Armenia remains committed to its continued membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and broader alliance with Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian told his visiting Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Monday.
Pashinian hosted Medvedev in his private residence ahead of a meeting in Yerevan of the prime ministers of five ex-Soviet states making up the Russian-led trade bloc.
Medvedev is the most high-ranking Russian official to visit Yerevan since last year’s “velvet revolution” which toppled the former Armenian government. In his opening remarks at the informal talks with Pashinian, he said Armenia and Russia remain “allied countries that have a special history of relations.”
“Now is a very important moment in our relations,” Pashinian said, for his part. “And I’m sure that contrary to pessimists we will succeed in raising our relations to a new level … I think that we should actually turn pessimists into optimists. We will do everything for that.”
Turning to the EEU, Pashinian said that membership in the organization is “very important” for Armenia. “We will do everything to make the EEU and our membership in it more effective,” he said.
The Armenian premier likewise stressed the bloc’s significance for his country when he visited Moscow and spoke at the EEU headquarters in January.
Pashinian criticized Armenia’s accession to the EEU and even called for its withdrawal from the bloc when he was opposition to former President Serzh Sarkisian. But immediately after Sarkisian was forced to resign in April 2018 he made clear that he will not pull his country out of the EEU or the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
In an interview with the Moscow-based newspaper “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” published last week, Pashinian admitted that he is still distrusted by “some Russian circles.” He said they are wrong to suspect that the Armenian “velvet revolution” was orchestrated by Western powers. He reiterated that there will be “no fundamental changes” in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy.
Meeting with Medvedev, Pashinian said Russian-Armenian relations have “developed steadily” since last year’s regime change in Yerevan. Still, he noted the existence of some “issues” in bilateral ties.
One of those contentious issues is coup charges that were brought by the new Armenian authorities last year against former President Robert Kocharian and Yuri Khachaturov, a retired Armenian army general who was the CSTO’s secretary general at the time. Moscow denounced the charges as politically motivated. Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled his continuing support for Kocharian after the latter was again arrested in December.
Kocharian, Khachaturov and two other retired generals are expected to go on trial soon.