steven Blank: US should work to strengthen relations with Azerbaijan


The violence plaguing the Arab world should move U.S. policy makers, decision makers and experts to consider how and why the U.S. should strengthen stable, pro-American governments in Muslim countries against internal or external threats.  Azerbaijan exemplifies such states. Though it is still an emerging democracy, born from the shadows of the Soviet Union, it has stood squarely with the U.S. against terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia and throughout the world, all at considerable risk to itself.

It has also fended off constant Russian and Iranian threats due to its pro-American, pro-Western and pro-Israeli policies and confronts serious problems and local threats. Not the least of these threats is the possibility of a renewed war in Nagorno-Karabakh, one of the world's most implacable and dangerous frozen conflicts.

If war resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia’s recent military and diplomatic exercises have served notice that no doubt with Moscow’s and Tehran’s encouragement and help, that it would attack Azeri pipelines that carry much-needed oil and gas to America’s European allies. Azerbaijan’s domestic policies, while not perfect, are also under attack from Iran. In 2012 alone, three separate Iranian plots involving incitement through religious agitation to terrorism, gun running and plots to assassinate Israelis in Azerbaijan were uncovered and thwarted. Iran also regularly calls Azerbaijan’s religious policies anti-Islamic and regularly threatens to attack Azerbaijan if it hosted a U.S. base. Thus, Iran presents Azerbaijan with a constant and genuine threat.

Moreover, Syria’s civil war and Iran’s deteriorating situation will probably increase Azerbaijan’s strategic importance to the West. Also, Syria’s civil war is putting enormous pressure on Turkey to intervene. Numerous incidents between Turkey and Syria have already occurred while this war has also spurred the deterioration of Turkey’s partnership with Russia. Should Turkey intervene, Russia could conceivably block gas sales to Turkey since Turkey receives 2/3 of its gas from Russia. Azerbaijan, thanks to its recently improved ties with Turkey and the 2011 bilateral decision to build a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe (the Trans-Anatolian or TANAP pipeine), could offer Turkey and Europe alternative gas sources to resist Russian threats and blackmail.

Since 2010, if not earlier, Russia has steadily deployed large numbers of combined forces in the Caucasus, allegedly to defend against a projected Iranian counter offensive against the Caucasus should the U.S. or Israel attack  Iran due to its nuclear program. This argument sounds illogical, for why should Iran add to its enemies if it is attacked? But it represents a plausible pretext for threatening both Azerbaijan and Georgia while entrenching Russia’s military there as Russia strives to resubordinate the Caucasus to its dictates. Meanwhile, Russia arms Armenia and continually pressures Azerbaijan to deflect it from its pro-Western trajectory.

Under these circumstances, what should be done?  In general, the U.S. should make clear to Azerbaijan that it has its back. First, in the domestic sphere, we should encourage Baku to undertake the necessary liberalizing political, social, and economic reforms that would strengthen its internal defenses against subversion under the guise of religious agitation and increase the government’s legitimacy and U.S. support for it. 

Second, we must make clear to Moscow and Tehran that if they launch a new aggressive  conflict in the Caucasus, the costs they incur thereby will be much more tangible and greater than in 2008. Since Russian President Putin has admitted that the 2008 war with Georgia, widely billed as an act of self-defense, was actually a preplanned war of aggression from 2006 on, mere verbal warnings to Russia do not suffice to deter further mischief here.

Third, the U.S. must inspire the EU to intensify its quest for a dedicated pipeline to bring gas from the Caspian basin and Central Asia to Europe and counter Moscow’s widely documented efforts to use the gas weapon to subvert European unity, democracy, and the independence of post-Soviet states. Whether it is the EU’s projected Nabucco pipeline, the TANAP, or another worthwhile alternative there is no time to lose. 

Fourth, Washington should simultaneously give unstinting support to the Azeri-Turkish rapprochement, both for its own sake and because of its implications for the Middle East and the Caucasus. This support must, as a fifth point, coincides with a new, coordinated, and truly vigorous effort to bring Armenia and Azerbaijan into a genuine negotiation leading to an acceptable resolution of all the issues growing out of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. All the interested parties could guarantee this accord to reinforce regional stability. This process,  if successful, would stabilize the Caucasus, defuse Iranian intrigues and Russian threats, open up Armenia to the world and give it an option beyond Russia, while preventing hotheads from inadvertently or deliberately inciting a war to impose their vision of a resolution of Nagorno-Karabakah’s many issues. 

The administration has hitherto treated the South Caucasus as an afterthought or as an overflight issue on the road to Afghanistan. Such neglect is dangerous and misconceived. The mounting threats in the Middle East, Iran, and the Caucasus show how vital it is that the U.S. strengthen pro-Western regimes like Azerbaijan. For if we continue to neglect the Caucasus, this neglect will quickly become malign. And malign neglect invariably generates not only instability but also protracted violence.

Steven Blank is a professor and head of the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute at the Carlisle Barracks, PA


Richard Weitz: U.S. Must Strengthen Ties With Azerbaijan


This month marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the post-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, a country that is currently playing a vital role in sustaining NATO forces in Afghanistan, supporting Georgia and other U.S. friends in Eurasia, and helping to moderate Iranian and Russian ambitions in the energy-rich Caspian Basin region. But Washington needs to prioritize its ties with Baku to strengthen the partnership and to make sure that Azerbaijan and its fragile neighbors in the geopolitically vital South Caucasus region remain strong and stable.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Azerbaijan was among the first countries to offer the United States unconditional support in the war against terrorism, opening its airspace to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Since then, its airbases have provided landing and refueling support for U.S. military transports to Afghanistan. Azerbaijan has also assumed a lead role in allowing NATO countries to deliver material to their troops in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network, which passes through its territory.

More quietly, Azerbaijan is helping to prevent Iran from expanding its influence in Eurasia. Located on Iran’s northern border, Azerbaijan is understandably leery of a direct confrontation with Tehran, in part because of concerns over Iran’s large population of ethnic Azeris as well as Iran’s illicit subversive activities in Azerbaijan. But behind the scenes, Azerbaijan is providing the United States and Israel with intelligence on Iran’s nuclear activities. And Israel recently announced a major arms deal with Azerbaijan designed to bolster their mutual security.

Baku has even sought to reduce tensions between Washington and Moscow over the issue of ballistic missile defense to counter the Iranian missile threat by offering them both shared use of the Russian military radar installation based in Gabala. As U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin correctly put it after talks last month with Azeri officials in Baku, “Azerbaijan is with us” on the Iranian issue.

Meanwhile, when it comes to European energy security, not only does Azerbaijan export enormous amounts of natural gas from its own production, but it also serves as a vital land corridor for Caspian and Central Asian energy deliveries to our European allies. These deliveries decrease Europeans dependence on Russian and Iranian energy sources and also help reduce the cost of U.S. energy imports by dampening the effect of Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz or curtail its own oil exports. U.S. energy firms have a major presence in Azerbaijan’s energy sector thanks to the government’s preferential treatment of U.S. energy companies. This partnership has helped propel the country’s GDP from $1.2 billion in 1992 to $54.4 billion.

Azerbaijan was recently elected to serve as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Already its diplomats have supported U.S. efforts, opposed by Russia and China, to force the brutal Syrian government to end its killing of innocent civilians. In the next two years, the United States could conceivably need Azerbaijan’s support in future votes -- to impose additional sanctions on Iran, for instance, or to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program.

One means to ensure that the U.S.-Azerbaijani strategic partnership remains solid is to help resolve Azerbaijan’s territorial dispute with its western neighbor, Armenia. The two countries fought a brutal war in the early 1990s over the breakaway separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict that continues to fester: Nagorno-Karabakh’s status remains uncertain and both nations confront each other in a dangerous face-off that periodically flares into violent military skirmishes along the border.

Azerbaijan has used some of its energy riches to build a powerful military that many experts believe could forcefully seize the disputed territories, which in addition to Nagorno-Karabakh include adjacent Azerbaijani territory currently occupied by Armenian troops. Although Azerbaijani officials have emphasized that they would like to settle this dispute through peaceful means -- perhaps within a comprehensive framework that would also achieve a normalization of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey -- they have indicated that they cannot accept the status quo indefinitely. The 2008 Georgia War shows how these supposed “frozen conflicts” in the former Soviet Union can abruptly thaw and explode.

Fortunately, the United States has strong ties with Armenia, another good friend of the West. Like Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenia participates in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and contributes troops to NATO missions, including in Kosovo and Afghanistan. And the United States provides democracy assistance and other aid to Armenia.

In October 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed an accord, brokered by the U.S., to establish diplomatic ties. The protocol, which called for the reopening of the countries’ border and would also work toward reducing tensions between the two countries, was the first major step toward reconciliation that Armenia and Turkey had taken in the past 16 years. The Armenian parliament approved the agree,emt within the timeframe cited in the documents, but the Turkish government is awaiting a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to do so.

The Obama administration should step up its efforts to promote a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement as a means to prevent any collateral damage to U.S. security and energy interests in Eurasia that would ensue from another Armenia-Azerbaijan war.

The current structure for seeking a negotiated settlement -- the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the U.S., Russia, France and the OSCE -- has failed to make enduring progress despite more than a decade of efforts. The administration should appoint a high-level envoy of the sort that is routinely sent to the Middle East, to present concrete bridging proposals directly to the parties in conflict.

Congress can support this effort by repealing an outdated provision of the 1992 Freedom of Support Act (Section 907) (.pdf) that prohibits direct aid to Azerbaijan’s government. Whatever its value was in ending the original Nagorno-Karabakh war, the provision is now impeding U.S. diplomatic flexibility and weakening U.S. influence in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, including efforts to promote their democratic development and sustain their autonomy from foreign influence. With respect to democracy, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe states that Azerbaijan does not meet its criteria for free and fair elections. In addition, the U.S. State Department has been critical of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Sustained U.S. diplomatic engagement with Azerbaijan and the other South Caucasus governments could help overcome these deficiencies, which are unfortunately widespread in the post-Soviet states. It would also promote their political development and strategic autonomy.

Ideally, Congress and the administration should support a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with financial and diplomatic support to both states, ranging from enhanced trade benefits to full-scale U.S. diplomatic representation to U.S. efforts to promote Armenian-Turkey reconciliation. Azerbaijan has shown its willingness to be a friend to Washington, and right now, America needs all the friends it can find in this strategic region.

Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor. His weekly WPR column, Global Insights, appears every Tuesday.

Source: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/11614/global-insights-u-s-must-strengthen-ties-with-azerbaijan

Matthew Bryza: Don't write off Azerbaijan just yet


By Matthew Bryza, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Matthew Bryza is a former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan and is now director of the International Center for Defense and Security in Estonia and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Patriciu Eurasia Center. The views expressed are his own.

When a Western ally holds a presidential election that falls short of international standards, should we write it off? Or should we take a sober look at steps we can help the country take to meet our expectations? That’s the question raised by the recent presidential election in Azerbaijan, an ancient civilization undergoing breakneck modernization just 22 years after its independence from the Soviet Union.

Granted, President Ilham Aliyev faced no real competition for a third term and election observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe were particularly sharp in their criticism of the electoral process. Making matters worse, the Central Election Commission appeared to announce results before voting began when a smartphone app developer allegedly tested its election software with false results.

But this is only part of the story. President Aliyev is genuinely popular. Two years ago, when I served as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, independent polls reported Aliyev's approval rating at between 83 percent and 86 percent. These numbers, perhaps unimaginable for a Western political leader, reflect the support he enjoys for delivering what Azerbaijani citizens crave most: stability.

Azerbaijan nearly collapsed in the early 1990s: the country was gripped by poverty and had just suffered a humiliating military defeat by Armenia in Azerbaijan’s region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In 1993, a democratically elected president resigned and voluntarily handed the job to Azerbaijan's Soviet-era leader and the current president’s father, Heydar Aliyev. This transition is viewed in Azerbaijan as a moment of national salvation, even by many oppositionists. Azerbaijanis recognize that the elder Aliyev's bold decisions to defy Moscow and connect Azerbaijan's oil and gas fields to the West were critical to securing the country’s independence and economic growth.

Aliyev has built on that success. GNP has tripled since 2006, while poverty has dropped from 49 percent to just over 6 percent; reformist economic policies have helped catalyze the growth of Azerbaijan’s non-energy sectors. Still, even as the economy grows, many younger Azerbaijanis aren’t satisfied with a monopolistic system they see as limiting opportunity and social justice. Facebook activists and journalists who call for the government's demise are often met with confrontation.

Corruption also persists. Yes, the cliché says, “a fish rots from the head.” But, in reality, rot spreads through the entire fish all at once. While Western analysts have documented elite corruption, they have focused little on how corruption permeates Azerbaijan’s grassroots.  Corruption in the education system is particularly debilitating. Students are compelled to pay for grades; those who can afford it resort to private tutors for real learning. As a result, Azerbaijan suffers shortages of qualified doctors and other professionals, while young Azerbaijanis learn the wrong ethical lessons: I will never forget the high school senior who told me that her parents demanded she obtain the same “right” as her peers to cheat on her graduation examination.

Fortunately, a reformist wind may be blowing. Last spring, the legendarily corrupt minister of education was replaced by a young reformer. Other positive changes are underway as well: The publication of fees for expedited services and the advance of electronic government have eliminated many under-the-table payments. Prominent businesspeople recently told me they’re suffering fewer shakedowns by customs and tax authorities, while two of the largest holding companies are elevating their business practices to prepare for future initial public offerings.

The West has a significant strategic interest in supporting Azerbaijan’s reform efforts.

On security, less than 24 hours after the September 11 attacks, Azerbaijan offered U.S. military aircraft unlimited over-flights, and subsequently emerged as a crucial resupply corridor for one-third of the non-lethal supplies for coalition forces in Afghanistan. Cooperation on counterterrorism has also been exceptional, thwarting attacks to save many American lives, including my own. Azerbaijan is also an important energy partner, currently supplying nearly 700,000 barrels per day of oil to European and global markets, including 40 percent of Israel's consumption. Within five years, an international consortium will begin delivering natural gas from Azerbaijan to Greece, Albania and Italy, diversifying the European Union’s natural gas supplies away from Russia.

Thinking strategically about Azerbaijan doesn’t mean sacrificing Western values. Struggling reformers in Iran can look for inspiration to neighboring Azerbaijan, also a Shiite-majority country but one in which a 1,400 year-old Jewish community enjoys strong state support and where women gained the vote a year earlier than their American sisters. The United States and its European allies would be wise not to write off Azerbaijan, and instead pursue the full range of interests – and values – they share with this small, but strategically significant country.

Ignoring Azerbaijan Could Cost the U.S.


Tensions between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia on the fate of the Nagorno-Karabakh region are reaching dangerous levels. In the past year, the Azeri enclave in the South Caucasus, which Armenia has occupied since 1992, has been the focus of increased violence. Just last month, six people were killed in an exchange of fire across the temporary line that separates the two sides. Prospects of another war in the Caspian Sea region are real. But as the rhetoric heats up, little is heard from Washington. Azerbaijan, America's closest ally in the region, deserves more direct and concrete support from the Obama administration.

Pinned between Iran and Russia on the ancient Silk Road bridging Europe and Asia, this former Soviet republic is an indispensable strategic partner. It is known mostly for its very significant oil and natural gas reserves, but it also is becoming a decisively vital source of support for Washington's push to end the Afghanistan quagmire. The United States has routinely used Azeri airports in support of NATO and U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, and thousands of flights carrying supplies to and from the Afghan theater have crossed Azeri airspace over the past nine years since Sept. 11, 2001.

What is far less known is that the capital, Baku, also has become a credible sounding board on sensitive political developments. This translates into helping the Obama administration's foreign policy team get a sensible and qualified reading on Russia's aggressive political posture in the Caucasus and on an exceedingly defiant Iran. But neither Mr. Obama nor his senior aides have come up with a serious plan to jump-start negotiations with Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh. It took more than a year for the administration to pick an ambassador to Azerbaijan, and Mr. Obama has yet to meet with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.

Worse, unlike in the Middle East, no special envoy has been appointed to help - and ultimately replace - the idling Minsk Group. A cautious and passive America in the Caucasus will only embolden an increasingly aggressive Russia. Mr. Obama must help defuse a potentially disastrous international conflict - before it is too late.

Guy Billauer Resume - http://www.indeed.com/r/GUY-BILLAUER/c7b4db52d543407

Source: http://eurodialogue.org/Ignoring-Azerbaijan-could-cost-the-US

Azerbaijan: An American ally in a sea of threats


In an increasingly polarized world, the small Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan is a tantalizing study in contradictions. It’s a staunch American ally sandwiched between the U.S. nemeses of Iran and Russia, providing a critical transit for U.S. troops and supplies in and out of Afghanistan. Yet most Americans probably can’t spell the country’s name on first chance or pinpoint its location on a map.

It’s also a Shiite Muslim country that rejects the theocracy of Tehran in favor of a secular government while expanding its already friendly relationship with Israel. It’s also a former Soviet republic that has cast off the shackles of its once socialist economy to experience significant growth around its booming oil industry. All that makes Wednesday’s election in Azerbaijan of keen interest to U.S. diplomatic, intelligence and military circles even though there’s little suspense: President Ilham Aliyev is widely expected to win his third five-year term.

“It is the only country that borders both Russia and Iran. Therefore, it becomes a pivotal state when it comes to issues such as containment of Iran, as well as access for Americans, not only into the Caucasus, but also into Central Asia,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official who is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“If Azerbaijan weren’t resource-rich and if it didn’t have the geopolitical position it has, I don’t imagine that so many Americans would be increasingly interested in the former Soviet republic.”

The U.S.-Azerbaijani relationship is based on cooperation in several areas, including regional security and energy. Azerbaijan has supplied troops to work with U.S. forces in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 1988, Azerbaijan has been mired in a conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a primarily 

Armenian-populated landlocked region in Azerbaijan that is held by ethnic Armenian forces and unilaterally declared itself an independent republic in 1991. While Armenia, once a powerful lobby in Washington, has embraced Russia, Azerbaijan has leaned toward the West.

“There is a sense that if Azerbaijan changes its orientation, American influence will be checkmated in the region,” Mr. Rubin said. “Political stability in Azerbaijan is to the benefit of America’s strategic interests.”

Crackdown on the opposition

Those interests have left the Obama administration to wrestle with concerns about what critics say is Azerbaijan’s authoritarian rule. A monthslong crackdown on political opposition and a clampdown on freedoms of expression and assembly has concerned some human rights groups. The National Assembly has passed measures that increase prison sentences and fines for public-order offenses. In June, Mr. Aliyev signed legislation that criminalizes defamatory views posted on the Internet and allows prison sentences of up to three years.

The Azerbaijani government is engaged in a “deliberate, abusive strategy to limit dissent,” Human Rights Watch said in a report in September. The crackdown is aimed at silencing government critics and often uses “trumped up” charges, including hooliganism, weapons and drugs possession, said Giorgi Gogia, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The government has had a poor human rights record for a while, but for the past year and a half, we have seen a change for the worse,” Mr. Gogia said. “The government is tightening the screws. Little by little, the islands of freedom are disappearing.”

Azerbaijani officials brush off the criticisms, pointing to their strong support of American interests in the region and their friendly relations with Israel. The Obama administration is monitoring developments in Azerbaijan, straddling a careful line of embracing an ally in a critical region while prodding it behind closed doors and in public to enhance freedoms.

On July 16, Thomas Melia, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, testified before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, at a hearing titled “Troubled Partner: Growing Authoritarianism in Azerbaijan.”

The “political environment for human rights and fundamental freedoms more broadly has worsened since at least last November, when the [national assembly] passed amendments significantly increasing fines on participants and organizers of unauthorized protests,” Mr. Melia told the panel. In September, the Aliyev government barred a delegation led by Mr. Melia from traveling to Azerbaijan to observe preparations for the presidential election.

“We will continue to urge respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, including due process before, during and after the presidential contest,” a U.S. official said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the administration has called on Azerbaijan to ensure “a free, fair, and transparent electoral process that reflects the will of the people.”

‘We are not perfect’

Azerbaijan’s leadership bristles at suggestions it is unfriendly to freedom. At the Helsinki Commission hearing in July, for instance, the Azerbaijani ambassador to the United States took strong exception to his president being labeled authoritarian.

“I respectfully reject the wrongful claim about going to authoritarianism in Azerbaijan,” Ambassador Elin Suleymanov said. “We do not accept that. What is going on in Azerbaijan is a truly independent nation with a vibrant political system and a free-market economy.”

He conceded that there is room for improvement: “Just like every nation on Earth, we are not perfect.”

Azerbaijan won independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. In 1993, Mr. Aliyev’s father, Heydar Aliyev, was elected president. A decade later, in October 2003, the younger Mr. Aliyev was elected to succeed his ailing father. He inherited a nation on the cusp of major oil revenues and plagued by corruption. In the ensuing years, the economy improved, and with it, the standard of living.

“Hopes were quite high when Mr. Aliyev came to power,” Mr. Gogia said. “Here was an energetic, young leader who could modernize the country. But these hopes wound down quite soon after he came to power.”

The pro-democracy Arab Spring protests that have embroiled parts of the Middle East and North Africa and toppled dictators since 2010 appear to have spooked the Aliyev government, especially as it related to social media.

The Azerbaijani government has imprisoned youth activists with large numbers of followers on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. More than half a dozen activists from NIDA, a youth opposition movement active on social media and critical of the government, have been arrested. The opposition claims it has been hamstrung by such tactics, especially in a country where broadcast media are still controlled by the government.

Stability versus democracy

Besides Mr. Aliyev, 51, there are nine registered presidential candidates. The opposition’s main candidate, Jamil Hasanli, is a historian who represents the National Council of Democratic Forces, a coalition of opposition parties and groups. Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov was the National Council’s original candidate, but election officials rejected his candidacy on the grounds that he is a dual citizen of Azerbaijan and Russia.

Another presidential aspirant, Ilgar Mammadov, was arrested in February on charges of instigating civil unrest and has been awaiting trial in prison. Its human rights record aside, Azerbaijan has plenty of advocates inside the United States, including former Rep. Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican who wrote in a Washington Times op-ed last month that America must be patient with its Caspian ally.

“I know that Azerbaijan is not perfect. The Azerbaijani government is often criticized over its human rights record,” Mr. Burton wrote. “However, considering that Azerbaijan — like other former Soviet republics — has scant experience with democracy, its human rights record is better than most. In fact, Azerbaijan’s religious tolerance, inclusiveness and protection of women’s rights should be recognized.”

Mr. Burton is chairman of the board of the Azerbaijan America Alliance, which promotes Azerbaijan’s interests in the U.S. Mr. Burton also stressed Azerbaijan’s increasing ties with Israel. Azerbaijan’s bilateral trade with Israel reached $4 billion last year and about 40 percent of Israel’s oil imports come from Azerbaijan, he noted. And when Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov visited Israel in May, Israeli President Shimon Peres described the trip as historic.

Mr. Mammadyarov was also the only Muslim foreign minister to address the 2013 American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Washington. Others see an evolution of a Soviet republic seeking stability and economic prosperity first before freedom can be achieved.

“I am not one who would say that Aliyev is a democrat. He is not,” said Mr. Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, who visited Azerbaijan in June. “While the negative side of Aliyev has been the lack of full democratization, the positive side has been the development of the economy.

“One of the reasons why I am willing to cut Aliyev some slack is because I don’t believe a stable democracy is possible in Azerbaijan without a larger middle class and it seems Aliyev’s plan is to build up that middle class first,” Mr. Rubin explained. “So while I believe in reforms, I also believe that we need to time those reforms properly; otherwise, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Foreign Policy Journal: Future of US-Azerbaijani Relations


The strong relations between Azerbaijan and the United States are very important for both countries’ national and energy security. Both countries need to understand the importance of cooperation and need to take action to reinforce relations with each other.

Azerbaijan is the country that is home to hundreds of ethnic groups. These ethnic groups have been living in Azerbaijani lands in harmony for hundreds of years. It is one of the countries in which a mosque, a church and a synagogue are in peaceful co-existence. After 1996, the Azerbaijani government restored two synagogues which were devastated during Soviet rule. The U.S. considers itself as one of the most tolerant countries in the world to different religions and ethnic groups. Azerbaijani and U.S. religious and ethnic tolerance can be an example for many countries. The United States and Azerbaijan share the same values in terms of tolerance which makes collaboration at the government and citizen levels easier.

The close relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan were established with the signing of the Contract of the Century, which requires the member companies to develop the Azerbaijani oil fields. The American oil companies received some of the biggest shares from the contract. The shares of American companies are as follows: AMOCO 17 percent, Pennzoil 9.8 percent, and Mc Dermott 2.4 percent.[1]

Azerbaijan experienced rapid GDP growth after receiving a tremendous amount of investment from the U.S. and other Western countries. Between the years of 2002-2008, the annual per capita GDP growth rate increased from 7.3% to 15.7 %.[2] The imports in euro terms for the year of 2006 were higher in Azerbaijan than in countries like Armenia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.[3] The rate of the poverty declined from 49% to 40 percent between the years of 2001 and 2004.[4] We see considerable changes in the year of 2009 as poverty decreased to 11%.[5]  We see also progress in the inflation rate, which decreased from 20.8% to 1.5 % between the years of 2008 and 2009.[6]

It is important to mention that investments by U.S. corporations in the Azerbaijani oil sector played a pivotal role in the improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries. During the Clinton administration, an American interest in the region began to grow especially in Azerbaijan because of its energy. Azerbaijan became a key point of interest for the Clinton administration as the United States officially signed a 10 billion dollar investment contract with Azerbaijan to develop its oil fields.[7]

The September 11 attacks brought the collaboration between the two countries to a higher level. Azerbaijan was amongst the first countries to offer the United States unconditional support in the war against terrorism, providing its airspace for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan was also the first Muslim nation to send its troops to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. forces in Iraq. Azerbaijan also joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in 1994, which helped to deepen U.S.-Azerbaijani military cooperation. The Bush Administration primarily focused on military cooperation as the United States and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on this subject in 2002.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. interest in Azerbaijan began to decrease. For example, the United States did not invite the Azerbaijani president to the April 2010 Nuclear Summit held in Washington while Armenian and the Georgian officials were among the participants. Another indicator of the regression in bilateral relations is the fact that the U.S. did not appoint an ambassador to Azerbaijan for one year, and still the U.S. has no ambassador in the country.

Azerbaijan’s geopolitical location (located between countries like Russia and Iran) makes it important for U.S. national security interests. At the same time, Azerbaijan’s fast growing economy and energy projects like the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline which is important for Europe’s energy security makes the country an important player in the region. The U.S. support for Azerbaijan is very important for the country’s future political and economic successes. Azerbaijani officials need to promote and reinforce democracy in the country, which will help improve the U.S.-Azerbaijan partnership. The country’s strategists need to find ways to make the country more foreign direct investment friendly, which will help attract more investments from U.S. corporations. Similarly, Azerbaijani governmental and non-governmental parties need to inform U.S. officials and the people about the importance of Azerbaijan for the U.S. national and energy security. Such efforts on Azerbaijan’s part will aid the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.

On the other hand, U.S. government needs to appoint and confirm an ambassador to Azerbaijan. This will be a starting point for the reinforced relations between the two countries. The U.S. government also needs to increase its support for the projects like Nabbucco and the Trans Anatolian Gas Pipeline which are important for the Europe’s energy security. U.S. officials should encourage American corporations to invest in Azerbaijan’s energy and non-energy sectors. Such efforts will aim to further develop economic relations between the two countries. The next U.S. administration needs also to increase military cooperation with Azerbaijan which is very important for the both countries’ national security and for the peace in the Caucasus and the Central Asian region.

George Friedman: Keep Armenia isolated


Sabah newspaper reports that general director and founder of STRATFOR George Friedman has come to a conclusion that the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement can be effective only in case Russian troops are withdrawn from Armenia, otherwise this process will be of no importance. “Turkey should speak to Armenia not of Nagorno Karabakh. It should discuss reducing Russia’s role in this country. The presence of Russian troops in Armenia does not meet Turkey’s interests. In such conditions, the opening of borders with Armenia is of no use for Turkey, on the contrary, it may spoil its relations with Azerbaijan. So keep Armenia isolated in this case”, Friedman said. Meanwhile, Friedman compared the current power of Turkey with the US power in 1930-1940’s. “Turkey has strength but no structures, which could direct this strength. This is what Turkey should ponder over”, he said.

George Friedman (born 1949 in Budapest, Hungary) is an American political scientist and author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer, financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor.[1] He has authored several books, including The Next 100 Years, The Next Decade, America's Secret War, The Intelligence Edge, The Coming War With Japan and The Future of War.[2]

Source: http://www.news.az/articles/armenia/26918

George Friedman: “Russian presence in Armenia is bad for Turkey”


The head of the analytic center STRATFOR George Friedman met with the representatives of the Turkish media. Among other issues the analytic also spoke about Armenian-Turkish relations. Friedman underlined Russian presence in Armenia isn’t good for Turkey and added: “Not Nagorno Karabakh issue but the reduction of the Russian presence in Armenia should be the main theme of the negotiations with Yerevan. Presence of Russian soldiers on your border isn’t well for you. Caucasus must become a buffer region against Russia.” Speaking about the opening of Armenian-Turkish border Friedman announced only Armenian side would gain something from it. “Turkey won’t gain anything from the opening of the borders. Only Yerevan will make profits of it. It isn’t logical to offend Azerbaijan for Armenia. Let Armenia stay isolted,” said the head of the STRATFOR.

George Friedman (born 1949 in Budapest, Hungary) is an American political scientist and author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer, financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor.[1] He has authored several books, including The Next 100 Years, The Next Decade, America's Secret War, The Intelligence Edge, The Coming War With Japan and The Future of War.[2]

Source: http://times.am/2010/11/23/george-fridman-russian-presence-in-armenia-is-bad-for-turkey/

Is Armenia a Weak Link in Iran Sanctions?


