Armenia and the Caucasus: Crossroads or Dead Alley?
In 2008, Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan participated in a Caucasus Institute (Armenia) conference and published an article in the collection of essays which followed the conference. The article text is available in English and Russian.
Armenia and the Caucasus: Crossroads or Dead Alley?
Armenia‘s independence was very sudden: in 1988 the Karabakh Movement started under the banner “Lenin, Party, Gorbachev”. In March 1991, at the time of the USSR-wide referendum, despite Armenia’s non-participation, most Armenians refused even to think that the Soviet Union may vanish. In the September 1991 Referendum, the Armenians’ voting was based on their emotions, which is a frequent occurrence. Among all political formations of those years, only very few and extreme entities would dare promote independence or cessation from the Soviet Union, e.g., Paruyr Hairikyan. By the time of the Karabakh Movement having being transformed into ANM (Armenian Nation-wide Movement), some of its leaders, like Vazgen Manukyan, had already sorted out and deployed the argumentation of how and why Armenia would gain independence. Their thesis was simple: the Union is leaving us, rather than we are leaving the Union, even more precisely: Russia is leaving, it is imminent. The Diaspora naively rejoiced in the national revival of Armenia, without however meddling into the status issues of that period.
Armenia, in contrast to, say, Baltic countries, even though it initiated a referendum on sovereignty, did in actual fact gain independence due to the Belovezh Accords endorsed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. And also in contrast to Baltic countries, it had never had any provisions at the state level as to what its independence would look like, in what way it was going to be supported, or how Armenia was going to survive. There was a lot of rhetoric, but very few realistic ideas. The ongoing Karabakh conflict developed into a full-scale war with the events of May 1992, with the capture of the Shushi fortress happening precisely at the time of Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s Presidents meeting in Tehran, and the Iran authorities offering mediation.
Thus, on one hand, unavailability of any clearly defined project, and on the other hand, an inherited war with Azerbaijan: that was what the beginning of independence was like for Armenia.
And what about the project? A plan by the Armenian Nation-wide Movement was formulated by Manukyan: Farewell to Russia, Long Live Turkey. A country should not have permanent friends or foes. His economic plan was nonetheless radical: to distribute the public property to private persons and to start the market game from scratch.
However, in the Armenian politics another approach prevailed: the approach of balance, or the so-called “complementarity”. Turkey refused to develop relations with Armenia, so that the two remaining players to set up relations with Armenia were Russia and the US (relations with Iran got more complicated after the capture of Shushi). Of course, Europe too played a role, mostly France, with its Armenian Diaspora. The Diaspora will help out – that was the main premise that enabled Armenia to barge in, with both the war and independence on its hands, having no project, other than national mythology. And the Diaspora did save the day: many volunteers came to fight in Karabakh. The Diaspora helped to open embassies in major countries. Some contacts were established. This, however, was the end of the Diaspora miracle: no smashing investments were coming to Armenia through the Diaspora. It could hardly be said that the Diaspora made little investment in Armenia, but it was done in a haphazard manner, one by one, so that the entire sum came to be below the expectation figure. The situation was aggravated by the conflict between President Ter-Petrossyan and the Party of Dashnaktsutyun: he banned this party in Armenia, branding it as conspiratorial and seeking to overthrow the legitimate authorities. The aftermath for the Diaspora was of course negative: it was split and became even less united than before. Any adjustment to the current situation in Armenia proved to be impossible at the time of Ter-Petrossyan, particularly with regard to his conflict with the Dashnaks.
Armenia, as also most republics of the USSR, was innocently corrupt before the break up of the Union: public property was being looted right and left, bribery was rampant. Corruption was inherited by the independent Armenia, exacerbated by economic difficulties: power utilities disabled in the war, blockade and the onset of market prices. Sum total: years of cold and blackouts, exodus of one third of the population. Added to economic difficulties was the attitude adopted by the Committee “Karabakh” and by the new administration of the independent Armenia with their ongoing successive targeting of cynical sweeping changes, who declared that Armenia was unable to feed its population, being adapted to only one half of the said population (hence, it was implicitly derived that the second half had to leave). People were leaving not only because of economic difficulties, but also because of cynical contempt for their fate on the part of the inexperienced administration which was proclaiming this contempt from the housetops.
