The United States wants to continue deepening relations with Armenia even after its upcoming accession to a Russian-led bloc, U.S. Ambassador John Heffern said after meeting with Armenian lawmakers on Friday.
He met with members of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations behind the closed doors hours after they discussed an accession treaty with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which was signed by President Serzh Sarkisian last month.
Heffern told reporters afterwards that Armenia’s membership in the EEU was on the meeting’s agenda along with other issues related to foreign policy and regional security. “Armenia is a sovereign state which is free to decide which organizations to join,” he said. “The United States wants to be Armenia’s partner in all areas: economic, diplomatic, political and security.”
“We want to be a partner in any area where Armenia has the political will to partner with us,” added the envoy.
Richard Mills, another U.S. career diplomat who is due to replace Heffern in Yerevan next year, made similar statements during U.S. congressional hearings on his candidacy held in September. “We have stressed since Armenia’s decision that strengthened economic collaboration with the United States and Europe can complement Armenia’s future membership in the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama described U.S.-Armenian relations as “strong” and pledged to strengthen them when he congratulated President Serzh Sarkisian on Armenia’s Independence Day later in September. “The deep bonds between the United States and Armenia are strong,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a separate statement.
Heffern would not be drawn on possible implications for Washington’s ties with Yerevan of the mounting U.S.-Russian tensions over the conflict in Ukraine. “I’m not the U.S. ambassador to Russia and will therefore focus only on issues related to Armenia,” he said.