Over the last days our diplomats have been working to make so that the European Union issued a favorable statement on Ramil Safarov’s case. The statement was made yesterday but it was like a cold shower for many.
Although the European Union expressed concern by the decision of the Azerbaijani President but, actually, did not condemn it. Moreover, the EU has in fact “covered” Hungary’s decision to transfer Safarov to Azerbaijan. It was also quite cynical that the EU had included traditional words about “reconciliation” into the statement about granting pardon to a killer.
The work of our Foreign Ministry is another topic. It’s obvious that if the ministry had worked better the EU wouldn’t make such a statement: If they hadn’t prevented Safarov’s extradition to Azerbaijan, at least they could get ready for it having informed the world about the possible deal beforehand. I think, at the press conference with his Argentinean counterpart, Foreign Minister Nalbandyan must come up with an assessment about the activity of the Ministry.
After yesterday’s statement by the European Union, a lot of opinions were voiced like: “Europe has finally discredited itself”, “No rapprochement with such Europe”, etc. Let the advocates of such approaches pardon me, but they are either hopeless romantics or they simply understand nothing in international relations and politics.
Politics is based only on interests. It’s a waste of time trying to fight it or making soulful statements.
This way or another, the EU should have naturally defended its member state - Hungary. When on August 31 the President of Armenia spoke about the suspension of relations with Hungary, many people did not understand what had happened indeed. This is what happened: for the first time in its history, Armenia has made a demarche against EU and NATO member state. Let’s put aside the motives and the propriety of the demarche and let’s consider only the fact. In this case it’s not that significant that Hungary is a “new” or “second-grade” member of the EU and NATO and its Prime Minister Victor Orban has been long annoying the EU leadership. It is significant that such super-powerful “clubs” do not betray their members so easily. The brightest example is Greece. Whole Europe understands that it’s almost impossible to save the Greek economy from collapse but they keep on taking efforts.
Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Can you remember any cases when Yerevan criticized Belarus or Tajikistan? There haven’t been such cases. Every union is based on a dominant interest (in our case it is the provision of physical security) which governs all other interests. Of course, there are tremendous differences in the system of values of EU, NATO and CSTO, but there is one principle common to all of them – the member state is always allowed more then a partner.
When the President announced about the suspension of relations with Hungary, a few remembered that Armenia conducts negotiations with EU on Association Agreement and Armenia is close to signing the Visa Regime Facilitation Agreement. The following scenario is also quite possible: Hungary, a member of the European Union, may hamper the negotiations just like Cyprus does in case of Turkey. The latter swells with rage but can’t do anything: Cyprus is a member of the European Union.
The suspension of relations with Hungary was, most likely, the only possible option. In fact, the Foreign Ministry has left no other choice to the Armenian President. However, today they have to build a policy of balanced steps and resist the temptation to acquire the psychology of “besieged fortress”. All the besieged fortresses eventually fall, or their defenders become so exhausted that the end of the siege slightly differs from defeat.
Not disregarding our own interests we have to continue relations with the European Union and NATO, denying slogans like “we don’t need them, we can do without them”. We have to remember that it’s we who want rapprochement with Brussels, not vice versa. We ask the EU to organize a Donors Conference or provide funds for the modernization of our border check points, etc.
Yes, we do have serious problems, but they are not unsolvable. We simply need new, devoted and freely thinking people who can build this policy of sober steps, not only in foreign but also in domestic politics. The latter is the root of all our foreign political complications.
Ara Tadevosyan is the Director of Mediamax.