We shall summarize: we see a President unwilling to make war against Azerbaijan but leading a full-scale victorious war. A noble impulse by the entire nation to make a stand for defending compatriots in Karabakh but a psychological corruption of the same nation to the core in everyday peaceful life. The wish to drift further away from Russia while signing a strategic alliance with it, an alliance later reinforced by explicit and implicit economic bonds. Nagorno Karabakh did all it could to acquire all attributes of an independent state, while Armenia denied it a recognition, though without annexing it officially. Declaring Karabakh as party to the conflict but recalling the declaration after a Karabakh dweller Kocharyan became President of Armenia. Armenia relies on the Diaspora, though introducing an unprecedented discord. Endorsement of the most humanistic international treaties, along with violating a number of international rules of warfare. An intention to establish neighborly relations with Turkey, while dwelling on the subject of Genocide. Valuing Georgia as the only good neighbor (apart from Iran, with its restricted access) and the only land communication line, against the problems of Javakhk and its Armenian population (to say nothing of Abkhazia). Prioritizing ancient values, along with the desire to be a progressive and competitive country within the rapidly changing global world, and also a vain aspiration to become a “regional financial center” or “the Tiger of the Caucasus”. Finally, a victorious war with Azerbaijan, resulting in many years of institutional blockade, and a failure to reap the benefits of military victory in a peace-time format.
What does this picture show? A blatant inconsistency of the urges for action. The scale of problems far beyond the capabilities of national ideology.
Therefore, despite having criticized Armenia’s authorities at every step of the way, I take the view, shared by some successful managers, viz.: had Armenia been governed by brilliant managers, they could have raised her controllability by no more than 20-30 percent. Even a 15-percent improvement would have been great. That is to say, to have done better than it has actually done was very difficult, nearly impossible, with regard to the starting position. That does not mean, however, that the management of Armenia can be excused for having failed to do better. They should have tried.
The list of contradictions would be incomplete without mentioning that the aid extended to Armenia by the International community was fabulously large. That aid generated an entire stratum of the population in symbiosis with the network of International links: grants, donors, International organizations, European values, etc. The Ombudsman’s office has 42 staff members, and every draft law on its way from the Government to Parliament is scrutinized by the Ombudsman’s office. Some laws, e.g., the one on the Right for Information, are the most advanced worldwide. On one hand, that is. On the other – the election processes are fully corrupted and orchestrated. In all, this generally good-hearted country with a not very belligerent population has suffered not only the bloody shock of the Karabakh war, but also the 1999 terrorist act, when Nairi Unanyan led an armed group into the Parliament shooting a number of political figures, as well as the events of March 1, 2008, when Special Forces, or the Army and or the Police (remains unknown) assaulted the demonstrators (who were seething by that time), killing 10 people in a brawl. Ten people killed in the center of Yerevan is as explosive as a thousand slain in the center of Washington. N.B.: apart from the wars with South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia, Georgia sustained no casualties in political clashes since the Civil War of 1991. The many years of political confrontation in Ukraine have also been peaceful. Political processes are accompanied by enormous casualties in Chechnya, Ossetia, Dagestan, and Central Asian Countries.
Finally, the controversies of the Armenian Diaspora: in their countries of residence those respectable citizens never pass a bribe, while assuming bribing in the home country to be OK, and they do pay up. Distribution of humanitarian aid will corrupt the local population, it can now be plundered, for everyone is so unhappy… According to the state-provided data, only three percent of the Old Diaspora have visited Armenia at least once during the 15 years of independence. In the meantime, had Armenia renounced the public rhetoric of nationalism (“give back our land”), all 100 percent of the Old Diaspora, including 3 attendees and 97 non-attendees, would raise Cain.
Those controversies are typical for Armenia, although the controversies seem to be inherent to every country or state. Those have been the findings, anyway.
