Yerevan /Mediamax/. Defense Minister of Armenia Vigen Sargsyan gave a interview to Russia Today news channel, where he touched upon regional security, settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, cooperation with Iran, and a number of other issues.
Mediamax picked out some fragments from the Defense Minister’s interview.
An equal sign between the East and the West
Armenia’s military doctrine comes from the main provisions of the country’s national security – the entire agenda is based on the conception that Armenia is trying to realize its national ideas not on the front line of the conflict, but in the context of interests of all countries and players in the region.
We base our actions on the idea that solution of global and regional problems requires close cooperation between all main players. Armenia’s foreign policy, national security strategy and military doctrine are built on the position that we don’t want to see the world in black and white, we don’t want to see new dividing lines.
We are trying to find such topics for conversation, which are needed both in Eastern and Western countries.
Security in the Middle East and Armenia
Obviously, what is happening in the Middle East cannot leave Armenia unconcerned, because that region was a home for a large Armenian Diaspora. The situation in Syria cannot leave any Armenian unconcerned.
Until now, one of the largest Armenian communities lives in Aleppo, and Armenia is the only country that still has a working consulate there. Despite all difficulties, we continue delivering humanitarian aid to Syria together with Russia.
“The biggest challenge is democratic reforms”
I am certain that the biggest challenge for Armenia is complete realization of democratic reforms, because a governance system based on open mechanisms of involvement of the civil society and efforts of all democratic institutes is undoubtedly one of the most important guarantees of the country’s security.
CSTO and NATO
Armenia is actively engaged in a number of bilateral and multilateral formats, first of all, within CSTO. We approached our chairmanship in that organization with great responsibility last year. We are happy that it was during our chairmanship that CSTO adopted its security strategy, and we hope that our organization will be able to actually create tools necessary to become more actively involved in global and regional security system, in particular, in peacekeeping troops of CSTO.
Today Armenia has active cooperation with NATO as well. The main component of that cooperation is our participation in peacekeeping missions. We believe that it allows our country to contribute to regional and international security.
“It’s impossible to settle the NK issue without trust”
The solution to the NK issue is recognition of the Artsakh people’s right of self-determination through recognition of the republic. Despite being an unrecognized state, Artsakh managed to prove that even in such conditions it’s possible to build security and judicial agencies, and democratic institutes to run the country. I believe that failure to fully account for those institutes makes settlement of the NK issue simply impossible.
Consolidation around the army
The spirit of Armenian society and their consolidation around the army is truly on a high level.
According to international statistics, Armenia is one of the most militarized countries, taking into account correlation between the numbers of servicemen and civilians. It is a really big army, and when I took the position of Defense Minister, I suggested returning to the “nation-army” notion.
Reserved and balanced Iran
Iran expressed a very reasonable and well-balanced position on all issues in Southern Caucasus, including the NK issue, since the very day of declaration of Armenia’s independence.
Permanently offering its efforts for reconciliation of positions from both sides, Tehran took a reserved and balanced approach.
Tehran attaches importance to preservation of stability and the necessity of preventing further confrontations, which coincides with Armenia’s position. We are hopeful that the dialogue between our Defense Ministries will reach the level of current Armenian-Iranian relations.
“Predictable Ankara is in Yerevan’s interests”
Turkey shows full support for Azerbaijan in the NK issue, which costs Ankara the balanced role in the region. This region is very sensible, while such a position is not in Turkey’s interests. I think that Turkey isolated itself by blockading Armenia and disseminating hatred in the region.
We are convinced that closed borders and routes in the 21st century are an anachronism.
Regarding Russian-Turkish relations, those can either warm or freeze, while strategic cooperation connects our countries (Armenia and Russia - editor). Those categories are out of comparison.
Of course, if Russia is able to build the relations with Turkey in a way where Ankara is predictable for Moscow, then Armenia may as well benefit.
Armenia develops its military and technical cooperation mostly within the frames of CSTO membership and bilateral cooperation with Russia.
Taking into consideration the membership in CSTO and agreements with Russian side, Armenia can now acquire weapons directly from Russian producers by internal prices, which is of course an essential input in the development of our military and technical potential.
We are currently carrying out an intensive dialogue with Russian side on possible extension of cooperation in military industry; several weeks from now, Moscow will host a convention on the development of our cooperation in military industry, a very important direction of collaboration.
On “smart” weapon
Naturally, in the age when even refrigerators get smart, weapons and military equipment would also benefit from the advantages of high-tech.
We held the first ArmHiTec International Exhibition of Arms and Defense Technology last year, which allowed Armenian producers and research institutions to introduce their programs.
We are interested in development of innovative technologies, so we closely cooperate with Russia and a number of other countries, being convinced that the future of military technical complex will be defined in this sector.
The “civilian” Minister of Defense
My appointment as Armenian Minister of Defense was accepted in a “kindly but vigilant” way.
Basically, I am not the first “civilian” leader of the Armenian Defense Ministry.
I think that Armenian servicemen and I formed deep, mutual respect and trust towards each other during the last few months. We all fully understand the necessity of implementing fundamental reforms through improving efficiency in Armed Forces, while the support for the political majority in the Parliament would be of key importance for the development of the country’s Armed Forces. From this point, I think that “civilian” Minster of Defense completely meets the requirements of the servicemen, who accomplish the hardest and most responsible work.