WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.) — On March 1, Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, head of the Strategic Research Analysis Center at the Armenian Ministry of Defense and director of the Institute of National Security Studies, spoke at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) about “Regional Security Issues: The Armenian Perspective.” Ter-Matevosyan was in Boston representing Armenia at the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation’s annual summit.
Ter-Matevosyan presented PowerPoint slides regarding Armenia’s regional security and economic stability challenges—in particular, Armenia’s role as a member of different international organizations, such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the World Bank, the IMF, and NATO. He also spoke about Armenia’s economic development in the face of the current global economic crisis, as well as Armenia’s floating currency exchange rate against the US dollar.
Asbed Kotchikian, a lecturer at the Global Studies Department at Bentley University and editor of the academic peer-reviewed journal The Armenian Review, moderated the discussion.
ALMA executive director Mariam Stepanyan introduced Ter-Matevosyan and his topic of discussion, saying, “In these interesting political times, Armenia’s fate, as it always is, is linked to its regional neighbors.”
Ter-Matevosyan began, “I’m truly honored to be here. I’ve studied abroad in many countries, but I know the power of the Armenian Diaspora.”
He spoke of Armenia and the role the Defense Ministry played recently in the Harvard Black Sea Security Program (HBSSP), stating, “The aim is using U.S. military and civilians to welcome any initiative that brings more security, prosperity, and stability to our region… Unfortunately, some regional projects bypass Armenia. But in its recent seventh meeting, more than 60 Armenian and foreign experts on our regional security met in Yerevan.”
He turned to speak of those Armenians in the Javakhk region of Georgia and the recent five-day war. “As you know, the Armenians in Georgia have had a hard time since Georgia’s independence. Many find it very hard to integrate into Georgian society.”
Regarding Azerbaijan, Ter-Matevosyan spoke of the hard-line most likely to prevail in the government there. “Aliyev has recently gained the right to be the lifetime president of Azerbaijan.”
He also touched on Armenia’s close ties with Russia. “We take Russia for granted as our strategic partner, but we now see that have to be more vigilant as to what the Azeri government is doing with propaganda in Russia.”
Of the Institute of National Security Studies, where Ter-Matevosyan is director, he said, “Our institution was founded in 2005 by then-Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian. We have the Analytic Center as well that prepares the appendix of “working notebooks,” which presents our security studies to the country’s leadership.”
“We also have the Academic Publishing Center and the Electronic Library. The Armenian army also has 15 years of publications. Forthcoming with the Noravank Foundation, we have reports on ‘The Contemporary Problems of Armenian Information Security,’” he said. “We also have my book, Islam in the Socio-Political Life in Turkey, 1970-2001.”
“My findings, surprisingly, were that Armenians in Turkey feel safer voting for Islamic parties, particularly Erdogan’s AKP party. Hrant Dink was integral to my research and the work is dedicated to his memory.”
Regarding the possibilities for the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border in the near future, Ter-Matevosyan said, “It is highly possible in the next few years that we’ll see an open border. But there are many definitions of an ‘open border’ as well.”
He added, “But we’ll have a problem if we [Armenia] don’t diversify those food markets of sugar, salt, etc. We’ll have problems later.”
Ter-Matevosyan ended saying of Armenia’s status in recent internationally circulated reports, that “according to Transparency International, Armenia is doing quite well in combating corruption.”