2009-10-27 – DAS Kaidanow Discusses Regional Integration, Security With Senior Armenian Officials

by on 2009/10/27  •  In Wikileaks


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09YEREVAN759 2009-10-27 15:16 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Yerevan
DE RUEHYE #0759/01 3001516
P 271516Z OCT 09
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 YEREVAN 000759 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2019 

Classified By: Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, reasons 1.4 (b,d). 


1. (S/NF) During meetings October 20 and 21, senior GOAM 
officials told EUR DAS Tina Kaidanow that Turkey will need to 
be the first to ratify the protocols signed October 10. 
President Sargsian told Kaidanow that there has never been 
any question that Armenia would ratify, but that Armenia 
ratifying first would be "a major tactical mistake for us." 
He indicated that Armenia cannot wait indefinitely for 
Turkish ratification.  In separate meetings, Foreign Minister 
Edward Nalbandian and Speaker Hovik Abrahamian shared those 
views, citing continued unhelpful Turkish Statements linking 
normalization with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.  While 
Kaidanow noted that the USG would not pressure Armenia to 
make "one-sided concessions," as the Armenians termed them, 
to facilitate normalization of relations with Turkey, she 
underscored the deep importance of visible progress on the 
Minsk Group negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh in order to 
encourage Turkish parliamentary ratification. Defense 
Minister Seyran Ohanian expressed interest in continued 
U.S.-Armenia defense cooperation, calling it essential to his 
efforts to reform the armed forces.  Kaidanow replied that it 
would be critical for the USG to see continued progress from 
the GOAM in strengthening its export control regime.  She 
pressed her interlocutors for progress on democracy and human 
rights (septel).  END SUMMARY. 


2. (C) During an October 20 meeting, President Sargsian told 
DAS Kaidanow Armenia had done its part to make Turkey-Armenia 
normalization possible; now Turkey would determine where the 
process leads.  He noted that the Turks had four choices: the 
Turkish Parliament could ratify the protocols to establish 
diplomatic relations and open the Turkish-Armenian border; it 
could ratify with reservations; it could reject ratification; 
or it could prolong the process indefinitely without taking 
action.  On the latter option, Sargsian said he made clear to 
Turkish President Gul that the more protracted the process, 
the less chance there would be for normalization.  The 
Armenians could not wait forever, he said.  The President's 
critics in Armenia have argued that the Turks only want to 
drag the process out to get them past next April 24 
(Armenia's Day of Remembrance of the events of 1915).  But 
waiting that long would be unacceptable to Armenia. 

3. (C) DAS Kaidanow agreed that with the passage of months, 
ratification becomes more challenging.  On the Turkish side, 
she noted complex political considerations that will come 
into play, but said that at the highest levels, the U.S. will 
make the case to the Turks that normalization is of critical 
importance to both sides and to the region. 


4. (C) Kaidanow said that there would be no pressure from the 
U.S. for any "one-sided concessions," as Sargsian termed 
them, on Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for progress on 
normalization.  However, she noted, it would be very 
important to show continued momentum within the Minsk Group 
process to improve the prospects for ratification of the 
protocols in the Turkish Parliament.  President Sargsian's 
trip to Chisinau and his engagement in a discussion of the 
Madrid Principles text at that meeting was a wise step in 
this regard, she said, and further engagement in the form of 
additional meetings over the next weeks would also be 
critical.  Conversely, any perception that the Minsk Group 
process is backsliding or losing steam would play into the 
hands of those in Turkey who oppose normalization and who 
will be looking for any excuse to kill ratification. 

5. (C) Given the process that lies ahead, the problem, 
Sargsian said, would not be with the Turks, but with 
Azerbaijani President Aliyev.  "Obviously he will do what he 
can to show that the NK process is slowing, and that Armenia 
is not being constructive."  Sargsian warned that we should 
expect a new wave of unhappiness from Aliyev with the Minsk 
Group format, followed by demands for new conditions "just 
like Aliyev did two to three years ago" to good effect, the 
President said.  The whole logic of the Madrid Principles was 
based upon the notion of achieving a balanced agreement.  Any 
attempt to change this logic at this point would only bring 
the situation closer to military conflict, he warned. 

