Russia-Turkey Axis Should Have Given Pause to Armenia’s Mad-Dash to Join Eurasian Union

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The National Assembly briefly debated Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Union before ratifying the treaty by a vote of 103 to 7. Dec. 4, 2014. (Photo: Photolur)

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The announcement on Monday by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country was abandoning the South Stream gas project in favor of a massive partnership with Turkey at the very least should have given pause to Armenia’s mad-dash to join the European Economic Union.

Instead, Armenia’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to ratify the agreement Thursday, without a question about the complications that are fraught by a Russia-Turkey energy axis, when Armenia last year, in preparation for its own ascent to the Eurasian Union all but signed away its energy interests to Russia by giving ownership of its gas supplies to the Russian giant, Gazprom.

Since Putin’s announcement Monday, I have been waiting, to no avail, for an official comment from the Armenian government or, at the very least, a comprehensive debate among lawmakers about the ramifications of the Russia-Turkey agreement.

For example, how does the deal impact Armenia, which for all intents and purposes is a subsidiary of Gazprom and has the Russian military stationed on its border with Turkey?

A lot of questions have popped up since President Serzh Sarkisian last year stunned everyone by fully committing Armenia to the Customs Union/Eurasian Economic Union. None of the questions have been answered convincingly and yet 103 of the 131 members of Armenia’s Parliament, most of them citing national security reasons and an inevitability of sorts, opted to green-light this effort.

[Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary caucus (with one abstention) also voted to ratify the document, citing national security reasons].

Sure, the inevitability element is there because soon after Armenia declared independence, the government began auctioning off critical components of our nation’s infrastructure to the lowest bidder with the public seeing no apparent benefits from those fire sales. That auction still continues and was sealed by selling the minor interest in Armenia’s gas supply to Russia over mounting pressures of price hikes by the Kremlin.

While US and EU media and government officials eagerly—and jubilantly–framed the Russia-Turkey deal as Kremlin’s defeat in the face of Western sanctions, Russia solidified and tightened its grip on the region ensuring that almost all its neighboring countries became dependent on its most valuable commodity—natural gas. Following the mammoth $400 billion energy deal Russia struck with China earlier this year, Putin has essentially guaranteed the flow of cash into the Kremlin for the foreseeable future and control of vast territory stretching from China to Turkey.

[We will touch on what this should mean for the US as its “trusted ally,” Turkey, once again has turned its back].

Yet the Armenian government, which still has to comprehensively delineate and explain the pros and cons of an association with the EU versus Russia, sprinted toward the endgame of joining the EEU, despite the fact that now Turkey has become a player in that union and Kazakhstan’s close alliance with Azerbaijan is still a thorn that could prick with uncertain consequences as Astana continues to act as a proxy for Baku within the EEU.

In the current scheme of things, what would stop Russia from forcing Armenia to open its borders with Turkey, with heavy preconditions and without distinct benefits to Armenia? Since Armenia’s eagerness to enter the EEU has not halted Russia’s continued arm sales to Azerbaijan, what would stop Russia, a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, to force a resolution to the Karabakh conflict that would greatly damage Armenia’s national security? What guarantees are there of economic prosperity that would impede the flow of migration by Armenians to Russia? If there are distinct answers to those questions, they have not been articulated clearly.

I am in no way suggesting that an alliance with Europe or the West would have been more beneficial for Armenia, given the West’s continuous pro-Turkey and pro-Azerbaijan posturing and no real economic/investment plans outside of USAID-funded projects and some European firms opening subsidiaries in Armenia. However, a more transparent and succinct process would have countered the doubts that still persist with Armenia’s entry in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Since Armenia’s independence the hope has been that its leaders would leverage the country’s geographic position and assets to carve a truly independent economic and social reality that would allow Armenia to prosper while benefitting from alliances with both the West and the East, without having to become either’s satellite.

With Thursday’s ratification of EEU by Armenia’s Parliament our country is one step closer to becoming a member of an elusive and nebulous structure, with the threat of war still looming and the grip of unfriendly neighbors tightening around our country.

For Armenia it should not be a contest between East and West, it should be an aspiration to become a self-sufficient entity that would guarantee its true independence.

Ara Khachatourian is Editor of Asbarez.

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26 Comments

  1. Harutuyn said:

    ARA i see you have good writing skills but when you say that Armenian will not be a satellite for neither country , that i must say was wrong because my friend it does not work like that and we are not God to dictate the whole global community what to do or when to do , from what you are saying it does not work like that we have to be either on the east or west who is helping us more the west or the east , our security matters here the most , and one more thing there is so many hypocrites in the diaspora – one example is we all seat here and talk and talk and write and write , how about trying at the same time boycott turkish products in our stores or delis that is cant you see it do your math and see with our own money they are doing a good job at the gag rule or wait lets see you missed their piknik panir at the head of your table.