Yesterday, I testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe and Eurasian Subcommittee, which was investigating Iranian strategy, influence, and interests in the Caucasus. As always, there’s good news and bad news from the region. Azerbaijan remains a stalwart U.S. ally intolerant of Iranian approaches. Georgia is as well, but after its October election remains very much in play. Turkey’s efforts to subvert sanctions are well known. The greater problem today is Armenia:
  • According to a State Department cable released by Wikileaks, in 2008, U.S. diplomats concluded that Armenia shipped Iran weaponry, which Iran then used to kill Americans.
  • Bank Mellat, a sanctioned Iranian bank, operates in Yerevan, and Iranian businesses dot the city.
  • In October 2011, a member of Armenia’s Nuclear Energy Organization told the Iranian press that Tehran had enticed several Armenian nuclear scientists to work in Iran’s nuclear program.
The Armenian community in the United States is fortunate to be both vibrant and organized. It is unfortunate that organizations representing the Armenian Diaspora in the United States and the congressmen who partner with them do not do more to encourage change in the Armenian government’s geopolitical behavior. Certainly, Armenia is between a rock and a hard place. Russia looms large, both culturally and politically, and Armenians are loathe to unravel that relationship in an age when no one believes U.S. guarantees of continued commitment.

Cultural links are also strong to Iran; when I first studied in the Islamic Republic in the mid-1990s, my apartment was in Julfa, Isfahan’s chief Armenian neighborhood. The Armenian community need not drop its advocacy for recognition of the Armenian genocide, but by ignoring Armenia’s pro-Iranian orientation, the Armenian-American community squanders an opportunity to build a true strategic partnership between Washington and Yerevan, a partnership which would certainly be to both countries’ benefit.

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/12/06/is-armenia-a-weak-link-in-iran-sanctions/

What Does 'Confederation' Mean In The South Caucasus?


On July 18, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, in Batumi and mentioned the idea of a “confederation” between the two countries. The phrase quickly got people wondering what exactly the president had in mind. Analysts have been raising questions and offering ideas ever since.

Journalists and political commentators from the countries of the South Caucasus have examined the idea (whether they endorse it or not) in the context of confrontational geopolitics. In August, Russia and Armenia agreed to extend the pact on the presence of Russian military bases in Armenia until 2044. At the same time, they expanded the format of bilateral military cooperation: henceforth Russia is obliged to defend Armenia from any external threat, which Yerevan expects primarily from Azerbaijan. In short, Armenia has become an even closer Russian ally than it was previously.

The discussion of a possible Georgia-Azerbaijan confederation was immediately placed in the traditional context of the “vertical” axis of Russia-Armenia (and, possibly, Iran) and the “horizontal” axis of Georgia and Azerbaijan (and, possibly, Turkey). And they don’t forget overseas allies, asserting that, of course, the idea of a confederation comes from Washington and is aimed at containing Russia. In a nutshell, after the failed Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, everything has come back to its place: we loved to talk about all these things back in the 1990s. But what concrete political and legal steps would be necessary to realize this “confederation” project? I haven’t heard anything specific about this yet.

First, let’s take a look at exactly what Saakashvili said, some two months ago. “A few years back I said that we must form confederative relations,” Saakashvili said. “In fact, relations between our countries are far beyond the relations that two countries ordinarily have. We are a continuation of one another.” In short, the Georgia-Azerbaijan confederation, according to the president, is not a project for the future, but a description of the present. That is, the term shouldn’t be viewed in strictly legalistic terms, but as a rhetorical figure of speech that signifies “particularly close relations between countries.”

What’s more, people in the president’s entourage insist that the same could be said of Georgia-Armenia relations: there as well, the level of closeness is very high. Of course, the Armenian side welcomes the use of this term (even rhetorically) considerably less. To be sure, it would be hypocritical to speak about an equivalence between Georgia-Azerbaijan and Georgia-Armenia relations. Under the circumstances of the cold war with Russia, Georgia can’t be pleased by the intensification of Russia-Armenia military cooperation. There’s no getting around that.

Enemies And Friends

Nonetheless, neither Georgia nor Armenia would benefit from drawing strict geopolitical conclusions from the two clear facts that Russia and Georgia are enemies, while Russia and Armenia are allies. Likewise, Russia and Azerbaijan do not intend to become enemies just because Azerbaijan and Armenia are enemies and Armenia and Russia are allies. The geopolitical formula that the “friend of my enemy is my enemy” does not apply in the Caucasus today. And thank God.

Since the August 2008 war with Russia, Georgia has placed more significance on regional relations and has actively sought to intensify ties with all the countries of the region without regard for their relations with one another. There is an element of competition with Russia in this. Russia’s policy of not recognizing the Saakashvili government is an effort to isolate Georgia internationally. Moscow wants not only to undermine Tbilisi’s support in the West, but also to exclude Georgia from regional connections.

Saakashvili is taking countermeasures, so far generally with success. Of course, one can always argue about what “success” means, but under the present circumstances Georgia views any sign of warming relations with the countries of the region as a success - and, at the same time, as a failure for Russia.

Russia is actively working to draw Azerbaijan into its sphere of influence with various economic projects. While Turkey and Armenia were flirting under Western patronage and Azerbaijan felt forgotten and rejected by its closest friends -- Ankara and Washington -- it seemed that some sort of geopolitical shift was possible. But the accelerated construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad and new steps toward realizing the Nabucco pipeline project show that the Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkey axis of cooperation is still functioning. It is such projects most of all that are the real content of the rhetorical term “confederation.”

But, on the other hand, the opening in March of the Russia-Georgia border crossing at Verkhny Lars is not a sign of the warming of Russian-Georgian relations (as Western experts want to believe). It is an expression of Armenia-Georgia cooperation, since that road is needed most of all by Armenia. What difference does it make whether such a friendship is or is not called a "confederation?"

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/What_Does_Confederation_Mean_In_The_South_Caucasus/2160662.html

Michel Rubin: What’s Wrong with Armenia?


Every year, efforts by the Armenian Diaspora in the United States to win formal Congressional and Presidential recognition of the Armenian Genocide culminate on April 24, the date Armenians mark as their Genocide Remembrance Day. It’s a hot-button issue which historians still debate. Genocide scholars and Armenian historians declare that deliberate genocide occurred, while many Turkish historians and Ottoman specialists question argue that Ottoman officials did not conduct premeditated genocide, but rather that between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians died in the fog of war. Regardless, the deaths of so many are a tragedy, and one that should not be forgotten. Still, questions and aspersions of denial and negation will only be settled when both the Turks and Armenians open their archives to everyone without regard to nationality or ethnicity.

I do not deny the sensitivity of the genocide issue, but Armenian American organizations are doing both themselves and U.S. national security a disservice by making the genocide issue the community’s marquee issue. History must be respected, but the future is as important as the past—if not more so. To the present day, Turkey and Armenia remain adversaries. Traditionally, the American alliance with Turkey has driven a wedge between Washington and Yerevan. Sadly, Armenia remains largely antagonistic to the United States. In 2009, Armenia voted with the United States on important issues at the United Nations less than half the time; In contrast, Israel voted with the United States 100% of the time.

Armenia has also embraced Iran to the detriment of U.S. interests and security. Armenia has even reportedly supplied Iran with weapons, which the Islamic Republic used to kill Americans.

It is long past time for Armenian organizations in the United States and the congressmen who partner with them to demand change in Armenian behavior. By ignoring Armenia’s orientation, the Armenian American community squanders an unprecedented opportunity to build a true partnership. Turkey has transformed from an ally into an adversary. From a strictly realist perspective, never before have the constellations oriented in such a favorable way to make the United States receptive to Armenia, should Armenia seize the opportunity.

Yet the Armenian community in the United States appears asleep at the switch. It need not drop its interest in the genocide resolution, but it might nevertheless prioritize strengthening the diplomatic and strategic partnership between Washington and Yerevan. That partnership, however, will not develop if the Armenian Diaspora cannot convince its cousins in the Armenian homeland that a successful Armenian state could be a military, security, economic, and diplomatic partner to the United States—not a proxy for Iran or a puppet to Russia. Perhaps it’s time for the good Congressmen and Congresswomen from California and New Jersey to push back the next time Armenian lobbyists come knocking on their doors.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Civil-Military Relations; and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in OSD/ISA/NESA at the Pentagon, in which capacity he was seconded to Iraq. A native of Philadelphia, Rubin received a B.S. degree in biology from Yale University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in history from the same institution in 1999. He has previously worked as a lecturer in history at Yale University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and at three different universities in northern Iraq. Rubin currently provides academic instruction on regional issues for senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute, 2001), co-author of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave, 2005), and co-editor of Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats (American Enterprise Institute Press, 2008). Rubin was primary drafter of the Bipartisan Policy Center's 2008 task-force report, "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy toward Iranian Nuclear Development."

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/04/22/whats-wrong-with-armenia/

Stephen Schwartz: Keeping Moscow at Bay - In Kosovo

Stephen Schwartz makes the case for Kosovar independence now and why the U.S. must support the ethnic Albanians against Serbia and Russia. The alternative, he warns, will be "the return of Russian power, enriched by energy and bent on reestablishing a bipolar world in which only the U.S. and Moscow count."

World War IV is real. It began not on September 11, 2001, but in 1978 when the Russians installed a puppet regime in Afghanistan. The Russian incursion south toward the Indian Ocean reproduced the history of more than a century before, beginning in 1875, when the tsar incited the Balkan Christians to rebel against the Ottomans. But events never repeat themselves exactly. Developments today follow the cycle between the Austrian absorption of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1908 and the Sarajevo assassination of 1914. Europe claims that, like the Habsburgs in Bosnia, it will bring progress to Kosovo, now demanding independence. Russia seeks aggrandizement. But while those are the permanent features of the political landscape, the details have been distorted to appear new.

Kosovo has dropped off the political map for most Americans, who are diverted by continuing terrorism in the core Islamic countries – exemplified by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Similarly, Western obliviousness has encouraged Turkey to attack Iraqi Kurdistan with impunity. Westerners find it difficult to perceive clearly how, while the U.S. is absorbed with the headlines in the battle against jihadists, other malign interests – Russian and Chinese imperialism no less than Turkish ultranationalism – pursue their own aims. The appetites of Moscow could again set Europe afire, beginning in Kosovo - just as war was touched off in Sarajevo. While Kosovo appears most important to Albanians and their friends, the territory’s independence is significant for another reason – as a bulwark against revived Russian designs beyond its borders. Kosovo independence has been promised, explicitly or implicitly, by the U.S. and some European countries since 1999. There are no special “processes” required for the attainment of independence, except, when necessary, a struggle against the colonial power. Indeed, the United Nations declared in the great age of decolonization – the 1950s and 1960s – that “Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.”

Failure to secure independence for the Kosovar Albanians will have further negative consequences. First, it would be a betrayal by the U.S. of one of the few majority-Muslim communities in the world that is wholly pro-American – a threat also visible in the alienation of Kurdish affections by American hesitation to restrain Turkey in Iraq. But most importantly, it will encourage Serbian adventurism, as well as similar attitudes elsewhere – beginning in Turkey and Russia, but opening a road without a predictable end, except probable disaster. While Western media and pseudo-experts prattle about the dangers of “separatism” in Europe, the real menace comes from the arrogance of the established powers, not from the oppressed small nations. Giant Russia has always backed nearby Serbia against the Albanians, except briefly during the Tito era, while the few million Albanians have real friends only in distant America. The balance is hardly as even as it should be. When I went to Kosovo in mid-December – expecting a declaration of independence at that time – Kosovars were still trusting and enthusiastic about America, but consumed with rage at the obstruction of Russia and the endless delays proposed by the Europeans.

Russian imperialism has been the bulwark of obscurantism and collective hatred in Europe since the 18th century, and the division of Poland beginning in 1772. The regime of Vladimir Putin has revived the strategy of encroachment and belligerence pursued by his predecessors. Few of us who fought for and celebrated the defeat of Soviet Communism imagined that it would be succeeded by mafia capitalism, and then by a neo-tsarism that exploits its speculative prosperity to demand submission from its neighbors. In accord with this legacy, Putin and his cohort have repeatedly stated bluntly that the Kosovo question must be deferred to the United Nations Security Council, where Moscow will veto independence. 

The anticolonial principles that the Russians claimed to support in 1960, when the issue was that of the Congolese versus the Belgians, are elided now that Moscow wishes to reincorporate Ukraine and China continues to exercise a cruel domination over Tibet. Kosovo has gained the renewed, if vague, attention of the Western press, which unfailingly covers the bid for statehood in two ways, both mendacious. The first turns victims of a 20th century attempted genocide into the victimizers. Thus the British dailies tearfully elicit sympathy for Kosovo Serbs who allegedly face “ethnic cleansing” from their supposed “cultural cradle.” The second way reduces the issue to irrelevance, treating the Kosovars as yet another quixotic separatist movement in which the arguments of “both sides” merit equal attention. The Kosovar Albanian viewpoint – the land was theirs centuries before the Slavic invasions 1,500 years ago – is seldom heard or read in the Western media.

Srebrenica – the site of the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys by Serbian terrorists – is the most prominent recent symbol of Moscow-backed genocidal aggression in Europe. While Boris Yeltsin, then the titular leader of post-Soviet Russia, pursued inconsistent policies on the issues created by Russia’s imperial history, powerful interests in the former USSR backed Serbian and other terrorist crimes against whole communities. Throughout the Bosnian conflict, Russian nationalist media and politicians supported Serb claims, and Russian volunteers served alongside Serbs in committing bloody atrocities in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo. I argued in my 2002 book The Two Faces of Islam that a Muscovite strategy of Slav-Orthodox assault on vulnerable Muslims had been visible not merely in Afghanistan, but in Europe, too. Communists expelled Bulgaria’s Turkish minority and “nationalized” domestic Bulgarian Muslims in the 1980s. Armenia also assaulted Azerbaijan, and Russia’s devastation of Chechnya began as the Soviet Union collapsed. 

In other words, the wars against the Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians came after many warnings, for those capable of understanding them. Kosovo has a Srebrenica, which is much less well-known. It is called Korenica and is located in the western section of Kosovo, near the city of Gjakova. In Korenica, on April 27, 1999 – a month after the commencement of the NATO bombing of Serbia – nearly 400 Albanians were wantonly murdered by Serbian irregulars. But Korenica is significant for more than its having seen the largest number of Albanian victims in a single Serbian assault during the 1998-99 conflict.

While Serbs and their apologists portray their role in the long battle for Kosovo as a defense against a jihadist offensive by Albanian Muslims hateful of Slav Christians, their churches, and their sacred heritage, the majority of the Albanians killed at Korenica were Catholics. The aim of the Serbs, like that of their Russian protectors, has always been to promote the dominance of the Orthodox Christian identity over all the peoples that follow religious traditions different from it. I first learned of the crime of Korenica only months after it took place, during a visit to Gjakova. I found out about the killings accidentally, when I drove along a rural road and found a Sufi turbe or mausoleum. Inside the structure, I was shocked to discover the coffins of 24 infants. It was then that I learned about the Korenica slayings, and was taken to a graveyard that included many wooden markers with the initials “N.N.” for an unidentified corpse. 

I believe I was among the first foreigners, aside from some human rights monitors, to thoroughly research the Korenica incident, and in the years that followed I continued an extensive inquiry into it. First, in 1999, I interviewed a brave Albanian Catholic priest from Gjakova, Pater Ambroz Ukaj, who had defied Serbian officers to learn what had transpired in Korenica. Later I learned that a Sufi, Shaykh Rama of Gjakova, had been killed at Korenica. In recent years, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, of which I am Executive Director, has appealsupportmixedalbanian.htm”>supported reconstruction of a primary school in the Korenica district, the Pjetër Mugy School in the hamlet of Guska, that educates both Catholic and Muslim children

Europe seems not to understand that in refusing to repudiate Serbian and Russian blandishments, and in failing to assist the Kosovar Albanians consequentially, it is committing a slow suicide. Spain is afraid of demands for rights by the Basques and Catalans; Slovakia and Romania have a bad conscience about their treatment of their large Hungarian minorities, which possess capacity for resistance unknown among the Roma, those other martyrs to Slovak and Romanian nationalism. Cyprus should probably not have been admitted to the EU without the participation of its Turkish-minority northern zone (a topic so convoluted as to require a separate article.) 

But rather than deal with stateless nations and minorities fairly, resolve its fear of Turkish Islam, and recognize the unquenchable desire of the Kosovar Albanians for freedom, Europe may blindly submit to the return of Russian power, enriched by energy and bent on reestablishing a bipolar world in which only the U.S. and Moscow count. The U.S. still counts, more than either the hallucinated Serbian and Russian leadership or the Europeans – the latter with a disgraceful record of preferring peace to freedom. America must support Kosovar independence, without dishonorable concessions to Belgrade or Moscow, and without delay.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz (born September 9, 1948) is an American Muslim[1] journalist, columnist, and author. He has been published in a variety of media, including The Wall Street Journal.[2] He is the executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism. In August 2011 he was elected as member of Folks Magazine's Editorial Board.[3]

Source: http://pajamasmedia.com/2008/01/keep...y_in_kosov.php

Will the US Punish Armenia?


The warped State Department-hatched Turkey-Armenia Protocols did not yield the necessary results for the US, nor have efforts to strong-arm Armenia into making dangerous concessions on the Karabakh front, so the US has renewed an old “concern” by alleging that Iran is using Armenia to for financial transactions that might violate international sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

An exclusive report by Reuters Tuesday, citing a nebulous “Western intelligence report” and quoting anonymous diplomatic sources, claimed that Iran is seeking financial alternatives “in countries that do not work according to the dictates of the West” is looking to expand its banking foothold in Armenia to allegedly deceive Western governments that have been attempting to curtail Iranian banking activities worldwide to thwart Iran’s nuclear 

The so-called “Western intelligence report,” according to Reuters, has singled out the Yerevan-based ACBA Credit Agricole Bank, one of the largest in Armenia, as one of Iran’s principal targets. Reuters also spoke to an anonymous Western UN diplomat who confirmed that ACBA was “a bank that has come up in connection with Iran.” He declined to provide details of any potentially illicit ACBA transactions linked to Iran, said Reuters.

This fracas has prompted the Armenian Central Bank to issue a blunt denial, echoing earlier statements by ACBA officials, who in the Reuters report, vehemently denied the allegations that the financial institution is being used by Iran for illicit activities.

“The Central Bank of Armenia obligates all banks and financial institutions in the Republic of Armenia to scrutinize their transactions, in order to avoid any possible involvement in transactions considered unacceptable by the international community,” said a statement issued by the CBA. “We don’t have any relationship with Iran,” The ACBA chief executive Stepan Gishian told Reuters. “We never have, we don’t now and furthermore we don’t plan on becoming a channel for financing Iran. What you’re saying is complete nonsense.”

Furthermore, recent news reports indicate that Armenia has been following the mandates set forth by the sanctions imposed both on Iran and Syria, since Syrian and Iranian nationals of Armenian descent have experienced difficulty opening bank accounts in Armenia, because of their citizenship. This is especially disheartening to Armenians who are leaving Syria due to the crisis there and are experiencing hurdles in establishing themselves in Armenia.

The Reuters reports does state that Turkey and the United Arab Emirates remain Iran’s largest banking connections, but claims that due to US pressure, especially the government of Turkey has become more vigilant in its business with Iran. Reportedly, President Serzh Sarkisian was cautioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit in June to Armenia about US concerns over the Iran’s interests in Armenia.

Iran remains one of Armenia’s largest trading partners with a reported $1 billion in trade. Asbarez has extensively reported about the intense desire by Armenia and Iran to strengthen their strategic partnership through varied projects, including the construction of an oil pipeline and a highway that would connect Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas with Batumi in Georgia, thus providing a direct link for Armenia to a seaport.

Evidently, this organic neighborly and centuries-old relationship between Armenia and Iran does not sit well with the US and its Western allies, who are keen on tightening the noose around Iran’s neck because of concerns over its nuclear program and be damned whatever stands in their way. However justified those concerns might be, Armenia should not be penalized by the US, which in its efforts to police the world, is bullying nations to conform to its standards.

If the US scrutinized its own domestic financial system as meticulously as it does other nations’ perhaps the loopholes that allowed for the collapse of the banking system and wide-spread corruption in this country would have been avoided.

Moreover, if the US went as far as to caution Armenia, it has not lifted a finger to force Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their blockade of Armenia, which has been in place since 1993 and in international legal circles is considered an act of aggression or war. Instead the US has concocted convoluted schemes—the Protocols and policy on Karabakh—that abets Turkey to continue its denial of the Genocide and face history and diminishes the sacred principle of self-determination.

The Reuter report is a harbinger of things to come. The failed approaches by the US to address concerns in the South Caucasus have now taken on a worrisome tone. How far will the US go to force its misplaced policies on other nations, especially Armenia?

Source: http://asbarez.com/104894/will-the-us-punish-armenia/

Forbes: Armenia is the World’s Second Worst Economy


On Tuesday, the prestigious Forbes magazine published a list of the world’s ten worst economies in which Armenia occupies the second place next to Madagascar. Forbes has selected the worst ten economies from among 117 countries according to three-year average statistics for gross domestic product growth and inflation (including the International Monetary Fund’s 2012 estimates), plus GDP per capita and the current account balance, a measure of whether the country is importing more than it exports.

Compared with the list for 2010, significant changes have taken place this year. While the previous release included mostly African nations, this year the list also includes Ukraine (4th position), Kyrgyzstan (7th) and Iran (10th). The authors of the research consider not only the economic crisis, but also mismanagement, corruption as causes of the decline of economies.

“Onetime losers like Ghana and Zimbabwe got their economic acts together and moved off the list while some countries, including Armenia and Jamaica, marched into the lower ranks primarily because of the global financial crisis. Others, like Madagascar and Nicaragua, earned their positions almost entirely due to the ineptitude of their rulers. It should come as no surprise that eight of the 10 worst economies also were in the bottom quartile of countries in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perceptions Index, with Guinea, Kyrgyzstan and Venezuela scoring close to the bottom,” says the report.

“Beyond income, (corruption) extends to economic development,” it quotes Transparency International’s Robin Hodess, group director for research and knowledge, as saying. “All of the indices that reflect human development suffer. Where government doesn’t work, economies don’t grow.”

According to Forbes, Armenia mainly suffered because of the financial crisis: “Armenia’s economy shrank by 15% in 2009 as an expatriate-financed construction boom fizzled along with the world economy. With a mediocre growth forecast for the next few years, this landlocked former Soviet republic, dependent upon Russia and Iran for virtually all of its energy supplies, is struggling to keep up with the rest of the world. Per-capita GDP of $3,000 is less than a third of neighboring Turkey, and inflation is running at 7%. On top of that, Russia cut back on supplies of diamonds, hurting Armenia’s once-thriving diamond-processing industry.”

Armenia’s well-known economist, head of the “Alternative” Research Center Tatul Manaseryan tends to trust the kind of assessment made by Forbes. “Usually, the Forbes surveys are well grounded and our researches also show that Armenia’s economy, to put it mildly, is not in a good condition. In this sense, I can share this opinion. But I am confident that possibilities of redressing the situation are not exhausted,” Manaseryan told ArmeniaNow.

Source: http://armenianow.com/economy/30861/forbes_report_worst_economy_armenia#comment-14452

Raffi Hovanissian: Russian Power, Armenian Sovereignty, and a Region at Risk

The second anniversary of blitzkrieg between Russia and Georgia underscores the unresolved geopolitical undercurrents in this region among the seas. Landlocked by the forces of history from the Caspian, the Black and the Mediterranean, Armenia ’s pivotal position remains encircled by a neighborhood in strategic turmoil. The inherent jeopardy flowing from Turkey ’s now obviously disingenuous engagement of Armenia , the challenges posed by Azerbaijan ’s graduation from its threatening language of war to its launch of a deadly attack in June, and the general escalation of tension across the Caucasus have combined to define the greater region as one at immediate risk of deepening instability.

Against this backdrop of system-wide insecurity, Armenia is now facing a dangerous alignment of outside interests and internal shortcomings. While Yerevan ’s “strategic” relationship with Moscow continues to serve as the bedrock for regional peace and security, the nature of the Armenian-Russian embrace is unduly lopsided. The asymmetry of the Russian-Armenian relationship is most manifest in the fundamental lack of equal and mutually respectful cooperation.

After all, Armenia ’s hosting of the only Russian military base in the area is no simple act of kindness, and must be anchored in a shared regard for each other’s interests. What is more, the Russian base is the only such facility outside of the Russian Federation where the host country receives neither rent nor reimbursement. Armenia pays for the totality of its costs and expenses. Such a mortgaging ofArmenian national security is unacceptable and demands immediate redress. In the new era, Armenian-Russian partnership, in order to be strategic without quotation marks, must be sincere, really reciprocal and based on horizontal respect, despite the differences in size and experience between the two nations.

A case in point is the information recently leaked by the Russian media and reactively confirmed by official Yerevan that the two states, either bilaterally or under the auspices of the CollectiveSecurity Treaty Organization (CSTO), intend to extend up to 49 years the treaty arrangement for the Russian base and the deployment of forces there. Matters of dignity aside, this flies in the face ofArmenian sovereignty, foreign policy independence, and vital national interests. It also flouts the unlimited future potential of an actually strategic partnership between us.

This holds especially true in view of the fact that the existing base agreement does not expire until 2020 and can, if necessary, be extended upon expiration for five or even ten years. Of further consternation is the Kremlin’s military rapport with and sales to Ankara , which stands in occupation of the historic Armenian patrimony, has imposed a modern-day blockade of the Republic of Armenia tantamount to an act of war, and continues to deny and shirk responsibility for the Genocide and GreatArmenian Dispossession of 1915.

A more contemporary source of outrage is Moscow’s military support for Azerbaijan, which having launched a failed war of aggression against Mountainous Karabagh and Armenia is today threatening renewed hostilities, completing its occupation of theArmenian heartlands of Shahumian, Getashen, Artsvashen, and Nakhichevan, and continuing with impunity to destroy and desecrate the Armenian cultural heritage at Jugha and elsewhere. In this connection, in the event that Russia indeed carries through with the reported sale of its S-300 weapon systems or other equivalent armaments to the aggressive, belligerent, and revisionist regime of Azerbaijan, Armenia should withdraw forthwith from the CSTO, of which it is the sole member from the region, or at the very least require full fair-market rent for the Russian base together with reimbursement for water, electricity and other relevant expenses.

And finally, the ultimate achievement of Partnership between Russia and Armenia , and between Russia and the West, will necessarily entail an actual application of the Rule of Law—not only domestic but also international—and hence the recognition of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh within its constitutional frontiers, as well as of Kosovo and Abkhazia. Anything else is partisan politics, petty political gain and sui generis dissimulation, all of which might make sense for some and for the moment but at bottom run counter to the aims of peace, security, justice and democratic values for the critical landmass amid the seas.


Raffi Hovanissian: Little Armenia’s Bottom Line at 20


Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan might be a nice guy, but he came to power by force of failed elections. He should step down and finally oversee the conduct of post-Soviet Armenia’s first free polls since 1991, the year it declared independence. The nation he aspires to represent deserves no less. Democracy must become an Armenian benchmark, not a motto thrown about to Western “partners” and other interlocutors who toast that best of systems, but then kill it with their duplicitous policies.

Sargsyan’s Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul is also a nice man, but he continues to represent a denialist regime that sponsors the killing of journalists such as Hrant Dink, strangles its minorities, and is the legal heir of the Ottoman Empire, which committed genocide against the Armenian people and dispossessed it of its ancestral homeland. Gul’s and his just-too-sly foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s recent addresses at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg—and the outlandish bluster of EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis at Auschwitz—beg the point. Modern-day Turkey must face history and itself, recognize the great genocide, and cease its unlawful and inhuman occupation of Western Armenia.

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliev is not so nice, but he is more honest in his authoritarian and occupationist demeanor. Mountainous Karabagh, or Artsakh, is Armenian land, his predecessors lost what they never had in a war of aggression they unleashed two decades ago, and they will never see it again except as good neighbors. He would do himself and humanity a necessary favor by respecting the rights of his own citizens, by returning the Armenian heartlands, including Shahumyan and Nakhichevan, still under Azerbaijani occupation to their rightful owners, and by making full redress to the hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Lezgins, Talishes, Tats, and other minorities which he and his have attempted to destroy.

If international law, self-determination, decolonization, and basic liberty are to carry true, not rhetorical import in the life and development of the contemporary world, then it must be ruled by rights equally guaranteed. Mountainous Karabagh, like Kosovo and Abkhazia, is the cutting-edge litmus test and must be recognized de jure and without discrimination by the community of nations. Who will be the first to recognize all three at once and to demonstrate that law and rights are worth more than a dollar in global affairs today? Georgia’s man Mikheil Saakashvili is revered occidentally but ridiculed in the east. He has brought some truly meaningful changes to his homeland and enjoys due credit. At the same time, he continues to trample the ethnic, religious, and linguistic rights of the Armenian region known to all as Javakhk. He ought to rediscover his democratic edge and renounce the xenophobic side of policies and prejudices.

Russia’s leaders, too, must get with the game and finally recognize the fundamental rights of their “strategic ally.” It’s time to end the imperialistic, even if soft, design to control Armenia as its traditional, God-given “forepost.” Either accept Armenia’s sovereignty and stand in true partnership with it—internationally, nationally, democratically—or let it go and face a new day. We all need that new day, and there is no need to blame the other: All persons and peoples have been mentioned herein without offense and with deference to their predicaments and interests. But this is Armenia’s last stand—and ultimate responsibility.

Garin Hovanissian: Who Will Decide Armenia's Destiny - Patriots or Tyrants?


Across an ocean and a continent, on a sliver of land tucked between two seas, a little republic today enters its 20th year of independence. I know a man there, an American by birth – except that 20 years ago, he quit his law firm in Los Angeles, decided he had no further business in the United States, and went to search for his destiny in Armenia. It was a romantic time. One by one, the 15 Soviet satellites were breaking from the Kremlin’s orbit, and exiled sons were returning to their homelands to share in the creation of new republics. As for my father, Raffi K. Hovannisian, once the football star of the Pali High Dolphins, he left a promising legal career and moved with wife and children to Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. After independence was officially declared on Sept. 21, 1991, my father was handed a fax machine and a first month’s paycheck of 600 rubles – $143. He was told he was the republic’s first minister of foreign affairs. 

