Russian Diplomat Decries Armenia’s EU Integration

Russian Embassy in Yerevan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A Russian diplomat has openly criticized ongoing talks on the Association Agreement between Armenia and the European Union, in a further sign that Moscow is unhappy with Yerevan’s reluctance to join a new Russian-led union of ex-Soviet states.

Aleksandr Vasilyev, the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, compared the negotiating process late on Tuesday with Western powers’ and the Soviet Union’s infamous treaties with Nazi Germany that cost several Eastern European states their independence.

“The separate, confidential negotiations between the European Union and Armenia, whose details are being concealed from the public and everybody else, are putting us on our guard,” Vasilyev told a roundtable discussion in Yerevan organized by an Armenian group promoting “Eurasian integration.”

“You remember how such negotiations ended in 1930s. At first there was the [1938] Munich conspiracy and then the [1939] Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Those agreements did not bring Europe anything good,” he warned, according to the Armenian newspaper “168 Zham.”

Vasilyev said that Armenia will soon have to make a fateful choice between European and Eurasian integrations. He predicted that political life in the country will therefore heat up in the coming weeks.

Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who was Russia’s ambassador to Armenia until March, issued a similar warning less than two months ago. He said Yerevan will receive few tangible benefits and risk alienating Moscow if it presses ahead with the Association Agreement.

“By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path. As they said in ancient times, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’” Kovalenko said.

The Armenian leadership appears to have been under Russian pressure to pledge to join a Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states which President Vladimir Putin hopes will be built around Russia’s existing customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration has given no such promises, pushing instead for the signing of the far-reaching deal with the EU. It is due to be initialed at an EU summit in November.

The EU is also planning similar agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The Russian government has warned Ukraine against signing such a deal, including through de facto trade sanctions that were briefly imposed earlier this month. It has exerted no such pressure on Armenia so far.

Officials in Yerevan have expressed confidence that Armenia will avoid an open confrontation with the Kremlin because unlike  the three ex-Soviet states it is not seeking to eventually join the EU through the Association Agreement. They also argue that Armenia remains strongly committed to its military alliance with Russia.

Vasilyev’s remarks prompted strong criticism from pro-Western Armenian pundits on Wednesday. Davit Shahnazarian, an opposition politician and analyst who held top security posts in the government in the 1990s, said: “Russian diplomats and other officials must be a bit more cautious in their evaluations and realize that Armenia is a sovereign state, that it does appreciate its strategic security cooperation with Russia. But that must be mutually beneficial and they should in no case meddle in our internal affairs.”

Stepan Grigorian, another prominent analyst who headed Armenian missions in Moscow in the mid-1990s, claimed that the Russians have failed to come up with attractive alternatives to European integration and are now resorting to “primitive pressure.”

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17 Comments

  1. Parsik said:

    Mr. Kovalenko, the road to the hell was paved by Abovian and other russophiles like him, we have got nothing from Russian aliance except genocide, land lose and Armenian depletion of 3000 years old Armenian land, wellcome to Russia I guess!

  2. Avtis said:

    I call on our Russian friends to do ‘whatever’ is necessary to make sure Armenian officials make the right decision when the time comes.

  3. Gazzo said:

    It is not in Armenia’s interests, long term interests, to taper away from Russia. If Armenia thinks it can play a double game, with both Russia and EU, it is mistaken. The EU can never provide any degree of security to Armenia. If anything it will push Armenia into a vassalage state, subservient and dominated by Turkey. There is no doubt that at the eleventh hour common sense will prevail and Armenia will steer her course align to Russia. Long distance mentors, USA,EU are not only unreliable but also perfidious and treacherous. The experiences of 1915-1922 can not be forgotten.

    • An Armenian said:

      Armenia is not a vassal state under Russia? Smaller and weaker states are always under the vassalage of one of the superpowers or regional powers especially if they are located in strategic corners of the world with geopolitical significance to those powers.

