The information office of the president reports Serzh Sargsyan has left for a short vacation today and will spend part of it abroad. He will interrupt his holiday and leave for Russia for a working visit to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on August 8.
The fact that Serzh Sargsyan will interrupt his holiday to leave for Moscow means the Moscow visit is urgent otherwise why should Sargsyan interrupt his holiday if he could postpone the visit till after the vacation. The schedule of presidents is busy, especially that of the Russian president but if Putin has decided to interrupt Sargsyan’s holiday means he has something urgent to tell him.
Moreover, maybe what he is going to tell is not even so important but he wants to interrupt the holidays just in order to put psychological pressure on Serzh Sargsyan and to show that Armenia is ready to rush at Moscow’s call. By interrupting his holiday and leaving for Moscow, Sargsyan confirms Putin’s “truth”.
At the same time, Sargsyan cannot refuse to leave for Moscow since the domestic situation in Armenia is not clear. Serzh Sargsyan enjoys the support of the West but the latter, for example, refused the promised money and delayed its allocation after the presidential elections with the condition that the quality should be better and reforms should be intensified.
Later, Armenia was rumored to ask for money from Russia. The government has neither denied nor confirmed this information, saying the process of requesting money from foreign countries is an ongoing process.
Serzh Sargsyan needs money to activate the economy and eliminate threats of possible social revolt. The issue is not only the social revolt. Merely, it is of vital importance for Serzh Sargsyan to show social progress ahead of the elections, otherwise the current economic policy and its sad outcome will just intensify nostalgia for Robert Kocharyan’s “double-digit growth”.
In order to resist to all this, Serzh Sargsyan needs to find money and ensure economic activation prior to the presidential elections, or he needs to convince Moscow that it is possible to work with him and there is no need to consider the option of Robert Kocharyan’s return.
On the other hand, this may cause problems between Serzh Sargsyan and the West. Earlier, the West used to have a mild approach to Armenia. It is difficult to say whether their attitude has become tough but it has evidently been clarified, and the limits of maneuvering for Yerevan have been narrowed.
In this situation, Serzh Sargsyan needs to give loyalty guarantees to Moscow at the same time satisfying the minimal expectations or demands of the West relating to the dismantlement of the ruling system.
But the situation is complicated for him because this minimal expectations will arouse doubts in Russia where they understand that if at least one stone drops out of the ruling system, it will collapse. Meanwhile, destruction of the system means collapse of Moscow’s supremacy in Armenia because it is based on the criminal-oligarchic system.
No doubt, a difficult meeting is expecting Serzh Sargsyan in Moscow. The interesting thing is that Serzh Sargsyan’s visit was preceded by visits of several Russian delegations to Armenia, namely the speaker of two chambers of the Russian parliament, Russian president’s envoy on humanitarian issues, the foreign minister of Russia. Serzh Sargsyan met the Russian PM Medvedev in London.
It is not ruled out that these delegations did not get the answers to their questions in Yerevan so Putin decided to talk to Serzh Sargsyan personally.
But at the same time, it is also possible that the meeting with Putin is initiated by Armenia and through it Serzh Sargsyan is trying to agree on domestic processes in Armenia for Moscow not to generate a force-majeure situation in September. And perhaps, Putin agreed to discuss these issues only after Russian delegations left Armenia with satisfactory answers.
As to the West’s possible response, the situation is relative here. The West cannot be satisfied with Armenia’s EU-West sentiment expressed in the form of statements while de facto governance promotes Russia’s supremacy or at least does not try to weaken it and build a sovereign state.
On the other hand, however, the Western policy has quite pragmatic expressions in Armenia and is characterized by strategic and tactical harmony, even if there is a formal opposition. The point is that for strategic success, the West needs to tolerate Russia’s tactical success in Armenia. In this particular case they will, probably, attach importance to the lack of danger coming from Russia’s destructive policy since otherwise not only the Western tactics but the strategy also would be threatened.
After all, the West proceeds from the reality that it may lead a strategic policy in the South Caucasus and may maneuver for its sake while Russia’s tactics has become a strategic goal. Here is a paradox when Russia’s tactical success works for the Western strategy.