Matthew Bryza: It's simply not possible to say goodbye to Russia if you're Armenian

Matthew Bryza: It's simply not possible to say goodbye to Russia if you're Armenian

Baku, February 9, AZERTAC

“It's simply not possible to say goodbye to Russia if you're Armenian,” former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Board Member of the Jamestown Foundation Matthew Bryza said in an interview with AZERTAC.

He said: “For the last several decades going on with that to presidency of Robert Kocharyan, Armenian foreign policy has always tried to sit on two chairs at once. So, on the one hand, Armenia will always be dependent on Russia. On the other hand, Armenia knows the history of all of the peoples of the Central Asia and Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, nobody wants to be completely dependent on Russia and be dominated by Russia. So, you need alternatives in your foreign policy.”

Bryza said Pashinyan was assumed to be more pro-Western, when he came into office as a result of the “velvet revolution”.

“So, he then was very careful to avoid seeming to be too close to Europe or the United States. And so, in those early days, months, years, you may remember, he made clear, well, he first went to Moscow before visiting any other cities outside of Armenia, and made clear that the Eurasian Economic community was a priority for Armenia’s foreign policy. I think, though, that he and all Armenians have been disappointed that Russia didn't join their side of the conflict with Azerbaijan more actively. And that leads many of them to respond emotionally and want to reevaluate their geostrategic options and get closer to the west. But It's simply not possible to say goodbye to Russia if you're Armenian,” said the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan.

Bryza underlined that Armenia looks at Russia as its protector. “And Russia and Russian entities own so much of Armenia’s economy already, whether it's transportation or energy. And as we know, Russian border guards, the Russian border guard service guards much of Armenia's borders, and Armenia's airspace is integrated into Russia's own air traffic control zone. So, Russia will always be really important to Armenia, but Pashinyan, like his predecessors is looking for, I think, a little bit of diplomatic space to breathe and not be completely and exclusively under Russia's domination,” Matthew Bryza pointed out.

On the normalization of the Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, the ex-ambassador said it is difficult to say whether the negotiations under the aegis of the European Union have reached a dead end.

According to him, there has not been progress for a while, and on the other hand, Baku has been frustrated that the Armenian side seem to agree to one thing in private and then didn't follow through and that the Armenian side had support from France against Azerbaijan.

“On the other hand, I think it's a good sign that the European Union is involved. And we recall that President of the European Council Charles Michel was able to mediate between President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan more than one time, and the outcomes of those discussions were positive,” Bryza concluded.

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