Conspicuous by Presence: Armenia attends EEU summit moved from Yerevan amid Karabakh crisis

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Despite what appeared to be a public demand to boycott a summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), whose venue was moved from Yerevan to Moscow amid tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan on Wednesday took part in the gathering on April 13.

Chief of Armenian Government Staff-Minister David Harutyunyan explained the postponement of the summit and its new venue in the Russian capital by “technical reasons”. Meanwhile, earlier it emerged that Kazakhstan had insisted that the change take place as its prime minister was apparently reluctant to travel to Yerevan amid an escalation in Azerbaijani-Armenian tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh.

While formally an ally of Armenia in the EEU and another Russian-led grouping, the Collective Security Treaty Organizastion, Kazakhstan shares cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.

The Armenian delegation that participated in the Moscow summit also included Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of International Economic Integration and Reform Vache Gabrielyan, Chairman of the State Revenue Committee of Armenia Hovhannes Hovsepyan, Deputy Minister of International Economic Integration and Reform Suren Karayan, Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan and others.

According to the press service of the Armenian government, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan had a conversation with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who said that the next such meeting will be held in Yerevan on May 20.

Trying to justify Abrahamyan’s decision to participate in the Moscow meeting, representatives of Armenia’s ruling Republican Party earlier had said that it was “a good platform” for Armenia to raise its concerns. But the absence of any efficient use of the “platform” by Armenia has also been slammed by critics.

Political analyst Stepan Safaryan, the founding director of the Center for International and Security Affairs, believes that instead of going to the Moscow summit Armenia should have skipped it and sent a note of protest to EEU member countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, on their behavior during the Karabakh crisis.

“Changing the venue of the meeting was another treacherous decision against Armenia. Moreover, having no speeches at the gathering and failing to rebuke the partners shows that as a state Armenia is humiliated first of all by its own rulers,” Safaryan told ArmeniaNow.

According to the expert, Armenia should have clearly raised the issue of its quitting the EEU. “If those who are called allies do not respect the most sensitive interests for Armenia, the security interests, then Armenia shoud not have any connections with the implementation of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical plans. And this is what Hovik Abrahamyan should have said,” Safaryan added.

Political analyst Ruben Mehrabyan also considers groundless the explanations of the authorities that they needed to use the Moscow platform and that’s why decided to take part in the summit.

“Hovik Abrahamyan had all opportunities to voice that criticism from here,” he told the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper. “But we once again see a miserable posturing in which we go for another slap in the face.”