EU Expansion into the South Caucasus

Mr. Pashinyan's eyes light up as he is told of his new salary from Brussels.

On July 9th European Union Council President Charles Michel announced an “unprecedented financial package” designed to help the Armenian government continue “democratic reforms” and improve the socio-economic situation in the country. Michel stressed the desire of the EU to become “an active partner” to Armenia, offering Yerevan an aid package of 2.6 billion Euros over the next 5 years, 1 billion more than the EU had previously earmarked in an earlier proposal. The amount is so large it nearly equals Armenia’s annual budget for next year. The package is being generally viewed as a reward for what the EU deemed to be recent fair elections and the return of Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister.

The aid to Armenia is part of a package for the EU’s 6 post-Soviet Eastern Partnership countries. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative launched in 2009 by the European Union, its Member States and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine (‘the partner countries’). However, Armenia’s share far outweighs that of any other country. War ravaged Ukraine, for instance, with a population of 45 million (compared to Armenia’s less than 3 million) and which signed an Association Agreement with the EU, is getting only 1.9 billion Euros compared to Armenia’s 2.6 billion. Azerbaijan, which is shouldering the main burden of Armenia’s aggressions in the Southern Caucasus, is being allocated a paltry 140 million Euros, mostly for Green initiatives.

If the EU’s intention was merely to assist in the economic reconstruction of the region and provide resources that would enhance the existing peace process there could be no objection to such a project. Azerbaijan, for instance, already has signed economic agreements on strategic partnership with 9 EU member states – a third of the European Union. Its main trading partner is the European Union, which accounts for about 40 per cent of Azerbaijan’s trade. The Southern Gas Corridor is also important to Europe’s energy security.

However, there is good reason to suspect that the true nature of EU involvement – its geopolitical orientation – is not all about co-operation and development for the mutual benefit of Europe and the South Caucasus. Another agenda is at work.

Michel’s Plan seems to be something of a Marshall plan for the reconstruction of Armenia, providing for the rejuvenation of the Armenian economy. But it will also certainly go somewhere toward altering the balance of power in the region, which has been heavily against Armenia since defeat in the Karabakh War.

The EU, having had its fingers burnt in its misadventure in Ukraine in 2013 by the crisis its interference provoked, and having had time to lick its wounds during the Trump interregnum, now seems to be hell-bent on expansionist interventionism in the Southern Caucasus. And there is little doubt its prime target is Armenia.

What is the EU hoping to accomplish in its thrust into the Southern Caucasus? The answer does not lie in its fine phrases and fancy words. It lies in its history.

What is the EU?

Expansion or consolidation? That was the dilemma faced by the British Empire at the zenith of its power in 1900. It made the wrong choice and the result was the Great War of 1914. The EU, having failed to cohere, only seems to know what it is when it is expanding these days.

Eastward expansion was first embarked upon by the EU after its political consolidation was disrupted by British entry in the 1970s. After a brief European phase Britain began to disrupt Europe through encouragement to enlarge and expand to the East. The UK was the main champion of Turkish membership of the UK, for example, against opposition from most of the other member states. But having accomplished its mission to divert the EU from consolidating itself to expanding itself, Britain left, with the EU firmly on a continuous expansionary course, even when it has been presented with its best opportunity for decades to consolidate. However, faced with a serious crisis with Britain over the Northern Ireland Protocol it is still driving eastward toward its Ostland.

The great value of the Soviet buffer in Eastern Europe for the European Union’s development was that it forced the EU to cohere through its containment. What was good about the EU was achieved during this period, before its expansionary instincts were let loose by the collapse of the USSR.

EU expansion has been eastward, both in economic and military forms, from the end of the Cold War. With the EU’s enlargement to the frontier zones of Eastern Europe it became an adversarial geopolitical player without the means to follow through on its new pretensions. Its misadventure in Ukraine, around a decade ago, should have been a salutary lesson to all about the dangers of its actions.

