The alliance with Russia does not prevent Armenia from forging close ties with the United States and the European Union, a senior U.S. diplomat insisted on Wednesday.
“We understand that as a reality of geography and history Armenia maintains strong ties to Russia,” said U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy. “But I think most Armenians agree with me that the Armenian-Russian relationship should not and does not preclude Armenia from also pursuing strong, mutually beneficial relations with the United States, the European Union, and other partners.”
“And while Armenia’s geography and history link it to Russia, your values connect you to the West,” Tracy stressed in a speech delivered in Yerevan.
“These relationships are not mutually exclusive. Foreign affairs is not a zero-sum game,” she added, echoing statements made by her predecessor, Richard Mills.
Successive governments in Yerevan have sought to complement Armenia’s membership in Russian-led defense and trade blocs with close partnership with the Western powers. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has essentially stuck to this foreign policy strategy since he came to power one year ago. He had previously called for Armenia’s withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Union.
Tracy said that although Washington and Yerevan “do not agree on everything” they deal with issues of mutual interest through an “open and honest dialogue.” She praised Armenia’s continuing participation in the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
The envoy also made clear that the U.S. will continue to work together with Russia in trying to broker a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The two nations as well as France co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“Today I am more encouraged than ever with the Minsk Group process,” Tracy said in reference to high-level Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations held in the last several months. “It has been a long road and there are no easy solutions. But the events of recent months have led me to believe that progress is possible.”