WASHINGTON, DC (RFE/RL) — The United States regards the recent parliamentary elections in Armenia as democratic and supports Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s reform agenda, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Thursday.
“I called Prime Minister Pashinyan of Armenia yesterday to congratulate him on his re-appointment and applaud the Armenian people on free and fair elections in December,” tweeted Bolton. “The U.S. supports his efforts to secure a prosperous future for Armenia.”
Pashinyan was quick to report the phone conversation with Bolton on his Facebook page. Writing from Davos, he said they “stressed the importance of U.S.-Armenian relations for our governments.”
Visiting Armenia in October, Bolton praised the new Armenian government’s stated efforts to democratize the country, combat corruption and strengthen broader rule of law. He also said Washington expects Pashinyan to take “decisive steps” towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s resolution “right after” his widely anticipated victory in the December 9 parliamentary elections.
Bolton spoke with Pashinyan by phone one day after the latter met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum held in the Swiss resort town. The Armenian leader said Wednesday that he did not discuss the Karabakh issue with U.S. President Donald Trump’s key adviser.
Trump sent a congratulatory letter to Pashinyan late last week. “The United States supports a prosperous, democratic Armenia at peace with its neighbors,” he wrote. “Together, we can make progress on deepening trade between our countries, strengthening global security, and combating corruption. A peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will help these efforts.”
During his visit to Yerevan, Bolton also stated that normalizing relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey would enable Armenia to break “historical patterns” that have shaped its traditional foreign policy. He further indicated that Washington is ready to sell Yerevan U.S. weapons and thus reduce Russia’s “excessive influence” on Armenia.
Russia condemned those remarks, accusing the U.S. of meddling in its South Caucasus ally’s internal affairs. “We expect that the current leadership of Armenia … will have the courage to resist the unhidden external blackmail and pressure,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said last month.
Armenian leaders earlier played down the significance of Bolton’s statements.