In the Ukraine EU expansionism placed the newly elected government of Viktor Yanukovych in a difficult predicament by offering membership of the Union and the prospect of joining NATO. The EU is not NATO, of course, but what it is, in effect, is the vanguard of NATO, the soft power wing of the West’s military expression directed at Russia. Or as Professor Richard Sakwa recently noted about the EU: “it has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic security alliance.” (Frontline Ukraine, p.227)

The Yanukovych government knew that if it took the deal the EU offered it would come into conflict with Russia. It knew that its industries would be devastated by leaving the Russian sphere, by losing Russian subsidised energy supplies and joining the capitalist competition of the world market. When the EU offered a miserly sum to Ukraine as a bribe to come out of the Russian sphere the Ukraine government backtracked and went back to Moscow. The EU went frantic over its rejection. Presumably, it is not making the same mistake with Armenia with money.

Richard Sakwa, Professor of European and Russian Politics, comments about the EU’s Ukrainian misadventure in his book Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands:

“The goal was to engineer Ukraine’s separation from Moscow to steer it into the Western camp. From 2010 negotiations began on an Association Agreement with the country, specifying reform priorities… The Association Agreement was initialled on 30 March… 2012, but the plan to sign it… provided the gravest European crisis in a generation… The EU was launched on the path of geopolitical competition, something for which it was neither institutionally nor intellectually ready. Not only was the Association Agreement incompatible with Ukraine’s existing free-trade agreements with Russia, but there was also the Lisbon requirement for Ukraine to align its defence and security policy with the EU. This was an extraordinary inversion: instead of overcoming the logic of conflict, the EU became an instrument for its reproduction in new forms. This is not the EU that a whole generation of idealists, scarred by the memory of European civil wars, sought to build. It also deeply alienated Russia, shattering the post-Cold War security system. Not surprisingly, as soon as the Ukraine crisis escalated, the burden of geopolitical leadership shifted to the US, which was far more organisationally and temperamentally suited for this type of conflict… The EU had been marginalised – in a conflict that its actions have provoked and that is taking place in its ‘neighbourhood’.” (pp. 40-1)

When the EU saw its Ukrainian project in ruins Brussels attempted to rescue the situation by attempting to broker a deal between the elected Ukrainian government and the Maidan insurrection, EU actions had prompted. This infuriated the Obama administration which wanted to play the geopolitical game against Moscow out to the full. Victoria Nuland, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State famously exclaimed “Fuck the EU!” in a leaked email.

The US did not want to settle things down in Ukraine. It wanted an insurrection in Ukraine, and brushed aside the attempted EU compromise, as unnecessary weakness shown to Moscow. The Maidan insurrection and coup d’état were being managed by Washington as a geopolitical move with the objective of unseating President Putin, who had resurrected Russia from the dire position it had assumed after Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Ukrainian territorial disintegration was, of course, the inevitable consequence of Russian resistance to EU/US attempts to recruit Ukraine to the anti-Russian camp.

The EU’s main purpose in the world seems to be the aggravation of Russia. It has no army to follow through on the aggravation it causes and is totally reliant on the US to be its army, through NATO, or otherwise. However, this makes the EU highly dependent on the US willingness to take on the conflict it inevitably stirs up, on its behalf. During the Trump Presidency, when the rogue President decided to let the world outside the US sort out its own affairs the EU was at a loss to know what to do with itself. However, the activist Biden Presidency has given it a new purpose in life – the old purpose – and it has now thrusted into the Southern Caucasus to meddle with things there. The EU is furthermore invested with great moral purpose for its new adventure, feeling that it has a moral crusading US President at its back, and fighting the good fight against “authoritarians” for the expansion of western democracy, instead of being made redundant by an immoral scoundrel in the White House.

