Bagrat Asatryan: "Yerevan should develop relations with its neighbors"
The biggest question that worries Russian political and expert community when they discuss events of this week in Armenia, which began after resignation of the Karabakh clan leader Serzh Sargsyan from the post of prime minister of the republic, is the question of future relations between new Yerevan and Moscow, especially since the entire opposition, including Prosperous Armenia, the largest party, continues to unite. Economist, former head of the Central Bank of Armenia Bagrat Asatryan discussed threats to Russian-Armenian contacts that may appear during transition of power from the hands Sargsyan to popular protest leaders in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- Will Sargsyan's resignation and expected rise of united opposition to power create any threats for the alliance between Armenia and Russia?
- No, there are absolutely no threats. Over the past years there was a belief that Sargsyan is in power thanks to Putin, and Russia was blamed for all misfortunes that we have had in recent years. But opposition looks at all issues more intelligently, more realistically, including the issue of Armenian-Russian relations. Russia is not only our economic partner, it's also a strategic partner that plays a serious role in Armenia's security system. Although our society doesn't like that Russia supplies weapons to Azerbaijan.
- How Armenian political forces view relations with Russia?
- There are no alternatives to military-strategic cooperation with Russia. But our economic relations raise several questions. Armenia develops relations with the EU countries. Without common border with Russia, we must differentiate our economy, which is why at the end of last year Armenia signed an agreement with the European Union. We should also develop relations with neighbors, even though we have problems right now. It will help our country to develop. Situation that prevailed during the reign of the outgoing authorities was awful. Now Armenia is the poorest country in the region. Armenians never have been so poor throughout the history of our nation. That's what these people brought their country to!
- Are there any anti-Russian sentiments in the protest movement?
- Protest movement focuses on internal problems. It was never associated with other countries and with other issues. This movement focuses solely on overcoming problems that exist in our society: corruption, political corruption, lawlessness, monopolization, dependence of business on authorities. There are many problems in Armenia, and people want to resolve these problems. I hope that those who ccme to power through illegitimate ways will become wiser and side with people, will support choice that people will make.
- How Armenian society views Russia's current position on democratic processes that happen right now?
- I saw some things in Russian press, RBK, for example, representative of former authorities gave interview, said stupid things. Russia sees echoes of color revolutions in the events that happen in Armenia. But it's completely different. Statements by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov were positive. Zakharova's voice is more emotional in a positive sense, Peskov's is more formal and diplomatic. I hope that the voice of Armenian people protesting against oligarchs, close to the authorities, will be heard in Russia. People have already made their choice, and now the parliament should literally formalize what the entire society demands. There were so many people at rally in Gyumri. This has never happened in Gyumri, and this must be taken into account when we think about development, think about the future.
- What does new, post-Sargsyan Armenia expect from Russia?
- This question should be addressed to young people. I hope that on Tuesday we will have a new prime minister. Personally, I expect more balanced, more solid, mutually beneficial relations in Russia. I have always been pro-Western, and I believe that many of our problems have Soviet roots. I'm talking about corruption, about the role and place of power in society.