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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03YEREVAN2883
2003-12-02 05:41:00
SECRET
Embassy Yerevan
Cable title:  

SEVENTH ANNUAL STRATEGIC DIALOGUE HELD IN YEREVAN

Tags:   AJ  AM  GG  MARR  PARM  PGOV  PREL  PTER  TU 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 YEREVAN 002883 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/CACEN; PM FOR ABREITER
SECDEF FOR PWATSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2013
TAGS: AJ AM GG MARR PARM PGOV PREL PTER TU
SUBJECT: SEVENTH ANNUAL STRATEGIC DIALOGUE HELD IN YEREVAN


Classified By: Ambassador John Ordway

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 YEREVAN 002883

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/CACEN; PM FOR ABREITER
SECDEF FOR PWATSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2013
TAGS: AJ AM GG MARR PARM PGOV PREL PTER TU
SUBJECT: SEVENTH ANNUAL STRATEGIC DIALOGUE HELD IN YEREVAN


Classified By: Ambassador John Ordway


1. (U) Classified by Ambassador John Ordway for reasons 1.4
(b&d).


2. (C) Summary. The seventh US-Armenian Strategic Dialogue
took place in Yerevan November 20. The sides discussed
regional security, defense cooperation, and cooperation on
counter-terrorism. The delegation heads, EUR DAS Lynn Pascoe
and Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Margarian t examined issues
of regional concern and identified future areas of
cooperation. Though the Ministry of Defense registered
reservations regarding a defense assessment and the
deployment of additional forces to Iraq, the meeting was
generally upbeat and positively assessed US-Armenian
cooperation to date. End summary.

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

I. Regional Security Issues
--------------

-------------- --------------
Turkey: "Incremental" Progress towards Normalization
-------------- --------------


3. (C) Karen Mirzoyan, Head of the MFA's Middle East
Department, stated that relations with Turkey remained the
most important issue in Armenia,s foreign policy. He
confirmed that recurring contact between the GOAM and GOT had
taken place at the ministerial level. Mirzoyan also reported
some progress in efforts to open the border between the two
countries, as the GOT had seemingly relaxed its stand on
pre-conditions to opening the border. The GOAM supported
incremental steps towards reconciliation even before
establishment of diplomatic relations. This policy included
a recent proposal by Foreign Minister Oskanian that the GOAM
and GOT formally announce an open border for diplomatic
passport holders and third country nationals, and would also
entail greater contact between Armenian and Turkish
businessmen. Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Margarian said

that economic relations with Turkey were of increasing
importance, considering the continued instability in Georgia,
Armenia,s prime commercial conduit. DAS Pascoe stated that
the senior GOT leadership had recently indicated that their
policy towards Armenia did not make practical sense. He
encouraged the GOAM to engage in active public relations
measures to undermine falsehoods in the Armenian public,s
perceptions about Turks and Turkey.

--------------
Iran: A Strategic Partner By Default?
--------------


4. (C) Mirzoyan, who is also responsible for Iran, stated
that due in large part to Armenia's political and economic
isolation, Iran remained an important strategic partner. He
said that Armenia had three aims in its policy with Iran: a
strategic partnership that sought to balance the influence of
Turkey in the region; energy partnerships that would lessen
Armenia,s dependence on other suppliers; and trade and
transportation ties that help to relieve the effects of the
closed borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Pascoe reiterated
US concerns over Iran,s WMD programs, human rights abuses
and support for terrorist groups.

--------------
Georgia: Stability Vital, But Lacking
--------------


5. (C) Margarian joked that at times it seemed the GOAM was
more interested in stability in Georgia that within its own
borders. He expressed concern that continued disturbances in
Georgia after the recent parliamentary elections could have a
large impact on Armenia,s continued economic growth. The
GOAM was particularly worried about the deteriorating
situation in Ajaria, a transit area for part of Armenia,s
trade with Europe and Russia (note. Most trade moves through
Poti rather than Batumi. End note.). Margarian speculated
that it was perhaps time for change in Georgia, but stated
that the GOAM is prepared to work with whomever is in power
in Tblisi (though they feared an increased role for Ajarian
leader Aslan Abashidze). Pascoe agreed that the situation in
Ajaria was troubling, with Abashidze apparently making a play
for increased political power, and urged the GOAM to take any
steps it could to calm the situation. (Note. The meetings
were held in the week prior to Shevardnadze's resignation on
November 23. End note.).
--------------
Azerbaijan: "Relations Close to Zero"
--------------


6. (C) Margarian acknowledged that in the past year,
"relations with Azerbaijan were close to zero." He said that
the GOAM was waiting to see if newly elected Azeri President
Aliyev would take any initiative to resolve the Karabakh
conflict, and that Armenia was prepared to restart
negotiations if Aliyev desired. Pascoe expressed optimism
that Aliyev would wanted to move forward in relations with
Armenia, but both sides had to take substantive steps to
prepare their respective publics for inevitable compromises
and concessions.
--------------
Iraq: No Decision on Additional Deployments
--------------

7. (S) Margarian expressed hope that the situation in Iraq in
Iraq would soon stabilize and a thorough re-building process
could get underway. He noted that Armenia had a particular
interest in a secure environment in Iraq, considering the
long-term effects for regional stability and the difficulties
faced by ethnic Armenians in the country. The GOAM was
concerned that the lack of adequate medical facilities and
schools in Iraq would lead to the emigration of the Armenian
population. Margarian confirmed the GOAM,s desire to
contribute to stability operations in Iraq, stating, "it is
our duty to participate in this mission." He indicated that
Armenia and Kuwait would soon conclude a SOFA agreement,
initiated after Armenia volunteered to deploy medical and
demining units to Iraq. Pascoe raised the issue of the
recent request by the United States for Armenian deployment
of 50 military cargo trucks and ten tractors for combat
support operations. Margarian acknowledged receipt of the
request, and stated that he wished it had been made earlier.
The GOAM hoped to have an answer to the United States soon.

