Armenia’s ongoing integration with the European Union is not putting it at odds with Russia, its longtime ally, a senior government official in Yerevan insisted on Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said the Association Agreement with the EU sought by Yerevan will not undermine the traditionally close Russian-Armenian relationship. He denied any connection between significant progress in association talks with Brussels and a recent surge in the price of Russian gas for Armenia and large-scale sales of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan.
“We must very seriously take into account the depth of Armenia’s relations with Russia,” Mnatsakanian, who has been the chief Armenian negotiator in the association talks, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “They were not built in one day and their foundation is quite strong.
“Partners talk to each, explain and understand each other, and that is true for everybody. And I won’t link something with something because we have a partner in Russia, we have a partner in the EU, we have formats of cooperation with them, and we are following our foreign policy course within that framework.”
“We are very sensitive. We can’t undermine one direction with another. We are negotiating with our EU partners in a very precise and prudent fashion,” added the diplomat.
The Association Agreement, which is due to be finalized this fall, will preclude Armenia’s accession to a new Russian-led bloc of former Soviet republics actively promoted by Moscow. Russia’s former ambassador in Yerevan, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, warned earlier this week that the Armenian government will place “boundaries” on the alliance with Russia if it stays out of the Eurasian Union.
President Serzh Sarkisian assured reporters in March that his administration is facing no Russian pressure to join the union. Sarkisian spoke one week after his most recent talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.