Presidents of Armenia and Russia meet in Sochi
On 23 August, the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan left for an official visit to Sochi, where he met with the RF President Vladimir Putin. According to the Armenian President’s press service, the Presidents of the two countries discussed bilateral cooperation issues.
As reported, Serzh Sargsyan and Vladimir Putin also focused on development of integration processes within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), as well as exchanged opinions regarding international and regional issues, including the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
“Armenia and Russia have done much to build a solid basis for their relations as the sovereign states,” said Vladimir Putin, noting that this year marked the 25th anniversary since the establishment of the Armenian-Russian diplomatic relations, while in a few days’ time, on 29 August, Armenia and Russia will mark the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Treaty.
Putin also stressed that Armenia and Russia were engaged in an intensive political dialogue in the economic, security and defense spheres.
As Serzh Sargsyan pointed out, the Armenian-Russia strategic ties were distinguished by ongoing top-level intensive dialogues, as well as by wide-ranging foreign-policy coordination.
“Our commercial and economic relations have been intensively developing. There was a 15% growth in trade turnover last year, and nearly 24% growth in the HY1, 2017. Our governments and parliaments are in permanent contact with each other. We are consistently developing inter-regional and humanitarian cooperation,” said the Armenian President.
There is much to be discussed
The Sargsyan-Putin meeting was actively discussed in Armenian and Russian expert circles. As soon as reports came about President Sargsyan’s visit to Russia, the political analysts tried to figure out what the reason was behind the visit.
Hakob Badalyan, a political columnist, expressed his opinion that the Armenian and Russian Presidents’ meeting would bring considerable results in terms of further development of the situation. He noted that the meeting was unlikely to be a pivotal one, but it would definitely be productive.
“It’s yet another Armenia-Russia meeting at the top level. However, many issues have accumulated and much has happened over this period, and that forms a new agenda for this meeting,” said Badalyan.
According to the political analyst, it was very important that on the same day, in Sochi, Putin also met with Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, and also held a meeting with Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, at the same place, a week ago.
“Many have noticed the coincidence in timing, especially against the background of the recent visit to Armenia of a high-ranking Israeli official, the Minister of Regional Cooperation, a former chief of the special services, whom Serzh Sargsyan was unwilling to receive in Yerevan. Nevertheless, it was an unprecedented visit in the history of Armenian-Israeli relations.”
“The visit acquired particular connotation a few days later, when the Israeli mass media frenzied over a live demonstration of the Israeli drones on Armenian positions, carried out as part of the contract between Azerbaijan and the Israeli UAV manufacturing company…”
“There is no doubt that the matter concerns maintaining of at least relative peace in the region, in particular, in the Karabakh zone, under control of the Armenian forces and without a third party’s involvement. The point is that Russia and Israel, being the third parties, are very close to this zone in terms of billions of dollars worth of weapons supplied to Azerbaijan,” said Hakob Badalyan.
Armenian political analysts also expected that Turkey’s possible integration into the EAEU customs area would also be addressed at the Sargsyan-Putin meeting. JAMnews provided a detailed coverage of this issue in its recent publication ‘Turkey tests the waters: Eurasian integration ahead’.
Vadim Dubnov, a Russian analyst, noted that Sargsyan and Putin have much to discuss, and the Karabakh issue is very convenient, since ‘you can hide behind it any discussions that may not even be large-scale, but are probably more significant for Moscow, and especially, for Yerevan. For example, the prospect of strategic, military-technical issues, or issues related to Armenia’s European integration.’