13 December, 2019 11:51

How Can Armenia Capitalize on the US Senate Resolution?

Benyamin Poghosyan, Chairman, Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies

All Armenians, both in Armenia and the Diaspora, are celebrating yesterday’s US Senate resolution recognizing Armenian Genocide. There is no need to go deeper into the reasons for the Senate’s move. For all interested in American foreign policy, domestic situation and geopolitics, everything is clear. The move was a result of a combination of different factors; US – Turkey tensions, approaching US elections, efficient lobbying by Armenian organizations, etc.

The key issue is how this move may benefit the Republic of Armenia beside obvious moral satisfaction. In this context the situation is not as clear. We may argue that recognition of Armenian Genocide makes new attempts of genocide or genocidal actions less likely, which may serve as sort of deterrence against possible future actions by Azerbaijan. However, even Holocaust recognition and the Nuremberg trials did not prevent genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda. This implies that unfortunately such moves have almost no deterrence effect.

Meanwhile, while examining the policy of those states towards Armenia, Turkey and the South Caucasus, which previously had recognized the Armenian Genocide, we may see that genocide recognition did not automatically result in a more favorable policy towards Armenia. The key example is Russia, whose Parliament recognized Genocide in 1990s, but currently Moscow has a close partnership with Turkey, is the number one supplier of modern assault weaponry to Azerbaijan, and is actively pushing the idea of withdrawing Armenian forces from large parts of the territories around Nagorno Karabakh.

As for US – Armenia relations, Yerevan has two key tasks – bring American investments into Armenia and get some flexibility in its relations with Iran. The US is a co-chair country of the Minsk group, but as for now co-chairs continue to stick to the so-called Madrid principles and other elements publicized in 2009-2012, and it would be unrealistic to think that the US will make tangible steps to change that approach. The dominant player here is Russia and both the US and France will be happy if Moscow may foster stability on its own.

Thus, the key for Armenia as well as for Armenian lobbying organizations is to start immediate actions calling for more US investments in Armenia as a practical step to support the nation which suffered a genocide and as a real way to contribute to Armenia’s growth. It would be the right approach to work for a non binding House or Senate resolution calling American companies to actively analyze the opportunities which may arise by investing in Armenia. The “Invest in Armenia” conference or workshop which will be held in DC or New York within six months may also contribute to this idea.

Another significant issue is Armenia – Iran relations. The US has a neutral position on the current level of economic transactions, including the “Gas for electricity exchange scheme.” However, Washington is sending messages that any significant increase in Armenia - Iran economic cooperation especially concerning exports to Iran, may deteriorate Armenia – US relations.

Yerevan should seek to get sanctions waivers for concrete projects and here again, this may be presented as a way to support the nation which suffered from a Genocide which is now officially recognized by the US House of Representatives and Senate.

Thus, Armenia needs to undertake concrete actions if it wants to get real benefits from these resolutions. Otherwise, we may face a situation where Erdogan in the face of a sharp deterioration of Turkey – Russia relations, will strive to make US – Turkey relations flourish again and no one either in Ankara or Washington will remember the Armenian Genocide or resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives and Senate.    

In picture: PM Nikol Pashinyan visits Tsitsernakaberd on International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, December 9, 2019.