“There are elements of crisis in Armenian-Russian relations”: opinion
Armenian-Russian cooperation agreement
Armenia and Russia signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance twenty-five years ago today, August 29. The Foreign Ministries exchanged statements underscoring the importance of allied relations on the anniversary of the signing.
A telephone call between the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Russia also took place. Pashinyan and Putin are reported to have congratulated each other, the leaders “expressing confidence that the mutually beneficial relations between Armenia and Russia will continue to develop and be strengthened effectively.”
However, Armenian analysts say that not everything is as smooth as it could be or should have been. According to political scientist Suren Surenyants, the cooperation agreement is a comprehensive document that fixes the relationship between the two states. Meanwhile, “in real life there are discrepancies that do not correspond to the spirit of the document.”
According to economist Armen Ktoyan, dependence on Russia, which is under sanctions, significantly limits the possibilities of development in Armenia.
Diplomatic statements by Yerevan and Moscow on the 25th anniversary of the cooperation agreement, and analytical opinion about the document and Armenian-Russian relations in general.
In the statements of the Foreign Ministries – only positive notes
The Armenian Foreign Ministry described the mutual assistance agreement as a “key document” that “determines the principles and priorities of interstate relations” between the two countries.
“Regular trust-based contacts between the leadership of Armenia and Russia are of decisive importance for building up bilateral potential, allowing not only resolution of pressing issues, but coordination on key regional and international problems,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Moscow stressed that the agreement was an important milestone in the bilateral partnership to become a real alliance.
“We are ready to continue to help Yerevan as an ally in strengthening its defense capability and border security, and in regulating relations with its neighbors,” the congratulatory message from Russia reads.
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Political scientist Suren Surenyants believes that the agreement signed in 1997 is indeed the basis of Armenian-Russian relations, but that there’s more than meets the eye.
He says that at the time the document was signed, Armenian-Russian relations were more natural, and Armenia’s role in the region was stronger.
“Armenia was gradually losing its dependency, especially after the war. This could not but affect the nature and direction of Armenian-Russian relations. While at the time Armenia was Russia’s only ally in the region, Russia has now documented relations with Azerbaijan as well,” Surenyants said in an interview with JAMnews.
In his opinion, despite Armenia’s dissatisfaction with the level of allied relations, it has no other choice:
“Is there another geopolitical center or state that is ready to be a more responsible ally? I think not, at the moment. Not that Armenia could even choose another option and find itself in more favorable conditions.”
Surenyants has doubts and reservations not about the agreement itself, but about its fulfillment:
“The problem is that in real life, especially today, there are certain differences and even some elements of crisis in Armenian-Russian relations, which contradict the spirit of the document. I would like the current level of these relations to be adapted to the spirit and logic of the document.”
Surenyants considers it natural that relations between Armenia and Russia were initially asymmetrical. He says that is also the relationship of the United States with its many allies.
He emphasizes that Yerevan and Moscow are on the same economic, political plane and in a single security environment. Therefore, the task of Armenia is to maintain allied relations at the highest possible level in diplomatic relations.
“Allied relations should be protected from all risks that may arise as a result of relations between Russia and other regional players.”
Economist Armen Ktoyan says the Russian Federation is Armenia’s main trading partner, and this can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage.
“The advantage is that we thus have a large market in which we can sell our products and services. It is easier and more convenient for our manufacturers. On the other hand, when you get used to ease, you face significant difficulties in entering more complex markets,” Ktoyan told JAMnews.
In Ktoyan’s opinion, after joining the Eurasian Economic Union, which operates under the auspices of Russia, Armenia’s dependence on the Russian Federation has increased even more and continues to grow.
The economist believes that dependence on a single main partner which is under sanctions significantly limits Armenia’s opportunities for development and diversification.
According to Ktoyan, Armenia will feel this negative impact more strongly over time, although this process is currently benefiting it:
“Russians are coming to Armenia, they are moving their business here, Armenia has managed to generate double-digit growth in economic activity so far, but all this is short-term.”
Ktoyan regards it as a disadvantage that Russia alone invests in certain sectors of the Armenian economy, and holds that Western companies simply do not have the opportunity to penetrate these areas:
“Increasing the share of Western companies may be more profitable for us. They have an established business culture and more advanced technology.”
Armenian-Russian cooperation agreement