Armenia’s continuing efforts to forge closer links with the European Union will not damage its alliance with Russia, the Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Ivan Volynkin, said on Friday.
“Russia and Armenia are bound by a relationship of alliance type and the Russian and Armenian peoples are brotherly peoples,” Volynkin told the TASS news agency when asked about Moscow’s position on a new EU-Armenian accord which is expected to be signed later this year.
“Both states are part of integration structures -- the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- whose members have economic and political obligations,” he said. “Based on the precedence of those obligations, relations with the EU are naturally being built not to their detriment, and everybody realizes that.”
Armenian and EU officials concluded in the summer of 2013 negotiations on a far-reaching Association Agreement. President Serzh Sarkisian precluded its signing with his unexpected decision in September 2013 to seek Armenia’s accession to the EEU. The U-turn was widely attributed to Russian pressure.
An alternative deal currently negotiated by Yerevan and Brussels will likely contain the main political and some economic provisions of the cancelled Association Agreement. But it will have no free trade-related component due to Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led bloc.
President Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed his government’s commitment to deepen ties with the EU when he met with the EU’s commissioner for European neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, in Yerevan in November. The head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, Piotr Switalski, said last month that the two sides are inching closer to the new deal.
Volynkin was also confident that Armenian foreign policy will not undergo radical changes as a result of Armenia’s parliamentary elections slated for April 2. He said the vote promises to be “very interesting” because it will come one year before Armenia completes its transition to a parliamentary system of government.
Volynkin noted a new constitutional provision that requires the existence of a “stable majority” in the Armenian parliament, saying that it should “ensure continuity in the political process in Armenia.” “Taking these facts into consideration, we see no major reason for Yerevan to radically change it foreign policy course,” the diplomat told TASS.