Monday, April 29 2013

Safaryan Ashot

Mikayel Hayrapetyan: The West cannot change power in Armenia yet


Mr. Hayrapetyan, how do you assess
the ongoing processes in Armenia? What domestic political changes do you see
after the presidential election?   


All the political processes
developing in Armenia today are like a performance, the stage directors of
which must not be looked for among the Armenian politicians or parties. All of
them without exception are stooges in the hands of Russia, first of all. Of
course, the West also pursues its aims, but the share of its interests in
Armenia is not big. Just Russia easily rules the leadership of Armenia as well
as the opposition. And I see no sign of self-respect in the behavior of our
political forces.


But many experts, including Russian
ones, criticize the Kremlin for its wrong foreign policy that resulted in
cession of positions in the post-Soviet area…  


I partly share this opinion. We
remember that the West gained victory over the USSR in the "cold
war". As a contribution, Moscow gradually "ceded" Western
Europe, then Baltic countries. Then "orange revolutions" happened in
Ukraine and Georgia. Similar departure took place in the South Caucasus as
well. Russian subdivisions were first removed from Azerbaijan, except Gabala
radar station. By the way, for withdrawal of the Russian troops Baku paid by
losing Nagornyy Karabakh and respective territories. Later Russian units were
also removed from Georgia, as a result of which Tbilisi lost Abkhazia and South
Ossetia. The five-day war and occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and
timorous mediation of the West, in fact, meant that the West seems to be
inclined to recognize South Caucasus an area of Moscow's privileged interests.
In its flexibility the West has come to the situation when pro-Russian Bidzina
Ivanishvili was chosen as a political opponent of pro-Western Mikheil
Saakashvili. These and other similar serious developments show that at present
these is no disagreement between the West and Russia in our region.


How would you explain the West’s
flexible position with respect to Moscow?


I think that the developments in the
Middle East and the growth of the ideas of radical Islam are the reason of a
little bit retreat of the West against Moscow's interests. Russia has a mission
of blunting the Islam attack at Christian civilization. Despite being a
"prodigal son" for Europe, nevertheless, Russia is a part of Europe
and Christian civilization. Russia has a mission of a frontier guard of
civilization both in the South Caucasus and the Far East.


Let’s return to Armenia…


As regards Armenia, it has always
been under the influence of Russia. Therefore, any reform of the political
system of Armenia will be cosmetic. Armenia has no leader with a political
dignity ready to launch a challenge against Moscow's hegemony. Stemming from
the above mentioned, I don't think that the present status quo in the political
system of Armenia will be changed in the near future. Armenia cannot differ
from its "metropole". The whole body running a fever, I mean, the
corrupted Russia, cannot have a separate healthy part. If Armenia is Russia's
outpost, only cosmetic transformations may happen here, at best. It is
impossible to change the situation now. I cannot say how long it will last.
Much depends on the situation in the region, as well as on the forthcoming
presidential election in Georgia. The election will show whether the West’s
retreat is temporary or it has decided to cede the South Caucasus to Russia for
a long period.   


What about the Armenia-EU
Association Agreement negotiations? Are they also only an instrument for
cosmetic changes or serious processes aimed at gaining long-tern results? 


One should first of all take into
account that those negotiations are being held by the authorities of Armenia,
who are the henchmen of Moscow. Does the European Union realize that? Yes, of
course. The EU cannot deploy the NATO troops in Armenia.  So, the EU has nothing to do but fight
against oligarchy by such measures as, for instance, the entry of the French
Retailer Carrefour in the Armenian market. However, Carrefour's case is so far
shy efforts of the West to change the status-quo and it cannot bring any
significant changes. If Russia forces Armenia to join the Eurasian Union, the
authorities will hardly have the courage to resist and to make the right
geopolitical choice to protect the national interests. Much depends on the
West's flexibility, on whether it will make Armenia set tougher conditions to
Moscow or it will try to limit its demands seeing Armenia's despair.


But the West is very closely
cooperating with the “henchmen” of Moscow – the authorities of Armenia.
Moreover, the West hurried to congratulate President Serzh Sargsyan on his
re-election whereas it could support Raffi Hovannisian.


The West cannot change power in
Armenia at present. It can just express its attitude towards various processes.
We remember that in 2008 the U.S. President Barack Obama did not congratulate
Serzh Sargsyan and the leaders of European countries congratulated him rather
late and did it through the mid-level diplomats and officials. This time the
situation was different. Unfortunately, Serzh Sargsyan won the election. I do not know where the votes were rigged but
one thing is obvious – this time the authorities were able to persuade the West
that the presidential election was fair and transparent. This was what the West
expected. It did not want to completely cede the region that it is keeping with
the help of Russia.


By Ashot Safaryan

29 April 2013. ArmInfo 



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