Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by David Stepanyan
It would be good to know what Vladimir Putin told Serzh Sargsyan in the room of negotiations in Novo-Ogarevo and in what manner. There is no doubt that the Russian president threw Armenia in a dilemma, Cory Welt, Associate Director and Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the Elliott School, told ArmInfo.
During the Sept 3 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan confirmed Armenia's intention to join the Customs Union. Afterwards, both countries' leaders signed a joint statement. Before that, Yerevan actively negotiated for the Association Agreement, including DCFTA. The negotiations were to be completed in 2013 at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius.
"Putin, probably, hinted that Armenia and/or Nagorno Karabakh would no longer be able to rely on Russia in security issues, unless Armenia decides to join the Customs Union. Sargsyan also hinted at that when saying that it is 'impossible and inefficient' to be part of a military alliance and 'do not meet the economic area' of its members. That statement is nonsense, of course. Just look at the West where NATO and EU do not fully exceed each other," he said. In the case of the CSTO and the Customs Union, Welt said, that statement is acceptable, maybe. The point is that, as he thinks, Russia has been throwing down a gage too long. "Probably, Putin was sure that Armenians understand the cost of Russia-provided security and he was surprised to see that Armenians keep moving towards AA/DCFTA," the professor said.
Welt does not think, however, that Russia is playing a long-term game with short-term measures to scare some countries, namely, Ukraine and Armenia, and hold them from signing AA/DCFTA. He thinks that Russia will establish a new status quo if this plan fails. Nevertheless, Welt believes that Moscow will succeed in its plans with Kyiv and Yerevan.
Joint online press conference of experts from various countries for Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian mass media on the relevant problems are organized within the project "Expansion of knowledge of Armenians and Azerbaijanis about each other and confidence building through first-hand information". The project of the "Region" Research Center (Armenia) and Peace and Democracy Institute (Azerbaijan) is supported by the British Embassies in Armenia and Azerbaijan.