  4. lobo said:

    What the Russia fails to realize is that most Armenians don’t believe they have anything to lose. Nice integration you got there, Russia. We remember how the last time went when the Russians decides they care for the Caucasus. Didn’t care another for Ardahan and Kars, eh? In particular your care for Armenia wasn’t that great, as Nachichevan, Javahk and “Karabakh” showed. We very well see how you treat your “friends”, Russia – i.e. Belarus.
    Clearly we are bound to stick up to some point, but clearly you do not care for development in Armenia, what you care for are underdeveloped puppets.
    Who are they to tell us what to do? There aren’t many countries that could have a good post-soviet start. Russia was definitely one of them. I don’t see good-panned streets – not in Moscow and certainly not on Vladikavkas. I guess that’s why you need petty business worth 3 bln selling arms to Azeris. Something you would’t do to the Syrian “rebels”, for there you cared less about business or balance…
    No, 20 years have clearly shown that Russia has remained the same: abusing its “allies” out of aimless activism; while the US plans never work out the way they should, at least they have a slightly sophisticated plan when messing around with others…
    Don’t try to share us. You’re a country that is being held together by an iron fist and massive resources. Meanwhile more and more people are starting to wonder which country has at least some values? Despite all the crap going on in the EU, it is Europe.

    • An Armenian said:

      What are those values? You think Europe really cares Armenia? They have always sold out Armenian interests for their own. In the future, they will not hesitate to do so.

  5. Gary_S said:

    THe EU objectives is to get a pipeline through Armenia. But the only way this can happen is for Azeribaijan to be happy–having Karabagh back. So the EU objectives is to get Armenia so dependent on the EU biz dealings that it will be forced to give up Karabagh. Be careful with the EU. They ONLY want a pipeline through Armenia since Georgia has a Russian friendly leadership now.

    • Gary_S said:

      Also, if Armenia allows a pipeline through it, Russia won’t care about having its troops there anymore. Russia needs Armenia NOT having a pipeline so the West will be dependent on oil from Russia. Russian economy is heavily dependent on oil revenue.

  6. From Russia Without Love said:

    Russia is the best friend Armenia ever had or will have. We must worship Russia at all costs, because Russia is the best. We love how Russia gave Artsakh to Azerbaijan, it was out of kindness and Russian genius which cannot be matched anywhere.

    We also must love how Nakhichevan was cut off of Armenia by our beloved friend Russia because now the map looks awesome!!

    It was also great how Russia literally gave western Armenia to Ataturk’s Turkey, because if we kept it that would have been too much work for us, so we must thank Russia for the free land giveaways of Ararat, Van, Erzeroum, Cilicia, etc. which allowed us a 70 year vacation!! Isn’t that great??

    In addition, the treaty of Kars saved Armenia!! Imagine if we had access to the ocean (God forbid) we could have been washed up by a tsunami, so we owe our existence to mother Russia’s ingenuity for land locking us. Compare this to Georgia and Azerbaijan who were not so lucky, because the oceans they have are dangerous!! Mother Russia cares about us that’s why we are protected.

    We must listen to this Russian diplomat and do two and three times the request of our dear beloved savior Russia.

    God bless Mother Russia!!

    • An Armenian said:

      In addition, don’t forget that Armenia’s “strategic” partner took over 5 strategically important assets of Armenia for the $100 million debt that Armenia owed her.

    • lobo said:

      Meanwhile one could argue that Armenia’s national security is dependent on Russia. Regardless whether this is true or not the non-existence of a corrupt and ruined Armenia is to be preferred over being a permanent underdeveloped puppet. 85% of all Armenians don’t live in Armenia and can’t/wouldn’t do so in the current state.

  7. Pingback: Russian Diplomat Decries Armenia’s EU Integration – Asbarez Armenian News - Members of the European Union

  8. Ari said:

    Both Armenia and Russia’s future will be better served if they joined the EU.

