Friday, 05 June 2020

A Analysis

EAEU Yerevan Summit: what is happening in the world?

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The Summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in Yerevan on October 1 sparked an impetuous response in Armenia and in the member states of the event. And if the presence of the Singapore Prime Minister and the Iranian President at the summit was of interest outside of Armenia, then, inside Armenia, as expected, there was a stir among Russian President Vladimir Putin. The last time the Russian president visited Armenia was almost three years ago. And since the change of power following the Velvet Revolution, all Pashinyan's bilateral meetings with Putin have taken place either in Moscow or at international meetings.

During that time in Armenia the debate over the nature of the Armenian-Russian relations did not stop. Many believed that the policies of the new authorities worsened those relations. Such sentiments kept some Russian figures and mass media drumming on the theme of "Armenia's move to the West." Since the appearance of information on the preparation of the Summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, the only topic of conversation has been the topic of the arrival of the President of Russia in Yerevan. For some reason, the prevailing opinion was that V. Putin would not come, as he was “offended” by N. Pashinyan. The very problems of the EAEU summit were of little interest to anyone. But that’s what happened.

Putin really looked extremely gloomy at the first meeting of the heads of state. Apparently, on the territory of the state -- often perceived as a "vassal of Russia" -- it is not easy to feel in the role of one of the many leaders of states. Having a meeting at the airport according to the protocol, being accepted by the head of the Armenian government on an equal basis with everyone is not very customary. It is more habitual to visit Armenia at their own discretion, as it was years earlier. One can recall how years ago his plane generally landed not in the capital of Armenia, but in Gyumri, where the Russian military base is located. And the Armenian president was then forced to go and meet him there.  

But times are changing. Global trends are forcing everyone to adjust their ideas about relationships with partners - even those who have never been considered a partner. Russia, driven into a corner by Western countries, can no longer Russia can no longer rely on Eurasian Union.  There was an imperative to enter a wider space and into the sphere of relations between leading countries. And here you have to change your attitude towards your traditional partners. The club under the name of the EAEU has now become only a mechanism for deploying a new network of global relations.

For the first time, this trend manifested itself during the international economic forum in St. Petersburg on June 6-8, 2019. It is about an unprecedented bid by Russia and China to forge a comprehensive partnership to strengthen global strategic stability. The pompous reception given by the Russian leadership to President of China Xi Jinping, who arrived in this country, as well as statements of an epoch-making nature, leave no doubt about the far-reaching intentions of both countries. Against the backdrop of a tough trade war between China and the United States, such intentions of Russia and China look fateful for the whole world.

At that time, the circumstance proved that on the eve and during the international economic forum in St. Petersburg, both superpowers demonstrated the most important gestures in relation to Armenia. On the eve of the forum, the press secretary of the Russian president then emphasized that, in addition to the chairman of the PRC, the Prime Minister of Armenia was expected. Earlier, the head of China, Xi Jinping, stated that Armenia is an important partner of China in its "civilizational" policy. After that, the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PRC to Armenia took place and an agreement on a visa-free regime between the two countries was signed.  

And as shown by the demonstrative acts of "politeness" to the Prime Minister of Armenia already in the days of the forum, questions asked to him with the aim of "testing for strength" in all directions, Armenia was not in vain waited in St. Petersburg. Transparently enough, the fact that in the bid of Russia and China for the formation of a comprehensive partnership, Armenia was invited to take a special place. It is noteworthy that the Prime Minister of Armenia Pashinyan in his speeches did not hide that Armenia has something to offer in the emerging international configuration. The readiness was expressed to turn Armenia into a transport corridor from Iran to the Eurasian space and Europe. Pashinyan stated that membership in the EAEU cannot be an obstacle to the formation of relations between Armenia and China, the European Union, etc. It is also noteworthy that in these discussions there were no familiar important persons from other post-Soviet states. Apparently, little is associated with them in a new perspective.  

If today we look at the EAEU summit in Yerevan, we can clearly see the continuation of the trends that have manifested themselves at the St. Petersburg summit. Through the efforts of the Armenian government, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who participated in the work of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, arrived in Yerevan in advance. During this year Armenian Prime Minister N. Pashinyan paid official visits to both of these countries, where these agreements were reached. And already in Yerevan, an Agreement was signed between Singapore and the EAEU on a free trade zone. A separate meeting was held between the presidents of Russia and Iran.  

By evening it became clear that the ice in the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan had melted. At their meeting, the Russian president in high spirits announced that the results of the summit are "really good," including "in terms of developing ties with our partners from third countries ... There is not a single glitch - on the contrary, all agreements have been reached in within the framework of the organization between the countries participating in this union. You are the person who has made every effort for such effective work. I, as the EAEU Chairman, want to congratulate you on the results of the summit in Yerevan."

On the eve of the summit, the Russian press did not hesitate to write that "the summit in Yerevan will go down in history," referring to the participation in it of the Prime Minister of Singapore and the Iranian President. Undoubtedly, this aspect is of key importance for Russia. And the curtsies made in Yerevan towards India, China, Egypt and other countries, only confirm the opinion that the "Yerevan Initiative" is assessed as the foundation for the implementation of new global initiatives. How these initiatives can fit into Western political and economic concepts - time will tell.


Manvel Sargsyan

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

Yerznkian 75, 0033
Yerevan, Armenia


+374 10 528780 / 274818



The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the Center.

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