Nikol Pashinyan: “Relations with the Russian Federation will continue to be a priority for Armenia”
On the eve of his April 7 visit to Moscow, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told RIA Novosti what topics he was going to discuss with RF President Vladimir Putin, the situation in the Armenian army, and whether the conflict with the General Staff has been settled, as well as why the early parliamentary elections, scheduled for this June, cannot be questioned.
RIA Novosti - You have announced plans to buy new weapons from Russia, including Su-30SM fighters, does the country have such funds or is it looking forth to getting a loan from Moscow? Will this issue be discussed during the upcoming talks with Putin? Do you think that the Karabakh conflict ended in failure for Yerevan because of the poor state of its army and the lack of normal weaponry? Will you ask Russia for UAVs, anti-drone weapons, or will you turn to manufacturers from other countries? How are your relations with the military structured now?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The agenda of my meeting with the Russian President will feature issues related to all spheres of the Armenian-Russian allied relations, including the ongoing cooperation in the military-technical sphere. The refurbishment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia will continue to be a priority for us, and it will always be kept in the spotlight.
Large-scale reforms are underway in the Armenian Armed Forces, implemented in close cooperation with our Russian partners. We are confident that cooperation in this field will continue successfully, which is in the best interest of the Government of Armenia.
The situation with the General Staff has been resolved; the Government and the Army will take joint steps towards enhancing the country’s security level.
RIA Novosti – Which way did the recent protests affect your approaches? Do you think that your political party can win the elections given the current atmosphere in Armenian society? What policy changes are you going to propose? Over the past few years you did not consider Russia as a priority in foreign policy. Has your stance changed now? What is to be expected after the elections?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The election campaign and the elections themselves will give a comprehensive picture of which political force enjoys the trust of citizens. We are in close touch with the people and are fully cognizant of their concerns, their needs and aspirations. We will come up with programs aimed at strengthening Armenia’s security and developing the country in a way to ensure the population’s well-being. I am confident that our society will be able to form legitimate authorities, and we, in our contacts with the citizens, will present our programs and goals for coming years.
As for our relations with Russia, they will continue to be a priority for the Government of Armenia, and I am convinced that the Armenian-Russian allied relations will continue to develop in all spheres on the basis of mutual trust and the deep-rooted ties of friendship between our peoples.
RIA Novosti - Are you planning to hold a top-level trilateral meeting - Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan - during your visit to Moscow on April 7?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We are scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 7. During the meeting with the Russian President, we will discuss the agenda of Armenian-Russian allied relations, including in the economic sphere. We will discuss the implementation of the trilateral statements of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021.
RIA Novosti - You stated your intention to establish closer cooperation with the Russian Federation in reforming the Armenian Armed Forces and the need to further strengthen the Armenian-Russian grouping of troops. What steps are being taken in this direction?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I should note that we have already embarked upon a full-scale army reform, and we have initiated consultations with the Russian Federation in the field of military and military-technical cooperation given our allied relations of strategic partnership.
RIA Novosti - Is there any certainty in the discussions held by the three countries - Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan - on the issue of unblocking the regional transport communications? Is there any progress in this direction? Are there any roadmaps already developed? What benefits do you think the unblocking of roads will bring to all countries in the region?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - There have been specific discussions on issues that stem from the implementation of clause 9 of the statement of November 9, 2020, as well as points 2, 3, 4 of the statement of January 11, 2021. Expert subgroups have been established on rail, road and combined transportation and transportation security issues, including security, border, customs, sanitary, veterinary, phytosanitary and other controls.
It has been recorded that there is a need for additional expert work, and the work should be continued. A working group was formed to consider cross-border transportation routes across the territories of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Issues of bilateral unblocking of transport communications are being discussed that will help step up the transit potential of the Republic of Armenia and the development of trade relations in the region.
The date for the next meeting of the tripartite working group will be agreed upon by the co-chairs in due course, taking into account the discussions taking place within the subgroups.
RIA Novosti - Do you expect “seamless” early parliamentary elections? Representatives of some political forces fear that the electoral process and the elections themselves could lead to new upheavals in society and possibly riots on the streets. What do you think their fears are related to?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian - As you may know, we suggested holding early parliamentary elections to get out of the tense political situation established following the war, and the latest discussions with the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition resulted in a decision to hold snap elections on June 20.
The December 2018 elections were unique in that, for the first time since 1996, the election results were not challenged in the Constitutional Court. We were able to ensure fully transparent, free and fair elections, the results of which were accepted by all. They were also highly appreciated by international monitoring structures.
I am convinced that either the upcoming elections will be held at a high level. I am sure that this time our people will form a legitimate government by their free will. We will ensure that elections are held so that there is no reason to challenge them.
RIA Novosti - Will the ruling Civic Agreement Party go to the polls alone or in a bloc with other forces? Is it possible to form coalitions after the elections?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The Civic Agreement Party is getting prepared for the elections, and discussions continue to that effect. As for the formation of a coalition, it will be possible to talk about such a possibility only after the results of the elections are summed up.