  9. arziv said:

    I appears that Russophobes are having a field day. Stalin, a comunist red thug, relinquished Kars, Ardahan, Western Armenia and other Armenian areas to the Turks. It is otiose and vainglorious to speak about values. Today there are no values, least of all in the EU or USA; . Russia may not be a cuddly darling, but the reality is that Armenian has no choice. And if one is restricted in his choices then maximum advantage must be made from that single choice. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate. Turkification, that is the alternative. Russophobes should throw off their masks and put their hearts where their mouth is and start switching alignment and alliances from Russia to the Turks. If anyone thinks Armenia can see the XXII century otuside Russia’s orbit ; they don’t know what is coming to them or are simply in denial. Also it is up to our political figures to make themselves more valuable in the alliance and draw more favorable terms for the nation. God forbid if Russia is evicted from the Caucasus, Armenia will be vanquished by the islamic Tsunami. The two turkish states will squeeze the last ounce of breath from Armenia , neither the EU nor the USA will lift a finger, just like it happened in 1920 when Kazim Karabekir overwhelmed Armenia, and neither England, nor any EU power cared to come to her assistance.

  10. Vahe said:

    WOW it really is shocking at how misinformed and delusional many Armenians really are about our history with Russia. Armenian people need to REALLY wake up and realize that it was ‘BOLSHEVIKS’ who gave away Nakhijevan and Artsakh/NK to azeris, and signed the treaty with turkey. These same “BOLSHEVIKS” killed about 30 MILLION RUSSIANS who were educated, hard working and had $$$, so therefre were a threat to these JEWs who were really running Russia at the time.
    Russia is the ONLY reason we have our little country ARMENIA, EU, USA will throw Armenia to turkey and azerbaijan like a bone to a dog…they will NEVER be our friends, we have NOTHING to offer, please don’t say ‘but wer’e christian’ I think i’ll collapse and die from laughing so hard, like they give a F*** !!
    You Armenians in the diaspora probably think Obama is really America’s president, and that their really is a war on ‘terror’, and that bin laden and al-qaeda were responsible for 9/11 right ? We have many more enemies than just turkey/az….WAKE UP !!!

  11. ronnie said:

    As far as trade is concerned why do we not trade with everybody and be more like a Singapour than a Ukraine, we should not succomb to political games that come with exclusive trading.
    No one is clean,not Russia not the US and not the Eu. let’s try to keep the best portion part of all trade policies.

    We should be cautious about the EU exclusivity,they might sanction us if we trade with Iran anytime they are pressured by the US.
    Armenia’s prosperity is on none of their agendas, they all have prior commitments and interests at heart.

  12. George said:

    There are so many senseless comments here. The “giving away” of Western Armenia happened because of the Russian Revolution. Once the Tsar was overthrown and Kerensky deposed, Lenin ordered all troops to return to Russia. The “giving away” of territory was part of Russia’s obligations under the Brest-Litovsk treaty (ever heard of that?). We can cry all the time and say how that was not Lenin’s to give away, but Armenia at that time was still not an independent nation. And please do not say the Treaty of Sevres would have given it all back and we should do that today. The Treaty of Sevres was never signed by the Turks, therefore it never went into effect. To bring it back up again after a century would not be wise. Also, lets not forget, the allies were depending on the Greeks to take over Ankara so Kemal would be forced to sign the treaty. The Turks would have taken over Armenia again had it not been for the Red Army to march into Yerevan.
    As for the EU, their entire economy is dependent on Germany’s well being. Have you ever been to the ex-Soviet states that joined the EU? They’re desolate, poor, and hopeless. High unemployment, no jobs, and you guys want Armenia to join the EU. You attack Russia as if being allies means that Russia is completely responsible for the well being of Armenia. I would also like to point out that a Western army has never stepped foot in the Caucasus. We depended on the West once and they failed. “Those who do not know history are bound to repeat it.”

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