The US Will Be More Interested in Having Success Stories in Our Region: Liana Hovhannisyan (EXCLUSIVE)

We present an interview conducted by our partner “Armedia” IAA  with an expert of “Insight” Analytical Center for Applied Policy and Research, Liana Hovhannisyan, concerning the new US administration, the changes under Donald Trump and the new priorities of the US foreign policy.

- Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections was somehow shocking not only for the US but also for the whole world. What do you think why was this the case?

Such a reaction is conditioned by several factors. I will bring the main ones.

First, Donald Trump, as a politician, as described in the West, is not politically correct. It is no coincidence that the Western media called him “the most unconventional” US president. For example, we know that, as a rule, politicians follow the so-called diplomatic ethics and refrain from expressing an opinion on many issues. In contrast, US President Donald Trump often feels himself free to”call things by their names”.

Second, Donald Trump’s victory broke a number of stereotypes. For example, US presidents, as accepted in the US political experience, are required to have passed a long political career, holding a variety of positions and gradually rising to the level of the president. Another example of this stereotype is the belief that the presidential elections cannot be won by a candidate who has no strong political ties with any of the two main US parties.

Third, Donald Trump has been an unpredictable politician. It should be noted that the newly elected US President came out against the announced principles and the main political directions of the US (a striking example of that was his position towards Russia in the background of anti-Russian sentiments in the West during the recent years, his migration policy, etc.).

Fourth, the Western media was trapped in its own net. Throughout the campaign, the majority of Western experts, journalists almost excluded Trump’s victory and infected society with their mood. But we had the completely opposite picture. The situation was the same in case of Brexit.


- Do you think during the new US president’s tenure we will witness a change in the US foreign policy and the tools being used?

- In order to answer this question one has to remember what were the main theses, Trump used throughout his campaign and continued to adhere to them after winning the election. Among those thesis I will distinguish the main two: the United States will take into account first of all its own interests in its policy and, second, the US will restore its respect among other countries.

From this we can draw the following conclusions:

First, US foreign policy will be based on direct agreements with other countries by the principle “what for what.” If this is projected, for example, on the US-EU relations, the US will put forward to its EU allies a very well-defined precondition: if want the US to ensure your safety, then consider what you are willing to give the United States instead.

Second, the US will continue its policy building not on imitation of values, but on interests. This itself means yielding from the US “soft power” principle often used in the past. In other words, if the US financial resources were directed mainly to the opposition forces in order to solve some problems, the basic agreements will now be reached with the authorities by the same “what for what” principle.


- What does it mean and is it good?

 - It is positive in terms that there will be clearly defined rules and obligations. On the other hand, it is negative as the advancement of interests will be at the expense of values. The US has long been a traditional supporter of democratic values ​​(at least on the level of statements). In this case a question arises, whether there will be any country that will be able to replace the United States.


- Against this background, what changes to expect in US policy towards its immediate neighbors, the major powers (Russia, China) and our region.

 - As for its immediate neighbors, the US, I think, will continue to collaborate with them, but in this case there will be more clearly established arrangements. Here the United States will push forward its main interests, trying to serve them to the interests of its immediate neighbors as well.

The relations with power centers will be built on the principle of interaction, where one partner does not attempt to cross the red lines set by the other. At the same time, they will try to fight together against the common challenges.

Given that Trump seems to have a greater focus on the US domestic issues, he will weaken US active involvement in other regions.  I believe that in case of our region as well he will leave the problems to the main players. At the same time, the US will continue to participate in those formats, involved previously, such as the OSCE Minsk Group format. The US interest to have success stories in the issues where it is directly involved, will increase. This is due to Trump’s desire to raise the US rating.

On the webpage of NGO “European Integration” hereafter you can read analyses and comments on current political developments by the experts of “Insight” Analytical Center for Applied Policy and Research within the “European Integration” NGO.