In his interview to ArmInfo Roman Grishenin, the Deputy Executive Director of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, talks about the current level of Armenian-Russian relations, their geopolitical preconditions, common threats and challenges, as well as about the future. He gives a definition to the “soft power” in the Russian foreign policy and speaks about the share of Russia’s responsibility in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process.
All the events and occurrences which vary from the negligence of Russian medium-hierarchy officials regarding Hrachya Haroutyunyan case to the statements of the Russian Government during the “April war”, give different structures in Armenia a reason to pump a spirit of hostility to Russia. At your point, where is the key stone of the problem and what’s the solution?
To me, when analyzing the current situation in Russian-Armenia relations, we should proceed first of all from our brotherhood relations, and not from the media publications. Absolutely, Armenia remains one of the general priorities in Russian foreign policy. For us, this is first the cooperation in military-political and economic aspects. Further the hostile encirclement to Russia expands, faster the importance of friendly relations with Armenia, one of the main geopolitical partners of Russia, grows. Political science is a field that often gets an extremely high emotional effect. Within this, it is necessary to rule out any emotions completely while analyzing the Russian-Armenian relationship and to proceed exclusively from scientific principles. It is obvious and unconditional that Russia will keep exerting efforts to increase Armenia's economic and political potential, supporting the improvement of democracy institutions in Armenia, because Russia thinks the great history of the Armenian state inspires hope for a greater future.
And what for does Russia need a stronger Armenia today? Are there any premises for that?
I am strongly confident about the deepest historical, economic, religious and political ties of Armenians and Russians. We may say that further friendship and brotherhood of our two nations is given from above. As regards geopolitical argumentation of Russia's interest in Armenia, it is based on mutual interest for the simultaneous economic growth and close cooperation. Without any doubt, the example of that is the transit communications being raised from the very bottom. And the favorable location of Armenia in the region speaks about the necessity of further improvement of Russian-Armenian friendship.
As a rule, successful relations usually imply common interests and common threats. Could you highlight any of the common interests of Armenia and Russia, as well as common challenges they face today?
Regardless of possible contradictions in formulation of national security issues from the scientific point of view, particularly in respect to forced and historically conditioned multi-dimension Russian policy, the essence of that policy is to keep good relations with all the neighbor countries. It is absolute also that all these states are found in the range of Russian geopolitical interests. I am sure that any message should be of a friendly nature. From any point, Russia is strongly interested in these countries standing face to Russia. I will not make a revelation mentioning the international terrorism and the illicit drug trafficking as the common challenges for Armenia and Russia. The struggle against terrorism and extremism, which vary from religious to quasi-public and cyber crime. One of the challenges, of course, is the need to define Russia and Armenia's places in the new global environment, the necessity of national and religious authenticity, common development, mutually beneficial union of the two countries and nations. It is a double priority, taking into consideration the fact that Armenians and Russians are divided nations. Russians are the biggest divided nation in the world, and Armenians are a nation, whose major part resides out of Armenia. All these challenges do create a large field of work, which should be done jointly to get better results. The procedures standing to resist common threats are being implemented pretty well within the CSTO. However, the cooperation between the relevant institutions of Russia and Armenia should get its further improvement.
As the one who is pretty aware of the “soft power,” please give an estimate to the level of its implementation and successfulness in Russian foreign policy at least throughout the post-Soviet area.
In my opinion, the "soft power" used in policy is something like a two-line highway. We quite often hear blames addressed to Moscow with certain opinions stating that Moscow fails to pay proper attention to applying "soft power" in its foreign policy, that in this aspect we are often far behind our Western opponents even on the post-Soviet area. I can say only, that we definitely don't accept the "soft power" expression - exactly in the meaning delivered firstly by Joseph Nye. Nevertheless, today we do prefer informational work and clarifications to "soft power". The difference between the "soft power" and Moscow's efforts is that Moscow tries to pass a deal of Russian characters and nature, which is yet to be capsulated, to all the friendly countries. But I am sure that we do try to do it mostly at some hearty, sincere level, all the more so Russia doesn't even try to implement any advantageous imposition on internal processes in the countries loyal to Russia.
What is the role of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Russia’s current relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan?
I accept the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as the greatest tragedy of two once close nations, which have a long history of neighborhood, friendship and mutual cultural influences. I think that this problem must be resolved, and it assumes an ultimate responsibility for Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as for other countries, building up their relations with us on the basis of a friendly neighborhood. As one of such countries, Russia also realizes its responsibility for reaching progress in the settlement of this conflict. And the Gorchakov Fund, represented by me, is ready and intended to continue with efforts to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the nearest historical prospective. It is quite important for us, we will pay an ultimate attention to this issue and we are always ready to support any arrangement to decrease first the level of tonicity of the political speeches from both sides. Today's priority is to overcome hate speeches. Afterwards, it will be possible to search the paths to reach a consensus for the final settlement of this conflict.