A senior NATO official on Monday commented cautiously on implications of Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election for NATO’s relations with Armenia and other former Soviet republics.
During the lengthy presidential race Trump described the U.S.-led alliance as obsolete, raising concerns among America’s European allies. He threatened to abandon those allies if they do not spend more on defense.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Trump on Sunday that “going it alone” is not an option for Europe or the United States, while acknowledging the need for more European defense spending.
“I think we are all waiting to find out what the new president’s polices will be,” William Lahue, head of NATO’s regional Liaison Office in Tbilisi, said when asked whether Trump’s election victory bodes ill for NATO’s closer ties with ex-Soviet states, including Armenia.
Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan, Lahue stressed at the same time that the White House is not the sole decision-making body that shapes U.S. foreign policy. There also other “strong institutions” such as the U.S. Congress that support NATO’s growing cooperation with Armenia, he said.
“I have no concerns in this regard because it’s not a single politician who decides the direction of [U.S. foreign] policy,” added Lahue. “We have to wait to see what the direction will be.”
Despite its close military alliance with Russia, Armenia has deepened its ties with NATO over the past decades. In particular, Armenian soldiers are involved in the NATO-led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and regularly participate in military exercises organized by NATO.
Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said late last week that official Yerevan does not expect the incoming Trump administration to change U.S. policy towards the South Caucasus.