MOSCOW — Armenia is reorienting its foreign policy towards the West at the expense of its long-standing alliance with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview published on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, official Yerevan, succumbing to the persuasion of Westerners, is trying to reformat its foreign policy line,” he told the official Russian news agency TASS. “It is exchanging the time-tested alliance with Moscow not even for concrete help from the West but only for vague promises.”
Lavrov was particularly concerned about what he described as Armenia’s deepening ties with NATO.
“Yerevan has been developing cooperation with NATO and its individual member countries lately,” he said. “This year, Armenia took part in several dozen events with the alliance. It continues to modernize its armed forces according to NATO standards, and the republic’s military personnel are undergoing training in a number of NATO member states. This cannot fail to cause us concern.”
“I hope that Yerevan is aware that deepening interaction with the alliance leads to a loss of sovereignty in the field of national defense and security,” he warned.
Earlier this week, a senior NATO official praised Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government for moving away from Russia and seeking “more cooperation and political dialogue” with NATO.
“Armenia has decided very clearly to make some shift in their foreign policy, to take some distance from Moscow,” Javier Colomina, the NATO secretary general’s special representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, told Georgian television.
Lavrov described as “harmful” any talk of such a shift. He insisted that Armenia cannot successfully confront its grave security challenges with the help of the United States and the European Union.
According to the minister, “sustainable and gradual development of Russian-Armenian ties meets core interests of the people of the two states, which share common values and a single cultural code.”
“The trade and economic ties and the dialogue between Moscow and Yerevan develop at an impressive rate. This is a foundation for relations between the two countries, and the most important support for development of Armenian economy and the welfare of Armenian people,” Lavrov said.
He underscored that the rapid growth of Armenia’s GDP in the recent years “is largely caused by the cooperation with Russia and by Yeveran’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union [EEU].”
“Next year, Armenia will chair the EAEU. We wish our colleagues success,” the foreign minister said.