--------------
II. Defense Cooperation
--------------

--------------
Current Cooperation
--------------


8. (C) Major-General Mikhail Melkonian, Head of the Foreign
Liaison Department at the Ministry of Defense, provided an
overview of two years of U.S.-Armenian military cooperation.
Melkonian stated his belief that the previous day,s meeting
between Deputy EUCOM commander General Charles Wald had
"strengthened and crystallized the relationship." Melkonian
identified four main areas of cooperation: U.S. assistance in
military communication upgrades; U.S.-supported military
education programs; the Humanitarian Demining Program; and
the State Partnership Program initiated with the Kansas
National Guard. Melkonian welcomed Armenia's recent
signature of the NATO PfP SOFA, though he blamed the delay in
the signing of the document on NATO. He further pressed the
United States to agree to the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing
Agreement. According to Melkonian, the two agreements
"provided full legal basis for our cooperation." Pascoe
reiterated that the US valued its partnership with Armenia,
though the partnership had not developed as quickly as the
United States had hoped. Pascoe stressed the need to speed
progress, but "at a pace that is comfortable to you."

-------------- --------------
Broadening Cooperation: Defense Assessment, Art. 98, Iraq
-------------- --------------


9. (C) Pascoe raised US priorities for future defense
cooperation. He stressed the prime importance of Armenia
allowing a defense assessment by the United States. Pascoe
explained that the assessment would be of use to justify FMF
funding requests to Congress, and assist the Armenian Armed
Forces in identifying areas in which their forces could be
reformed and made more efficient. Melkonian raised strong
objections to an assessment, questioning its necessity as the
United States was "fully familiar" with the Armenian defense
structure. Melkonin asserted that defense reform could not
even be considered until settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
dispute, and that the current priority was maintaining
existing forces. Pascoe responded by reiterating that an
assessment was not "an intelligence issue," and that if
Armenia was concerned over the intrusiveness of the action,
than third parties could be found and involved.

10. (C) Melkonian praised ongoing U.S.-Armenian military
education and exchange programs but added that he would
welcome greater coordination in order to ensure that courses
met the needs of the Armenian military. He requested that
Armenia be allowed to use some of its IMET funding to improve
military education institutions in Armenia.


11. (C) Joan Corbett, Special Advisor to Under Secretary
Bolton, stressed the importance of quickly concluding an
Article 98 agreement. She stated that the agreements could
take many forms, and were being sought with all countries.
Corbett acknowledged that while Armenia is not yet party to
the Rome Statute, conclusion of an Article 98 agreement with
the United States would serve to broaden defense cooperation.


12. (S) While discussing the future of US-Armenian defense
cooperation, General Melkonian stated that he doubted Armenia
could meet the U.S. request for additional combat support
service deployment to Iraq. He said that it would be
"difficult at this time" to provide the number of trucks
requested by the United States.

--------------
Future of Demining Program
--------------


13. (C) Ambassador Ordway expressed his hope that the GOAM
will focus attention on developing a "superstructure" for the
Humanitarian Demining Program. He identified three necessary
developments for the program: the need to do a thorough mine
survey in Armenia; the realization of civilian control of the
program through the National Demining Action Committee; and,
the creation of an effective marketing campaign to sell the
program to the international donor community. The Ambassador
urged the GOAM to move forward on these issues in the
following year, and not solely focus their demining efforts
on continued training.

-------------- -
III. Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism Issues
-------------- -

-------------- --------------
Counter- Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Export Control
-------------- --------------


14. (C) Tigran Agajarian, Head of the Counterintelligence
Division at the National Security Service, presented
Armenia,s counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts.
He encouraged increased cooperation between the USG and GOAM
in sharing intelligence about terrorist activities. He noted
the that the National Assembly had recently passed a bill
establishing export controls for dual use goods, and
requested U.S. assistance in training Armenian experts in
this area.

--------------
Comment
--------------


15. (S) Though the delegations were in general agreement on
the issues discussed, some fissures were evident, including
on the Armenian side. The Ministry of Defense and Ministry
of Foreign Affairs appear to be at odds over the recent U.S.
request for additional combat support forces to be deployed
to Iraq. While Deputy Foreign Minister Margarian promised an
answer to the request quickly and hoped for a "positive
response," the MOD representative dismissed the request as
unfeasible at this time. The MOD also seems strongly against
any defense assessment undertaken by the United States, and
denied that any reform of the military was necessary at this
time.

ORDWAY
ORDWAY