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NATO Summit in Chicago

July 12, 2012 Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Georgia, Karabakh, Turkey No Comments
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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

“We Need To Lift The Armenian Taboo”

12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

US Media Discusses The Armenian Genocide

12:16, July 12, 2012

Dimitrios Triantaphyllou (Turkey), director of the Center for International and European Studies of Kadir Has University (Istanbul).

Sona Kyurkchyan, www.hetq.am (Armenia)

1. What makes the Chicago Summit different from the previously held NATO summits, what was its final outcome?

Nothing really other than the fact that it was held in President Obama’s hometown during an election year. It also came at the heels of the more groundbreaking Lisbon Summit of 2010 which launched a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. It seems that although it was the first post-Arab Spring Summit and post Libya operation Summit, this wasn’t enough to produce major news except maybe to reaffirm that NATO is adrift with the European allies unable or unwilling to contribute more in terms of resources to the Alliance. The European allies can deploy only about 5 percent of their troops for NATO operations.

2. How does NATO intend to act in the future if not all Alliance members agree to conducting operations in this or that region? Has the Chicago Summit considered the precedence of some members’ refusal to participate in the operations against Libya?

I would tend to agree with the assessment of Thomas Ries who in a recent article suggested that the result of the inability of the European allies to contribute in a coherent manner to the evolving global security environment is “a lost alliance: unable to orient itself, unable to look forward, unable to specify vital strategic interests beyond basic platitudes, unable to agree which future threats to focus on, and unable to generate military forces capable of addressing them.” This growing deficit within NATO is compounded by the shortcomings of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in which many of NATO’s European allies take part.

3. Why after the NATO Summit in Lisbon which was not attended by the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan because of the language of adopted resolutions, a document with the same language on the conflicts in the territories of CIS countries was adopted at the Chicago Summit?

NATO is keeping closely to its principles regarding the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of all states involved in “protracted” conflicts – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. Armenia could not expect different language in the Chicago Summit Declaration given the makeup of the Alliance’s members and the concerns that many raise regarding the principle of territorial integrity of states. This is also somewhat linked to the development of relations between Russia and NATO and Russia’s uneasiness regarding relations between Armenia and NATO.

Angela Khachatryan, www.1in.am (Armenia)

Have Georgia’s expectations from the Chicago Summit come true and do the adopted documents mean that Georgia will become a country to be admitted into the Alliance in the course of the following stage of NATO enlargement? When do you think such an expansion may take place?

I am not sure that Georgia’s expectations were necessarily met by the Chicago Summit regarding its eventual accession to NATO albeit Secretary Clinton’s remarks that the next Summit would be an enlargement one. Much would depend on the priorities of the next US administration and its relationship with Russia on a variety of global challenges as well as the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Georgia.

Armen Minasyan, www.panorama.am (Armenia)

1. The official Ankara had made a statement against Israel’s participation in the Chicago Summit. Do you think such behavior is in line with NATO principles, if we are to take into consideration the fact that a dialogue at all levels is especially important for ensuring regional security?

Of course, Ankara’s position is not in line with NATO principles. Ankara, in fact, also tried to promote without success the membership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by attempting to change the decision by the Alliance (including Turkey) in the Bucharest Summit of 2008 to the detriment of Greek interests. Nevertheless, Turkey is an important regional security and economic actor and its growing importance needs to be taken into account. Ankara’s perceived isolation from the West on many fronts (ranging from the stalled EU accession process to its difficult neighborhood) suggests that a better understanding of Ankara’s positions need to be considered without implying that these have to be adopted wholesale by the Alliance.

2. What do you think the main outcome of the Chicago Summit was? What place did the issues of NATO enlargement through the admission of new members occupy among the adopted decisions?

The main outcome of the Chicago Summit was that the Alliance is in trouble as it failed to address seriously its strategic imperatives. There is a lack of strategic thinking by the European allies that seem to be more concerned with the threat of the financial/ sovereign debt crisis than their global responsibilities. The Libyan operation brought many of these shortcomings to the fore as the United States bore the bulk of the operation and its costs. The Chicago Summit spent time on other issues such as Afghanistan, future capabilities, and partnerships but none of these could be considered truly strategic. Similarly, the future enlargement of the Alliance was left to the future.

David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am(Armenia)

Were the unresolved conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in particular the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, discussed at the NATO Summit in Chicago? If yes, in what format and from what angle?

