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John Heffern, ambassador for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Armenia

It's no secret that elections in the South Caucasus are always under U.S. scrutiny, especially now that “Arab spring” seems endless.

For any country, and especially for CIS states, elections are almost a catastrophic phenomenon. Often these countries experience nervousness not only due to “lack” of democracy, but also because of its excess. In this case quite understandable is the activation of major powers in the process of driving Russia out of internal political developments. Noticeably stir up embassies of the West and the accompanying structures initially designed to “strengthen democracy and build a civil society”, but actually controlling the pre-election and post-election processes, making sure “the wrong” candidate fails.

PanARMENIAN.Net - All this led to the rapid approval of John Heffern to the post of the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. Heffern is a career diplomat, who before his nomination as an ambassador, served as Deputy Chief of Mission at USNATO, Brussels. Yet, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) notes that at a Senate hearing John Heffern avoided the term “genocide” when referring to the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the World War I, limiting himself to Obama’s term “Mets Yeghern”. In any case, the diplomat did not deny this fact of history. By the way, the Armenian Genocide was openly denied only by Richard Hoagland, who failed to pass the Senate hearings. However, the advancement of American interests in the region and particularly in Armenia is not limited to the recognition or non-recognition of the Genocide. As correctly observed by world-famous singer, RA Ambassador to Switzerland Charles Aznavour in an interview to Nouvelles d `Arménie, Armenians will never succeed in the genocide issue. “Genocide or another word. It makes no difference to me. The process of reconciliation with Turkey should start with our presenting to her the correct information about the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Turkey has always provided false and misleading information on the matter. We must be the ones to make Turkey aware of the true story behind 1915 massacres. And there is hope – the population of Turkey’s borderline regions isn’t biased against Armenians, with even Diyarbakir Mayor publicly stressing the necessity of Genocide recognition,” Aznavour said.

“Our enemies are waiting for those Armenians with any memories of the Genocide to die so that this matter can be put to rest once and for all. Which country will ever sacrifice itself to protect us? Not a single one. France recognized what it had to, but goes no further. No country will ever support us. Never,” Aznavour said.

But let us revert to the U.S. Ambassador to Yerevan. John Heffern faces quite a difficult task: not to openly interfere in the domestic policy issues of Armenia , at the same time neutralizing the Russian influence, to the best possible degree. Moreover, he has to “be friends” with all the political groups. However, we shouldn’t worry about this, since American diplomats have the amazing ability to reincarnate in the shape of true friends to the country they serve in, which is not true about Russian ambassadors. Yet, there are also exceptions. For instance, current Russian Ambassador to Yerevan Vyacheslav Kovalenko shares friendly relations with almost all the representatives of the political elite. But it’s one thing to be friends, and quite another to spend funds to attract politicians and representatives of NGOs. And this is what American diplomats are quite good at. There is one more factor: the CSTO - NATO confrontation in the region. The Collective Security Treaty Organization, and Russia in particular, in some way guarantee the security of Armenia. Together with Armenian border guards, Russian guards protect the Armenian-Turkish border. The Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri serves as a deterrent to potential aggression from Azerbaijan. And what can NATO offer against this? Let us recall that Turkey is a member of the Alliance, having the second largest army in NATO.

It’s true that presently Turkey poses no immediate threat to Armenia, but she is a constant source of anxiety for the Armenian government and people. Whether the former U.S. representative to NATO will be able to persuade the RA that the Alliance is able to protect Armenia in case of hostile developments in the region is difficult to say. Anyway, Heffern will try, but how successful his efforts will prove depends on Russia, and on the course of elections. It's no secret that elections in the South Caucasus are always under U.S. scrutiny, especially now that “Arab spring” seems endless.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan
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