Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has insisted that closer ties with the European Union sought by his government cannot undermine Armenia’s alliance with Russia.
“The good news is that the European Union doesn’t set any geopolitical conditions in its relations with Armenia,” Pashinian said at the start of a visit to Brussels on Monday. “Our cooperation agenda with the EU is fully [based on a] reform agenda … and we are going to fully implement this reform agenda.”
“I don’t think that there are contradictions between our relationships with the European Union and Russia,” he told members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. “In these two relationships we are transparent. It is very important to insist that there is no plot against Russia in our relations with the European Union and there is no plot against the EU in our cooperation with Russia.”
Pashinian strongly criticized Russian-Armenian relations and, in particular, Armenia’s membership in the EEU when he was in opposition to his country’s former government. However, he ruled out major changes in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy orientation immediately after coming to power on a wave of anti-government protests last May.
Addressing EU lawmakers, Pashinian stressed that there have not been “any changes in our foreign policy strategy” since the “velvet revolution.” “Armenia remains committed to its foreign policy obligations and partners,” he said.
Pashinian made clear at the same time that his government is keen to implement the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which the previous Armenian administration signed with the EU in 2017. “In this regard, I want to note that early ratification of the CEPA by the EU member states is crucial for its complete entry into force and further enhancement of our bilateral relations,” he said.
The CEPA commits Yerevan to carrying out political reforms that will democratize Armenia’s political system and boost human rights protection. It must also gradually “approximate” Armenian economic laws and regulations to those of the EU.