Gorik Hakobian – Head Of The Armenian National Security Service


Jane’s Intelligence Digest

Lieutenant General Gorik Hakobian has been the head of the Armenian
National Security Service (NSS) since November 2004.

Q. What are the main priorities of the Armenian National Security

A. "Since 2007, Armenia has conducted its national security policy
based on the first ever National Security Strategy, approved by
President Serzh Sarkisian and developed through an inter-departmental
commission. The NSS was one of the departments that participated
most actively in the formulation of this document, which provides the
political basis for reforming the national security system as a whole,
including the NSS strategy and priorities.

"One of the main goals of this strategy is the stable democratic
development of our society with the renewal and continuous increase
of Armenia’s domestic and external resources. It assumes that the NSS
should possess and improve special tools to identify and withstand the
threats to national security in its modern understanding. According
to this logic, it is important to specify basic principles for
strengthening Armenia’s national security system, such as shifting
the focus to assist the state in the sustainable development of a
modern democratic society in the whole context of political and legal,
socio-economic, defence, energy and informational directions. This
shift defines the essence and main priorities of our external and
domestic security activities.

"So, in the field of external security, NSS priorities are
grouped in a whole system of special measures aimed at protecting
Armenia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,
as well as strengthening national security by participating in
international security co-operation, including combating international
terrorism. Domestic priorities include the protection of people’s
rights and liberties, the socio-political stability of society,
strengthening democratic law and order, law enforcement and maintaining
an equilibrium of inter-ethnic relations. Among these priorities,
a special importance is assigned to the consistent fight against

"Systemic security reforms are now underway. These reforms reflect
principal changes concerning not only security, but also the essence
and direction of a balanced state security policy."

Q. What are the foreign threats to national security?

A. "We are concerned with the possibility of a recurrence of the
Armenian genocide [a reference to historic violence between Armenians
and Turks in Turkey and the Caucasus] because of the intensive
militarisation of Azerbaijan and the recurring official statements
of our neighbours concerning their plans to regain Nagorno-Karabakh
by military force, which legitimately gained self-determination. The
very recent attempt at militarily opposing the self-determination of
the people of South Ossetia proves that there are no alternatives
but peaceful and political ways to resolve conflicts in the South
Caucasus. And Azerbaijan’s threats to start a new war over Karabakh
are not helpful in this regard.

"Armenia continues to fulfill its obligations to the international
community concerning the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and participates in consultations and negotiations within
the framework of the Operation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.

"Armenia proves its commitment to peace by its balanced foreign policy
of co-operation with leading states and organisations that provide
global and regional security. Armenia is not only a consumer of
international security but is also an active participant in providing
international security in hot spots of the world."

Q. In your opinion, what are the most urgent problems in Armenia’s
national security sphere?

A. "Among the most urgent problems are the fight against corruption
and international terrorism. During a recent meeting of senior NSS
officials with President Sarkisian, the fight against corruption
was identified as a priority. He stressed that the formation of
a strong and secure Armenia needs more consistent efforts to
overcome corruption. As the president noted, corruption among
state officials and within the government discredits not only the
authorities but the state as a whole, and it makes it less reliable
and accountable. Honest-minded people and qualified effective managers
of the private and state sectors are put aside from business and
governance by corruption.

"The high level of corruption, the lack of an adequate anti-corruption
legislative base and imperfect law-enforcement practices are obstacles
to Armenia’s full integration in the world community.

"The NSS participates in conducting strong control over the level of
corruption through special means, including encouraging anti-corruption
efforts among the public. It is very important that in carrying out
the president’s special order, we inform the public of some individual
cases of corruption within the anti-corruption activities. In this
connection, as an example of the continuous fight against corruption,
we may note the developing reformation of the tax and customs services,
including essential structural and personnel changes.

"Another urgent and rather responsible sector of our activity is our
participation in combating international terrorism. The assessment of
competent international organisations demonstrates the consistency
of our participation in this important aspect of international
security co-operation. Having visited Armenia in September 2007,
a delegation of inspectors from the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee
noted that 12 of 13 adopted documents to combat terrorism were either
already implemented or close to enforcement. Along with some success,
we continue our counter-terrorism activities in conjunction with our
partners and follow the dynamics of the situation in this region that
is full of diverse external threats."