Is Armenia an independent state?

MOSCOW, 30 Oct 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

Everywhere and always, the concept of independence is closely related to self-reliance. Especially if it concerns the internal affairs of any state. Of course, any policy, as it’s known, is primarily the art of the possible. Therefore, it is often necessary to cover your own steps in the press, to somehow tell foreign representatives about them. But it is to tell, that is, to inform.

The case takes a completely different turn if the supreme power of the state consults with foreign countries about its internal plans. Especially in areas to which they have no relation. They cannot have it if it is the government of an independent state. And if, nevertheless, this government “takes consultations”, then very serious doubts begin to arise about the degree of its independence.

When it became known in the spring of this year that Washington was reserving an additional budget of $150,000 “for the development of American cooperation with Armenia,” few people considered this step even worthy of attention. After all, it’s ridiculous to seriously consider it possible to “bribe an entire proud country” for such tiny money.

Critics were not confused either by the fact that this money was allocated in addition to the $640,000 grant “for the development of culture and democracy in Armenia”, allocated in February 2021. Like saying, that even if the sum turns out to be almost a million, what can it affect?! But as it turned out, it was quite able to.

On October 20, 2021, the head of the State Revenue Committee of Armenia, Rustam Badasyan, met with the Ambassador of the United States of America to Armenia, Lin Tracy. The event, at first glance, is completely ordinary. That’s just that they were discussing a topic theoretically not concerning the American ambassador at all.

Badasyan presented to the US Plenipotentiary Representative a promising program for the reform of customs and tax administration in the republic. They talked about the importance of modernising customs checkpoints, improving the collection of customs duties and fees, the desire to transfer customs procedures to an electronic format, as well as the problem of personnel training. The Armenian side even complained about the difficulty of finding staff and the need to raise the standards of their selection when hiring.

The American Ambassador expressed understanding and stressed the readiness of the American side to “continue” to support Yerevan “in implementing reforms of mutual interest.”

At first glance, what mutual interest can the American ambassador to Armenia have in talking about customs, if the US share in its foreign trade is only 2.69% and ranks as high as tenth in the ranking of the largest trading partners? Russia has 25%, Switzerland – 18.5%, China – 11.5%. And even with Iran Armenia has more trade  – 3.36%.

However, let’s not rush to conclusions. The growth of tax collection in Armenia worries the US State Department a little bit less than not at all. While the export of American democracy to Armenia is a completely different matter.

The United States is ready to directly finance democratic programs “to develop resistance among the citizens of Armenia to negative information influence from the outside”. One of its points sounds like this – “the organisation of the monitoring of local media to track data that does not correspond to reality”. And Washington is not greedy for paying money for this.

What is hidden under the peaceful term “protection” and “monitoring”? It is enough to see how in America itself and in its social networks working in other countries, anyone who, for example, doubts the integrity of voting in the last presidential election is harshly harassed. Or those who object to the thesis that Gazprom is solely to blame for the wild increase in energy prices in Europe.

And what happens when the internal government and a large part of the country’s population fall for all this, everyone can see from the example of today’s Ukraine.

Here, of course, it should be noted that what is happening is exclusively an internal matter of Armenia. And this will be correct. But it should also be true and necessary to analyse the question – does Russia need such an “independent” ally in the CSTO?

It would also be good to think about the real configuration of the borders of the zone of Russian geopolitical interests, in particular, in Transcaucasia. Is Armenia included in them? If not, then maybe we should stop playing games of balancing of affairs which are not ours and to involve in expanding and deepening relations with a much more adequate Azerbaijan? And if it is included, then should Russia take any more effective measures besides expressing diplomatic concern? Otherwise it turns out to be strange.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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