Armenia Fully Dependent On Situation Inside South Caucasus

ARMENIA FULLY DEPENDENT ON SITUATION INSIDE SOUTH CAUCASUS

By Karina Manukyan, ArmInfo, December 7, 2006

An interview with Director of National Research Center for Caucasian
Studies and Middle East Problems of the Russian-Armenia University
(RAU), Doctor of History, Professor Rosalia Gabrielyan.

Ms. Gabrielyan, what would you forecast regarding the
parliamentary elections of 2007 in Armenia? If the election result
is predictable? What do you think of the forecasts of many analysts
that the pre-election fight and the final result of the voting will
turn into a real "show of falsifications?"

I think the parliamentary elections in our country play no role in the
change of the political situation. The present parliamentary majority
will just ‘reproduce’ its presence (maybe by 2-4 people less than now),
as well as the presence of its satellites, who cooperate with this
majority. So, the parliamentary elections will change nothing in the
state of affairs in the country’s political field. This means that
the Republican Party of Armenia and the new pro-governmental party
"Prospering Armenia" will sweep the elections together with small easy
manageable parties comprising 10-12 people. As a result, we shall have
the same National Assembly as in 1995 i.e. a parliamentary majority
"a bit flavored with opposition."

Has the opposition any part in the country’s political life or it is
a manageable structure?

Fundamentally, there is no opposition now. Our people is very
pragmatic. It understood yet long ago that the opposition plays
no role, and that no one listens to it and takes into account its
opinion. That is why, I am not surprised when the opposition receives
too small number of votes at elections. It is not because the people
does not like the opposition. The people just understands that the
opposition decides nothing, especially in the case with our opposition,
which is rather personalized than ideological. On the other hand,
it does not mean that electors fully trust in the present ruling
forces. The people is just well aware who is in power today.

And what about the presidential election of 2008?

The situation in a country like our can radically change within the
remaining half and a year. Given the rapid changes in the political
situation in the region, we can probably have a nonstandard situation
before the presidential election. I do not rule out that the real
candidate for presidency will emerge later, maybe immediately on the
eve of the election. Alongside with this, if we do not normalize
our relations with the neighbor states more actively, it will be
absolutely senseless who will be the next president.

Is it possible to imagine a situation when Robert Kocharyan
unexpectedly sends in his resignation and the chances of Defense
Minister Serge Sargsyan to win the election sharply increase? After
all, no other political figure will have enough time to make himself
known.

Robert Kocharyan is not among those who send in their resignation. In
addition, to lose such a scenario means to cast shadow on the image
of our country.

It is not favorable either to the incumbent or to the future
president of Armenia as the opinion of such leaders is neglected in
the international arena.

The president of Byelorussia, A. Lukashenko, is a bright example of
the aforementioned.

Ms. Gabrielyan, don’t you think that Nagorny Karabakh problem hinders
the development of democracy in the country?

I think the leadership of our country takes advantage of the situation
when this problem is up in the air as it is a powerful and working
factor in the settlement of political tasks. That is why, I think that
nothing will change in this situation at least within 10-15 years. It
is paradoxical but a fact that Azerbaijan also benefits by this forever
national problem irrespective of its desire to get back the disputable
territories. Half a year before elections, an anti-Armenian hysteria
starts and the people who live in misery despite the oil dollars start
demanding the return of Karabakh instead of a solution to their social
problems. Hereby, the people turn into a broad mass of manageable
"protesting" electorate. However, despite the numerous statements by
Azerbaijan regarding the readiness to resume Karabakh war, I think
it impossible as the "oil" interests of the West come forward. This
means that Europe will not allow Azerbaijan to resume the military
actions. All this shows that Azerbaijan is well integrated into Europe
at the same time being dependent on it.

What will be the final role of Russia, USA and EU in the settlement
of Karabakh conflict?

During the last 50 years, Europe has worked out its mechanisms of
settlement of conflict issues. That is why, it seems to EU that we
should also act like they in Europe. At the same time, I think that
the situation inside the EU is critical i.e. the suspension of the
adoption of a single constitution of the European Union testifies to
disintegration processes in this structure.

As regards the USA, during the last 15 years, due to formation of
the monopolar world, it has got used to solve all the issues by force
methods. The bombing of Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq… Two months
of strong bombing and then democracy starts, which has never been a
success in the poor and ruined countries. One could state that the
U.S. Government does not learn lessons from the situation, but there
is also the back of the medal i.e. one bombs, the other builds. As
you see, EU has one principle, the USA another. So, we have nothing
to do but to choose the lesser of two evils.

What do you think of the situation when Armenia, figuratively speaking,
does not hinder the clash of the interests of EU, USA and Russia in
its territory?

At least, there are no big investments in Armenia’s economy either by
the USA, or by EU or Russia. After all, speaking of "investments,"
we must suppose the aspiration of an investor to gain profit. Now
we deal only with "political investments." It is the very reason of
Russia’s investments in telecommunications and especially in energy.

The Armenian Government seemed to have taken all the measure to
make Armenia attractive for investors. All the necessary laws have
been adopted and tax privileges have been introduced. However,
there are still no big investments as the geopolitical risks are
too strong i.e. the political and economic situation inside Armenia
fully depends on the whole region of the South Caucasus, as well as
on Russia-Georgia, Russia-Azerbaijan, Russia-Turkey relations. It is
our biggest problem.

Ms. Gabrielyan, the sociological poll conducted by your center showed
that Russia’s influence on Armenia decreased from 71% in July to 63%
in October.

What do you connect this with? Do you think that Russia will further
lose its authority in Armenia or the stabilization of the two
countries’ relations is possible?

Russia like any other country makes investments where it thinks it
will not lose anything. Russia is currently engaged in purchasing of
all the strategic facilities that can be bought. At the same time,
the industrial enterprises it has already acquired under the project
"Assets for Debt" do not operate. In the present situation if our
atomic power plant is closed down after the expiry of its resources,
we will occur in a full dependence on Russia. After all, it was clear
from the very beginning that Iran will never sell gas directly to
Armenia as no one would risk the big politics for our small country.

And what do you propose in exchange?

At present, Armenia needs to specify its foreign political objectives
and start negotiating with its neighbors. The poll we conducted in
July 2006 testifies that Armenia has disputable issues with Azerbaijan
(94%), Turkey (90%), Georgia (70%), Russia (48%), and Iran (14%). The
figures are terrifying! They show that the Armenian Government has
not tried to settle these issues for long years as these issues
are not new. We have an unsettled conflict over Nagorny-Karabakh
with Azerbaijan. We can not sit at a negotiating table with Turkey
as we demand recognition of Armenian Genocide. As regards Russia,
it has closed the only transit road via Georgia "Upper Lars" without
notification.

This has made our country fully dependent on the further development
of Russian-Georgian relations. All the aforementioned shows that
too little has been done during the 15 years of independence in
order to become a really independent state whose interests are at
least respected.

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