On Friday, 06 March 2009 the Hay Tad Committee in Kuwait organized its first public event in Salmiya, Kuwait. Boghos Mardirossian delivered a lecture - presentation on the political situation in the Caucasus and its implications on Armenia.
In the first part of the lecture, Mardirossian made a brief introduction about the geographical location of the Caucasus and the different ethnicities residing there. He pointed out that many languages are spoken there. Caucasus is not mono- ethnic or single religion place. In The northern Caucasus, which is the southern part of Russian Federation there are many ethnic groups and mainly five autonomous republics within the Russian Federation.
In the past, the Caucasus struggle was between three Empires: Persian, Russian and Ottoman, but in the present time after, the collapse of the Soviet Union new players came into the Caucasus such as USA, EU and NATO. The presence of the new players in this region gave to it a specific international political and economical importance.
According to Mardirossian, NATO is directly involved in the Caucasus affairs through its new candidate Georgia, which has closed its Russian military bases and is eager now to join NATO, a move that will ensure to keep Western presence in the region.
The presence of foreign major forces in the region creates possibility of direct clash with Russian and Iranian forces. This new political situation in the Caucasus has attracted many political analysts.
The Caucasus is in no short of political, economical, ethnical and religious problems. According to Mardirossian, it is a highly volatile region and ready to explode at any time. This instable region has already experienced many wars and the major has to come yet.
Due to its extremely important geo-strategic location between three major powers, namely Russia, Iran and Turkey and because of its rich energy resources and strategic location as major energy transport route, the risk of war has always been high in the region.
The second part of Mardirossian’s lecture was about the importance of the Caucasus region in international politics and economics. He mentioned two main reasons in this context. The first is economic, which is the hidden force behind the political wars in the region. We all know that the Caspian Sea is rich in oil energy and gas resources. Azerbaijan has significant wealth in this regard. The southern Caucasian region is located on the new energy routes.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Western World wanted to establish alternative energy routes, ignoring Russian and Iranian territories. The West needs the Caspian Sea energy recourses, but does not want Russia or Iran to control the energy pipeline routes. The Baku-Jehan pipeline route is a clear example of Western intentions. The West has its allies in the region such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. These three countries are accomplishing the Western interests in the region. This appears in conflict with the Russian, Iranian and Armenian interests.
NABUCO is an upcoming energy project for transferring the Caspian gas to Europe, ignoring Russian territories. Russia is not happy for that and is not willing to lose its economic interests in the region, commented Mardirossian.
The Russian politics is effectively fighting any Western presence in the Caucasus. For Russia, Armenia is a geo-strategic castle in the Caucasus frontline. Mardirossian resembled Armenia as the king in chess game. If it falls the whole game is over. Especially for the West, Armenia is the main strategic country, which is needed to take under control in order to reduce the power and influence of the two temporary allies Russia and Iran in the region. Russia and Iran, old time enemies are now cooperating militarily to face a united threat: the NATO.
Mardirossian gave an account about the strategic importance associated with each country in the Caucasus and the three wars fought in the region since 1988: Nagorno Karabagh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These wars were the result of the above-mentioned geo-strategic and economic reasons but local ethnic reasons were widely utilized. These three wars publicly are known as wars of self-determination, but in reality they had economic and geo-strategic reasons.
After analyzing the importance of the Caucasus, Mardirossian went into the fourth and last part of his lecture, in which he discussed national security issues facing Armenia as a country in the middle of a major power struggle in the region. This was the most interesting part of the lecture.
Mardirossian first defined the meaning of Armenia’s national security. The economic security and the security of Diaspora Armenians were important elements that form the final picture of the entire Armenian national security structure. Armenia’s economic security is in danger since Armenia has been deprived from major regional economic energy routes, railroad and other projects. Armenia does not have rich natural resources or access to sea. Georgia can be a possible access to the sea, but the Georgian authorities are practicing anti-Armenians policies in the Javakhk region, where Armenians live. The ongoing unstable situation in and around Georgia has affected Armenia’s economic security. Armenia, as natural ally to Russia, makes Georgia unhappy. The Russian military bases in Armenia keep Georgia’s security in danger. Iran becomes thus the only remaining natural geographic route that secures Armenia’s interests. What could happen to Armenia’s security and economy if the West decides to attack Iran?
