On Thursday, October 05, 2006, the AIPRG Yerevan office organized a lecture and discussion on the theme of “The Outlook for Armenian National Security: New Trends and New Risks”, conducted by Richard Giragosian (AIPRG). The lecture was based on two earlier AIPRG Working Papers written by Richard Giragosian, including “Repositioning Armenian Security and Foreign Policy within a Region at Risk” (March 2006), and “Towards a New Concept of Armenian National Security” (January 2005), presented at the Third Annual International AIPRG conference at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC in January 2005.
Mr. Giragosian started with presenting the four main trends featuring Armenian national security: (1) Armenia within a context of shifting regional geopolitics; (2) the challenge of political change in
Armenia; (3) the next generation of Armenian economic development; (4) and Armenia’s position in a globalized world.
Within the context of shifting regional geopolitics, Mr. Giragosian in particular mentioned that Georgia moves to the West taking the track to closer integration to EU and NATO, whereas Azerbaijan is drawing away from the Caucasus and is inclined more to the East and is emerging as a Central Asian power. Thus, Armenia is left in danger of being locked as a prisoner to the region and becoming little more than a Russian “garrison state”.
Outlining his insights to the current political system of Armenia, Mr. Giragosian pointed out that Armenian militarization set favorable base for emergence of “clan based elites” and the tendency for transformation of “rule of law” into a “law of rulers”, which considerably effects the country’s legitimacy.
Touching upon the issues of economic development in Armenia, Mr. Giragosian noted the growing divide within Armenian society in both an urban and rural context and in the concentration of economic and political power in Yerevan. These factors impede the formation of middle class in Armenia thus hindering democratic developments in Armenia.
After presenting an analysis of these four trends, Mr. Giragosian offered several considerations essential for strengthening Armenia’s national power, mentioning negative demographic trends, scarcity of natural resources security, the importance of developing science and technology, in particular, nanotechnology and biotechnology, as well as the need for engagement of Armenia in globalization processes.
The lecture kindled the interest of the audience and a number of questions and comments were raised. With reference to upcoming elections, Mr. Giragosian pointed out that the US government is inclined to support the candidacy of Serge Sarkisyan from the perspective of sustaining stability in Armenia. To the question of Armenia’s need to join NATO, Mr. Giragosian’s expressed his position stating that there is no need for Armenia to join NATO as being outside this coalition allows Armenia to be a focus for them. Another question was given about the influence of policies of such structures as World Bank and International Monetary Fund on Armenia and it development policies. According Mr. Giragosian, Armenia is in a vulnerable situation from many standpoints and should try to maneuver so as to gain the most from the situation. While suggesting his view on French President Chirac’s visit to Armenia, he in particular mentioned that he has not many expectations from it. Moreover, for keeping the balance Chirac scheduled a visit also to Baku. Offering his insights on the scenarios of Armenian development, Mr. Giragosian emphasized the demography issue is one of major challenges and the need for Armenia is not so much democracy alone but perhaps a strong leader on the line sof a Putin model, who will combat corruption and clean up the country.
The lecture was conducted with the support of Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) Armenia branch, the management of which kindly provided the premises.
The event was reflected by the following local media outlets:
Panorama (http://www.panorama.am/index.asp?sel=8444&l=e), and
Panarmenian Network http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=19548&date=2006-10-05 , and Delovoy Express.