YEREVAN 00000759  002 OF 004 

Sargsian suggested that dealing with Heydar Aliyev had been 
more productive than now dealing with his son Ilham, because 
the father "understood that Karabakh was lost; the son 
doesn't see it." 

6. (C) Kaidanow suggested the Armenian Parliament ratify 
quickly to demonstrate it had fulfilled its commitment and 
put the onus on the Turkish side to do the same.  Sargsian 
called the approach "impossible."  If Armenia ratifies first, 
it would "end the whole process."  Sargsian went on to say 
that there has never been any question that Armenia would 
ratify, and that now was the time to put pressure on the 
Turks.  He said Armenia ratifying first would be "a major 
tactical mistake for us,"  implying that early ratification, 
followed by an interminable wait for Turkish reciprocation, 
would be a humiliation Sargsian would pay for politically. 

--------------------------------------------- - 

7. (S/NF) Kaidanow stressed that one bilateral issue above 
all others could affect the U.S.-Armenia relationship: reform 
of the Armenian export control regime.  While the GOAM had 
made important progress in strengthening its munitions export 
controls over the past six months, it would be critical for 
the U.S. to see continued progress in strengthening export 
control for dual use items and in implementation of the 
various new laws and decrees adopted.  Success would open up 
new opportunities for bilateral engagement, whereas a lack of 
progress could bring bilateral cooperation to a halt. 
Sargsian said there should be no question of failure, that he 
did not see any challenges, and that he too saw the issue as 
critically important.  Kaidanow noted that USG dual use 
experts would be coming to Yerevan in November for what she 
hoped would be very productive consultations. 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 

8. (C) Kaidanow congratulated Foreign Minister Nalbandian, in 
a separate meeting, for reaching a significant milestone with 
the signing of the Protocols in Zurich.  Nalbandian noted 
that the successful signing would not have happened without 
the intervention of Secretary Clinton, and the Foreign 
Minister passed a letter thanking the Secretary.  He noted 
that the process with Turkey had passed through six or seven 
stages, each more difficult and complicated.  Nevertheless, 
the Protocols were signed, President Sargsian had a "very 
very positive and productive" discussion with Turkish 
President Gul during half-time of the soccer match in Bursa, 
and now the Armenians were ready to fulfill their commitments. 

9. (C) Unfortunately, Turkish statements about linkages to 
resolution of NK complicated matters, Nalbandian said. 
According to Nalbandian, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu 
said he understood from the U.S. there would be "big 
progress" on NK in the coming days.  "But in Chisinau we were 
talking about two of the fourteen Madrid Principles, and we 
are not very close on those two," Nalbandian said.  It is not 
realistic to talk about a breakthrough, he stressed.  In 
trying to link the two processes, the Turks damage both. 
"Opening the border isn't a favor which we need to 

10. (C) Nalbandian claimed that much of the problem stemmed 
from the fact that Aliyev had not properly informed by the 
Turks of progress on the normalization effort between Turkey 
and Armenia, and he was shocked to learn that there were 
protocols ready to be signed.  At Chisinau, according to 
Nalbandian, Aliyev tried to show there was no progress or 
worse.  His strategy will be "to ask for more, more, more 
until the process collapses," the Foreign Minister claimed. 
Still, both sides are talking about an eighth meeting for 
Sargsian and Aliyev in a few weeks, and needed to continue 
with a step-by-step approach to making progress.  Perhaps at 
the December 1 OSCE Ministerial, Nalbandian suggested, they 
could take steps to consolidate the cease fire by agreeing to 
withdraw snipers from the line of contact.  While it was an 
old suggestion that has failed once, he said, Minsk Group 
Co-chairs should push for the measure.  Nalbandian also 
worried that the UN resolution the Azerbaijanis want to table 
regarding Nagorno-Karabakh Internally Displaced Persons 
(IDPs) was "absolutely dangerous" and could stop all progress 
on NK. 


