Colonel Hayk Kotanjian, CTF Fellow, SNSEE-NDU, PhD

Academic Consultants:

DR Jack Kangas, Dean of Academics, NDU-SNSEE, Colonel Anne Moisan, Senior Research Fellow, NDU-INSS, RD Chief of Staff, DR. Eugene Rumer, Senior Research Fellow, NDU-INSS















The author owes a debt of gratitude to a number of colleagues for their thoughtful criticisms and assistance. The author would like to thank his Academic Consultants: Dr. Jack Kangas, Dean of Academics, NDU-SNSEE; and Colonel Anne Moisan and Dr. Eugene Rumer, Senior Research Fellows, NDU-INSS, for their time and comments on his research. He would also like to thank Dr. Joe DeSutter, Director of NDU-SNSEE for his helpful remarks on blueprint versions of this paper. It is necessary to mention the importance of comprehensive briefings that the author has received from: Dr. Stephen Flanagan, National Defense University Vice-President for Research and Director, NDU- INSS; Dr. James Schear, Director of Research at NDU-INSS; Dr. Jeffrey Simon, Senior Research Fellow, NDU-INSS, and Thomas A. Carlson, Captain (USN), Director, INSS National Strategic Gaming Center. The author gives special thanks to Ms. Leann Keefe, Research Assistant, NDU-INSS, who patiently assisted with editorial remarks.

The author appreciates the insightful professional consultations and thorough final edit that improved the paper’s flow, kindly provided by Mr. Edward Alexander, a former U. S. Foreign Service Officer who in his diplomatic career specialized and worked abroad in Soviet and East European Affairs, following which he served as an advisor to the State Department, the Armenian Foreign Ministry, and to the Armenian Embassy in Washington.


The South Caucasus is becoming one of the most dynamic geo-strategic spots reflecting the long-term interests of U.S. foreign policy in the vast region of Central Eurasia. Through this paper the author seeks to share some reflections both with American and Armenian academics on the importance of the Armenian factor in establishing a comprehensive security architecture in the South Caucasus as well as promoting economic progress and democracy in this region. We are going to introduce some specifics of the Armenian factor concerned with the active involvement of the Armenian Diaspora in the political life of the United States as well as the importance of the Republic of Armenia in promoting regional security and democracy in the South Caucasus, which is bridging or colliding with the foreign policy interests of the US, EU and Russia, as well as with the regional actors in Central Eurasia. The notions on the restructuring of the security architecture in the South Caucasus should be of interest also for policy makers and decision-making circles.


Thirteen years have passed since the Republic of Armenia regained its independence. It is not a sufficiently long period of time to afford an opportunity for a comprehensive evaluation of results and for comparing opportunities, expectations and achievements. In such a brief presentation it is virtually impossible to do justice to all aspects of such intricate transitional processes taking place in the South Caucasus, and specifically in Armenia. Nevertheless, we will try to briefly review the dynamics of the situation, assess some features of Armenian reality and certain historical parallels with the neighboring nations of the Caucasian region. We will try to assess the dynamics of these fledging low-intensity democracies within the foreign policy frame of the main actors in the region. Considering the ideas on the restructuring of the security architecture in the South Caucasus to be a goal of this paper, we hope that some of our conclusive suggestions could attract the interests of the professionals working on the prospects of U.S. foreign policy in this region.

Once the Soviet Union disintegrated, Armenia found itself in a most precarious situation, as compared with other post-Soviet newly independent states. Problems common to all the newly independent states, caused by the collapse of the centralized economy, were exacerbated in Armenia by the consequences of the earthquake of 1988, the conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan as well as by an economic blockade and a large influx of refugees. Under these circumstances the country's leadership initiated a radical restructuring of the economy and a process of privatization.

The United States recognized the independence of all the former Soviet republics by the end of 1991, including the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The United States has fostered these states’ ties with the West, including membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PFP), in part to end the dependence of these states on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The United States pursued close ties with Armenia to encourage its democratization and because of concerns by Armenian-Americans and others over its fate. Prior to his recent resignation as Georgia’s President, Eduard Shevardnadze, also had close contacts with the United States. Growing U.S. private investment in Azerbaijan’s oil resources strengthened U.S. interests there. The United States has been active in diplomatic efforts to end conflicts in the region, many of which remain unresolved.

Faced with calls in Congress and elsewhere, the Administration developed a policy for assisting the Eurasian states of the former Soviet Union. President George Bush proposed the Freedom Support Act in early 1992, which was signed into law that year, while P.L. 102-511 authorized funds for the Eurasian states for humanitarian needs, democratization, creation of market economies, trade and investment, and other purposes. Sec. 907 of the Freedom Support Act largely prohibited U.S. government-to government aid to Azerbaijan until its ceases blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia. This provision for Azerbaijan was partly altered over the years to permit humanitarian and democratization aid, border security and customs support to promote non-proliferation of weaponry, etc. To balance this prohibition of aid for Azerbaijan in the field of defense cooperation, the American Government administratively banned defense cooperation with Armenia as well.

In December 2001, Congress approved foreign appropriations for FY2002 (P.L.107-115) that granted the President authority to waive Sec. 907, renewable each year under certain conditions. President Bush exercised the waiver on January 25, 2002 and January 17, 2003.

