Putin Supports Embattled Armenian President

Putin Supports Embattled Armenian President
BY Clarence Hall The Moscow News

Moscow News (Russia)
May 19, 2004

On Saturday, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan wrapped up his
three-day official visit that gave the beleaguered Caucasus president
the first good news he had had in months

The meeting began as all such meetings do, with the two presidents
praising cooperation between the two countries. Robert Kocharyan
was especially pleased with last year’s 34% of trade growth seen
between Armenia and Russia, as well as Russian businessmen’s continued
investment in his country.

According to experts in Russian-Armenian affairs, the pleasantries
ceased as soon as the presidents moved behind closed doors, where
the real discussion, the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, began.

On May 13 the final signatures were placed by Iran and Armenia on a
project to build an oil pipeline from Iran to Armenia with possible
plans to extend the shipping network to Georgia, Ukraine, and even
Europe. The United States was the first country to criticize the plan
and went as far as to threaten economic sanctions against Armenia
should it finalize the deal with the Islamic republic.

Russia, too, disapproved of the plan, but for different reasons:
If a second gas supplier appeared from the East, Russia would lose
its gas-supply monopoly to Europe. In early March such fears seemed
to be validated, as Armenia’s Energy Minister, Armen Movsisyan, said,
“After the ‘Blue Stream’ project is realized, building long-distance
sea gas pipelines will no longer be a fantasy.”

Experts say that the Armenian administration was able to convince
President Putin before the trip. “The negotiations for building the
Iran-Armenia gas pipeline took place over 12 years, and that the treaty
was even signed is a huge accomplishment – not just economically,
but politically as well,” says Alexander Iskandaryan, provost at the
CIS Caucasus Institute. He says that the very fact that the treaty was
signed between Armenia and Iran shows that Moscow had given consent
to the deal.

Putin’s support for the pipeline can also be viewed as political
support for Kocharyan. The Armenian opposition has for the past few
months been pressing for significant political changes in the country,
including the resignation of the current government. PACE and OSCE
have both criticized Kocharyan’s heavy-handed approach, while Russia
has remained altogether silent on the issue.

“We have many opportunities to work together better, more effectively,”
President Putin said about Russian-Armenian relations. It is clear
what Russia has done for Armenia – but as for now only the Russian
government knows what Armenia will do for it. Sell it more Armenian
cognac perhaps? MN

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS