Armenian lawmakers to vote Wednesday on joining ICC

AFP , Tuesday 3 Oct 2023

Armenian lawmakers are scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to join the International Criminal Court, a parliament spokeswoman told AFP, a move that would anger the ex-Soviet Caucasus country's historic ally, Moscow.

Armenian lawmakers attend a plenary session at the parliament in Yerevan on October 3, 2023.
Armenian lawmakers attend a plenary session at the parliament in Yerevan on October 3, 2023. AFP


The Kremlin has said that a decision in Armenia to join The Hague-based court, which has issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, would be "extremely hostile."

The vote in parliament to ratify the court's founding treaty -- known as the Rome Statute, is scheduled for Wednesday -- spokeswoman Tsovinar Khachatryan told AFP.

Lawmakers began hearings on joining the ICC Tuesday, with Armenia's representative on international legal matters, telling parliament that the decision was focused on the country's security concerns.

"We are creating additional guarantees for Armenia" in the face of the threat to the country's territorial integrity from arch-foe Azerbaijan, Eghishe Kirakosyan, told lawmakers.

Opposition parties, which control 36 seats in Armenia's 107-seat legislature protested the move and their MPs walked out from the plenary session.

Russia has repeatedly warned Armenia against ratifying the Rome Statute. ICC members are expected to move on Putin's arrest if the Russian leader steps foot in their territory.

In March, the ICC announced an arrest warrant for Putin on the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

Armenian's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan however last week sought to assuage Kremlin fears.

"The decision is not directed against... the Russian Federation. It comes from the interests of the country's external security, and taking such a decision is our sovereign right," he said.

Tensions have been rising between Yerevan and Moscow over the role of Russian peacekeepers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which announced its dissolution last week following a lightning military operation by Baku.

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