Interview of Director of the Caucasus Institute of Peace , Democracy and Development (Tbilisi) with Arminfo news agency
by David Stepanyan
During the November summit in Vilnius, only two out of the 6 countries of the “Eastern partnership”, Georgia and Moldova initialed the Association Agreement and DCFTA. What are further prospects of this project of the EU against such a background?
The "Eastern partnership" has become a claim of the European Union to protect its interests in the countries of the post-Soviet area, at least, its western part. I think that the given programme of the EU has implemented its function. Just the "Eastern partnership" has become a catalyst element of certain processes and pushed its member-states towards the geo-political choice. Of course, this has become not so much pleasant scenario for Armenia, as a result of which, Yerevan was forced to make a strict choice. And despite the very core of the eastern partnership, it has pushed its member states towards the choice and understanding of their further development, and values. I think that in the political context the Eastern partnership has turned to be a rather productive project. The project goes on developing, taking into account the fact that Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine made a choice in favor of Europe, but the rest three countries did not do that. The rest three countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus did not refuse relations with Europe either. But because of different reasons, they did not find themselves in this European zone. "Nobody knows how the project will go on developing in future. But there is no doubt that it has pushed and developed certain true processes in the geo-politics.
Armenia’s participation in the Eurasian Union and Georgia’s in the AA and DCFTA seem to draw an additional border between our countries. Will this become a trial for the relations between Yerevan and Tbilisi?
The external players have been always aware that Armenia and Georgia have different foreign political vectors. For this reason, Armenia's participation in the Eurasian Union, and Georgia's in the Association Agreement and DCFTA will not become a trial for the relations between Yerevan and Tbilisi. Although the problem of making choice between Russia and the European Union was not put against Yerevan, it was always clear that because of several reasons, in the sphere of security Armenia is oriented towards Russia. However, although security forces us to have different global geo-political vectors, it is in favor of Armenia as well as Georgia to ignore this fact and develop the relations as much as possible. I think that in general the Georgian=Armenian relations have always been rather stable, and irrespective of the person being in power in Tbilisi and in Yerevan, nothing changed in these relations. For this reason, the expert sees no pre-requisites for the negative changing of the relations which will go on developing.
Is availability of the Armenian populated Samtskhe-Javahkh region another stimulus for development of the Georgian-Armenian relations?
Tthis has positive as well as negative sides. Tthe negative side is expressed in the fact that Georgia has a certain distrust in Samtskhe-Javahkh, proved by numerous negative publications in the Armenian press about the Georgian policy in this region. However, this negative element is from the populist policy sphere. But from the point of view of reality, the situation is normal and Samtskhe-Javahkh populated by Armenians is an additional factor for good relations between Tbilisi and Yerevan.
Do you think that Russia’s response to westernization of Ukraine is adequate to the challemges that it faces from the West?
Any actions by any state should be adequate to its interests. The point is, who defines them and what are the national interests of Russia.It has turned out that according to the common laws, the current Russia has a part of a spoiler in the international relations. Its today's task is to get rid of this role or, at least, to spoil the game of other players. And figuratively saying, today Russia breaks the sand castles built by others according to the principle "let's see how long they will let us doing it". Maybe, Putin's such position is adequate if it is stemming from the national interests of Russia. However, such games will damage Putin's rating which was high and has become even higher. I do not understand what will Russia gain in a long-term prospect. It is not clear, if Russia will become a really strong country. I think that in long term prospect Russia will nevertheless lose as a result of its shortfall policy. Certainly today's response of the West to the challenges and dangers created by Russia is not adequate either, as it could be more distinct and specific. Nevertheless, the conflict around Ukraine has damaged much the relations of Russia with the West and has resulted in the situation close to the "cold war. I doubt very much that Russia will win the war. Certainly, Moscow got the first prize in this war – the Ctimea, just the same way as it got Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. Actually, it can also get Lugansk and Donetsk. But I don’t think that shortage of territories today’s key problem of Russia.
What are Russia’s problems?
First of all, Russia faces a problem of necessity of a long-term development and finding its place in the world. Before the USSR split, Russia was one of the poles of the two-pole world. After the USSR split, it became one of the big players at the world arena. But its claims for restoration of the former role do not meet its resources. And as its latest actions show, Moscow cannot still come to balance between its big ambitions and resources. I think that finding of this balance is the key problem of Russia. It should understand what place it can occupy in the modern world. There are two poles of development in the modern world: democratic and authoritarian.
But the authoritarian trend is modern today…
May be. However, today not Russia but China is a key sample of the authoritarian development. Today’s Russia can attract countries only through frightening them. In the current reality, this may have a bad result for Russia first of all. Meanwhile, taking its resources into account, undoubtedly, this country may become a center of attraction at least for its neighboring states.
But all its latest actions, especially in Ukraine, are still directed only towards frightening but not attracting. For this reason, I think that if in a short-term prospect this may result in consolidation of the Russian community around the power, in the long-term prospect this may have a boomerang effect for Russia.