How Is Changing Armenia's Image of Russia, EU, and NATO?

Monday, 20 November 2023

Armenian society has radically changed its attitude towards Russia – almost no one believes Russian promises of partnership and protection.

Read more whether this is enough for Armenia to leave the sphere of Russian influence and whether the country can realistically turn towards the West, in the article by Yurii Panchenko, European Pravda editor, who spoke with Mikayel Zolyan, a political scientist and former MP from Prime Minister Pashinyan's party Civil Contract – Abandoning CSTO, Turning to West, and Revenging Russia: Political Scientist on Armenia's New Foreign Policy.

Armenia has made its strategic choice – the further it stays away from Russia, the better.

This choice is not coming mainly from the government, but from the entire society.

The challenge for Armenia is how to abandon these toxic relationships without further severe consequences.

We have experienced ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh with the silent participation of the so-called Russian peacekeepers. Meanwhile, Russia still has many other points it can use against Armenia.

The Armenian government is trying to handle this process with maximum caution.

A significant part of Armenian civil society is demanding to leave the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), exit the Eurasian Economic Union, express the desire to join the EU, and even NATO.

These forces are not represented in parliament yet, but everything can change.

The current policy of the Armenian government is not focused on abandoning CSTO but rather on being expelled from there.

There are also indications that Armenian Western partners themselves do not advise hastening the process of breaking ties with Russia.

The paradox is that the more radical measures Russia takes, the further Armenia distances itself from it.

The Kremlin's most obvious step is not direct actions but rather giving Azerbaijan a signal for a new military escalation. This is a serious danger for Armenia.

There are also economic levers. Moreover, in Armenia, regardless of the sector — transport, economy, finances —there is a significant dependence on Russia.

But the paradox is that the more drastic measures Russia takes, the further Armenia moves away from it.

The option of an external coup and the rise to power of pro-Russian forces currently seems unlikely, but nothing can be ruled out.

The further it goes, the more difficult it is for Armenia to advocate pro-Russian positions.

Is it possible for Armenia to turn towards EU membership? Yes, but Georgia signed an Association Agreement, when Armenia works with the EU only using the Cooperation Agreement.

The problem is that Armenia was almost ready for an Association Agreement with the EU 10 years ago. However, Armenia rejected this agreement under Moscow's pressure, which, of course, caused a serious issue of trust.

Although Armenia has significantly progressed in the field of democracy, it still needs to reach the level of Georgia, Ukraine, or Moldova, which have progressed towards EU membership.

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