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Armenia: reorienting from Russia to Europe

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, September 22
Director of the Caucasus Institute Alexander Iskanderian has stated that Russia will not assist Armenia in its attempts to achieve European integration but neither will it hinder it. Armenia began this process long ago, not because Armenia has a passionate love for Europe but due to its geographical location, thinks Iskanderian.

Between Armenia and Russia lies Georgia, which is a geographic obstacle in communication between the two countries. Among other problems the Larsi checkpoint has been closed for some time and natural gas pipelines have been exploding in both Georgia and Russia.

Iskanderian connects the problems Armenia is experiencing with the Karabakh issue and the unrest in Abkhazia. The railway and alternative road connection with Russia was cut due to the war in Abkhazia, and Iskanderian suggests that these transport connection problems are the main reason that, though most investments in Armenia come from Russia, the trade balance is mainly built on trade with Europe. Armenia’s biggest trade partner is Germany.

Iskanderian suggests that after the 5 day war in South Ossetia the transport problems increased. Russian airlines fly to Armenia through Turkey and cargo sent from Russia or Ukraine goes to Batumi and then Armenia, at some cost. Therefore he thinks that Moscow will be unable to prevent Armenia’s European integration.

Yerevan is manoeuvring between Europe and Russia and is always having to say why. It has to explain to USA why it cooperates with Iran and to Iran why it deals with the USA. Armenia’s official policy is complimentary, being not pro-Russian, pro-Western, anti-Russian or anti-Western.