Confrontation between world Armenian lobby and authorities to negatively affect situation in country

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 21 / Trend , E. Tariverdiyeva/ 

Experts say the confrontation between the powerful Armenian lobby worldwide and the authorities of the country most adversely affect the economic and political situation in Armenia.

"The Armenian diaspora do wield an enormous amount of power, and are well organized, both in France and the USA," British expert on the Caucasus Ziba Norman said. "Unfortunately this is not necessarily supported by a clear understanding of the region, and their lobbying
efforts have failed to take account of the economic struggles faced by the Armenian
people and the realities of the complex and volatile geopolitics of the Caucasus."

The current policy of the country's leadership causes understandable frustration by Armenian lobby. Representatives of the Armenian diaspora are obliged to live with problems of Armenia, ARKA quoted said former Prime Minister and former Speaker of the Armenian parliament, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union Khosrov Aroutyunyan as saying.

Aroutyunyan said diaspora is both wealth and problem for Armenia.

Many processes ongoing inside the county point to growing confrontation of the Armenian lobby worldwide, which is the backbone of the Armenian diaspora in the United States and the authorities. The main objective of the diaspora is an international recognition of the so-called genocide of Armenians in 1915, self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh and the rights of the Armenian community in Georgia.

"Representatives of Armenia ranked the 10th in the finals of the Eurovision-2009 song contest. If one reviews all previous performance by Armenian singers, it becomes apparent that this is nothing but a result of the policies of the authorities of "genocide" and the Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia Today reported Haykakan Zhamank newspaper as saying. At this time the countries with large Armenian diaspora did not give high points to Armenia.

According to well-informed sources, a special lobbying was held this year so that Armenians will not vote for Armenia. Explanation of lobbying was one thing: they give lands, give up the so-called genocide, Haykakan Zhamank reported.

Observers argue that now Sargsyan is in a very difficult situation in his country and in his relations with the Armenian diaspora. Because of the disagreement with the policy of establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey, Dashnaktsutyun withdrew from the ruling coalition and moved to opposition.

Given the national focus of the party and its close relationship with the international Armenian lobby, "Dashnaktsutyun" is potentially a serious opponent for the current government.

It is clear that the priorities of the government in Yeravan and not always in line with the position of the Armenian diaspora, European expert on the South Caucasus Amanda Akcakoca said.

She said this is the case in relation to normalization of relations with Turkey and regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Over the past year, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met regularly. The last meeting took place during the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Prague on May 7. Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met at the U.S. Embassy to discuss the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenian-Turkish ties have been severed since 1993 due to Armenia's claims of an alleged genocide, and the country's occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Yerevan on Sept. 6, 2008 upon the invitation of his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisyan to watch an Armenia-Turkey football match.

Efforts have been made to normalize ties between the two countries ever since

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.

The reason for a split between Sargsyan and Diaspora was vivid difference on so called basic problems, Azerbaijani political scientist Tofik Abbasov told Trend .

"Leaders of Diaspora are saying the "No step back" principle must be the main lever of the foreign policy," Abbasov, an expert of the Lider-TV analytical group, told Trend .

Any hint of constructive action in Yerevan contradicts interest of the Diaspora. Therefore, foreign centers accuse Sargsyan of recreancy, he said.

"This deal exacerbates differences between the parties, and hardening positions is more likely than a rapprochement between the parties of internal Armenian conflict", said Abbasov

Ex-President Levon Ter Petrosian, as leader of the opposition, is utilizing precisely the issues raised by the Armenian lobby abroad in an effort to stir up fear at a moment when confidence and a belief in the possibility of peace are desperately needed. It is a highly irresponsible tone to adopt, and one wonders why Ter Petrosian would choose such an approach, Norman told Trend . .

According to observers, the power and influence of the Armenian diaspora is due to the fragile economy of Armenia.

Commercial background to these problems but not only political is important for foreign lobbying circles.
"Leaders of diaspora are considering where the interests of donors, who have sponsored the nationalist course of Yerevan and the Armenian terror policy against Turkey and Azerbaijan to be taken into account", he said.

The Armenian diaspora is able to have considerable leverage over government becasue Armenia is an economically poor country with a population of less than 3 million while the population of the Armenian Diaspora is almost double that, much wealthier and more intellectually powerful with seats in high places around world, Akcakoca said. 

"Indeed the Armenian diaspora invest heavily into the Armenian economy and are responsible for more than half the budget of the country," Akcakoca wrote to Trend in an e-mail.  

A close relationship with the Armenian Diaspora impedes the country's political course many of the processes of establishing relations in the Caucasus region, according to experts.

"If the dependence between Armenia and Diaspora could be broken then problems in the region could be resolved quicker but this does not seem very likely to happen any time soon," Akcakoca said.

V.Zhavornkova and E.Ostapenko contributed in the article.

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