Armenia’s leadership has assured Western powers that it will continue deepening relations with them even after joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, John Heffern, said on Friday.
Heffern said that the United States trusts in these assurances because it believes that closer ties with the West are “not incompatible” with Yerevan’s membership in the Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. The U.S. and the European Union are therefore trying to help Armenia develop a “strategic” capacity to closely cooperate with both the West and Russia, he said.
“We think that Armenia can benefit from both,” Heffern told a farewell news conference in the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan.
Heffern’s incoming successor, Richard Mills, made similar statements during U.S. congressional hearings on his candidacy held in September. “We have stressed since Armenia’s decision [to join the EEU] that strengthened economic collaboration with the United States and Europe can complement Armenia’s future membership in the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said.
“We want to do that in every sector. Economic sector, diplomatic, political and even security,” stressed Heffern. He argued that membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization has not kept Armenia from increasingly cooperating with NATO. “Both organizations benefit from Armenia’s participation,” 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 in September. “The deep bonds between the United States and Armenia are strong,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a separate statement.