Armenia has accused Kazakhstan of damaging the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with its refusal to attend a high-level meeting of the Russian-led bloc’s member states in Yerevan in an apparent show of support for Azerbaijan.
The prime ministers of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were scheduled to hold a regular session of the EEU’s “intergovernmental council” in the Armenian capital on Friday. The meeting was cancelled after Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Masimov refused to attend it, proposing Moscow as an alternative venue.
President Serzh Sarkisian raised the matter with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev when they met in Yerevan late on Thursday. “I regret that some of our partners among Eurasian Economic Union member states have refused to come to Yerevan for participating in the pre-planned event,” Sarkisian told Medvedev.
“I don’t know just how much they have helped Azerbaijan with that move, but that they have undermined the reputation of our organization is beyond doubt,” he said.
The Kazakh government, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the EEU, has publicly given no reasons for its stance. Observers believe it wants to move the summit to avoid the impression that Kazakhstan, which has strong linguistic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, supports Armenia in the Karabakh conflict.
Like other Muslim and Turkic Central Asian states, Kazakhstan has repeatedly signed up to pro-Azerbaijani multilateral declarations on the dispute.
Medvedev sought to downplay Kazakhstan’s stance. “In part, one can probably understand their behavior and decision because not everyone is so well informed about the current situation and about what could happen and what will happen,” he told the Armenian president.
Medvedev said that Moscow will strive to arrange an EEU prime ministerial meeting in Yerevan later this year. But it remained unclear whether the cancelled session will take place in the Russian capital next week.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin again phoned his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday to discuss what a Kremlin statement described as a “timetable of upcoming high-level meetings within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union.”
According to the statement, Putin also briefed Nazarbayev on the escalation of the Karabakh conflict and Russian efforts to restore the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire.