Will Armenia change wardship?

Commentary Materials 7 May 2018 10:35 (UTC +04:00)
Whoever the Armenian custodian will be – Russia, the West, or both – the core message remains the same.
Will Armenia change wardship?

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 7

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Despite the repeated assurances of the Armenian protest leaders and other top politicians that there is no geopolitical context in the ongoing events, and that the movement is aimed purely against corruption and ineffective governance, it is not for certain that geopolitics will not reveal itself later.

Not so long ago, Nikol Pashinyan, a leader of the Armenian protests, stated that Armenia's membership in Russia-led EEU (Eurasian Economic Union) poses a threat to the national security of the country.

In September 2017, the ELK parliamentary faction (which, by the way, has failed to obtain an outright majority in the parliament), where he is the leader, prepared a statement on Armenia's withdrawal from the EEU.

Since then, Pashinyan has changed his opinion, saying there are no plans to revise the policy towards the membership in the EEU or the CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization). This would seem to satisfy the Russian establishment, but in reality, many Russian analysts commenting on the current events, doubt his sincerity.

Nobody can say for certain how Armenian policy will develop short to medium term, not in words but in practice.

However, in the light of a new spiral of confrontation taking place between Russia and the West, and remembering the past historical events and lessons learned, one can assume that Armenia will continue to do its favorite thing, that is trading loyalty.

Washington will likely try hard to embrace Armenia for several reasons.

Armenia is a good piece of cake for the US, which, if succeeded in reinforcing its position in this country, will manage to undermine Russian influence in the South Caucasus. Armenian Diaspora in the US, as well as the Armenian Church, should play not the least role in this matter.

The sole fact that Washington has its world’s second biggest embassy in Yerevan with reportedly more than 2000 employees is self-explanatory for understanding the role Washington has prepared for Armenia.

The same applies to Iran.

Iran gets utterly alarmed and irritated every time when any American influence – political, economic or military – is expected to spread closer to its borders. Trenching itself in Armenia, the US would increase its impact on Iran from a direction Iran has never expected.

In addition, Washington is deeply concerned with a positive new format of trilateral Russia-Iran-Turkey relations. Let’s not forget that Armenia is located right in the center of this triangle.

How about Russia’s stance?

So far, Russia has shown great restraint in regards to the latest events in Armenia, though it could interfere in the course of events.

Moscow remains calm probably because Armenia's economy is highly subsidized and dependent on Russia. Examples abound: the state budget of Armenia largely depends on remittances from the Armenian Diaspora in Russia, large Russian companies possess significant assets in the country, the Armenian economy not the least depends on availability and prices of Russian energy resources, Armenia receives weaponry from Russia for a nominal fee, etc.

On the other side, it is not a secret that there are many minds there, especially among the young generation, who identify themselves with the West and take Russia’s existence in the country with cold aloofness.

With new realities in mind, Armenia will most likely keep exploiting geopolitical contradictions among great powers to advance its own goals, but polarization between Russia and the West narrows the space available to the future Armenian government in its famous policy to straddle both worlds.

Armenia is a small country with great ambitions. There would be, in fact, nothing bad about it, if Armenia wouldn’t have tried to prove its significance and national exclusiveness at the expense of its neighbors in the first place.

Whoever the Armenian custodian will be – Russia, the West, or both – the core message remains the same: until Armenia continues occupation of others’ lands and does not establish civilized relations with its neighbors, no progress is expected in this country.