This brings us to a greater understanding of what the EU actually is. The EU likes to present itself as a union for the mutual benefit of countries, bringing former enemies together through common and compatible interests. The EU pretends it is about bringing peace, stability and development to those on its expanding hinterland who supposedly need it. It says to the world: “Be like us. We got over our differences and produced a miracle of collaboration. And look at us now! We brought about peace and friendship in Europe. We are amazing!” Only that is not the true story.

Europe lives within a false memory of itself as it has been reconstructed into the EU. It has become to believe this false memory and now trumpets it to the world at every conference, project and initiative it organizes. Doubtlessly much of the world believes it too, especially when Euros grease the palm.

It is a myth that the EU brought about peace in Europe. it was a consequence of the peace that the Soviet Union and the US imposed militarily on a devastated continent after the Second World War Europe had generated in a generation. Europe destroyed a large part of the world in the 2 World Wars it fought with itself from 1914. It reconstructed many parts of the Middle East not for the better, out of the Ottoman Empire it liquidated for Imperialist purposes. But now it believes and presents itself as a model of goodness, having got its act together at last.

It was the United States which actually created the EU and Europe as we know it. The project would never have got off the ground without US insistence that it must happen. The Marshall Plan was conditional on acceptance of a plan for a federal Europe to counter the power of the Soviet Union, which was the main beneficiary of the European War that Stalin took advantage of to construct a great buffer zone in Eastern Europe to guard against further aggression from the West. The US had originally wanted to permanently disable Germany and pasturalise it under the Morgenthau Plan. But the Red Army in Berlin led to the adoption of a radically different approach by the US, involving resurrecting the part of Germany saved and forcing the French to work with their former enemies to rebuild something capable of preventing the onward march of Communism across the continent within favourable conditions.

Ivan T. Berend’s book, The History of European Integration, details how only the application of overwhelming US financial, military and diplomatic power knocked French and German heads together to ensure the European union project was made possible and implemented. Allan Dulles made it clear that the Marshall Plan was conditional on Europeans working together and integrating to form an effective counter-buffer to Soviet power.

The main European contribution to the new Europe was in extensive acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide against citizens who found themselves no longer welcome in the states they inhabited after what had been done in the war by Europeans. Millions were killed or forcefully relocated to produce the new Europe, overseen by the United Nations (A recent book by James Bacque, Crimes and Mercies, estimates that more than 9 million Germans alone died as a result of Allied starvation and expulsion policies in the five years after 1945).What happened in Eastern Anatolia in 1915 was nothing to what occurred in Europe in the period after 1945.

It is unsurprising that Europe wants to believe in itself in terms of myth-making about the European Union development given its previous manifestations in Fascism, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The EU was created by the US and given a purpose by Washington. And in 1990, as the Cold War ended upon the collapse of the USSR, it knew just what its mission was – to expand eastward, mopping up the former Soviet buffer countries and remaking them in its own image in conjunction with US power which was proclaimed as history ending.

Of course, a number of these countries mopped up in the anti-Russian advance have lately protested against being remade in the image of the new liberal ideologues who now run the EU.  Hungary and Poland have resisted attempts to dictate to them about their national morality and family life, seeing the new European consciousness as undermining of their traditional values, culture and social relations. These old nations with long-standing traditional cultures cannot spontaneously metamorphose through a wave of the EU magic wand casting its spell of new consciousness. And now the Brussels liberal ideologues, along with more superficial cosmopolitan people in some nations, have made noises about sanctioning them for their independence of belief and refusal to adapt to the latest LGBT etc. faddism.

This should be a lesson to the Southern Caucasus – Euros come with strings attached.

Target Armenia

A fool and a knave created the Republic of Armenia as we know it. The fool was Gorbachev and the knave was Yeltsin. Gorbachev destroyed the Soviet Union in a delusional attempt to reform it and Yeltsin, in a power grab, enacted national revolutions by liquidating the multi-national state, enacting capitalist revolutions by giving away nationalised property to cronies, who became oligarchs who operated through corruption.

