Director of the Armenian Center for Strategic and National Studies Manvel Sargsyan in his interview with ArmInfo discusses on the condition of Armenian society, power elites, internal realities, projecting the Artsakh conflict on domestic political life in the Armenian states. He comments and shares his version of the essence of global geopolitical and geo-economic processes.
What is most characteristic for you in today's situation within Armenian society. What feature, line of conduct would you single out, what have we come to and where are we going?
In Armenia, after 25 years of independence, finally, clarity emerged as to the role of politics in our country. The people practically did not have any questions, the most vivid evidence of which was the calm post-election situation after the last parliamentary elections. Our people began to understand who is who, what they do, what is politics in Armenia, what kind of party they are. That's the opposition bloc "Elk" was in the parliament and he was immediately charged with serving the authorities. It was this clarity that led to the extinction of the acuteness of the political activity of the Armenian society. For 25 years, people have slowly realized that they are engaged in nonsense and now simply do not want to do it anymore. Return to a closed circuit, a cycle of elections - protests - there will be no elections. Public movements in something qualitatively different have not been transformed. Someone went into politics, after which interest in them immediately disappeared, and the others lost interest in it. In other words, everything became clear to everyone. And here the idea, of course, has gone far from decades of stagnation.
We have figured out about today, but what is the most probable logical continuation of the crystallization of the Armenian realities mentioned by you?
As a supporter of ideas about life in the mood of "or-or," I will say that politics, unlike political science, is a fact and that's all. And to say that today it is not, and tomorrow it suddenly appears - it is not necessary. Recipes, of course, there are, but they are extremely cruel, because they are in the "or-or", there is no other here. Or we can finally comprehend the existing realities, which will lead to the emergence of politics. If this is not done, the current situation in Armenia can last for decades. No wonder that more and more people are migrating from Armenia. These people simply say goodbye to this reality, it just became uninteresting.
Do you consider the current migration an echo of the final arrival of citizens to understanding the essence of the processes in our country?
It seems to me that yes. Migration is justified not only by the socio-economic situation and not even by the disillusionment of society by the authorities. In my opinion, first of all, it is justified by the awareness of the clarity of the situation, the understanding of the senselessness of the political struggle that was conducted in Armenia since 1991. The backward region around Lake Sevan has always been a pretty dull place for me, where I least wanted to go. Recently driving through the villages of Martuni I saw big supermarkets like Yerevan, huge mansions with columns, etc. which caused me considerable surprise. Subsequently, I learned that this quarter, the so-called. "Putinka" was built by local guest workers. It turned out that the village is a phantom in which no one lives. I think that this is nothing more than the result of people's search for new ways of forming their own lives. These people themselves do not know why they built these palaces. That is, we are dealing with a graphic manifestation of irrationalism, a testament to people's awareness of a sad reality. These houses are not needed for these people, however, they realize their childhood dreams, realizing that their life is in this and more in anything.
Is the attitude to the Karabakh conflict in the internal Armenian life a manifestation of irrationalism as well?
I still believe that the Karabakh war in April 2016 in many ways began to lead us out of the twenty-year-old state of drowsiness, just as it awakened in people the gleam of rationalism. People began to discuss massively the problems of security, negotiations, problems in their own army. Until April 2016, someone was interested in these problems? These were other people's problems, another's war. The society finally began to understand the entire irrationalism of its assessment of the security sphere and saw the reality.
Rumors and informational dumps around the surrender of 5 Artsakh districts are still continuing. Is the intention of the authorities to implement them to create a situation in Armenia in which the authorities will not know what will be its next move?
People are so now mature that they are already well aware that the chatter is not only talking about giving up territories, about the war, but also the negotiations on Artsakh itself. Accordingly, these normal people, abnormal now almost no more, look at the situation from the outside. They build houses in which no one lives, buy cars, including those on which there is no one to ride, but they do not think about surrendering the territories, realizing all the futility of such inventions. And it is the Artsakh conflict that leads society to move away from irrationalism to rationality.