I started working on this article before the August events in South Ossetia, but have completed it only now. My gloomy forecasts, as well as those of others, have been confirmed. It was noted in the initial version of this article that the tendency in the Caucasus was an ever greater effort to eradicate the specifically Caucasian formations, the most powerful ones being what we call “unrecognized states”. The pioneering experience of this kind was provided by Chechen War II. To understand what it was about, it should be kept in mind that Chechen War I had been triggered within the context of the USSR decay, and in the context of the major USSR population being unprepared to the processes of decay and their aftermath. Much in the same way, Armenia entered the war unprepared and was engaged in the war with Azerbaijan quite unexpectedly, Chechnya, too, got into the first war with Russia with very little notice. Chechen War II was deployed predictably, as a pre-planned response by Russia to Chechen War I and its aftermath. Unleashing the second war may not have been fully scheduled (Basaev’s sortie into Dagestan). However, the deployment of the second war was a quite pre-programmed affair, prepared well in advance. Following the Khasaviurt truce, when observers noted that truly peacekeeping spirit does dwell in some Russian public figures, General Alexander Lebed in this case, Russia isolated Chechnya. Chechnya, in turn, turned out to be unable to use the respite and to develop the proto-governmental bodies with a sufficient survival capability. That country was being regenerated into an anarchic territory, with different groups of gangsters making war against one another within a most reactionary environment of Sharia (Wahhabism), with a flourishing economy of abductions. The world community was mostly lending ear to the hazards of terrorism, so that after 9/11 public opinion turned away from all forces associated with Islamic Terrorism in any way. Thus, Chechnya, due to the isolationist policy of Russia, lost all support among her erstwhile sympathizers. During Chechen War II, Russia managed to gradually modify the discourse around that war, a difficult but important objective, and the war between a subject region denied recognition as state and the former host country was transformed into an operation against terrorists and illegal armed formations. In the meantime, the war was accompanied by tightening the regime all over Russia, and in the North Caucasus in particular, restricting freedom of speech, attacking non-governmental organizations and overseas donors, a collapse of national ethnic clubs and non-governmental traditionalist formations in the North Caucasus (Adigi Khassi) (Russia used to be apprehensive of those organizations since the time of Confederation of the Upland Peoples of the Caucasus). While in some domains Russia succeeded in tightening the regime by knocking out potential troublemakers, in the area of terrorism and illegal armed groupings Russia got several very severe setbacks, like “Nord Ost” and Beslan. Beslan enabled Russia to complete the dismissal of potential hazards so as to establish a rigid authoritarian vertical system, having unscrupulously converted the Caucasus into a militarized zone, having disbanded its administrative structure (by including it into the Southern Federal Area spread over a huge territory outside the North Caucasus, with a capital in Rostov-on-Don), at the same time discarding the electiveness of leaders in subject states, like the republics of the North Caucasus. However, there are no visible guarantees for stabilizing the situation in the North Caucasus, the Caucasian populations grow in numbers, and despite the exodus, they remain large, opening a way to new fermentations and explosions in case of any loosening of grip by the Center, particularly within the context of the ongoing islamization. It is thus a temporary success at the cost of enormous human suffering and of crushing of entire nations, with no guarantee of stability: such is the result of the Russian policies of the last few years.
Mikheil Saakashvili, the new young leader of Georgia, started to do like Russians do after coming to power by way of the so-called Pink Revolution. His number one great success - and simultaneously his number two strong-arm action after the election campaign – was conquering Adjaria and exorcising Abashidze. However, his second campaign in the summer of 2004 against South Ossetia was not crowned with success. In spite of that, he resorted to more actions to stop the disintegration of his country, viz.: the closure of Ergnet Market; establishing the “cooperative government” in South Ossetia under Dmitry Sanakoev; conquering the upper part of Kodor Gorge, reinforcing this position and creating the concept of “Upper Abkhazia”, whereby the so-called “de-facto government of Abkhazia” (Georgian term) or the “government in exile” (as it is referred to most often), i.e. ethnically Georgian structures, which were either state structures of the Soviet time expelled from Abkhazia as an outcome of the conflict, or successors to those state structures, were moved (at least formally) from the center of Tbilisi to the “Upper Abkhazia” closer to home. The break-up of “integrity” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is an important trick in the armory of the struggle for power. An identical trick, and a very important one, was equating the actions of restoring Georgia’s territorial integrity with democratization and measures against corruption. For instance, the Ergnet Market was an unregulated symbiosis of the Georgian-Ossetian mutually beneficial cooperation. By having smashed it, Saakashvili actually reduced the significance of this cooperation, thus promoting anti-Georgian feelings amongst the Ossetians. He did it, however, in the same manner as the conquest of Adjaria, under a banner of a democratic and anti-corruption Georgia-wide campaign.
A comparison of unrecognized formations with “black holes” – sources of corruption and terrorism - is not new. It was used by Russia against Chechnya, by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh, by the West against Transdniestria, etc. This accusation makes it possible to justify the pressure on such formations – to a certain degree – by the need to establish or to restore law and order.
On the whole, the second South-Ossetian war, like Chechen War II that peaked on August 8, 2008, will probably yield the same outcome: there will follow a new round of relative superficial stability; however, there does not seem to be any way to solve the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In contrast to the Chechen war, despite the many dead and exiled, neither the two nations nor the very geopolitical configuration of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be completely destroyed, owing to the military support from Russia. However, Russia’s support is opportunistic and egoistic, while the root cause of Georgia’s failure in the South-Ossetian campaign and of the ongoing instability of South Caucasus will remain unchanged: it is the Caucasus type of man.
