Armenian News Network / Groong

Review & Outlook - 11/06/2016

Armenia: Priorities for the Next Sixteen Years

Armenian News Network / Groong
November 6, 2016

By Grigor Hakobyan


The purpose of this article is to suggest political and geopolitical
priorities for Armenia (including Artsakh) and the Armenian diaspora to
focus on in an effort to secure the existence of the Armenian statehood
and the Armenian nation for the next sixteen years. The timeframe
provided divides one century into three equal parts, each thirty three
years long until 2099. The article doesn't attempt to predict any event
or development in Armenia, the surrounding region or the world at large,
and will not be focusing on mid-term and long-term goals. The scope of
the article will be limited by the next sixteen years and will attempt
to suggest various ideas to focus on both for the Republic of Armenia
and the Armenian diaspora from now on until 2033.


It is the belief of the author that having a political and geopolitical
foresight will help Armenia and the Armenian diaspora to secure the
existence of Armenian identity and the Armenian statehood at minimum for
the next sixteen years. Armenia and the Armenian diaspora should not be
always in a situation where they are forced to react to a host of
unexpected events happening to them, often finding themselves caught off
guard, but rather take a proactive role with reasonable political and
geopolitical foresight by preparing themselves for the unexpected and
causing events to happen rather than waiting for events to happen to

As our history has often shown, the wait-and-see approach always
resulted in devastating consequences that were often detrimental to the
existence and prosperity of the Armenian identify and the Armenian
statehood (e.g. the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923; 1988-1990 Armenian
massacres in Baku, Sumgait, etc.) A proactive approach to solving
problems that exist today and preventing other problems from arising
later requires one to anticipate what may be coming and prepare oneself
accordingly. Furthermore, one needs to set a number of controlled events
in motion while minimizing its anticipated negative consequences and
maximizing one's anticipated gains. For each possible type of
development one needs to prepare a number of contingency plans for
dealing with their consequences, both positive and negative.

                                 Part 1


                          Armenia and Artsakh

At present there seems to be some misunderstanding and confusion, even
among Armenians, whether the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh are one
entity or two separate entities. A closer examination of the reality on
the ground indicates that they are one entity separated in name
only. Although it may have made sense to take this rout in the early
1990s, when the administration of ex-president of Armenia Levon
Petrosyan was readily giving away Artsakh to illegal and groundless
Azerbaijani occupation, the political situation within Armenia and the
geopolitical situation in the region has changed since then and no one
in their right mind would consider doing so today or in any near
future. Furthermore, the Four Day War in April has ruled out any thought
of making any sort of territorial concessions in light of Azerbaijani
military onslaught and barbarism that was unleashed against Armenian
civilians: women and elderly, as well as towards the Armenian soldiers
who were already killed in the fighting prior to being mutilated by them

As the bloody events of police station takeover in July have shown, any
political leader in Armenia who may dare to contemplate such a
possibility out loud will not last for long, but quickly find his place
under the ground with a bullet in his head together with other traitors
and enemy collaborators. Just recalling operation Nemesis in the
1920s-1930s should be enough to deter anyone from conceding any piece of
Armenian territory to the enemies of Armenian people. There is a
pronounced red line established by the Armenian populace that no
government official will dare to cross to spare their lives from public
anger and lethal consequences in store for them.

It is the right time for the Republic of Artsakh to merge with the
Republic of Armenia into one political entity that it is already, in
every way but name only. Artsakh is no different than any other province
of Armenia and should be treated as such in par with others. The sooner
this merger takes place the better for everyone. Officially part of the
Armenian Republic, Artsakh will be able to attract foreign direct
investments into its economy and greater investments from within the
Republic of Armenia and diaspora as any talk of territorial concessions
will end. As such, businesses will feel comfortable investing in the
development of Artsakh's agriculture, mining, tourism and high tech
sectors of economy. The unification of Artsakh will also end Azerbaijani
fantasies of dominating Artsakh thus forcing them to face the stark
reality on the ground. The merger of two Armenian republics may happen
either directly by decrees of both countries' parliaments or through
another public referendum.

The consequences of such a move may include the overthrowing of Aliyev's
regime in Azerbaijan and resumption of yet another war, most likely a
short one similar to April's war, against Armenian forces along the line
of contact both in Artsakh and Nakhichevan. This round of warfare will
most likely end just as abruptly as it starts. Loss of yet another
strategic region to Armenian forces such as Nakhichevan or Kirovabad
(Gandzak in Armenian), or recovery of previously lost Shahumyan region
and parts of occupied Mardakert region will most likely lead to
Azerbaijani capitulation and the end of war in South Caucasus.  To avoid
losing more territory, Azerbaijani gov't will have no other choice but
to accept the reality on the ground and sign a bilateral peace treaty
with Armenia or get overthrown by a radical opposition similar to the
one that brought Aliyev senior to power in 1994. The security of Armenia
will be exceptionally enhanced as a result of such an outcome.