Post-Soviet seeds of democracy

All across the Soviet plains, the seeds of democracy were being sown into soil tyrannized for generations, but no one doubted that they would grow. My father certainly didn’t. Within a year, he had established diplomatic relations with every major democracy in the world. At United Nations headquarters in New York, he had raised the red, blue, and orange Armenian flag. That was nearly 20 years ago. Everything was possible then.But the shadow of history soon closed in on the Armenians. The capital went dark. Faucets dried up. Grain shipments stopped coming in.

And suddenly, as if for the first time, the Armenians realized where they were. To the west: a history of horror with Turkey, the memory of an unrequited genocide in 1915. To the east: the anticipation of war with Azerbaijan, occupant of the ancient American enclave of Artsakh, or Mountainous Karabagh. It is a dangerous thing, when survival becomes the sole ambition of a people. But that is what happened to the Armenians in the years after independence. They lost their hope, their cause, their conviction. They were not as generous as they used to be. And the old Soviet symptoms reappeared. 

Corruption and failure

On the streets of Yerevan, a generation of child beggars emerged. Policemen waved batons for two-dollar bribes. Teachers worked for bribes, too. The presidents came to control every judge, prosecutor, and public defendant who wanted to keep his job. Fair trials and free elections became failed promises. Incumbents almost always “won” – while losers almost never went home without first leading a mob of a hundred thousand citizens through the capital. In 1999, during a session of parliament, all the president’s key adversaries were assassinated. My father long ago resigned from the Yerevan government, but he, at least, never gave up the dream. Instead, in 2001, he gave up his American passport once and for all.

The following year, he founded Heritage, a national-liberal party, which now represents the opposition in the Yerevan parliament. To this day, my father is admired by his people. In a recent poll, Gallup pegged his popularity at 82 percent – but not for the obvious reasons. “Achke kusht e,” the people say of him, “His eye is full.” In other words: the man has seen the world, and he’s not in politics for the money. In Armenia, that is enough. Today the Yerevan government is linked to a group of powerful businessmen called “oligarchs,” who invest in and control the political game. One of them has the monopoly on gas, another the monopoly on sugar and flour. All of them have nicknames, armies of bodyguards, and fleets of luxury cars escorting them ostentatiously through the city. 

Power-hungry tycoons

The rulers are multimillionaires, the lot of them, though they have incurred great debts to the original power tycoons surrounding the Kremlin in Moscow, to whom they have been selling the country’s gold mines and electricity plants. And they are ready to sell much more than that. Last month, Armenia hosted a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet alliance including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – republics unclaimed by the West, republics that are now following an ancient gravity to its source in mother Russia. During the August meeting, Russia secured a 24-year extension of its lease on a key military base in Armenia. Actually, lease isn’t the word. The base is funded and sustained entirely by the Armenian state. Now you see why today, in Yerevan, there is not much independence or democracy left to celebrate. And by now my father, too, must see what his romanticism has long prevented him from seeing: Armenia is not free, not independent, not united. The Soviet soil has spit out the seeds of democracy. 

Hope foreshadows freedom

Of course my father still keeps the faith, and there is some evidence to support it. For the first time in Armenia, a civil society is taking shape to bridge a government and a people, so far disenfranchised from each other. Denied television airwaves, opposition media are now transmitting their protest through the Internet. And that little party in parliament, though it has not realized a revolution, can at least symbolize – and foreshadow – a free and independent Armenia. And so we hope, and we even know, that the tree of liberty will grow from Armenian soil one day. But not today, not until, in the words of another founding father, “it is refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants” – both of which, I’m afraid, Armenia has plenty.

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0921/Who-will-decide-Armenia-s-destiny-patriots-or-tyrants

Representatives of the Armenian and Turkish civil society to come together at a conference in Istanbul

On October 22-23, 2012, more than 50 representatives of the Armenian and Turkish civil society and expert communities will come together at a conference in Istanbul to discuss the role of non-state actors in promoting Armenia-Turkey relations. The conference is organized as part of the “Support to Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement” (SATR) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Yerevan Press Club, International Center for Human Development, and Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia.

Key Turkish partners for the project include the Global Political Trends Center, the Turkish-Armenian the Business Development Council, Anadolu Kültür, the GAYA Research Institute, the Media and Communications Department of Izmir University of Economics, Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi, the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
The conference will summarize the outputs, achievements, and lessons learned during the two years of the Support to Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement Project implementation, as well as present an opportunity to discuss strategies for the road ahead for non-state actors in promoting Armenia-Turkey relations.

USAID and its partner organizations support Armenia-Turkey rapprochement by facilitating engagement between civil society groups, establishment and development of business partnerships and regional professional networks, and enhanced understanding between the people, for peace and economic integration in the region.

 Freedom House: Human rights watchdog defines Karabakh as not free, registering regress


The annual report of Freedom House, released on Thursday, again put Armenia on the list of ‘partly free’ countries, whereas Nagorno-Karabakh has registered regress, being defined as a ‘not free’ territory instead of the previous ‘partly free’. Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy Report’s estimation given to Karabakh causes concerns, as Karabakh previously got a higher estimation than Azerbaijan, whereas now both are considered to be authoritarian.

Since 2002, Washington-based ‘Freedom House’ global human rights watchdog has considered Armenia to be a ‘partly free’ country along with its neighboring Georgia, whereas Azerbaijan was a ‘not free’ country during the recent years. According to the methodology of the report, a ‘partly free’ country is one in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties. Partly Free states frequently suffer from an environment of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic and religious strife, and a political landscape in which a single party enjoys dominance despite a certain degree of pluralism.

A ‘not free’ country is one where basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied. (One point is the best index in this table, and seven points is the worst.) This year’s report, as the previous one, gave six points to the expression of a political right and its defense, and four points went to the defense of civil freedom. As compared to the previous five points Armenia has registered regress since 2009, after the controversial elections in 2008 and the post-election clashes.

According to the methodology of the report, six points goes to those countries where “systems are ruled by military juntas, one-party dictatorships, religious hierarchies, or autocrats. These regimes may allow only a minimal manifestation of political rights, such as some degree of representation or autonomy for minorities.” The decline of Nagorno-Karabakh’s index in the report is explained by the absence of an opposition at the Parliamentary elections 2010.

Meanwhile, Karabakh and Armenia do not agree with such a definition. According to Spokesperson of President of Nagorno-Karabakh Davit Babayan, “the report is imperfect, and not deeply studied.” “It is necessary to hold a deep examination for making such a conclusion, something which has not been done in Karabakh; and I believe this estimation is given for some geopolitical purposes,” Babayan told ArmeniaNow.

Source: http://armenianow.com/social/human_rights/27008/freedom_house_democracy_report_armenia

Wrong Path in Armenia

Rally Do-Over: Officially denied, ANC again leads rally in Liberty Square

All Armenians in the diaspora are quite familiar with the sadness, grief, suffering, exile and relocation of those who escaped the Genocide. Here in the US, drawing from lessons and experiences from our past, we developed a value system, making us obedient to law and order, love of education, rewards of hard work and blessings of freedom. As a consequence, we have been extremely proud citizens of America. Next to the Holy Bible, the greatest treasure we possess is the document that proclaims us American citizens.

We also forgot our homeland of Armenia and by all accounts and means, have always helped her. Long before Turkish occupation and the Genocide, the Soviet regime and the great earthquake of 1988, every Diasporan Armenian gave support, love, talent, time and treasure to the precious homeland. When Armenia declared independence some 20 years ago, it was a most thankful moment of prayer, pride and joy for us all. With foremost and firmest promise, we determined to help the homeland in every way possible to ensure her security, health and progress.

The people of Armenia, in turn, were deeply appreciative of our help. They demonstrated honest appreciation, deep love and heartfelt admiration for all that we did and still do, to improve their lot. Diasporan Armenians who visited the homeland experienced greatest warmth, deep love and fellowship and never forgot this most unique experience.

Since the election of Serge Sargisian as president of Armenia, unprecedented and somewhat questionable practices were sought by him and his cabinet to further solidify relations with Diasporan Armenians. The government started to shower some leaders, philanthropists and wealthy Armenians in the diaspora with royal banquets, citations, honors and medals. His government even created a new position of Commissioner For Armenia-Diaspora Relations, who traveled across the Armenian world, extolling us to love Armenia more, give more, care more and promise never to forget the homeland. Not satisfied with all these and to further offer gloss and flattery to diaspora, the president of Armenia is offering dual citizenship to certain Diasporan Armenians of his choosing. The who and why is still obscure and highly questionable. The very idea of dual citizenship is divisive, misguided and totally absurd. This idea, or practice, should be buried in the deepest pit in Armenian soil and never see daylight again.

Unfortunately, this is not all. Lo and behold, the president of Armenia is considering restructuring the constitution of Armenia to include a number of Diasporan Armenians as members of parliament. This misbegotten and misguided concept seems not only unprecedented, but ridiculous. Is it to satisfy the ego of some Diasporan Armenians, who receive this honor? There must be a thousand-and-one questions regarding this scheme and before any more time is spent on it, it should join the same pit and never see sunrise or sunset again. President Serge Sargisian and his governing body are rushing from the ridiculous to the sublime and spending precious time to seduce Diasporan Armenians.

It is tragic, disturbing and sad to read or hear of demonstrations, protests, hunger strikes, discord and chaos in Armenia. Are we to assume that our beloved homeland is becoming like a kite whose line has been cut off? Truth, stark naked truth, demands that good government work for the governed and abandon all schemes, pretense and misrule.

As sure as I am that God’s sun breaks into a hundred million sapphires over Armenian Lakes, and that any Diasporan Armenian visiting Armenia feels he or she has stepped on the earth of God’s Eden of Genesis, that sure I am that all Diasporan Armenians — some eight million of us — will love more, do more, sacrifice more for homeland Armenia, if the president of Armenia and his governing body make more effort, put more passion, zeal and dedication and eliminate disunity, discord and especially, all dramatics.

Nubar Dorian is former co-chair of the Armenian Assembly in Washington DC.

Source: http://www.mirrorspectator.com/2011/04/20/wrong-path-in-armenia/

Navy Special Ops Demos Training in Azerbaijan


The high-speed maneuvers off the coast of Baku similar to those Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Jensen said special warfare combat crewman would use to evade enemy fire--highlighted a visit here by participants in the 2004 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. Spinning "donuts" in the Caspian Sea aboard special warfare rigid inflatable boats provided a thrilling introduction to Navy special operations for a group of U.S. civilian leaders here June 9.

The U.S. civilians' visit here was part of their whirlwind visit this week to military sites to observe U.S.military operations and meet the men and women who carry them out. The conferees, from business, academia and local governments throughout the United States got a close-up view of cooperative training between U.S. Navy SEALS and their Azeri counterparts.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Csrnko commander of Special Operations Command Europe, the joint combined exercise is the part of an ongoing program to promote cooperation and understanding between the two countries' militaries. This was the third three-week training session between U.S. Navy SEAL Team 2's Hotel Platoon and Special Boat Team 20 from Little Creek Amphibious Base, Va., and the Azeri Navy's 641st Special Warfare Naval Unit, headquartered here.

Capt. 1st Rank Zaur Kaziyev, director of Azeri Naval Intelligence, told conference participants the training is "a big step forward" for Azerbaijan as it sets its sights on qualifying for NATO membership. The country currently participates in the Partnership for Peace program, which helps prepares countries meet NATO requirements. "This training forges friendships and enhances cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United States," Kaziyev said. "I hope to see more of it in the future."

Increased cooperation between the two countries is critical, explained Crsnko, as Azerbaijan gains strategic importance and becomes increasingly important to the stability of Eurasia. A pipeline that will transport oil from the country's largely untapped offshore reserves to Turkey is expected to be completed next year, and a gas pipeline is also under construction.

Petty Officer Nick Rappo said he's encouraged by the skill and motivation he's witnessed among the Azeri SEALS participating in the combined training qualities Csrnko said will become critical for them to protect their country's pipelines. "These guys are highly motivated and extremely eager to learn," Rappo said. "We've built a rapport and established a strong working relationship."

During their visit to the 641st Special Warfare Unit's training facility, U.S. civilian leaders witnessed snapshots of the cooperative training, including close-quarter combat drills and a stress course that requires shooters to race the clock as they move over, around and even under obstacles while engaging targets. The civilians also got the opportunity to live-fire U.S. special operations weapons, handle both U.S. and Azeri weaponry and communications equipment, and chat with the SEALS about their mission.

Jim Schloeman, president of the Transport Museum Association in St. Louis, Mo., called the opportunity to observe the training and ride in a rigid inflatable boat "awesome." "But it's really these guys who are awesome," he said. "I'm dazzled by these guys. I'm impressed that they're so unassuming, while it's obvious they have supreme confidence in their ability to do their jobs. That's pretty incredible."

Barbara Kellerman, director of research at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, called it "really stunning" to see the caliber of the Navy SEALS working with the Azeri Navy. Kellerman said her participation in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference has opened her eyes to the magnitude of the U.S. military mission around the world. "I've never been as struck by the reach of the American military," she said.

But after visiting Navy SEALS here, Army National Guardsmen in Bosnia, and airmen at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Kellerman said she's particularly impressed by the professionalism of the U.S. armed forces as a whole something she said much of the American public doesn't fully appreciate. "A trip like this gives you a good appreciation of the armed forces both their reach and quality," agreed Carlos Saladrigas, chairman of Premiere American Bank in Miami. "It's been a truly incredible experience."

Source: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=26294

The Sunday Times: British special forces carried out secret trainings in Azerbaijan


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid for the SAS to train Azerbaijan’s special forces in an effort to gain influence with the hardline ex-Soviet regime, the British Sunday Times writes. According to a leaked document seen by The Sunday Times, members of the UK’s elite fighting force taught their counterparts sniper skills and how to storm buildings as part of a six-week training mission. "The paper says one of the aims of the deployment in 2006 — codenamed Operation Lanark — was to “enhance” the FCO’s standing in the central Asian republic,” the article reads. The article notes that western politicians have long been keen to court Azerbaijan and Ilham Aliyev, its president, because of the vast oil and gas reserves beneath the Caspian Sea. “But human rights groups have accused Aliyev’s government of seeking to silence opposition by arresting and imprisoning dozens of political activists on bogus charges,” The Sunday Times reports.

MPRI Inc Training Azeri Marksmen

MPRI, Inc., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $19,000,000 not-to-exceed firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract to provide a laser marksmanship device/system to meet the training needs in basic rifle marksmanship and preliminary marksmanship instruction for the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army National Guard and the Governments of Columbia and Azerbaijan. In addition, this contract provides for new equipment training and total system performance responsibility type warranty for up to three years per device. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Army ($5,707,000; 92 percent) and the Governments of Columbia ($631,550; 7 percent) and Azerbaijan ($86,418; 1 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Alexandria, Va., and is expected to be completed in September 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61339-07-D-0007).

Source: http://www.militaryindustrialcomplex.com/contract_detail.asp?contract_id=81

CIA to Boost Ties with Turkey


The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus paid an unannounced two-day visit to Ankara to discuss deepening instability in Syria, the joint fight against terrorism and closer cooperation on pressing regional issues “in coming months.” David Petraeus, the CIA chief, held meetings with top Turkish officials both yesterday and on March 12, the Hürriyet Daily News learned. Petraeus met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the previous day.

An official from the U.S. Embassy said that Turkish and Amerian officials discussed “more fruitful cooperation on the region’s most pressing issues in the coming months.” Turkish officials said Erdogan and Petraeus exchanged views on the Syrian crisis and anti-terror fight. The officials further discussed an intelligence-sharing mechanism launched in 2007.

Petraeus’ visit coincided with that of Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League’s special envoy to Syria. Though both officials stayed in the same hotel in Ankara, there was no confirmation of a potential meeting between the two. Annan, who is trying to push the Syrian leadership to end its measures against anti-government rebels, is the latest international figure to have met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Source: http://asbarez.com/101666/cia-to-boost-ties-with-turkey/

Leaked Cables Expose Secret Israeli-Azerbaijani Ties

A leaked US diplomatic cable exposes Azerbaijan's contact with the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, and security agreements reached between the two sides, Press TV reported. The document was sent from the United States embassy in Baku on February 16, 2007, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz wrote on Sunday. It says that Azeri President Ilham Aliyev's security adviser had met with Mossad representatives as well as the then-Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. It also highlights a meeting between Aliyev and Israel's former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in January that year during the World Economic Forum in Davos. The cable also says that the two sides signed two security agreements. In 2008, Azeri daily Yeni Musavat cited a political analyst at the University of Washington's Institute for Middle East Studies as pointing out “extensive covert and overt preemptive cooperation in security, intelligence and military areas between Azerbaijan and the Israeli intelligence services, Mossad” in the ex-Soviet republic. He also referred to installation of “highly-advanced satellite espionage equipment on the Azeri soil, wiretapping centers in frontier areas, eavesdropping centers in the Caspian Sea and continuous training of Azeri intelligence and security agents in Israel” as instances of the collaboration.

Source: http://tert.am/en/news/2011/04/11/azerbaijan-israel-wikileaks/

C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition


A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.

The clandestine intelligence-gathering effort is the most detailed known instance of the limited American support for the military campaign against the Syrian government. It is also part of Washington’s attempt to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has recently escalated his government’s deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. With Russia blocking more aggressive steps against the Assad government, the United States and its allies have instead turned to diplomacy and aiding allied efforts to arm the rebels to force Mr. Assad from power.

By helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in Turkey hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network inside of Syria and to establish new ties. “C.I.A. officers are there and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people,” said one Arab intelligence official who is briefed regularly by American counterparts.

American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.

The struggle inside Syria has the potential to intensify significantly in coming months as powerful new weapons are flowing to both the Syrian government and opposition fighters. President Obama and his top aides are seeking to pressure Russia to curb arms shipments like attack helicopters to Syria, its main ally in the Middle East.

“We’d like to see arms sales to the Assad regime come to an end, because we believe they’ve demonstrated that they will only use their military against their own civilian population,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said after Mr. Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, met in Mexico on Monday.

Spokesmen for the White House, State Department and C.I.A. would not comment on any intelligence operations supporting the Syrian rebels, some details of which were reported last week by The Wall Street Journal. Until now, the public face of the administration’s Syria policy has largely been diplomacy and humanitarian aid. The State Department said Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would meet with her Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers in St. Petersburg, Russia, next Thursday. The private talks are likely to focus, at least in part, on the crisis in Syria.

The State Department has authorized $15 million in nonlethal aid, like medical supplies and communications equipment, to civilian opposition groups in Syria. The Pentagon continues to fine-tune a range of military options, after a request from Mr. Obama in early March for such contingency planning. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators at that time that the options under review included humanitarian airlifts, aerial surveillance of the Syrian military, and the establishment of a no-fly zone.

The military has also drawn up plans for how coalition troops would secure Syria’s sizable stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons if an all-out civil war threatened their security. But senior administration officials have underscored in recent days that they are not actively considering military options. “Anything at this point vis-à-vis Syria would be hypothetical in the extreme,” General Dempsey told reporters this month.

What has changed since March is an influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels. The increasingly fierce air and artillery assaults by the government are intended to counter improved coordination, tactics and weaponry among the opposition forces, according to members of the Syrian National Council and other activists.

Last month, these activists said, Turkish Army vehicles delivered antitank weaponry to the border, where it was then smuggled into Syria. Turkey has repeatedly denied it was extending anything other than humanitarian aid to the opposition, mostly via refugee camps near the border. The United States, these activists said, was consulted about these weapons transfers.

American military analysts offered mixed opinions on whether these arms have offset the advantages held by the militarily superior Syrian Army. “The rebels are starting to crack the code on how to take out tanks,” said Joseph Holliday, a former United States Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan who is now a researcher tracking the Free Syrian Army for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.

But a senior American officer who receives classified intelligence reports from the region, compared the rebels’ arms to “peashooters” against the government’s heavy weaponry and attack helicopters. The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, has recently begun trying to organize the scattered, localized units that all fight under the name of the Free Syrian Army into a more cohesive force.

About 10 military coordinating councils in provinces across the country are now sharing tactics and other information. The city of Homs is the notable exception. It lacks such a council because the three main military groups in the city do not get along, national council officials said.

Jeffrey White, a defense analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who tracks videos and announcements from self-described rebel battalions, said there were now about 100 rebel formations, up from roughly 70 two months ago, ranging in size from a handful of fighters to a couple of hundred combatants. “When the regime wants to go someplace and puts the right package of forces together, it can do it,” Mr. White said. “But the opposition is raising the cost of those kinds of operations.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?exprod=myyahoo

America’s CIA Spies, Britain and France Aiding Syrian Rebels


CIA spies have met Syrian rebels to discuss their required weapons, military strategies and the “dirty war” that the insurgents are fighting supported by the US, Britain and France, says an analyst. The comment comes as according to a New York Times report published on Thursday, some US and Arab intelligence officials say a group of “CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey” and that the agents are helping the anti-Syria governments decide which gangs inside the Arab country will “receive arms to fight the Syrian government.” “CIA officers are there and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people,” said one of the Arab officials, whose name was not mentioned in the report.

The arms include automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and antitank weapons, which are being transported “mostly across the Turkish border,” the report said. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar pay for the transport of the weaponry into Syria, according to the US and Arab intelligence officials cited in the report. The CIA spies have been in southern Turkey for the past several weeks and Washington is also considering providing the armed gangs with “satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements,” the report adds.

This as Syria has been the scene of violence since March 2011. Many people, including security forces, have lost their lives in the unrest. The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing the protesters. But Damascus blames ''outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups'' for the unrest, stating that it is being orchestrated from abroad. Press TV has conducted an interview with political commentator, Sukant Chandan, to further shed light on the issue. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: Sukant Chandan, how do you explain claims of “diplomacy” from the United States when it comes to Kofi Anan’s peace plan but then reports like the one in the New York Times surfaces pointing to the CIA in addition to Washington’s allies in the region for aiding armed groups fighting the Syrian government. Does the US have any interest to support Anan’s peace plan or is the claim sort of a political ploy?

Chandan: The Western white power structure has one aim which is to conduct regime change against any state in the Global South which poses any type of obstacle to its total domination of the world. I mean it’s high time that the empire admitted through the New York Times that the CIA officers have been directing and arming the Syrian rebels which, you know, let’s be honest with ourselves if anyone understands a little bit of the nature of the West we know that they’re up to this all the time and we don’t need them to admit it.

But once they’ve admitted it, we know that they’ve been up to this for a long, long time when the former US ambassador Mr. Ford - for Syria that is- was on the demonstrations when this rebellion first took place in the first days and weeks. Who is Mr. Ford; Mr. Ford is the protégé of Mr. Negroponte. Who is Negroponte; he is the arch designer of the contra dirty war in Latin America.

So when Mr. Ford has been meeting the rebels and CIA officers are meeting the rebels, they’re discussing what type of weapons to give the rebels and what type of military strategy to conduct and knowing the type of dirty war that these people get up to we know that the United States along with Britain and France are encouraging and probably training [the rebels].

Don’t forget it was in Scotland that the British state trained the Mujahidin to fight the Soviets and the [People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan] PDPA government back in the 80s fast forward to today we’re seeing a tragic rerun of a similar type of dynamic that took place in Afghanistan today in Syria, where you have a state backed by the Global South, particularly Russia and China that’s supporting Syria on the other hand you have imperialism arming and training and financing these terrorists for regime change.
So it’s all in the open and no one should be confused about the situation, it’s all very clear you have a clear polarization of forces, on the one hand you have the empire, the Western white power structure whatever you want to call it allied directly with Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the state of Israel.

Don’t forget Shimon Peres himself said just very recently, a few days ago that he would wish that the Syrian rebels would win. So on one side you have these forces on the other side you have the forces for independence and progress for the people of the world, led by Russia and China and the Syrian government and their allies. So the situation is very clear and I’m really quite disturbed by how too many people out there are still befuddled or taking this nonsensical third way or neutral position as [South African activist and retired Anglican bishop] Desmond Tutu said and he’s not my favorite progressive character but as he said if you’re neutral in a situation of oppression then you’re siding with the oppressor and that’s what’s going on.

Press TV:
Let’s go back to our guest in London Mr. Chandan you were shaking your head there when Mr. Korb was giving his answer let’s relate one of his talks to you. Do you agree first of all with Mr. Korb that the United States is trying to prevent arms from reaching al Qaeda forces if they are in Syria and add anything if you have to the comments made by Mr. Korb.

Chandan: It’s incredible how history developed. I mean our friend from the United States is either so naive to not understand the system of governance and world domination of his government or he is a trickster frankly. I mean now today you can become a Jihadist and go fight against the Syrian regime or against Gaddafi’s regime yesterday and you’ll be promoted and celebrated in the mainstream media in the West. It’s all very clear what’s going on. I mean you know the United States and Britain and France are constantly conducting covert regime change against the whole Global South.

This is what the state of the West is all about.
Just recently today you can read how the United States is putting pressure on stopping a report showing a report that Rwanda, its proxy in Africa, is involved in destabilization against the Democratic Republic of Congo which if Congo becomes independent in alliance with China will lift Africa and smash US domination and British domination in that region. So it’s clear what the nature of this state is all about. I mean again the way the West is dealing with al Qaeda is very interesting, because it’s obviously purging al Qaeda of those elements which it sees too problematic to its interests and then promoting other elements of al Qaeda.Al Qaeda is very active in Libya and they always have been since the beginning of the uprising and before when the Libyan Islamic fighting group was one of the main organizations supported by the CIA and the MI6 and the French intelligent service against Gaddafi’s regime. It’s all on record. It’s all on the open and it’s very important that our people raise their voices, organize themselves and are really rigorous and assertive in struggling for peace and development of the countries of the Global South.

Press TV: Mr. Chandan in London some observers critical of Turkey‘s role in Syria are saying that it is acting as a proxy for the US and NATO. How do you perceive that and in addition to that do you have anything to add to what Mr. Korb just said?

Chandan: In response to Mr. Korb it’s a typical strategy of the white man to project all issues of oppression that’s actually coming from the White power structure onto the natives and onto the brown and black people i. e. you know the white power structure is absolutely, you know, innocent of any wrong doing and it’s these silly Africans and these silly Asians and these silly Arabs who are creating all the mess and all the problems.
The interesting thing in that regard with Libya and now with Syria is that the West don’t want to put any of their boots officially on the ground but obviously in the first days of the Libyan uprising the British SAS were in Benghazi and they got sprung because the telephone conversation between the former British ambassador to Libya and the head of the NTC their phone conversation was exposed by Gaddafi’s regime and similarly in Syria.
They don’t want to put official boots on the ground in Syria so they are sending covert agents to do all the dirty work because they want to give the impression to the rest of the world: hey we’re the good guys and if any dirty business is going on it’s these crazy natives and on the issue of the Arab Spring as well that this befuddling of minds about what to lose in Egypt is all about. Tunisia has broken relations with the Asad regime and the Muslim Brotherhood which it seems to be in the ascendancy for the time being is against the Assad regime. Their comrades in Syria are absolutely involved in the insurgency against the Assad regime there.

On the issue of Turkey, it’s a similar thing actually and it’s a great shame that the Turkish state has strategically decided not to side with the Global South but it sees its interests for the time being and it’s a very narrow strategy that it’s employing and it’s going to go nowhere because, you know, anyone who dances with the devil will find that the devil will stab them in the back in the not too distant future. So really it’s not even in Turkey’s national interest to go along with NATO as it did with Libya and now with Syria...

Press TV: You seemed a bit anxious there to get a response to what Mr. Korb was saying please go ahead with that and also do you think that with so many external factors, this can be a Syrian-led effort to end the unrest?

Chandan: It’s amazing. I don’t know what world Mr. Korb is living in. You know the Americans don’t want to get involved with anyone; the British don’t want to get involved.

Korb: Wait a second I don’t attack you personally...I’m living in the real world, you’re not. Don’t attack me personally.

Chandan:...the establishments in Britain, France and the United States are constantly planning wars. Mr. Corb himself constantly talked about the pivot to Asia. Is that not a war plan? Of course it’s a war plan. I mean it’s total nonsense what Mr. Korb is coming out with but. But in terms of the internal Syrian situation we need to- I’ve said many times before, I’ll say it again, the Global South needs to assert itself and take the initiative. We lost Libya- that was devastating. We didn’t take enough initiatives, meaningful initiatives whereas Latin America- I’m loyal to all of our Global South and Latin America politically is the most advanced. It needs to be making moves to rediscover the regime change...

Source: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/06/22/247414/cia-uk-france-aiding-syrian-rebels/

Turkish Jets to Deliver American Nuclear Warheads, Report Says


The United States currently has 70 type B61-12 tactical nuclear bombs at its airbase in İncirlik in the southern province of Adana, according to daily Vatan. Vatan acquired the information from a report by Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen that was published on the "Atomic Scientists Bulletin" website, revealing an inventory of the nuclear weapons the U.S. military keeps in Turkey. Number of warheads decreased from 90 in 2001.

Between 10 and 20 of the 70 nuclear warheads at İncirlik were designed to be delivered to their targets by Turkish warplanes, according to the report. The 142nd fighter/bomber squadron of the Turkish Air Forces, nicknamed the "Gazelles," was assigned the task of delivering the nuclear ordnances. The squadron consists of F-16A/B warplanes. The U.S. military needed a certain warplane type that is different than those stationed at the İncirlik airbase in order to deliver the remaining 50 warheads, the report by Norris and Kristensen said.

The Turkish state, however, has declined to allow the U.S. military to deploy the said aircraft at İncirlik. U.S. warplanes would need to land at İncirlik from another location, equip the nuclear warheads and then fly to their targets, according to the report. Turkey's refusal to station nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes on its soil prevented İncirlik from acquiring a "full NATO position" status. This was a unique case among NATO bases, the report said.