The Caucasus man is essentially a lone ethnic warrior; the traditions of Caucasus wars against states are those of wars by individual personalities or groups of personalities against state machines. Like a terrorist, alone or within a small group, can be a serious threat to the state machine and can inflict serious damage, so in the Caucasus wars, it is sufficient to have a ratio of 1 to 100, where 1 is the “ethnic warrior”, while 100 is the regular military mechanism of the state, to rule out a controlled termination of any war.
To recapitulate: experience shows that the problem of the Caucasus cannot be resolved militarily; nevertheless, the tendency of the last two decades reveals persistent efforts to resolve the Caucasus problems militarily, using combined pressure, hatred, decay of civil structures, and ban on democratic processes.
Despite what has been said, or by virtue of it, Armenia and Armenians continue coming forward as a positive integrating force, a resource for the world and for the region. On the international scale this power manifests itself not only in Armenia’s belonging to the Christian civilization together with Russia, Europe and the US, but also in its Diaspora: it is everywhere, and it is quite successful, including Armenians in India, China, and Arab countries. Therefore Armenians, like the Hebrews, are a global nation, provided they can organize this resource and make use of it. The region itself has two entities. One is the Diaspora. The time of its inception is irrelevant. Armenians constitute an essential part of Abkhazia’s population, two-thirds of Samtskhe-Javakheti, despite the displacement, and still there is a great number of them in Tbilisi; in Russia their number is enormous, it is the only Caucasian nation that still retains the status of “valuable nation” in Russia, very much like the “valuable Jews” who survived in Nazi Germany. The North Caucasus harbors some concentrations of Armenians, e.g., a considerable part of the population in the city of Adler is Armenian.
In civilized countries this type of resource is indeed a resource, while in our regions it may become a security problem: the situation may change at any moment to interethnic clashes and collisions, or Armenians may be targeted for displacement by local authorities. Quite recently, e.g., following many assurances that nothing of the kind could ever happen in Javakhetia, there were some fresh conflicts between Armenians and Georgians. Georgia, despite having declared adoption of European values, affords no status to the Armenian Church or to any other church, the Armenian Church in Georgia being a non-governmental organization. Preservation of Armenian churches in that country is under no guarantee at all.
On the other hand, the Karabakh conflict resulted in Armenia becoming almost completely monoethnic; as a result of the decline of tourism and an infinitesimal immigration by other ethnic groups, a non-Armenian is a rarity in Armenia, and even though the number of newcomers is growing, those are mostly members of the Diaspora. Yet in 1992, when a large-scale creative game “Armenia” was conducted, the problem of monoethnization of Armenia was formulated and classified as one of “soft” security. In monoethnic societies there is more conservatism and less development. It may however be balanced by the fact that the Armenians do a lot of travel, leaving the home country, or as labor migrants, or visiting their next of kin worldwide. Anyway, the lack of ethnic diversity within the country while making it perhaps more secure in South Caucasus at the time of Realpolitik, leaves it with fewer resources in the long-term, in case the Caucasian politics stops being a zero-sum game.
However, the value of the Armenian nation is not only in its “body”, but also in its imagination: despite the deplorable policies inside the country and difficult surroundings, Armenia is a leader in a certain still marginal undertaking that is bound to be successful in the future: in imagining the creation of a peaceful and good-neighborly system of the future Caucasus.
The stereotypic mind in both Armenians and its neighbors is more familiar with the old-fashioned Armenian expansionist ideologies of the type “Armenia from sea to sea”. Those ideas today hold the same marginal places on the outskirts of Armenian ideologies as, say, Pan-Turkism on the fringes of the Turkic ideologies. It is becoming less and less meaningful to argue about Pan-Turkism or Armenia from sea to sea. Even the Party of Dashnaktsutyun, having recovered from the blow dealt by Ter-Petrossyan, chose very advanced political approaches, both domestically and abroad. Today it is focused on recognizing the Genocide by Turkey and on compensations, rather than on “our lands”. Even this party prefers a civilized process of mutual respect.