The protracted regional conflicts in the post-Soviet space were discussed only inasmuch to affirm of the need that these be resolved. Though the support “of the territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” was reaffirmed as was the need to resolve these on the basis of international law, NATO basically went through the motions regarding the post-Soviet space and included the aforementioned language in the Resolution in order to have something to say as per its principles and those of the UN Charter. Much depends on its evolving relations with Russia which the Summit did not necessarily deal with properly given Putin’s absence.

Anna Bartkulashvili, freelance reporter (Azerbaijan)

1. Before the beginning of the summit the American expert Alfred Ross forecasted that in Chicago America was going to ask for additional funding, soldiers and fighters from its NATO allies. What particular problems have conditioned such a prognosis and to what extent have they been solved at the summit?

None of these issues have been resolved as the Summit showed that the European Allies are either unwilling or unable to invest more in terms of defense. In fact, European defense spending has fallen by more than 24 billion USD in the last three years while the Libyan operation that Europe led could not have been completed successfully without US involvement including electronic jamming, air defense suppression, 80 percent of the fuel and most of the bombs uses in the operation. As the European allies reduce their defense capabilities and commitments and the gap with the US grows, so does the frustration and impatience in Washington. Similarly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is also troubling and is not properly planned.

2. What does NATO’s “smart defense” program consist in and what was the particular cause of adopting it?

“Smart Defense” is an attempt to optimize the diminishing commitment to the Alliance by its European allies and the need of the US to shift some of its resources to other threats such as the Pacific. In times of budgetary austerity, the focus is on specialization and cooperation or in other words, how to do more with less. Discussions between France and the United Kingdom about the prospect of sharing their aircraft carriers are indicative of the potential of “Smart Defense.” The objective is to ensure that NATO and its member states maintain the military capabilities to undertake the core tasks of the Alliance as these are put forward in the new Strategic Concept which was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

3. Was it possible to efficiently react to all the problems NATO is currently facing and what priority directions for activity were selected at the Summit?

No. NATO is in trouble because both the political commitment of many of its European allies as well as their material commitments are lacking. NATO has evolved into a defense organization with global reach given the exigencies of today’s globalized world at a time of dwindling resources and a false sense of security in many European countries as well as the implications of future or lack thereof of the eurozone. As a result, the Chicago Summit raises awareness of the myriad of security challenges and proposes some initiatives but does not necessarily put forward a new strategic blueprint.

Tarana, www.contact.az (Azerbaijan)

What place did the issue of NATO’s future development occupy on the agenda of the Summit?

The issues of future capabilities and the need to implement Smart Defense as well as strengthened partnerships with countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, inter alia, were raised in the Summit and hold a prominent part of the Summit Declaration. Yet, these cannot be successfully implemented if the current European mindset with reduced defense spending and capabilities does not change.

Emil Babayan, www.news.am (Armenia)

What were the results achieved at the Chicago Summit after the discussion of the strategy in Afghanistan before and after 2014? Will the Afghan party be ready to assume complete responsibility for ensuring the security in the country at the time of the withdrawal of NATO troops, and will the civil war in Afghanistan have been suspended by that time? What achievements and failures in Afghanistan were highlighted in the Chicago Summit?

The drawdown in Afghanistan was a major part of the Chicago Summit. Decisions were taken regarding the reduction of the military presence of NATO troops, yet there seems to be a preoccupation with the fact that the withdrawal of troops is coming at a time that the Taliban are becoming more emboldened with attacks across the country. Also at play are the funds that the Afghan National Security Forces require to meet the challenges of transition and taking the lead. Out of the expected 4.1 billion USD needed by the Afghan security forces per year, 1.3 billion USD need to be provided by non-NATO members and partners. But there seems to be a shortfall.

Emma Bayramova, www.tribuna.ge (Georgia)

1. What’s new in comparison with previous decisions on Georgia in the documents of Chicago Summit?

The new developments regarding Georgia are the remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the need to deal with enlargement at the next summit and the participation of Georgia in the meeting between NATO and the aspirant countries. This does not mean that the Chicago Summit was very clear on the prospects of future enlargement for Georgia.