The current Bush Administration has appealed for a national security waiver of the prohibition on aid to Azerbaijan, in consideration of Azerbaijan’s assistance to the international coalition to combat terrorism.


The major and most oft-mentioned event in the modern (XIX-XX century) political history of the Armenians is the catastrophic geopolitical change in their area of historical habitat during World War I. During that time, Ottoman Turkey’s regime – in furtherance of the brutal ethnic cleansing of Asia Minor from the indigenous Armenians - decided that the deported Armenians would not be returned to their homes. In the 1920s, the survivors finally realized that the deportations had been only the prelude to the permanent exile of the Armenian people from their ancestral homeland. [2]

These were the historical specifics of the military-political conditions that established a new geopolitical configuration of the Armenian Diaspora, now dispersed worldwide.

Organizations of the Armenian Diaspora over the decades have been acting with the hope that the modern democratic Republic of Turkey will distance itself from the catastrophic experience suffered under the Ottomans and follow the meritorious example of condemnation of Nazi Germany by the Federal Republic of Germany for the Holocaust perpetrated against the Jews.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to underscore the objective reality that in the Armenian Diaspora today, the memory of the massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire has come to occupy a central place in the minds of 10 million Armenians living in more than 50 countries of the world.

Consequently, Armenians living in the Republic of Armenia currently comprise about one third of the entire Armenian population of the world.[3] Following the establishment of an independent nation-state, interaction between Armenia and the Diaspora, limited earlier both ideologically and politically by the Soviet regime, became one of the main geo-strategic factors facilitating political, economic, cultural, and informational cooperation between the newly-independent Armenian state and the world.

As an independent state subject to international law, the Republic of Armenia faced new challenges, which were not necessarily and immediately perceived by the Diaspora, since such an historical development was rather unexpected. Only thirteen years ago these two components of the Armenian nation were given unlimited opportunities to decide for themselves which areas and what forms of mutual relations would be most beneficial. Both parties have made concerted efforts to meet each other half-way. However, much more is yet to be done. Along with the desire to move and act in concert in political and social fields, many kinds of moral, psychological, historical and social issues and aspirations have surfaced and have even gained prominence.

The Armenian community in the U.S. is one of the most socially advanced elements of the Diaspora and consists of approximately one million Americans devoted the Armenian Apostolic, the Armenian Catholic and the Armenian Protestant Churches, as well as other NGOs. Generally speaking, lobbying at the community level by ethnic minorities worldwide serves the needs of the natural, albeit complex, process through which they assert themselves.

The Armenian lobbying experience has shown that the issue is beyond the narrow boundaries of a community, because the goal is much broader. In fact, it is nationwide. At the same time, any initiatives, however important and responsibly undertaken, should never endanger the interests of the U.S. as well as the newly independent republic of Armenia and the Armenians living there. The programs encourage greater Armenian-American participation in the American democratic process and the civic and economic development of Armenia.

Current developments in Armenia are at the center of the Armenian Diaspora's attention; hence separate Armenian non-governmental structures constantly work with the U.S. Congress and Administration. Among the many successes of Armenian NGOs' is leadership in advocating formation of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues (in 2004 totaling 128 Members of the U.S. Congress) . [4]

The Diaspora became a factor actively facilitating the promotion of a western culture of liberalism and democracy during the transition of Armenia from the limitations of the Soviet one-party system. In the first years of independence, the traditional Armenian political parties (Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Liberal Democratic Party, and Armenian Social Democratic Party) returned and re-organized in Armenia. They invigorated the national spirit and brought about liberalization and democratic values, which, at that time, became a foundation and cause for the free ""competition"" of political and civic associations. This has been a remarkable phenomenon that is accounted for by the newly-won independence and the consequent establishment of democratic principles and fundamental freedoms in the Republic of Armenia.

The Armenian Diaspora exists factually as a global ethnic network of about 10 million, politically active, prosperous, well-educated, and closely integrated into American and European economic, financial and political life. It has become an effective venue for the promotion of American-Armenian, Armenian-French, Armenian-Russian, Armenian-Arab, Armenian-Persian, etc relationships, and bilateral cooperation in favor of mutual national strategic interests within the entire geopolitical scope of this relatively small but dynamic and well-organized world-wide community (within and beyond the regional boundaries of the South Caucasus).


As a result of the elections conducted on May 20, 1991, which were the first democratic elections held on a competitive basis in the history of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party lost power. This served as a catalyst for initiating the establishment of a multi-party system in Armenia. The Armenian National Movement (AMN) came to power.

In the previous year, the August 23, 1990 Declaration of the Supreme Council had already marked the beginning of democratic reforms. The newly elected Parliament (formed before the declaration of Armenia's independence) set out immediately to form a legislative basis for societal democratization. The Laws On Ownership and On Foundations of Privatization in the Republic of Armenia (adopted respectively on October 31, 1990 and December 13, 1991) provided the legal basis for a transition from state monopoly to diverse forms of ownership of the means of production. The transition to pluralism and a multi-party system was effected by the February 26, 1991 Law On Non-governmental Political Organizations. Freedom of speech and of information was secured by the October 8, 1991 Law On the Press and other mass media. On June 17, 1991 the Law On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations was adopted in order to safeguard the freedom of belief. The democratic legal norms stipulated by these and other laws were also reflected in and advanced further by the July 5, 1995 Constitution. In 1996 the National Assembly adopted the Laws On Local Self-Government and On the Election of Local Government providing the legal groundwork for the elections of local governments that took place on November 10 of that year. On November 1, 1996 the Law On Non-governmental Organizations, which was a major contribution towards the building of a civil society, went into effect.

