Level of Armenian-Russian presidents’ meeting assessed – Armenian pa

Level of Armenian-Russian presidents’ meeting assessed – Armenian paper

Aravot, Yerevan
19 May 04

Text of a Naira Mamikonyan report by Armenian newspaper Aravot
headlined “Two sides of the visit” on 19 May

The visit of the Armenian President Robert Kocharyan to Moscow had
two sides to it. One is, how did Russian officials including Russian
President Vladimir Putin receive him? The next are the arrangements
made on certain issues during the discussions in the course of the
visit. By the way, according to our sources, both may be compared
with each other because of their low level.

Reception of [Robert] Kocharyan went around all the accepted
protocol norms. Last week quoting the Rosiyskaya Gazeta newspaper,
Armenian press stressed that Kocharyan was received in Moscow not as
a president of the strategic partner country. In particular, Shant
TV [an Armenian private TV channel] showed how Robert Kocharyan was
received in the Novo-Ogarevo private house of the Russian president.

The fact is that Kocharyan had to wait for the Russian president for
several minutes at the entrance, during which TV operators of Russian
television asked him to stay out of the way and not to become an
obstacle to filming Putin. Then according to our source, when Putin
was noticed at the door, one of the body guards of the latter gave a
hint to Kocharyan, a hand up, saying not to come up to Putin. “Even
the meetings at the president’s house have their “protocol”. As for
the fact that Putin was late, any break of protocol may be explained,
but one thing is evident, if there is a “protocol” part, it should be
kept, another option is evidence of an attitude towards the president
of a country,” our source said.

Traditional briefing of the two countries presidents with journalists
is one of the indicators of the level of a reception, which was not
observed either.

The leader of the parliamentary group Republican Party of Armenia
Galust Saakyan comments on this. According to him, “there is political
speculation about this”. Asked about if it is normal that our president
had to wait for Russian president’s reception for several minutes,
Galust Saakyan replied: “These are just stories.”

As for other details of the meeting, it is only known that as a
result of the meeting the Armenian party agreed to give 45 per cent
more shares of Hayrusgazard [Armrosgazprom] to Russian Gazprom. Some
people assess it as compensation for signing a contract on Iran-Armenia
gas pipeline construction. As Nezavisimaya Gazeta says, “Moscow was
also against” this programme. “Construction of the gas pipeline, via
which Iranian gas will enter Armenia, and further via Georgian Poti
and Ukranian Ilichevsk to Europe, means that Russia loses a monopoly
over gas export to the European market.”

In Armenia, representative of the Armat [root] centre Ara Saakyan
comments on the above mentioned deal: “Today’s authorities imagine
the Armenian-Russian relations with the level of giving something
to Russia. The Armenian authorities give as much they suppose to
gain. But here the mistake is that superpowers always think about
getting much and giving less, and such small countries as Armenia
are finally satisfied with giving much and getting less.”

According to Saakyan, “Robert Kocharyan is making the foreign policy of
Armenia serve the settlement of domestic problems, for the preservation
of his power.” In this context, one may understand why Kocharyan
resigned himself to a shameful reception as well as to giving one more
establishment to Russia. Meanwhile Saakyan denied the existence of
such a bargain. “There is not such a problem and Kocharyan’s visit
to Moscow was not connected with it. There is no sale of shares,
moreover it has nothing in common with domestic political problems.”