New warheads arrive 2017

The report indicated that the B61-12 nuclear warheads currently deployed at İncirlik would be changed with the new B61-3/4 warheads. Former Turkish Air Force Commander Gen. Ergin Cilasun was quoted as saying that "Turkey's nuclear strike duty within NATO has ended" in 2001.

Source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-given-possession-of-nuclear-warheads-report-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=8220&NewsCatID=33

Azerbaijan Makes Massive Israeli Weapons Purchase - But Not Because of Iran


Azerbaijan has agreed to buy $1.6 billion in weapons from Israel, a massive deal that is likely Azerbaijan's largest single arms purchase ever. The deal will include drones, anti-aircraft and missile defense systems, Israeli officials have told news agencies. The deal would be almost equal to Azerbaijan's stated 2012 defense budget of $1.7 billion (though will certainly be spread out over many years). The timing of the deal is misleading: regardless of the ongoing ratcheting up of tension between Israel and Iran, and increasing attention to Israel's intelligence activities in Azerbaijan, these weapons are destined to be used not against Iran, but against Armenia, which controls the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Though it's tempting to think otherwise. The AP reports:
Israeli defense officials Sunday confirmed $1.6 billion in deals to sell drones as well as anti-aircraft and missile-defense systems to Azerbaijan, bringing sophisticated Israeli technology to the doorstep of archenemy Iran. The sales by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries come at a delicate time. Israel has been laboring hard to form diplomatic alliances in a region that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to the Jewish state. Its most pressing concern is Iran's nuclear program, and Israeli leaders have hinted broadly they would be prepared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if they see no other way to keep Iran from building bombs... As Iran's nuclear showdown with the West deepens, the Islamic Republic sees the Azeri frontier as a weak point, even though both countries are mostly Shiite Muslim.
Are Azerbaijan and Israel sharing intelligence about Iran? Certainly. Is Azerbaijan going to use Israeli weapons against Iran? No chance. Azerbaijan has nothing to gain by attacking Iran, or even by cooperating with an Israeli attack except in the most discreet possible way. As much as Azerbaijan has been building up its military, it's nowhere close to being able to deal with the Iranian military, and would be essentially helpless in the face of an Iranian retaliation. Azerbaijan's government doesn't trust Iran, but it's fear isn't of Iran's nuclear program, but of Iran's meddling in Azerbaijan's internal affairs. So it has little interest in stirring up the hornet's nest that would result from an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israel is a valuable arms partner for Azerbaijan not because of anything related to Iran. Rather, Azerbaijan has a lot of money, and Israel has top-quality defense manufacturers. And Baku is restricted in what it can buy from the U.S. because of opposition by pro-Armenia members of Congress, plus the U.S.'s general desire not to inflame the situation in Karabakh. And it's limited in what it can buy from Russia because of Russia's alliance with Armenia (occasional missile defense sales notwithstanding). Israel has no such concerns. An excellent Wikileaked U.S. diplomatic cable lays out the strong, but mostly quiet, alliance between Tel Aviv and Baku, including in the defense sphere:
Through its close relations with Israel, Azerbaijan gets a level of access to the quality weapon systems it needs to develop its army that it can not obtain from the U.S. and Europe due to various legal limitations, nor from its ex-Soviet suppliers, Belarus and Ukraine. Where other Western nations are reluctant to sell ground combat systems to the Azerbaijanis for fear of encouraging Azerbaijan to resort to war to regain NK and the occupied territories, Israel is free to make substantial arms sales and benefits greatly from deals with its well-heeled client. In September 2008 ) again in a little-publicized affair ) the GOAJ signed an extensive agreement with the Israeli Defense Ministry providing for three Israeli companies to provide mortars, ammunition, rocket artillery and radio equipment. The company "Soltam" got the contract to provide mortars and ammunition, "Tadiran Communications" will provide radio gear, and Israeli Military Industries will provide the rockets. IMI sells a range of rocket artillery and accessories ranging from upgrade kits for Soviet vintage BM-21 &Grad8 122mm systems, guidance packages for 122mm-300mm rockets and launch vehicles for up to 300mm rockets. It was not clear what exactly the Azerbaijanis bought, as the deal was simply described as being worth "hundreds of millions of dollars." Azerbaijan already operates IMI's 122mm "Lynx" multiple-launch rocket system, which it mounts on a KAMAZ 63502 heavy truck.
Israel and Azerbaijan also have been cooperating extensively on drones -- like the one that was shot down or crashed in Nagorno Karabakh in September. But this would be a big jump from previous levels of weapons sales. And it's Armenia, not Iran, that should be afraid.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65053

Is a US-Financed Azeri Satellite A Threat to Armenia’s Security?

Azerbaijan is hoping to finalize a deal with the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, a U.S. government agency, to finance a multi-million dollar satellite financing project. The loan will afford Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies the needed funds to purchase an advanced satellite, ground control equipment, and secure the necessary training. A U.S. supplier, Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) of Dulles, Va., has been contracted for the project. Armenian entities fear the new satellite’s use will extend to military applications, threatening neighboring Armenia and the Nagorno Karabagh Republic.

Azerbaijan’s Communication Ministry claims the satellite, dubbed Azerspace, will be used for the purpose of commercial telecommunications by one of its agencies, the International Relations and Accounting Center (IRAC). It says the satellite will provide telecommunications and broadcasting services for the Republic of Azerbaijan, with its leftover capacities servicing customers in Africa and Central Asia. However, Armenian entities have expressed concern over its possible military use. Azerbaijan’s government has not shied away from aggressive language and outright threats of war while discussing Karabagh, going as far as calling Armenia’s capital Yerevan an ancient Azeri city.

Because the loan amount will exceed $100 million, Ex-Im Bank needs approval from Congress. In January, the bank’s president, Fred Hochberg, addressed a letter to Senate President Joseph Biden summing up the transaction description and explanation of the bank’s financing plan. According to reports, Azerbaijan has already apportioned about $25 million to the satellite; the bank will cover the remaining $96 million for manufacturing expenses, in addition to funds for related costs.

Recent threats by Azerbaijan against Armenia reached a new high when Baku announced it would shoot down civilian aircrafts flying from Armenia to the newly renovated airport of Stepanakert in Karabagh. The airport is due to reopen on May 9. The director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration, Arif Mammadov, said the Azerbaijani government had not authorized such flights to Karabagh. “We notified that the airspace over Karabagh is closed. The law on aviation envisages the physical destruction of airplanes landing in that territory,” he reportedly told APA news agency.

U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza called this threat “unacceptable,” but fell short of calling on Baku to withdraw its warning. Meanwhile, Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian said he would be on the first civilian flight to Karabagh. Two weeks later, on April 1, the spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Elkhan Polukhov, reportedly said, “Azerbaijan did not and will not use force against civil facilities, unlike Armenia, which has earned notoriety for terror and war against the civilian population.” Nonetheless, it is hard to dismiss a threat of that magnitude, hurled along with other threats of a resumption of war.

Azerbaijan’s attempts at intimidation certainly substantiate concerns from Armenian entities that the Azerspace satellite will have military applications if Azeri aggression escalates. Border incidents have not subsided, with Azeri snipers targeting Armenian soldiers. Most recently, Azerbaijan claimed that Armenian snipers killed an infant child. On March 9, Armenia’s Defense Ministry issued a press release denying the news, adding that the “the scribblers of the Azerbaijani disinformation” were merely attempting to “save the image of the country” and diverting attention from the March 5 killing of an Armenian soldier by an Azeri sniper. It further noted that “Armenia and Karabagh have repeatedly expressed their positive attitude to the appeals of the international community to terminate the actions of the snipers on the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line, while Azerbaijan continues to carry out its provocative actions by the means of its snipers.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, speaking on the occasion of Novruz, said he had no doubt Azerbaijan would “restore its territorial integrity.” He did not rule out the use of force, noting the country “is paying serious attention to army building.” “The ever-strengthening Azerbaijan is absolutely confident that this issue can be resolved in any manner… There isn’t and can’t be any other option. The Azerbaijani people and state will never tolerate a second Armenian state on their historical lands. Nagorno-Karabagh will never be granted independence,” said Aliyev.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has sent a letter to the president of Ex-Im Bank and consulted with U.S. legislators regarding the Armenian American community’s concerns and objections regarding the Azerspace Satellite Project and its potential military use. Sources close to Armenian authorities report that officials in Yerevan have also raised concerns on this matter with the U.S. government. Azerbaijan has said that it plans to launch the satellite between July and Aug. 2012. The Armenian Weekly has contacted both Ex-Im Bank and Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communication and IT for comments. Neither has responded.

Source: http://asbarez.com/94756/is-a-us-financed-azeri-satellite-a-threat-to-armenia%E2%80%99s-security/

NATO Allied Land Command Activating Next Week in Turkey


A new NATO land command headquarters, restructured to streamline costs and decision making, will be activated next week in Turkey as the new home for planning how infantrymen from the 28-nation alliance fight together.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down, one of the prime focuses of NATO Allied Land Command will be harnessing that war fighting experience to ensure that the alliance doesn’t lose the lessons learned, said the American Army officer commanding the new headquarters in Izmir, Turkey. Coming off more than a decade at war, the level of “interoperability” among NATO members is at an all-time high, Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, said.

“My job will be to maintain that level of interoperability,” Hodges said. “You’ve got to retain this experience, and a lot of that resides in the noncommissioned officer corps.”

Following an activation ceremony on Friday in Izmir, Allied Land Command headquarters will formally assume the responsibilities of Force Command Heidelberg, Germany, and Force Command Madrid, Spain, which are being deactivated as part of NATO’s transformation. A similar merger of Air Command headquarters formerly in Turkey with one in Germany is taking place at Ramstein Air Base. The Allied Land Command is responsible for ensuring readiness of NATO forces, conducting land operations and synchronizing land force command and control.

Hodges said he intends to discuss with his alliance counterparts ways to bolster the role of the enlisted force in their respective militaries and emphasize the advantages of putting “more and more responsibility on NCOs.” While the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom have a long tradition of well-developed NCO corps, not all allied militaries have a history of pushing significant decision making power onto the enlisted ranks.

Another area of focus for Hodges is lobbying for a U.S. policy change that currently limits tours in Izmir to one-year unaccompanied missions for U.S. personnel. To ensure the U.S. can attract the best troops to the command, tours in Izmir should become accompanied and extended like other alliance members’ tours, according to Hodges. “The current policy hurts our effectiveness,” said Hodges. “I think it marginalizes the American contribution to some extent.”

After long separations from family during more than a decade of war fighting, some troops also could opt against enduring another separation for an assignment in Izmir, Hodges said. As a result, “all that experience isn’t taken advantage of,” Hodges said. “And frankly it is hard to explain to other countries.” The proposal is currently being considered by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Hodges said. Meanwhile, Hodges said he hopes to develop an exercise that would bring together allies in a rugged environment to test their logistical and communication abilities.

For NATO reaction forces to be effective, “we’re going to have to ramp up some of our training,” he said. While NATO may not have the resources to bring back something on the massive scale of the Cold War-era Reforger exercise, ground troops would benefit from getting together for a major logistics event, Hodges said. “You’ve got to apply rigor to truly test logistics.”

The transformation of NATO’s Land Command is just one part of a 2011 NATO decision designed to streamline the alliance’s overall command structure. Once fully implemented, it will result in a 30 percent reduction in manpower, taking Allied Command Operations from 13,000 personnel to about 8,800, according to NATO. The new Land Command will have about 350 people, down from roughly 800, Hodges said. Establishing the headquarters in Turkey — home to NATO’s second largest military, makes good strategic sense, Hodges said.

“Turkey’s location from a geographic standpoint — adjacent to the Middle East, nearly adjacent to Russia — it’s an important location,” Hodges said. “It sends a signal not only to Turkey and the rest of the alliance. It sends a signal to the other neighbors.”

Source: http://www.stripes.com/news/nato-allied-land-command-activating-next-week-in-turkey-1.198170

Vafa Guluzade: Armenian would reach Kura River in 1994 [if it were not for the West’s support of Baku]

Former advisor to Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev Vafa Guluzade said that the Armenian troops would have occupied major part of Azerbaijan in 1994, if it were not for the West’s support of Baku. Guluzade said in an article published by Yeni Musavat paper and placed on Caucasus-Online website that the oil factor was the decisive one in the 1994 agreement on ceasefire in Karabakh. Otherwise, the Armenian troops would have reached Kura River and Kurdamir in the central part of Azerbaijan, what would have jeopardized Azerbaijan’s existence as a state. “Only the interest of the U.S. towards Azerbaijan prevented implementation of these plans,” said Guluzade. He believes that energy resources and transit opportunities of Azerbaijan have secured the West’s interest towards the country, what has protected the country’s independence. “Azerbaijan’s independence would have been formal, if it were not for the American interests. Right the oil factor has secured Azerbaijan’s importance for the western states. Oil, gas and transit potential of Azerbaijan increase its role for the West and allow withstanding Russia,” Guluzade said, adding that greater integration with the West would only strengthen Baku’s international positions.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/world/news/64772/Vafa_Guluzade_Armenian_troops_would_reach_Kura_River_in_1994

Little Hope of More Democracy

Analysis: Opposition warns of “social rebellion” and prepares for next rally

Although there is still more than a year to go until the next parliamentary election, opposition parties in Armenia are already calling their followers onto the streets. There is plenty of popular dissatisfaction with the status quo, driven by rising prices and widespread poverty. But experts say the scope for channelling that into real change is limited by Armenia’s difficult relationships abroad, which its current leaders can always cite as justification for tough controls at home.

Armenia is still officially at war with Azerbaijan, and its troops garrison the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorny Karabakh, so ruling politicians can play the national security card if their authority is threatened. This has allowed them to fend off demands for democratic reforms. The government’s authoritarian tendencies, and its insistence on supporting Karabakh, has won support from big businesses keen to keep their monopolies safe from the Azerbaijani and Turkish competitors who might flood in if a peace deal was signed.

Opposition parties seeking to harness popular resentment of the government believe there is a limit to what people will put up with in the name of national security. “One fine day, a people who have nothing to lose and who have been driven to extreme suffering, might cease to care about the views of opinion of parliament, and even about Karabakh,” Armenian National Congress, ANC, leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan told a rally of supporters last month.

Experts say, however, that most people are not prepared to abandon their fellow-Armenians in Karabakh, and fear a possible repeat of the conflict with Azerbaijan. This plays into the government’s hands. “It’s clear the Armenian public has a keen sense of the danger of new war with Azerbaijan. That means that both the public and the opposition are more restrained than they might be], and that citizens have to opt for political stability over democratisation in many areas,” Garik Keryan, head of politics in Yerevan State University’s international relations faculty, said.

Commentators say the government tolerates political freedoms as long as they do not interfere with its grip on power, while the opposition movement remains divided among competing personalities. People who attend opposition protests are often there because they are against the government rather than actively drawn to the opposition. Ter-Petrosyan’s ANC fails to make much ground because he alienated many people in his time as Armenian president in the 1990s.

“Look what this government has driven me to. I have a law degree and I’m driving a taxi. They’re forcing people to team up with Levon,” Artur, a 29-year-old Yerevan resident said. “I remember the days of Levon’s government – it was terrible then. But what else can you do? These politicians are just humiliating us.”

Ter-Petrosyan has ruled out a swift attempt to win power, comparing his political strategy to a game of chess. That has led many analysts to argue that he is not interested in changing the political set-up radically, just in putting himself and his followers at the head of it. Political battles in Armenia are often more about competing individuals than different ideologies.

“The ANC probably a few tens of thousands of supporters, and the Heritage party has fewer, since it isn’t as well-organised,” public relations expert Samvel Martirosyan said. “Heritage more closely resembles a collection of individuals.”

The divisions among opposition groups were graphically evident on March 17, when Ter-Petrosyan was taking part in a protest meeting in central Yerevan and went past Heritage leader Raffi Hovhannisyan without acknowledging the fact that the latter had been staging a hunger strike for the past two days. Arman Vardanyan, chairman of the Union of Young Politicians of Armenia, said recent remarks made by Ter-Petrosyan, 66, might indicate he was considering stepping down as ANC leader. But finding a replacement of similar standing would be difficult.

“Ter-Petrosyan was making it plain he didn’t intend to stand in the next [2013] presidential election. But in my opinion, no newcomer is going to be able to present a serious challenge to the current president, Serzh Sargsyan,” Vardanyan said.

He predicted that the ANC would win around 25 per cent of the seats in parliament in the May 2012 election, while the Heritage Party and Dashnakutsyun, a party now in opposition but formerly part of the ruling coalition, would probably struggle to surpass the five per cent threshold needed to gain any seats at all. The result, Vardanyan said, would be that the ruling coalition would maintain its grip on power, and there would be little progress towards a more democratic system.

Keryan ascribes Armenia’s failure to build a more open political system in the two decades since independence to economic problems, the Karabakh war and its legacy of isolation in the region, and the continuing influence of Russia. “For 20 years, Armenia has seen its security as depending on its strategic partnership with Russia,” he said. “This could change only if there were major geopolitical changes in the region, and those changes haven’t happened.”

Last year, the two countries agreed to extend the stay of Russian troops in Armenia. An official strategy paper on national security reaffirms that a continued Russian presence in the South Caucasus is crucial for Armenia. While the document also talks about greater cooperation with NATO members, most analysts say the authorities would never stray too far from Moscow.

Meanwhile, a rapprochement with Turkey which has emerged over recent years appears to have ground to a halt. With no change to the external environment, observers say there is little impetus to move away from the current system dominated by a small political elite and by oligarchs with vested economic interests. “There is a privileged caste which is not only able to bypass the law but which uses the state to pursue its own ends,” Arman Rustamyan, a member of parliament from the opposition Dashnakutsyun party, said.

Hovsep Khurshudyan, an expert from the Armenian Centre for National and International Studies, said that despite the government’s declared intention of pursuing reforms, “the economy remains in the hands of a few families which also have political influence”. “The government is unable to force the big oligarchs to pay taxes, so it’s forced to place the whole tax burden on small and medium-sized businesses and on ordinary citizens, who will soon refuse to put up with this, or will emigrate,” Khurshudyan added.

Vazgen Manoukyan, who heads of the Public Council, a government advisory body set up by President Sargsyan in 2009, told IWPR that while Armenia had a democratic constitution, there were problems in practice with elections, freedom of speech and the judicial system. “The parliamentary and presidential elections of 1990 and 1991 were democratic, but 1995 and 1996 saw a huge step backwards, and the tradition of electoral fraud has continued since then, albeit with some modification,” he said.

Manoukyan said free speech was marred by the removal of the A1+ TV channel from the airwaves some years ago, the judicial system was far from perfect, and economic domination by the oligarchs had curbed both market competition and the growth of democratic institutions.

U.S. Embassies in 7 Countries Issue Warnings


U.S. embassies in at least seven countries in the Middle East, Africa and the Caucuses are warning of possible anti-American protests following the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. The embassies in Armenia, Burundi, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia, along with the embassy in Egypt, which was hit by a protest on Tuesday, all issued warnings on Wednesday advising Americans to be particularly vigilant. The warnings, posted on the embassies' websites, don't report any specific threat to Americans but note that demonstrations can become violent. The protest in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi appear to have been responses to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet.

Ambassador Djerejian: An Illustrious US Diplomat Tarnishes Own Reputation


On Friday October 5 Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian presented a lecture in Los Angeles titled “Arab Awakening, The Turkish Role in The Region and The Future of Armenians in the Middle East”. Nearly 500 Armenian Americans attended the event organized by Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Asbeds.

Holding himself true to his principle “as a diplomat to think twice before saying nothing,” Amb. Djerejian talked for over 50 minutes without making important revelations on the current situation in the Middle East and Syria in particular.  He went on to narrate the situation in the Middle East by delivering certain details with eloquence, mesmerizing his audience.  He also shared anecdotal stories during his tenure as US Ambassador in Syria.

However on the 56th minute as he shifted his focus to the Caucasus region, he dropped the nuclear bomb on his Armenian American audience when he claimed that 2014 is a potentially deadly deadline for Armenia and Armenians worldwide imposed by Azerbaijan. He sternly cautioned Diaspora Armenians about the so-called “Azerbaijan deadline” for political settlement of the Artsakh (Karabagh) conflict by 2014 “or else” face the dismal possibility of a new war. He tersely warned that a formidable military buildup by Azerbaijan spelled trouble for Armenia, and that the war this time “may not be as favorable” to Armenians as the first war. Many members of Southern California Armenian American community were concerned with his promotion of fear among Diaspora Armenians on the ‘dire’ consequences of a new war with Azerbaijan.

His lecture also agitated several members of the audience who were disturbed by his pro-Azeri claims that Armenians are ‘occupying’ lands that “belong” to Azerbaijan.

Before making such anti-Armenia and anti-Artsakh declarations, that the lands around Artsakh (Karabagh) are ‘occupied’, Amb. Djerejian should investigate for himself the true identity of the territories in lower Artsakh (Karabagh). His research will reveal the undeniable fact that the borders of Armenian Territory of Artsakh encompassing both mountainous and lowland Artsakh run from western border of contemporary Armenia to Kura River to the east of mountainous Artsakh; and from Gantsak (“Gendje” under Azeri rule) just north of Shahumian in the north all the way to the current Iranian border in the south.

Under infamous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the Territories of Artsakh and Nakhitchevan were carved out of then newly Sovietized Republic of Armenia and were ‘gifted’ to then newly sovietized Azerbaijan in early 1920’s thus completing ‘stalinization’ of Armenian territories. Artsakh Liberation War of 1988-1994 facilitated the reversal of that process which can be appropriately labeled ‘de-stalinization.’

He also underlined how Turkey is fast-becoming a regional super power. Then he expressed support for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation and normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey with “honorable terms” for Armenians on critical issues. But he did not elaborate on the issues. For a moment the former U.S. Ambassador sounded more like an Ambassador of Azerbaijan or Turkey rather than a veteran diplomat representing United States as an honest broker in Caucasus.

During the question-and-answer period, they caught him off-guard by presenting pointed questions such as whether Armenians in Artsakh should pursue or give up self-determination as opposed to capitulating to Azeri demands to settle for autonomy within Azerbaijan. The parade of inquisitive and intelligent questions reflected deep Armenian-American concerns for Armenia and Artsakh as Amb. Djerejian backtracked and modified his position to come across as a more ‘balanced’ diplomat.

Amb. Djerejian pointed out the proliferation of “ism”s such as “extremism” and “terrorism” in today’s world. Interestingly, his position on vital Armenian American issues has illustrated that he is influenced by petroleum interests, and is an adherent of “petrolism.”

A well-respected writer and political observer David Boyajian of Belmont, MA recently wrote: “Djerejian, whose parents were Genocide survivors, is a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Syria. He is now the Founding Director of the James A. Baker III Institute in Houston. The Institutes namesake is James Baker. He is a former Secretary of State and an Armenian genocide denier, as is Madeline Albright, an ex-officio member of the Institute.  Its Board of Advisors is filled with current and former executives of Chevron, Marathon Oil, Shell Oil, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and similar corporations, several of which also fund the Institute.

Not surprisingly, human rights are nearly invisible on the Institutes agenda. In a depressing political presentation to Armenian Americans in Texas in 2011, Djerejian uttered not one word of criticism of Turkey or Azerbaijan.  Nor did he mention Artsakh/Karabagh’s rights, human or otherwise. Instead, he took a neutral position on the issue, and approvingly quoted Azeri President Ilham Aliyev that ‘Azerbaijan has the upper hand.’  Regarding the Genocide, Djerejian noted only that ‘the Armenian Genocide can best be resolved within the context of improved state to state relations between Armenia and Turkey.’”

As noted above, ironically, many of Amb. Djerejian’s comments were echoes of his own remarks of 2011 in Texas.
Similarly, the following comments that were presented in 2011 in Texas are almost identical to his observations made in Los Angeles: “Armenia must look at current trends in the region. The Russian-Georgia conflict destabilized the Caucasus region and beyond. Russia is asserting itself in the “near abroad.” While Armenia’s relations with Russia will remain very important, Armenia must avoid becoming over-dependent on Russia. Turkey is looking westward, seeking to be part of the European Community, while strengthening its ties in the Middle East and Central Asia and improving its relationship with the United States. Georgia and Azerbaijan are actively pursuing stronger relations with the West. Iran’s future direction remains problematic, but it is a major regional player. Increasingly, change in Iran is not a question of if, but of when.

Iran’s policies will have important implications for Armenia, a neighboring border country. Armenia’s relations with the United States are very important and involve interaction on issues such as non-proliferation and border security, international narcotics, money laundering and the trafficking in persons, and the development of democratic institutions and sustainable economic growth. Washington also appreciated Armenia’s support in Iraq. Thus, the promise for Armenia’s security and prosperity rests with following the major trends toward regional and international integration. Armenia can no longer risk being “the odd man out.” Indeed, Armenia should rediscover and reaffirm its historic role as a bridge between the North and South, and the East and West.”

While sounding genuinely concerned with Armenia’s and Armenians’ future, Mr. Djerejian trashed Armenia’s performance as a viable state. Under succeeding US administrations of the last few decades, U.S. State Department has been siding with oil-producing dictators such as Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan at the cost of trampling upon the human rights of people like Armenians of Artsakh (Karabagh). By doing so, US administrations risk exposing themselves to the ire of international public opinion in Middle East, the Caucasus and elsewhere.

Abundance of social and diversified mass media has helped the masses unmask this American double standard. It is obvious that he is not a champion of human rights for Armenians of Artsakh. But he could have at least steered clear of making anti-Artsakh (Karabagh) Armenian pronouncements by respecting his diplomatic rule of ‘thinking twice before saying nothing;’ and by declining to unfairly agree with Azeri false claims that Armenians “are occupying” lands in Azerbaijan.

Ambassador Djerejian noit only did not alleviate Armenian American concerns on U.S. State Department being a dishonest broker in Asia Minor and Caucasus in regards to Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azeri issues, but he also ended up tarnishing his own reputation as an illustrious US Diplomat.

Source: http://www.armenianlife.com/2012/10/10/ambassador-djerejian-an-illustrious-us-diplomat-tarnishes-own-reputation/

Armenia No Longer Eligible For U.S. Aid Program

Armenia -- Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (L) and U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (C) meet with beneficiaries of U.S. assistance provided under the Millennium Challenge Account program, 15Apr2011.

Armenia is currently not eligible for receiving additional U.S. economic assistance under a program designed to reward good governance and reforms around the world, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said on Friday. She said the approaching parliamentary and presidential elections in the country will be an opportunity for the Armenian government to improve its democracy and human rights record and thus again qualify for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program.

The U.S. government approved $236 million worth of MCA assistance to Armenia in 2006 to finance a rural development plan submitted by Yerevan. In June 2008, Washington scrapped a $67 million segment of the aid package, which envisaged the reconstruction of hundreds of kilometers of rural roads. The decision was widely attributed to a disputed presidential election held in February 2008 and a harsh government crackdown on the Armenian opposition that followed it.

The aid cut did not affect the rest of the MCA funding which is being mainly channeled into Armenia’s battered irrigation networks. Their ongoing refurbishment is due to be completed this September. Yovanovitch and Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian visited on Friday the central Aragatsotn province to inspect local irrigation canals that have been rehabilitated with MCA funds. They also met with farmers that have received training as part of the same scheme.

“We hope that this program has made and will continue to make a real impact on the rural community in terms of increased wealth,” Yovanovitch told journalists there. The U.S. diplomat made clear that Yerevan can not apply for more MCA aid for the time being. “Perhaps at some point in the future, there might be a possibility,” she said. “Every year, every country is reviewed for eligibility. At this point, Armenia is not eligible for a second compact due to where it stands on the [MCA] indicators.”

Yovanovitch specified that President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration should, among other things, hold more democratic elections. “As Armenia enters into an election cycle, with parliamentary elections next year and presidential elections the year after, there is an opportunity to boost these indicators,” she said. “Obviously, conduct on the day of elections is an important thing but so is freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the many other things that go into general good governance,” she added.

Yovanovitch urged the Armenian authorities to hold free elections, respect civil liberties and embark on other “deep and difficult” reforms in a recent speech at Yerevan State University. In particular, she stressed the importance of “ensuring that peaceful, lawful assemblies will not be harassed or broken up.”

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/4745616.html

Paul Goble: Moscow Can Gain Azerbaijan as a Strategic Partner without Sacrificing Its Ties to Armenia


One of the fundamental assumptions about Russia and the Southern Caucasus is no longer true in the wake of the August 2008 Georgian war, an Baku commentator says, and consequently Moscow can develop a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan “without losing its old ally,” Armenia. In an essay in the current issue of “Vestnik Kavkaza,” Emma Tariverdiyeva argues that it is no longer the case that Moscow would have to sacrifice its relations with Armenia in order to achieve a warming of ties with Azerbaijan. Instead, she says, the Russian government can achieve good relations with both (www.vestikavkaza.ru/analytics/politika/12374.html).

That geopolitical change has its roots in the August 2008 war, as a result of which the Russian-Georgian frontier was closed. That means that for the first time, the three longest borders in the South Caucasus were shut – the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Armenian-Turkish borders were already closed – and that all of the players needed to take some radical steps. Over the last 15 months, the Trend News writer says, three of those have occurred – the development of relations between Armenia and Turkey, the intensification of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, and new energy projects, all of which both reflect and further transform changed geopolitical assumptions in that region.

For the first time since the Cold War, she continues, Russia has been able to “reacquire the status of one of the key regional players.” It has expanded its contacts with Turkey, “by supporting Ankara’s plans for a ‘Stability and Cooperation Platform in the South Caucasus’” and by backing the normalization of relations between Yerevan and Ankara. Many observers were surprised by Russia’s rapprochement with Turkey in this regard given that Ankara has its own agenda in the South Caucasus, one that challenges Moscow’s position there. But Tariverdiyeva says that the new ties are turning out to be “profitable” for both sides. On the one hand, Turkey has “a multitude of problems in its relations with Armenia,” given that the latter remains “an ally and partner of Moscow in the Caucasus.” But on the other, “Russia has interests in Azerbaijan,” which can be promoted only by a certain shift in Moscow’s position on Armenia.