Armenia played a prominent part in instigating the fall of the Soviet Union during 1987-90. However, what appeared to be a secessionist movement quickly reverted to type. The process of disintegration it helped begin in Yerevan was revealed to be all about ridding itself of the multi-national state in order to renew its territorial expansionism at the expense of its neighbours – particularly the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. Independence has been a minor consideration for Armenia ever since with the major objective being the traditional pursuits of Armenian nationalism which survived even the great Stalin Ice Age to re-emerge as soon as the Bolshevik boot was taken off the throat.

Nikol Pashinyan was more about undoing the negative effects of one consequence of Yeltsin – cronyism/corruption – that had filtered away the state’s resources, than asserting Armenian independence. When Pashinyan was confronted with opposition from the cronies on the Karabakh issue he countered them with ultra-nationalism that led to the Second Karabakh War. The war, and his subsequent election victory, has given Pashinyan a second chance. But is the EU now depriving Armenia of an opportunity to finally grasp the nettle of its fundamental problem and the necessity of making peace with its neighbours, by presenting Yerevan with a “get-out-of-gaol-free” card through the finance necessary to extricate themselves from the situation which produced this opportunity?

EU promises of Euros made prior to the election largely explain the recent confidence of Pashinyan, the defeated war leader, who has now summoned up the will to threaten the implementation of the most important points of the Trilateral Moscow Peace Agreement. On the eve of Charles Michel’s visit to Yerevan, Pashinyan stated that he was not going to honour the clause in the agreement which made provision for the construction of the Zangezur transport corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan. This part of the Trilateral Agreement, which is guaranteed by the President of Russia, and which is of strategic importance to Russia’s interests in the region, will not be implemented according to the Armenian Prime Minister. It seems that the EU, and its money, has provided Pashinyan with the Dutch courage needed to defy Moscow. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts but Moscow can be assured there will be much twisting and turning by the slippery eels of Yerevan.

In the short to medium term Nikol Pashinyan’s strategy is to get Armenia’s defence provided for by Moscow, while its economy is rebuilt by Brussels. That policy is the best way out of the desperate situation Armenia finds itself in, for Pashinyan. If successful it would effectively checkmate the opposition and be a win-win situation for cash-strapped Armenia, with the hope that it could be revived in the long-term. It avoids having to generate good relations and make peace with Turkey, which is the implication of the Trilateral Agreement. It is, however, a policy of squaring a circle. It will demand a great deal of political skill to maintain this balancing act between Russia and the West.

As part of their financial subvention to Yerevan, the European emissaries from Brussels have indicated their willingness to support the opening of another corridor, to rival the Trilateral Agreement one, with access to the West through Georgia. 600 million Euros will be allocated toward the completion of this new north-south highway to the Iranian border. The Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, Suren Papikyan told reporters that this project would involve tunnelling through mountains and the building of great bridges and in total would cost an estimated 1.5 billion Euros.

The large amounts of EU financing devoted to the road through Zangezur, “indicates that this funding has a strategic meaning for the EU,” according to Arman Yeghoyan, a member of parliament from Pashinyan’s My Step coalition: “From India, Iran, the Gulf, Armenia, and Georgia, a road to Europe. Six hundred million is allocated for that road alone.” This is Armenia’s bridge to Europe, avoiding Russia and Turkey. The European Commission also announced that in the next 5 years it is going to allocate over 1.5 billion Euros to Armenia for the construction of a number of key projects, including the development of Western Zangezur (which it calls Syunik region).

Trouble Ahead?

Armenia has treaty commitments which conflict with those it is entering into with its new European financers. The treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union, signed in May 2014 by the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, came into force in January 2015. This treaty, facilitating Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, was signed in October 2014. Tigran Suren Sargsyan, a former Prime Minister of Armenia, has been Chairman of the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission since 2016. During 2013, around the time of the start of the Ukraine crisis, the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, indicated a willingness to sign up to an Association Agreement with the EU. He was then put under pressure by Moscow to abandon this course and Armenia instead initialled the agreement with Russia’s EEU.