Approaching Turkey with good neighborhood relations may open the borders for direct trade, but can we believe that this will not cause certain national security problem in Armenia?, Commented Mardirossian, adding that Turkey has occupied 80% of the historic Armenian lands and is openly siding with Azerbaijan as advocate of the “two countries but one people” slogan. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan do not like to see strong and stable Armenia. The pan-Turkic dream is still live in their political strategic thought. Azerbaijan’s politically motivated historians even consider the capital of Armenia (Yerevan) and the southern part of Armenia (Zankezour) as part of old Azerbaijan! We should be aware what this implies, said Mardirossian. This means even a smaller Armenia than the 29 thousands square kilometers left to us from the historical 400 thousands square kilometers.
Azerbaijan is preparing itself militarily to attack Armenia at any moment in the future and its aggressive intentions are not hidden. President of Azerbaijan said many times that Azerbaijani army is ready to act. We all know that Artsakh (Karabagh) is our historic land and even the additional liberated territories are part of historic Armenia and form altogether in the Caucasus, with the present-day Armenia, a 42 thousands square kilometers of de facto Armenian controlled area, necessary to Armenia’s economic security.
Artsakh has an economic value to Armenia. It has major strategic security importance to Armenia and to all the Armenian civilization. We have lost many territories in the past and cannot afford to loose more.
Mardirossian talked also about the security of Diaspora Armenians and underlined its importance for Armenia, since Diaspora Armenians represent 70% of the entire Armenia population in the world. Diaspora Armenians are essential part of the Armenian civilization. Therefore, keeping Diaspora Armenian relations strong with the present-day Armenia is a national security task. Our enemies do not want Diaspora Armenians to come back and repopulate Armenia, because that will create demographic threat to them and additional strength to Armenia. Having economically weak Armenia will not let Diaspora Armenians to return back to Armenia. Weak Armenia will not attract Diaspora Armenians to come back and resettle there. War threats by Azerbaijan keeps Diaspora away from Artsakh and Armenia. Let us remember the Israeli example. Russian, Ethiopian and Yemeni Jewish migration increased to Israel after they learned about the possibility of better economic life in Israel, but when the Palestinian rockets threatened their security, they began to leave Israel to USA, Canada and Australia. Our enemies do not want to see Diaspora Armenian near the borders. The more Armenians emigrate to the West the more happy they would be.
The most important security problem could come to Armenia from its ally Russia. Let us assume that Russia loses its military influence in Caucasus. A possible new pro-West Russian government may come to power in Russia and create strong relations with the West and with their allies in the Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. What will happen if Russia itself finally joins NATO? What kind of future will await Armenia in front of its aggressive historic enemies? What if the circumstantial relations between Russia and Iran are loosened? This will affect Armenia in the middle of the two old allies. The stability of present-day Iran and Russia is in the interests of Armenia, but if unstable elements come to power in these countries, this could affect Armenia’s national security. Let us assume that Israel tries to hit the Iranian nuclear capabilities and the later declares war on Israel. What can happen if Israel starts supporting the local Iranian-Azeri population and encourage them to separate from Iran and join the independent Azerbaijan in the north. In that case, how will Armenia survive if it is geographically blocked on three sides.
If USA-Iran war occurs then Armenia will be affected and will receive pressure from Iran, Russia and USA. Armenia’s national security now depends on Iran’s territorial integrity. If Azeris gain power in Iran, this will threaten both Iran’s and Armenia’s national security. Iran will be blocked on three sides by USA or NATO forces (in Iraq, GCC countries and Afghanistan) and will remain free only on Armenia’s side. If Armenia falls in the hand of pro-American forces, through internal elections for example, like the orange revolution in some ex-Soviet republics, then this will be a major concern for Iran and Russia. Russian influence is strong in Armenia and any surprise fall of pro-Russian government in Armenia will create almost civil war situation in Armenia.
At the end of the presentation, Mardirossian reminded the attendants that Armenia throughout its history has been always threatened by its neighbors. There are hardly times when the Armenian civilization was not in danger from these outsiders. Our civilization needs stable, strong, progressive and secure lands to prosper.
Mardirossian emphasized the importance of Hay Tad and said that Hay Tad is our everyday life and is the Armenian civilization security issue. Hay Tad is not April 24 only. Our ancestors had Hay Tad since the formation of our people on our historic lands and still we in Diaspora continue to have Hay Tad, which does not mean only working for passing on Armenian genocide resolutions in the world. Hay Tad is the security problem, which the Armenian civilization had since its formation. If this small Armenia goes from our hands, then our civilization will survive only in history textbooks, warned Mardirossian.
( http://www.azad-hye.net/news/viewnews.asp?newsId=621lgf41 )