MIKAYEL HAYRAPETYAN: THE WEST CANNOT CHANGE POWER IN ARMENIA YET

ArmInfo's Interview with Head of the Conservative Party of Armenia
Mikayel Hayrapetyan

by Ashot Safaryan

ARMINFO
Monday, April 29, 17:56

Mr. Hayrapetyan, how do you assess the ongoing processes in Armenia?

What domestic political changes do you see after the presidential
election?

All the political processes developing in Armenia today are like a
performance, the stage directors of which must not be looked for among
the Armenian politicians or parties. All of them without exception are
stooges in the hands of Russia, first of all. Of course, the West also
pursues its aims, but the share of its interests in Armenia is not
big. Just Russia easily rules the leadership of Armenia as well as the
opposition. And I see no sign of self-respect in the behavior of our
political forces.

But many experts, including Russian ones, criticize the Kremlin for
its wrong foreign policy that resulted in cession of positions in the
post-Soviet area...

I partly share this opinion. We remember that the West gained victory
over the USSR in the "cold war". As a contribution, Moscow gradually
"ceded" Western Europe, then Baltic countries. Then "orange
revolutions" happened in Ukraine and Georgia. Similar departure took
place in the South Caucasus as well. Russian subdivisions were first
removed from Azerbaijan, except Gabala radar station. By the way, for
withdrawal of the Russian troops Baku paid by losing Nagornyy Karabakh
and respective territories. Later Russian units were also removed from
Georgia, as a result of which Tbilisi lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The five-day war and occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and
timorous mediation of the West, in fact, meant that the West seems to
be inclined to recognize South Caucasus an area of Moscow's privileged
interests. In its flexibility the West has come to the situation when
pro-Russian Bidzina Ivanishvili was chosen as a political opponent of
pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili. These and other similar serious
developments show that at present these is no disagreement between the
West and Russia in our region.

How would you explain the West's flexible position with respect to Moscow?

I think that the developments in the Middle East and the growth of the
ideas of radical Islam are the reason of a little bit retreat of the
West against Moscow's interests. Russia has a mission of blunting the
Islam attack at Christian civilization. Despite being a "prodigal son"
for Europe, nevertheless, Russia is a part of Europe and Christian
civilization. Russia has a mission of a frontier guard of civilization
both in the South Caucasus and the Far East.

Let's return to Armenia...

As regards Armenia, it has always been under the influence of Russia.

Therefore, any reform of the political system of Armenia will be
cosmetic. Armenia has no leader with a political dignity ready to
launch a challenge against Moscow's hegemony. Stemming from the above
mentioned, I don't think that the present status quo in the political
system of Armenia will be changed in the near future. Armenia cannot
differ from its "metropole". The whole body running a fever, I mean,
the corrupted Russia, cannot have a separate healthy part. If Armenia
is Russia's outpost, only cosmetic transformations may happen here, at
best. It is impossible to change the situation now. I cannot say how
long it will last. Much depends on the situation in the region, as
well as on the forthcoming presidential election in Georgia. The
election will show whether the West's retreat is temporary or it has
decided to cede the South Caucasus to Russia for a long period.

What about the Armenia-EU Association Agreement negotiations? Are they
also only an instrument for cosmetic changes or serious processes
aimed at gaining long-tern results?

One should first of all take into account that those negotiations are
being held by the authorities of Armenia, who are the henchmen of
Moscow. Does the European Union realize that? Yes, of course. The EU
cannot deploy the NATO troops in Armenia. So, the EU has nothing to
do but fight against oligarchy by such measures as, for instance, the
entry of the French Retailer Carrefour in the Armenian market.

However, Carrefour's case is so far shy efforts of the West to change
the status-quo and it cannot bring any significant changes. If Russia
forces Armenia to join the Eurasian Union, the authorities will hardly
have the courage to resist and to make the right geopolitical choice
to protect the national interests. Much depends on the West's
flexibility, on whether it will make Armenia set tougher conditions to
Moscow or it will try to limit its demands seeing Armenia's despair.

But the West is very closely cooperating with the "henchmen" of Moscow
- the authorities of Armenia. Moreover, the West hurried to
congratulate President Serzh Sargsyan on his re-election whereas it
could support Raffi Hovannisian.

The West cannot change power in Armenia at present. It can just
express its attitude towards various processes. We remember that in
2008 the U.S. President Barack Obama did not congratulate Serzh
Sargsyan and the leaders of European countries congratulated him
rather late and did it through the mid-level diplomats and officials.

This time the situation was different. Unfortunately, Serzh Sargsyan
won the election. I do not know where the votes were rigged but one
thing is obvious - this time the authorities were able to persuade the
West that the presidential election was fair and transparent. This was
what the West expected. It did not want to completely cede the region
that it is keeping with the help of Russia.

By Ashot Safaryan

29 April 2013. ArmInfo