Publications of experts CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Ruben Mehrabyan: Yerevan's Strategic Dilemma - Reforms or "Friendship with Russia"

Armenia has entered a new year and a new political season, having completed an extraordinary post-revolutionary election cycle, already having a democratically elected National Assembly, which will gather in a few days, will form its leadership, commissions, approve the new Government and begin normal work.

If before that it was clear that the de facto temporary, acting in the logic of the electoral campaign, which had no majority in the parliament, aimed at dissolving this parliament as early as possible, inheriting twenty years of rubbish, the Government did not leave room for the expectation of something else, that to that but it would be even simply not fair, but now in the past it is a perception of the inevitability of fragmentary, situational, temporary, tactical decisions. The new government has provided the necessary minimum conditions for the transition to strategic decisions and fundamental reforms, which is simply dictated not only by the interests of the state and society, but also by narrowly political considerations of the strength and vitality of the power itself.

This is a completely new stage in the political process, which started in April last year, whose logic differs substantially from the previous ones. The time has come for strategic decisions: in the end, what should we reform, where will we go about with these reforms as the final destination, what will be the result of these reforms? In any case, those contours that have emerged to this day, concerning changes in the economic sphere, reforms and "garbage collection" in the judicial and law-enforcement systems, new relations of power-society, which were also fixed by the neutralization and marginalization of the remnants of the criminal-oligarchic system the results of free and democratic elections, give reason to believe that there is an understanding that the European model of the state in Armenia simply has no alternative.

And from this proceeds some important things. First of all, each of the above steps for Moscow means a significant weakening of its levers. The situation in Moscow is complicated by the fact that in today's power there is not a single person in respect of which the Russians would have a "traditional" compromise, and therefore, this leverage in Armenia simply does not work. In the perceptions of Moscow nothing has changed since the day they were formulated by J. Kennan: Russia's neighbors can be either her vassals or her enemies. Let's add that Russia also does not need allies, it has two - an army and a fleet, and this has been more than a century, as it fully satisfies. Russia still needs agents or "useful idiots". And these repeatedly concealed statements are needed in order not to forget, with what kind of "ideological foundation" and "philosophical raw material" we are dealing when we talk about "deepening of integration processes" with this country.

Moscow does not hide these perceptions. If we translate from "diplomatic Russian" to simple Armenian New Year's congratulations to Putin Nicole Pashinyan, included in the same press release with congratulations to Serzh Sargsyan and the arrest of Robert Kocharyan, we get the following: yes, we work with official Yerevan "within the framework of integration processes" , but we do not forget our desirable friends.

And while the Armenian government was occupied with tactical problems, the refutations of the overwhelming social network of fake information, fighting under the conditions of noisy and cynical trolling on the part of the RPA with the poisonous narratives and lure, which were repeatedly distributed in the daily mode - it was not dangerous for the Russians. Moscow has now come up with a new "game" - the price of gas, which is slightly raised on the border, begins to negotiate domestic prices, introducing Gazprom into its gangster organization and accompanying propaganda noise on the subject - "social status", the other, the third, will worsen , the country will collapse, etc., aiming to ground the entire political resource, initiate meaningless meetings, setting the goal of grounding also a temporary resource. Yes, Moscow will strive to deflect the hunt and desire of Armenia to carry out any fundamental reforms, will seek to create artificial "problems" and impose a false agenda, thereby forcing all energy to be wasted on discussions about "deepening relations" with it, and will continue to exert pressure on official Yerevan.

In such conditions, if Yerevan does not change the rules of the game, it will be very difficult to think of any development strategy. No matter how much Nikol Pashinyan and his government strive to maintain loyalty to Moscow, it is not perceived and will not be perceived as "its", because in this "club", we will repeat, "those" are those who have a serious compromise, or primitive agents. And the new government of Armenia will be perceived as "temporary difficulties" that will "be overcome" when for this "time is ripe." And for this purpose, an entire "army of concerned" has already emerged in the public field - in the media, social systems, which are now strengthening their "translational" capabilities and, in the daily mode, try to draw power into discredited discussions, to refute their daily "concerns", to put them on the mistake of spreading uncertainty, distrust and frustration in society and inculcate fatigue from politics.

The Armenian authorities have nothing left, how to define their own agenda, to formulate, dictate and implement, no matter how cares they are "concerned", whether in Yerevan or in Moscow. This agenda should come exclusively from the fundamental interests of Armenia's security and development, and things should be named by their names. In the most important areas, concrete programs must be put forward and clearly, practically, leaving no space for ambiguities, are presented to the society - in their essence, the deadlines, expected results, which will be measurable, considered, weighed. And the main responsible departments should be able to do their main job, taking into account the optimization process in the management bodies.

For example, Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan, who heads the Interdepartmental Commission for the Coordination of the Implementation of the Agreement on Strategic Importance between Armenia and the EU, can not keep everything aside and be busy with Miller's "Gazprom" endless "dances" a few times a month. It is clear that the abusive relations between Armenia and Gazprom are not necessary, and it is impossible. The second example, of course, is the tax and customs rates in Armenia, which will differ from Georgia, because we have "obligations within the framework of the EAEC" - they will simply kill our economy, ranging from tax increases to restaurants, ending with the application of the restrictive law on 25 kg and 500 the euro - in support of the "domestic producer" of Russia - at the borders of Armenia. And if we lose competitiveness in comparison with our neighboring Georgia, then what other investments can be discussed in the future, etc., etc.

The problem is not that Armenia is doomed to go to confrontation with the Russians, which may be waiting and will not wait in Baku. The problem is that the Russian chains with which the neck of Armenia has been torn for twenty years will not allow them to go forward, moreover, the achievement over the past seven months is in direct danger if Armenia's philosophy of Armenian-Russian relations is not revised and will not be discontinued their toxic influence on the subsequent course of Armenia. Armenia should not dwell on the path of diversification of its foreign policy, which is dictated by the logic of development.

The issue is vital for the future of Armenia, which has faced a strategic dilemma: either successful reforms, or the ongoing swamp of "friendship with Russia".

Ruben Mehrabyan

Expert of the Armenian Institute of International Relations and Security, editor of the Russian-language version of the "Aravot", Yerevan, Armenia

A source: Aravot