Reacting to the 9/11tragedy, the Republic of Armenia, as a US coalition partner in the war against terrorism:

- Implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1373, freezing bank accounts and assets of terrorists and their supporters.

- Tightened domestic banking legislation aimed at international terrorist organizations.

- Joined the Council of Europe's six anti-terrorism conventions.

At present, many of the democratic norms that underlie the Constitution and laws adopted within the past thirteen years need to evolve further. This is also attested by the Resolution on Armenia's Accession, passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Resolution calls upon Armenia to meet certain commitments, including the acceding to European Conventions and adherence to national legislation of European democratic standards [5]. Currently laws are being drafted which will be in harmony with those of European democracies. To expedite the process, specialists from the Council of Europe are providing expert opinion and advice. Work on constitutional amendments, underway already for several years, has come to an end and the package of constitutional amendments is ready to be discussed in the National Assembly.

All these, in turn, are among the main guarantees for the protection of human rights. Through the August 23, 1990 Declaration, Armenia in fact adopted a new value system, reinforcing its commitment to the principles of democracy and human rights. After Independence, the Republic of Armenia as sovereign entity acceded to and joined the major human rights conventions and agreements, as well as initiated the work on reforming domestic legislation in this sphere. Further, the second chapter of the Republic of Armenia Constitution reinforced basic human rights and freedoms.

Despite the mentioned improvement of electoral legislation, different types of violations were observed both by local and international observers during the 1995, 1996, 1998 and partially the 2003 presidential and parliamentary elections. Many human rights groups criticized the detentions as politically motivated, although the government alleged that the detainees had taken part in riots. OSCE and PACE observers termed the campaign vigorous and largely peaceful, but concluded that the election did not meet international standards for a free and fair race, because of “widespread” ballot box stuffing, a lack of transparency in vote-counting, and other “serious” irregularities. [6]

It is important to compare the status of human rights in Armenia with the neighboring countries of the South Caucasus. As a reliable source for comprehensive assessment of the situation on this issue, we consider The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties issued by such a prominent American NGO as the «Freedom House» monitoring freedom and advocating democracy in the world since the early 1970s. [7] By this independent group of experts

Armenia and Georgia in 2003 were assessed as Partly Free states, while Azerbaijan was assessed as a Not Free country. [8]


The citizens of Armenia exercise their power through the bodies of state governance and local self-government. The formation of those bodies - a clear-cut division of their powers, functions and responsibilities - provide a foundation for building a developing and prosperous country.

The system of state power is an integral part of the Armenian legislative sphere, of state governance bodies and public service, through which principal state functions are carried out and the problems facing the country are solved. The state governance system in independent Armenia includes executive bodies; the Government of the Republic of Armenia, comprised of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, exercises executive powers. In accordance with the Armenian Constitution, the President of the Republic of Armenia is the guarantor of the Republic's independence, territorial integrity and security.

In our view, the existing state of governance system in Armenia is, in more ways than one, out of line with present day requirements and urgently needs to be reformed. State governance inefficiencies result from the well-known ""diseases"" of weak powers. These are, in particular, a lack of official strategy where implementation is concerned, but also a lack of mechanisms for securing general access to information and its exchange between the branches of power.

Furthermore, duplication of functions and obscurity of instructions at various levels of power, the lack of clear-cut goals and priorities, and no sense of purposefulness significantly reduce state governance effectiveness. Very often the general public has no understanding as to the purpose and necessity of decisions made at various levels of state governance. This is the result of a lack of transparency in the authorities' activities and due to their failure to inform the public in advance of the actions they intend to take. At present a strategy for the formation of an efficient state governance system is virtually non-existent. Such a strategy should provide a foundation for structural and functional reforms and for the improvement of public service.

The processes involving the development of a market economy, establishment of new political and social infrastructures, and transformation of new social values in Central and East Europe, the former USSR, including Armenia, created an environment conducive to the development of corruption. In terms of its prevalence, corruption can and does exist on personal, institutional and system-wide levels.

Unfortunately, corruption in Armenia currently has spread to all spheres of life and all forms, i.e., it bears the danger of acquiring systemic prevalence. At the same time, it is interesting to study the results of a research-survey conducted in the framework of the Caucasian Bureau of the Institutional Reforms of the Informal Sector program, whereby investors determined that ""...the corruption level in Armenia is lower than that in other CIS countries and corruption is not systematized. The old system of corruption has been eliminated and a new one has not been created yet"".

However, the investors consider this situation to be less favorable, since the corruption is unpredictable. Other sources, for instance Transparency International [9] perceived corruption in Armenia as rather high, scoring it at 2.5 on a scale of 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt). To have an impression of the broader regional situation in the South Caucasus countries we can introduce the figures on the same assessments in Azerbaijan (2.0), and in Georgia (2.4).[10]

In short, while the level of corruption in Armenia is high, it is the lowest among the countries of the South Caucasus. In accordance with the research of Transparency International, the highest level of corruption is found in Azerbaijan.

