Armenian PM pulls balancing act at Petersburg economic forum
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan says that Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, acting under the auspices of Russia, but this does not mean that the country should refuse to cooperate with the countries of the European Union.
Pashinyan made the statement at the plenary meeting of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
“It is inevitable that the European Union and Eurasian Economic Union will come closer to one another”
In his speech at the forum, the prime minister stressed that Armenia could become a kind of bridge between the Eurasian Economic Union and other global players, including the European Union. In his opinion, the convergence of the two associations is inevitable:
“Armenia has a comprehensive and expanded partnership agreement with the European Union, which we intend to use with maximum efficiency for the design and implementation of our reforms. Partnership with the EU in no way contradicts our membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. It complements it, enriching it with new features and benefits”, Pashinyan said.
Pashinyan noted that cooperation with European colleagues is important for Armenia, in particular, in the process of reforming the judicial system:
“The judicial authority of the country, unlike the executive and legislative branches, in which qualitative progress has been observed, has not undergone any tangible transformation. As a result, there was a huge breach in public confidence in the judicial system. And this creates serious obstacles to the development of the country as a whole.”
And the fact that the European Union helps Armenia in this process, according to the Prime Minister, cannot prevent deepening relations with Russia, including within the framework of integration structures:
“For countries such as Armenia, institutionalization of access to the centres of the world economy and activity is very important. This, first of all, relates to our cooperation with Russia and membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.
“We are committed to further improving the strategic partnership with Russia and having productive participation in the union. We will use all our efforts to improve cooperation mechanisms and maximize the integration between the members of our union. This equally applies to membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization [ed. a post-Soviet military bloc operating under the leadership of Russia, which includes Armenia.”
In his speech at the economic forum, Pashinyan highlighted the economic success of the country and addressed foreign investors:
“GDP growth in Armenia in the first quarter was 7.1%. Therefore, we invite investors. Come, earn big money and make Armenia richer.”
Pashinyan and Putin discuss prices for gas and weapons
During the forum, the heads of Armenia and Russia managed to hold a bilateral meeting.
After the talks, Pashinyan stated that the price of Russian gas supplied to Armenia had been discussed, in particular:
“It is very important that we could agree on such a gas price so that this price does not break the pace that we have in the economy. And I hope that we will find a common language, because we have, after all, not ordinary relations with Russia, but strategic ones. And I think that the strategic issue of gas needs to be resolved.”
The talks also touched on military-technical cooperation. Pashinyan, in particular, noted that official Yerevan hopes to get new types of weapons from Russia.
“We have enough Iskander missiles.
“But we hope to get something else. And rather big.
However, as the press secretary of the Russian president said after the Pashinyan-Putin talks, the Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan “was not discussed in detail. The conversation was very detailed – on bilateral relations and on various aspects of trade and economic cooperation.”