2. Does Georgia have progressive achievements on its way to the Alliance?

Though Georgia has met many of the criteria for membership, the fact that it has not yet started negotiations for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) is detrimental to its bid in contrast to the other aspirant countries from Southeastern Europe. The Georgian government deftly downplayed expectations before the Summit, yet it is not happy that the Chicago Summit Declaration only reaffirms the decision taken in Bucharest that Georgia will one day join the Alliance. Clearly much depends on the results of the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia this year and its Presidential ones in October 2013.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

Related posts:

  1. Armenia Shuns NATO Summit Over ‘Pro-Azeri’ Declaration
  2. German Envoy Regrets Armenian Boycott Of NATO Summit
  3. Chicago Declaration addresses Karabakh conflict
  4. Armenian Opposition Bloc Condemns President Sarkisian For NATO Summit Boycott
  5. Armenian Foreign Minister Delivers a Speech at The NATO Summit In Lisbon

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Commentary

Capitalism Run Amok Is Just Plain Capitalism

Image 58171.jpg

16:37, January 17, 2015

By Markar Melkonian

The source of Armenia’s misery and humiliation, we often hear, is not capitalism per se, but rather “gangster capitalism,” “a broken system,” “capitalism run amok.”

The goal for the future, then, is to “fix the system,” to reform capitalism, to make it more like regular, pure, genuine Free Enterprise, the kind of capitalism that works. But what if Armenia’s actually existing capitalism already is genuine capitalism?

An economist once observed that the only existential meaning of “enterprise” in the term free enterprise is “whatever capitalists happen to be doing at the time”–and “free” is the accompanying demand that they be allowed to do it.

In Armenia, successive presidents, legislators, ministers, and mayorshave certainly allowed them to “do it.”Post-Soviet cliques have privatized public land, seized factories, and plundered resources. They have shredded the social safety net,unleashed the “job creators” on child labor; eliminated overtime pay; dispensed with job safety standards, trashed even the most minimal environmentalregulations, and generally done everything they can toenrich themselves and their cronies, seemingly without a thought to the welfare of the vastmajority. Over the years, Hetq.am has done a truly admirable job of reporting the daily pillage.

Armenia’s plutocrats justify their actions in the name of free enterprise, and their point is well taken. After all, a law prohibitingthe exploitation of child labor or the poisoning of drinking water is nothing if it is not state regulation of the market. Building public schools and enacting laws that protect forestsmake markets less free.So if Free Enterprise really were as important as the IMF and the advisors from Chicago say it is, then Armenia’s oligarchs really are the national heroes they think they are.

One of the Ronald Reagan admirers who led Armenia’s charge down the road to ruinexemplified the wisdom of Yerevan’s Free Marketeers: “free market reform,” he wrote, is the path “which has been traveled by many other nations and which leads to happiness.”(Vazgen Manukian, quoted in Jirair Libaridian (ed.), Armenia at the Crossroads, 1991, p. 52.) In the years since he made this announcement, we have beheld the happiness that free market reform has wrought in many other nations, from Mexico to Greece, and from Iceland to India, where in recent yearsa quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide.

The oligarchs and their IMF advisors, of course,are willing to pay this price for the sake of their Free Market utopia. Or rather, they are willing to make the poor pay this price. For decades, sensitive commentatorsin the West excoriated Joseph Stalin for his “blood-curdling” suggestion that the end justifies the means. These days, those same commentatorsdo not give a passing thought to the hundreds of millions of lives consigned to displacement,drudgery, fear,and early death in the name of free market reform.

A quarter century ago, the Ter Petrosyan administration set Armenia off on the path to happiness by doling out state property to cronies and racketeers,guttingthe industrial infrastructure, and shredding the social safety net. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, anduntold thousands of Armenians, especially the elderly and the very young, have died of exposure, food poisoning, preventable accidents, and lack of access to basic healthcare.

Since then, aparade of alternating opposition figures and national saviors have come into office, enriched themselves and their cronies, and then left the scene with the loot, one after another. Despite the personnel changes, though, economic policy has continued to benefit the rich few, at the expense of the poor majority.

Armenia has undergone twenty-five years of foreign-directed reform: privatization, shock therapy, conditionalities, and so on. Every time we turn around, it seems that more “reform” is needed. And the reform always seems to require further wage cuts, further cuts to social programs, further deregulation, and ever more sacrifice from the have-nots. Consider the much-ballyhooed Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) of earlier years: for Armenia, as for other poor debtor countries, SAPs required:

selling off state enterprises to the private sector;

eliminating price controls and producer and consumer subsidies for agricultural goods;
devaluing the local currency;
cutting consumer subsidies and charging user fees for social services such as health care and education;
dropping protectionist measures and reducing regulation of the private sector;
providing guarantees, state-funded infrastructure, tax breaks, and wage restraints as incentives for investment;
dismantling foreign exchange restrictions (which has allowed wealthy locals to export funds overseas, as capital flight, worsening balance-of-payment deficits).