The recent resignation of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze under public pressure has underlined the degree of anger of the Georgian people with the intolerable level of corruption throughout the government and society. The newly-elected Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, speaking in Europe in January 2004 at the invitation of “Transparency International,” described corruption in Georgia as the greatest challenge facing his country.[11]


Ethnic conflicts have kept the South Caucasus states from fully partaking in peace, stability, and economic development over a decade since the Soviet collapse, some observers lament. The countries are faced with on-going budgetary burdens of arms races and caring for refugees and displaced persons. Other costs of ethnic conflict include threats to bordering states of widening conflict and the limited ability of the region or outside states to fully exploit energy resources or trade/transport networks. U.S. and international efforts to foster peace and the continued independence of the South Caucasus states face daunting challenges. The region has been the most unstable part of the former Soviet Union in terms of the numbers, intensity, and length of its ethnic and civil conflicts. The ruling nationalities in the three states are culturally rather insular and harbor various grievances against each other. This is particularly the case between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where discord has led to the virtually complete displacement of ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan and vice-versa.

Looking at the big picture of the regional dynamics of democracy, we can state that the nation-states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, currently oriented to the security provisions of conflict threats, are lagging in democracy promotion and not only with the redistribution of their budgets in favor of army and police force enhancement. By prioritizing the internal policies on mobilization of national resources predominantly for security needs, these states are limiting the relevant level of societal diversity of their national life as a whole, specifically in the promotion of a legally institutionalized democracy and liberal economy, both in national and international areas.

These kinds of limitations are, in principle, harming the whole process of legal, political, and economic reforms, reducing their national and transnational scope, intensity, and as a result, reducing their social effectiveness. The lack of transparency in political, administrative and economic life in South Caucasus, accompanied by corruption is covered under the limitations justified with the prioritized interests of national security. This kind of “securitization” of national policy, justified by the existence of regional conflicts, is contributing to bureaucratic obstacles in the attempts to establish a more genuine democracy by the fledging elements of the weak civil societies in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, specifically by their civilian NGOs and independent mass media.

In conclusion, we can say that the real situation as concerns democracy, absence of clear vision and the strategy for democracy promotion, “securitization” of the economies and the social life in whole, as well as the existing deviations from the norms and standards of democratic governance in the each of the South Caucasus countries, allows us to assess them as the “Low –Intensity Democracies”.[12] By this is meant that the intensive promotion of democracy and economic progress in these countries need to be more specifically elaborated with their engagement in the system of integrative processes and programs encouraged by the democratically more intensive international environment.


First, let us survey the framework and the dynamics of Armenia’s security cooperation with the main partners related to the Euro-Atlantics and CIS countries. In such a context the Republic of Armenia does have the long-shown interest in cooperating with NATO. The Armenian Armed Forces participate in NATO Partnership for Peace (PFP) program soon after the initiative was launched in 1994. NATO and the three countries of the South Caucasus are cooperating on a range of issues, including high-tech scientific collaboration, English language training, defense education at the NATO institutions, and civil emergency planning. Armenia has benefited greatly from civil emergency planning activities and from NATO's Science Program. One project that NATO is helping to finance, which is of particular importance to Armenia, aims to link up the information systems of its institutes for seismological analysis with those of institutes in Greece, Italy and the UK.

Armenian Armed Forces are intensifying their participation in PFP-based exercises. Armenian Special Forces troops, in exercise Cooperative Best Effort 2002 in Tbilisi, Georgia (17-28 June 2002), cooperated with their colleagues from the following NATO countries: Canada, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Partner Nations involved in CBE 2002 with Armenia were: Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine.

June 2003 was the first time that Armenia was hosting a NATO/PFP exercise, which brought together approximately 400 troops from 19 different NATO and partner countries. Participants came from Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uzbekistan. It is important to mention that with the facilitation of Armenia, it was the first time that Russia was participating in this type of military exercise, with staff officers and an infantry squad integrated into the exercise's multinational force structure.[13]

It is important also to mention that this NATO/PFP exercise provided by Yerevan created a good opportunity for both Armenian and Turkish troops to cooperate the first time on the soil of the independent Armenian state. The aim of this exercise in Armenia was to improve land force effectiveness in the field by making NATO and partner contributors work together to develop better understanding and inter-operability and this goal was reached comprehensively.

Under the guidance of NATO (specifically, Greece and the US), Armenia in 2004 took the initial step of participation in international peacekeeping operations. The platoon of 34 Armenian servicemen serving on a contractual basis is part of a special Armenian peacekeeping battalion that has been trained, equipped and financed by Greece. Recently it is placed under the command of a Greek army battalion deployed in Kosovo. Armenian servicemen have had intensive English language courses sponsored by the UK and US and are provided with advanced communication means, including also satellites. Under the agreement the Greek side will also take care of their insurance problems.[14]

The membership of the Armenian Ministry of Defense in the NATO Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes recently applied by the MOD should be considered as a step oriented on long term intellectual cooperation with the NATO partners (membership was approved in January 2004).[15]

Armenian MOD assigned an officer to the Alliance’s Partnership Coordination Cell in Mons in 1998. The Armenian Ambassador in the Benelux countries simultaneously is the Ambassador to NATO Headquarters. In accordance with recent decisions, Armenia is going to establish a diplomatic mission to NATO in 2004.

