ARMENIA: A DEFENSE REFORM THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Michela TELATIN


Michela Telatin, Ph.D. (International Relations), Westminster University (London, U.K.)


Introduction

Armenia can be considered as the Switzerland of the Caucasus, both having a mountainous, lacustrine, and landlocked territory. Armenias current borders have been unable to contain the marvels of its ancient civilization; of its scattered nationality; and its historical heritage. The solidity of its culture has clashed during centuries with an unstable surrounding environment, as the Caucasus has been an area of confluence and contrasts. Historically Armenia has been a country located between empires, the Romans and the Parthians; the Arab and the Byzantine, and found itself as a vessel of fragile earthenware, obliged to journey in company with many vessels of iron. Thus, Armenia has been a country between empires, but also a country linking empires; a nation between clashing cultures, but also a nation linking cultures, and people. Armenia, then, has been a launching pad for a new beginning; it will be the aim of this paper to find out if Armenia also marks a new interpretation of current policies linking development and security concerns.

The background of what makes Armenia the focus of this paper is the management of its national security strategy permeated by its foreign policy of complementarity. This 360 degree foreign policy bears the influence and the balance of power between the different players in the Caucasian region. This might be the reason why, in recent years, Armenia has chosen a path of defense reforms supported by NATO but which contains the technical language of Security Sector Reform (SSR) policies. In this case, this conceptual complementarity does not aim at bridging a Cold War divide, but a policy divide whose reasons need investigation. The objective of this paper is to clarify why the Armenias defense reform has included the language of SSR policies without actually implementing these policies.

I contend that being able to talking SSR has become synonymous of talking the language of democracy. Armenia needs this conceptual complementarity for reassuring the West about the capacity of its democratic structures to manage the defense sector, while serving its national interests of having an army capable of facing military threats. Ultimately, this is indeed the strength of the SSR-language when it is used outside a SSR-framework: it becomes an onomatopoeic policy sound of reassurance for Western-type democratic states.

The Legal Framework of the Defense Reform: Another Policy of Complementarity

The independence achieved in 1991 partially solved the Armenia question, but raised the Armenia security question. National security is in fact an inherent preoccupation of all countries, whose response permeates the orientation of their domestic, foreign, and security strategy policies.

According to the Armenia National Security Strategy, the complexity of the Armenias national security is due to manifold issues, both internal and external. First of all, there is the conflict between Armenia and..


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