As a result of these policies, Armenia today can boast of Enterprise that is as Free as anywhere on Earth. Readers of Hetq.am are aware of the consequences: sky-high unemployment; proliferating poverty; the depopulation of the countryside; deforestation; plummeting birth rates; falling life expectancies, and, of course, the catastrophic outmigration of one third of Armenia’s population. Successive plutocrats have lengthened the work week, lowered the legal work age, evicted families from their homes in order to build “elite homes for elite guys,” demanded ever-higher bus fares for a privatized transport system; raised university fees far beyond the means of most families, attempted to privatize social security, and so on and so forth, ad nauseam.

It is a sad commentary on the state of intellectuals in Armenia today that few of them are even aware of the work of the great social geographer David Harvey, who has so accurately described the process of “capital accumulation by dispossession” that characterizes scores of countries like Armenia. When is someone going to translate Harvey’s book, The New Imperialism, into Armenian?

In Armenia, as we know, “free market reform” has taken place against the background of official impunity, the jailing of dissidents, electoral manipulation, and fraud so pervasive that it would have astonished even the most cynical Armenians of the Soviet period.

Let us remind ourselves that these measures were undertaken under the tutelage of the IMF and the World Bank, in strict adherence to Free Market doctrines. All the while, Western agencies and bureaucracies have heartily congratulated their Armenian followersfor rapidly privatizing state property, “making hard choices,” and faithfully carrying out Washington’s directives.

David Brooks, one of the more thoughtful American Free Market columnists, recently acknowledged that, curiously, post-Soviet success stories are rare. (“The Legacy of Fear,” New York Times, November 10, 2014.) Despite the generalized “wreckage,” however, he was able to identify several success stories, including none other than Azerbaijan and Armenia! That’s right: according to Brooks, Armenia today counts as one of “only five countries that have emerged as successful capitalist economies” from the former Soviet bloc.

This should surprise the Free Market faithful in Yerevan, who were hoping that ultimate success lay in the bright future, not in the dark present. If this is what a successful capitalist economy looks like, then the question naturally arises: What was the point of letting capitalists take over the country in the first place?

The Free Market coercion and rhetoric has come full circle: right-wing politicians in the USA, exemplified by Scott Walker, the governor of the state of Wisconsin, have tried to enact many of the same policies in the USA that the IMF, the CIA, and the economists from Chicago have foisted on vulnerable countries like Pinochet’s Chile and today’s Armenia. In their arguments for, say, privatization of social security, the Scott Walkers have pointed to policies in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet republics as examples of an irresistible global trend that America must follow.

When the Scott Walkers have failed to achieve their maximal demands, it is because traditional constituencies in the United States with independent organizational presence—notably labor unions—have fought against free market “solutions.” Here, ironically, America does provide a valuable lesson to Armenia: resistance to Free Market reform must be organized, sustained, and based in the working class.

The tide of misery rises ever higher, and there is no good reason to hope that further reforms along the same lines will change the trajectory. And yet capitalism still escapes blame for the disasters it has created. Instead, we are told that “capitalism run amok” is to blame, and that the only antidote is—more capitalism! This has happened over and over again.

At what point will skepticism kick in?

Free Marketeers love to sermonize about accountability and the responsiveness of the market. But the Free Marketeers escape all responsibility for their policies and get to prescribe more of the same poison to the patient.

As long as we are unable to describe the problem accurately, we will not even begin to address it in an effective manner. The first step is to start calling the thing by its name: the main source of Armenia’s devastation in the past twenty-five years is not “capitalism gone amok”; rather, it is capitalist rule.

(MarkarMelkonian is a nonfiction writer and a philosophy instructor. His books includeRichard Rorty’s Politics: Liberalism at the End of the American Century(Humanities Press, 1999),Marxism: A Post-Cold War Primer(Westview Press, 1996), andMy Brother’s Road(I.B. Tauris, 2005, 2007), a memoir/biography about Monte Melkonian, co-written with Seta Melkonian)

Photo by Sara Anjargolian

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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Ukraine: Cops Go After Casinos, Suggest Yanukovych Connection

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21:45, December 15, 2014

Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has launched a campaign against illegal casinos amid fears that a large network of underground gambling dens could be providing an income source for the son of the country’s disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The new crackdown on unlawful casinos – an ongoing scourge for law enforcement agencies in Ukraine since regulation was made stiffer with a 2009 law – was launched on Dec. 8 after an announcement on Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov’s official Facebook page.