Armenia is also operating as an active member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) comprised of all the European countries plus the United States and Canada, 55 in all.[16] Intended to be integrated in a larger Europe, Armenia is acting as a member of the European Council. This membership is an additional factor functioning in favor of adjustment of the Armenian legal-political system with the standards of the European Union. Armenia’s official policy is proclaimed as: ""progressive integration into EU models and standards.” Currently Armenia, as well as Azerbaijan and Georgia are cooperating with the EU on becoming, in mid-term, future aspirants for membership.[17]

American-Armenian security cooperation is going on under the political umbrella of bilateral intergovernmental “Security Dialog” since 1998. In July 2000, the leaders of the US and Armenia Defense Departments signed the Agreement concerning cooperation in the area of counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Armenian and American Armed Forces since 2002 have been partners not only in the framework of NATO/PFP but also in bilateral mil-mil cooperation dimension. The mechanism of bilateral defense consultations led by the US Assistant Defense Secretary and the Armenian Deputy Minister of Defense Is established since that period of time. The programs of FMF as well as IMET cooperation are launched as planned and controlled in one process.

Last year with the assistance of the Pentagon as well as the Armenian Diaspora of the US, there was established the Armenian Humanitarian Demining Center. The new chapter of American-Armenian defense cooperation is concerned with the participation of Armenia in coalition forces operating in Iraq. The Armenian MOD is going to send to Iraq a platoon consisting of a column of 30 trucks with specially trained drivers, as well as sappers, and doctors trained for medical humanitarian assistance.

Simultaneously Armenia is bearing her responsibilities as a member of NIS Collective Security Organization’s (SCO) member, operating as a strategic partner of the Russian Federation.

Summarizing these symptomatic facts of multi-polar orientation of Armenia some experts are asking about the peculiarities of such a specific geo-strategic configuration and a specific balance of her security-defense orientation. For example, some analysts from Moscow [18] were frustrated with the balanced promotion of not only Armenian-Russian but also Armenian-American, as well as Armenian-NATO (PFP) cooperation. Similar preoccupations, though more rarely, are voiced also by American experts. This kind of anxiety, from our point of view, is a remnant of Cold War psychology.

In our replies to such criticism we explained earlier to our colleagues that Russia is promoting her cooperation with NATO more intensively and widely than Armenia, becoming the member of the NATO-Russia Standing Council at the ROME NATO-Russia Summit, and by opening the NATO Office in Moscow. It doesn’t harm the security responsibilities of Russia concerning her partners from the SCO, and specifically with Armenia.

In our view, the Strategic Dialogue between the leaders of the US and Russia is the best venue for getting together the strategic security interests not only of the US and Russia but also of their partners and friends, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. [19]

In this supranational context of the security partnership, Armenia is prioritizing the way to synergize Armenian-American, Armenian-Russian, as well as Armenian-NATO security, defense cooperation. [20] The special importance of this strategic balance’s priority is explained by the existence and active influence of the Armenian Diaspora on the political life of Armenia as well as of the countries in which they reside (Russia, US, France etc).


It is appropriate here to observe the situation dynamics and possible prospects in South Caucasus by the professional outlook of the former U.S. Ambassadors in each of the countries of this region. In their memo published via Center of Strategic and International Studies, Harry Gilmore, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Kauzlarich, former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Kenneth Yalowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia comprehended the main problems and proposals on their solution. They considered these issues in the light of U.S. foreign policy interests.

The authors are questioning why these three small countries, weakened by ethnic conflicts, corruption, and the inability to cooperate on a regional basis to promote economic growth, should be so important to the US? More than one million Armenian-Americans care deeply about Armenia and the South Caucasus and lobby Congress and the executive office to ensure that we provide strong material and political support to Armenia. But there is much more to it than that.

These countries can play more valuable roles in the war against terrorism. All three have strongly condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks and offered their support and assistance. Azerbaijan as a secular Moslem country can play a particularly important part in the public diplomacy struggle we must wage to win minds in the Moslem world. Armenia with her worldwide Diaspora can participate in facilitation of the mutual American-Armenian national interests’ promotion in the appropriate regional programs (including or excluding the South Caucasus).

The facilities and infrastructure of all three countries also could be of considerable use as events unfold in this conflict. Opening the borders between Armenia and Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijan—currently closed due to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute regarding Nagorno-Karabakh (predominantly Armenian populated region which legally seceded from former Soviet Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union) —would facilitate over-flights and the use of facilities in the region.

Energy issues also are vital. Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas resources and is the envisaged starting point for two major pipelines, one for oil and one for gas that would traverse Georgia and then proceed to Turkey. These pipelines, which now seem commercially viable, not only would add important increments to the world fuel supply; they would bring badly needed revenues to Azerbaijan and Georgia and thereby strengthen their national independence.

The pivotal location of the South Caucasus also means that weakness and instability in these countries would likely exacerbate the tendencies of outside powers to create spheres of influence or intervene directly. The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and the internal conflicts in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been the greatest challenges to the survival of these states since their independence.

