YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The new Armenian government will maintain Armenia’s “very deep” ties with Russia while trying to “complement” them with closer cooperation with the European Union and other world powers, according to Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian.
In a weekend interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Mnatsakanian ruled out major changes in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy orientation. He said the recent dramatic events that led to a change of government in Yerevan were an “Armenian process that totally fitted into the Armenian reality.”
“Our foreign policy will also be the same,” Mnatsakanian added, commenting on some Russian commentators’ fears that Armenia may drift away from Russia under Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
“We have very deep and very important relations with Russia and they will continue,” stressed the recently appointed minister. “Our strategic cooperation, strategic relations with Russia have a very strong, logical and explicable basis.”
Armenia will at the same time continue to seek closer ties with the EU, including through the implementation of the Comprehensive Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed last November, Mnatsakanian went on.
“That agreement was not signed and is not implemented to the detriment of other directions [of Armenian foreign policy,]” he said. “Instead, it complements what we have been doing for our national interests. And if we need to give more explanations, then we are going to do that.”
Russia closely watched the mass protests in Armenia sparked by former President Serzh Sarkisian’s attempt to extend his decade-long rule. In their public statements, Russian officials avoided taking sides in the standoff that led to Sarkisian’s resignation on April 23.
Pashinian has since repeatedly stated that he will not pull Armenia out of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. He assured Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 14 that Armenia will remain allied to Russia during his tenure.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Pankin said late last month that regime change in Armenia has not had a negative impact on Russian-Armenian relations. “The vector and the dynamics [of bilateral ties] remain the same,” he told the TASS agency.
Incidentally, Mnatsakanian discussed those ties with Russia’s new ambassador in Yerevan, Sergey Kopirkin, at a meeting held on Monday. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the minister expressed hope that the Russian-Armenian relationship will grow even closer.
Mnatsakanian is scheduled to visit Moscow and meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week.