Avakov, who keeps a lively and occasionally angry Facebook commentary on current affairs, pledged to put a complete stop to the establishments within ten days; first in the capital of Kyiv, then the rest of the nation.

“The police will no longer be either arbitrator or guard for all the cunning dubious schemes of gamblers and lottery players,” he wrote. In the past week, the ministry has announced raids on casinos in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

It was after the Dec. 13 shutdown of one such establishment in Kyiv that the ministry warned of a possible Yanukovych connection.

“It cannot be ruled out that Oleksandr Yanukovych, the ex-president’s son, could be behind this and a lot of other clandestine elite gaming establishments in the capital city through figureheads,” said Zorian Shkiriak, an advisor to Avakov. OCCRP has previously reported on Oleksandr Yanukovych’s connections to illegal coal mining operations in the country.

In his Facebook post, Avakov said the problem should be made into a profitable industry. “Legalize the casino!” he wrote. “Get strict regulations, limited amounts of points and legal billions of hryvnias [Ukraine’s currency] into the state budget, instead of dirty money in the pockets of different people providing cover!”

The 2009 law “On the prohibition of gambling business in Ukraine” was passed after a fire killed nine people and injured 11 others at a gambling hall in Dnipropetrovsk.

reportingproject.net

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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Yerevan Calling: A Weekly Roundup of Random Musings from Armenia

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13:05, October 3, 2014

Here it is dear readers, the debut of a weekly column I hope to maintain on a regular basis.

It’s sort of a catch-all of news snippets, irreverent commentary, and personal observations on what’s happened during the week here in Yerevan, and throughout Armenia.. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting, if not slightly diverting.

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Regards – Hrant

Oct. 2 – Protests Throughout Armenia: A Game of Numbers & Solidarity

Three separate protest rallies took place in Armenia today.

As Hetq reported earlier, business owners in the town of Sevan kept their stores and factories shut to protest changes to the so-called volume (sales) tax. Local residents flocked to the bread factory to wait on line for a loaf or two.

Merchants and small retailers again gathered outside the government building in Yerevan to voice their opposition to the changes in the volume tax law that requires that they keep receipts for all inventory purchases and sales.

In Yerevan, vehicle owners who have bandied together in a group calling itself “Keep Away from Our Pockets” tried to drive through the city in a convoy of cars to protest paid parking spaces many argue is just a ruse for some oligarchs to make money. Police stopped them before getting too far.The bulk of the fines and fees don’t even go to the Yerevan city coffers but is kept as income by the corporation overseeing the parking spots. The drivers are also complaining about traffic fines they say are too exorbitant.

Taking you grievances to the street is a growing trend in Armenia – whether in towns or villages.

The largest and most successful to date were the sustained protests that took place in the summer of 2013 in Yerevan that eventually forced the municipal government to rescind public transportation fare hikes.

But ever since then, demos and protests seem to have lost their verve and vigor and are more and more issue specific. While this is to be expected (those immediately affected by this or that government decision are the first on the streets), the general citizenry once again seem resigned to whatever fate awaits them.

While attempts were made to broaden the participation of these mini-protests and to link their specific interests under some kind of umbrella movement, they proved unsuccessful.

Numbers and mutual solidarity remain elusive. Strategizing and innovative tactics are also lacking.

Three opposition political parties are gearing up for a joint rally on Oct. 10.  Let’s see if it will be more of the same old, same old…

Oct. 1 – Government Reappoints Thug as Syunik Governor

Hetq readers will know that SourikKhachatryan, the publicly disgraced and much maligned former Syunik Provincial Governor, was reinstated to his old job this week. Khachatryan was forced to temporarily step down after being implicated in a June shoot-out near his Goris home in which an Artsakh Army commander was seriously wounded and his brother killed.

Here’s a tit for tat exchange between HAK (Armenian National Congress) MP NikolPashinyan and Armenian Prime Minister HovikAbrahamyan in parliament regarding Khachatryan’s reinstatement.

