Armenia must look beyond Russia: France, Greece, Iran, and realpolitik
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey continue to strengthen ties – even when differences occur. Thus despite the NATO angle of Turkey, regional disputes in Libya and Syria, and Turkey selling drones to Ukraine during its war with the Russian Federation – the mercurial duo of Erdogan and Putin still look to joint economic and geopolitical goals that will help both nations.
This is a clear warning to Armenia – and the Armenian Christians of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)– that a new political and military strategy is needed. Armenia still needs to foster positive relations with the Russian Federation because of the geopolitical clout of this nation. However, Armenia must reach out to France, Iran, and other nations at a higher level concerning geopolitics, the military, and realpolitik.
During the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, President Emmanuel Macron of France lambasted NATO Turkey for sending Islamists from Syria to kill Christian Armenians. Macron said, “We now have information which indicates that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have (transited) through Gaziantep (southeastern Turkey) to reach the Nagorno-Karabakh theatre of operations.”
Armenia should also utilize nations that mistrust Israel and Turkey. For example, Greece is suspicious of Turkey under Erdogan – and Iran is deeply worried by Israel’s close relationship with Azerbaijan and the military angle of Israel in arming this nation. Further away, India is non-aligned and with important military capabilities – and France is the most outspoken nation against Turkey in the European Union.
Also, France and Greece have a unique Military Defense Pact. This means that both NATO members are allies against an external or internal threat. Therefore, the Strategic Partnership on Defense and Security is shoring up Greece from the threat of the expansionist designs of Turkey under Erdogan.
Last year, the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said, “For the first time it is clearly stipulated that there be military assistance in the event of a third party attacking one of the two states.”
Associated Press reports, “Greece is pinning much of its defense strategy on close military cooperation with France and the United States as it remains locked in a volatile dispute with neighbor Turkey over sea and airspace boundaries.”
Modern Tokyo Times recently said, “Armenia is geopolitically weak concerning the role of Turkey in the power dynamics of Azerbaijan. Also, military arms from Israel to Azerbaijan mean that Armenia faces an uphill battle on the military front. Therefore, Armenia needs to strengthen ties with Iran – and reach out to America, France, and the Russian Federation – to boost the safety of this embattled nation.”
The Jamestown Foundation reports (Vali Kaleji), “Indeed, a significant number of Iranian elites and experts believe that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s emphasis on “uniting the geography of Turkic world” via the Zangezur Corridor and the expansion of Turkey’s presence in the South Caucasus will strengthen Pan-Turkism in the region, which could incite ethnic and separatist sentiments (Mediamax.am, November 12, 2021). In addition, considering the close relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, Tehran is worried that, if Baku does capture the southern part of Syunik Province, this will bolster Israel’s intelligence, espionage and security presence vis-à-vis Iran.”
India and Iran (both nations open to Armenia) are developing drone warfare and other emerging military technologies. Armenia needs to focus on this angle and spend its limited resources wisely.
Armenian Weekly reports, “Armenian authorities have expressed their dissatisfaction with Russia’s refusal to assign blame for the attacks and the failure of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military bloc, to provide Armenia with military support.”
The Russian Federation needs to take a more robust approach to the crisis and re-engage with the government of Armenia.
In America, voices are being heard more loudly concerning the need to support Armenia – and to desist from helping Azerbaijan. Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is worried about the approach of the Biden administration toward Azerbaijan. He said, “Under no circumstances should the United States be providing military support to such a regime – it not only runs counter to our nation’s core democratic values – but could empower the Aliyev regime to continue or escalate its provocative actions against Armenians. President Biden should not have waived Section 907.”
Overall, Armenia needs to reach out to regional nations – notably the Russian Federation and Iran – while seeking closer ties with nations that distrust Turkey (France and Greece). The Armenian diaspora also needs to involve itself at a higher level within the European Union and the corridors of power in Washington.
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