Turkish Alarm: Sergei Lavrov Is Expected In Yerevan, Armenia

by Gajane Movsesjan

WPS Agency
What the Papers Say (Russia)
January 13, 2010 Wednesday

Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Armenia.

Invited by his Armenian opposite number Edward Nalbandjan, Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected in Yerevan on a two-day visit
later today. Lavrov’s itinerary in Armenia also includes a meeting
with President Serj Sargsjan. Sources within the Armenian Foreign
Ministry say that the negotiations with Lavrov will be centered
around the situation inÿthe South Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
resolution process, and political, military, economic, and humanitarian
cooperation. Partnership between Armenian regions and subjects of
the Russian Federation will be discussed as well.

"Global crisis notwithstanding, the Russian-Armenian economic,
military-political, and humanitarian cooperation demonstrates
positive trends," Andrei Nesterenko of the Russian Foreign Ministry
was quoted as saying on the eve of Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan. The
diplomat mentioned joint Russian-Armenian projects under way and called
Russia "Armenia’s leading foreign economic partner". Nesterenko made
a reference in this respect to the loan ($500 million) Moscow had
given Armenia in June 2009.

Lavrov’s trip to Armenia takes place while Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Moscow, a coincidence that upset the
Armenian general public and political establishment. These misgivings
are probably sensible, considering Ankara’s regular attempts to
connect normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations with Karabakh
conflict resolution on Azerbaijani terms. Not exactly blind to the
ongoing Russian-Turkish and Russian-Azerbaijani rapprochement, official
Yerevan suspects that Russia as one of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs
is of the mind to put Armenia under pressure in the matter of Karabakh.

"As a matter of fact, Lavrov’s visit is planned," Sergei Minasjan,
Assistant Director of the Institute of the Caucasus (Yerevan),
said several days ago. "Armenian and Russian foreign ministers meet
every six months in accordance with the agreement between foreign
ministries. I’d say that the bilateral relations will retain their
dynamism. Sure, Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan will coincide Erdogan’s
to Moscow and one does not have to be a rocket scientist to predict
that apart from everything else, Erdogan is going to Moscow to
discuss Karabakh and the Turkish-Armenian relations. All the same,
I do not think the fears of Armenian general public in this respect
are well-grounded." Minasjan flatly denounced the possibility of
any serious developments in the Karabakh conflict resolution process
"in the foreseeable future".

Political pot in Yerevan in the meantime is boiling over a wholly
different matter. Yesterday, the Constitutional Court authenticated
the protocols on establishment of diplomatic relations and advancement
of bilateral relations Armenia and Turkey had signed in Zurich on
October 10, 2009. Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Arutjunjan
proclaimed the verdict final and not everyone was happy to hear it.

The Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutjun and ten political parties
regard the Armenian-Turkish protocols as a threat to security of
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and object to their ratification. They
had hoped to have the Constitutional Court recognize the documents as
at least partially unlawful but their hopes were frustrated. It stands
to reason now to expect the opposition to concentrate on circumvention
of ratification of the protocols now. On the other hand, parliament
Chairman Ovik Abramjan recently announced that ratification of the
documents in the parliament of Armenia was only possible after their
ratification in Ankara.

"Russia welcomes and supports the process of Armenian-Turkish
normalization. In fact, Russia knows that this normalization will
only benefit it… Lavrov’s visit offers the Armenian leaders another
opportunity to remind their Russian counterparts of the necessity
to put Turkey under circumstantial pressure to open the border with
Armenia," Minasjan said.

International intermediaries in Karabakh conflict resolution efforts
(Russia, France, United States) promote unconditional normalization
of the Armenian-Turkish relations.

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