Armenia appears to be intensifying integration into the European Union, despite Moscow’s unease over the growing EU presence in its former Soviet backyard. The authorities in Yerevan are particularly keen to conclude a far-reaching “association agreement” that will lead, among other things, to a permanent free trade regime with the EU. Armenian leaders are also increasingly asserting their commitment to “European standards,” with promises to hold democratic elections and carry out other wide-ranging reforms.
On December 1st the Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev took part in the Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held in Astana. This event was preceded by a number of various summits. Within already regular Summits of the European Union, it’s also worth underlining the special significance for the international policy of the summits as the Summit of Turkic Speaking States in Ankara and Lisbon NATO Summit. To this or that extent they influenced on the atmosphere of the OSCE Summit.
Armenia finds itself in an unfriendly neighborhood and engaged in a highly militarized 20-year territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. It has long pulled off a diplomatic coup, maintaining simultaneous close relations with Iran, Russia and the United States, all three of which it relies on for protection, investment and trade.
Karabakh issue dominated the internatal political agenda during the past week.
In Order to Prevent Revolutions in the States of the Organization
Yerevan’s call to halt ratification of an accord on normalizing ties has Turkey evaluating the possible legal and political repercussions, and prompted the country’s leader to reiterate his commitment to the normalization process.
Turkish State Minister Ali Babacan made an intriguing declaration in Brussels: "I was one of the authors of Zurich protocols signed with Armenia and there we reached a clear agreement that the Parties will discuss within historic committees the issues over the events of 1915. And we were ready to any results of these commissions activity". By this Babajan underlined, that Azerbaijan and other states were informed in details about Armenian-Turkish negotiations in Zurich: "I’ll say more, after we agreed with Armenia in Munich to sign protocols, I went not to Ankara, but to Baku, where I specified the position of Turkey on these issues to the President Ilham Aliyev".
A key committee in the United States House of Representatives has once again approved a draft resolution recognizing the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The dramatic development, condemned by Ankara and welcomed in Yerevan is widely seen in Armenia as heralding a last-ditched attempt by Washington to salvage the Turkish-Armenian normalization agreements signed in October under American mediation.
OSCE should play a bigger role in the South Caucasus in working toward peaceful settlement of protracted conflicts and democratic processes in the region. This was the consensus during the meetings in Baku, Yerevan, and Tbilisi, as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, visited the three capitals on his first visit to a region with the organization’s field presence on February 15-17.
Armenia is showcasing its close relationship with Iran at a delicate time in its negotiations with two other, less friendly neighbors: Azerbaijan and Turkey. With the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and the resolution of the Karabakh conflict looking increasingly problematic, authorities in Yerevan seem to be hedging their bets by pursuing more multi-million dollar commercial projects with Tehran.