Oskanian Sets Up Think-Tank

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has set up a private think-tank which he says will seek to promote Armenia’s democratic development and greater domestic and international awareness of Armenian foreign policy.

In a press release circulated this week, the newly registered Civilitas Foundation said it will unveil its staff and governing board soon and will officially inaugurate its Yerevan office in September. There was no word on who will finance its activities.

The announcement suggests that Oskanian, who headed the Armenian Foreign Ministry for the past ten years, has no plans to become engaged in political activities in the near future. He had previously been considered one of former President Robert Kocharian’s potential successors and had not ruled out his participation in the February 2008 presidential election.

“In order to promote Armenia’s development and democratization, the Civilitas Foundation will come up with new initiatives and will complement the already existing programs, paying particular attention to education and media during the first year [of its operations,]” read the statement. It said that will take the form of scholarships to university students and publication of “balanced” articles in the local press.

The new think-tank will also have a separate Council on Foreign Relations that will apparently be modeled on an eponymous influential center existing in the United States. The statement said it will organize conferences, lectures and roundtables on Armenian foreign policy. It added that the council will also seek to “explain” that policy to foreign experts and policy-makers.

A former U.S. citizen born in Syria, Oskanian is widely regarded as one of the architects of what Armenian leaders call a “complementary” foreign policy aimed at having simultaneously good relations with Russia, the United States, the European Union and other regional players. Kocharian’s recently elected successor, Serzh Sarkisian, is expected to stick to this doctrine.


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