ACNIS Examines Armenian-Russian Relations

Armenian Center for National and International Studies
75 Yerznkian Street
Yerevan 0033, Armenia
Tel: (+374 – 10) 52.87.80 or 27.48.18
Fax: (+374 – 10) 52.48.46
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

26 June 2008

ACNIS Examines Armenian-Russian Relations

Yerevan–The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS)
today convened a foreign policy roundtable to take a comprehensive look at
the new prospects of Armenian-Russian relations and to consider the existing
military, political, and economic relations between the two countries
against the backdrop of global developments and new realities in the broader
region. The meeting brought together MPs, foreign embassy and mission
personnel, leading analysts, policy specialists, public and political
figures, and media representatives.

ACNIS director of administration Karapet Kalenchian welcomed the audience
with opening remarks. "I am confident that in addition to presenting an
impartial assessment of the current relations between Armenia and Russia,
today’s interventions will shed light on the prospects for deepening the
bilateral ties–which are based on the precepts of equal partnership and
mutual interests–and giving a new meaning to these ties, and also elucidate
the position of our country’s friend Russia with respect to Armenia’s
present domestic political situation, specifically the post-election
developments in the country," Kalenchian said.

The day’s first speaker, ACNIS senior analyst Manvel Sargsian, analyzed
Armenia’s internal political matters in terms of Russian interest. He noted
that recently an apparent uncertainty was noticed in the relations between
the Russian and Armenian leaders. As indicated by Sargsian, official Moscow
is not in a hurry to open its arms to the new authorities of Armenia. It
seems the Russian administration has come to understand that the traditional
attitude of Russia toward its strategic partner, Armenia, has exhausted
itself, "It already is clear for Russia that it is gradually losing the
affection of the Armenian body politic. What is more, no assistance being
provided by Russia to the ruling administration of Armenia does in any way
reflect on the commitments of that administration and the consolidation of
mutual ties," noted Sargsian. Sargisian concluded that the incumbent
Armenian government presented a slow-but-sure threat to the stability of

Armenia’s former minister of defense Vagharshak Harutiunian reflected on the
security issues of Armenia and the relevant role played by Russia in the
region. "So long as Turkey, one of our immediate neighbors, continues to
keep its borders closed and brings forth unacceptable preconditions toward
establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia, and we have the unresolved
Karabagh conflict with Azerbaijan, our current membership in the Collective
Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an imperative," Harutiunian stated.
He also reminded that one of the provisions stipulated in the military
doctrine of the Russian Federation reserves that country the right to use
nuclear weapons against any danger which threatens the security of Russia
and its strategic allies and this, according to Harutiunian, stands as a
restraining factor for any likely aggressor.

The next speaker, ACNIS senior analyst Hovsep Khurshudian, explored the
economic perspective of Armenian-Russian relations and pointed to the
relevant crying injustice which, as a rule, is not addressed. Khurshudian
noted that Russia was always envious of Armenia’s attempts to integrate with
the neighboring countries, or the state members in the European Union, and
therefore it resorted to every means to keep Armenia in "complete check."
"And the most apparent evidence of this phenomenon is the notorious
‘Property for Debt’ Resolution. In line with this agreement, our several
strategic enterprises which–despite assurances by the Russian side–are not
in operation to date, were sold to Russia for approximately one-fifth of
their actual value," Khurshudian emphasized. By presenting a number of
facts which corroborated his standpoint, he maintained that such demeanor
was the "defect" in Armenian-Russian relations.

In his turn, chairman Karen Bekarian of the "European Integration" NGO
examined the Armenian-Russian relations in view of the policy of European
integration. He remarked that these relations were rather imitational than
real because Armenia’s upper class for long was accustomed to resolving
matters with Russia, or receiving its "approval, by way of shady and corrupt
dealings. "It is quite easy to explain to the West as to why there is a
Russian military base in Armenia because this has a certain objective
reason. But it is fairly difficult to explain to the Europeans as to how the
state-owned property of an ally country can be transferred over to Russia
without an attempt to hold a formal tender," Bekarian underscored. He also
stated that the Armenian body politic had created political and geopolitical
myths for many decades and had become the slave of those myths.

The policy roundtable concluded with an exchange of opinions and policy
recommendations among former deputy minister of foreign affairs of
Mountainous Karabagh Masis Mailian; chairman Boris Navasardian of the
Yerevan Press Club; political analyst Davit Petrosian; ACNIS analyst
Hovhannes Manukian; Heritage Party’s board member Gevorg Kalenchian; editor
Hovhannes Nikoghosian of the Aktualnaya Politika monthly; journalist Artak
Barseghian; and several others.

The roundtable discussants also included Political Officer Nigel De Coster
of the US Embassy; Bulgarian Ambassador Todor Marinov Staykov; Captain
Alexsander Frolov, Military and Air Force Attache of the Russian Embassy;
First Secretary Wu Lianwen of the Chinese Embassy; First Secretary Igor
Skvortsov of the Ukrainian Embassy; Colonel Murtaz Gujejiani, Military
Attache of the Georgian Embassy; and Second Secretary Catalin Balog of the
Romanian Embassy.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K.
Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves
as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges
facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also
aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider
understanding of the new global environment. In 2008, the Center focuses
primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution,
and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the
state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax
(37410) 52-48-46; email [email protected] or [email protected]; or visit

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