Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Miracle of Empire? Sargsyan's Pauline Conversion

In the grand scheme of things, Armenia is a relatively insignificant country.  No major transportation routes traverse it.  It has minimal natural resources.  Its economy is stagnant, and its major export is, in fact, migrant workers, a steady flow of whom has depleted the population by several hundred thousand since independence.  Strategically, it is entirely dependent on Russia, which supplies most of its arms at preferential rates, maintains several military bases, guards its 'external' borders, and owns much of its economic infrastructure. 

Reports of today's sensational about-turn by Armenia’s current president during a visit to Moscow should therefore not have come as a surprise; Armenia’s long-standing insistence on initialling the Association Agreement with the European Union during the Vilnius Summit in November this year – despite of its military-strategic dependence on Moscow –  had been far more puzzling.  And yet, that policy formed part of a longer tradition, a ‘silent accord’ whereby Yerevan was allowed to participate in European integration processes by Moscow, provided it co-operated with Russia on the military front, and did not pursue actual membership of any Euro-Atlantic structures.