We have figured out the internal threats. Let's talk about external threats, which are more real.
Our security, the security of peoples of the region and broadly equally threatened by rapid global political changes. We see the impotence of all and everyone in the face of these changes today in the Arab, Muslim world, the post-Soviet space, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey. Today in politics, no one can ever know what tomorrow can expect of him. In the established realities, there was a sudden breakdown. The withdrawal of the Kurdish problem to the forefront was unexpectedly made by the brothers of Turkey, Iran and Russia. Every day, Erdogan reiterates the intention of external forces to split Turkey, which is the real truth. Azerbaijan is now being subjected to total isolation from the West. And no one yet can understand why the West suddenly decided to isolate Azerbaijan. The reason is again in the changed realities. And in such conditions, the Karabakh problem has become one of the problems around which new relations are built. At the same time, Karabakh itself from the world agenda, relations has long been superseded and Armenia is gradually being replaced. The Karabakh problem has hung in international relations as a phenomenon that is in isolation from the country itself - Artsakh. At the same time, this problem is becoming more and more global: it is interested in more and more major world players.
Such a situation, coupled with the attendant trends, is a challenge for Artsakh and Armenia?
A challenge in the meaning that after your problem turns into a toy in the hands of completely outsiders and players, you fall into a political fallout. The Artsakh problem is on the same that the problem of recognizing the genocide, long ago turned into a mechanism of pressure on Turkey in the hands of external forces ... And no one asks us anything now, since absolutely different opinions are important and sound. Apparently, the Armenian political thought does not react to this.
The comprehension of the essence of what was happening in our society led to the formation of a special type of powerful, who thought that all the most complicated geopolitical processes were nonsense. That is, they came to their insight and they took up their own business, for example, starting to build the next mansions. We saw, in turn, the largest terry corrupt officials flew out of power, all these people with the nicknames that seized power in the provinces and the capital in 2014. After all this, it seemed to all those bosses that they only need to hold a comrade "secretary general" for the honorable pension. However, suddenly it turned out that they themselves retired. Now, for example, one of them began to dismantle the plant in Charentsavan - a clear indication of his condition. He used to think that he decided everything on the spot, but now suddenly it turned out that he simply does not exist. All this is a sign of the complete isolation and irrationality of decisions taken by an active layer of Armenian politicians.
And does the "secretary general" also think in similar categories?
When you get mercy for everything, false confidence appears within the year. So the one already plans his own reproduction in power almost 100 years ahead on the basis of past experience. However, this very planning in the existing global realities is pointless.
Elites in Turkey and mainly Azerbaijan are blinded to the same degree? The issue is relevant, considering the fact of tension in relations with Armenia.
Historically, these peoples have a belief in the ability to independently overcome everything and everything. And at the level of the presidents they repeat like the mantra "this is mine," for example, about Cyprus and Kirkuk. Over the past hundred years, the Turks managed to destroy neighboring nations in millions, building their own state with their own bones on their bones. And the fact that it got them out of hand, has already generated a political tradition.
But today the realities have changed ...
Of course, those have hanged, but they think in this case in the same categories. They think about like our rulers, only in different scales. Our own in selfish interests, and those on a national scale.
The Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway is a new form of reflection of this thinking?
Turkish integration has always been a dream for these people. In my opinion, with greater intelligence, the Turks and Azerbaijanis would have paved this railway as far as possible from Armenia. At least not through Djavakhq. So things do not work, it's silly, because someone will press one button and everything will collapse. But they think that they will drive out both Armenians and Georgians, as, for example, they already do it in Adjara. Dizziness from success is the famous Stalinist phrase, which reflects the current state of the leadership of Turkey and Azerbaijan as well as possible.
Are they aware of the illusory nature of their own omnipotence in the realities of the 21st century, even in some centers of power. For example, in Washington or London?
Where there is an established political apparatus and political experience, of course, yes. Read Kissinger's notes and you will clearly and accurately assess the real political situation through his eyes.
Do you think that today the US operates with the illusory state of the mentioned by you and other elites on a global scale?