The American Ambassadors suggested that the United States in its foreign policy must continue to make unmistakably clear to the international community and all regional actors that internal weakness and instability in the South Caucasus will not only invite foreign interference; it will destroy geo-strategically an important trans-regional infrastructural bridge to Central Asia, create a haven for drug trading and international criminal elements for the illicit movement of weapons of mass destruction or their components, and for an influx of extremist elements seeking to create an Islamic state in the northern Caucasus regions of Russia and the South Caucasus countries. That is why the optimal way to support stability and democratic advancement in South Caucasus is through assistance in maintaining the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts in parallel with regional integration.

As the authors say, significant progress has been made in nation building in all three countries in the last years since independence (we came to the same assessments in the previous chapters of this paper). But their governmental institutions are fragile and still evolving, and pervasive corruption remains a great threat to the growth of democracy and a market economy. Institutional fragility and corruption have in fact severely weakened public trust in the political leadership in all three states.

These problems are significant, difficult, and the responsibility primarily of the three countries concerned. The United States, however, has a strong interest in helping the South Caucasus states become stable, prosperous, and democratic. The authoritative diplomats and experts on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia invited to CSIS recommend four steps toward that end. Although it was suggested in 2002, these notions remain strategically essential. Later we will try to extend our own proposals on advancement of peace, stability, democracy, and prosperity both in national and regional scope of the neighboring nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

But before introducing our suggestions it will be useful to understand the ideas that conclude the Ambassadors’ Memo. We are confident that these measures could be considered as the constructive skeleton of the American Foreign Policy Strategy in South Caucasus. That is why we are citing below the original fragment of the Ambassadors’ Memo relating to the comprehensive pursuit of the US interests in this region: [21]

“…First, we must use the opportunity of our new dialog with Russia to nail down a common interest and approach to promote independence, stability, and peace in the South Caucasus. Russian encouragement of the Central Asian countries to cooperate with us in Afghanistan is a very positive step, but we need to ensure that we are also on the same wavelength in the South Caucasus. In practical terms this means a genuine Russian willingness to help resolve the festering problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia within a unified Georgia, to respect Georgia's borders, and to bring Azerbaijan and Armenia to a just solution on Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Second, regional cooperation among the three countries has been blocked largely by Azerbaijan's unwillingness to pursue economic cooperation with Armenia as long as Nagorno-Karabakh is not resolved. In the context of renewed peace efforts for this area, we and other donor nations should push for regional cooperation on matters such as water management, common customs and standards regimes to promote trade flows, and, where possible, rehabilitation of regional transport infrastructure. We also should step up our efforts to encourage Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to open their borders to spur the region's integration with the global economy, give further vitality to the ""New Silk Road"" linking Central Asia to the West, and enhance the region's political stability and security.

“Third, efforts should begin now to ensure that revenues from the new pipelines are used in Georgia and Azerbaijan for the public good and not the corrupt few. There is ample experience from other newly-rich oil countries on how to approach this problem. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and non-governmental organizations also can contribute to this task. And it is imperative that Armenia be made a full player in the energy equation to ensure its cooperation in the new emerging regional energy balance.

“Finally, U.S. assistance programs in all three countries should be increased and made smarter and more focused on attacking the cancer of corruption that inhibits these states' internal development and closer relations with the United States. Congressional action to permit a presidential waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act will enhance our ability to work with all three countries on the same basis through our assistance programs to help move them toward democratic political reform and a market economy.

“More broadly, we must focus on what aid actually works and how it can be delivered even more effectively to fight corruption. There should be more emphasis on the regions and grass roots, more projects in which local communities have a stake through provision of labor and materials, more exchanges to help shape the mindset of the next generation of business and political leaders, and a readiness to reshape or stop programs if corrupt authorities hamper progress.

“Since September 11, our focus correctly has been on bin Laden and the Taliban. We must not, however, lose sight of potential threats of new breeding grounds for instability, criminality, and terrorism and the need to take the necessary diplomatic, political, and assistance measures to help prevent that outcome. Those are the stakes we face today in the South Caucasus”.


As it was mentioned earlier, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Caucasus became the site for some of the most serious inter- and intra-state conflicts such as Abkhazian, Karabakhian, and South-Ossetian. The political elites of the newly independent Caucasian states understand that their security concerns can not be considered separately from each other, and that they contend with a pattern of ethnic conflicts unique to their region.

Political movements in the region have developed a radical political-propagandist rhetoric, but at the same time the various views on Caucasian unity are generally based on a kinship relation, a cultural affinity or an alliance with nations or political forces which are external to the South Caucasus region: US, Russia, Turkey, Iran, European Council, European Union, OSCE, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), NATO.

The above-mentioned non-regional actors have taken an interest in the Caucasus to meet their own security needs on getting together the Caucasus and Central Asia in whole. Their priorities are defined by defense concerns, and political and economic goals. Such issues place the Caucasus in a larger regional framework. Defining the region in exclusively economic terms, such as the view of the Caucasus as part of a Silk Road linking European and Asian markets, stresses the common interests of all countries but fails to address the complexity of regional integration, in which economic interests are not always predominant. One of the well-known supra-regional architectural formats is the geopolitical frame of Central Eurasia joining the Caspian states and the Central Asian region, an idea developed and accepted by think-tanks and administrative institutions of the US.

