Armenia: a Fresh Look at Lebanon
The year of 2017 brings new direction in the Middle East policy of Armenia. Under the conditions of total chaos any point of stability creates new opportunities to develop Armenia’s relations with the region. We are talking about Lebanon which, of course, is not a new direction in Armenia’s policy in the Middle East. However, the existing instability during the recent years in the country has created serious obstacles in terms of deepening the relations with the official Beirut. The political processes that started in Lebanon at the end of 2016 provide a positive basis in order to take active steps in this direction and raise the cooperation to a higher level.
Let’s try to highlight two factors contributing to the deepening of Armenia-Lebanon cooperation at this stage. At first, after nearly two years of vacuum as a result of the agreement between the main political forces, it became possible to elect President and form a government. It gives hopes to think that the political crisis in Lebanon, which mainly arose because of the rivalry between the Shiite and Sunni camps and because of the Syrian conflict, will be possible to soften. Moreover, the signs of stabilization are already evident. The first steps of Lebanon President Michel Aoun in the direction of restoring the balance between the opposing forces – the Sunni Muslim monarchies of the Gulf (particularly, Saudi Arabia) and Iran, as well as his ally Hezbollah state have succeeded.
Second, in terms of deepening cooperation with Lebanon an important factor is the Lebanese Armenian community (just it was in the past) which is involved in political, economic and cultural life of the country. The two Armenian ministers in the current government, as well as many Armenian officials involved in the governance (their involvement in state bodies has long become regularity) will contribute to the further cooperation between the Armenian and Lebanese people.
Probably this is why we witness quite active steps towards this direction made by the Armenian Ambassador in Lebanon Samvel Mkrtchyan. During the meetings of the Armenian Ambassador with the Lebanese President and Prime Minister the sides emphasized the importance of further strengthening the bilateral relations and close cooperation in various fields. Particularly, Samvel Mkrtchyan has conveyed to the President of Lebanon an invitation of the Armenian President to visit our country. The possibility of convening the next meeting of the Armenian-Lebanese intergovernmental commission was discussed with the Lebanese Prime Minister. At the same time consultations are underway over the deepening of military cooperation between the two countries, as well as over the need to activate cooperation in the framework of international organizations.
The active steps in this direction at this stage are important both in terms of bilateral relations and deepening cooperation with the whole Middle East region. It is no secret that due to its strategic geographical location Lebanon has become a platform, where political, religion, economic, strategic interests of different Western and Eastern countries cross (very often clash). Due to its multi-vector policy, Lebanon has managed to develop its relations both with Muslim countries and the West (contributing factor was the 15-million strong Lebanese diaspora). Thus, the time selected to use the stabilization of the situation in Lebanon and to give a new breath to cooperation with the country, as well as the region is chosen correctly.