Meanwhile, many intellectual circles of Armenia and Armenians already promote the ideas of building a joint Caucasus following the model of joint Europe or some other model. As far back as in the early 1990s, when those ideas were advanced by Shelling, member of the German Bundestag, he had been preceded by Suren Zolyan, the Armenian philologist and politician, who had advanced the model of “Switzerland in the Caucasus”. The “OSCE of the Caucasus” model as a reduced option of the “UN of the Caucasus” model was advanced in the early 1990s by the team of Ashot Manucharyan, the erstwhile Chief Presidential Advisor on National Security, with my participation. It was long before Michael Emmerson proposed the idea of the “Stability Pact for the Caucasus”. For many years Links tried to promote the establishment of the Parliamentary Assembly of South Caucasus, with Armenia in a more active role than Georgia and Azerbaijan.
International organizations, particularly non-governmental ones, adopted the regional approach with great interest when visiting the Caucasus. It was in this way that a number of networks appeared, such as Gringo, the Group on Conflict Management, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees), the ethnopolitical monitoring network, and many others. Some donors, too, supported the projects on dialogue and border-line cooperation: Soros Foundations, German Foundations, development agencies, Eurasia Foundation, etc.
However, the interest in regional projects gradually changed its focus: when the unhurried institutions of the European Union only intended to regard South Caucasus as a region (EU offices in Armenia and Azerbaijan were finally opened this year, and now we face another problem: their coordination, particularly with the office in Georgia), many actors dropped the initial idea of regional approach, changed the substance of regional approach or were disappointed in its potential. Thus, the same Council of Europe often replaces a serious regional approach by the policy of egalitarianism: unable to facilitate the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, EC takes extra care not to do in Armenia what it does not do in Azerbaijan, and vise versa.
Realistic regional ideas included representatives of “unrecognized states” or “unrecognized formations”, or “zones of conflict”, or “regions of conflict”, depending on whose political correctness is used to designate those regions, that is, Abkhazia, Karabakh and South Ossetia. It is not mandatory to include representatives of “unrecognized authorities”; in fact, the opposite is true: it is possible to achieve many things within the same format as today’s conference. The less realistic regional initiatives excluded the unrecognized entities. It is my firm belief that the recent Turkish idea of the Caucasus Stability & Cooperation Platform (the latest idea of building any acceptable regional system; it coincided in time with the Georgian-South-Ossetian-Russian war) is important and has to be welcomed; however, it will not lead to real stability here unless a way will have been found of including Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh into the structures.
To understand which ideas of regional systems can work and which cannot, we need to distinguish between alliance systems and holistic, or inclusive, systems. The Black Sea cooperation was conceived as inclusive but became an alliance system, therefore it is still neither fish, nor fowl. GUAM was an alliance, and therefore it failed. The ideas of integration by alliance are short-lived: they create alliances, and alliances are inevitably established against somebody. Therefore, what we need are inclusive ideas that will absorb all major actors who can stabilize the idea. The project of transporting hydrocarbons is an alliance; therefore it will always be under the threat of failure. It is the overlapping of alliance projects (Georgia’s attempt to join NATO, plus all the other alliances Georgia is trying to create) was the last drop that resulted in the violent conflict between Georgia and Russia. The Caucasus needs inclusive, rather than the alliance-type, or exclusive, structures of stability and security.
The first stage of regional thinking in the Caucasus can be explained by two crucial factors: on one hand, by the habit of Caucasian nations to coexist under the Russian control and language, and on the other – by the origination of four large unrecognized formations (including Chechnya). Attempts to regionalize the Caucasus were seriously harmed by the Second Russian war in Chechnya, and by the drift away from the Soviet era. Russia practically killed the independent non-governmental movement in North Caucasus that was not associated with national liberation movements, and banned the civil society actors from North Caucasus from socializing with their counterparts in South Caucasus. That was the political background of a gradual weakening and petering out of the Caucasus forum, a group that was based on the interaction between North and South Caucasus.
Acquisition of sovereignty and consolidation of statehood in Georgia and Azerbaijan were destructive to the tendencies aimed at regionalization. Establishment of a clearly defined visa system between Russia and Georgia, and qualifying the Rok pass crossers from Russia to Georgia as illegal aliens in Georgia; elimination of the Ergnet Market as an unauthorized free economic zone: those and similar actions resulted in dwindling of contacts on non-governmental level as well. Also corroborative to this process was the rhetoric of the Russia-Georgia face-off, when one party to, say, Abkhazian conflict was declared to be Russia rather than Abkhazia. In all, it was very similar to the absorption of small companies into large ones, or to crushing of small feudal principalities by a modern technologically advanced state.
Moreover, Georgia as it were wanted no regional projects at all: Georgia would prefer Armenia and Azerbaijan not to be there at all so it could enter the European Union on its own. The Azerbaijani oil – OK, yes, let it go via Georgia, but that’s about it. “To enter Europe by playing a lone hand”, that was how the Georgian project could be characterized.
