Exclusive interview of the President International Center for Human Development (ICHD) , Member of the Parliament, National Assembly of Armenia Mr Tevan J. Poghosyan
In respect with the changing world many countries today adjust their foreign policy doctrines. Does Armenia have any important changes within?
Since the first year of its independence Armenia has always tried to maintain a rather balanced foreign policy. At a certain point in the political circles it was dubbed as “complementarity” and for the recent six years it has been referred to as a “multi-vectored policy”. However, this policy has had occasional shifts in directions due to the conventional security threats by Azerbaijan and Turkey towards Armenia, between whom my country is sandwiched. I believe it was only from 2001 that Armenia initiated some real steps towards an implementatoin of a fairly balanced foreign policy by becoming a member of CoE; and, later on, with its 2004 participation in ENP and by joining EaP in 2008. In addition, since 2004 Armenia has intensified its partnership with NATO through IPAP deepening and widening its cooperation.
For the last four years the direction of European integration was clearly promulgated, and Armenia was able to conclude the negotiations with the EU on the Association Agreement and DCFTA in July 2013. Nevertheless, on September 3 during his visit to Moscow President Sargsyan made a statement about Armenia’s readiness to join the Customs Union, and in future to become a founding member of the Eurasian Union. In my view, this was a significant step backwards from the earlier announced balanced policy.
One of the most important components of international policy is energy security. How is it assured for Armenia?
One of the most serious challenges Armenia is facing today the is energy security. It is rather self-sufficient in terms of electricity, due to its small- and medium-sized hydro- and thermo-power plants, as well as the nuclear-power plant. However, in terms of natural gas Armenia depends mainly on an old Soviet pipeline reaching Armenia through Georgia, and a new one extended from Iran. Unfortunately, due to UNSC sanctions on Iran we are not able to purchase gas from Iran, but instead barter gas for electricity. This situation provides Russia with a significant leverage over Armenia, and it can always exercise pressure on Armenia through manipulations with the gas price.
Are there any changes within Nagorny Karabakh issue regulation expected in near future?
I don’t think that in the near future any progress towards resolution is possible. The status quo seems to satisfy all the interested parties, in spite of their public statements to the contrary. To expect that anyone of them will initiate activities that could lead to a change, or that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs will come up with new and fresh ideas is simply a wishful thinking. One can talk of a real intention and opening for a breakthrough in this stalemate only when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is brought back to the negotiation table.
How do you estimate current relations of Armenia with NATO?
I think Armenia and NATO are good partners. Since 2004 Armenia has seriously deepened and widened the scope of cooperation with NATO. It is already a 5th IPAP circle that is going on now. The most recent NATO-Armenia IPAP was agreed in November 2011. The main spheres of cooperation under this Plan are security, defence and military issues, public information, science, environment, democratic reforms.
It is most important that both sides have a clear understanding of the limits that each side has, and there are no false expectations.
Do you consider possible the combination of participation in the association with the European Union and participation in the Eurasian Customs Union, which is being discussed by the government of Armenia?
Simultaneous participation in both the CU and DCFTA-envisaged regimes is not possible, but it can be possible to negotiate a new document that would lay down the legal platform for cooperation between Armenia and the EU. The PCA is already outdated, and there is a need for a new platform between parties. A number of the individual EU states have already signaled that it won’t be one that was negotiated, but it should be certainly a new document that should have deal with legal issues, as well as with possible cooperation areas, where Armenia and the EU can have bilateral agreements.