President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday congratulated Donald Trump on his victory in the U.S. presidential election, expressing confidence that U.S.-Armenian relations “will continue to develop dynamically” during his tenure.
“The American people have enthusiastically voted in support of your outstanding leadership qualities, your experience and vision, thus entrusting you with the honorable responsibility to lead the nation,” Sarkisian said in a telegram made public by his office. “I have no doubt that under your able leadership the United States will achieve further progress and advancement in the years to come.”
“I am confident that during your presidency the close U.S.-Armenia partnership will continue to develop dynamically – expanding and reaching new heights in different areas,” he wrote.
Throughout his rule, Sarkisian has sought closer ties with the United States despite Armenia’s political and military alliance with Russia. He has repeatedly said in recent years that U.S.-Armenian relations have reached the “highest level in their history.”
“We will continue to work together to help Armenia realize its full potential,” President Barack Obama said in a September 21 letter to Sarkisian.
As Americans went to the polls on November 8 the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Richard Mills, said U.S. foreign policy is unlikely to undergo fundamental changes regardless of the outcome of the presidential election. “The U.S. government will remain committed to our friends around the world and certainly to our friend Armenia,” he said.
Citing Trump’s conciliatory rhetoric on Russia, some analysts in Armenia suggested, however, that the election outcome heralds major changes in that policy.
Richard Giragosian of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center said Washington could become less engaged in the ex-Soviet space -- and the South Caucasus in particular -- and acquiesce greater Russian presence there. “If we look at this region, clearly we should expect a significant shift in U.S. policy in one key regard: U.S.-Russian relations,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Giragosian said the Trump administration could specifically allow Moscow to take on an even greater role in international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “In this context, it is dangerous for the region, but also concerning Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
In his congratulatory message to Trump, Sarkisian praised the “important role” played by the U.S. in the Karabakh peace process. He also said the influential Armenian-American community should continue to serve as a “strong bridge between our nations.”
In contrast to past U.S. presidential races, neither Trump nor his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton have pledged to officially recognize the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey if elected president. A formal U.S. recognition of the genocide has for decades been a key goal of Armenian-American advocacy groups.
One of those groups, the Armenian Assembly of America, congratulated Trump later on Wednesday. “We commend American Armenians who participated in the election process throughout the country," its two co-chairmen, Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian, said in a joint statement.
Barsamian and Krikorian said that Armenia’s two arch-foes, Turkey and Azerbaijan, “pose a threat to stability in the region.” They also urged the incoming Trump administration to protect Armenian and other Christian minority communities in the Middle East.