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 Friday, March 29 2024 17:53
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Moscow to Rasmussen:  presence of 102nd base and Russian border  guards is the only real guarantee of Armenia`s sovereignty

Moscow to Rasmussen:  presence of 102nd base and Russian border  guards is the only real guarantee of Armenia`s sovereignty

ArmInfo.The presence of the 102nd base and Russian border guards is the only real guarantee of  Armenia's sovereignty. This was stated by the Russian Foreign Ministry when asked to comment on the provisions of the "Deepening EU-Armenia Relations:

More Europe in Armenia; More Armenia in Europe"  report, drafted by the Friends of Armenia Network, a high-level group  launched in 2023 by former Danish Prime Minister and NATO Secretary  General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to galvanise support for democratic  Armenia and promote peace in the South Caucasus.

The Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that "the security proposals  are completely contrary to common sense." "The presence of the  Russian 102nd Military Base and Russian border guards is the only  real guarantee of the sovereignty of Armenia. The fact that their  withdrawal will somehow strengthen the military potential of the  republic is dangerous demagoguery," the Ministry told RIA Novosti.

"Forcing today to review the existing security system, the West does  not offer anything concrete in return," the department emphasized.

The "Deepening EU-Armenia Relations: More Europe in Armenia; More  Armenia in Europe"   report states:"Armenia is pivoting to the West.  The European Union (EU) has an interest in supporting Armenia in this  pivot. But for this to succeed, the EU and Armenia will have to make  a substantial, long-term strategic commitment in terms of resources,  security cooperation, trade relations, and political engagement. Now  is the moment to take bold steps. In short, we need to see "More  Europe in Armenia; more Armenia in Europe.

Ultimately, nothing less than offering Armenia EU candidate status  will match Armenia's strategic reorientation and make its pivot  irreversible. But for this offer to be meaningful, the EU will have  to back up its geopolitical commitment with real, substantial support  to Armenia - not least to counter Russia's rection.

The authors of this report therefore foresee a gradual approach to  enhancing relations between the EU and Armenia, with the ultimate  goal of Armenia inside the EU. The EU's offer to Armenia should be  divided into three phases: o First, the EU should indicate that it is  ready to offer Armenia candidate status. This would be an important  signal and commitment to Armenia and its strategic orientation. It is  the logical continuation of offering candidate status to Georgia, as  well as deciding to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova. o  In parallel, the EU and Armenia should review and update the existing  Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with a view  to enhancing relations. An updated CEPA should be used to build up  Armenian resilience and lessen its dependence on Russia, notably in  the spheres of security, energy, and trade.  The annexes should be  upgraded and enhanced, including providing free trade in certain  service sectors, such as IT. o Secondly, once Armenia has reached an  adequate level of resilience, the EU should deepen economic ties by  negotiating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with  Armenia. This would further help Armenia shift its strategic  orientation, notably in its economy, and move Armenia closer to the  EU. In parallel, Armenia should withdraw from the customs union of  the Russian- led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and eventually leave  the EAEU altogether.  Friends of Armenia Network 3 o A third phase  should consist of Armenia starting accession negotiations. The final  destination of these negotiations should be Armenia's full membership  of the EU. 

Armenia's Western pivot does not come without risk or cost. Yerevan  is well aware of the stakes involved. For the EU, the most immediate  priority should be to help Armenia create a "safety net" in  strategically vulnerable sectors. The EU should offer security  cooperation, notably through the European Peace Facility and enhanced  border management, to help Armenia diversify its security  architecture. This would increase Armenia's deterrence, both against  Azerbaijan launching another attack and against Russian hybrid  attacks. 

At the same time, the EU should step up its support for Armenia's  effort to increase its resilience and decrease its dependence on  Russia, notably in trade, food security, and energy security. 

The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement still has value  but is limited in terms of what it can provide for a deeper  relationship between the EU and Armenia. The EU should help Armenia  reorient and diversify its trade relations."

The Russian 102nd Military Base  is deployed in Armenia in accordance  with the interstate agreement between Moscow and Yerevan concluded in  1995. The base personnel are on combat duty within the framework of  the CIS Joint Air Defense System. On August 20, 2010, the Russian  Federation and Armenia extended the validity of the agreement on the  deployment of the base until 2044. The Protocol also provides for the  expansion of the scope of its geographical and strategic  responsibility. The air component of the Russian 102nd Military Base   in Gyumri is the Erebuni airbase, located in Yerevan. The airbase  personnel are on combat duty for air defense in the United Air  Defense System of the CIS countries.

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