Realistic CSTO and Ideal NATO
We had a talk with Levon Margaryan, culturist, about Armenia-NATO relations.
-Levon, you’ve recently visited the NATO office in Brussels with a cognitive visit. How would you comment upon your visit? What impressions do you have?
The visit was organized by the British Council in Armenia. The group of Armenia was rather miscellaneous; there were both representatives of the governing body and of the civil sector as well as journalists, and separate analysts including me. During our two-day visit we met a number of diplomats, especially with those responsible for the area. The general impression is rather clear– both NATO and Armenia realize that Armenia is hardly to be enrolled into NATO in near future. In essence, it is not to be of utmost importance, the most important factor is that Armenia-NATO relations will develop intensively and retain the same trust that they have now. Georgia’s example shows that despite the fact that Georgia and NATO expressed their willingness to enroll, in any case there are some obstacles, and despite them Georgia and NATO are cooperating very actively. Perhaps the most important is this, and right here Armenia is to act both with political institutions and make the mutual recognition more intensive on the level of social information.
-You compare Armenia to Georgia in the context of collaboration with NATO; can Georgia-NATO relations serve as an example to build relations with NATO? How appropriate is this kind of comparison?
This Georgian example is appropriate for two reasons: first, Georgia is a post-Soviet camp country like Armenia, and they are similar in some social, economical and political ways of evolution. Then, both Armenia and Georgia, in essence, are of some interest to the west because the latters have the need of a political and civilizational bridge, which would connect the East to the West. The second important factor of comparison with Georgia is the fact that the Georgian example shows that NATO standards are rather flexible and the problem isn’t to enroll or not, but the content of socialization. In this regard Armenia has a brilliant example in front of it. The main difference is the fact that as compared to Armenia, Georgia has manifested its political and civilizational perspectives, exclusively directing its vectors to the USA, Europe, and the West. Armenia hasn’t done it, as far as it has regional problems, Mountainous Karabakh problem and etc.
-But Georgia also has a lot of regional problems and problems connected with Russia as well, hasn’t it?
Of course, it has and those are pretty difficult problems. It’s very difficult to have an opponent like Russia in the area, especially for a small country like Georgia. But that is the price that the new Georgian policy pays for openly expressing its western land claims. In its regional problems connected to Mountainous Karabakh, Armenia is acting in a more balanced style, keeping good relations both with RF and Georgia. The only problem is Mountainous Karabakh, in case of peaceful settlement of which Armenia works essentially.
-You spoke about Mountainous Karabakh and about the area in general. What is NATO’s orientation in this case, and mainly in case of the Mountainous Karabakh conflict?
You know, in the proper way in such institutions the answer to such kind of delicate questions is more delicate. As a carrier of western values, NATO clearly says that it convicts violence e.g. recent accidents on the borders as well. But at the same time both documentation and official orientation of NATO, and in general orientation of the west in such cases is clear, are not going to interfere with interstate conflicts, at least at the main stage of the conflict. Possible interference is, of course, possible but not in Armenia’s case. European diplomats are ready to give guaranties to Armenia, but the price paid for those guaranties can’t be affordable for Armenia. So, in Georgia’s case, NATO promises to support and consequently participate in the solution of the problems, but there is the Russian obstacle both in the enrollment case and in the connection of the perspective. Is NATO ready to provide enough presence in the area to exclude or at least decrease the Russian factor? This question is still unanswered.
-So does it mean that NATO and Russia are opponents?
Clearly we can’t say such a thing but in reality it is so. Despite the point that the sides are collaborating, it’s quite obvious that Russia’s interest is opposed to NATO’s interest. To view them as opponents in Armenia’s case can narrow the scope of making decisions. Yes, they are opposites, but in other political logic scopes, stability of opposite poles can be retained, which is what we’re still doing.
-Which one is preferable for us: CSTO or NATO, and can a choice clearly be made?
In connection with ideal perspective, certainly collaborate with NATO, and in the sense of real policy with CSTO. I think here Armenia should show flexibility, solving two problems straight off, what is supposedly being done now. Proceeding from a political reality and security position, collaborate with CSTO, and for the purpose of civilizational perspective and collaboration, develop relations with NATO. Perhaps, there is a problem to develop social-political discourse inside the country, the purpose of which will be Armenia-NATO relations discussion. Moreover, the importance of that discourse is not propagating NATO, but trying to introduce variety of choice in the political field of Armenia, counterbalancing the Russian pole. This should perhaps be in the agenda of opposition interests.