In an interview (in Armenian) with Aram Sargsyan for the “1in.am” news agency, RSC Director Richard Giragosian assessed trends in regional security, Armenia, NATO and Russia. Giragosian noted that although “NATO is not an alternative for Armenia’s security,” it is an important “addition and supplement to the country’s security and as a partner for defense and security reform,” as demonstrated by the impressive course of Armenian defense reform and its deepening of ties with NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.
He added that “while strengthening cooperation with NATO, Armenia has a greater investment in ensuring regional and international security,” stressing that “Armenia has been able to achieve a greater degree of balance in the military security sphere, thanks to effective relations with key countries in the West.”
Giragosian also pointed out that “unlike Georgia, Armenia does not seek to become a member of NATO, as it is not in Armenia's interests. However, the deepening of Armenia-NATO cooperation means that Armenia is now making an even greater contribution to regional and international security and the country is not just a consumer of security, but a contributor.”
He also contended that “NATO should not be considered as an alternative system of security for Armenia, because such a scenario would force Armenia to make a choice.” Rather, he stated, “I would say NATO is an alliance of additional security for the Republic of Armenia, in addition to the Russian Federation. Regardless of whether we like it or not, Russia and the Armenian-Russian relationship are very important. But I criticize the disproportionate and unequal nature of relations with Russia and Moscow’s arrogant attitude in taking Armenia for granted as a partner.”
Moreover, “Armenia's strategic importance for Moscow is much greater than most people think, while Russia is not as important for Armenia as some assume.” And, he added, “NATO is important not only as a security organization. NATO also supports democratic processes and democratic reforms in the security sector, what Armenia needs. NATO also has a political significance, in terms of ideals and values. And from this point of view, and most important, is the fact that Armenia does not pose a military threat to any of its neighboring countries, moreover, it is the most powerful military force in the South Caucasus.”
Concluding the interview, Giragosian warned that “in general, what we see now is very dangerous. This region is turning into an arena for confrontation and competition between Russia and the West. In addition, Iran’s return to the region as a player also implies a third addition to the rivalry between Russia and Turkey in the South Caucasus. It is noteworthy that Turkey has only recently begun to re-evaluate its membership in NATO. Today, Turkey needs the West as never before, and the West needs Turkey, in view of the Syrian conflict.
If we look at the broader picture, Armenia lost some opportunities for regional development, but the situation has now changed. Armenia today has more strategic importance than before. And this is demonstrated by the recent visits to the region by several EU officials, and as Armenia is now committed to repairing and rebuilding relations with the EU.”