But precisely because the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement has contributed to a certain “cooling” in relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey, Tariverdiyeva says, “Russia is right to use the situation in order to improve its relations with Baku,” which has both energy resources and transportation routes in which Moscow is vitally interested. “The only way toward a genuine change in the situation in the South Caucasus,” however, is “the regulation of the oldest frozen conflict in the Caucasus” – Nagorno-Karabakh. In the past, because of its ties with Armenia, Moscow was not prepared to push hard for this, seeing the continuation of the status quo as bringing Russia benefits.

Now, however, two things have changed in that calculus. After the Georgian war, Russia very much wants to win for itself “the image of a peacemaker,” and because Turkey won’t ratify the protocols if Yerevan does not begin to withdraw from the occupied territories, Moscow has an additional reason to press Armenia. By pushing Armenia to withdraw then, the Russian government will win friends in Baku, which Moscow ultimately wants because “Azerbaijan is the most strategically important country in the Southern Caucasus, the geopolitical center of the region and a territory rich with energy resources.”

Indeed, the Trend commentator notes, Gazprom has already declared that “it intends to purchase gas from Baku at a price three times larger than the 120 US dollars per 1,000 cubic meters that Azerbaijan had been selling natural gas to Turkey,” something that will also solidify Russia’s position there. While doing this, she argues, Moscow can be confident that it will not lose its influence in Armenia. Yerevan “will never trust Turkey as much as it trusts Moscow,” she points out. There is simply too much history – including the events of 1915 and Armenian actions against Turkish diplomats – for that to change anytime soon.

As a result, Tariverdiyeva says, “Russia will be able to acquire a strategic partner in the region [Azerbaijan] without losing its longtime ally [Armenia].” Her conclusion may be overly optimistic, as she herself implies, but the appearance of such arguments shows how changes since the Georgian war are calling into question the assumptions many still make.

Source: http://georgiandaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15915&Itemid=65&lang=en

Two Steps Backwards in the Caucasus

In recent days there have been two symbolic events that run the danger of igniting hostilities in an already tense neighborhood of the Caucasus. On Aug. 31 a former Azerbaijan Army lieutenant, Ramil Safarov, flew back to Baku after serving eight years in a Budapest jail for killing Gurgen Margarian in 2004. The victim, an Armenian officer, had been a fellow participant in a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise. Safarov hacked him to death in his sleep with an ax.

The Hungarian government transferred the prisoner to Azerbaijan on the understanding that he would serve out the rest of his life sentence in his home country. But immediately upon his arrival in Baku, Lieutenant Safarov was pardoned by President Ilham Aliyev, restored to military duties, promoted to major, given an apartment and awarded back pay for his time in prison. These actions drew universal condemnation from Washington, Moscow and European governments.

Apart from the fact that such a step is an affront to basic notions of justice and the rule of law, even more troubling is the message that it sends to the rest of the world: that the Azerbaijani government thinks it is acceptable to kill Armenians. Apparently, the grievances they suffered in their defeat by Armenian forces in 1992-94 are so profound that even murder is excusable. It is hard, then, to ask the Armenians living in Karabakh to quietly accept the idea that the solution to their disputed territory is for them to return to living under Azerbaijani rule.

This one single act could undo the patient efforts of diplomats and activists over many years to try to rebuild connections and work toward mutual trust — without which any kind of peace settlement will be a pipe dream.

Compounding the problem was a less significant but still noteworthy gesture. On Sept. 3, Richard Morningstar, the new U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, paid his respects to Heidar Aliyev, the deceased former president (and father of the incumbent), by laying a wreath at his statue in central Baku. Apparently it is standard protocol for U.S. ambassadors to include this stop in their round of duties when arriving in Baku. Photographs also clearly showed the ambassador bowing his head before the monument, though a State Department spokesman later denied this.

Mr. Morningstar’s far from empty gesture sent two wrong signals. First, it is disheartening to Azerbaijani democratic activists to see the United States so cravenly supporting dictatorship as a suitable form of rule, a pattern all too familiar from U.S. policy toward the entire Middle East.

Second, it signals to Armenia — and its principal ally, Russia — that the United States is an unqualified backer of the Azerbaijani government, warts and all. Strategic interests — Caspian oil, access to Central Asia, containment of Iran — count for more than the niceties of human rights and democratic procedure. This makes it all but impossible for Armenia to expect the United States to act as an honest broker in the peace process. And if the United States cannot play that role, no one else will.

Diplomacy has long revolved around such symbolic acts. In 1793, the Earl Macartney, British ambassador to China, was thrown out of the country when he refused to kowtow before the emperor. More recently, visits by Japanese government ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, commemorating the souls of warriors, have triggered protests from China and South Korea.

By contrast, when Chancellor Willy Brandt fell to his knees before the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970 he turned a page in German atonement for its past atrocities. In the same spirit, Vladimir Putin sent a clear message of reconciliation when in 2010 he knelt at the monument to the Polish officers killed at Katyn on Stalin’s orders.

What we need in the Caucasus are leaders willing to follow the examples of Mr. Brandt and Mr. Putin, with the courage to show contrition and a willingness to meet with their former adversary and figure out a way to live together. We may be in for a long wait.

Peter Rutland is a professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/two-steps-backwards-in-the-caucasus.html?_r=0

Hikmet Hajizade: "Russia does not trust Azerbaijan, considering it to be a country of a different unfriendly civilization"


Day.Az interview with famous political scientist Hikmet Hajizade.

- What do you expect from official visit of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to Azerbaijan, scheduled for July 3-4?

- Perhaps, several important intergovernmental issues will be discussed,but the most important, what Russia is concerned about are energy problems. Russia tries to prevent Caspian energy sources supply to the world market via Azerbaijan bypassing Russia. Moreover, Russia tries to possess the Caspian gas to strengthen monopolistic positions of Gazprom in ensuring gas for Europe. Perhaps, we will be persuaded to reject support of Georgia.

- A number of experts state that Russia is still ruled by Vladimir Putin, while Dmitri Medvedev fulfills purely representative functions. Do you agree with this point?

- Yes, it is this way so far, but I would like to note that Putin has once been not the sole ruler of Russia and was a representative of a powerful grouping comprising senior officers of the FSS and reconnaissance. Medvedev has not taken any steps, not envisioned by the strategy of the said grouping. His speech during the economic forum in Petersburg was in fact the repetition of the confrontation Munich speech of Putin. But let's not hurry. Medvedev has time for demonstrating himself as an independent politician.

- Vladimir Putin's presidency was marked with a thaw in the Azerbaijani-Russian relations. Can we expect further closing of our countries under Dmitri Medvedev?

- Well, anyway, the relations will not worsen significantly under him, except for any extraordinary cases. Some toughening of policy towards Azerbaijani migrants is possible, which can be prevented by our diplomacy.

- How far can Russia go in its loyalty to Azerbaijan and can we expect from Russia to impose pressure on Armenia strong enough for this country to return the occupied lands to us?

- Under the current course, laid in the mid 1990s and finally formed under Putin, no changes are expected in the Russia's policy towards conflicts in the Caucasus. Too much should change in Russia and in the world for Moscow to reject support of separatism in the Caucasus.

- What can Azerbaijan give to Russia in exchange for such steps as pressure on Armenia?

- Russia demands too much: to reject our independent external and energy policy, give up developing relations with Turkey and NATO, reject support to Georgia, join the Collective Security Treaty, allow Russian frontier guards to guard our borders and return troops to Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, by doing it all we will not have a guarantee that we will get Karabakh as Russia does not trust Azerbaijan considering it to be a part of a different unfriendly civilization. Russia strategists consider that Azerbaijan will always dream of being with Turkey, strive for European integration and independence from Russia.

Source: http://www.today.az/news/politics/45593.html

Wikileaks: Azerbaijan “terrified” by potential Armenian attack

Despite record growth in military spending and frequently heard threats by top officials to resume hostilities in Karabakh, Azerbaijani leadership is said to be "terrified" by a prospect of an Armenian military attack, a Stratfor memo made available via Wikileaks revealed. The memo was prepared by Reva Bhalla, Stratfor's director of analysis, following her August 2010 meeting with a source described as "Ambassador-at-large for energy security, Czech Republic." While the official is not named in the memo, Vaclav Bartuska has been the Czech envoy on energy security for the last several years.

The Czech official reportedly told Bhalla that "It is remarkable to what degree Azerbaijan is under Russian influence. THey are thinking about their survival. The Azerbaijanis cannot agree to a final deal on Shah Deniz II" natural gas field being developed in the Caspian by BP and whose output is sought by Russia and Western energy consumers.

"When I was in Baku recently, they showed me a 3-D topographic map of Armenia, AZ [Azerbaijan], Nagorno [Karabakh]," the Czech related. "You can see very clearly that once (and if) the Armenians cross over with Russian backing, it is a flat path to Baku. The Russians told them during the Georgia war that Georgia could just be the first stop... pretty direct threat. The Azerbaijanis are terrified of this."

According to press reports, in June 2010 Bartuska participated in the Baku oil and gas conference annually organized by the Azerbaijani government. Bhalla's memo was part of the Stratfor e-mail cache obtained last December by internet hacking group known as the Anonymous. Last year, speaking on the third anniversary of the Georgia war, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev argued that the 2008 war taught parties to the Karabakh conflict "a very serious lesson" that it was "better to conduct endless talks" than fight even a few days of war.

And State Department cables also released by Wikileaks made clear that in U.S. assessment, despite the military build-up and threatening rhetoric, Azerbaijan remains incapable of launching a successful military campaign against Armenia.

Source: http://www.reporter.am/go/article/2012-03-31-wikileaks-azerbaijan--terrified--by-potential-armenian-attack

A Changing Caucasus Landscape or an Old Balancing Act?


During President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Yerevan last week, Russia and Armenia were reported to have signed a series of deals in the military sphere, some of which were not made public. The most striking of these agreements, however, was a protocol that extended the lease of a Russian military base in the Armenian town of Gyumri from 25 to 49 years. The base, officially operating since 1997, presently hosts 5,000 Russian troops along with MiG-29 fighter jets as well as S-300 air defense missiles.

Medvedev maintained that the purpose of the base is to “support peace and stability in the southern Caucasus, and the entire Caucasus region.” Yet many analysts, those from Turkey and Azerbaijan in particular, believe that the new deal could also be interpreted as a veiled message from Moscow, as well as a warning, to both Ankara and Baku. According to those subscribing to this view, the protocol is proof of the emergence of new alliances in the region. In fact, remarks made by Armenian authorities subsequent to the new agreement indeed strengthen such arguments. As a case in point, President Serzh Sarksyan has gone on the record as claiming that the base will extend the sphere of its geographic and strategic responsibility.

The coincidence of the recent deal with growing voices from Azerbaijan that it might resort to force to liberate its territories under Armenian occupation is another factor being cited in support of claims that the alliance of the recent past between Armenia and Russia is being consolidated again. In Ankara, however, circles close to the Turkish government don’t share this pessimism. They say that the protocol is another attempt by Russia to maintain the balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A senior Turkish authority who shares this view maintained that the recent move is one intended to placate the Armenian government following rumors with regard to plans to sell high-tech weaponry to Azerbaijan and Russia’s commitment for the resolution to the Karabakh problem.

Another senior Turkish figure I spoke with has suggested that I concentrate on the economic aspect of the visit. Indeed, Yerevan has reportedly awarded Russia with a contract to build two new reactors on the site of a Soviet-era nuclear power plant. Moreover, arms sale is rumored to be on the agenda as well. With a wry smile on his lips he told me, “The Russians have become very good businessmen and have learned how to bargain and what to sacrifice in return for economic gain.”

However, Turkish foreign policy circles hold serious concerns that Armenia might see this protocol as a green light from Russia to continue with a non-conciliatory approach to ongoing peace negotiations with Azerbaijan. A Justice and Development Party, or AKP, figure close to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for instance, said that Erdoğan has very strong expectations from both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin regarding a resolution to the Karabakh problem. He emphasized that on nearly every occasion when this issue has been discussed with the Russians, this country's expectations of them have been communicated with frankness. He concluded with a reminder that without positive Russian involvement, this problem can never be solved and that they have given firm commitments to help.

In such a milieu, I believe it is worth wrapping up by reminding our Russian friends of what Erdoğan is said to have frankly told the two Russian leaders last year: “We, as Turkey, don’t want outside forces to get involved in a problem that the regional countries should be able to solve themselves.” What do you think? Is this a desire shared by the Russians as well? Or in the Russian perception, are the narrow short-term gains more important than the long-term mutual benefits?

Shifting Geopolitics - The Rise of Russia and Turkey


Russian President Dmitri Medvedev reportedly will travel to Turkey in the near future to follow up a recent four-day visit by his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to Moscow. The Turks and the Russians certainly have much to discuss. Russia is moving aggressively to extend its influence throughout the former Soviet empire, while Turkey is rousing itself from 90 years of post-Ottoman isolation. Both are clearly ascendant powers, and it would seem logical that the more the two bump up against one other, the more likely they will gird for yet another round in their centuries-old conflict. But while that may be true down the line, the two Eurasian powers have sufficient strategic incentives to work together for now.

Russia's World

Russia is among the world's most strategically vulnerable states . Its core, the Moscow region, boasts no geographic barriers to invasion. Russia must thus expand its borders to create the largest possible buffer for its core, which requires forcibly incorporating legions of minorities who do not see themselves as Russian. The Russian government estimates that about 80 percent of Russia's approximately 140 million people are actually ethnically Russian, but this number is somewhat suspect, as many minorities define themselves based on their use of the Russian language, just as many Hispanics in the United States define themselves by their use of English as their primary language. Thus, ironically, attaining security by creating a strategic buffer creates a new chronic security problem in the form of new populations hostile to Moscow's rule. The need to deal with the latter problem explains the development of Russia's elite intelligence services, which are primarily designed for and tasked with monitoring the country's multiethnic population.

Russia's primary challenge, however, is time. In the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, the bottom fell out of the Russian birthrate, with fewer than half the number of babies born in the 1990s than were born in the 1980s. These post-Cold War children are now coming of age; in a few years, their small numbers are going to have a catastrophic impact on the size of the Russian population. By contrast, most non-Russian minorities — in particular those such as Chechens and Dagestanis, who are of Muslim faith — did not suffer from the 1990s birthrate plunge, so their numbers are rapidly increasing even as the number of ethnic Russians is rapidly decreasing. Add in deep-rooted, demographic-impacting problems such as HIV, tuberculosis and heroin abuse — concentrated not just among ethnic Russians but also among those of childbearing age — and Russia faces a hard-wired demographic time bomb. Put simply, Russia is an ascending power in the short run, but it is a declining power in the long run.

The Russian leadership is well aware of this coming crisis, and knows it is going to need every scrap of strength it can muster just to continue the struggle to keep Russia in one piece. To this end, Moscow must do everything it can now to secure buffers against external intrusion in the not-so-distant future. For the most part, this means rolling back Western influence wherever and whenever possible, and impressing upon states that would prefer integration into the West that their fates lie with Russia instead. Moscow's natural gas crisis with Ukraine , August 2008 war with Georgia , efforts to eject American forces from Central Asia and constant pressure on the Baltic states all represent efforts to buy Russia more space — and with that space, more time for survival.

Expanding its buffer against such a diverse and potentially hostile collection of states is no small order, but Russia does have one major advantage: The security guarantor for nearly all of these countries is the United States, and the United States is currently very busy elsewhere. So long as U.S. ground forces are occupied with the Iraqi and Afghan wars, the Americans will not be riding to the rescue of the states on Russia's periphery. Given this window of opportunity , the Russians have a fair chance to regain the relative security they seek. In light of the impending demographic catastrophe and the present window of opportunity, the Russians are in quite a hurry to act.

Turkey's World

Turkey is in many ways the polar opposite of Russia. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, Turkey was pared down to its core, Asia Minor. Within this refuge, Turkey is nearly unassailable . It is surrounded by water on three sides, commands the only maritime connection between the Black and Mediterranean seas and sits astride a plateau surrounded by mountains. This is a very difficult chunk of territory to conquer. Indeed, beginning in the Seljuk Age in the 11th century, the ancestors of the modern Turks took the better part of three centuries to seize this territory from its previous occupant, the Byzantine Empire.

The Turks have used much of the time since then to consolidate their position such that, as an ethnicity, they reign supreme in their realm. The Persians and Arabs have long since lost their footholds in Anatolia, while the Armenians were finally expelled in the dying days of World War I. Only the Kurds remain, and they do not pose a demographic challenge to the Turks. While Turkey exhibits many of the same demographic tendencies as other advanced developing states — namely, slowing birthrates and a steadily aging population — there is no major discrepancy between Turk and Kurdish birthrates, so the Turks should continue to comprise more than 80 percent of the country's population for some time to come. Thus, while the Kurds will continue to be a source of nationalistic friction, they do not constitute a fundamental challenge to the power or operations of the Turkish state, like minorities in Russia are destined to do in the years ahead.

Turkey's security is not limited to its core lands. Once one moves beyond the borders of modern Turkey, the existential threats the state faced in years past have largely melted away. During the Cold War, Turkey was locked into the NATO structure to protect itself from Soviet power. But now the Soviet Union is gone, and the Balkans and Caucasus — both former Ottoman provinces — are again available for manipulation. The Arabs have not posed a threat to Anatolia in nearly a millennium, and any contest between Turkey and Iran is clearly a battle of unequals in which the Turks hold most of the cards. If anything, the Arabs — who view Iran as a hostile power with not only a heretical religion but also with a revolutionary foreign policy calling for the overthrow of most of the Arab regimes — are practically welcoming the Turks back . Despite both its imperial past and its close security association with the Americans, the Arabs see Turkey as a trusted mediator, and even an exemplar.

With the disappearance of the threats of yesteryear, many of the things that once held Turkey's undivided attention have become less important to Ankara. With the Soviet threat gone, NATO is no longer critical . With new markets opening up in the former Soviet Union, Turkey's obsession with seeking EU membership has faded to a mere passing interest. Turkey has become a free agent , bound by very few relationships or restrictions, but dabbling in events throughout its entire periphery. Unlike Russia, which feels it needs an empire to survive, Turkey is flirting with the idea of an empire simply because it can — and the costs of exploring the option are negligible. Whereas Russia is a state facing a clear series of threats in a very short time frame, Turkey is a state facing a veritable smorgasbord of strategic options under no time pressure whatsoever. Within that disconnect lies the road forward for the two states — and it is a road with surprisingly few clashes ahead in the near term.

The Field of Competition

There are four zones of overlapping interest for the Turks and Russians. First, the end of the Soviet empire opened up a wealth of economic opportunities, but very few states have proven adept at penetrating the consumer markets of Ukraine and Russia. Somewhat surprisingly, Turkey is one of those few states. Thanks to the legacy of Soviet central planning, Russian and Ukrainian industry have found it difficult to retool away from heavy industry to produce the consumer goods much in demand in their markets. Because most Ukrainians and Russians cannot afford Western goods, Turkey has carved out a robust and lasting niche with its lower-cost exports; it is now the largest supplier of imports to the Russian market. While this is no exercise in hard power, this Turkish penetration nevertheless is cause for much concern among Russian authorities.

So far, Turkey has been scrupulous about not politicizing these useful trade links beyond some intelligence-gathering efforts (particularly in Ukraine). Considering Russia's current financial problems , having a stable source of consumer goods — especially one that is not China — is actually seen as a positive. At least for now, the Russian government would rather see its trade relationship with Turkey stay strong. There will certainly be a clash later — either as Russia weakens or as Turkey becomes more ambitious — but for now, the Russians are content with the trade relationship.

Second, the Russian retreat in the post-Cold War era has opened up the Balkans to Turkish influence. Romania, Bulgaria and the lands of the former Yugoslavia are all former Ottoman possessions, and in their day they formed the most advanced portion of the Ottoman economy. During the Cold War, they were all part of the Communist world, with Romania and Bulgaria formally incorporated into the Soviet bloc. While most of these lands are now absorbed into the European Union, Russia's ties to its fellow Slavs — most notably the Serbs and Bulgarians — have allowed it a degree of influence that most Europeans choose to ignore. Additionally, Russia has long held a friendly relationship with Greece and Cyprus, both to complicate American policy in Europe and to provide a flank against Turkey. Still, thanks to proximity and trading links, Turkey clearly holds the upper hand in this theater of competition.

But this particular region is unlikely to generate much Turkish-Russian animosity, simply because both countries are in the process of giving up. Most of the Balkan states are already members of an organization that is unlikely to ever admit Russia or Turkey: the European Union. Russia simply cannot meet the membership criteria, and Cyprus' membership in essence strikes the possibility of Turkish inclusion. (Any EU member can veto the admission of would-be members.) The EU-led splitting of Kosovo from Serbia over Russian objections was a body blow to Russian power in the region, and the subsequent EU running of Kosovo as a protectorate greatly limited Turkish influence as well. Continuing EU expansion means that Turkish influence in the Balkans will shrivel just as Russian influence already has. Trouble this way lies, but not between Turkey and Russia. If anything, their joint exclusion might provide some room for the two to agree on something.

The third area for Russian-Turkish competition is in energy, and this is where things get particularly sticky. Russia is Turkey's No. 1 trading partner, with energy accounting for the bulk of the trade volume between the two countries. Turkey depends on Russia for 65 percent of its natural gas and 40 percent of its oil imports. Though Turkey has steadily grown its trade relationship with Russia, it does not exactly approve of Moscow's penchant for using its energy relations with Europe as a political weapon. Russia has never gone so far as to cut supplies to Turkey directly, but Turkey has been indirectly affected more than once when Russia decided to cut supplies to Ukraine because Moscow felt the need to reassert its writ in Kiev.

Sharing the Turks' energy anxiety, the Europeans have been more than eager to use Turkey as an energy transit hub for routes that would bypass the Russians altogether in supplying the European market. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is one such route, and others, like Nabucco, are still stuck in the planning stages. The Russians have every reason to pressure the Turks into staying far away from any more energy diversification schemes that could cost Russia one of its biggest energy clients — and deny Moscow much of the political leverage it currently holds over the Europeans who are dependent on the Russian energy network.

There are only two options for the Turks in diversifying away from the Russians. The first lies to Turkey's south in Iraq and Iran . Turkey has big plans for Iraq's oil industry, but it will still take considerable time to upgrade and restore the oil fields and pipelines that have been persistently sabotaged and ransacked by insurgents during the fighting that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion. The Iranians offer another large source of energy for the Turks to tap into, but the political complications attached to dealing with Iran are still too prickly for the Turks to move ahead with concrete energy deals at this time. Complications remain for now, but Turkey will be keeping an eye on its Middle Eastern neighbors for robust energy partnerships in the future.

The second potential source of energy for the Turks lies in Central Asia , a region that Russia must keep in its grip at all costs if it hopes to survive in the long run. In many ways this theater is the reverse of the Balkans, where the Russians hold the ethnic links and the Turks the economic advantage. Here, four of the five Central Asian countries — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan — are Turkic. But as a consequence of the Soviet years, the infrastructure and economies of all four are so hardwired into the Russian sphere of influence that it would take some major surgery to liberate them. But the prize is a rich one: Central Asia possesses the world's largest concentration of untapped energy reserves . And as the term “central” implies, whoever controls the region can project power into the former Soviet Union, China and South Asia. If the Russians and Turks are going to fight over something, this is it. Here Turkey faces a problem, however — it does not directly abut the region. If the Turks are even going to attempt to shift the Central Asian balance of power, they will need a lever. This brings us to the final — and most dynamic — realm of competition: the Caucasus.

Turkey here faces the best and worst in terms of influence projection. The Azerbaijanis do not consider themselves simply Turkic, like the Central Asians, but actually Turkish. If there is a country in the former Soviet Union that would consider not only allying with but actually joining with another state to escape Russia's orbit, it would be Azerbaijan with Turkey. Azerbaijan has its own significant energy supplies , but its real value is in serving as a willing springboard for Turkish influence into Central Asia. 

However, the core of Azerbaijan does not border Turkey. Instead, it is on the other side of Armenia, a country that thrashed Azerbaijan in a war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and still has lingering animosities toward Ankara because of the 1915 Armenian “genocide.” Armenia has sold itself to the Russians to keep its Turkish foes at bay.

This means Turkish designs on Central Asia all boil down to the former Soviet state of Georgia. If Turkey can bring Georgia fully under its wing, Turkey can then set about to integrate with Azerbaijan and project influence into Central Asia. But without Georgia, Turkey is hamstrung before it can even begin to reach for the real prize in Central Asia. In this, the Turks do not see the Georgians as much help. The Georgians do not have much in the way of a functional economy or military, and they have consistently overplayed their hand with the Russians in the hopes that the West would come to their aid. Such miscalculations contributed to the August 2008 Georgian-Russian war, in which Russia smashed what military capacity the Georgians did possess. So while Ankara sees the Georgians as reliably anti-Russian, it does not see them as reliably competent or capable.

This means that Turkish-Russian competition may have been short-circuited before it even began. Meanwhile, the Americans and Russians are beginning to outline the rudiments of a deal. Various items on the table include Russia allowing the Americans to ship military supplies to Afghanistan via Russia's sphere of influence, changes to the U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) program, and a halt to NATO expansion. The last prong is a critical piece of Russian-Turkish competition. Should the Americans and Europeans put their weight behind NATO expansion, Georgia would be a logical candidate — meaning most of the heavy lifting in terms of Turkey projecting power eastward would already be done. But if the Americans and Europeans do not put their weight behind NATO expansion, Georgia would fall by the wayside and Turkey would have to do all the work of projecting power eastward — and facing the Russians — alone.

A Temporary Meeting of Minds?

There is clearly no shortage of friction points between the Turks and the Russians. With the two powers on a resurgent path, it was only a matter of time before they started bumping into one another. The most notable clash occurred when the Russians decided to invade Georgia last August, knowing full well that neither the Americans nor the Europeans would have the will or capability to intervene on behalf of the small Caucasian state. NATO's strongest response was a symbolic show of force that relied on Turkey, as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea , to allow a buildup of NATO vessels near the Georgian coast and threaten the underbelly of Russia's former Soviet periphery. Turkey disapproved of the idea of Russian troops bearing down in the Caucasus near the Turkish border, and Ankara was also angered by having its energy revenues cut off during the war when the BTC pipeline was taken offline.

The Russians promptly responded to Turkey's NATO maneuvers in the Black Sea by holding up a large amount of Turkish goods at various Russian border checkpoints to put the squeeze on Turkish exports. But the standoff was short-lived; soon enough, the Turks and Russians came to the negotiating table to end the trade spat and sort out their respective spheres of influence. The Russian-Turkish negotiations have progressed over the past several months, with Russian and Turkish leaders now meeting fairly regularly to sort out the issues where both can find some mutual benefit.

The first area of cooperation is Europe, where both Russia and Turkey have an interest in applying political pressure. Despite Europe's objections and rejections, the Turks are persistent in their ambitions to become a member of the European Union. At the same time, the Russians need to keep Europe linked into the Russian energy network and divided over any plans for BMD, NATO expansion or any other Western plan that threatens Russian national security. As long as Turkey stalls on any European energy diversification projects, the more it can demand Europe's attention on the issue of EU membership. In fact, the Turks already threatened as much at the start of the year, when they said outright that if Europe doesn't need Turkey as an EU member, then Turkey doesn't need to sign off on any more energy diversification projects that transit Turkish territory. Ankara's threats against Europe dovetailed nicely with Russia's natural gas cutoff to Ukraine in January, when the Europeans once again were reminded of Moscow's energy wrath.

The Turks and the Russians also can find common ground in the Middle East. Turkey is again expanding its influence deep into its Middle Eastern backyard, and Ankara expects to take the lead in handling the thorny issues of Iran, Iraq and Syria as the United States draws down its presence in the region and shifts its focus to Afghanistan. What the Turks want right now is stability on their southern flank. That means keeping Russia out of mischief in places like Iran, where Moscow has threatened to sell strategic S-300 air defense systems and to boost the Iranian nuclear program in order to grab Washington's attention on other issues deemed vital to Moscow's national security interests. The United States is already leaning on Russia to pressure Iran in return for other strategic concessions, and the Turks are just as interested as the Americans in taming Russia's actions in the Middle East.

Armenia is another issue where Russia and Turkey may be having a temporary meeting of minds. Russia unofficially occupies Armenia and has been building up a substantial military presence in the small Caucasian state. Turkey can either sit back, continue to isolate Armenia and leave it for the Russians to dominate through and through, or it can move toward normalizing relations with Yerevan and dealing with Russia on more equal footing in the Caucasus. With rumors flying of a deal on the horizon between Yerevan and Ankara (likely with Russia's blessing), it appears more and more that the Turks and the Russians are making progress in sorting out their respective spheres of influence. Ultimately, both Russia and Turkey know that this relationship is likely temporary at best. The two Eurasian powers still distrust each other and have divergent long-term goals, even if in the short term there is a small window of opportunity for Turkish and Russian interests to overlap. The law of geopolitics dictates that the two ascendant powers are doomed to clash — just not today.
Experts: Russian troops to shield Armenia’s frontier in case of new Karabakh war


Russian military experts offered forecasts and scenarios for possible conflicts Moscow could become drawn into. According to Russian media, resumption of a Karabakh war was named as one of the possibilities, with the geography of war capable of spreading beyond the borders of NKR. According to experts’ forecasts, in the event of a new war, Russian troops deployed at Armenia’s Gyumri military base will shield Armenia’s borders, thus enabling Armenian army soldiers to be more effectively used in Karabakh. According to a military expert Alexander Khramchikhin, Russia won’t gain from involvement in Karabakh war, with Moscow to find itself in a difficult situation should the conflict become “unfrozen.”

According to the expert, Russia has managed to stay flexible in its Transcaucasia-oriented policy, cooperating with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Should the conflict break out between the two above-mentioned countries, Russia won’t be openly supporting Armenia, with Moscow agreeing to become involved in a war were the 3rd parties, like Turkey, to interfere,” the expert predicted.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/130278/

Russia Protects Armenia From West


The deployment of the 102nd Russian military base in Gyumri remains the subject of heated debate. Some believe that that the Russian base guarantees security for Armenia, while some are convinced that the base threatens the sovereignty of the country. Pravda.Ru talked to the Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Issues Konstantin Sivkov to get some clarity on the situation.

