Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian criticized the United States on Thursday for what he called a lack of adequate “reaction” to democratic change in Armenia.
“The U.S. has long been acting as the most ardent defender of democracy in the entire world,” he said in the Armenian parliament. “I want to ask all of us a question: how did the U.S. react to the unprecedented democratic change in Armenia? It was a profoundly and quintessentially democratic change and nobody can doubt this.”
“I, for example, have told America’s representatives that I believe that they basically came up with zero reaction. Why?” complained Pashinian.
“When we say that our country’s sovereignty is of paramount importance to us we don’t mean that we need to replace dependence on point A by dependence on point B,” he went on. “We take our sovereignty very seriously and I want to assure you … that our government is strongly committed to protecting our country’s and people’s sovereignty in all directions.”
Pashinian made the comments in response to a pro-Western opposition parliamentarian who said that his government has kept Armenia anchored to Russia and not deepened U.S.-Armenian relations. The lawmaker, Arman Babajanian, also claimed that the current authorities in Yerevan have jeopardized the economic component of those relations by effectively freezing a major mining project in Armenia strongly supported by the U.S. government.
Pashinian did not specify whether he is unhappy with Washington’s failure to significantly increase economic assistance to Armenia or other aspects of the U.S. policy towards his country.
The U.S. State Department closely monitored the mass protests that toppled Armenia’s previous government and brought Pashinian to power in May 2018.
In a congratulatory message sent to Pashinian in September, U.S. President Donald Trump praised the “velvet revolution” and expressed readiness to help the new Armenian government implement sweeping reforms promised by it. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly saluted the “remarkable changes” in Armenia.
Pashinian met with the newly appointed U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Lynne Tracy, on March 22. He was cited by his press office as telling Tracy that he is “interested in the continued development of partnership with the United States, including the political and economic spheres.”