Armenia PM signals foreign policy shift away from Russia

AFP , Sunday 24 Sep 2023

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Sunday took a veiled swipe at long-standing ally Russia, calling his country's current foreign security systems "ineffective".

People heading to the airport, where some Russian peacekeepers are based, outside the town of Stepanakert, in Azerbaijan s controlled region of Nagorno-Karabakh on September 21, 2023.AFP


Pashinyan's nationally televised comments signalled a major foreign policy shift away from Moscow, where criticism of Armenia has also grown.

"The systems of external security in which Armenia is involved are ineffective when it comes to the protection of our security and Armenia's national interests," Pashinyan said days after Azerbaijan's resounding victory in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Russian-dominated group comprised of six post-Soviet states.

Like NATO, the group pledges to protect other members that come under attack.

But bogged down in its own war in Ukraine, Russia refused to come to Armenia's assistance in the latest Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, arguing that Yerevan itself recognised the disputed region as part of Azerbaijan.

"It has become evident to all of us that the CSTO instruments and the instruments of the Armenian-Russian military-political cooperation are insufficient for protecting the external security of Armenia," he said.

"We must transform and supplement the instruments of Armenia's external and domestic security, in cooperation with all the partners who are ready for mutually beneficial steps," Pashinyan said.

He added that Armenia should ratify the so-called Rome Statute, a treaty which established the International Criminal Court, of which Russia is not a part.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his Ukraine policies.

"The decision is not directed against CSTO and the Russian Federation," Pashinyan said of his desire to join the ICC.

"It comes from the interests of the country's external security, and taking such a decision is our sovereign right."

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