By Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia’s national security strategy became a subject for academic discussion on Friday, with Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian saying that the document will put an end to situations where ‘different state officials express different opinions about the same issue.’
Sarkisian, who is also the Secretary of the National Security Council, added that the document will not be binding for political parties and nongovernmental organizations, which, he said, will be able to have ‘any opinion on any issue.’
The minister said in working on the document presented for discussions at the Yerevan State University (YSU) they considered international expertise and gave assurances that NATO experts as well as U.S. and Russian specialists had found the document to be in conformity with all accepted criteria.
According to Sarkisian, the national security strategy under discussion fully reflects the national interests of Armenia.
“The most important thing for us is that this document should reflect our national interests. In our opinion, we managed to prepare a political document the fulfillment of which will ensure our state’s stable development and security,” the defense minister underscored.
According to Sarkisian, similar discussions will continue throughout November first at the National Academy of Sciences, the National Assembly and then the document will be submitted to President Robert Kocharian and finally brought up for discussion at a government meeting.
The minister expressed confidence that the national security strategy will be adopted until next year’s parliamentary elections.
YSU History Department Chair Head Babken Harutiunian says the document presented by the defense minister does not mention such important areas as migration and environment, which in his opinion pose a serious danger to the country’s security.
Economics Department Professor Grigor Gharibian found alarming the circumstance that in its budget Armenia earmarks only $300 million for military spending, while Armenia’s archrival Azerbaijan has a possibility to spend three times as much. He noted that Armenia would have the possibility to allocate more for defense if “oligarchs made investments.”
“Of course, legal taxes should be levied in greater amount and the shadow sector should be done away with, but I am categorically against racketeering,” Sarkisian responded.