A senior Russian diplomat commended and voiced support for Armenia’s embattled leadership on Thursday as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Yerevan that focused on the post-election unrest in the country.
“Riots, chaos in the streets is a very dangerous thing for any country, and I believe that the events of March 1-2 showed the citizens of Armenia just how dangerous that path can be. It does not solve any problems and instead brings about instability, uncertainty about the future,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said, referring to the last opposition demonstration in Yerevan marred by deadly clashes between security forces and protesters.
“In my view, the government of new Armenian statehood has passed this dangerous phase, this dangerous test and is now stepping on to a very certain path of political reforms and dialogue,” he told journalists.
The political situation in Armenia, Russia’s main regional ally, in the wake of last month’s disputed presidential election topped the agenda of Karasin’s talks on Wednesday with departing President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sarkisian. Russia has closely followed the post-election developments in the country, with President Vladimir Putin discussing it in a March 10 phone call with Sarkisian. While calling for a dialogue between the Armenian government and the opposition, Putin reaffirmed the Kremlin’s recognition of Sarkisian’s victory in the election and invited the latter to visit Moscow.
Sarkisian’s office said on Thursday that the Armenian premier will fly to Moscow on March 24. It said he will meet Putin and Russia’s President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to discuss “a broad range of issues of mutual interest.”
According to Karasin, Sarkisian and Kocharian now “understand and control” the domestic political situation. “They have certain plans for the future, plans for bringing the constructive opposition into the legal field and starting dialogue,” he said. “I hope that this tendency will prevail and Armenian society will again acquire stability and predictability. Russia is ready and interested in assisting in that by all means.”
It was not clear if by “constructive opposition” Karasin meant former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his opposition allies. Unlike Western envoys who have visited Yerevan since March 1, the Russian diplomat declined to meet Ter-Petrosian.
“The information which the president, the prime minister and the foreign minister gave us was absolutely sufficient,” Karasin explained. “Having said that, we definitely have information about what they in the opposition camp think. We have an embassy here, we have friends in all spheres of Armenian political and public life. So rest assured that we possess information of various caliber.”