Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will visit the United States next week to attend the UN General Assembly in New York. The Armenian press and political commentators once again are discussing the possibility of a meeting with the President of the United States. During a press conference in Yerevan last week, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was asked about the Trump-Pashinyan meeting, to which the Minister responded that no such meeting is set yet, but discussions were underway between the two sides.
Some in Armenia consider the lack of Trump-Pashinyan meeting as a personal rejection of Pashinyan, due to U.S. dissatisfaction with Armenia’s foreign policies and regional relations.
First, it must be said that expecting such a meeting during the UN General Assembly annual meetings is not the right approach. During a short time period, leaders of more than a hundred countries around the world will visit New York to speak before the UN session. As a general rule, the American presidents hold a reception in honor of the attending delegations, during which they personally greet all the leaders. Sometimes, short meetings are also held between leaders of a limited number of countries and the U.S. President with whom there are immediate issues to be discussed. These are long standing and established diplomatic protocols, and as such, there is no need to see a political message or a rejection of any country.
Nowadays, when the occupant of the White House is Donald Trump and the U.S. foreign policy is in a messy state of affairs, no one should have any expectations of a Trump-Pashinyan meeting. President Trump has little interest in foreign countries, with the exception of a few- Israel, Iran, North Korea, China, with whom he is in a trade war, few countries receive his attention. It is a well known fact that Trump does not read daily intelligence briefings about the international affairs. Most of the time he gets his news from TV programs instead of relying on his own advisers or experts. He barely spends a few hours a day working in the Oval Office. His daily schedule is mostly listed as “executive time” and it is believed that he spends it at the residential quarters of the White House, watching FOX News, tweeting or having phone conversations with conservative commentators, newspaper reporters or political allies.
As with his divisive domestic policies, similarly the foreign policy of the Trump administration is in disarray. Just this week Trump got rid of his 3rd National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who, by the way, was the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since the Velvet Revolution.
Since being elected President, for Trump everything is demonstrative in nature, mainly aimed at securing his re-election. Under such circumstances, expecting a serious high level US-Armenia meeting and discussions is unrealistic. Such a meeting is more likely after the 2020 presidential elections, if America has a new president. Until then, it is pointless to talk about or pursue a Trump-Pashinyan meeting. .