The national security strategy is one of the most important, fundamental documents for most countries. Armenia is no exception to the rule, but our country adopted a strategy for national security as far back in time as in 2007, and the document is yet to be renewed.
A lot has transpired in the region and around the globe in the last 12 years. The political landscape in Armenia itself has changed both after the constitutional reform and the “velvet” revolution of 2018. How relevant is our current National Security Strategy and what changes does it need?
Almost everything is outdated
As I mentioned, a lot has changed in the last 12 years, both in the domestic and the foreign policies. The simplest example is the point on Armenia’s participation in international organizations and integration projects, which says nothing about EAEU. No wonder, given that the organization did not exist in 2007. Consequently, many points on economy should be reviewed.
The same goes for data security (cyber as well). The 2007 document does not elaborate on it, but now it requires our special attention.
Artsakh is another topic that needs a review after the April war of 2016: the wording about improbability of military aggression must be excluded and the overall stance on the conflict settlement has to become stricter and has to include inviolability of the borders of Artsakh Republic (in the framework of its constitution). The point about army building is outdated as well, as it indicates solely defensive strategy that is no longer relevant. Development of armed forces is described in more detail in the military doctrine, which also has to be reviewed, but that is a different subject that deserves individual analysis.
As for the transformations in domestic politics, the transition to parliamentary government and the changes that came after the “velvet” revolution also should be reflected in the country’s chief strategic document. Another important purpose is to form a system of deterrence and counterbalance aimed at preventing excessive centralization of power in the hands of a given person and determining a clearer place for the institution of the president and president’s authorities (also in the form of a balancing link). The role of the president and presidential administration does not have concrete description at the moment, so this quite powerful instrument is not used fully for the benefit of the state. For instance, current President Armen Sarkissian can notably enhance Armenia’s foreign policy, given his impressive ties with politicians and top business people in different countries as well as the Armenian Diaspora.
Assessment of results and inventory of Armenian resources
The values, challenges, threats and principles of domestic and external security, which were declared in the 2007document, were relevant in that time. However, we lack the assessment of what has been done over 12 years: subjectively, many tasks were failed and others were implemented only partially. It concerns development of various sectors of economy, transport security, creation of new atomic energy facilities, overcoming of polarization in the society, improvement of demographics, development of education and science, etc.
It is also important to build the interaction between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora in a competent way. We need to not only consolidate statebuilding, but also structure national identity. Recent years brought more disappointment than reasons for optimism in this field.
All these points require thorough analysis and evaluation; it makes no sense to create a renewed National Security Strategy without it. A superficial approach would result in emotional, overly positive slogans, many of which will be unrealizable, while actually important purposes will be overlooked. To some extent, current strategy became the victim of these factors as well.
We need a very thorough inventory of all our resources, both in the republic and the Diaspora. Without correct launch coordinates, creating an important document is be impossible and the outlined goals might turn out either unrealizable or incorrect.
This work should have begun a few years ago and we cannot delay this process further. Not only government officials, but also leading experts must be involved in drafting the strategy, and certain specialists from Diaspora can engage in it too. The drafted (or renewed) document should paint the “red lines” that no Armenian government can cross, and crossing those lines must also be excluded in the domestic political struggle. In the future the National Security Strategy should be renewed regularly and become a really fundamental document, not just a paper on the shelf. The strategy may include a closed part that would establish confidential points and areas of focus.
Leonid Nersisyan is a military analyst, Head of Defense Studies Department at Armenian Research & Development Institute (ARDI).