Georgia needs Armenia as springboard to NATO membership - expert

12:57 • 08.11.16



In an interview with Tert.am, Eduard Abrahamyan, PhD, Foreign & Defense Policy Analyst, Contributor at IHS Jane's, Research Fellow at University of Leicester, Contributing Analyst at Central Asia - Caucasus Institute, SAIS, said that some NATO officials have in the past year hinted that the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) are open to partners, which implied that Azerbaijan, Armenia, as well as Ukraine and Moldova could seek cooperation.


Speaking of the Georgia-NATO relations following the NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, he noted that Georgia has turned into a platform for NATO partners to intensify their cooperation with NATO.


“This year the possibility of Armenia’s involvement in such activities has been hinted at as well. NATO Alliance Liaison Officer in the South Caucasus, William Lahue has repeatedly noted it. Before that, the Georgian minister of defense, during his official visit to Azerbaijan this March, invited that country’s armed forces to take part in the NATO joint trainings in Georgia,” Mr Abrahamyan said.


According to him, Armenia has to finds the right way to building up deeper relations with NATO in conformity with present-day requirements.


With respect to Turkey being a NATO member-state and, in this context, a possibility of Armenia facing problems, the expert said that Turkey’s membership in NATO is not an obstacle to Armenia-NATO relations.


“On the contrary, it is a chance for cooperation with Turkey within NATO. The platform affords an opportunity for cooperating with Turkey in coping with certain challenges. I do not see any threats here,” Mr Abrahamyan said.


It is especially so amid improving Russian-Turkish relations, which are now even better than Turkey-US relations.


Armenia’s current task is to develop its relations with NATO to raise their level. According to the expert, Armenian-NATO relations are in crisis.


“All of NATO’s programs are either clearly intended to contain Russia or aimed at it. Armenia has to either admit projects intended to contain Russia and raise the security level of NATO’s allies or partners or retain inactive relations, which is gradually making Armenia a symbolic partner,” Mr Abrahamyan said.


NATO is now represented in Georgia, and Armenia must spare no effort to make its armed forces meet the NATO standards and find ways to purchase defensive weapon in order to raise the level of its relations.


Otherwise, Russia will take advantage of Armenia’s isolation to exert pressure on Georgia by means of Armenia. On the other hand, Armenia is inclined to extensive military cooperation with Russia.


“Armenia and Georgia should try to make joint coordinated steps, in an atmosphere of mutual confidence, to make regional challenges more predictable,” Mr Abrahamyan said as he spoke of ways out of the current situation.


As to whether cooperation with Armenia would not pose a threat to Georgia in the context of Armenia’s pro-Russian orientation, Mr Abrahamyan said:


“Yes, Russia is a major threat to Georgia and Russian armed forces are deployed in Armenia. In the context of Russia-NATO escalation, indirect threats to Georgia are growing. Georgia will naturally feel concerned over it, viewing Russia’s successful policy in Armenia as a threat.”


Georgia is trying to resolve its security problems as it is aware of vague prospects for its joining NATO. First of all, it turns to Turkey and Azerbaijan, with one of them bordering on a NATO member-state and the other an officially neutral state.


“Time will show what is going to happen. I do not think Georgia-Turkey-Azerbaijan cooperation could bring any serious benefits to Georgia. But one thing is clear: Armenia should not remain outside the NATO Black Sea and Caucasus projects,” Mr Abrahamyan said.


Armenia has approved a new, broader package of the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP), which is an opportunity for broader involvement in NATO-organized events in Georgia.


Describing Georgia as a “security consumer”, the expert said he thinks that the fact per se is an obstacle for the country in its NATO membership efforts.

He also admitted that Armenia’s pro-Russian policy line has driven the country into a self-isolation. “Armenia has plunged into a situation in which it is very complicated to find a way out, as Russia’s weakening and de-facto defeat in the wake of the confrontation with NATO would undermine the programs aimed at keeping the neighboring regions under control. Is Armenia ready - as an ally of Russia - to incur the heavy impact? I don’t think it is, so Armenia must revise the strategic priorities in its military policies.”


Highlighting the changing geopolitical dynamics, the expert further stressed the need of being ready for any scenario.

 

“We must be ready [to accept the fact] that Turkey is not going to be a NATO member state forever. Hence, the United State and the Alliance’s restraint mechanisms may not exist sometime in the future,” he said.

 

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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