Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian will attend after all a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) summit that was due to take place in Yerevan but was moved to Moscow because of the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
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.
Kazakhstan, which has strong linguistic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, apparently wanted to avoid the impression that it supports Armenia in the Karabakh conflict.
Armenian leaders rejected the Kazakh proposal and threatened to boycott the rescheduled meeting in Moscow throughout last week. President Serzh Sarkisian publicly accused the Central Asian state of damaging the EEU’s reputation when he met with Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Yerevan on Friday.
Medvedev sought to downplay Kazakhstan’s stance. He assured Sarkisian that the prime ministers of the five ex-Soviet states aligned in the Russian-led bloc will meet in Yerevan later this year.
Abrahamian’s office announced on Tuesday that he will fly to Moscow later in the day to take part in the summit. The Armenian premier will also hold separate talks with Medvedev, it said.
That Yerevan will not boycott the Moscow meeting was indicated on Monday by Vahram Baghdasarian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “I think it would be right to go [to Moscow] because it’s not a case where we should look for enemies,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He said Yerevan should use the EEU meeting to “get our messages across.”
But Alexander Arzumanian, an opposition parliamentarian and former foreign minister, disagreed. “The Armenian prime minister should not participate in that meeting,” he said on Tuesday. “If other [EEU member states] are so friendly towards Azerbaijan, then we must reconsider our approaches.”
“This is a serious mistake,” Arzumanian added, referring to Abrahamian’s announcement.