The U.S. administration has invited a total of 110 participants to the “Summit for Democracy”, a virtual event on December 9 and 10, which aims to help stop democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide.
Only Armenia and Georgia have been invited from the South Caucasus region. The list of participants from among former Soviet nations also includes the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Ukraine and Moldova. Russia has not been invited to the event.
Official Yerevan has confirmed that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian will take part in the event held upon the initiative of the White House.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova have expressed Moscow’s negative attitude towards the U.S.-initiated event. Neither, however, mentioned Armenia specifically in this context.
“The United States prefers to create new dividing lines, dividing nations at its discretion into good and bad,” Peskov said.
Zakharova, too, said that the Summit for Democracy has a “confrontational” nature.
Political analyst Armen Baghdasarian sees a hidden reproach to Armenia, Russia’s key political and military ally in the region, behind the statements made in Moscow. He believes that Yerevan will have to balance its approach, reckoning with possible damage and benefits from the participation in the upcoming summit.
“Armenia is in a situation when one way or another it has to coordinate its position with Moscow. It doesn’t necessarily mean obeying Moscow’s orders. It only means to calculate whether or not the threats coming from Russia will be real in case of its participation in the U.S.-initiated summit and whether or not there will be support from the United States in case of its participation, and which is more important for Armenia. Frankly, I don’t think that Armenia’s current political leaders are capable of making such calculations,” the analyst said.
Meanwhile, a pro-government lawmaker in Yerevan said that Armenia did not take Russia’s reaction to the U.S.-initiated democracy summit as a hint that it should refuse to participate in it.
Anush Beghloyan, who sits on the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee, said that Peskov’s statement was about Russia’s relations with the West rather than Armenia’s participation in the event.
Asked whether Armenia has anyhow been told about Russia’s possible negative attitude, Beghloyan said: “I don’t have such information. I think it cannot be the case, since the Russian side also never conditions its relations with other countries with relations with its strategic partner.”
During a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Armenia last week Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigorian condemned Azerbaijan’s actions along its border with Armenia as a blow against Armenian democracy. His remarks came amid deadly border clashes on November 16 in which at least seven Azerbaijani and six Armenian soldiers were killed.
Yerevan and Baku accused each other of provoking the deadliest fighting since last year’s 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh that was also stopped through Russia’s mediation.
During his online press conference on Tuesday Pashinian emphasized that “Azerbaijan is assailing Armenia’s independence, sovereignty, statehood and democracy.” The Armenian leader said he will raise this issue too at the Summit of Democracy in December.
Azerbaijan and Turkey have not been invited to participate in the event.