The 2018 Velvet Revolution which brought Nikol Pashinyan to power was viewed as a pro-European development. Armenia was seen as attempting to create a geopolitical balance between the EU and EEU/Russia, wishing to collaborate with both. But the EU stated in 2016 that “if Armenia were to join any customs union, this would not be compatible with concluding a bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Armenia because a customs union has a common external trade policy and an individual member country no longer has sovereign control over its external trade policies”. This was similar to EU demands of the UK when it negotiated it’s exit from the EU. Armenia could not have it both ways.

The decision of the EU to allocate 1.6 Billion Euros to Armenia within the next 5 years, out of a regional allocation of 2.3 Billion Euros, speaks volumes. Around 70% of the proposed EU regional aid is being presented to Armenia, the state with the smallest population, which has been responsible for most of the regional conflict, ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Azerbaijanis and which operated an occupation policy against international law, until it was forced out after provoking a second war. Only 30% of the aid is to be received by Georgia and Azerbaijan, which has been subjected to both military aggression and occupation and has the prime role in reconstructing the areas devasted by Armenia’s actions. The EU’s contribution of 150 million Euros to Azerbaijan is really a nominal sum to maintain a pretence of “balance”. It is derisory small change for Brussels.

This indicates the EU’s real intentions in the region, showing that Brussels obviously sets a higher priority on partnership with Armenia and the development of the Armenian economy than on the post-war reconstruction of the South Caucasus. In other words, despite Michel’s fine words about conflict resolution and peace building, the EU is less interested in important aspects like the transformation of the conflict, demining of Azerbaijani territories, return of IDPs to their homes, the socio-economic development of the entire region, and the reconciliation of the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan than it is to extracting Armenia from the Russian sphere.

Yeghoyan suggested that the EU’s aid package to Armenia, in contrast to what it offered to Azerbaijan, was a reward for Yerevan’s more “Europe-friendly” attitude. He noted that the EU funding “has a clear political undertone because Azerbaijan is refusing to implement reforms, the EU usually provides funding in exchange for reforms… Recently the EU and Azerbaijan have had a tense relationship.”

It goes without saying that the Europeans have always had a biased position in relation to Azerbaijan, in regard to the conflict with Armenia. That was clearly demonstrated during the occupation of Karabakh, in the recent war and now, in its aftermath. Michel notably referred to “Nagorno-Karabakh” as a “disputed territory” in his visit to Yerevan. “Nagorno-Karabakh” is, in fact, gone from the map. It was an autonomous region of Azerbaijan created by the Bolsheviks nearly a century ago, in July 1923, that created an Armenian majority within an artificially drawn boundary line. It was abolished in November 1991. When the Armenians seized it in the early 1990s they took a large part of Azerbaijani territory with it, expelling 800,000 people from the region they went on to occupy for nearly 3 decades. The Armenians, in their victorious mode, called this occupied land “Artsakh” rather than “Nagorno-Karabakh” and they constructed a pseudo-state out of it. “Nagorno-Karabakh” and “Artsakh” were, however, finished by the Azerbaijani liberation war in the Fall of 2020. What remains of it is a small rump with about 25,000 Armenians inhabiting an area ring-fenced by Russian forces. It is not sustainable on any other basis but Russian military power.

There is nothing, or never was, anything making “Nagorno-Karabakh” a “disputed territory”. Under International Law it always was, and is, a part of Azerbaijan and the UN and practically every state in the world recognized it as such. Four UN Security Council resolutions in 1993 described the Armenian presence in Karabakh as an illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. The Azerbaijani army implemented these resolutions in 2020 after the failure of international organisations over decades to resolve the conflict. Only Armenia disputed that Karabakh was a part of Azerbaijan, making the pretence that it was a break-away secessionist state that somehow emerged through its own efforts. Armenia, despite wishing to incorporate it within Armenia never formally claimed it and, in fact, never recognized it, despite propping it up militarily and financially.

