Armenian Security Strategy Approved

ARMENIAN SECURITY STRATEGY APPROVED
By Emil Danielyan

Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Feb 8 2007

President Robert Kocharian has approved Armenia’s comprehensive
national security strategy that declares democracy and good governance
a top priority and reaffirms the "complementary" foreign policy
pursued by his administration.

The presidential press service said on Thursday that Kocharian
signed the strategy almost two weeks after it was approved at an
unpublicized rare meeting of his National Security Council. The
secretary of the council, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, is the
head of ad hoc government commission that drew up and unveiled its
main points last November.

The 27-page document identifies what its authors see as the threats
and challenges facing Armenia and suggests ways of confronting them.

It concludes that the "main guarantee" of the country’s sustainable
development is a democratization of its political institutions coupled
with respect for human rights and a rule of law.

"Conscious of that necessity, the Republic of Armenia shall adopt
a strategy of continuous reforms," reads the document. It calls for
specific legal, institutional and socioeconomic reforms that would
lead, among other things, to the "formation of a civil society."

But there is no word on what many see as the number one obstacle to
democratic change: the failure by the Armenian authorities to hold
elections recognized as free and fair by the international community.

Kocharian and Sarkisian are held responsible by their political
opponents for a culture of electoral fraud that has taken root in
Armenia over the past decade. Both leaders have said that the upcoming
parliamentary elections and the presidential ballot next year will
meet democratic standards.

Their national security strategy lists the perceived dangers facing
the country’s security and territorial integrity, singling out
Azerbaijan’s growing threats to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
by force. Armenia’s strained relations with neighboring Turkey are
listed as another security threat. The Kocharian administration,
according to the document, believes that international recognition
of the 1915 Armenian genocide is essential for eliminating that threat.

The strategy also makes a case for a continued "complementary" policy
of maintaining simultaneously good relations with Russia, the West
and other regional players. "The principle of complementarity does
not mean maintaining a balance at any cost," it says.

The document underlines the "strategic character" of the
Russian-Armenian relationship and its military component in particular,
saying that membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty
Organization will become even more important for Armenia in the
coming years. It says at the same time that closer ties with NATO,
the United States and the European Union are another key guarantee
of the country’s security.

The document has separate sections on each of the four neighboring
states. Only one of them, Georgia, is described as a "strategic
partner," not least because of its status as Armenia’s main conduit
to the outside world. It also points to the existence of a sizable
Armenian community in Georgia and its Javakheti region in particular.

"In that regard, any destabilization of the situation in Georgia
would be a cause for concern for Armenia," says the policy guideline.

"It would endanger Armenia’s economic and transport communication
with the outside world, while inter-ethnic tensions could create
anti-Armenian sentiment and threaten the security of the Javakheti
Armenians."

The document goes on to express Yerevan’s concerns about the Georgia’s
multimillion-dollar energy and transport projects with Azerbaijan
and Turkey, saying that they are contributing to Armenia’s regional
isolation.

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