  2. Harutik said:

    Dear Ara, please stop the fear mongering. There is no “mad dash” to the Eurasian Union, it is actually taking too long. And there is no “axis” between Russia and Turkey. Even if there was, such a thing would not necessarily pose a threat to Armenia. With that said, with regards to Armenia’s EU integration, why wasn’t Turkey’s relationship with Western bodies – a real alliance – not an issue with your kind?

    • serge said:

      Ara is not fear mongering but telling the truth. you did not dispute the fact that russia sells billions in weapons to azerbejian, while their president is glorifying killing Armenians. when the shot down a helicopter, what action did the Russia’s take in support of Armenia, a fellow CSTO member? any? but the height of irresponsibility was your reply that “even if there was, such a thing would not necessarily pose a threat to Armenia.” are you serious? can you articulate a reason why not? Russia will sell our interests out on a dime, to strengthen their relations with Turkey who supports azerbaijan and you say thats not a threat?

      • GB said:

        Brutality of Putin, Stalin or Lenin is the same as Soviet KGB mentality. Lenin and Stalin forsake Armenians and gave away Western Armenia, Nakhichevan, Artsakh . I am sure Russia’s Tatar-Turk herds are counting on Putin’s relationship with Turkey more than with Armenia.Tatar-Turks have more benefits to Russia than smart Armenians. Erdoghan loves Putin more than his family! Putin is too dangerous for naive ordinary Russians and Armenians! Armenia must stay neutral in a volatile place like Caucasus.Armenia should never involve with Putin’s war game against West.

  3. Ara said:

    Does the editor of Asbarez not realize that Armenia is a client state of Russia? Does he not remember how Serzh Sarkissian was called to Moscow for a dressing down after Armenia attempted to join the European Economic Union? Unless we can, by some miracle, get the US to drop support for Turkey and Azerbaijan in favor of Armenia, this is the political reality. It’s not pretty, but there you are.

    You will notice that the Armenian is hedging its bets, as much as it can, by signing deals with Iran, Georgia, and taking caution steps to firm up economic deals with the EU. It is no coincidence, either, that the US embassy in Yerevan is the largest in the region. But let’s be honest with each other: without Russian military support, Armenia would have been absorbed into Azerbaijan or Turkey by now. We know it, the Russians know it, and that gives them a trump card in any diplomatic dealings.

  4. Armenian Christian said:

    I am starting to see Russia as more of a liability then an ally…

    • serge said:

      you are right, the are a danger to us, they have always been. they provide a little weapons to make us “feel safe” while selling even more to our enemies and as soon as the oppotunity presents itself they will compromise on our lands and security with anyone (turkey or azerbaijan) because it helps them and because “there’s nothing Armenians can do about it”. our biggest danger is from the blond, blue eyed turks…the russians…and the sooner we start pivoting away from them the better. it wont happen over night nor with a single decision…it will take a while but the first steps should be thought out, not like the rushing in to join eeu

      • armen said:

        That doesn’t make sense. The Russians are completely invested in Armenia, why would they give it to the Turks? They’re just making money off the Sultan of Baku and giving Armenia enough weaponry to counter that.

        • Avetis said:

          It does not make much sense because those who spew such nonsense about Russia are merely concerned about severing Armenia away from Russian protection and exposing her to the mercy of Turks.

          With that said, several of the Russophobes you see here is the alter ego of one psychological troubled Russophobe posting under several different names.

          • Hratch said:

            Wrong as usual, but since we’re on the subject of psychologically troubled, let’s here your answers.

            It seems you have a pretty good grasp of Armenia and Armenian affairs, but I guess that’s why it makes it more impressing when you gloss over Mother Russia’s blatant disrespect and abuse of Armenian interests. If it was a case of oblivious attitude, then one might understand, and perhaps even forgive, but since you profess to know much more, then the refusal to address anything concerning Mother Russia and her attempts at damaging and stifling Armenian progress must be premeditated. For instance, how do you explain away the 4 billion dollar weapons sales to Azerbaijan? How do you justify the gloating announcement that same weapons sales will increase 2.7% next year? How is it that an about face EEU decision was made right after the meeting between – the strongest man in the world – Putin and Sarkisian? Do you not suspect coercion, intimidation, threats and blackmail? How about the fact that Turkey is now being courted for energy deals? What about Mother Russia’s hopes of having Azerbaijan joining the EEU? How about the non-response attitude towards downing our helicopter? What about the arrest of Levon Hayrapetyan?
            So you see, when you fail to address these and many others like them, you only expose your true Russophile agenda. Mother Russia is not, nor will they ever be, a friend of their little ‘Orthodox’ brother. The only way to deal with them is to have excellent relations based on mutual respect and interests. Otherwise, the master-slave relationship will only serve to dilute and destroy our nation and render it into irrelevancy. The sick man of Eurasia is on its last breath. The Ruble is in a rubble and $55 oil is here to stay. The 4 billion dollars they received from the weapons sales was wiped out long ago. The miscalculations over Ukraine and the Crimea will undo the tyrant. We on the other hand, can not afford to go down with the sinking ship. We must arise from our slumber and forge our way into the real world based on democracy, transparence, and freedom to all. God Bless Armenia, Long Live Democracy and Freedom, God protect us from all Russophiles both domestic and foreign!