YEREVAN 00000759  003 OF 004 

11. (C) Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian told Kaidanow 
that he strongly favors establishing diplomatic relations 
with Turkey, and that prompt Turkish ratification of the 
protocols is critical.  He outlined the costs Armenia pays 
for the closed border, made readily apparent by the August 
2008 Russia-Georgia conflict, which disrupted food and fuel 
imports from Georgia and forced Armenia to turn to Iran to 
ensure minimal supplies of these critical items.  He further 
noted that because Georgia knows Armenia has no alternative 
transit corridor, it is able to charge monopoly-level tariffs 
on freight transit.  However, he said, Turkey also stands to 
benefit from an open border, primarily with respect to its EU 

12. (C) Benefits of an open border notwithstanding, 
Abrahamian insisted that Turkey must be the first to ratify 
the protocols.  He asserted that President Sargsian has taken 
most of the risk to this point, acting in the face of both 
domestic and diaspora opposition.  Parliamentary members 
would not vote to ratify first, as many do not believe Turkey 
will ratify the protocols.  He insisted that Armenia is a 
more reliable partner, and could be counted on to ratify the 
protocols if Turkey does so first.  Turkey is an 
unpredictable partner, he asserted, noting that shortly after 
signing the protocols, Turkish Foreign Minister Davotoglu 
turned around and made completely different public statements 
about linkage to the NK process. 

13. (C) Kaidanow expressed concern that the process will 
become hostage to both sides saying the other must ratify 
first.  Ultimately, the USG wants President Sargsian to be 
successful in this effort, and for the process to end up in 
the right place.  The USG understands Sargsian's domestic 
position, but Armenia should consider what actions would best 
lend themselves to the success of the entire normalization 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 

14. (C) Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told Kaidanow that 
Armenia highly values its military relationship with the 
U.S., and said the security cooperation that the U.S. is 
providing is "pivotal" in helping him reform the Armenian 
military.  He identified military education, E-meds training, 
capacity-building in demining and peacekeeping, and U.S. 
assistance with Armenia's Strategic Defense Review as vital 
areas of cooperation with Armenia's military. 

15. (S/NF) Ohanian then raised the export control issue 
related to the lethal arms sale to Iran.  He assured Kaidanow 
that the MoD was doing all it could to fulfill its 
commitments under the Joint Action Plan, and stated that the 
four munitions control-related laws recently amended and 
passed by parliament in late September would be implemented 
as soon as the Cabinet enacted the accompanying government 
decrees.  Ohanian admitted that the challenge ahead would be 
to effectively implement the new laws after the decrees' 
passage, stating to Kaidanow that he would continue to work 
closely with the USG to ensure "strict" implementation and 

16. (C) Ohanian also asked Kaidanow to share with Washington 
his request for assistance to develop Armenia's peacekeeping 
brigade further, noting that such assistance was finally 
allowing Armenia to become a genuine "security provider" 
rather than a "security consumer."  Ohanian said he would 
travel to Bratislava on October 23 to sign an agreement with 
Germany's Defense Minister finalizing Armenia's contribution 
of personnel to ISAF in Afghanistan (as part of the German 
contingent).  Ohanian then told Kaidanow that Armenia would 
like to renew the high-level security dialogue that it once 
had with the U.S., saying it would give a new "impulse" to 
security cooperation and raise the level of U.S.-Armenia 
relations to a higher level. 

17. (S/NF) Kaidanow thanked Ohanian for the hard work and 
critical role that the Ministry of Defense has played to date 
in strengthening export controls, but cautioned that Armenia 
still had a lot of work to do to meet its obligations under 
the Plan, specifically its implementation of the amended 
munitions controls and strengthening dual-use controls.  She 
urged Ohanian to do what he could to help and impress upon 
other colleagues of his in the Cabinet the importance of 
quickly addressing dual use.  Kaidanow said it was critical 
that political leaders "at the top" continue to push the 
appropriate personnel involved in exports control--MoD, MFA, 
MoE, Customs, etc--in order for Armenia to meet its 

YEREVAN 00000759  004 OF 004 

commitments under the Plan.  On Ohanian's request for 
resuming a security dialogue, Kaidanow cautioned that the 
answer to such a request depended on the resolution of the 
export control issue, and that is why it was so critical for 
Armenia to fulfill its commitments under the Plan. 

18. (U) EUR DAS Kaidanow has cleared this cable. 

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