YEREVAN—Lieutenant General Hayk Kotanjian on December 22 delivered a speech at the joint session of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of Armenia and the Russian State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Compatriots Affairs in Yerevan. He discussed the importance of creating a dialogue between Russia and the United States to discuss strategic priorities of both countries before the newly-elected U.S. President takes the office.
In his speech, Kotanjian said that he believes that the “Armenian academic platform for consultation and exchange of messages for the U.S.-Russian dialogue can be used not only in the discussion of current bilateral relations, but also the issues of strategic caliber relating to the global and regional security dynamics.”
The Lieutenant General also underlined the importance of the U.S. and Russia together with France to maintain consensus “regarding the principles of the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh Conflict.”
Kotanjian’s speech can be read below in its entirety.
Since the date of its independence in 1991, the cornerstone of Armenia’s security policy has been its balance, as well as the desire to establish partnerships both with neighboring states and with extra-regional power centers. This choice reflects the geostrategic realities and the geopolitical imperatives for the independent Armenian state to effectively carry out its activities and be the guarantor of sustainable development and security of 11 million Armenians of the Republic of Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and the Diaspora. At the same time, the immutability of this balance under all hardships that have arisen in relations between its allies and partners, primarily ‒ between Russia and the U.S., merits a mention. I have the honor to highlight that Armenia is Russia’s strategic ally, the bilateral security relations with which Armenia complements through strategic cooperation with it and other states in a multilateral format within the framework of the CSTO.
The current stage of the Armenian-Russian military and military-technical cooperation is characterized by high dynamics due to the attention of the Heads of our fraternal states in this sphere of interstate relations. In this sense, the Armenian-Russian Business Forum of 2013 held in Gyumri with the participation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan became a momentous event. The Forum was preceded by the visit of the Presidents to the 102nd Russian Military Base with the discussion of its military-technical modernization tasks and improvement of service efficiency.
In my opinion, the solution of these problems, under the creation of the Joint Group of Troops (Forces) of the Armenian and Russian Armed Forces, lends considerable urgency to the concerned discussion of the project of establishing an Armenian-Russian defense industry complex in Gyumri between the Armenian and Russian sides. In so doing, it is advisable to calculate the diversified scale of this complex in such a way that it, along with the 102nd Base’s modernization tasks, becomes a platform for forging military-technical business cooperation between Russia and the states bordering with Armenia – with an access to the traditional for Russia arms markets located there. At the same time, the creation of jobs in Gyumri would become a factor in improving the demographic situation in the city of the 102nd Base’s deployment and strengthen the social ties of the local Armenian population with the military personnel of the Russian Military Base.
In his yesterday’s interview to the Russian media, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia Vigen Sargsyan emphasized the importance of the systemic deployment of a joint military-industrial enterprise in relation to the modernization of the 102nd Base in Gyumri.
As a start-up phase of this defense industry project, it is expedient to consider the establishment of the Armenian-Russian enterprise for the repair and maintenance of arms and military equipment of the 102nd Russian Military Base in Shirak Region. As for staffing solutions to these problems, it would be logical for this Armenian-Russian defense industry enterprise to provide for the establishment of its own multisectoral technical college. The agreements on the trade-economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation between Armenia’s Shirak Region and the regions of Ulyanovsk and Rostov of Russia can serve as an international legal basis for this. A special role in solving this strategically important task ‒ in pursuance of the Agreement “On Cooperation in the Trade-Economic, Scientific-Technical, and Cultural Spheres between the Administrations of Shirak Region and Ulyanovsk Region: 15.09.2009” – can play the developed defense industry complex of Ulyanovsk Region, where the share of defense industry enterprises in the total production of the region is about 80%. The importance of engaging Rostov Region in the phased deployment of this military-industrial enterprise of regional significance is due to the fact that the Command of the North Caucasus Military District, responsible for directing the activities of the military base in Gyumri, is situated in Rostov.
In our view, adding a special section dedicated to the prospects of military-technical and defense industry cooperation to the agendas of regional forums may become an important impetus for the sustainable economic, military-technical and social development of the regions of both states. Judging by the innovative orientation of the new Government of the Republic of Armenia, this will make the Armenian-Russian cooperation in creating a multisectoral military-industrial enterprise in Gyumri one of its strategic priorities.
As was mentioned above, pursuing its strategic security interests in the balance of orientation in relation to Moscow, Washington, and Brussels, Armenia, along with its cooperation with the Russian Federation and the CSTO, efficiently collaborates with such Euro-Atlantic power centers as the U.S., NATO and the European Union. From 2005 on, Armenia has been effectively implementing the NATO Individual Partnership Action Plans, targeted at the advancement of defense security reforms. Our state also increases its involvement in the system of international security through participating in peacekeeping operations in Iraq, Kosovo, and now also in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Mali.
In this context, the 25-year-old strategic partnership with the United States is of particular significance for Armenia. Being one of the main donors for the Republic of Armenia, the U.S. plays a key role in the process of implementing structural reforms targeted at the modernization of the public administration system, taking effective measures in human rights protection and fight against corruption, thus making a significant contribution to the development of the independent statehood of Armenia. The participation of both the U.S. and Russia together with France in maintaining consensus regarding the principles of the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh Conflict is of special importance.
In view of the above said and the confrontation in U.S.-Russian relations, typical of the past few years, it should be noted that it significantly limits Armenia’s resources for implementing a balanced foreign policy. In this sense, the rapprochement between Russia and the United States stems from strategic interests of Armenia’s national security. We believe that the long-term balance of strategic alliance between Armenia and Russia and that of the strategic partnership between Armenia and the United States provides an opportunity to consider Armenia as a mutually acceptable platform for establishing dialogue between Russia and the United States.
Establishing a platform for dialogue between Russia and the United States gains particular importance in the period of specification of the strategic priorities of Moscow and Washington before the newly-elected U.S. President takes the office. In this sense, the Armenian academic platform for consultation and exchange of messages for the U.S.-Russian dialogue can be used not only in the discussion of current bilateral relations, but also the issues of strategic caliber relating to the global and regional security dynamics. The experience of successful academic and expert forums held by our Institute for National Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defense with the participation of leading representatives of such security schools as MGIMO University (Moscow State Institute of International Relations) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Harvard University, the U.S. National Defense University, the British Chatham House, University of Jerusalem, Istanbul University “Kadir Has” among others, speaks in support of this assessment of Armenia’s role in establishing the U.S.-Russian dialog.
An evidence of the liability of the Institute for National Strategic Studies in supporting the Republic of Armenia’s role in building academic-expert platforms on strategic issues of international security is its recent participation in the process of strategic review of the UN Peacekeeping Strategy with the discussion of the results of that review at the Strategic Forum we organized in Yerevan. And the Strategic Forum in 2015 was a starting platform for promoting this peacekeeping cooperation on academic-expert level, when, after the reunification of the Crimea with Russia – in an acute phase of Russia’s relations with the West – we were able to unite security experts both from Russia and other CSTO member states, as well as from the U.S. and other NATO member states around the same table in Yerevan, for dialogue and exchange of messages.
Let me express confidence in the importance of continuing the Republic of Armenia’s mission in general, as well as represented by its leading state analytical center for national and international security problems – the National Defense Research University – as an academic-expert platform in establishing consultations and dialogue between Armenia’s ally – Russia, and its partner – the United States.”