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ARMENIA


  
  



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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 2,797 2,367 2,100 139
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 950 790 570 143
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
29,800

Population
2,991,360

Principal ethnic groups
Armenian 93.3%
Azeri 2.6%
Russian 2%

Capital
Yerevan

Currency
Dram

President
Robert Kocharian


 


Update No: 292 - (26/04/05)

Armenia is a nation in remembrance - for the appalling genocide of 1915 when one and a half million Armenians were killed by the Turks. To this day the Turks deny the genocide. In this they are in bad company. It was Hitler who said in 1938: "Who today remembers the genocide of the Armenians?" He of course had another set of genocides in mind.
The present president, Robert Kocharian, a Karabakh War veteran, is known as 'falcon' in foreign policy and defends an aggressive foreign policy towards Turkey and Azerbaijan. He was formerly president of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan. A natural hardliner if ever there was one.
Ter-Petrosian, the previous Armenian President, was more moderate and argued historical disputes should not be at the core of Turkey-Armenia relations. Kocharian's aggressive anti-Turkish policies prevent the Turkish government from normalizing its relations with Armenia. Though Armenia-Turkey territorial borders are closed, international flights between Istanbul and Yerevan continue; and indirect trade between Turkey and Armenia reached $200 million in 2004. More than 50.000 citizens of Armenia work illegally in Istanbul.

Armenia urged to 'clearly' recognize Turkey's borders
Armenia's reluctance to recognize international borders in the Caucasus prevent stability and security in the region. And this disturbs the US and the EU. According to Emil Danielyan's report from Armenia Liberty, Armenia would make the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border easier by explicitly recognizing Turkey's territorial integrity, a renowned U.S. scholar, who has helped to promote dialogue between the two estranged neighbours. said on April 18th. David Phillips, who chaired the U.S.-sponsored Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC), also accused the administration of President George W. Bush of mishandling long-running U.S. efforts to improve relations between Ankara and Yerevan. 
"The Armenian government has to state clearly and unequivocally that it makes no territorial claim on Turkey," Phillips said in an interview. "If that message were sent it would create conditions for Turkey to move forward in a much more positive way."

Armenian president Kocharian: no territorial claims on Turkey
That is exactly what has happened. Kocharian, hardliner though he is, has decided to become somewhat more emollient. Kocharian said in his speech at the Yerevan State University: "Armenia has no territorial claims on Turkey." "No Armenian state structures have made any territorial claims against Turkey," he added.
However, he then changed tack, reverting to type. He implied territorial demands could be made after recognition of the so-called genocide. "A campaign for international recognition of the genocide against Armenians is one of the tasks on our foreign policy agenda," Kocharian said, like a dog going back to its own vomit. 

Only the strong can apologise
Nobody denies, outside Turkey, that the Armenians have a very good case against the Turks on this issue. It certainly deserves to be settled in due course by a fulsome Turkish apology. 
Schroder has apologised for Nazi Germany's behaviour towards Poland; Blair has apologised for Imperial Britain's behaviour towards Ireland; It would be appropriate if Turkey would one day apologise to Armenia for the 1915 genocide. But it will only happen when Turkey itself has become a strong self-confident country, like Germany and the UK now are is still some time away. 

