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Zhirayr Sefilyan: The format of our relations with Russia needs revision

ArmInfo’s interview with Zhirayr Sefilyan, the coordinator of the action group of the Sardarapat movement and the Preparliament national-political initiative, hero of the Nagorno-Karabakh War

  • by David Stepanyan

  • Wednesday, June 11, 12:04

 Tension on the Karabakh-Azerbaijani border keeps growing since the beginning of the year. The latest ceasefire breaches in Yeraskh showed that surprises can be expected even from the border with Nakhijevan that was relatively peaceful even during the Karabakh war. What is the reason of the constantly growing tension on the border and on the Nakhijevani border, particularly?

 I have repeatedly said that in conditions of the current balance of power in the region, Azerbaijan is unable to unleash war independently.  However, if the balance of power is broken and in case of favorable conditions, Baku will undoubtedly try to not only seize Artsakh, but also go far beyond it. Firing from Nakhijevan, the enemy hints that in case of war, the military actions will go beyond the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border.  The entire Armenia will be involved into the military actions, including the Ararat Valley and Yerevan. In addition, over the last months, Iran has repeatedly come out for re-launching the communications via the territory of Nekhijevan. The given circumstance has become a reason for Azerbaijan to prevent that extremely favorable to Armenia process with destabilization of the situation.  Actually, as a result of another geopolitical disturbance in the region, the interests of the Russian imperial state and the Turkic expansionism have met again. The Russian-Turkic Eurasian project is also the result of that coincidence of interests, like the recent activation of Azeris on the border between Nakhijevan and Armenia.  It is not for the actions of a third power that we have faced distress again. It is our guilt. We failed to turn the national liberation movement launched in 1988 into a fight for establishment of a sovereign state. We failed to create a truly independent and sovereign country. In fact, Armenia has been colonized. That is why, it is high time to consolidate. Our goal must be to get rid of the incumbent authorities as soon as possible and establish our own will. Once we do it, nobody will any longer be able to involve us in any treacherous projects. And should we have to defend our independence and dignity with arms, we will do it. If we do this, we will become much stronger as we will have real allies.

 Russia’s Ambassador Ivan Volynkin has recently told journalists that the sale of TOS-1A heavy flamethrower systems and T-90 tanks to Azerbaijan was nothing but commerce. Won’t that commerce lead to a new war in Karabakh amid the  frequent deadly ceasefire breaches on the border?

 Russia has been losing the values and development objectives, in particular, the resource of the future at a fearful rate. And instead of ensuring its future through the local reformation, Russia has been trying to replenish this resource by taking it from the others.  The typical example of such a methodology is enhancing of the Turkish factor at the expense of Armenia so that to gain its support.  Among such steps we can also point at the delivery of comprehensive types of armament to Azerbaijan. Via such a delivery Moscow has been trying to simultaneously gain economical as well as geo-political preferences. This flirt that reminds us of the known events 100 years ago, is very much dangerous not only for Armenia but for Russia as well.

The ratio of the Russian and Turkish competitive factor, first of all the demographic one, has changed much not in favor of Russia. And this time, Russia will hardly digest consequences of this flirt. In such conditions the possibility of the new war should not be ruled out. If the war starts before we manage to overthrow this colonized regime in Armenia, we shall have a twice-hard work. In that case, we will have nothing to do but simultaneously neutralize the internal and external dangers. This implies the entire nation’s involvement in a large-scale liberation war. 

 Experts are seriously concerned over the high threat of the rapidly developing crisis in Ukraine to the U.S.-France-Russia cooperation over Karabakh conflict as part of the OSCE MG

 The crisis in Ukraine is now curbing Russia's imperial ambitions in the region. I think Russia and the West will fight for Ukraine and this fight will have a certain impact on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.  I am not sure, however, if this can shatter the Minsk Group but I assume that this may happen if Russia allows Azerbaijan to start a new war.

 To substantiate Armenia’s involvement into the Kremlin-initiated Eurasian projects, the authorities of both Armenia and Russia highlight the security as the key factor. Will Armenia’s accession to the EAU give security guarantees to Armenia and Artsakh?

  These arguments are not only absurd, but also ‘suicidal’. The Eurasian project is contrary to the interests of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and cannot ensure their security. Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh must not seek security at the expense of their sovereignty.

  Does Armenia need the presence of the Russian 102nd military base in the current geopolitical situation, when there are no foreign troops in Artsakh, particularly, on the border with Iran, which increases rather than reduces the security of NKR?

 In general, the availability of the troops of another even friendly state at the territory of any state shows the weakness of the latter. In the conditions of the "cold war" when Armenia was a part of the Soviet empire, the expediency of the Russian troops in Armenia was not discussed. After the USSR split, in the conditions when the parameters and balance of forces of the "cold war" and of the bipolar world was preserved, the availability of the Russian troops at the territory of Armenia was more of the inert nature. And instead of ticking over, we had to resolve a problem of the gradual way out from the situation.

At present Armenia faces an extremely changing situation. The world has become multi-polar, and a new strong pro-Armenian factor has been formed in the region - Iran. As a counter-balance to this, today Russia has been arming the enemy which intends to destruct Armenia, and has been absorbing sovereignty of the country. Just for this reason, the absence of foreign troops at the territory of Karabakh is favorable for its security.

 In such a condition, the format of our relations with Russia needs revision. They should be built on the principles of equality and mutual respect of interests. In particular, Russian frontier troops, as part of Russia's Federal Security Service, should be removed without any preconditions. As for the expediency of the 102nd Russian military base in Armenia, it should be revised from the point of view of our own interests.

 Armenia’s leadership blindly follows all the ‘advices’ of Moscow and Washington.  At least, look at the Armenian-Turkish normalization and Armenia’s ‘aspirations’ for the Eurasian projects. What holds Armenia from demanding its ‘advisors’ to take immediately measures to calm down Aliyev’s trigger-happy policy in exchange for its services?

 The regime acting on our behalf has no will of their own, so, we cannot expect anything from it. What it can do is just to prolong its life for a little while at the expense of our national interests. So, our goal must be to get rid of it as soon as possible.

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