Armenian Center for National and International Studies
75 Yerznkian Street
Yerevan 0033, Armenia
Tel: (+374 - 10) 52.87.80 or 27.48.18
Fax: (+374 - 10) 52.48.46
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

December 14, 2006

In Light of New Realities: ACNIS Looks at Political Prospects for 2007

Yerevan--So as thoroughly to discuss, against the backdrop of the ongoing
Mountainous Karabagh negotiations and new geopolitical changes, and present
an expert viewpoint on the likely political events of the coming year, the
Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today
convened--and concluded its 2006 seminar sessions with--a policy roundtable
entitled "Forecasting Political Developments in 2007."

ACNIS senior analyst Hovsep Khurshudian greeted the audience with opening
remarks. "I believe we will soon become the eyewitnesses to significant
events, and this is already being sensed," he said.

In his address with respect to the correlation between domestic political
occurrences and the Mountainous Karabagh negotiations process, ACNIS
director of research Stepan Safarian noted that those events had become a
captive to the aforesaid process. In his view, the negotiation process,
which took on unprecedented import in 2006--the year for the "window of
opportunities"--resulted in such an "evolution" in the positions of the
authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan that anticipating any public support
would be considered naive. "Should presidents Kocharian and Aliyev sign
under any accord, they would face serious political consequences at home,
whereas the internal and external resources in terms of moving forward and
reaching a final agreement are now depleted," he stressed. According to
Safarian, this situation equally increases the likelihood and uncertainty of
a series of political developments in Armenia: 1) In case an agreement was
put into effect regarding the Mountainous Karabagh issue, the ruling powers
would get a virtually unhindered chance to reproduce themselves; 2) if no
agreement were reached, the ruling clique, despite its apparent internal
strength, would lose its regime; and 3) in line with a "conjoined" scenario,
both internal and external forces, in order not to lose their power
completely, would engineer the next palace coup.

In his turn, chairman of the Union of Political Scientists of Armenia and MP
Hmayak Hovhannisian deliberated on the geopolitical aspects of the
developments that are likely to take place in the country. In Hovhannisian's
assessment, that numerous Armenian political figures are seeking out foreign
backers is not promising. "This does not trigger at all the interest of
important geopolitical centers toward the politicians who have great
ambitions; on the contrary, this causes a negative societal attitude, and
substantially hurts the image of those politicians who look abroad for
'approval,'" Hovhannisian noted. With regard to the Mountainous Karabagh
negotiations process, the political scientist asserted that the existing
settlement proposal is unacceptable for Armenia's authorities not for fear
of weakening their positions, but so they would not be cursed for all
eternity by the subsequent generations. "If the Robert Kocharian-Serge
Sargsian duo sign the agreement on the principles for the regulation of the
Mountainous Karabagh conflict, they will unquestionably remain in power, and
the idea of the postponed referendum is a sure guarantee for the
reproduction of the incumbent regime," Hovhannisian maintained.

The next speaker, director Gagik Ter-Harutiunian of the Noravank Foundation,
focused on the probable global changes and their possible impact on Armenia.
He expressed a conviction that against the background of the
military-technological potential and the politico-military capabilities of
the superpowers, at least four or five power centers are presently being
formed in the world, and this, in Ter-Harutiunian's view, poses a
significant challenge to Armenia's foreign policy agenda. This means that
when making externally-related decisions, we "should not go along with just
one country" and consequently forget or disregard others. "The precept of
complementarity is conceivably justifiable for small nations, and all that
remains is simply to make advantageous use of it," Ter-Harutiunian

The participants in the ensuing discussion included deputy chairman Edward
Antinian of the Liberal Progressive Party; ACNIS director of administration
Karapet Kalenchian; analyst Alvard Barkhudarian; Anahit Bayandur from the
Armenian Committee of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly; civic activist
Alexander Butayev; Ruzan Khachaturian from the People's Party; Artak
Poghosian from the Republican Party; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia's first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K.
Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves
as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges
facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also
aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider
understanding of the new global environment. In 2006, the Center focuses
primarily on civic education, conflict resolution, and applied research on
critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax
(37410) 52-48-46; email [email protected] or [email protected]; or visit