Armenia needs Turkey
It is worth looking at the problem, indeed, from a Turkish point of view. Dr. Sedat Laciner, director of Ankara-based ISRO, said that the only serious problem was recognition of the international borders by the Armenians:
"Armenian genocide campaigns naturally disturb Turkey and the Turks. They do not accept such an insult. Nevertheless neither Turkish government nor the Turkish public think historical accusations can justify a closed-border and no diplomatic relations. Turkey's precondition is recognition of international borders. Armenia says it has no territorial claims, but Yerevan implies the Eastern parts of Turkey is Western Armenia. Many Armenian politicians and leaders are sworn to 'recapture' the so-called lost territories in Turkey. The Armenian Declaration of Independence clearly show the irredentist intentions. Moreover, Armenia does not recognize Azerbaijan-Armenia border and 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories have been under Armenian occupation. Armenian politicians undermine territorial integrity of Georgia. In brief, Armenia has to recognize its borders with Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Otherwise Turkish government cannot normalize its relations with Yerevan. Ankara responds as it did for Serbia in past and what the US does now for Cuba, Iran and Syria. A huge part of a European state (Azerbaijan) is under military occupation of another European state (Armenia). Armenia should know that the Armenian occupation cannot last forever, and Turkey cannot accept Armenian occupation. If Turkey accepts any change in borders by force, no country can maintain stability and security in Caucasus, Balkans and the Middle East."
Laciner further argued that Turkey and Armenia could be strategic allies, if the border issues between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan were resolved:
"The extremist Armenians want more and more territories. They want Eastern Turkey, Western Azerbaijan, and Southern Georgia. However they cannot maintain the existing population in Armenia. The Armenian population has dramatically decreased. As a matter of fact Armenia does not need any more territory, but human power and good friends. An aggressive and irredentist Armenia cannot survive in the Caucasus. Armenia need time to cure its diseases inherited from the Soviet period. Armenia needs Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan to solve its problems and to integrate its political and economic structures. The current Turkish Government is ready to normalize its relations with Armenia. However if Armenian threatens Turks and demands more territories, no Turkish government could take any step in normalization. In fact Turkey does not need Armenian economy or political support, because Armenian economy is a tiny one and less than an ordinary Turkish city's size. Turkey can solve its transportation problems with Central Asia and Caucasus over the Russia, Georgia and Iran routes. However Armenia needs Turkey to survive." The bottom line on all of the foregoing, is that Armenia is not in fact making claims on Turkey, but is illegally occupying 20% of neighbouring Azerbaijani territory, quite apart from the unresolved issue of the Nagorno Karabakh enclave. That is the crux of the matter. The lack of an apology for the 1915 massacre is offensive to Armenians across the world, but in itself, that would not prevent political and commercial ties, in short a move towards normalising inter- state relations, which would follow if the illegal occupation was ended, allowing the enclave issue to be negotiated and finally resolved. 

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Armenian president, Belgian MP discuss expansion of cooperation

Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, received the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Belgian parliament, Herman de Croo, at his residency recently, Arminfo News Agency reported.
The sides highly rated the level of Armenian-Belgian relations and noted that this was proven by the fact that Belgium is Armenia's main trading partner among EU countries, the press service of the Armenian president said.
The sides also noted the need to expand the political dialogue between the two countries, which can be promoted by the intensification of parliamentary cooperation.
The meeting discussed a number of issues related to European integration, specifically within the framework of the EU's New Neighbourhood policy. The sides also discussed issues and processes taking place in the region.

Yerevan and Moscow keen on developing bilateral ties

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, recently met his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, in Yerevan. Putin was on a two-day visit where he held talks with Kocharian and attended the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia in Armenia.
Putin has also signed a decree on observing the Year of the Russian Federation in Armenia and the Year of Armenia in the Russian Federation, "for the purposes of further developing Russian-Armenian relations and expanding bilateral ties," the presidential press service said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Putin said the opening of the Year of Russia culture in Armenia will provide a very good basis for the development of relations in humanitarian affairs and also in economic and political matters. "The record of such events with other partners has shown that they positively influence cooperation in all areas," the Kremlin leader said.
During the negotiations both state leaders agreed to help their countries' businesses expand their involvement in investment and privatisation projects. "Russia and Armenia are equally interested in deeper multidimensional ties and see our future in close integration," Putin said at a press conference after talks with Kocharian. He added that effective models of cooperation and new opportunities for the free movement of capital, goods and services were adopted.
According to Putin, Russia is Armenia's main investor and trading partner. Russia played a vital role with its investment in Armenia, who was seeking to boost key sectors of its economy. Putin noted that the stable political situation and economic growth in Armenia is a prerequisite for expanding cooperation. Other issues on the meeting's agenda involved cooperation in countering terrorism, cross-border crimes, illegal arms trade and drug trafficking, Putin said.
Both countries discussed ways to further advance the two nations' transport infrastructure. Armenia has already joined the North-South international corridor project and it is planned to launch ferry services between Georgia's port of Poti and the Caucasus, Putin added. He announced that the first cargoes have already been sent to Georgia and deliveries will soon be made to Armenia. Regional issues and the settlement process in Nagorno-Karabakh were also discussed.

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