Pashinyan (and I paraphrase here) – That man has been charged with expropriation of public property through fraud, auto theft, the beating of several individuals, one incident when he hit a prominent woman in a Yerevan hotel was caught on tape, the beating of a child because he had a quarrel with the father…Recently, this individual murdered a man by shooting him from such a position from his house that the cameras didn’t catch him…”

Abrahamyan – Who is this man you refer to? Oh, SourikKhachatryan. Well, I nominated him for reinstatement based on his years of experience in provincial governance and organizational skills.

The prime minister added: “I’ve also taken into account the wishes of the people of Syunik. Our studies show that a majority want him as their provincial governor.”

Oct. 1 – Diaspora Minister Receives “Good Job” Watch

Armenian Prime Minister HovikAbrahamyan visited Diaspora Minister HranoushHakobyan at her office bearing gifts. Well, one gift in particular. The PM bestowed Hakobyan with a commemorative “prime ministerial” watch for a job well done.

Now c’mon folks.A stinking watch? A grandfather’s clock would have been more appropriate.

Oct. 1 – Armenia is Getting “Old”

This is the view of GarikHayrapetyan, who heads the Yerevan Office of the UN Population Fund.

On Wednesday, which marked the International Day of the Elderly (we’ll all get there sometime), Hayrapetyan told journalists in Yerevan that 13% of Armenia’s population is over the age of 60. (That’s practically bordering on senility).

Anyway, he claimed that the country is fast approaching what is termed the ranks of “old countries” (you know, where the president or dictator walks around on crutches).

Right now, thank god, Armenia is merely considered “growing old”.

Khachatryan attributes the age imbalance to the fall in the birthrate after independence.

Less young people means less people to take care of the elderly. But I only know of one old-age home in Armenia. Who’s looking after the rest?

Sept. 30 – Aznavour Wants Turks and Armenians to Reconcile Before He Dies

In an interview with RTS (Radio Television of Serbia), Charles Aznavour is alleged to have said he hopes to see Armenians and Turks reconcile before he dies.

Bonne chance, mon ami. 

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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China: President Takes Action Against High Ranking Corrupt Officials

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21:31, July 30, 2014

Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful former leaders, is under investigation in the highest-level corruption inquiry since the Communist Party came into power in 1949.

Under current president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Zhou for “serious disciplinary violations,” as the officialXinhua news agency reports. Media has not yet, however, specified the allegations against him.

The probe is an attempt to show the length to which Xi and the party will go in order to combat abuse of power reportsThe Wall Street Journal. 

A commentary published in the officialPeoples Daily makes the point that regardless of  an official’s rank or supporters, punishment will result for violating laws or the party’s discipline. 

In recent years an agreement has been in place  ensuring that for the sake of party unity,  most senior figures would not be investigated. Zhou’s case has been the first to break the agreement and is aimed at party purity instead. Communists are hoping to stay legitimate and to win more supporters. 

The anti-corruption campaign has realized its vow of no off-limit targets, says political scientist Zhang Ming in The Guardian.

reportingproject.net

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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Armenian Gangs: Caught between an Archetype and a Cliché

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19:15, July 12, 2014

By Marineh Khachadour

“The whole thing started with a scene straight out of a mobster movie. It was around 6 p.m. when more than a dozen men from two organized crime groups opened fire on each other in a North Hollywood parking lot. Witnesses say nearly everyone was armed, and the shootout quickly went mobile. The men took off in cars, exchanging fire as they weaved through the Whitsett Avenue traffic.”

Stories such as this are not unique to Armenians in the American press, but this investigative report recently published in the LA Weekly is about Armenian Power, the Los Angeles based Armenian gang that operates in the heavily Armenian populated communities of Glendale, Burbank, and North Hollywood.

The writer describes the members of the group as “gun-toting defendants” driving flashy cars “and connected to elaborate schemes in bank fraud, identity theft and other highly sophisticated white-collar crimes.”

Armenian Power originated in the 1980s by young Armenians, mainly from Soviet Armenia, to protect themselves from Mexican gangs in Los Angeles high schools. In time the organization developed working relations with the latter and shifted focus from fighting for territory to fighting for money and power.

My initial reaction to the report, like to all things Armenian, is visceral. Besides the fact that the horrific nature of the group’s actions turns my stomach, I feel angry. There are many positive contributions Armenians make to the communities they live in, so why point out the negative?

