Books on Armenia
Update No: 342 -
Friction in the
Caucasus seems to be eternal. There were
skirmishes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh,
the disputed Armenian enclave in
Azerbaijan, in August and September that
left several dead and wounded on either
Armenia: the Zion of the Caucasus
Armenia is in a curious plight - not
unlike that of Israel. It is the odd-man
out of its region. The Armenians are not
really wanted in the Caucasus by the other
inhabitants, any more than the Israelis
are in the Middle East.
Both peoples suffered an appalling action
of genocide in the first half of the
twentieth century. Both are now
overwhelmingly dependent for their very
survival on an outside super-power.
Armenia exists thanks to Russia, every bit
as much as Israel does thanks to the US.
Is it so wise to base one's existence on
an exterior power?
Well, neither has much of a choice, so
long as they wish to remain where they
The Moscow-Yerevan axis forever?
Russia calls the shots in the Caucasus, if
anybody does. The recent Russia-Armenia
agreement (protocol) which extended the
term of the Russian base in Gyumri until
2044, has given the task of defending
Armenia to the Russian forces at this
base. It has also allowed Armenia to
obtain modern weaponry and special
military equipment from Russia. Armenia is
safe for the duration.
The pact has, nevertheless, created harsh
reactions among opposition circles in
Armenia. The main issue which is
emphasized is that Armenia’s right of
independence has deteriorated to a great
extent, or has at least been damaged.
Indeed, taking into consideration that
Armenia’s energy transmission line,
railways, nuclear power station, and
various other facilities are in the hands
of Russia and that Russia has invested
about 2 billion dollars in this small
country, with this protocol Armenia has
also come totally under the guardianship
of Russia in the area of defence.
The significant point here is that despite
objections arising from opposition parties
and various intellectuals, assuming that
Russia is protecting the country against
Turks and Azerbaijanis, a majority of
Armenian public opinion easily accepts
Not so acceptable in Tbilisi
Armenian officials have reacted with
surprise that Georgian Foreign Minister
Grigol Vashadze reportedly described
Armenia's defence agreement with Russia as
a threat to regional security.
Vashadze was quoted by the Azerbaijani
news agency APA on September 7 as saying
that the Yerevan-Moscow deal extending
Russia's lease on a military base in
Armenia until 2044 and upgrading its
mission will impede "stability, security,
and cooperation" in the South Caucasus. He
was also quoted by APA as saying "the sole
goal of the Russian military base is to
heighten tension in the region. The
extension of the term of that base's
deployment in Armenia by 24 years and the
change in its functions poses a big threat
to the region."
Vashadze's reported remarks were at odds
with Tbilisi's initial reaction to the
Russian-Armenian pact that was voiced by
Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino
Kalanadze said in late August that Yerevan
remained "conscious of threats to Georgia
emanating from Russia." She added that "we
have no reason to suspect that Armenia is
calling regional security into question in
Commenting on the statement attributed to
Vashadze, Armenian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL, "We
do not share that view." He also suggested
that it was distorted by the
government-controlled Azerbaijani media
outlet. "In any case, no foreign official
has the right to meddle in our affairs and
make comments on our security issues,"
Balayan said. He added that Armenian
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian would
telephone Vashadze to discuss the matter.
Vashadze met with Armenia's ambassador in
Tbilisi, Hrach Silvanian, on August 31,
less then two weeks after the signing of
the Russian-Armenian accord. Vashadze's
press office said they spoke about the
"the need to further strengthen ties
traditionally existing between the two
countries and the importance of carrying
out bilateral visits."