A more lasting peace in the region will allow Armenia to redirect its
resources into badly needed economic development to raise the living
standards of its population. Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan will
also allow both parties to restore commercial road and railroad
communications, reduce negative political influences of regional and
extra-regional actors and collectively reap benefits of global trade and
economic integration taking place in the region.  Part 2


Since the Four Day War in April, the Armenian military has undergone
many improvements. It has enhanced its positions along the line of
contact, modernized its military equipment, acquired new weapon systems,
invested more in training of its military personnel and introduced new
forms of automation systems that have improved its intelligence
gathering capabilities, situational awareness and its air
defenses. Furthermore, continuous investments and development of
domestic military industrial complex has put the Armenian military on
its way of attaining relative self-sufficiency within the next five to
ten years and helped Armenia to attain better deterrence capabilities
against future Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression.

Additional resources being poured into the military from Armenian
diaspora has contributed to further improvements along the line of
contact, such as bringing running water and electricity to a number of
Armenian garrisons along the line of contact in Artsakh. Acquisition of
new military hardware to fight off Azerbaijani drone attacks has
enhanced the security of Armenian military units stationed along the
frontline. It will be hard to imagine Azerbaijani military or its
mercenaries having any chance to successfully utilize attack drones or
any other advance military equipment in the way they were previously
used during the Four Day War in April that caused serious damage to
Armenian military positions and personnel in the battle field.

Based on experience gained during the Four Day War in April, Armenia
should consider establishing another layer of defense in the rear of its
frontline troops, inside small towns and villages surrounding the line
of contact. A twenty four hour ready National Guard made up of local
inhabitants defending their towns and villages should be introduced to
prevent any possible infiltrations of civilian settlements by
Azeri-Turkish commandos as it happened in the Talish village (Mardakert
Region) during the last round of war. Members of the National Guard
should be allowed to have quick access to armories stationed in their
towns and villages under Defense Ministry supervision or be permitted to
keep their weapons at home for indefinite period of time as it is the
case for men in Switzerland. Constant civil defense drills in the border
regions should be a frequent occurrence and inseparable part of life for
the civilians inhabiting along the entire length of the border with
Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Considering that Armenia is surrounded by real or potential enemies who
can leverage considerable firepower and human resources immediately
across the border it is very important for the Armenian military to
attain near-nuclear capabilities to deter any future aggression by any
of its neighbors. Development of semi-autonomous and fully autonomous
weapon systems such as attack drones, unmanned tanks and artillery
systems, as well as ground based supersonic cruise missiles capable of
carrying out precision strikes with multi-purpose payloads, and capable
of avoiding interception by modern air and missile defense systems in
possession of its neighbors should become a priority. Additional
improvements in intelligence collection must be made continuously to
prevent another surprise attack in the future.

Moreover, Armenia should take upon itself the role of the defender of
ethnic and religious minorities in the greater Middle East, and a
welcome arbiter of ongoing conflicts tearing apart the region for the
past two decades. By taking an active stand against genocides and
massacres taking place in the Middle East Armenia can become a source
for stability in the turbulent region. For Armenia to secure its
continued existence in the twenty first century it must develop a
formidable military force to be reckoned with, a capable force in
possession of the latest military hardware that its military industrial
complex can provide. Its military must be the best trained in the region
and among most capable fighting forces in the world. No amount of public
and private investments should be spared for achieving what is necessary
to deter any of its enemies to the fullest and to be able to maintain a
peaceful coexistence in the region for many years to come.

Acquiring near-nuclear capabilities to deter any country in the region
from attacking Armenia at any time should be consistently
pursued. Development of advance weapon systems of the next generation
such as electro-magnetic railguns and laser cannons for shooting down
cruise missiles and supersonic gliders that its enemies may employ in
the future should be considered and aggressively pursued. Getting strong
enough to the point of being able to overcome its fears of devastating
foreign aggression, potentially attaining the status of a nuclear power
and declaring a state of geopolitical neutrality should be the end goal.