So Charles Michel should not be using the term “Nagorno-Karabakh” or the phrase “disputed territory” because when he does it makes it clear the EU is taking sides in favour of the Armenian nationalist narrative against the International Law of Nations.

Armenia, a weak state with a shattered economy, is, however, likely to be much more amenable to dancing to the EU tune for its Euros, than the strong, independent and functional state of Azerbaijan. But the EU will have its work cut out keeping Armenia to its itinerary particularly when Russian resistance appears. There is little chance that the Michel Plan will be a Marshall Plan for the South Caucasus. Even if the EU had the will for such a project, which it doesn’t, it does not have the power the US had in 1945 to see it through.

However, the EU is not deterred and has been explicit in its objectives. Its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (High Representative of EU Foreign and Security Policy) recently stated that the EU needed to “push back, constrain, and engage” Moscow. Borrell made the remarks while presenting a report detailing his proposed strategy for the EU. EU leaders debated the report at a summit last month amid divisions between some members over how to deal with Moscow. The proposed strategy included details on future relations between Brussels and the six former Soviet republics in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. It stated that the EU “firmly rejects the Russian pursuit of a privileged sphere of influence” over those countries. “The Eastern partners have a full, sovereign right to shape the breadth and depth of their relations with the EU and other international players freely,” it continued. The EU would continue to “strengthen the Eastern partners’ resilience via bilateral agreements” through EU Association Agreements and trade treaties. It also said the EU should continue “important financial support” to the Eastern Partnership countries and others with a focus on “necessary reforms in the economy, governance and the rule of law, green and digital transformations, and inclusive societies.” Borrell concluded that “Time and again, the European Union has demonstrated unity despite attempts by Russia to divide us… This unity remains our biggest asset and needs to be even more robust.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-eu-borrell-plan/31311091.html)

This is really a manifesto for conflict with Moscow and it reveals EU intentions fully.

Borrell was the diplomat who was given a public dressing down by Sergei Lavrov at a disastrous press conference in Moscow in February 2021. The Russian Foreign Minister accused EU leaders of lying about the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and called the European Union an “unreliable partner” acting more and more “like the United States”. The incident illustrated clearly the EU weakness in relation to Russia – all ringcraft and no punching power.

Armenia, like the ex-Soviet Eastern European states, is being recruited by the EU in order to detach it – and Georgia – from the Russian sphere of influence. Western propaganda directed toward Eastern Europe states was designed to encourage nationalism in them so that a nationalist antagonism would be developed between these states and Russia. And the EU continues to encourage hostile nationalist attitudes towards Russia in these countries in various ways.

Sergei Lavrov signalled that Russia was viewing the EU move into the Southern Caucasus with concern in a webinar this week:

“They are trying to form a belt of instability around us, forcing our closest neighbours, fraternal peoples to make a choice – either you are with the West, or you are with the Russian Federation… They want to surround us with a cordon sanitaire, and even derive some benefit from the fact that the West will exert a decisive influence on the development of our neighbours… Now, our Western colleagues are trying to expand their presence, including military, along the perimeter of our borders, including Central Asia and Transcaucasia.” (Azeridaily 23.07.2021)

Lavrov’s reference to the “cordon sanitaire” shows that even if Europe forgets its history, the Russians do not. In 1919-20 Europe attempted to erect a great buffer of small states right around the Russian perimeter, from the Baltic to the Caspian Sea. Halford Mackinder, the famous father of geopolitics who promoted the Heartland theory, was sent as High Commissioner to the Southern Caucasus, to bolster its defences. While the “cordon sanitaire” was successful to the North, for a generation, thanks to Pilsudski’s victory over Lenin, in the Southern Caucasus it quickly collapsed when Europe failed to make good its promises to defend the region and the Red Army.

