Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian spoke of “more dynamic” relations with Moscow as he met with Russia’s visiting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Yerevan on Monday.
“The last time you were on an official visit to Yerevan was two years ago. During this period great changes have taken place in Armenia. I want to emphasize that as a result of these changes our relations have become more dynamic,” said Pashinian, who came to power in May 2018 as a result of peaceful street protests described by many in Armenia as a “velvet revolution.”
Lavrov, for his part, also noted that changes in Armenia have not obstructed “the continuity in bilateral relations and development of allied and strategic partnership in all fields.”
“We see very close contacts between our countries’ economic departments; intergovernmental commissions are getting ready for work in Yerevan in the first half of next year. Yerevan will also host a Russian-Armenian inter-regional forum… Our departments are actively contacting each other,” Lavrov said.
Later on Monday Lavrov held a joint press conference in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanian.
Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Lavrov said that no agreements can be formalized in the settlement of the issue without the consent of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“During the earlier phase of the conflict, when the military operations were halted, Nagorno-Karabakh was a participant in the negotiations; however, at a certain stage one of Armenia’s former presidents decided that Nagorno-Karabakh’s interest must be represented by Yerevan,” the Russian foreign minister said, when asked about Stepanakert’s absence from the negotiation process.
“In any case, we, as co-chairs, can only add that the process proceeded upon a general consent,” he added. “Everyone understands that without the consent of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh it will not be possible to formalize agreements. Armenia will simply not sign them.
Lavrov added that during his meeting with Pashinian the Armenian prime minister said that “final agreements should take into account the interests of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan.”
“And it is hard to argue with that,” said the Russian foreign minister.
During the press conference it was also announced that in the near future Yerevan and Moscow will sign a memorandum that will allow Russian specialists to access biological laboratories established in Armenia with U.S. assistance.
Lavrov arrived in Armenia on November 10. The same day in Yerevan together with his Armenian counterpart Mnatsakanian he attended the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the approaching 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
In his remarks Lavrov highlighted the role of Armenians in the fight against Nazism.
“The Armenian people are rightfully proud of their heroes, who made an invaluable contribution to the common cause of the defeat of Nazism,” Lavrov said.
According to Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mnatsakanian, for his part, stressed that “May 9 is our common holiday, our common day of remembrance of how we fought shoulder to shoulder and strove together towards victory.”
“This victory is the joint achievement of all the peoples of the former Soviet Union, as well as the nations of the anti-Hitler coalition. This is truly a world holiday, as the Great Patriotic War – the Second World War was a struggle for the future of mankind,” Mnatsakanian added.
He emphasized that Armenians have a special attitude towards Victory Day and the heroism displayed by the people of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War. “The Armenian Diaspora also took part in the fight against Nazism. Its representatives were part of Resistance movements, fought as part of Allied forces, raised funds to help the Red Army,” Mnatsakanian stressed.
At a summit of former Soviet nations in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan, last month Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of glorifying Nazism by hailing as a national hero Garegin Nzhdeh, an Armenian nationalist statesman who had fought against the Bolsheviks and later collaborated with Nazi Germany. Pashinian dismissed those accusations and in his turn accused Aliyev of distorting the history of Armenia and World War II.