Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian threatened on Wednesday to boycott this week’s meeting of prime ministers of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states if it is held in Moscow, rather than Yerevan, because of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The regular session of an EEU council comprising the prime ministers of Russia and three other ex-Soviet states aligned in the trade bloc was scheduled to take place in the Armenian capital on Friday. Russian media reports said on Tuesday Kazakhstan, which has close ties with Azerbaijan, demanded a change of the venue after the weekend outbreak of heavy fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Abrahamian’s spokeswoman, Gohar Poghosian, confirmed that. She said that Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov on Tuesday telephoned his Armenian counterpart and “suggested” that the meeting be held in Moscow instead.
Abrahamian replied that he sees “no serious reason to change the venue,” Poghosian told the Armenpress news agency. “Mr. Abrahamian said that if the other [EEU] prime ministers decide to hold the meeting in Moscow then they will be notified about his participation later on,” she said.
The official added that the Armenian premier has not yet decided whether or not to attend the EEU meeting if it is held in Moscow.
Abrahamian issued the warning the day after discussing the matter by phone with Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. His office announced afterwards that Medvedev will arrive in Yerevan as planned on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that President Serzh Sarkisian and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev had a phone conversation. A statement by Sarkisian’s office said the two men “exchanged views” on the EEU meeting originally planned in Yerevan but gave no details. It also said Sarkisian briefed Nazarbayev on the “Azerbaijani aggression” in Karabakh.
Nazarbayev, who maintains a warm rapport with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, already used the Karabakh conflict to try to set conditions for Armenia’s accession to the EEU in 2014. The longtime Kazakh leader demanded that the accession treaty with Yerevan mention Armenia’s internationally recognized borders that do not include Karabakh. The treaty, which was signed by Nazarbayev and his Russian, Belarusian and Armenian counterparts later in 2014, contains no such special references.