With Azerbaijan, another thing happened: in the situation of the Realpolitik deadlock, with the Karabakh solution seen only in terms of giving up land, achieving victory or, at most, achieving a compromise, an opinion was gradually formed in Azerbaijan that any dialogue with Armenia outside the channel of Realpolitik thinking would only consolidate the de-facto situation, i.e. that de-facto Karabakh does not belong to Azerbaijan. Therefore, most traceable contacts were gradually vetoed, particularly those involving visits to Karabakh or meeting Karabakh Armenians.
As a consolation to the colleagues in Georgia and Azerbaijan, I can say that the official Armenia does not differ too much from the official Azerbaijan or Georgia in their views on regionalization: Armenia, too, like Georgia, closed the Sadakhlo Market, which had been neutral ground, an offshore zone, and a peacekeeping mechanism of Armenian-Azerbaijani trade relations, and replaced it with the Market of Bagratashen, on a smaller scale (non-wholesale). Armenia, too, cannot think in categories other than Realpolitik.
The Armenian “Schizophrenia” as described in the first part of my article, enables it to be more flexible, even requiring more flexibility than that shown by Georgia and Azerbaijan. This schizophrenia smoothly transfers into diplomatic behavior: the Genocide is important, we do not waive our claim for its recognition, but we invite the Turkish President to attend a football match, and we agree to open the borders without preconditions. Russia is our strategic partner, but we will try our best to meet the European Council requirements, to activate our Millennium Challenge Account, etc.
We recognize the territorial integrity of any country and have not yet recognized Kosovo, Abkhazia, or South Ossetia. However, we also recognize the right of nations to self-determination by secession and shaking off the control by another state, even the way it is going in the Caucasus…
History, too, is against the regionalism of the Caucasus: the experience of formations like the Transcaucasian Seim or the Transcaucasian Federation is interpreted as absolutely negative.
There are, however, peremptory factors that demand a return to that idea. One of these factors is the understanding that the remaining unconquered and unrecognized formations in the Caucasus can disappear by violent means, and only by them. The understanding that the violent option is disadvantageous for the Caucasus, which is developing in spite of everything. That the market of any of the three (or six) South-Caucasus countries is smaller than the would-be common market of the Caucasus. That the European experience and the process of globalization have established a precedent, a breeding ground and an imperative for regionalization. That the peaceful option for resolving all conflicts, as well as all similar conflicts, is oriented in this direction in which the economic development is so outrunning the political development, that the status problem of a certain territory is becoming more and more academic, very much like we witness in Quebec, Northern Ireland, or the Aland Islands, so popular with both Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
Armenia dreams of brokering peacekeeping programs in the region. It is a mediator between Georgia, Abkhazia and Russia on opening the rail carrier with no pre-conditions for conflict settlement. It is a splendid negotiating site for resolving the Irano-American contradictions. And that it is such an advanced explorer of peacekeeping in the region that if Turkey opens borders with Armenia, then Turkey may become a rightful broker in talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan: Armenia will accept it.
There was a time when popular thinking was that if borders are opened, Turkey will overwhelm Armenia with a deluge. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian children have been writing in copybooks with Turkish writing on the covers, and, curiously enough, suffering no humiliation to national dignity. By unverified data, 40 to 70 thousand Armenians work in Turkey officially or otherwise, including many prostitutes who like all Armenians were brought up in hatred of Turks but managed to change their minds in the face of economic pressure.
Armenia’s independence has been registered with the UN and is impregnable. The identity of Armenians has a millennia-long history and is more solid than the identity of many other nations. God be praised, Armenians are threatened with disappearance no more.
Therefore, under favorable conditions and with good will of its neighbors in South Caucasus, including the “unrecognized” and the “partially recognized”, as well as Turkey, Europe, Russia, the US and Iran, Armenia is prepared to undertake the role of a helper and a regional mediator in resolving the Caucasus contradictions; moreover, it is prepared to assume the role of a broker in resolving the severe problems of relations between Russia and Europe, whose boundaries will meet some day at Vladikavkaz.
So in contrast to events of fifteen years ago, Armenia too has now a project, at a rudimentary stage so far, even though it may seem too idealistic. The only thing that can stifle it in the bud is a domestic political crisis, which, if not fairly resolved, will prevent Armenia from acting with ethical integrity in foreign politics: this does require national unity.
00:46 October 13, 2014