In crisis situations, breaking the ten-year stability, inadequacy takes possession of absolutely everyone. And political thinking as a result of university education for decades during the transition period inevitably fails. And the drop in adequacy in the same Europe is much higher, because after World War II, Europe, with the exception of Britain and France, was deprived of the possibility of pursuing a serious foreign policy. European countries were pushed aside from decision-making, all their hopes were placed on the US-NATO. Therefore, they simply do not have the experience to make decisions in today's sharply modified realities. And then, yes - the US, with its political school and experience, comes to the fore.
How does the Russia-US confrontation fit into the situation described by you?
I would compare it with the rivalry of two unique players of one team. And the root of the problem here is absolutely not to be found in Russia. It should be sought in the problems, so far geoeconomic difficulties that the US has had in its relations with China and even Japan. And it is here that Americans, with their inherent scope, form coalitions, drawing dozens of countries. Repeatedly it has been proposed and proposed, openly, to assume the role, responsibility in regulating processes towards changes and Russia. What Russia does not want and can not. I do not know if Russia overcame the terrible complex after its departure from Afghanistan. The second is the elementary inability to solve problems of this magnitude. The country is simply plundered, and its main capitals are in the pockets of Americans. Accordingly, the problems of the United States with Russia should be sought in such planes, others simply do not exist. That's deepened the Kurdish problem and then Russia was given the "upbringing" of Turkey and even Iran, offered to settle it. The Russians are sitting and waiting to voice the position of the Americans, in order to somehow react to this. Therefore, the global agenda is dictated today, making the world politics for centuries, after all the United States. China, of course, managed to create an economic model that broke the old world, but it has no experience of carrying out a planned global policy, just as Japan does not have it either. Maybe someday it will come.
From your logic instantly another player emerges who has determined world politics in the past not even for centuries, but for thousands of years - Iran. Is this not the motivation for the rejection of Tehran's position by Washington in the global context?
The allotment of Iran by the United States, as a country with special peculiarities, of which you are speaking, is already recognition of the importance of this country. And the fact that this is done by hanging the "axis of evil" label to Iran does not say exactly what. Iran for the United States today is defined as a key country. And for the last 15-20 years, much has been written about the need to link the US to its international policy with such countries that have principles and goals as Iran. At the same time, unlike the same Turkey, Iran is a country that is far from expansionist.
Let's try to sum up the conversation by returning to Armenia. What place does our country occupy in these processes, how should we and can we even integrate into rapid transformations on a world scale?
Armenia has played a very important role in the regional balance of power for a long time. This is openly stated, this is an official assessment of NATO and the United States. It's not just high-sounding words, as some think, these are serious messages. And it is Turkey's nihilistic attitude toward Armenia, up to the desire for its complete destruction, that creates the military-political value of Armenia. We certainly do not like this, we do not like the militarization of our country, we want technology, development along the way of Japan and Sweden. However, the objectivity of the greatest interest to Armenia is precisely its property of a powerful deterrent on the path of Turkish-Azerbaijani expansionism. The interests of Russia and the West over Karabakh always coincide in view of Armenia's international role in containing Turkey. In the same Russia, by and large, there are no problems with either the US or Europe, since its key age-old problem is relations with the closest Turkic neighbors. And with the increase in the population of these countries, the problem is only growing and, according to my estimates, Russia does not have a solution to this problem. In this light, the possibility of cooperation with all who can represent a deterrent is of great interest to Russia.
In other words, the same sale of Russian arms to Azerbaijan is part of the above logic. The problem is not only in Karabakh?
Of course. I can say that the sale of weapons does not have anything to do with Karabakh at all. This is a deterrent method, a method of influence, selling arms to Azerbaijan, Moscow does not allow Baku to develop as it might wish. Approximately the same Russia did in its time, flirting with Ataturk, but this did not prevent Ankara, having solved its problems, join NATO. Therefore, it is very difficult to calculate the possible outcome of Russia's flirting with Azerbaijan.