Главная About some estimations of situation on South Caucasus by well-known Canadian expert
About some estimations of situation on South Caucasus by well-known Canadian expert Печать E-mail

(an article - interview)

Using an very good opportunity, our journalist of magazine "The Industrial North" took an interview from the military-political expert of high world level - Frederic Labarre.

For the short introducing of Mr. Labarre for our readers I have to say some facts about his biography, which can describe his experience and professional skills.

Frederic Labarre is a strategic and security analyst who has also managed a variety of projects specialising in the former Soviet Union. He was policy advisor of the Ministry of Defence of Estonia, International liaison for the Royal Military College of Canada, as first Advanced Distributed Learning Chair at the NATO Defense College and first Head of Department of Political and Strategic Studies at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, as a consultant for Public Safety Canada, the Royal Military College of Canada, Agriculture Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada as well as private sector agents and etc.

As a member of the Partnership for Peace Consortium editorial board from 2005 to 2012, he is also widely published in French and English on the topics of NATO-Russia relations, Canadian defence policy, Estonian foreign and defence policy, Russian defence and security policy, international relations theory, and the former Soviet Union, including the Caucasus.

Last week Mr. Labarre answered for some question for our magazine.

Journalist: What is the position of the Canadian government on the issue of Armenia's accession to the Customs Union?

Mr. Frederic Labarre:

"There are two important levels to this question. The first level has to do with Canada's principles and approach to international trade. The second level has to do with the political/electoral system in Canada, and the role of the Armenian community in shaping Canadian policy. According to an official at the Trade Commissioner's office (who asked to remain anonymous)"

"The Canadian government would not view unfavourably Armenia's participation in a Customs Union with Russia, since free trade tends to make exports more competitive on the world markets. Armenia's exports to Canada are quite small, at some 50 million dollars a year in value, but they are not negligible, especially since some extractive (mining) companies operating in Armenia will logically benefit from freer trade in the region. Also, it is not Canada's responsibility to register concern at Armenia's choice of economic partners. As a sovereign country, she can join up with any trading schemes that she chooses." (dixit official)

"My opinion is that there is a domestic politics component to this as well; Armenian exports are connected with the Armenian community in Canada. This brings me to the second level of my answer. Since in the Canadian system, a particular community and interest group can wield a large influence within a single electoral riding (or district), the wise Member of Parliament will be quite keen on cultivating the pressure groups on which his election or re-election depends. The Armenian community is very well organized and extremely skillful in its lobbying. Just a month ago, the Armenian National Congress of Canada (ANCC) invited Stéphane Dion, Member of Parliament for Cartierville/St-Laurent (a suburb of Montreal) to visit Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Obviously, one has to look forward to the 2015 Federal elections in Canada to understand his presence there. The Armenian community's opinion is extremely important because it will shape Canadian policy more or less directly on the run up (and after) the election."

"But the Armenian community has been relatively quiet on the issue, ostensibly for two reasons; first it is concerned with the elections in Azerbaijan, and this occupies their time, and second, it is waiting to see what will develop from the Customs Union deal. Their support may indirectly on Russia, on how it conceives the Customs Union, whether "Customs Union" is a pre-cursor, a complement of, or a synonym to "Eurasian Union".

So the Canadian position can for the moment be assessed on the principles only for the moment, and will be clarified in time."

Journalist: What do you think will bring stability to the region of the South Caucasus if Georgia joins NATO? Why do you think so?

Mr. Frederic Labarre:

"In the current state of relations between NATO and Russia, and also between the United States and Russia, I don't think that stability in the Caucasus will be generated by Georgia joining NATO at the present time. In addition, some Georgians, immediately after the 2008 war, have been more lukewarm at the idea of joining NATO (although there is still a strong majority that wants it), and definitely reluctant at having a NATO base on Georgian territory. These opinions have been quite clearly expressed in surveys published by the Caucasus Analytical Digest."

"Georgian membership in NATO, or, put another way, NATO presence in the South Caucasus to can generate stability, if there is a qualitative change in mutual perception between Russia and NATO, and, to a certain extent, between Georgia and NATO as well, since not all members currently agree about enlargement. Let me repeat: At the present time."

"Too many people - analysts, country leaders, journalists - think NATO is a tool for revanchism. It is not. NATO is an insurance policy. And the privileges of an insurance policy come with responsibilities. Article 2 of the Treaty is quite clear: it is the responsibility of members to maintain good-neighbourly relations, including stimulating trading relations - among themselves, and, during the Cold War also with regards to the "other side" (Czechoslovakia, the USSR, or Poland). Canada is a case in point, having been one of the biggest exporters of cereals to the Soviet Union for many years. Current NATO members have the same responsibility and Georgia as well, if she were a member."

"It must be understood - by all concerned - that Article 2 is the real vocation of the Alliance, and Article 5 a statement of necessity."

Journalist: What are other possible scenarios create stability in the South Caucasus?

Mr. Frederic Labarre:

So, other scenarios:

"Despite the objective disagreement and difficulties setting Russia and Georgia apart, NATO is not the proper instrument to meet the challenges in the South Caucasus. First of all, sovereignty is incomplete in too many areas. Solve the sovereignty issues to the benefit of the populations concerned. There has to be an original way to constitute relations between States, «de jure» or otherwise, to reconcile self-determination with territorial integrity. It is time to re-invent the notion of sovereignty. And there are ways; you can have shared sovereignty, or complementary sovereignty over territory or functions. Georgia is doing that with the Inguri River dam already."

"Earlier I talked about the difference between Article 2 and Article 5 of NATO. In a sense, it's the same difference than that between butter and guns. If the South Caucasus wasn't awash with weapons, tension-filled, perhaps Foreign Direct Investment would come more easily to the region (regardless from where), and provide it with butter. So let's start with disarmament and arms control. End the moratorium on the CFE (I am fully aware that for Russia this is linked with anti-missile deployments in Eastern Europe), and start by committing to the non-use of force in the discussion of status in Georgia, and amend cease-fire agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan to include sharpshooters and snipers. You could even provide incentives such as "tractors for tanks", or "crop-dusters for jets" and reinvigorate the agricultural sector of the whole region."

18 October 2013

Dmitry Borisov «The Industrial North»

Unpublished articles


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