I think and catch myself in doing something very typically Armenian: reacting defensively when a non-Armenian criticizes my people. I immediately want to blame someone, mainly the person who is pointing a finger in my direction. This is a natural reaction for those of us who take pride in belonging to a lineage older than Noah’s Ark.

Ancient is the Armenian archetype – our intuitive behavior that has proven to withstand the test of time. We’ve been around so long, we consider ourselves to be wise and flawless. It is in our ethnic genome to revere the old and be doubtful of the new, to respect the elder as authority and dismiss the young as naive and inexperienced, to move in time and space, but not leave the past and the home we left behind. Any divergence from what has history and is the norm, we perceive as deficient, abnormal, lacking.

Young Armenians in American public schools faced with anything but the norm, as they know it, are caught by surprise like objects uprooted by cyclonic winds.

When life throws us into the realm of the unexpected or takes us out of our element, when it forces us to question our truths and face our shortcomings that make us seem not so perfect, we feel ashamed and become unforgiving. This quickly leads us on to the path of self-loathing. Our genesis, the very thing that is the source of our pride and the reason for our being, becomes our handicap in the youth-crazed, ever changing culture of the new world. We feel betrayed.

Additionally, we have been conditioned to put on our best face in public, regardless of what is going on inside. This archetype was reinforced during the Soviet era. We do not air our dirty laundry in public, but proudly display our clean, shiny load in front of our balconies and windows literally and figuratively. We even pride ourselves in the way we pin the pieces next to each other on the clothesline!

So, regardless of our circumstances, we find ways to put on a front like the well choreographed parades of the Soviet government. For God’s sake, we were the first people to adopt Christianity as our state religion! Never mind that our church is void of spirituality and our God cares more about the dead than the living.

Then we boast, and when others dare to not appreciate our genius with expected enthusiasm, we resort to demeaning, deprecating commentary and are not shy about projecting our negative feelings. No one is good enough, smart enough, deserving enough as Armenians. We’re the oldest and the wisest, and therefore most deserving of respect and appreciation.

More than once I have had to counsel a distraught Armenian parent complaining about how people make fun of their perfect child because he/she does not look or act like them.

When our expectations are not met, we are wounded and insulted. This is when the daredevil gene kicks in, and we don’t hesitate to give our perceived enemy a piece of our mind, or show off a flexed muscle.

We call this taseeb (honor): a sentiment that forces an Armenian to pick up a rifle and defend his physical and psychological turf. It is the same sentiment that drives a young Armenian to defend himself from insults and aggression, real or perceived, from a person of a different ethnicity in an American high school.

These archetypes are some of the underlying factors that lead Armenian youth into conflicting situations outside their circles.

In a new and changing world, old archetypes no longer serve the needs of the people, while the new ones are constantly elusive. Coupled with the desire to belong and to fit in, this drives people to adopt clichés that are readily available in a world congested with material, ideas and attitudes. Thus, to be accepted by the out-groups, to measure up and to be competitive, they quickly adopt what is more accessible to them for putting on the “perfect face.”

Designer clothing and accessories, Mercedes, BMW, Porches, attitudes and gestures we don’t quite grasp but admire, just about anything that we perceive as distinguishing and defining the out-group we are so eager to be a part of and be appreciated by, we collect. Clichés are easy to launder, polish, and pin on one’s life’s “clothes line”. Life in the new world becomes a long string of clichés.

In the absence of archetypes, reality is re-imagined, improvised like life on a theater stage, Marshall McLuhan explains. On this stage, young people are the characters of their own show, and there is nothing in the world more important than that until new archetypes take form.

The mafia or its modern day version – gangs that are a common occurrence in societies constantly in flux – is the stage where young people play out their roles. There have been Irish,   Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Mexican gangs in America prior to the Armenians.

Every wave of new arrivals, every wave of change, brings with it a new set of expectations and challenges. While families try to decipher the laws, rules, and traditions of their new environment, the young tend to gravitate towards groups that fill the need for belonging and provide a security network.

Some, more than others, in every group are willing to break rules often to their own detriment while caught between archetypes of the old world and the clichés of the new.

Marineh Khachadour is an educator, writer, researcher working in a public school in Pasadena, California.  She lived in Armenia from 1992-1998. During that time she provided educational services and resources for Armenian women and children including refugees and served as Gender in Development Expert with UNDP, Armenia from 1995-1998.

Source: HetqOriginial Article

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