All the regional actors in the South Caucasus have tried to revise the existing architecture of power distribution by forming alliances with regional and non-regional powers. Russia has been making use of its military presence in the region to establish a leading role in the Southern Caucasus, weakened by its lack of economic resources and by political instability in the Northern Caucasus. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia participate to different degrees in the Organization for Collective Security of the Commonwealth of Independent States security architecture (CIS OCS). In their moves to counterbalance the Russian presence in the region, Western states are taking advantage of their economic resources and military know-how.

But it will be impossible, even with a significantly increased presence of Western powers in the region, to rapidly change the pattern of secessionist and ethnic conflicts in the region. The existing regional Security Architecture in the South Caucasus is creating a deadlock for all parties involved. Non-regional powers striving for influential role in the region are unable to deliver sufficient assistance to secure economic development in the existing security framework. The lack of integration to a large extent is hurting their long-term economic and military strategic interests in Central Eurasia bridged by the Caucasus.

The lack of progress in implementing of the inter-governmental agreements on the establishment of transport routes and the refusal to lift existing economic blockades in the Caucasus are gravely affecting the interests of the states in the region and of non-regional actors. These policies may be considered as a direct consequence of limited economic policies due to perceived national security demands. Such a “securitization” of the national economic and political architecture of the South Caucasus has the following characteristics: first, it tends to lead to a subordination of the interests of non-state economic and political actors to local state interests; second, a “securitization” of economic and political processes makes all types of negotiations difficult and mainly unproductive. It is not easy to accept a compromise solution when the basic interests or even the survival of the ethnic community or the state is perceived to be at stake.

Negotiations on the comprehensive and long term resolution of secessionist conflicts in the region have to address the question of how to guarantee the reliable security of ethnic groups in Caucasus. The process of reformulation of the security concept both for ethnic minorities and nation-states, and integration of their economic life in the Caucasus could be implemented by developing tri-structural architecture of regional policy:

- reformulation of the security concept both for ethnic groups and former Soviet colonialist “titular nations“ and of the status of their legal-political coexistence as equal participants in a con-federation, or in a new model of the ""Common State"" proposed by the Minsk Group of OSCE [22] ;

- re-defining Caucasian nation-states‘ current security policies through intensive engagement in mutual activities within the common regional programs of OSCE and EAPC, including leading actors in the South Caucasus, the US, and Russia;

- liberalization of the national economies of Caucasian nation-states from the limitations imposed by perceived difference in national security concerns by intensifying regional economic integration within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), sponsored by EU, World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization (WTO) and secured by a ...(see the next bullet);

- common Architecture of Regional Security for the Caucasus established and functioning under the umbrella of OSCE, and EAPC.*


Development of a multilateral regional cooperation–as a basis of economic progress, political and economic stabilization and strengthening of neighborly relations–should be the general objective of all regional initiatives in the Caucasus. Sponsor organizations such EU, WB, IMF, and WTO as well as sponsor states, especially the United States [24] could facilitate the process of liberalization of national economies of the Caucasian countries based on prioritized funding of mutually developed programs for regional cooperation of BSEC.

Concrete economic cooperation activities are diverse, and include all issues that might be of interest to all countries in the region. With the active financial support of multinational working groups within the Black Sea Economic Cooperation all of the nation-states and newly confederated ethnic entities could engage in discussions of common economic interests such as: telecommunications, energy, transport, infrastructure, agriculture, civil defense, migration, small enterprises, statistics, training and education, science and technology, tourism, finance, environmental protection, eradication of corruption, illegal trafficking and organized crime, etc.


In concluding of our research, we see that the U.S. foreign policy in the region, being very supportive, [25] would be more effective if it would be oriented on prioritization of regional economic integration of the South Caucasus nations within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). This approach of the US policy oriented on intensification of regional economic integration in the South Caucasus could be achieved only at the base of the founding of the new Architecture of Common Security and Democracy Promotion in the South Caucasus as the one holistic integrative System of Foreign Regional Policy through the multi-partite process interconnected and interacted among its following elements:

- Guaranteeing political–legal reformulation of the equal right relationship of the non-recognized yet seceded already ethnic entities and so called former Soviet „titular“ nations within the framework of the con-federal or “common state“ models oriented toward the promotion of stable economic progress and real democracy.

- Restructuring the existing security architecture in the South Caucasus within the integrative framework of OSCE and EAPC by the stimulating of mutual elaboration as well as implementation by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia of the common programs on regional and Euro-Atlantic security.

- Liberalizing of national economies of Caucasian states by financial targeted motivation of their active engagement in specifically mutual regional programs of Organization of Black See Economic Cooperation, sponsored by EU, WB, IMF, and WTO.

- Only the system of regionally integrated programs of democracy, economy and security development functioning interactively both at the national and regional level could advance the regional situation from the current deadlock. American Foreign Policy should accentuate the prioritization of such international projects specifically oriented on the regional and Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration in South Caucasus.

- The US foreign policy of financial encouragement of regionally oriented cooperation among Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia could launch and maintain the process of “desecuratization” of economic, legal, and political reforms, thereby advancing democracy simultaneously in these nation-states as well as in entire region of the South Caucasus.

- The intensification of engagement of the well organized and world-wide Armenian Diaspora in American Foreign Policy could enhance its effectiveness, specifically in the South Caucasus.


1. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or positions of the governmental institutions of the Republic of Armenia.