                                 Part 3


The Armenian economy is gradually stabilizing and getting
better. Present day Armenia is no different from other developing
post-communist countries and has its share of problems that are unique
to Armenia. Over all, Armenia's economy is getting significantly better
than what it was before. Where one sees problems, others find
opportunities. It is true that various problems and challenges are
present in various parts of Armenia's economy, at the same time those
challenges are possible to overcome, and those problems are possible to
solve. Greater political transparency and elimination of monopolies
stifling the economy need to be aggressively pursued.

Granted that one can argue that most of the economic development took
place in Yerevan and nearby towns, however, that doesn't mean that it
will continue to be the norm. Having a relatively young and talented
workforce, natural inclination for trade and superior work habits among
many of its inhabitants is a very strong starting point for pulling
Armenia's economy forward. Many pre-requisites are present for the
economic development to spread quickly to other towns and villages found
further away from Yerevan.

Reinvigorating the fight against theft, nepotism and corruption will
contribute to more economic development and overall improvement of the
economic situation for larger segments of Armenia's population. Break up
of monopolies and spin offs will allow greater economic gains thus
helping to spread prosperity to larger portions of the
populace. Financial services, mining, tourism, education, medicine and
IT industries are among the fastest developing in Armenia and should be
pursued with great zeal going forward.


Prosperity can spread to greater portions of Armenia's population once
the education system in Armenia refines itself to meet the needs of the
domestic market. Introduction of computer programming and robotics into
high school curriculum is a major step in developing the skills
necessary for finding jobs after high school. In fact, STEM (Science
Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum needs to be introduced in
elementary school to allow greater time for students to develop the
technical skills and knowhow necessary to be competitive in the domestic
market and global markets at large.

To advance the development of sciences and technologies in Armenia large
private and public investments are needed. College education must be
revamped to better meet the needs of the market. Greater interactions
between Armenian scientists and their colleagues from around the world
must be achieved by organizing international conferences and workshops
in Armenia. Furthermore, greater efforts need to be made to attract
non-Armenian scientists and scientific projects to Armenia, so that
Armenia can benefit from such research as alternative sources of energy,
quantum computing, artificial intelligence, stem cell research and
genetic therapy.


Armenian organizations in diaspora must play an active role in pursuit
of historical justice and restitutions for the Armenian Genocide by
taking Turkish gov't and German genocide collaborators (banks and
corporations) to court. Efforts to preserve Armenian identify abroad,
reaching out to Armenian communities in distress such as those in Syria
and Iraq, and facilitating greater economic trade between Armenia and
the United States, as well as between Armenia and the European Union
need to be pursued more consistently than before. Furthermore, Armenian
communities around the world need to play a greater role in helping
Armenian businesses to expand into the markets of Middle East and Asia

A greater effort must be made to reach out to "hidden" Armenians of
Turkey. An Armenian diaspora of two million or more has been waiting for
more than a century to reconnect with the Armenian world to help them
find their origins and purpose. That is a vast human potential that has
been neglected for too long and cannot be ignored any further. Diaspora
based satellite TV/Radio programs in Turkish and Kurdish languages, and
Hamshen Armenian dialect must be established and broadcast into Turkey
and greater Middle East region from Iran, Lebanon or Egypt. The TV/Radio
broadcasting must also be live streamed on the internet to make them
more accessible to all Armenians in search of their identity.

Globalization has shrunk the distances between nations while the
internet connected everyone around the world. For the Armenian diaspora
the time has come to collect its fragments left behind from the
devastating genocide and to reconstitute itself as one unified whole. A
diasporan representation in Armenia's Parliament and a greater
accountability of diasporan resources provided must be consistently
demanded and scrupulously reviewed. Armenia is the tree that holds our
nation together in a symbiotic relationship with our ancient past while
our diasporan communities around the world are its many branches. No
branch will survive without the tree. Let's keep it strong and ever
growing, not to shed tears in the end.

Grigor Hakobyan is an independent political analyst residing in
Phoenix, AZ and a former ANCA Fellow in Washington D.C. He is the
founder of a virtual think tank called Ararat Institute for Near
Eastern Studies. He was also a freelance writer for the Central
Asia-Caucasus Institute of John Hopkins University and has also
interned at the US House of Representatives for the Congressman Brad
Sherman researching ethnic conflicts and terrorism in Russia, Caucasus
and Central Asia regions and preparing summative reports for the
Congressman on subsequent topics.

Grigor also completed an internship at the International Center for
Terrorism Studies of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies where he
researched international terrorist networks operating in the Caucasus
and Central Asia regions and prepared congressional briefings for the
Director of ICTS on WMDs.

He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from Arizona State
University and a teaching credential from California State University
Dominguez Hills. Currently he works as a teacher in Arizona.

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