Russia should Pay for Gyumri Military Base and Yerevan should Withdraw from EAEU. Experts
Armenian-Russian relations should return from the platform of illusions and ideals to reality where only interests prevail. Up to now some ungrounded ideal images have been formed about Russia in the Armenian society. And when these expectations are not realized public offence and anger are expressed.

This was obviously expressed during the "4-day war" of Karabakh when Armenia's strategic ally Russia did not criticize Azerbaijan's activities and, moreover, it treated equally to the conflicting parties.

"It is necessary to understand that even if Armenia is a member of inefficient institutions such as CSTO or EAEU together with Russia, it does not mean that Moscow will support Yerevan economically or politically if it is of no interest to it," Boris Navasardyan, President of Yerevan Press Club, said and added that we would have such guarantees if they are stipulated in bilateral legally binding documents.  Besides, Nagorno Karabakh should also be involved in the security guarantees as in this issue it is not separated from Armenia. "This should be clearly announced," the speaker said and added that CSTO is not binding. 

Boris Navasardyan, Director of the Armenian Center forPolitical and International Studies Aghasi Yenokyan and Chairman of the Collaboration for Democracy Center NGO Stepan Danielyan took part in the discussion on "Tension in Armenian - Russian Relations and Civil Rebellion" at Media Center at April 15.

After the "4-day war" of Karabakh, Moscow announced via different officials that it would not refuse to provide Azerbaijan with modern arms and it was followed by some crisis symptoms in the Armenian-Russian relations.   This issue is discussed in Armenia by everyone – starting from ordinary social network user to leaders of the state. Press Secretary of ruing Republican Party Eduard Sharmazanov even said that some clarifications should be made in the Armenian-Russian relations. He did not explain in details what clarifications he meant.

Dissatisfaction with Russia came out of offices into the street. On April 13, a protest march was organized in Yerevan towards Russian Embassy where participants threw eggs at the diplomatic representative of Russia and demanded that Armenia withdraw from CSTO and EAEU. On these days opposition member of RA Parliament Khachatur Kokobelyan presented a draft law on Armenia's withdrawal from EAEU.    

Navasardyan thinks that clarifications should be made about Armenian-Russian relations and about the legal status and commitments of Gyumri military base. "It seems there is a bilateral contract but there are no necessary commitments and status for the deployment of foreign armies," he said and added that the above-mentioned proposals will be fulfilled if RA Government raises that issue.

Stepan Danielyan said that for solving such issues it is necessary to have authorities who prioritize the national interests and added: "there is no problem with Russia. That country has a policy in line with its interests. The problem is in the Armenian authorities who get legitimacy not from its own society but from Moscow. So they should do what Russia wants. In other words, they should act within the zone of Russia's interests." 

Danielyan said that it was unclear why protests were organized in front of the Russian Embassy as the target should be Armenian authorities. "If a protest is organized in front of the Russian Embassy, it means they accept that the government comes from there," he added. "Karabakh self-determined and formed a separate state. Now it is time for Armenia to self-determine and form national government," he said.

Aghasi Yenokyan said that during the years some images about Russia were formed among the Armenian society due to the activities of the government. "When Armenia became a member of EAEU, the authorities of the big and small circles assured that a security issue is solved. Where is that security? It is clear that the society can have some illusions but politicians understand what is going on," Yenokyan said and added that during the last 22 years many attributes of independence were not developed in Armenia. "22 years is a huge period. Exhausted Germany was able to recover in shorter period of time so much that it started a new war (1918-1939)," he said.

The speakers mentioned the steps that should be taken for the clarification of the relations with Russia. They mainly referred to the clarification of the status of Gyumri military base and Armenia's withdrawal from EAEU.

"First, it is necessary to understand the interests and have no illusions. Second, if Russia wants to have a military base here, and it wants as it is the only guarantee of its presence here, it should be estimated clearly. Besides financial way, Russia should also accept that we have a priority over Azerbaijan in terms of arms. We should not accept that the base has nothing to do with Karabakh security. Security of Karabakh should be provided.  It should be clearly out in front of Russia," Boris Navasardyan said.  

Besides, the speaker thinks that we should withdraw from EAEU as it has made more problems than solutions.

Other speakers also mentioned the issues of dismissal of the military base from Armenia and withdrawal from CSTO but the President of Yerevan Press Club did not agree with them.  "I think now it is impossible to withdraw from CSTO or dismiss the base from Armenia. Security systems are very serious issues and for such a small country as Armenia the withdrawal from institutions can have dangerous consequences," Navasardyan said.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”

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