Armenia’s leaders rushed to congratulate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday on his victory in Russia’s weekend presidential election, saying that it will give a further boost to Yerevan’s “strategic partnership” with Moscow.
In a letter released by his press office, President Serzh Sarkisian said the official vote results demonstrated Russians’ strong support for Putin’s efforts to “modernize” their country and enhance its “role and influence in global processes.” Sarkisian also praised his “invaluable personal contribution” to the strengthening of Russian-Armenian ties.
“I am confident that further development of our bilateral strategic partnership will also help to reinforce peace, security and stability in the Caucasus and allow us to not only implement long-term economic projects … but also identify new opportunities for inter-state cooperation,” he wrote. Sarkisian went on to invite the Russian leader to pay a state visit to Armenia this year.
In a separate congratulatory message, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said Putin regained the Russian presidency in an “open and fair contest.” “I am confident that the existing strategic partnership of our states will receive new impetus,” he said.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) likewise said the Russian election outcome win will ensure “continuity” in relations between the two countries. “Vladimir Putin’s election can serve as a new impetus to Russian-Armenian political, economic, cultural and other relations,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Also congratulating Putin was Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a junior partner in the country’s governing coalition. Like the HHK, the BHK maintains close ties with the ruling United Russia Party.
Tigran Sarkisian openly backed the Russian prime minister’s return to the Kremlin last month. “That is also in Armenia’s interests,” he said.
The results of a global opinion poll released by Gallup last summer suggest that most Armenians would subscribe to this view. According to the poll, three in four people in Armenia approve of the current Russian leadership’s track record. Only 7 percent of Armenians were critical of the Kremlin.
The Armenian president and prime minister mostly recently met Putin during separate trips to Moscow last October.
The powerful Russian premier has singled out economic issues in his public comments on Russian-Armenian ties made in the last few years. In November 2010, for example, he thanked Serzh Sarkisian for creating “necessary conditions” for Russian firms doing business in Armenia. Putin also emphasized the fact that Russia allocated a $500 million anti-crisis loan Yerevan in 2009 and remains Armenia’s leading foreign investor.