          • Axel said:

            Well put. Armenia will now enter a new climax of suffering thanks to Russia, a mafia run neofeudal corrupt entity. It may become a completely failed state before, hopefully, something positive happens and people wake up. But mentalities are hard to change, and it may be too late already. Close to all the people i know there support Russia and ‘hate gays’ despite living in third world conditions… while still dreaming of moving to Los Angeles with their family, their ultimate hope. Go figure. It s just recklessness.

  5. Avetis said:

    Sorry Ara, but this articles reminds of how a pussy cat once looked in the mirror and saw a great lion.

    Let’s wake up from our Qaj Nazar fantasies and realize that without a Russian presence in Armenia not even a million ARFers would be able to stop Armenia from turning into a Turkic-Islamic cesspool one more.

    God bless Mother Russia. God bless our Hayrenik, Armenia. And may God help protect Russian-Armenian alliance from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

    • GB said:

      Avetis I am not against Russian people, but seems to me, that you always like to act like a Put in’s pimp in Asbarez!

  6. GeorgeMardig said:

    Russia-Turkey deal is a slap on the face of the West, Turkey screwed them big time, specially to the US, they took the American tax paters money and gave them shit in return, from Iraq, to Syria, to Iran, LOL

  7. serge said:

    Dear ARA,
    this was a great (and much needed) article to address the issues in Armenia’s foreign policy. I’m also glad you did not hesitate to point out the the ARF went along with the “yes” vote in Armenia (not withstanding their association with Asbarez).great article keep this issue in the press, dont let it get swept under the rug even after the vote.

  8. Gurgen said:

    Political, economic, cultural and historical circumstances dictate that Armenia stick as close as possible to Mother Russia. Armenia is wed to Russia – for better or for worst. If you people truly love Armenia and want to help then help her marriage work out instead of constantly gossiping and complaining like old hags.

  9. GB said:

    Political survival of Armenia as a nation, to have a “nationalist government”, otherwise we will screwed by both either West or East! EEU or EU means nothing when a nationalist government acts rightfully on behalf of Armenian people. A nationalist democratic government has all the rights to demote or punish those officials who use their power, for corruption, or corrupting the public sectors, for their own selfish political needs!

  10. armen said:

    Ideally, Armenia would not have to join any Economic bloc or as any such groups as it chooses. But given the circumstances I think it will be easier for Armenians to get their economy back from the Russians than it would be to get Artsakh back from the Turks.

  11. seto zoravar said:

    We must start a war and show the whole world that we mean business , once we start a war toooo many countries will get involved and then Russia will lose its real ally Armenia .

  12. Hratch said:

    Amen times one million! This madness of Russian worship must end. Our surf-like praise of anything Russian is pathetic to say the least. We are stuck in Soviet times. The sick bear of Europe/Asia is a disaster in the making. It will destroy and devour anything in its path. The faster we disassociate the better. No one wants to be associate with a loser, and from the looks of it we are sitting in the losers lap. This rush to join the EEU will undoubtedly be the greatest disaster befallen on us. The Genocide was perpetrated upon us, but this is worst because we have brought this on to ourselves. Hate to admit it, but Darwin’s natural selection theory is once again being proved to be true.

  13. Hratch said:

    Perhaps the last paragraph sums it all up. But as usual, and like fools, we rush to take side. Well this one action takes the cake. We are now completely and absolutely in Mother Russia’s orbit. Too late to do anything about it now. All we can do is hope and pray that they do not throw us under the bus, but if they do the only thing we can do is thank our so-called leaders of putting us out of our misery once and for all.

    • Armenian said:

      Why just the leaders? There are plenty of “ordinary” Armenians who are running to Russia’s lap as well, including one Kremlin-worshiping one who likes to end all of his posts in the same exact way, every single time, hoping that repeating the same nonsense will change things.

      The fact of the matter is, that Russia is slowly collapsing on itself and we’re becoming more of a target just by associating too much with it.

      • Hratch said:

        The ordinary Armenians no nothing other than what they are fed. This has been a constant throughout our history. In fact, the say ‘Armenians are more Catholic than the Pope’ is not too far from the truth. As long as we maintain our victim complex, we will always remain slaves to one master or another. After 70 years we finally got rid of the Soviet/Communist/Russian yoke but now only to yearn for those times. The sick man of Eurasia is on its last breath, we can not afford to associate with them any longer. The inevitable outcome will be the crushing sound when the bear finally tilts over on us.

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