Stepan Grigoryan, an Armenian political scientist and the Head of Yerevan Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, as well as a former member of the Armenian Parliament, gave his views on Russian-Armenian and Armenian-Georgian relations.
Armenian expert on Russia’s policy in South Caucasus
By Mariam Chanishvili
Wednesday, November 23
He thinks that by establishing a joint military unit with Armenia, Russia is trying to increase its influence on Armenian affairs. Putin's decree on the creation of the joint Russian-Armenian military unit is geared towards strengthening Russian influence on Armenia and limiting its sovereignty. He said that it was worth mentioning that during the past months serious pressure was brought upon the civil sector and experts in Armenia.
Russia recently created joint units in Abkhazia, but these units will only be fully activated if Georgia looks likely to become a NATO member. It also warned Baku that if Azerbaijan does not become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), they will accelerate the establishment of joint Russian-Armenian military forces to be deployed to Karabakh.
Stepan Grigoryan also commented on the recent presidential election in the United States. A day before the elections, Grigoryan stated that the probability of Trump winning the elections was very high. His opinion was based on the fact that US citizens were in need of something new, and Clinton would likely follow Obama's policies. He also named another reason for Trump's victory, which he dubbed the “Zhirinovsky effect”. In the 1990s, nobody considered Zhirinovsky as a serious candidate in the parliamentary elections, but in the end, he did qualify for the Russian Parluament.
On Trump's attitude towards post-Soviet states, Grigoryan said that if Trump made any attempt to improve relations with Russia, this will be good for the South Caucasus. When big players are not clearly confronted, it is easier for small countries to make a choice and maneuver easily. He also noted that in the beginning, Trump’s attention will be drawn to Russia, but later he will become involved in Ukrainian, South Caucasian and Syrian issues.
Grigoryan predicted the beginning of a serious confrontation between Putin and Trump, despite noting that Trump will attempt to settle relations between Russia and the US.
“They both have a similar mentality and their reactions are the same in certain situations; both of them want to strengthen their countries. I exclude the beginning of any nuclear confrontation, but there is no doubt that the US and Russia will have serious arguments,” said Grigoryan.
During the elections, instead of bringing out the Armenian Genocide recognition issue (as Armenians usually do), this time part of the Armenian organizations acted in favor of Clinton, while one of the most important Armenian organizations “Armenian Assembly of America” refrained from expressing their opinion and gave the diaspora freedom of choice.
The Syrian war and its refugees were also touched upon. Nowadays, more than 15,000 ethnic Armenians live in Syria. According to official data, 16-18000 of refugees from Syria live in Armenia. Some Armenian refugees from Syria were sheltered in Karabakh.
According to Grigoryan, Turkey is losing its stability and European direction noting that Erdogan’s politics is leading the country to an internal conflict.
While discussing Abkhazian-Georgian relations and the Abkhazian sovereignty issue, he said that at present, Armenia is not going to recognize Abkhazia as an independent state. In case this takes place, he claimed that the European Union (EU) and USA will create problems for Armenia; it should be highlighted that EU and USA are Armenia’s main donors.