"Turkey has an overwhelming military superiority in the region, and Russia is unlikely to be able (in military terms) to stop the advance of the Turkish troops. However, in case of an attack on Armenia, Turkey would declare a war on Russia as well. The 102nd Russian military base in Gyumri has more of a geopolitical significance rather than military. Do you agree with this statement?"

"Any military base located outside of Russia is a guarantee that in the event of military action against any such country, Russia will enter the conflict on the side of that country. Otherwise, there would be no military bases deployed there. This is clear. If Turkey attacks Armenia, it will be treated as an attack on Russia. Russia would fight on Armenia's side with all its might. If necessary, Russia could use nuclear weapons against Turkey, both tactical, and if need be, strategic. This is defined in the military doctrine of the Russian Federation. Armenia is fully protected with the Russian umbrella of both conventional forces as well as strategic nuclear forces."

"Russia spent a significant amount of money on Gabala radar station (RS) in Azerbaijan, as well as its military bases in Central Asia. There are sales of Russian weapons, including the offensive ones, to Azerbaijan. Currently, Armenia and Azerbaijan have the same sore issue - Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Why is Armenia not charging rent for the Russian base?"

"This is because Russia and Armenia are allies. They have no commercial relationship like the one between Azerbaijan and Russia. Russia will not fight for Azerbaijan, but will fight for Armenia. Armenia is part of the overall defense of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenia cannot maintain effective means of defense because it's quite expensive. The presence in the country of the Russian Federation base equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems S-300 and MiG-29 and able to provide a reliable defense against threats to Armenia of a certain scale, that is, something that can be fought off with their own forces and resources. In case of a more serious threat, additional forces and air defense and fighter aircraft may be redeployed there.

"The question of who needs the base more - Russia or Armenia - often turns into a pointless debate about dependence. Given the strained relations between Turkey and Armenia, the Karabakh conflict and open support that Ankara provides to Baku in this conflict, the 102nd Russian base plays an important role in ensuring the safety of Armenia. However, the U.S. has reasons behind the encouragement of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations with the help of Zurich protocols. The goal is to eliminate Armenia's interest in the presence of a Russian military base on its territory. What do you think about it?"

"The Russian military base in Armenia is not just for defense from Turkey. As I mentioned earlier, at the moment there is only one front - the conflict with Azerbaijan. To some extent, NATO military may present some risk for Armenia. The presence of the Russian military base in Armenia is equally convenient for both sides. Russia wants to push the frontiers of air capture as far from its borders as possible. In turn, Armenia is interested in protecting its sovereignty. The presence of the Russian military base in Armenia implies protection of the interests of this country. If some Armenians serve in the Russian army, the base is a natural element of the economic system in Armenia and aids in the consolidation and development of the economy of the country.

"Do you think the presence of the Russian military base in Armenia is a threat to its sovereignty?"

"This position is likely shared by Dashnak Armenian nationalists who in the beginning of the last century called for sovereignty and independence of Armenia. But such a small country like Armenia cannot exist without the patronage of major powers. If Russia leaves Armenia, the United States will come back. This is the only possible solution. The mere presence of the Russian military base is a guarantee of the sovereignty of Armenia. Moreover, the composition and size of the military base, and its primary task of defense, rule out the possibility of any significant impact on the internal political life of Armenia. Fighter jets can in no way affect the political life of this country."

Russian Defense Chief Praises ‘Strategic’ Ties With Armenia

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov emphasized the “strategic significance” of his country’s relations with Armenia after meeting Armenian leaders and watching military exercises held by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) near Yerevan on Wednesday.

Serdyukov joined President Serzh Sarkisian as well as his Armenian and Belarusian counterparts in monitoring the concluding phase of the five-day maneuvers held at the Armenian army’s Marshal Bagramian training ground. Kazakhstan’s top army general also arrived in Armenia on the occasion.

​​They looked on as about 2,000 soldiers from Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan simulated a joint operation against imaginary “illegal armed formations” invading a CSTO member state. The CSTO troops were backed up by tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, helicopter gunships and warplanes firing live rounds.

The drills also involved unmanned aircraft designed and manufactured in Armenia. The Krunk drones were first demonstrated by the Armenian military during a September 2011 parade in Yerevan. Serdyukov praised the course of the war games when he held talks with Sarkisian later in the day. The Armenian president’s press office said they also discussed Russian-Armenian military ties and security “challenges” facing the region.

Serdyukov said Russian-Armenian relations are currently “at the highest level” and are strategically important to both nations after a separate meeting with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. The meeting focused on what the two men called a “reorganization” of Russian troops stationed in Armenia.

“We have had quite good meetings today during which we discussed a broad range of issues related to the 102nd Russian military base stationed in Armenia and its reorganization taking place within the framework of a reform of Russia’s Armed Forces,” Serdyukov told journalists. ​​“We are transferring about 10 facilities to the Armenian side,” he said without elaborating. “We also discussed the issue of material-technical supplies to the base and our relationships in that regard.”

The Russian minister appeared to refer to a redeployment of Russian army units in Armenia, which began in early 2011. In an apparently related development, the Russian military announced in June that it will double this year the number of its soldiers serving at the Soviet-era base headquartered in Gyumri on a contractual basis. It is still not clear if the total number of its military personnel will change as a result.

The Russian base is believed to have between 4,000 and 5,000 troops. It is equipped with hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery systems as well as sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles and a squadron of MiG-29 fighter jets.

A Russian-Armenian agreement signed in 2010 extended the Russian military presence in the South Caucasus nation by 24 years, until 2044, and upgraded its security mission. It also committed the Russians to helping the Armenian military obtain “modern and compatible weaponry and (special) military hardware.”

Russia Hopes to Dissuade Azerbaijan From Going to War Over Runaway Nagorno-Karabakh


Three hypotheses explaining a dramatic enlargement of the Russian military group in Dagestan. Between 15,000 and 25,000 servicemen of the Defense Ministry and Internal Troops with heavy fighting vehicles were dispatched from Chechnya to Dagestan. The authorities call it planned rotation one day and establishment of the Interior Ministry's Tactical Force in Dagestan the following.

Eyewitness reports mentioned over 300 vehicles including armored personnel carriers, Ural ferries, and armored command vehicles on the way to Dagestan. T-90 tanks and multiple rocket launcher systems were already moved to Dagestan from Chechnya. According to official explanations, "some forces of the Provisional Task Force will be moved from Chechnya to Dagestan and transformed into the Interior Ministry's Tactical Force." Dagestani Security Council Secretary Magomed Baachilov, however, called it "planned rotation".

Both explanations are lame, of course. Official explanation is invalidated by the simple fact that no Tactical Force ever needs so many heavy armored vehicles and Grad launchers. Baachilov's is plain rubbish on account of the scope of the so called rotation. The impression is that a major operation against the extremist underground is planned in Dagestan. Or else the federal center knows something that warrants deployment of an equivalent of two divisions... in addition to the 136th Brigade quartered in Buinaksk, Marines in Kaspiisk, and countless OMON units.

There is, however, a third hypothesis as well. "As matters stand, there are between 55,000 and 57,000 servicemen quartered in the republic... discounting local law enforcement agencies... It is rumored here that come summer Azerbaijan will make another go at Nagorno-Karabakh and try to reabsorb the runaway region. All this military might concentrated in Dagestan is meant as a warning to Baku, a message that Russia will stand by Armenia," said a source in Dagestani security structures.

Source: Argumenty Nedeli, No 11, March 22, 2012, p. 2

Russia Hints At Intervention in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict


Several days after apparent widespread skirmishes all along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the Nagorno-Karabakh "line of contact," there is still very little information about what actually happened. For a while, though, at least on the internet, it seemed that a serious escalation of violence was imminent. It's a bit odd that, amid all the rumors of massive fighting, there doesn't seem to have been any casualties on either side, suggesting that the reports may have been some sort of deliberate disinformation campaign. And that's what the Armenian Defense Ministry has suggested:
The rumors spread by Azerbaijani mass media on the possible combat operations on NKR–Azerbaijan line of contact towards Aghdam and Fizulai are nothing but imagination. In comparison to June 7-8, the ceasefire violations in different parts of the front line have become more frequent and have increased. This, however, did not affect and will not affect the general state.
All the usual suspects issued the usual statements calling on both sides to settle the conflict peacefully, etc. But one international reaction was especially notable: Russia's. A Russian military spokesman noted that airmen at the Russian military base in Armenia have been stepping up their training flights since the beginning of the year. From the New York Times:
Russian fighter jets stationed at a base in Armenia have conducted about 300 training flights since the beginning of 2012, and have increased the number of flying hours by more than 20 percent from last year... Colonel Gorbul said Russian fighter pilots were preparing for combat. “The main emphasis in performing aerobatic elements is made on the ability to apply them in real-life air combat conditions,” he said.
Since the increase in flights began at the beginning of the year, it doesn't seem like it's in reaction to the flareup in violence. But the statement does seem like a reaction to the flareup. Russia is of course a crucial factor in any potential conflict over Karabakh: while Azerbaijan is on the way to gaining military superiority over Armenia, if Russia intervened on Armenia's side it would be a whole different story. (And whether they do may depend on whether the conflict is limited to Karabakh itself, or if it spreads to Armenia, as these recent skirmishes have.) It's of course easy for Russia to drop a hint like this that it might get involved than to actually get involved if push came to shove, but you can guess that this statement is being closely analyzed in Baku.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65525

The ‘Great Wall’ of Karabakh


The next meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia may take place under the mediation of French President Nikolas Sarkozy. This announcement was made Wednesday by Azerbaijani sources, who specified that the proposal was made during the French leader’s recent visit to the region and that it had been discussed and approved by the presidents of Russia and the United States. However, a spokesman for Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry categorically denied the information: “Azerbaijan has been acting strange lately.

One of the things the Armenian diplomat considered to be strange was Azerbaijan’s ANS Press reports about a wall which is being erected along the line of contact with the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh. The stone structure will stretch for almost 3 kilometers in Tatar District in order to “protect the residents of Azerbaijani villages from Armenian bullets.

Armenia has expressed a readiness to provide assistance in the construction of the wall.

“And not just for 3 kilometers, but along the entire border – so that they do not see us, and we don’t see them,” an officer of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army told Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NG). He added that “it would have been cheaper and easier for the Azerbaijanis to remove their snipers, but despite the recommendations made by the mediators, they are not – and we are forced to respond to fire with fire.

On the other hand, they have plenty of petro-dollars – they want a wall, let there be a wall,” said the source.

Though a wall can always be erected, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, Hadrian’s Wall, or even the Incas’ mysterious walls at Sacsayhuaman ultimately could not withstand the test of time. Another attempt to break through the wall of animosity between Azerbaijanis and Armenians will be made by the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group before the end of October. According to the foreign affairs minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mamedyarov, the mediators’ visit “will be aimed at searching for a compromise between the conflicting sides.” However, it seems that in reality Baku does not believe the forthcoming meeting will be productive.    

On Tuesday, the assistant secretary of the Security Department of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Elchin Guseinli, said that the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group are creating the possibility of artificially prolonging the Karabakh conflict.

The Minsk Group has been carrying an important responsibility for 20 years, but the co-chairmen still do not feel like they are… The passive attitude of the OSCE Minsk Group toward conflict regulation could undermine the authority of this organization in the Caucasus,” Guseinli said at a conference in Baku which was jointly organized by the interstate GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) and the Baltic Assembly (inter-parliamentary organization of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia).

In Guseinli’s opinion, the Karabakh conflict and the conflicts in Georgia threaten international security, and the OSCE Minsk Group, “instead of supporting the just position of Azerbaijan… prefers to cooperate with Armenia.

Guseinli complained about Armenia’s close military and political ties with Russia, which are “a reason for instability in the region,” and accused Erevan of violating its international obligations: the arms and the military personnel of Armenia are allegedly exceeding the limits set forth in international treaties, which indicates that Armenia is getting ready for war, whereas “Azerbaijan is using its acquired weapons for the protection of its energy infrastructure.

The validity of these claims will need to be determined by the assistant secretary of state for arms control, Rose Gottemoeller, who will inspect the South Caucasus countries during a visit October 14-19. In the meantime, Mikhail Aleksandrov, an expert with the Institute of CIS, declared Guseinli’s statements to be illogical.

It is strange hearing Azerbaijan accuse Armenia of being engaged in an arms race,” he said. “Baku is the one provoking it and flaunting its military budget. Baku is the one insisting that a military solution to the problem is possible. Azerbaijan should reconsider its approach – the standard of living in the country is not high to the point of being able to spend such resources on the military.”

Aleksandrov also criticized the Azerbaijani official’s claims regarding the creation of a regional imbalance as a result of Russia and Armenia’s strategic partnership. “To the contrary, Armenian-Russian ties support a balance of forces,” Aleksandrov said. “With its presence in the South Caucasus, Russia is creating a counterbalance to Turkey, Iran and preventing the West from getting access to the region, including military. If it wasn’t for Russia, the South Caucasus would be in a similar situation as we are observing in Syria or Libya today.

As for the accusations directed at the OSCE Minsk Group of creating obstacles to conflict resolution, the political scientist believes that “it is simply pressure to persuade mediators to side with Baku.”

Conflict settlement is possible only if both sides decide to compromise, but Azerbaijan has no intention to yield and blames the OSCE,” Aleksandrov said. “It wants to gain everything back in the same shape as it was in before the collapse of the Soviet Union, which is impossible. Baku must recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence in exchange for seven districts around it – this option is still available, but might also become unrealizable in another 10 years.

The OSCE is the only institution working on European security, and it does not matter whether Azerbaijan likes it or not… The bellicose rhetoric of Baku is at odds with OSCE policy – neither Europe nor the United States wants a new war in the Caucasus,” said Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Military Forecasting Center at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis. “Azerbaijan will hardly be able to go outside of the Minsk Group format. Despite some shortcomings, the OSCE has strong positions. It’s worth mentioning that the conflict itself and its settlement process do not solely depend on Azerbaijan, but also on Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and partially Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Armenia, Russia Plan Joint Arms Production


In what will be a further boost to their close defense ties, Armenia and Russia are to start jointly manufacturing weapons and other military equipment under an agreement that was approved by the Armenian government on Thursday. The government said the draft agreement regulates “manufacturing and research cooperation” between Armenian and Russian defense companies. It commits them to supplying each other with equipment, assembly parts and other materials needed for the production, modernization and repair of various arms.

The agreement, which was drawn up shortly after Russia Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s September visit to Armenia, also stipulates that the jointly manufactured weaponry cannot be re-exported or transferred to third countries without the supplier’s permission.

Yerevan and Moscow had already agreed to step up cooperation between their defense industries within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, said in November last year that they are setting up joint ventures in Armenia for the “maintenance, repair and modernization of some types of weaponry.” He did not elaborate.

Also, Russia is supposed to provide “special military hardware” to the Armenian military in accordance with a Russian-Armenian defense accord signed more than two years ago. The deal extended the presence of a Russian military base in Armenia by 24 years, until 2044.

​​“Moscow signs such agreements only in cases where it is interested in concrete [mutually beneficial] cooperation,” Aleksandr Golts, a leading Russian defense analyst, said of the new agreement announced by Yerevan. “So one can assume that with this agreement Armenia has not only expectations from Russia but probably also something to offer,” Golts told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian praised the domestic defense industry in January, saying that it can now cater for Armenia’s practically entire military arsenal. Some of its output was demonstrated during a military parade in Yerevan in September 2011. That included unmanned military aircraft, flamethrowers and multiple grenade launchers. Armenia is also believed to manufacture bullets and other ammunition.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/24765201.html

An Agency of Russian State Reserves to be Established in Armenia


An agency of Russian state reserves will be established in Armenia, i.e. Armenia and Russia will create a joint regional reserve infrastructure, Secretary of the Armenian National Security Council Arthur Baghdasaryan said at the sitting of the interagency commission coordinating the implementation of arrangements within the framework of the CSTO. According to him, this will be of great impotence for the development of the system of Armenia’s state reserves.

During the sitting Arthur Baghdasaryan presented the agreements reached during his meeting with CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha on October 15 and the roundtable discussion on “Armenia’s activity within the CSTO framework.”

He informed that an agreement had been reached on creating an Academy in Armenia within the framework of the CSTO. “It will provide an opportunity to the employees of the National Security Councils, Ministries of Emergency Situations and Police of CSTO member states to take training courses with the involvement of CSTO resources,” Arthur Baghdasaryan said. The NSC Secretary informed also that during his visit to Moscow Russian President Vladimir Puitn signed a decree on opening of the Armenian Representation of the Russian “Rosgranitsa” state agency.

Source: http://www.armradio.am/en/2012/11/09/an-agency-of-russian-state-reserves-to-be-established-in-armenia/

Expert: Armenian goods transit through Abkhazia may be blocked


Normalization of Russian-Georgian relations through solution of a number of issues to boost the process has long been a subject of discussions among politicians and experts, a Caucasus expert said. As Alexander Krylov told PanARMENIAN.Net debates around the issue intensified after Georgian opposition’s parliamentary win. “Drastic steps to normalize ties need to be taken in near future to avoid missing opportunities. The process will be harder to launch as the effect from the opposition victory wears off,” the expert said.

“Opening of Abkhazian railway section would prove reconciliation process has started, with Russian market allowing access to Georgian products. Restoration of diplomatic ties could easily follow normalization of economic relations,” the expert said.

“However, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia issues, the situation won’t be so easy to handle. Even technically, Georgia and Russia won’t be able to open the railway section without a prior agreement of Abkhazian authorities. And the latters won’t permit it without significant concessions from Tbilisi, which it is highly unlikely to make,” the expert said.

“Also, Georgia’s partnership with Azerbaijan and Turkey exacerbates the problem. Aware of Tbilisi’s dependence, its neighbors will do their best to disallow transportation of Armenian goods through Abkhazia, by keeping the railway section blocked,” the expert said.

“Superpowers outside the region are not interested in strengthening of Russia’s influence in South Caucasus. Even Armenian Diaspora’s potential won’t be strong enough to promote the unblocking of Abkhazia section in the U.S. and EU. Thus, finding economically advantageous transportation routes remains among key issues in Armenia,” the expert stressed.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/133232/Expert_Armenian_goods_transit_through_Abkhazia_may_be_blocked

Moscow Optimizes its Military Grouping in the South


The geopolitical situation unfolding around Syria and Iran is prompting Russia to make its military structures in the South Caucasus, on the Caspian, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions more efficient. Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s (NG) Defense Ministry sources are saying that the Kremlin has been informed about an upcoming US-supported Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The strike will be sudden and take place on “day X” in the near future. One could assume Iran’s reaction will not be delayed. A full-scale war is possible, and its consequences could be unpredictable.

This problem is currently being addressed as a priority issue at the EU-Russia summit in Brussels with the participation of President Dmitry Medvedev. A day before the event, Russia’s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, relayed a message from the Kremlin, saying that an Israeli or US strike on Iran will lead to “a catastrophic development of events.” The diplomat stressed that the negative consequences will not only be felt by the region, “but also in a much broader context.” Russia’s direct diplomatic pressure on Europe and the global community in respect to issues concerning a possible war in Iran began recently after the IAEA’s publication of a report on the Iranian nuclear program in November.

However, in the military sphere, Russia’s preparations for minimization of losses from possible military action against Tehran began more than two years ago. Today, they are nearly complete. According to the Defense Ministry sources, the 102nd military base in Armenia was fully optimized in October-November 2011. Military personnel’s families have been evacuated to Russia, and the Russian garrison deployed near Yerevan reduced. Military sub-units stationed in the area have been transferred to Gyumri district, closer to the Turkish border.

Strikes against Iranian facilities by US troops are possible from Turkish territory. So far, it is unclear as to what tasks the 102nd military base will perform in relation to this. But it is known that Russian troops stationed at military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, have been on high alert since December 1 of this year. Meanwhile, ships of the Black Sea Fleet are located not far from the Georgian border which in this conflict could act on the side of the anti-Iranian forces.

In Izberbash, Dagestan, nearly adjacent to the Azerbaijani border, a coastal guided missile battalion equipped with onshore anti-ship Bal-E missile systems with a range of 130 km, have been put on permanent combat readiness status. All guided missile craft of the Caspian Flotilla have been redeployed from Astrakhan to Makhachkala and Kaspiysk districts to form a single group. Meanwhile, the flagship of the Flotilla, the sentry rocket ship “Tatarstan”, will soon be joined by the small gunboat "Volgodonsk” and missile ship “Dagestan”. The flagships of the Flotilla are equipped with missile systems with a range of up to 200 km.

Recently, the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier group with the heavy aircraft carrier “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov”, headed towards the Mediterranean with plans to ultimately enter the Syrian port of Tartus. NG’s sources from the Defense Ministry did not confirm or deny the fact that the surface warships are being accompanied by the Northern Fleet’s nuclear submarines. The tasks that will be carried out by the army and the navy in the event of a war against Iran are, of course, not being disclosed. But Russia’s Defense Ministry is apparently concerned about the logistical support of troops in Armenia. The 102nd military base is a key point as it is Russia’s outpost in the South Caucasus. It holds a very important geopolitical position. But Kremlin officials are worried that this position will be lost. In the event of a US-Israeli war against Iran, this will indeed be tragic for Russia.

In April of this year, Georgia broke the agreement on the transit of military cargo to Armenia from Russia. Essentially, the Russian-Armenian grouping in the South Caucasus has been isolated. Supplies to the Russian army (POL, food, etc.) are delivered only by air and through direct agreements with Armenia which, in turn, purchases these products (gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene) from Iran. A war in Iran will close this supply channel.

Lt.-Gen. Yury Netkachev, who for a long time served as the deputy commander of the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus and was personally engaged in work on the supply of arms and ammunition to combined armed forces and units (including the 102nd military base), believes that, in the event of a full-fledged war against Iran, Russia will be looking to securely supply the military facility through Georgia. “Perhaps, it will be necessary to break the Georgian transport blockade and supply the transport corridors leading to Armenia by military means,” said the expert.

“Apparently, Russia’s Defense Ministry is also quite wary of Azerbaijan, which over the last three years has doubled its military budget and is currently buying Israeli drones and other advanced means of reconnaissance and topographic location, naturally aggravating Tehran and Armenia,” says head of the Center for Military Forecasting, Anatoly Tsyganok. “Baku has stepped up its pressure on Moscow, demanding significantly higher rental fees for the Gabala radar station. But even considering the disputes between Iran and Azerbaijan over oilfields in the south of the Caspian Sea, one could hardly argue that Baku will support an anti-Iranian military campaign. It is also very unlikely that it will unleash hostilities against Armenia.”

Col. Vladimir Popov, who was engaged in the analysis of hostilities between Baku and Yerevan between 1991 and 1993, and is currently following the military reforms conducted by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, disagrees with the expert. Popov believes that “the negotiation process on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict has been unreasonably delayed.” Baku is making open statements on revenge. “Azerbaijan pre-emptive strikes on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, made in order to finally settle the territorial dispute in its favor, are possible,” says the expert.

But, in his opinion, the question of how Russia will behave is important. “If in the midst of a war in Iran, Azerbaijan supported by Turkey, attacks Armenia, then, of course, all of the adversary’s attacks against Armenia will be repelled by Russia in conjunction with Armenian anti-missile defense forces. It’s hard to say whether or not this will be considered as Moscow’s involvement in military action. Russian troops will certainly not be engaged in military action on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. But in the event of a military threat to Armenia coming from Turkey or Azerbaijan, for example, Russia will apparently take part in ground operations,” says Popov.

The analyst does not exclude the possibility of Russia’s military involvement in the Iranian conflict. “In the worst-case scenario, if Tehran is facing complete military defeat after a land invasion of the US and NATO troops, Russia will provide its military support – at least on a military-technical level,” predicts Vladimir Popov.

Source: http://rt.com/politics/press/nezavisimaya/military-russia-armenia-iran/en/

Russia to ink joint air defense network formation deal with Armenia


Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the government’s proposal to sign an agreement on formation of common regional air defense network with Kazakhstan. The project is expected to be ready by the end of 2012. Russia hopes to complete talks soon with Kazakhstan on establishing a common air defense network by yearend, Russian Deputy Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Pavel Kurachenko said in early July. An agreement with Kazakhstan would be followed by a similar pact with Armenia, with the network to bear a status of a joint system due to the lack of Russian-Armenian common border. Joint air defense network creation agreements are planned to be reached with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/131345/Russia_to_ink_joint_air_defense_network_formation_deal_with_Armenia

Armenia Armed by Russia for battles with Azerbaijan Scandal compared to Iran-Contra

Russia secretly has shipped more than $1 billion worth of arms to Armenia, apparently to be used against - pro-Western Azerbaijan and - to force the Azeris -and their strategic oil reserves into Russia's orbit. Aman Tuleyev, minister for relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States, has acknowledged that Moscow supplied Armenia with 84 T-72 main battle tanks, 72 heavy howitzers, 24 Scud missiles with eight launchers, 50 armored personnel carriers and millions of rounds of ammunition. Lev Rokhlin, the chairman of the Defense Committee of the Duma, the lower House of the Russian parliament, told a closed Duma session April 2 that Moscow had -shipped $1 billion worth of weapons to the tough, nationalist government of President Levon Ter-Petrosian in Yerevan. His report was similar to Mr. Tuleyev's acknowledgment. Between 1992 and early 1994, when the conflict was at its height, Russian heavy transport aircraft were said to have ferried 1,300 tons of ammunition across the Caucasus to the Armenian capital. Most of the tanks were flown in aboard giant Antonov planes from the city of Akhtubinsk.

The Azeris say Russia also supplied 1,000 hand-fired Strela-2 and Strela-3 anti-aircraft missiles, which were moved by ship across The Caspian Sea, then sent over land through Iran to Armenia. Iran has denied playing any role. Western intelligence sources said The weapons played a crucial role in Armenia's, seizure of large areas of Azerbaijan, which created a million refugees, more than from any other conflict in Europe since World War II. Although Russia's military support for Armenia in its long conflict with Azerbaijan has been well-known, the extent of the arms transfers came as a surprise.

Responding to the revelations, Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered a major government probe Saturday that could implicate his longtime defense minister, Marshal Pavel Grachev who was fired last spring. Russian military prosecutors are considering calling Marshal Grachev in for questioning over the scandal, which has been compared to The Iran-Contra affair. The- chairman of the Azeri parliament, Murtuz Alesketov, said Saturday the arms shipments could destabilize the Caucasus. "If these arms are not returned, this could lead to a new large-scale war in the region" he said at parliamentary hearings in Baku. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, Shi'ite Muslim Azerbaijan has eagerly courted American oil companies to help it develop the immense oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea, estimated as second in size and value only to those in the Persian Gulf. Russia has responded by backing Orthodox Christian Armenia, its historic

On March 29, shortly after Mr. Yeltsin's Helsinki summit with President Clinton, the Russian leader finalized a treaty of friendship and strategic partnership with Mr. Ter-Petrosian. The move came after Mr. - Ter-Petrosian alarmed Azerbaijan by appointing The hard-line leader of ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbajjan, as prime minister of Armenia, a move widely regarded as paving the way for a renewed attack on Azerbaijan. There are at least 20,000 Russian 4th Army troops in Armenia concentrated around three major bases. Ivan Rybkin, head of Russia's Security Council, said after a meeting in Moscow with Mr. Ter-Petrosian on March 27 that the new bilateral treaty would have a "military component", the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported March 28. Some Moscow analysts believe that Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and his supporters leaked details of the arms deals now to prevent Mr. Yeltsin from bringing back Marshal Grachev as chief military inspector at the Defense Ministry, the independent Moscow newspaper Segodnya said.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/baguirov/arms1.htm

Russian General: We Will Intervene to Protect Armenia


A few weeks ago there was some back and forth between Armenians and Azerbaijanis about whether Russia would come to Armenia's defense in the case of a war over Nagorno Karabakh. Well, now a top Russian general has weighed in, and he sounds pretty certain that Russia would get involved. General Andrei Tretyak, the Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Defense Ministry, discussed the Russian military's future plans with some analysts, and this is from Dmitry Gorenburg's account:

In a discussion on the situation in Karabakh, General Tretyak agreed with a participant’s assessment that the possibility of conflict in that region is high, but argued that it is gradually decreasing as a result of Russian efforts to reduce tension in the region. He disagreed with the suggestion that Russia’s relationship with Armenia is eroding and made clear that Russia will carry out its promises to that country. No one should see Russia’s refusal to intervene in Kyrgyzstan last summer as a precedent for Karabakh, as that was a very different situation.

Hmm, that can't make too many folks in Baku feel too confident. Tretyak also weighed in on Central Asia, and suggested that the Collective Security Treaty Organization could help fill the security vacuum that will be created by the U.S. leaving Afghanistan. And he seems to acknowledge that the CSTO kind of dropped the ball on Kyrgyzstan last year, when it did nothing to stop the pogroms that took place there in what many saw as the first big test of the collective security group: He also felt that what he saw as the inevitable US withdrawal from the region will have a negative effect on stability.

In this context, the CSTO may come to play a more important role in the region. General Tretyak pointed out that CSTO reforms are continuing. The major Russian military exercises in the summer and early fall will include CSTO states. The Russian military has looked at the issues that arose in conjunction with the Kyrgyzstan crisis and know how to act if a similar situation arises in the future; according to General Tretyak, there are no disagreements on this with Russia’s CSTO partners. The general further noted that the forces assigned to the CSTO are the best prepared of Russia’s forces, because Russia wants to increase the organization’s military effectiveness. General Tretyak reiterated the Russian position that it would like NATO to recognize the legitimacy of the CSTO and establish cooperation with it.

This seems to be a pointed message that the CSTO is learning from its mistakes in Kyrgyzstan -- and that those who expect it to stand aside in the future should think again.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63627

Armenia Assaulted by Orange Agents


Perhaps the empire just doesn’t get it. They need to re-examine their despicable, foolish and devious scheme to bring an orange scenario to an embattled, besieged Armenia. Under blockade by neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia continues to prosper despite some instances of corruption and economic isolation. Armenia is not fertile ground for any sort of orange scenario. Armenians are generally politically astute, pro-Russian and not easily swayed. They are also acutely aware of the fact that there is no future for them as vassals of the empire.

