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Armenia’s Pashinyan meets Putin: pledges continued Russian-Armenian friendship

New Armenian leader installed following protests reaffirms Armenia’s ties with Russia; calls Russia-Armenia “allies”

Alexander Mercouris

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – the latter recently installed as Armenia’s leader following nationwide protests – had their first bilateral meeting in Sochi on Monday on the sidelines of the Eurasian Economic Union summit.

The summary of the exchanges between the two leaders provided by the Kremlin’s website shows that Putin took the opportunity to remind Pashinyan of Russia’s economic importance to Armenia, whilst Pashinyan for his part thanked Putin for Russia’s neutral position during the protests, and reaffirmed Armenia’s continued friendship with Russia.

Pashinyan specifically reaffirmed Armenia’s continued membership of the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union, and spoke of deepening Armenia’s military ties with Russia.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,

I would like to welcome you to Russia and to congratulate you once again, this time in person, on your election to the high position of Prime Minister of Armenia.

First of all, I would like to say that we view Armenia, as everyone knows, as our closest partner and ally in the region. I am referring to both economic and security cooperation.

As you know, Russia is a leading trade and economic partner of Armenia. Its share is estimated at over 25 percent. Russia’s investment accounts for approximately 35 percent of all foreign investment in Armenia. Our trade has grown recently, also by some 25 percent. Armenian agricultural deliveries to Russia are growing at a fast pace, or more precisely, by 38 percent over the past few months.

Overall, this is very good progress and I hope that we will not just maintain but also boost it.

I would like to wish you every success on the post of the Prime Minister of Armenia. I hope that our relations will continue to develop consistently, just as they did before, and that we will continue to work together on the international stage as well as at international organisations, starting from the UN, where Armenia and Russia have always supported each other, and ending with regional organisations, both in security and economic development matters.

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Mr President, thank you for your kind words.

It is very gratifying that, just a few days after I was elected Prime Minister of Armenia, I have this opportunity to have a meeting with you, because I think that we have things to discuss.

There is also something that does not need to be discussed: the allied strategic relations between Armenia and Russia. In general, I can assure you that there is consensus on this matter in Armenia, and nobody has ever questioned the strategic importance of Armenian-Russian relations, or ever will.

We are quite set on giving a fresh impetus to our relations – both in the political and trade and economic sense. We hope to develop our relations in the military technical sector as well as in other industries.

Many people from Russia visit Armenia, which is very good. I think Russians like Armenia very much, and Armenians also enjoy having so many tourists in Yerevan.

I would like to say that we highly appreciate the balanced position that Russia held in the course of our domestic political crisis, and I think it was a very constructive position; it is highly appreciated not only by our Government, but also in Armenian society in general.

Once again, please accept my best wishes on Victory Day. It was very interesting to watch the May 9 parade on Red Square. It is popular in Armenia and we are very impressed by the achievements that the Russian defence industry has made.

Thank you once again for this opportunity.

Pashinyan’s pledges of continued friendship to Russia will be judged cynically by many people, including by my colleague in The Duran Frank Sellers, who see them as nothing more than a device by Pashinyan to play for time whilst he sets about cutting back Armenia’s connections to Russia.

Many see hope in the fact that he plans to attend the Eurasian Economic Union summit next month and to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with the fact that he admits that Armenia needs Russia as a military ally, but given his life story and participation in the events recorded here, there seems to be little real hope of that.

Is this a Western backed color revolution? It’s actually hard to cast doubt on that fact, given his connections with Soros funded NGOs who have as their purpose the remaking of Armenia into a NATO member state which looks somewhat less than fondly at Russia as the originator of Armenia’s woes.

With a perception that prosperity will surely be the Armenian inheritance of an integration into the Western political and economic bloc, which perception comes from anywhere but reality. It really can’t be doubted that this movement, led by a man with a history of hostility towards Russia and a long history of working in the interests of the US and its NGOs, is something that was hatched in Washington and delivered via the CIA’s vicarious operatives, the Open Society Foundation and its ilk.

The country’s post soviet poverty and Sargsyan’s perceived power grab are the grievances that were immediately capitalized upon in order to carry out this so called ‘velvet revolution’. Pashinyan says that he wants to maintain Armenia’s balancing act between the East and West, preserving ties and agreements with Russia while pursuing the partnership of the West, it should be noted that Saakashvili made a similar such promise upon assuming control of Georgia in a similar such incident.

Of course, he knows that he can’t be so bold as to immediately cut off ties with the Russians this early in the game, as Armenia is simply too dependent on Russia to make any real changes to Armenia’s foreign policy at this time, but that this represents his long term goal remains a matter to be seen.

I take the diametrically opposite view.  I believe that whatever Pashinyan may have said in the past his pledges of continued friendship with Russia and of Armenia’s adhesion to the Eurasian Economic Union are genuine.

After all, as Pashinyan himself said over the course of his meeting with Putin,

…….there is consensus on this matter in Armenia, and nobody has ever questioned the strategic importance of Armenian-Russian relations, or ever will…..

Given Armenia’s economic and geographic realities, and the rapid military build up in Azerbaijan, Armenia has no real choice, even if the Armenian people wanted such a choice, of which there is no real sign that they do.

Armenia’s relations with Russia were not an issue in the recent protests, which at no point took on an anti-Russian character.

As I have pointed out previously, that is in total contrast to the Maidan protests in Ukraine of 2013 and 2014, in which passionate hostility to Russia was the main driving factor.  That in itself is a major point of difference between the two sets of protests: the recent protests in Armenia and the Maidan protests in Ukraine.

I remain of the view that the Armenian protests were a strictly internal affair, provoked by the actions of the previous Sargsyan government, and have no geopolitical significance.

Moreover the very fact that – as Pashinyan says – there is “consensus” within Armenia about the importance of Armenia’s relations with Russia in itself places limits on what Pashinyan can do, even if he genuinely does seek to sever Armenia’s relations with Russia, which of course he denies.

Last but not least, there is the fact that even Western oriented commercially minded Armenians – and all Armenians, at least in their own estimation, are commercially minded – can see for themselves the huge commercial and economic benefits to them personally and for Armenia of Armenia retaining access to the vast Russian market through its membership of the Eurasian Economic Union.

By contrast it is impossible to see a good economic future for Armenia – or indeed (given the geopolitical realities) any real future for Armenia – if it severs its links to Russia.

For all these reasons, unlike Frank Sellers, I believe that when Pashinyan says he wants to maintain or even enhance Armenia’s relations with Russia, he means what he says.

He would be a fool if he didn’t, and whatever else he is, Pashinyan doesn’t seem to me to be a fool.

Time will show which of us – Frank Sellers or myself – is right.

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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