Saturday, April 07, 2007

Analysis: “Pro-Russian” PM? Look again at Sargsyan’s record

April 07, 2007
By Aris Ghazinyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
Thus, Armenia’s [then] defense minister practically for the first time since 1995 stated that not only Russia and the OCST, but also the United States and NATO were guarantors of Armenia’s security.
The appointment of Defense Minister Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister is taken in the context of the new strengthening of his position on the internal political stage and is regarded against the backdrop of his presumed nomination for president.
In this connection, some analysts tend to believe that Sargsyan’s stronger position means simultaneous strengthening of Russian influence in Armenia. In reality, though not everything is that unequivocal.

The new Prime Minister is not so unequivocally “pro-Russian”

No doubt, for a long time Sargsyan has been perceived as a ‘pro-Russian’ politician, and to date he co-chairs the Russian-Armenian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation. Furthermore, the post of the defense minister, in its turn, implies closer cooperation with Moscow regardless of who the minister is. Russian military presence in the territory of independent Armenia is sanctioned by the Interstate Treaty “On the Russian Military Base in Armenia” signed in 1995. It was also stated then that Armenian-Russian relations had acquired a nature of long-term strategic partnership.

This circumstance apparently gives some politicians and experts grounds to perceive Sargsyan’s figure as ‘pro-Russian’. Meanwhile, much has changed in this domain especially since 2003. At that time – three years into Sargsyan’s post as MOD – official Yerevan made a decision to send its military contingent to Kosovo, which for the first time caused Moscow concern.

At NATO’s Istanbul summit in 2004 the region of the South Caucasus was included among priority zones for the North-Atlantic alliance. Remarkably, immediately after that, in the same year, Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan made a decision setting up an interdepartmental commission to coordinate the process of the implementation of the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO. Moreover, in April 2004, Armenia’s Ministry of Defense made a decision to dispatch a small military contingent to Iraq, which provoked overt indignation in Moscow. The parliament of Armenia voted in favor of that decision in December of that year.

On June 9-10, 2005, Sargsyan, who was also the Secretary of the President-attached National Security Council, met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels and on behalf of the republic’s President Robert Kocharyan handed over to him a “Document of Presentation” of IPAP. It was then that the work on the development of Armenia’s National Security Strategy began.

During the period of the existence of independent statehood official Yerevan repeatedly came up with strategic settings, but no corresponding document was adopted by Armenian authorities. It was only after IPAP with NATO was submitted and approved in 2005 that joint work with the Alliance on the development of a national security strategy and a military doctrine began. It is this plan that promises to become the basis for the program of reforming Armenia’s armed forces by 2015.

A three-day seminar entitled “Security in the South Caucasus” began in Yerevan on October 6, 2005. The event was held as part of the Rose-Roth program of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly jointly with the National Assembly of Armenia. In this respect, the report presented by Serzh Sargsyan on October 7 should be considered as basic.

“In order to have a system of stable security Armenia is being actively involved in different security systems. Today, Armenia is cooperating within the frameworks of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (OCST) and NATO, which promotes the establishment of possibilities for interaction of the country’s armed forces on different international military standards. Therefore, the guarantee of Armenia’s ensured security is both the Armenian-Russian military alliance on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the OCST, and the development of cooperation with NATO structures and the United States.”

Thus, Armenia’s [then] defense minister practically for the first time since 1995 stated that not only Russia and the OCST, but also the United States and NATO were guarantors of Armenia’s security.

Thus, it is not quite correct to speak of Serzh Sargsyan as of an unambiguously ‘pro-Russian’ figure on the threshold of parliamentary and later presidential elections in Armenia. Moreover, the chronicle of the recent years shows that it is he who is one of the most consistent expressers of the interest of the United States and NATO in Armenia.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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