PoWs, construction of new nuclear power plant in Armenia: Putin-Pashinyan talks in Moscow
A meeting between Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin took place in Moscow yesterday.
During the preliminary, open part of the talks in the Kremlin, the Armenian prime minister said:
- Yerevan intends to deepen economic cooperation with Moscow and hopes for assistance, in particular, on the construction of a new nuclear power plant
- the issue of Armenian prisoners of war held by Azerbaijan after the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh has not been settled
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured that Moscow will be attentive to all issues that Yerevan wants to discuss.
Meanwhile, experts in both Armenia and Russia believe that Nikol Pashinyan arrived in Moscow to enlist the support of Vladimir Putin ahead of early elections scheduled to be held in Armenia on June 20.
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More on the announced topics of negotiations
“We have something to talk about in terms of building bilateral relations, and, of course, the most pressing, most acute problems are the normalization of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and around it,” the Russian president said at the very beginning of the meeting.
And the Prime Minister of Armenia reminded the President of Russia that the issue of prisoners who are still in Azerbaijan after the second Karabakh war has not yet been settled:
“I want to note that according to the statement on November 9 [a document signed by the heads of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, according to which hostilities in Karabakh were stopped in the fall of 2020], all hostages, prisoners of war, and other detained persons should be returned to their homeland. But, unfortunately, we still have detained persons in Azerbaijan”.
At the same time, Nikol Pashinyan said that the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming an important factor in stability and security in the region:
“In this vein, I hope today to discuss with you your views on the architecture of the security system in our region, in Nagorno-Karabakh, around it, in Armenia and in general in our region as a whole.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Putin also emphasized the role of Russia in the Armenian economy:
“40% of all capital investments in the Armenian economy are of Russian origin. We have a solid turnover. At the same time, for various reasons, over the past year, primarily due to the coronavirus, we have seen a slight decline.”
The Armenian Prime Minister said in response to his intention to deepen economic cooperation with Russia:
“I hope that today we will discuss some issues related to strategic investments, and in this vein, today I want to discuss with you the possibilities of building a new nuclear power plant in the Republic of Armenia.”
Political observer Hayk Khalatyan expressed the following opinion on the eve of the meeting:
“It is noteworthy that after November 9, Pashinyan, who sharply criticized the old Armenian authorities for close relations with Russia, accused them of allegedly gradual surrender of sovereignty, actually turned Armenia from a subject of regional politics into an object, which was especially evident during the new trilateral statement on January 11 [2021 year], which in no way reflected the issue of the return of Armenian prisoners. Although, before his trip to Moscow, Pashinyan assured that this was a priority issue for him.
At the same time, it is obvious that Pashinyan and his team, despite their recent pro-Russian statements, are still perceived in Moscow as alien elements, given their political past, as well as regular scandalous accusations against Russia in order to make it one in the eyes of the Armenian society. of the main culprits in the defeat in the Karabakh war.
Pashinyan’s main hope now is to convince Putin that with all the Kremlin’s antipathy towards the current Armenian authorities, it is he who is the guarantor of the strict implementation of the trilateral statement of November 9 [the document on the ceasefire in Karabakh, signed with the mediation of Russia]. “
On the eve of the Moscow meeting, Stanislav Pritchin, Executive Director of the Eurasian Development Expert Center, also said:
“I think that Russian-Armenian relations will be discussed as a whole. In political terms, it is important for Nikol Pashinyan to enlist the support of Vladimir Putin in the upcoming elections in Armenia, to get external legitimization. […]
Pashinyan’s rating in Armenia “sank”. There is a “nuclear” electorate that supports Nikol Pashinyan, but it is much smaller when compared with the 2018 elections, when Pashinyan came to power. For him, a new reality, and, of course, support is important here in order to confidently approach the elections. “
Political scientist Gagik Hambaryan also does not exclude that Nikol Pashinyan went to Moscow to enlist Putin’s support in the elections:
“Pashinyan owes a lot to Putin, and he now has a very weak position in the country. This is an attempt to show that he enjoys the support of a strategic ally and has a good relationship with Putin. But this shows the deplorable state of the Armenian diplomacy.
Pashinyan and his team have been destroying the foundations of Armenian-Russian relations from day one. But after the war and its results, when Russian peacekeepers appeared in Artsakh, Pashinyan, who was an opponent of Armenian-Russian relations, sharply became a pro-Russian politician. He is now a toy in the hands of the Kremlin. He does everything that he is told from Moscow. “