2. See “From the Silence of a Diaspora” ( There are ongoing negotiations among selected representatives of the NGOs from the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Turkey, and the Armenian Diaspora.

3. See: «The Armenians in the World» (in Russian), “Армяне в мире” (, «Golos Armenii» (in Russian), Armenian Daily, 22 0f August, 1996, # 92; ""Голос Армении"", 22 августа 1996 г. N 92.

4. See: (

5. The Republic of Armenia became a member of the Council of Europe (COE) on January 25, 2001. As a political entity, the COE promotes political stability, economic and social progress, democracy and human rights protection in Europe. The unified standards and approaches have been designed to address the above issues and to ensure progress in that field.

6. See also CRS Report RS20812, Armenia Update.

7. Founded more than sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House today is a leading advocate of the world's young democracies, which are coping with the legacies of dictatorship and political repression.

8. See Freedom in the World 2004, Table of Independent Countries Comparative Measures of Freedom (

9. “Transparency International” is the international non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption by bringing civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition (see:

10. See Global Corruption (

11. See “Yahoo Nyheder, Danmark” news, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2004 (

12. See: “American Democracy Promotion”. US Democracy Promotion: Critical Questions. By Steve Smith, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 72-74.

13. See: NATO Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes. Armenia. ( .

14. In addition, its cooperation partners are Japan, Korea and Thailand as well as the Mediterranean countries Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

15. See: The EU’s relations with Armenia (

16. In addition, its cooperation partners are Japan, Korea and Thailand as well as the Mediterranean countries Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

17. See: The EU’s relations with Armenia (

18. In this case it is about the Russian daily newspaper “Nezavisimaya gazeta”, which is well-known for its politically biased articles.

19. See the Author’s: In Agenda: Multi-Polar and Complementary Defense Policy. “Golos Armenii”, 11. 16. 2002.

20. The excerpt from the “Strategic Assessment of Central Eurasia”, research report published by CACI and the Atlantic Council of the US done at the request of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 2001:

“Armenia has the strongest army in the South Caucasus, and unit-for unit, in the CIS, benefiting from a solid national will, combat experience and good equipment. Its troop strength numbered 44, 000 by mid 2000”. p. 59; “Karabakh’s army of 20-25,000 men is known to be even tougher than Armenia’s. Iron discipline and fervent patriotism characterize Karabakh’s Armenian people. They also have century-old military tradition: Karabakh gave the Soviet Union three marshals (equal to five-star generals), one five-star admiral and 30 generals.” p.60-61. (

21. PAY ATTENTION TO THE SOUTH CAUCASUS, by Ambassador Harry Gilmore, Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich, Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, CSIS, January 2002 (

22. On 6 of December 1994 the OSCE Budapest Summit decided to establish a co-chairmanship (France, Russia, and the US) for the process, thereby providing an appropriate frame-work for Karabakh conflict resolution in the way of assuring the negotiation process supported by the Minsk Group;

* See ENDNOTES # II: Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, January 14, 2004 (

23. The proposal is to orient the US Foreign Policy on prioritization of regional economic integration of South Caucasus Nations within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). BSCE was founded in Turkey by having signed on 25 June 1992 in Istanbul the “Summit Declaration on Black Sea Economic Cooperation”, The Founding Members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation-the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Bulgaria, Georgia, the Hellenic Republic, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Turkey, and Ukraine (See:

24. For example, during the last 12 years of Armenia’s independence the United States has made a concerted effort to help Armenia and the other NIS countries during their difficult transition from totalitarianism and a command economy to democracy and open markets. The cornerstone of this continuing partnership has been the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets (FREEDOM) Support Act, enacted in October 1992. Under this and other programs, the U.S. to date has provided nearly $1.5 billion in humanitarian and technical assistance for Armenia. U.S. assistance programs in Armenia are described in depth on Embassy Yerevan’s website at:

25. See: Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, March 2004 (


Colonel Hayk Kotanjian is a Counterterrorism Fellow at the National Defense University-School of National Security Executive Education (NDU-SNSEE). In parallel with his fellowship he has a research program at the NDU-Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) on establishment of the Institute for national Strategic Studies in Armenia.


he received his M.S. (Summa Cum Laude) in Engineering Psychology and Cybernetics (joint program of Department of Cybernetics, Yerevan Polytechnic Institute and Department of Psychology, Leningrad State University, USSR) in 1971; Ph.D. in Social Psychology of Leadership and Management from Academy of Social Sciences & Moscow State University, Moscow, in 1981; and Post-Doctoral Degree in Political Science and Strategic

Security Studies from the Academy of Public Administration & Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Moscow, in 1992


Counterterrorism Fellow Program, NDU (2003-2004); NATO Staff Officers Course, NDU (2003); Specialized English Course, DLI, (2003); RAND Graduate School Course, (2001), Washington, DC; Flag Officers Executive Course (1998), College of International and Security Studies, Germany; Higher Naval College of Radio-electronics (two years course), (1965-1966), Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), USSR.


COL, Dr. Hayk Kotanjian has published 7 monographs on Strategic Studies, Political Science, and Psychology of Leadership and Management. He is the author of the Draft Concept of the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Armenia (2002), as well as of the “Principles of Defense Policy of the Republic of Armenia” (1992).

Hayk Kotanjian

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