Whatever about the recent success of the EU’s strategy in Eastern Europe it would be most inappropriate to attempt such a thing in the Southern Caucasus. Armenian nationalism is primarily not anti-Russian. A large segment of Armenian society views Russia as a natural ally, and a last line of defence, against their more numerous neighbours whom Armenian nationalism is prone to antagonize. The encouragement of Armenian nationalism in the hope that it will be directed against Moscow would be a disastrous development. Any brief anti-Russian direction such a policy would produce would be quickly superseded by the exercise of nationalist passions against the neighbours and their territory, as was the case in 1987-90.

It seems that the EU, blocked in Ukraine after it provoked the disintegration of the Ukrainian state, is now hell bent on expanding into the Southern Caucasus proceeding through the aforementioned methods. It seems determined to probe and aggravate Russia there and undo the delicate situation, and Russian brokered armistice, that has existed since the Karabakh war. Its number one target is Armenia. Its secondary target is Georgia, which is already being chastised for anti-LGBT behaviour. Azerbaijan it pays lip service to, but it is clear that it is lined up as an “authoritarian state” in the EU sights. It is also Turkish so persona non grata to the European Christian club. So we can see what the EU is aiming to do in providing Armenia and Pashinyan with the money to get out of responsibilities and cause problems for the Russians in the cause of “democracy”.

Something should be said about the new cold war involving western democratic activism against “authoritarian” states. These so-called “authoritarian” states often have elections like any western democratic state. Their governments are popularly elected and their leaders are very popular. However, these elections result in governments that the West do not like, for one reason or another (whether it be their unwillingness to be penetrated by Western capitalism or penetrated by LGBT etc). So, perhaps these popularly-elected governments (i.e. democratic) are merely functional and their systems actually defence mechanisms against penetration, disintegration and plunder. That, after all is the purpose of a state! If we could see an “authoritarian” state which has been overthrown by democratic activism and a viable democratic state established in its place the fairy stories of the West might be believable. But all the evidence has been to the contrary.

Democracy is not a matter of routine. It took Britain a couple of centuries, under the influence of a very able aristocratic ruling class, to develop it by inculcating deference in the masses and tying them into the uniquely successful Imperialist project. Only in 1918 did the British majority get the vote. The French Revolution proclaimed democratic values but the French State could not stabilise around them. The U.S. produced a blank slate to implement it by exterminating the indigenous races, but still found it necessary to exclude the descendants of its slave population while it developed its democracy over centuries. President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the idea that there was a clear link between democracy and the extermination of “lesser races” that was essential to the cause of progress and civilisation.

The newly-created states in Europe after the Great War could not handle the divisiveness of party-political democracy and went Fascist in response, in order to stabilise development through popular support. Because the divisive threat was Bolshevism they adopted features of it to defend themselves through Fascist forms of government to ward off Bolshevism in the masses. But if Bolshevism did not exist they would have developed within authoritarian populist nationalism in order to stabilise as states. Spain and Portugal were states which successfully countered Bolshevism through Fascism and transitioned peacefully to democracy when the instability of Europe had died down. Recent examples of attempted democratic imposition in Iraq and other places have shown how difficult it is to take root without collapsing the state itself. It can be concluded that countries need to work toward it themselves in their own ways, under lasting stable and favourable conditions, and attempts to impose it are either simpleminded or nefarious, leading to its subversion.

It is very important Armenia is forced into honouring the actual settlement it signed up to, for the overall good of the South Caucasus region. There is no fantasy EU alternative. It is essential that Armenia makes peace with its neighbours within a regional settlement that curtails revanchist Armenian nationalism through a new sense of responsibility. However, recent history and politics seems to strongly suggest that the EU seems to be determined to undermine the existing peace agreement through mindless meddling that will recklessly destabilise the region, mainly to get at Russia. The EU is using the Armenians, who they know are in a tight corner, to do so. Such European Union activity is potentially dangerous and it is a very concerning development that can only lead to trouble ahead if it is played out to the full. Is it a coincidence that the most serious outbreak of conflict since the end of the war last November has occurred since the EU visit emboldened Yerevan?

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