Many political observers from Armenia and abroad give mixed reviews of Pashinyan’s government performance in 2019, one year after popular “Velvet Revolution” of 2018. Some think that not enough has been accomplished or that very few superficial changes have been observed while some find many accomplishments in various areas of Armenia’s life ranging from defense to foreign policy, and from economy to higher social-political awareness among the populace in general. In fact, despite all the naysayers and pessimists, ardent critiques of the present government and cynics in general, Armenia made a lot of progress in a number of areas, particularly in the spheres of economy, defense and foreign policy. Increasing its defense budget, opening new embassies and consulates in Middle East, sending a humanitarian mission to Syria, developing friendly relations with Georgia and improving relations with the U.S. and European countries were among its many highlights in 2019. Now, as the new year is fast approaching, what will be the security outlook for Armenia in 2020 and what should Armenia’s security establishment focus on for the next few years?
Since the change of government in Armenia last year Armenia’s foreign policy is gradually taking shape. It is developing very slowly and steadily but so far it hasn’t fully matured yet. Armenia’s foreign policy attempts to balance between competing interests of the East (Russia) and the West (US/EU/NATO) while refusing to benefit from the ongoing political confrontation between the two sides. Furthermore, the present status of Artsakh became a point of discussion in Armenia as Armenia’s foreign policy establishment attempts to figure out which approach will be most beneficial to the security of Armenian people-treating Artsakh as an independent republic or as one of Armenia’s provinces in par with Syunik Region, Ararat Region and others. Consequently, what changes are needed to resolve this question and how effective is the present course of Armenia’s foreign policy ?
Turkish invasion of Kurdish dominated northeast and northwest of Syria after rapid withdrawal of American troops has somehow caught many political observers and analysts both in the US and around the world off-guard, yet such a move was long time coming and it was just a matter of time before American troops would start their withdrawal. For many Armenians around the world recent developments in Syria were reminiscent of unexpected Russian troops withdrawal from what is commonly known as “West Armenia” before the end of WW-1 when countless of Armenians became victims of a genocide perpetrated by the government of Turkey against ethnic and religious minorities of the Ottoman Empire. As such, one needs to reflect upon latest events and analyze historical precedents to better understand present and future threats facing the Armenian people and the Armenian statehood in light of multi-fold security implications that arise as a result of sudden but significant political maneuvers on behalf of bigger powers dominating the region. What are those threats and how do they need to be countered as we analyze our present and look into the future?
Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution raised hopes for a reinvigoration of the country’s decades-long partnership with the U.S. However, this relationship remains stagnant, despite the visit of a U.S. delegation led by National Security Adviser John Bolton in October 2018 and the subsequent visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent to Yerevan in May 2019, resulting in the formal elevation of Armenia’s relations with the U.S. to the level of “strategic dialogue.” Moreover, Yerevan’s decision to dispatch a military-humanitarian mission to Syria remains an irritant in its interaction with Washington. As a consequence, the ties have reached a historical low-point in comparison with the improving cooperation between the U.S. and other Caucasian states.