President Serzh Sarkisian did not take part in another meeting of his counterparts from Russia and four other former Soviet republics that was held in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Wednesday.
The four leaders met there in a summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, whose country has an observer status in the Russian-led grouping, also attended it.
Armenia also has an observer status in the grouping, and Sarkisian has regularly attended previous EurAsEC summits. His office gave no reason for his failure to participate in the Almaty meeting.
The meeting took place the day after Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the three other presidents held a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Sarkisian was absent from that summit as well.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Sarkisian did not attend the CSTO summit because it coincided with Armenia’s Republic Day that was marked with official ceremonies. Some commentators in Yerevan have suggested, however, that political motives might have been at play.
In a written statement, the CSTO said that Sarkisian as well as Belarus’s President Aleksandr Lukashenko did not travel to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek because the meeting there focused on security issues related to Central Asia.