Brussels fiasco

Brussels fiasco

A twin sister of Russia's "friendly" country of Ukraine - Armenia - is coming into being, with the same set of "positive" qualities. And what's so frustrating is Yerevan was very loyal to Moscow not long ago. At least, much more than other independent Caucasian republics. Now we have to reflect deeply about the future prospects of bilateral cooperation. And these reflections promise nothing good, Lenta.ru believes. Such sad conclusions are prompted by the actions of Armenia's new leader Nikol Pashinyan, who repeats steps of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. And, as you know, friendship with the latter didn't quite work out.

Between two stools

Perhaps what is more disturbing in the new Armenian leader's actions is a deliberate U-turn of his state's foreign policy towards the West. And, apparently, he doesn't just want to come on board there, but also somehow integrate his country into NATO, which is a clearly hostile to Russia block. Or, try to squeeze out of Moscow special conditions for further cooperation, by demonstrating his connections with the military machine of the "free world". Anyway, Pashinyan turned out to be the only head of the CSTO member state present at the alliance summit, which was held in Brussels from July 11 to July 13.

To the Russian audience, the visit was presented as just a business trip. Like, the prime minister is young, knows no one in the world political establishment, while practically all Western leaders have gathered together here - so he can meet them, give out business cards. Maybe. However, there are two "buts".

First: what kind of military alliance is it, the meeting of which can be attended by any interested person, even the head of the state, where a person can engage in own activities that are not related to NATO? "Second: Pashinyan's personnel policy.

Can't tell if it's an accident, or not, but Pashinyan's almost whole office consists of Russophobes. Including deputy minister for Armenian Diaspora Babken Ter-Grigoryan, who received education in the US and coordinated the Soros Foundation programs. But that's not the worst part. During the so-called "shashlik Maidan", which led Pashinyan to power (which was held, by the way, under slogans identical to 2013-2014 Ukrainian ones), Ter-Grigoryan was seen with a poster that directly offended the Russian president. And  Armenia's new Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mane Tandilyan actively agitates for the country's exit from the Eurasian Economic Union. And the Minister of Culture - Lilit Makunts - has been working in the US Peace Corps since 2016, which is linked to the CIA.

It turns out that of those who now heads Armenia, the only person declaring the need for long-term and lasting ties with Russia is Pashinyan himself, for whom such a position simply cannot but be uncomfortable. But any unfriendly steps towards Russia can be blamed on surroundings. After all, Armenia is a democratic country, no one doubts? Therefore, the Prime Minister is not the only one to decide. However, in order to prevent unfriendly steps, Russia needs to negotiate with the only "dove of peace" - Pashinyan, who will be able to calm the hardcore "Westerners" in the immediate surroundings. Not for free, of course. With a fairly high degree of probability, it can be assumed that the new Armenian leader's actions are based precisely on this logic - that is, on banal blackmail. Otherwise, how else can Brussels visit be perceived?

Glad-hander

The Brussels visit was presented to Armenian citizens as a phenomenal diplomatic success. After all, judging from the photos from the event, Pashinyan managed to shake hands with Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Federica Mogherini, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the head of Canada Justin Trudeau, as well as with the leaders of Lithuania, Ukraine, Macedonia, Slovakia, and, of course, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

In this case, "glad-handing" is a key word, because as a report on the trip, the Armenian media demonstrated numerous photos of Pashinyan's handshakes with all the above officials (which is the standard practice for such events). But the fact that those handshakes were not followed by full-fledged meetings or negotiations was rarely mentioned.

By the way, some media reported that in order to pose for a photo with Trump, Nikol had to wait for the US president with his wife at the main entrance, and when Donald and Melania left through the back exit, showed good sprint skills, catch up with the US president and extend his hand. Trump, being a well-bred man, shook it. the Armenian media presented this gesture as a diplomatic breakthrough. Pashinyan used a similar pattern with other Western leaders. As a result - a whole photo album of handshakes.

Sleight of hand and no fraud! But the reception was worked out well, although it is not the know-how of the Armenian leader, because the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko actively used this method before him.

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For the sake of justice, it should be noted that some diplomatic component of the visit did take place. For example, Nikol Pashinyan had an interview with Euronews, advising NATO to send a "strong message" to Azerbaijan, and if Baku tries to return the Nagorno-Karabakh territories, it should be interpreted as a threat to the entire world democracy. Naturally, such a position caused suspicious surprise among the North Atlantic partners, as in the West they repeatedly declared their recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and unwillingness to participate in dubious adventures connected with this issue.

However, Pashinyan's "diplomacy" has faded somehow after the head of the Armenian cabinet started asking for money. To "democratize" the country, of course. Unfortunately, this mournful work was estimated in Brussels at only 10 million euros per year, which, naturally, which is not much to work with. Moreover, EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski did not hesitate to specify that the European Union is already the main sponsor of Armenia, and the program of support for the Caucasian republic was adopted under the previous Armenian regime. Besides, according to the diplomat, Pashinyan's motivation is not very clear, as Armenia's de jure policy towards the EU has not been changed. "Should Armenia's unchangeable policy towards the EU lead to a change in the policy of the European Union towards Armenia?" Świtalski was surprised.

And this means that there will be no additional money. Sadly enough. Therefore, the current situation entails several options for solving the problem of filling the leaky Armenian budget: trying to sell the country as a NATO base in the South Caucasus; getting money from Russia, blackmailing it with strengthened ties with the West; or trying to strengthen Armenia's sovereign economy. I wonder which options Pashinyan is going to pick.

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