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December 14, 2006

In Light of New Realities:
ACNIS Looks at Political Prospects for 2007

Yerevan—So as thoroughly to discuss, against the backdrop of the ongoing Mountainous Karabagh negotiations and new geopolitical changes, and present an expert viewpoint on the likely political events of the coming year, the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened—and concluded its 2006 seminar sessions with—a policy roundtable entitled “Forecasting Political Developments in 2007.”

ACNIS senior analyst Hovsep Khurshudian greeted the audience with opening remarks. “I believe we will soon become the eyewitnesses to significant events, and this is already being sensed,” he said.

In his address with respect to the correlation between domestic political occurrences and the Mountainous Karabagh negotiations process, ACNIS director of research Stepan Safarian noted that those events had become a captive to the aforesaid process. In his view, the negotiation process, which took on unprecedented import in 2006—the year for the “window of opportunities”—resulted in such an “evolution” in the positions of the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan that anticipating any public support would be considered naive. “Should presidents Kocharian and Aliyev sign under any accord, they would face serious political consequences at home, whereas the internal and external resources in terms of moving forward and reaching a final agreement are now depleted,” he stressed. According to Safarian, this situation equally increases the likelihood and uncertainty of a series of political developments in Armenia: 1) In case an agreement was put into effect regarding the Mountainous Karabagh issue, the ruling powers would get a virtually unhindered chance to reproduce themselves; 2) if no agreement were reached, the ruling clique, despite its apparent internal strength, would lose its regime; and 3) in line with a “conjoined” scenario, both internal and external forces, in order not to lose their power completely, would engineer the next palace coup.

In his turn, chairman of the Union of Political Scientists of Armenia and MP Hmayak Hovhannisian deliberated on the geopolitical aspects of the developments that are likely to take place in the country. In Hovhannisian’s assessment, that numerous Armenian political figures are seeking out foreign backers is not promising. “This does not trigger at all the interest of important geopolitical centers toward the politicians who have great ambitions; on the contrary, this causes a negative societal attitude, and substantially hurts the image of those politicians who look abroad for ‘approval,’” Hovhannisian noted. With regard to the Mountainous Karabagh negotiations process, the political scientist asserted that the existing settlement proposal is unacceptable for Armenia’s authorities not for fear of weakening their positions, but so they would not be cursed for all eternity by the subsequent generations. “If the Robert Kocharian-Serge Sargsian duo sign the agreement on the principles for the regulation of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict, they will unquestionably remain in power, and the idea of the postponed referendum is a sure guarantee for the reproduction of the incumbent regime,” Hovhannisian maintained.

The next speaker, director Gagik Ter-Harutiunian of the Noravank Foundation, focused on the probable global changes and their possible impact on Armenia. He expressed a conviction that against the background of the military-technological potential and the politico-military capabilities of the superpowers, at least four or five power centers are presently being formed in the world, and this, in Ter-Harutiunian’s view, poses a significant challenge to Armenia’s foreign policy agenda. This means that when making externally-related decisions, we “should not go along with just one country” and consequently forget or disregard others. “The precept of complementarity is conceivably justifiable for small nations, and all that remains is simply to make advantageous use of it,”
Ter-Harutiunian concluded.

The participants in the ensuing discussion included deputy chairman Edward Antinian of the Liberal Progressive Party; ACNIS director of administration Karapet Kalenchian; analyst Alvard Barkhudarian; Anahit Bayandur from the Armenian Committee of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly; civic activist Alexander Butayev; Ruzan Khachaturian from the People’s Party; Artak Poghosian from the Republican Party; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2006, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410)
52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am

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