by Sergey Sargsyan

Armenia, as well as Georgia and Azerbaijan are on the stage of correction of the security system of the entire South Caucasian region.

The system that more or less existed after the collapse of the “Soviet” security system fails to satisfy the countries of the region, and first of all – Georgia and Azerbaijan, as far as solution of the problems existing in these countries already has not corresponded to the strategic plans of their development. It mainly refers to the settlement of the Abkhazian, South-Ossetian and Karabakh conflicts, and secondly, to solution of the economic problems.

That is why the authorities of those states, particularly Georgia, are trying to solve them within the other new – so to say – “pro-NATO” security system.

The probability of approaching to a solution “required” for Tbilisi’s and Baku’s (at least) territorial problems, in the process of passage to the new security system is not so much high, as long as in the conditions of the Russian support to the non-recognized states in the South Caucasus, it will most probably lead to further increase confrontation in their relations with Sukhumi, Tskhinvali and Stepanakert. However, within the “old” security system the prospects of solution of the mentioned problems under the current trends have been absolutely improbable.

Within the frameworks of the new security system, Tbilisi and Baku have already increased and will increase pressure on the non-recognized states, including by means of a wide modernization of their armed forces with their correspondence to the NATO standards.

In the situation of inequality of the Armenian and Azerbaijani economies one of the options to keep the balance of arms in the zone of the Karabakh conflict is preservation of Armenia’s place in the system of the Organization of Collective Security Treaty (OCST).

In the military and political aspect of the allied relations of Armenia with the other members of the OCST very important is the possibility of obtaining first of all Russian arms with optimal proportion “quality/price,” which will allow Armenia to ensure the military component of its security at least for the nearest future.

As for the economic component of security, a possible passage of Armenia into the “new” system can lead to controversial consequences. On the one hand, Armenia, being under the semi-blockade, is very sensitive to the economic relations with Russia and Iran. On the other hand, the economic projects, realized in the “new” security system, such as Baku-Ceyhan-Tbilisi oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum gas pipeline, the projects of construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railroad, partly – TRASECA, etc, – they do not propose Armenia any radical changes in its involvement in the regional and world economy.

As for the security of Armenia in the political field, the new security system can be more effective, as far as within its frameworks there may be a substantial pressure on the countries, posing a threat for security of Armenia, – namely Turkey and Azerbaijan. The direct financial aid of the US (the only one such state in the world to the Nagorno Karabakh) is one of indicators of that.

At the recent Conference of our Center “SPECTRUM:” “Between the Caspian and Black Seas: New Challenges and Opportunities for the South Caucasus” – representatives of the NATO

D. Affentouli and R. Razhukas mentioned several times that the Alliance does not exert pressure on the South Caucasian states to change their foreign political priorities and guidelines, proposing its vision of solution of the problems and presenting a choice between two systems of the regional security.

The following example can be used for illustration. One of the consequences of the NATO’s intensified activity in the Caspian region was launching of the new regional security initiatives by Russia: in particular, the program of creation of the Caspian Navy Operative Interaction Group – KASFOR, similar to BlackSeaFor, a group of ships from the Black Sea countries, created in 2001. The objectives and tasks of that program are quite similar to tasks and objectives of the program of the NATO member states “The Caspian Guard.” Now the Caspian states have a real opportunity for the choice of a more suitable security program, and maybe, an inter-supplementary participation in both of them.

In conclusion I would like to point out that in the attitude of the Armenian citizens toward NATO as a regional security system there is a stable increasing positive trend, and it will develop depending on the concrete contents of the currently realized and perspective economic, social, political and military programs of NATO in the South Caucasus.

October 28, 2005