Armenian history is said to be 12,000 years old, and Mt. Ararat is the historic scene where Noah‘s Ark is said to have rested, a revered and treasured Armenian landmark. An archeologist’s dream come true, Armenia is a land of quaint churches and elaborately and meticulously carved khatchkars (Orthodox crosses). Constant and reliable, the centuries old friendship and alliance with Russia is unshakable. Most Armenians are aware of the fact that there probably would be no Armenia if not for Russia. No plots or schemes by the empire are going to change that reality.

The empire also wins no friends among Armenians for its consistent policy of Genocide denial. These policies go beyond the geo-political considerations given as an excuse, such as the US base in occupied Western Armenia, under control of Turkey and their alliances with Armenian enemies Turkey, Israel and Azerbaijan. And then there are the oil pipelines…constructed to bypass Armenia, a country in a strategic position between east and west, a crossroads as it were. As a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1894-1923, Armenians lost most of their homeland and over 1.5 million Armenians were murdered in the most horrendous and brutal fashion imaginable and unimaginable. To this day, no Nuremberg trials, no compensation or apology have occurred. Therefore, the memory of this tragedy in an ongoing issue of importance to Armenians.

In Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosian is generally despised for his corrupt ruinous policies while President of Armenia. He is also despised for proffering the notion that the recently liberated Armenian land of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) should be returned to Azerbaijan. Artsakh is now an independent country. The US regime is financially backing Ter-Petrosian and causing trouble in the background. Ter-Petrosian had the strange idea that he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning an election to be President. Fat chance. Now he sends agitators to do his bidding, a la Soros funding, all the best agitators money and the empire can buy.

On Public Armenian Television, Armenian Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian told the following of his knowledge of events: “These people decided who the winner is five minutes after the election. This is their characteristic feature. I learned about my alleged resignation from journalists. Levon Ter-Petrosian and his team-mates have exhausted the sources of lies which exceed all possible borders,” the speaker said. “They spread lies about all and offense all those who are not with them. They are filled with hatred and revenge,” he said. "OK, let's say all the grenades, pistols and automatics were planted by the regime, what do you have to say about all those hooligans with rods and sticks, beating the police, throwing bricks and stones, burning cars including busses and an ambulance, looting shops and supermarkets?"

According to various local reports, 8 persons were killed in orange demonstrations as the Army was called in to restore the peace. They also report that Opera and Republican Square are swarming with army troops and military police armed to the teeth with AK-47s, belt-fed battle rifles and there are dozens of light tanks in both locations. In addition to that, there are troops scattered in posts all over the city and on all the roads into the city. One hundred and thirty-one persons were reported injured in the March 1 disturbances.

An on the scene observer sent this report:

"Hi, this morning I walked from the Opera House until Mashtoz Underpass. Everything was just fine. Police closed the underpass toward city hall and near the French embassy where they made a mess. My friend 8:30 at night went everywhere with the exception of closed areas and found calm...all shops are open and traffic is normal, 8 people got killed and about 30 people got arrested for looting, all young guys."

Interior troops and police officers suffered bullet wounds and injuries in the March 1 clashes with rioters in Yerevan. On his visit to the hospital, President Kocharian was accompanied by police chief Hayk Harutyunian and other officials. Kocharian went from one hospital ward to another and spoke to officers and servicemen. Hospital chief, Arthur Petrosian, said they admitted 33 wounded officers and servicemen on March 1 until 8.30 pm and 27 others after 9 pm. He said 11 received bullet wounds, eight were hospitalized with heavy symptoms of gas poisoning, 2 received knife wounds. Seven servicemen went to their quarters after receiving first aid and 11 others were operated on. The chief of the hospital said their condition is satisfactory now. At the end of February, prior to the breakout of violence, a vehicle was apprehended trying to enter the country loaded with weapons and ammunition.

On March 1, 2008, Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian declared a 2-day state of emergency in compliance of article 55.6 of the RA (Republic of Armenia) Constitution (threat to state and population security). Fortunately, anti-terrorist, anti-orange scenario joint exercises were held by Armenia and Russia in anticipation of such occurrences. Meanwhile the empire is mouthing duplicitous, hypocritical words about “excessive use of force.”

Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis said, “The state of emergency suspends the application of several rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Under Article 15 of the Convention the Armenian Government must inform me of the measures which it has taken and the reasons therefore. I expect that they will do so without any delay,” the Council of Europe press division reports. The recent presidential elections in Armenia saw Serzh Sarksyan, Kocharian’s number two man, elected as President of Armenia. The voting result was unmistakable: Serzh Sarkisyan - 862,369 (52,82%) votes, Levon Ter-Petrosian – 351,222 (21,5%).votes.

The February 19th presidential elections were not only characterized as `free and fair' by the CIS observers, but also received the positive assessments of the Western observation missions. The observation mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which stands out in terms of its strict and meticulous attitude towards the electoral processes held in former USSR territories, clearly recorded that, `The presidential elections held in Armenia on February 19 were mostly in line with the commitments to the OSCE and the Council of Europe.” But this didn’t satisfy the orange agitators.

Kocharian, throughout his term as President, has had a warm, brotherly relationship with his counterpart in Russia, Vladimir Putin. Like the outgoing president, Robert Kocharian, Mr. Sarkisyan is from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Both men were commanders in the war.The newly elected Armenian President released this message to the people:
“Dear Compatriots,

In consequence of the recent events, our people suffered great losses. There are casualties among policemen, who performed their duty, and among protesters, who fell under the influence of a group of people. Hundreds of civilians suffered from illegal acts of the radical opposition.Leaders of the co-called ‘movement’ made targets of their own supporters and policemen to suit their own ends. The initiators of disorders must answer for their deeds before the law, history and generations. With pain, I conceive that our compatriots fell victim to blind hatred of some individuals. I share your grief and wish you courage and strength to overcome this tragedy…”

As the cleanup crew mitigates the after effects of the recent lawlessness, one can only hope that the street sweepers will also sweep away the trash known as orange agent provocateurs and leave this proud, struggling nation in peace.

Source: //english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/104346-0

Russian Diplomat says Baku's Resumption of War to be Devastating


"Resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh would cause more damage than in 1992-1994, since collisions would take place between well-equipped armies not guerilla troops," said Vladimir Kazimirov, the former Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. If war resumes, he said, neither side would manage a victorious blitzkrieg. Hostilities will linger for the next 4-5 years and the consequences will be destructive for the initiator first and foremost. This is a fact that demands very thorough consideration by the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said.

According to Kazimorov, the war is a threat for the entire international community as well. "The South Caucasus is not a region deserving indifference," he said, noting that it won't be easy to justify new carnage or an occupation of Armenia, since everyone sees Yerevan and Stepanakert as insisting on a compromise solution, while Baku stubbornly threatens war if Armenians don't relinquish all territorial claims, including Nagorno-Karabakh. The Repetition of hostilities will be perceived as a great anomaly," the Russian diplomat said.

"The side that dares to violate the armistice will immediately draw universal condemnation for breaking from the principles of the OSCE and the commitments to the CoE," he stated. "World powers and influential international organizations, which have worked for a peaceful resolution of the conflict will severely condemn the aggressor," he added.

Although Article 9 of the Azerbaijani constitution rejects war as a means of settling international conflicts, Azeri leaders have already undermined the authority of their Laws by making repeated bellicose statements, Kazimorov noted. They don't fail to cite the Constitution when commenting on the referendum on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh but they completely ignore the above-mentioned article, he added. Baku's role in exacerbating the situation in the Caucasus is becoming more apparent, Kazimorov stated. Baku has been intensifying the arms race in the Caucasus by drastically boosting its defense budget year after year. While President Heydar Aliyev has completely neglected the agreement with Armenia and Karabakh on the suppression of border incidents, he noted.

Every day the Azeri Defense Ministry reports a violation of the ceasefire by Armenians. However, if Baku truly wanted to suppress such incidents, why doesn't it follow the agreement officially signed under the aegis of the OSCE? Meanwhile, Yerevan and Stepanakert have time and again stated their support of the agreement. If Baku thinks this agreement imperfect, it could be amended or replaced by another one. However, it is clear that Azerbaijan prefers the mounting casualties so as to aggravate tensions and pursue their hysterical propaganda. According to Daniel Fried, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs armed revenge will entail grave consequences and ruin Azerbaijan's future.

Source: http://www.huliq.com/40008/russian-d...be-devastating

Russian expert: Military settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict is an affair that will result in collapse of Azerbaijan

National consensus has been reached in Nagorno Karabakh regarding the fact that “the republic must be an independent state,” so victory of one or another candidate at the presidential election will not radically change on the general situation, head of the Caucasus department at the Institute for CIS Studies Mikhail Alexandrov said. “The matter concerns nuances. For instance, Bako Saakyan is quite moderate and is orientated towards connection with Armenia and talks with Azerbaijan. Masis Mailyan is tougher, he opposes returning of seven occupied areas to Azerbaijan and speaks for a more autonomous from Yerevan negotiation stance,” Alexandrov said adding that in any case, the key direction in Stepanakert will be dialog. At the same time, he noted that Ilham Aliev’s hopes for returning Karabakh through dialog are naïve.

“A military settlement is an affair that will result in collapse of Azerbaijan as a state. It is unreal for Baku to win over Armenia and the NKR, no matter how strongly they increase their military spending,” the expert believes. The matter concerns not only money, but efficiency of the Army. “Besides, Armenia is connected with Russia by military agreements; the most up-to-date military equipment is supplied there at lower prices. Some types of weapons are impossible for Azerbaijan to acquire in foreign markets; nobody will sell them to it. So, it will be ungrounded to hope for superiority and a Blitzkrieg,”

the analyst stressed adding that “this form of being looped” can result in Azerbaijan losing the seven areas of the Nagorno Karabakh security belt. Now, he believes, there is still an opportunity to implement the formula “peace for territories”: Azerbaijan recognizes Nagorno Karabakh independence and the latter returns the territories. “However, now, the time is not serving Baku. The Kosovo precedent that, most probably, will end with a one-sided recognition of the territory’s independence by the West will only encourage Karabakh in its intentions. ‘The Fifth Column’ and a coup in Stepanakert are ruled out, because there is no single Azerbaijani there,” Mikhail Alexandrov is quoted as saying by PanARMENIAN.Net.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/860576.html

Opening of Armenian-Turkish Border Should be a Russian but not a U.S. Project


Some warming between Yerevan and Ankara is favorable. The Armenian-Turkish relations need gradual normalization, Andrey Areshev, expert at Strategic Culture Foundation said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net. “Consultations of diplomats are no longer a secret. Russian concessionaires of the Armenian Railways announced readiness to reconstruct Kars-Gyumri line. Foreign media circulated information that some oil companies negotiate construction of a gas pipeline with Armenia. The Ayrum-Gyumri-Akhuryan route (bypassing Georgia) is being discussed. Certainly, these are just variants but Georgia’s destructive role in the region becomes more and more evident not only for Russia or Iran but also for U.S. allies, such as Turkey, and the key EU countries, which are concerned over their energy security,” he said. “Possible normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and partial opening of the border should not be used as an argument for withdrawal of the Russian military base from Armenia. Furthermore, opening of the border should be a Russian but not a U.S. project,” Areshev emphasized. “The Armenian authorities’ flirtation with the U.S. and NATO, the forthcoming joint exercise in September are quite understandable as a part of complementary policy pursued by the republic. However, it’s clear that the west will use Caucasian nations as active storage (Georgia is a vivid example) Cooling with Russia in exchange for attractive offers can have deplorable consequences for Armenia and NKR’s security. The Karabakh conflict can’t be resolved with NATO’s assistance. Partial restoration of Russia’s positions in the Caucasus, Turkey and Iran’s firm opposition to resumption of hostilities may push Baku to search for more adequate way to resolve the Karabakh conflict. However, it will not happen before the presidential election in Azerbaijan,” he concluded.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=27006
Vladimir Putin Tries to Keep Armenia as the Last Ally of Russia

The official part of a visit of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to Armenia has begun. The formal pretext for the visit was the opening of the Year of Russia in Armenia. In actual fact, the agenda goes beyond the framework of protocol and cultural functions: it will include the Karabakh problem, cooperation in the gas sphere, and the use of Armenian territory for the deployment of Russian military bases which will be withdrawn from Georgia within the next few years. The President of Russia, together with his Armenian colleague, Robert Kocharyan, will take part in the official opening of the Year of Russia in Armenia and attend a gala concert. The pompous protocol functions serve as a smokescreen for a very important dialogue on the burning issues of the day. 

Alarmed by a whole series of “Rose”, “Orange” and other revolutions, Russia is afraid of losing one of the last of its bulwarks in the area of the former USSR. In the context of the deepening of their strategic partnership the presidents of the two countries will discuss the problems of resolving the Karabakh conflict, as well as the prospects of deploying the Russian military bases on Armenian territory, which should be withdrawn from Georgia within the next few years. As regards the first problem, Moscow tries to soften the position of Yerevan in order to avoid the exacerbation of the relations with Baku. The Kremlin hoped to bring the President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, and the President of Azerbaijan, Ilkham Aliyev, to negotiations during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Victory in the last war in Moscow in May. 

However, judging by information coming in from Baku, President Aliyev will hardly come to Moscow for the occasion. The question of the withdrawal of Russian troops and arms from Georgia has been solved, in the main, as a result of negotiations with the Georgian leadership, although the deadlines have not been fixed. The most probable time will be 2007. After that Russia hopes to deploy its military units on Armenian territory, in the vicinity of the Russian base No 102. Yerevan agrees to it, but puts forward a number of conditions. The main one is a solution to the problem of the transport blockade of Armenia. This is why both Moscow and Yerevan hope to work out a concerted policy aimed at obtaining Georgia's consent to a free transport corridor by commissioning the Novorossiisk – Poti sea ferry, and also resuming the railway connection through the territory of Abkhazia. 

Naturally, the questions of military cooperation will also be discussed. Armenia receives arms and ammunition from Russia at preferential prices. To date more than 500 Armenian army officers study in Russia free of charge, that is, at the expense of the Russian budget. This figure can be bigger. A range of problems to be discussed deal with the relations between Russia, Armenia and Iran. Teheran remains an important regional partner of Moscow, but it views rather cautiously the plans to build a gas pipeline between Iran and Armenia, which will later be one of the channels of supplying Iranian gas to Ukraine and Europe. But the deputy foreign minister of Armenia, Gegam Garibjanyan, has said that Russia should take part in the negotiations on the matter. President Putin will, no doubt, raise the question of “Gazprom” taking part in the implementation of this project.

Source: http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=557608

Russia invests $2.8 billion in Armenia since 2009 July


Russian trade representative in Armenia, Alexander Zaitsev, said today Russian companies have invested a total of $2.8 billion in Armenia since 2009 July.Speaking to Armenian reporters after the official opening of the third annual Russian industrial exposition in Armenia- EXPO-RUSSIA ARMENIA.- he said investments rose by 16% in the first six months of this year. According to him, Russian investments in construction of a new nuclear power unit in Armenia will raise the figure to $5 billion. There are about 1,400 companies in Armenia with Russian capital. Earlier Armenian prime minister Tigran Sarkisian said Russia accounted for sixty percent of all foreign investments in Armenia since it gained independence. According to Armenian government data, Russian investments in Armenia in January-June 2010 rose to around $117 million, including $86 million of direct investments, which made 35.7% of all investments in the real sector of economy and 38.95% of all direct investments. Compared to the same period of time last year direct investments grew by 5.1%.

Source: http://www.arka.am/eng/economy/2010/10/28/22156.html

Who is the poorest in the world? CIS countries are in the list


The Forbes magazine has made a ranking of countries with bad economies. This is a real revolution: this year a list of ten countries includes three representatives of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Residents of Armenia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan will be very surprised to know that their economies can't stand comparison with Swaziland or Nicaragua. The Moscow-based news resource Lenta.ru says, that the methodology of ranking by Forbes magazine raises many questions. The resource notes, that the name of the ranking "The World's Worst Economies" is not clear, as the word "worst" is an appraisal word, it shouldn't be used in a ranking that claims to be objective.

What means the "worst" economy? It's a combination of several factors: high inflation, lower GDP growth, the smallest GDP per capita and a negative trade balance. The ranking of the magazine is based on data from the International Monetary Fund, an information for the three past years and 2012 forecasts. Lenta.ru supposes, that this may cause a distorted picture of world's economies, as the research of the IMF was made in March, 2011, but since that time a lot of things have changed, for example, a devalvation in Belarus, which led to a jump in inflation and an impoverishment of the population.

In addition, Lenta.ru notes, that all the indicators are not reduced to a common denominator, this causes a misunderstanding of the distribution of the places in the ranking. Thus, Armenia was ranked second in this rating, having an index of 3000 dollars per-capita GDP and an inflation at 7%. "With a mediocre growth forecast for the next few years, this landlocked former Soviet republic, dependent upon Russia and Iran for virtually all of its energy supplies, is struggling to keep up with the rest of the world", says Forbes. At the same time Lenta notes, that Guinea was ranked the third, although per-capits GDP in this country is nearly seven times smaller and inflation is running at several points higher.

The appearance of Armenia in the ranking of The World's Worst Economies may seem surprising. In the ranking of economic freedom in 2010 the country won 38th place (the third result after other former USSR countries), in the ranking of the corruption countries Armenia was better than Russia and Belarus. Nevertheless, the crisis has exposed massive problems in the economy of Armenia. In addition, the country is in an incredible dependence on Russia. According to the Forbes, "Russia cut back on supplies of diamonds, hurting Armenia’s once-thriving diamond-processing industry".

Touching Ukraine, it may be noted, that the country suffered a lot from the financial crisis and it is dependent on supplies of raw materials from Russia. The economy of the state has difficulties (corruption and poor judicial system). However, Ukraine is situated between Russia and Europe and earns from transit. The country also is a major market for European goods and it is a tourist center of the CIS.

The columnists of Forbes say they've analyzed the situation in 177 countries of the world, but only 10 entered the top of the worst. The first place took Madagascar. Ukraine is number four. According to the Forbes, the country "has rich farmland and generous mineral resources and could become a leading European economy — yet per-capita GDP trails far behind even countries like Serbia and Bulgaria".

Source: http://www.russia-ic.com/business_law/in_depth/1398/

Novye Izvestia: Yerevan used the Independence Day military parade to send a message to Baku, Azerbaijan


General public in Yerevan was somewhat perplexed to see Russian servicemen participating in the Independence Day parade side by side with the Armenian military. The Armenian authorities said that there was nothing in it to act so surprised about. Some Armenian patriots screamed of vile encroachment on national sovereignty. Experts attributed this development to deterioration of the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

That servicemen of the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri would also participate in the military parade had never been announced in advance. The Armenians therefore were stunned to see the Russians participating in the parade and Defense Minister Sejran Ogenesjan greeting them in Russian. Razmik Zograbjan, deputy of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party, said at the press conference afterwards that the Russians' participation in the parade had been a political gesture.

"We have a treaty with Russia regarding security of the Armenian state borders. There is nothing wrong therefore with the Russians taking part in the military parade." Journalists got the message. Deterioration of the relations with Azerbaijan is the talk of the day in Armenia. The Azerbaijani-Armenian negotiations came to a halt. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev missed the CIS summit and a meeting with his Armenian opposite number Serj Sargsjan in Dushanbe in early September. It is logical therefore that the Armenians used the Independence Day parade to remind Azerbaijan of their military might - and of its ally.

The Armenian opposition used social networks to organize a protest rally not long before the parade. Twelve (!) people turned up, headed by Levon Barsegjan of the journalistic club Asparez from Gyumri. The protesters wielded posters "Armenia is not Russia" and "No foreigners in our military parade".

Source: Novye Izvestia, No 170, September 22, 2011, p. 2

 Russian expert: “Moscow understands there’s no ally except Yerevan”

“I don’t think OSCE MG activities should be optimistically or pessimistically expressed. We should acknowledge that the conflict should be settled by the conflict sides,” Russian political expert Albert Zulkharneev referred to NK conflict resolution in a talk with “Day.az. He said neither Moscow, nor Washington or Paris could do anything if their recommendations are disliked by the conflict sides. The expert said the conflict can be settled only by the conflict sides. “I’ve been Baku recently, then I met with Armenian representatives in Moscow, and, I should point, regretfully, that the dispositions of the sides are far from being close,” Russian expert said. To the question how Russia would act if a war starts, he said: “Everything depends on the situation. Moscow understands they have no other ally except Yerevan, and if they don’t support Armenia, they would have tough disposition beyond the CSTO states.”

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/region/2010/07/22/zulkharnev/

Russian Deputy Speaker: “Russia Has Every Reason to Recognize Artsakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, And Transdnestr”

“The international situation has given us a positive example – if Albanians receive the right to establish their own independent state in the foreign territory, so ancient Armenian people must perhaps receive the right to restore the territory;” leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, Deputy Speaker of Russian State Duma Vladimir Zhirinovsky is quoted by a REGNUM correspondent as stating in Moscow, speaking at the third Russia’s Armenian Union (RAU) Congress. “Yes, we pity Serbs, but it is a positive signal for the international community – it is a positive signal for Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh – REGNUM), for Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdnestr,” Zhirinovsky continued. 

According to him, if the international community recognizes Kosovo and Montenegro, Russia will have every reason to recognize analogous territories, especially as it has more rights for that, because these republics were parts of the Russian Empire, and now they pretend to restore their legal personalities. “It may not be denied – it is the international law,” he stated. As Vladimir Zhirinovsky stressed, addressing to the Russian Armenians Union (RAU) Congress deputies and guests, “the Armenian people have already been suffering for 100 years, and it is necessary to achieve adoption of at least one international organization’s resolution on returning territories to Armenian state by 2015, the 100th anniversary of those awful events.” 

“It is not enough to recognize the Genocide; the territories should be returned. Those ones, who are living there now, should be returned to Ashgabat and Tashkent — what does one people need two states for? And territories should be returned to Armenia and Kurdistan. Kurds are betrayed people too – they have been expecting for 100 years,” the LDPR leader said. Also, he called the RAU to be more active in the Russian provinces and to cooperate with Russian political and non-governmental organizations in order to explain to young generation of Russians that “Armenians are our brothers; they are Christians, and they have been living side by side with Russians for hundreds of years.” Zhirinovsky called on the RAU to cooperate for realization of other socially vital initiatives.

Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky: If Russia yields Armenia, it will lose all of its positions in the Caucasus

Senior researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky answers REGNUM’s questions:

REGNUM: Mr. Nadein-Rayevsky, presently Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is paying a visit to Turkey and Turkish President Ahmed Necet Sezer is going to shortly visit Russia. The sides are speaking about strategic cooperation – basically, in energy. What do you think about Russian-Turkish relations and the prospects of their development?

The strategy term is hardly applicable to Russian-Turkish relations. Russia and Turkey have never had any strategy in the past, do not have it in the present and will hardly have it in the future. Turkey was the first who tried to bring in some strategy in bilateral relations: in 1990 Ankara attempted to make a strategic alliance with the Soviet Union, but decided to take time when it collapsed. The Turks hoped that now they would be able to enlarge relations already with the post-Soviet republics and with some of them to use the factor of common Turkic origin and language. They planned this almost the way Ataturk planned, but they failed: the newly independent nations turned out to be quite different in mentality and culture. Historically, Turkey itself is responsible for the gradual distancing between the Turkic nations: they first regarded themselves as Ottomans, then, under Abdul Hamid II, they proclaimed pan-Islamism, then, they still preferred pan-Turkism and brought into power Young Turks, who joined Germany during the WWI – so much eager they were to expand. Everything what happened after 1991 was, to a certain extent, the consequence of this pan-Turkic policy. Pan-Turkism proved impracticable – it was like Communism. Not that the national elites of the Turkic republics were just unready to give up power, they were simply unwilling to do that: to give power, money and economy for some idea – nobody will agree to this. Ankara saw that there is absolutely no basis for pan-Turkism. Roughly speaking, they faced the same we faced with our Slavonic brothers in XIX. As regards Russia, as I have already said, it was mainly Turkey who tried to bring up bilateral relations to the level of strategic cooperation. The first Ankara’s proposal in 1990 was rejected by the Soviet authorities as they took it as an attempt to interfere in the Soviet influence zone, which was right. Turkey raised this issue again in 1995, when its pan-Turkic policy ran across some impassable barriers – but our position was the same. It was then that Turkey began realizing that 90% of its ties in the Soviet area were with Russia and no Uzbekistan could replace the millions of dollars it got from shuttle trade. It turned out that language is not the main thing. The main thing is economic interests – the lives of people and the life of a nation. This is the very principle the present Russian-Turkish ties are based on. The key link between Russia and Turkey has been and is economy. Already before the big energy projects, like the Blue Flow, Turkey got $6 bln-$15 bln from shuttle trade alone, and it was the key source of income for its economy for quite a long time.

REGNUM: The first thing that comes in mind when one speaks of Turkey’s trade policy is Turkish “fast moving consumer goods.” Is this problem still topical for the Russian consumers, if yes, how serious is it?

In 1995 we warned the Turks that they should not trade with us the way they did, that they should raise the quality of their goods to the European standards, that our consumers were buying Turkish goods only because of hard social conditions, that they would no longer buy them as soon as they got better-off, that Turkey could lose our market. In the following years Turkey faced default but still preserved its shuttle trade. Later, suitcase sellers were replaced by firms trading in big lots and paying taxes. It was already an improvement. The quality control was also improved. Now Turkey is trying to make quality the basis of its trade as it clearly understands that it can get in the situation the Georgian and Moldavian wines got in. One should always care for the quality of his exports rather than just allege that Russia does something for political motives. Our relations With Georgia have been tensed for many years already — but what we actually want is to, finally, taste a normal Georgian wide. Russia is fighting with all low quality producers and with home producers it is even tougher than with foreigners. I think we are right as it is high time to stop high mortality caused by faked alcohol – to stop the death of tens of thousands of people every year. The same was the situation with the American chicken legs – the row was big but they solved the problem. The US raised the quality control standards. Why could they do this and Georgia and Moldova can’t? This is a national issue, and when the Russian president spoke about demography he meant there will be no indulgence – for Turkey either.

REGNUM: They in Armenia are worried with any closer contacts between Russia and Turkey? Can Russian-Turkish relations be bad for Armenia?

Russia will never cede Armenia for improving its relations with Turkey. This is a matter of principle. There are things one can sacrifice, but there are things one cannot. The point is not so much that two million Armenians live in Russia and many of them are Russian citizens. For Armenia Russia’s steps must never be bad. The point is that even the Yeltsin Russia perfectly realized that it must not waive Armenia’s interests, not mentioning Putin, who clearly sees the national interests, at least, the clear ones. He is trying to extrapolate them for the future. I simply can’t imagine that Russia may yield Armenia – if Russia does this it will lose all of its positions in the Caucasus. Russia should understand one most important thing – there are partners and allied countries with whom one should keep up the sense of alliance and duty.

REGNUM: How could you explain the outburst of activity of the Iranian Azeris? Large-scale destabilization – is it possible and what consequences it may have?

There are several versions. Northern Iran has two provinces with some 12 mln-18 mln Azeri residents. Iranian Azeris are not outcasts in Iran. Iran is a multi-national and multi-religious country and Azeris have their serious place there. Even the religious leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei is Azeri. The basic principle in Iran is religion rather than nationality. Iran’s official version is that the protest actions are an American project. They probably have proofs, but I don’t believe this. My personal opinion is that this is an Iranian project, or the result of local nationalism, or a preventive action to neutralize a potentially unreliable element. In any case, many complex processes are taking place in Iran – many people are displeased with the tyranny of mullahs who dictate a lifestyle nobody accepts any longer outside Iran. Obviously, there is tension and there is need for reforms. At best, this situation may end in reforms and, if the Iranian authorities prove wise enough to carry them out, everything will be OK. Of course, the Americans can capitalize on this tension. They can use any social tension to plot a revolution, which is all but good for Iran.

REGNUM: How much probable is the US’ active invasion of Iran or its preventive strikes on its nuclear facilities?

Though I don’t believe this will happen, I prefer to call this hypothetical action “a possible American stupidity.” The strikes by Israel or US groups will spark off numerous mostly unpredictable scenarios. One thing is clear – there will be no internal explosion. The Iranian authorities will be able to unite their people against the foreign enemy, to stop all reforms, which will mean an end to the hopes of the democratic part of the Iranian society. It seems that the Americans do not realize this, they are like an elephant in a china-shop. For them the invasion of Iran is an initially counterproductive action. They will immediately lose the confidence of the Shiahs — 55%-60% of the Iraqis. As a result, they will get a collapsing coalition and anti-American southern Iraq.

REGNUM: What are the chances that Turkey may join the anti-Iranian coalition?

I very much doubt that it will. Turkey is wise enough not to get there as this would be a suicide. This would mean to blow up the 10-12 mln Kurds, to blow up Shiahs – a total of 1/3 of the Turkish population. This would be a fatal trick. The Turks are wise politicians and they will not get into this bog exactly now that their economy is coming out of crisis. The Iraqi example has shown that it is very hard to insure oneself from the American stupidity. They got into a mess in Iraq though they could get what they wanted – oil – in a more civilized manner. Relying on force, they could not imagine that cities can also be a serious arena for guerrilla war, they were not ready for that. As regards the South Caucasus, here the major risk is the flow of refugees who may simply overwhelm the region in case of bad scenario.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/armenia/651208.html

Kostantin Zatulin: Nagorno-Karabakh to be Recognized Sooner or Later

Nagorno-Karabakh will come to recognition sooner or later. Karabakh will not return within Azerbaijan’’, Konstantin Zatulin, the deputy Chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Director of the Institute of CIS Studies, stated in the course of a news conference held at the Novosti Press Center today. According to Zatulin, Azerbaijanis are also aware of the fact. However, in his words, the Azerbaijani politicians cannot exceed the established limits. Nevertheless, presenting, in his words, Russia’s official stand, Zatulin noted that Russia was not ready to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence, especially taking into consideration that Armenia had not done it yet. ‘’However, my own stand is as follows: it is possible not to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh de jure as much as one likes, however, it de facto exists’’, Konstantin Zatulin noted. At that, in Konstantin Zatulin’s words, no one can prove that nations’ right to self-determination yields priority to territorial integrity’s principle. Zatulin is sure that the final word rests with people, if they consistently display their will.

Nikolay Patrushev: Armenia need not worry about ensuring its security


Strategic relations between Armenia and Russia are on the highest level, Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told reporters in Yerevan. Nikolai Patrushev and his Armenian counterpart, Arthur Baghdasaryan, signed today a number of agreements relating to defense and security. “A respective legal base is necessary for active and efficient cooperation,” said the Russian official. Speaking of Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan, Patrushev said that Russia, selling weapons, observes its international commitments and requirements as well as Russian laws. “Besides, we have strategic relations with Armenia. During this visit, we toured the Russian military base and made sure that our servicemen, our army and border guard firmly defend the security of Armenia, and you need not worry about ensuring the security of the country. There are sufficient resources and might there, and we have checked it together,” Patrushev concluded.

Armenia Is The Bridge Linking Moscow And Tehran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Armenia will add nothing new to the geopolitical alignment in the region. It will merely restate the obvious. The strategic partnership between Armenia and Iran is an established fact, and this visit is unlikely to be seen as anything of a landmark. Nor will it affect relations between Armenia and the United States. Armenia is effectively under a blockade, and America knows this. One of the indirect agents of the blockade is Georgia - America's closest ally in the region. More direct participants are other U.S. partners - Azerbaijan and Turkey. In this context, friendly relations between Iran and Armenia are only natural. Whether one likes it or not, Armenia will be friendly with neighbors with which circumstances, history and common cultural background force it to be friends.

Until recently the U.S. has displayed some understanding of this fact. True, Anthony Godfrey, the U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Armenia, has occasionally expressed dissatisfaction with expanding Armenian-Iranian relations and growing economic ties between Armenia and Iran, although the U.S. is well aware of Armenia's plight, and it would be most unethical to demand that it go into self-imposed isolation. Armenia therefore looks for understanding not only from America, but also from any other country that has sour relations with Iran. In this sense, an aggravation of American-Iranian relations and, as a result, a possible toughening of the U.S. position would be most unwelcome.

It is to be hoped that there will be no further deterioration of relations between Tehran and Washington, and even if there is, the U.S. has no right and is unlikely to demand anything "extra" from Armenia in its relationship with Iran. It would be a different thing if hostilities were to break out - Armenia's border with Iran would automatically be sealed. That could lead to serious consequences for the Armenian economy. As regards Baku's likely response to the visit, Azerbaijan is in the habit of reacting negatively to any progress in Armenia's relations with any country, let alone Iran.

Azerbaijan has been an active participant in many regional projects with a manifest anti-Iranian and anti-Russian bias. They include communications projects, oil pipelines, gas pipelines, and Caspian oil production. In other words even today Azerbaijan continues to pursue Elchibey's policies of tearing up all possible friendly bonds with a country that has a multi-millennium civilization and culture. Azerbaijan is seeking to integrate into Europe via the Turkic world. Such a policy cannot appeal to Iran and runs contrary to Iran's political and geopolitical ambitions. Therefore, the envy with which Baku eyes Armenia's friendly and allied relations with Iran, is both understandable and incomprehensible.

It is incomprehensible because Azerbaijan itself has done a great deal to antagonize Iran. In turn, Armenia's relations with Iran are a fine example of the fact that Christianity and Islam can co-exist peacefully, and that the religious factor in inter-ethnic and inter-state relations needn't play a decisive role. In any case, the Iranian side will continue to stick to its long considered position on the Karabakh issue. Iran, like China, is happy to wait, and as far as possible safeguard its borders against potential inter-ethnic or inter-state clashes. This centuries-tested policy is unlikely to be subject to change for short-term considerations.

Iran has always had ethnic, cultural and purely strategic interests in the Southern Caucasus. When the Turkic peoples destroyed Caucasian Albania, Armenia was Iran's only remaining ally in the region. An absolute loss of the Southern Caucasus would be a tragedy both for Iran and for Russia. Equally, the preservation of the Southern Caucasus as a friendly region is very important for both Tehran and Moscow. Both countries have historical interests and traditional contacts with the peoples of the region. But today only Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh continue the tradition of Caucasian friendship with Iran and Russia. And while Iran acts as the corridor giving Armenia "access to the wider world", Armenia serves as the bridge linking Tehran and Moscow. This is a worthy role, and Armenia plays it without fault. A Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran axis appears to be crystallizing. It looks as though Iran projects Russia's geopolitical ambitions in this region and vice versa.

Both Iran and Russia are being ostracized from European politics, and in these conditions they have no other option but to seek closer contact with each other and align a geopolitical, energy and economic axis capable of helping them to withstand pressure from Europe. Although the East-West division is nowadays somewhat artificial, classical Oriental countries carry on the ancient traditions of wise and considered inter-state policy. India, China and Iran, for that matter, are all countries with which alliance could only benefit Russia.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20071024/85342413.html

Vladimir Stupishin: How We Can Hold The South Caucasus


While these unrecognized states , namely Abkhazia and Nagorno Karabakh, are in danger of existence, there is wide disbelief that Russia has no effective measures left to restrain the advance of the USA and its allies on the post-Soviet terrain, which hurts Russia’s national and state interests. So far, Russian has been carrying on with the “mini-empires”, agreeing with their ridiculous proofs of ‘rights’ on the lands of neighboring peoples. These lands, which, in reality, until recently did not belong to them. I am confident that public and policy statements on the highest levels defending the sovereign rights of the smaller nations could spearhead negotiations between some former Soviet republics and their former autonomies on the structure of their new relations in a reasonable framework. But Moscow still refuses to do that. Nevertheless it is about time to learn to distinguish among the ‘real, true allies’, simply partner and those, who look at the other side. We should not be afraid to offer support to those whose interests coincide with ours.

It is significantly important to recognize that we are constantly being provoked to argue and undermine our relationship with our strategic allies. The Pro Azeri lobby in Moscow has been especially active in these attempts, doing all they can to drive Russia away from Armenia. These groups present the Turkish-oriented Azerbaijan as “the Russian basis in the Caucasus.” At the same time we are being threatened with NATO military bases on Apsheron and a new war against NKR, if the latter refuses to dissolve itself as an independent state and accept sham autonomy within Azerbaijan. Pro Azeri lobbyists use lies and scare tactics, hoping that our memories are short. Suddenly, the infamous Mutalibov has remembered the “tragedy of Khodjali, when in February of 1992 hundreds of civilians were slaughtered in Nagorno Karabakh as a result of a joint operation of the Armenian military groups and 366th motor-division of the Russian Army.” But back in 1992, Mutalibov himself had admitted that “the tragedy of Khodjali” was, in essence, a provocation carried out not by Armenians but by Elchibei’s bandits against his presidency (see his interview for NG April 2, 92). Why would Mutalibov remember the old lies of Elchibei propaganda now? The answer is clear: to destroy Russian-Armenian relations. Those feeding from the Azeri lobby push Moscow to help Azerbaijan to fulfill their plans of annexing NKR territory.

The protanganists throw an oft-used theory of alleged “Pro Western” orientation of the present Armenian government into the controversy. Yet, the official Yerevan line simply tries to diversify its foreign ties, which is a reasonable and most rational way of survival for Armenia. In the current circumstances, Armenia needs neither “pro Western” nor “pro Russian” orientation. But it needs a “pro Armenian” one. Russia should understand these nuances, in which it is not able to assist Armenia fully. For example, would Russia be capable of sustaining and providing regular humanitarian aid, that amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars, and which Armenia has been receiving from the USA for the past ten years now? An honest appraisal will ensure Russia’s stance in the South Caucasus. However, Russia still has other measures to strengthen its positions in the Transcaucasus. One of those is a military cooperation, including air defense and border patrol. In that region, we have such presence only in Armenia. Another lever is to own industrial and scientific property of strategic economic and social importance in a country. Again Armenia reappears, as we are currently conducting negotiations on these issues with the state government. A third way is to effectively use the patronage offered by Russia to the Armenians, in the Karabakh question. This should be done without any fear of confrontation with Turkish-Azeri pressure, conflicting with our interests, for it is strongly connected with the far-fetched plans of pan-Turkism.

The words of the Russian President, uttered in Yerevan in September 2001, hold a special importance in light of these circumstances, i.e.: “the whole policy of Russia in the region will be directed to provide a reliable defense for Armenia;” and that the solution of the Karabakh problem should be coming out of the present status quo, by which “Russia, should not disturb the established balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” I believe that to be the position conforming to the Russian strategic interests. We should rid ourselves of the bad habit of taking on trust everything that Azerbaijan says. Here, we do business with a partner, who promises undying friendship to Moscow and acts as a complete vassal of Turkey in Ankara and conductor of pan-Turkism at home. Once we attempt to meet their interests and give up Karabakh to them, they will not need us, for the pan Turkism orientation of Baku is rooted deeply in its body.

All of this is not a call to stop having any business with Azerbaijan and impose any sanctions on the country. There are about three million citizens of Azerbaijan, who live and work in Russia. Some of them have become Russian citizens. Moreover, Azerbaijan is our neighbor. A neighbor should be treated in a friendly, neighborly way, despite the fact that it behaves otherwise. It is important to promote trade, cultural exchange and cooperation in possible and profitable areas. Nonetheless, we should not close our eyes and ignore its true goals, especially if they contradict the Russian interests. Armenia has been our strategic ally from the beginning and until the present day. Therefore we should act towards it in an appropriate fashion. We should be considerate of Armenia’s interests and Karabakh’s interests, for without Karabakh there is no independent and friendly Armenia. Furthermore, without the Armenians, Russia would not have any positions in Transcaucasus. My idea of Karabakh’s protectorate evolves exactly from that logic: we simply ought to protect Karabakh, assist in all possible ways to strengthen its security on its historical territory; that had its borders distorted by the Russian Bolsheviks, demanding restoration now. The entirety of NKR, deserves no lesser respect than entirety of territories of any other state.

In my view, the true settling of the Karabakh conflict suggests complete rejection by Azerbaijan of the primal Armenian lands. It is possible to resolve the problem of the refugees by providing them with opportunities in places where they live now. How come in almost every discussion on Karabakh the only refugees that are being consistently mentioned are the Azeri refugees? Why can’t the Armenians return to Baku, Gyandja, Sumgait, Artsvashen, Getashen, etc.? It seems to me that the most optimal resolution of the Karabakh problem is to legitimize the status quo within the borders on the confrontation lines, set by the truce of 1994. Aside from the war anything else is simply unrealistic. Azerbaijan pretty much hopes for a war. However, a war is not going to deliver anything good neither to the Armenians, nor to the Azeri people.

Source: http://www.armenianhouse.org/stupishin/articles-en/caucasus.html

Russian Arms to Armenia Could Change Azerbaijan's Foreign Policy Orientation

The recent thaw in Russian-Azerbaijani relations seems to be coming to a sudden end, as Azerbaijani media outlets circulate news of Russian arms deliveries to Armenia in the amount of US$800 million. The news sparked huge protests both among the Azerbaijani general public and politicians. More importantly, it created a sense of treason among the political leadership of Azerbaijan, which had been promised support from Russia in the aftermath of the Georgian-Russian war. Such disappointment could result in grave geopolitical shifts in the region and changes in Azerbaijan’s foreign policy course towards NATO.

BACKGROUND: On January 6, Azerbaijani media outlets reported that Russian defense officials transferred weapons and other military hardware worth US$ 800 million to Armenia in 2008. The evidence consisted of a document containing the signature of a Russian defense official and a detailed list of the transferred weapons. As becomes clear from the document, the weapons used to belong to a Russian military bases in Georgia, which was later withdrawn in accordance with OSCE requirements and relocated to Armenia. At that time, Russian political and military officials responded to Azerbaijani concerns about the relocation by stating that the weapons and other military equipment in the military base would remain the property of the Russian Federation, and would not be transferred to Armenia. “Russia promised Azerbaijan that the weapons would not be given to Armenia,” says political analyst Rasim Musabekov.

The current news had the effect of a thunderstorm from a blue sky. Azerbaijani officials immediately reacted to the news by harshly condemning the Russian actions and citing its negative consequences for peace and stability in the region. Various members of Parliament, along with renowned public figures and policy analysts, have written op-eds and spoken on TV about this incident. For instance, Anar Mammadkhanov, a Member of Parliament and close loyalist of President Ilham Aliyev, referred to the sale as “unexplainable Kremlin boorishness.”

The Azerbaijani Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense have launched an investigation of the issue, which concluded that an illegal transfer of weapons from Russia to Armenia has indeed taken place. The reaction was very harsh. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan and expressed deep frustration with the incident. The press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “The transferred weapons strengthen the military capacity of Armenia, which occupies 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory. By doing this, Russia violated its own promises and the UN General Assembly resolutions.”

It should be noted that it is not the first instance of Russian “donations” of weapons and military equipment to Armenia, its strategic ally and military outpost in the South Caucasus, which is a the only member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in the South Caucasus. Back in 1997, a scandal erupted when the head of the Defense Committee of the Russian Duma, Lev Rokhlin, discovered and announced that Russia had illegally transferred weapons to Armenia in the amount of US$1 billion. After Azerbaijan’s fierce protests, the Russian Defense Ministry launched an investigation, but has to date failed to punish the officers responsible. Rokhlin himself was subsequently killed in a mysterious accident and the issue was largely forgotten.

After the recent incident, Azerbaijanis again recalled the incident of the late 1990s. “Only God knows how many other transfers Russia has made to Armenia, both legally and illegally,” says Ilgar Mammadov, a Baku-based political analyst, in his blog. It is not clear where all these weapons are stored. If they are stored in Armenia, it is questionable how this corresponds to the limitations imposed by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. It seems that Armenia has previously been exceeding the quotas of this treaty. One way to circumvent this problem could be to transfer the weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh, which continues to remain an soon after unmonitored zone by international organizations. If this would be the case, the conflict zone becomes even more militarized, significantly reducing chances for a peaceful resolution.

Most government officials are convinced that despite all the peace rhetoric, Russia continues to arm Armenia and remain interested in maintaining the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict unresolved. The incident is especially damaging since it was reported only one month after President Aliyev signed the Moscow Declaration on Nagorno-Karabakh together with Russian President Medvedev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Although Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov phoned his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov to convince him that no such transfer has taken place, the Azerbaijan side is convinced otherwise.

IMPLICATIONS: It is clear that the weapons transfer incident will play an extremely damaging role in Russia-Azerbaijan relations. These relations have been improving in the past several years, with President Ilham Aliyev reaching out to Moscow and downplaying his NATO aspirations in favor of accommodating Russian interests and building pragmatic relations with the Kremlin. Economic cooperation and trade between Russia and Azerbaijan reached its highest levels in 2008. President Medvedev visited Baku and expressed an interest in buying all Azerbaijan’s gas. President Aliyev visited Moscow on a number of occasions and expressed an interest in building deeper and more constructive relations with Moscow.

On the one hand, this was done to improve the chances for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (Moscow is one of the co-chairs of the Minsk group and an influential partner of Armenia). On the other hand, Aliyev sincerely wanted to help Russia improve its image on the international arena. For instance, during the Georgian-Russian conflict, Aliyev refrained from accusing Russia of aggression. He subsequently signed the Moscow Declaration – not a breakthrough in the peace negotiations as sometimes suggested, but nevertheless a boost for the Kremlin’s image as a peace broker in the South Caucasus following its invasion of Georgia. All of these gestures were aimed at winning Moscow’s favor.

After this incident, frustration among the political leadership in Baku is obvious. It is perhaps a wake-up call for the Azerbaijani public and officials, who increasingly believe that Moscow will always be guided by zero-sum games and interested in maintaining the conflicts in the former Soviet space unresolved, and that Moscow will continue to support Armenia despite the fact that it stands to gain much more by acting as a neutral player in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

After the Russian-Georgian war last August, there had been some hope in Baku that Moscow might alter its blatant support for Armenia and become more cooperative in seeking to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In return, Azerbaijan would desist from following Georgia’s path to NATO membership, and Azerbaijan would deliver its gas to Russia rather than to the Nabucco pipeline project. Importantly, voices calling for that have now vanished. Indeed, the voices in Baku promoting broader security arrangements with NATO and the EU, and viewing Euro-Atlantic integration as the only way to ensure stability in the South Caucasus are gaining ground. That in turn takes place just as the U.S. has signed documents on strategic partnership with both Georgia and Ukraine.

CONCLUSIONS: In the aftermath of the war in Georgia, Azerbaijani officials were evidently greatly frustrated with the weak reaction of the West and Turkey’s submissive attitude to Moscow. (See 3 September CACI Analyst) Briefly, Baku flirted with the idea of making a deal with Russia on both gas supplies and the Karabakh conflict. Yet the discovery of huge Russian arms deliveries to Armenia not only force Azerbaijan to purchase more weapons and thus further militarize the region – it deals serious damage to Russian-Azerbaijani relations at a personal level. Russia’s actions are now interpreted as irrational, emotional and unpredictable behavior. Baku’s flirt with Moscow seems resolutely over, which could rejuvenate its ties with the West – if the West is interested in investing in ties to Baku.

Source: http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/5021

In Late 2008 Russia Delivered to Armenia Arms in the Amount of $800 Million

Day.Az has asked some questions on this topic among some deputies of Milli Medjlis of Azerbaijan:

Deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission on issues of defense and security Aydin Mirzazade: "It can be featured only as international scandal. One of the conflict parties is supplied with different weapons in the amount of about $800,000,000. Considering the fact that currently the annual military budget of Armenia makes $400,000,000 is turning into a large military storehouse. At the same time considering the fact that Russia is one of the co-chairs of the OSCR Minsk Group, which is bound to mediate in the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict, the position of our northern neighbor is surprising. It is unclear to the Azerbaijani community, why it is done so and what international law is takaen as a basis. Russia must mediate and adhere to a just position, which implies the return of 20% of Armenian occupied lands to Azerbaijan. Russia must be interested in the demilitarization of this region. But instead of it we see that our strategic ally supplies the occupant with weapons in the large amount. The aim of this armament is clear - it is Azerbaijan, occupation of new lands, destabilization of the situation in the region. We would like to get a clear response from Russia. It is clear that Armenia purchases weapons from Russia. But its supply with such a great volume of arms can affect the situation in the region. We demand the return of these arms and Armenia's demilitarization. This contradicts to the Moscow declaration, undersigned by the President of Russia. What is that? The protest against the Moscow declaration by some circles of Russia or provocation against the Russian President? Anyway, those responsible for these provocation must be found, their names made public and they must be punished".

Deputy Zahid Oruc: "I think Russia's actions contradict to international documents it joins it. Though they try to explain their actions as being legal in the framework of the CSTO with Armenia, anyway, this is a violation of international norms. Russia's policy on Armenia's militarization can be qualified the lack of Russia's interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus. This allows other geopolitical plays to undertake adequate steps. Russia's such actions make possible the access of military circles from other countries to our region, as any country will try to restore the violated military balance by other alternative ways. Therefore, Azerbaijan and Georgia can search other variants of their security and try to distance from Georgia. This is not the first time when Georgia supplies Armenia with arms in a significant amount free of charge. In the 1990s late general Lev Rokhlin revealed the free supply of arms in the amount of $ 1 bln to Armenia. I think Ryussia must respond about its actions as they damage their mediation activity on the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict".

Deputy Asim Mollazade: "It should be reminded that the issue of supply of arms in a greater amount of money from Russia to Armenia was discussed in the 1990s. Now they have transferred arms in the amount of $800,000,000, which proves that the aggressor is armed and therefore, less arms is supplied. I think that Azerbaijan must draw attention of the world community and international organizations so that to make it clear who is an aggressor and who is behind it all".

Deputy Jamil Hasanly: "This fact can not be a surprize for us. I think that the country, which supplies Armenia with arms in the amount of $800 mln to Armenia, has no moral right to be one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group".

Deputy Gudrat Hasaquliyev: "This fact proves once again that Russia continue to supply arms to the CIS state, which has been occupying a part of another CID country. This is another fact proving that earlier Russia acted the same way. This proves that Russia does not support friendly relations with Azerbaijan, as it says, unilaterally supports Armenia and is not interested in the fair resolution of the Karabakh conflict. I think the Azerbaijani government must raise this issue in UN, OSCE, in particular in the OSCE Minsk Group". It should be noted that due to the New Year vacations in the Russian embassy to Azerbaijan, Day.Az did not manage to learn comments of the Russian side about this issue.

USA trying to break up Armenian-Russian military relations, general says


May 22, 2000

Russia has to ensure that Armenia has the means to defend itself from threats in the Transcaucasus region, Russian Col-Gen Leonid Ivashov said in an interview published in the Armenian newspaper 'Ayots Ashkar' on 16th May. The USA and NATO countries want to prevent the military cooperation between Armenia and Russia, and "if we are weak it will be easy to rule us", the general said. The two countries have to forge still closer military relations, remembering the fact that many Russian and Armenian officers served together. Ivashov also said that Russia will keep its military bases in Georgia for the time being, until an agreement can be made on their withdrawal which would not entail something like "a retreat". The following is the text of the interview from `Ayots Ashkar' by Vahan Vardanyan entitled "Russian-Armenian strategic cooperation is a fact"

[Q] General, how can you evaluate the present stage of Armenian-Russian cooperation in the context of Russia's new military doctrine? In this case what is the role of the Russian military base located in Armenia?

[A] Today is the eighth anniversary of the signing of the CIS collective security pact. Armenia is one of the active country members of that pact and conducts the kind of policy that will ensure that the collective security pact is an effective mechanism for averting any aggression towards country members. Armenia also actively participates in the creation of an air defence system. Russian-Armenian bilateral relations in the military sphere are successfully developing. We don't make a secret of the fact that we are interested in the guaranteeing of Armenia's security. I can say that within the framework of bilateral relations meetings between Russian and Armenian military servicemen often take place. They meet every month on a high level and have the aim of finding new prospects for cooperation and improving our countries' defence. I would like to emphasize that it is not directed against any other country, everything is done within the framework of international obligations.

[Q] Can Armenian-Russian military cooperation be considered an existing fact or is a further deepening of relations possible?

[A] Yes, it may be established that Russian-Armenian strategic cooperation is an existing fact. But there is still an inner force for improvement. Armenian military staff are being trained in Russia, we are strengthening the military base located in Armenia by modernizing the military equipment. Whenever we have the chance we also support the Armenian armed forces. We have only the task of maintaining the necessary level of defence. Unfortunately, the situation in the Caucasus is not stable on the whole, and the armed forces and the balance of military potential are also a guarantee for averting conflicts.

[Q] It is often written in the military press that Armenian-Russian relations are dependent on individuals. In your opinion is it really so?

[A] The agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual support is of course the strategic line of our two countries. Of course, it will be fulfilled more effectively if more than simply institutional relations are created in different structures. Many Russian and Armenian officers served together. How can that military brotherhood be broken? Do you suppose that we don't notice how often the US military servicemen try to put a wedge into our relations? NATO's military servicemen organize seminars where they speak only about Russian-Armenian military cooperation. It is not profitable for them. I can say that the USA and NATO countries actively work with the goal of preventing our consolidation. If we are weak it will be easy to rule us. Wherever real integration is observed, our transatlantic guests immediately intervene.

[Q] But sometimes we have the impression that because of a change of this or that official the relations between the countries also change. Is it really so? And what can you say about speculation that Russian generals are involved in the recent processes in Armenia and have their own interests?

[A] Undoubtedly the policy is being implemented by specific individuals. If those persons serve the strategic line of Armenian-Russian relations, in that case our military and political and allied relations will go on. A change in the state's political line may become a reason for our anxiety. As for the Armenian military servicemen, they are devoted to Armenian-Russian military cooperation. But it is not true that we military servicemen intrude in political processes. Yes, Russia has direct interests in Armenia. The essence of them is to maintain our strategic relations, so that Armenia is stable and strong from the strategic as well as the economic point of view, so that it is a friend and colleague for Russia. These are our interests. The speculation means that somebody does not like the fact that Russia assists Armenia. The US embassy is more active than we are. But that activity is directed towards breaking up our relations. The USA has managed to achieve quite serious success in relations with the other countries of the Transcaucasus, including in the military sphere.

[Q] What is the destiny of the Russian military bases located in the Transcaucasus?

[A] As for the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, we have finished only the first stage of negotiations and have presented our approaches. But when we were informed about the terms of all the bases being withdrawn, and they were brief, we drew Georgia's attention to the [OSCE] Istanbul summit. And there was no discussion of a withdrawal of military bases there. Yes, it is necessary to make an arrangement about the direct terms, but it must not be like a retreat. And it must not be a situation where immediately after the end of negotiations we start the withdrawal. So the question is about the maintenance of Russian military bases and facilities in Georgia and we shall continue this policy. As for Gyumri military base, that, according to our common opinion, is a factor of stability in the region, a factor averting aggressive actions towards Armenia.

[Q] Today the necessity of forming a Caucasus-wide security system is much spoken about. What is the position of Russian military servicemen with regard to this matter?

[A] If the question is about regional security, in that case it is necessary to talk about the whole region, and here there are the interests of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia as well as Turkey. There are fewer US interests. And where there are US troops it will not make the region more stable. We are ready to participate in a discussion concerning the problems of regional security, but only taking into account the interests of all the countries. But the presence of NATO on the territory of the former Soviet republics is not acceptable for Russia.

[Q] Recently Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan stated that the Russian military base located in Armenia is there to prevent danger from a third side and to guarantee stability. Do you agree with this?

[A] Yes, I do. That is really so. It is very important for us so that Armenia is stable. The domestic instability of any country can be exploited by a third force. That is why we have to observe so that the Armenian armed forces are capable of functioning. We must also watch so that the Russian military base corresponds to the level of those dangers which are present in the Transcaucasus today. The sum of the potential of the Russian military base and of our military and political and military and technical cooperation, as well as the stable development of Armenia, will give us an opportunity to maintain peace and stability on Armenian territory.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/a...0005/0040.html

Moscow Sees War Threat if Outsiders Act in Karabakh


May, 1992

The military commander in chief of the Commonwealth of Independent States warned Wednesday that if outside powers intervene in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, "we shall be on the brink of a new world war."

The comment by Marshal Yevgeny I. Shaposhnikov came in the wake of recent indications from Turkish leaders that they would consider sending arms or even troops to bolster Azerbaijan in its festering conflict with Armenia. The two former Soviet republics have fought over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh for more than four years in an intractable feud that has claimed more than 1,500 lives and now threatens to pull other countries into the fray.

The Karabakh conflict "could now develop into a wider military action--God forbid," said Mikit Kazaryan, an Armenian diplomat in Moscow. Russia could also be drawn into the Karabakh fighting under the terms of a collective security agreement it signed last week with several members of the Commonwealth including Armenia--but not Azerbaijan.
As new spheres of influence form in the territory where the Soviet empire once reigned supreme, Russia, Iran and Turkey are all jockeying for position in the Caucasus Mountains region and Central Asia. Turkey, which has been courting the Muslim, Turkic Azerbaijanis intensively, had remained relatively restrained, its ambitions tempered by its Western orientation and NATO membership. But this week, the Azerbaijanis lost control of a key town in their own territory and accused Armenia of attempting to move on Nakhichevan.

Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijani enclave in Armenia bordering Turkey, adds a particularly volatile element to the conflict because, under a 1921 agreement, Turkey is charged with serving as guarantor of its territorial integrity. After Nakhichevan officials appealed to Turkey for help, Turkish President Turgut Ozal, in Houston for medical treatment, reportedly said, "We'll send troops to Nakhichevan" and "without hesitation." The Turkish government, in which Ozal's party no longer holds a majority, does not appear poised to intervene militarily, but it warned Armenia that "it will be responsible for the consequences if it does not correct its aggressive attitude."

Armenians from the foreign minister on down, however, have denied categorically that they have any territorial claims on Nakhichevan or have launched any attacks there. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, there have been exchanges of fire on the Armenia-Nakhichevan border, but only because Armenia was shooting back at Azerbaijani positions that had begun shelling Armenian villages, killing at least nine people.

Armenia has also denied occupying the Azerbaijani town of Lachin, although it acknowledges that Armenian fighters from Karabakh are now controlling a road that runs through Azerbaijani territory, past Lachin, to link Armenia to Karabakh. They were forced to take the road, Armenian officials said, to break the Azerbaijani blockade of Karabakh that had brought its Armenian inhabitants to the brink of starvation and disease.

Because the world community had done nothing to break the blockade for years, Armenian Foreign Ministry official Matthew Der Manuelian said, the Armenian militants decided "to take the situation into their own hands. They were desperate because their families, their children, were hungry."

Der Manuelian said certain factions in Azerbaijan, which is in the throes of an election campaign and a messy power struggle, appear to be trying to make political capital out of Lachin and Nakhichevan. In typical fashion, Azerbaijani accusations mirrored those of the Armenians. "I think the Armenians want a war between Russia and Turkey," Fuad Gadzhiev, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Embassy in Moscow, said, "because in that case they'll have a chance to seize their historic lands in Turkey"--the vast tracts of Turkey that once constituted western Armenia.

Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel, who has much more power in the Turkish government than Ozal, said Wednesday that he believes Turkish military intervention would be an error. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said Turkey has played a positive role in the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. However, she quickly added that the U.S. government "does not support intervention in this conflict by any outside party." Times staff writer Norman Kempster in Washington contributed to this article. 

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/1992-05-21/news/mn-337_1_karabakh-conflict

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President Vladimir Putin at the Armenian Genocide Memorial


Russian Patriarch at the Armenian Genocide Memorial


Former President Medvedev at the Armenian Genocide Memorial


Foreign Minister Lavrov at the Armenian Genocide Memorial



CSTO Troops at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex