Speaking Diplomatically: Armenia rebukes Kazakhstan over EEU meeting postponement

Armenia implied it was pretty much concerned over Kazakhstan’s insufficient level of commitment as an ally in post-Soviet groupings as Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with his Kazakh counterpart’s deputy in Yerevan on Monday.

Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – two Russian-led structures where Kazakhstan is also a key member.

Prime ministers of the EEU, including the head of the Kazakh government, had been expected to gather for a summit in Yerevan on April 8. The venue of the meeting, however, was moved to Moscow following Astana’s request.

The Kazakh request came amid an escalation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. While being a political, economic and military ally of Armenia as part of the EEU and CSTO, Kazakhstan, as a Turkic-speaking nation, is known to have strong cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan. Therefore, its request was widely regarded in Yerevan as an attempt to maintain neutrality in the conflict, if not bolster Azerbaijan’s position.

Armenia decided not to skip the summit that was moved to the Russian capital (and was held on April 13), where an agreement was made that the prime ministers of the EEU will again gather in Yerevan on May 20.

Addressing the matter at the meeting with Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Galymzhan Koishybayev, Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandian reportedly underscored the importance of “implementing the agreements”. He also expressed a hope that the May 20 meeting will “rectify this omission.”

Nalbandian also briefed the senior Kazakh diplomat on “the situation formed as a result of the Azerbaijani aggression and the harm caused to the negotiation process.”

“In this context, the foreign minister stressed the importance of supporting the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group toward the settlement of the Karabakh conflict exclusively by peaceful means, which is enshrined in the documents adopted at the summits of the CSTO and the Council of Foreign Ministers,” an MFA press release said.

Nalbandian reportedly added that the positions contradicting the wordings adopted by the OSCE Minsk Group undermine the negotiations.

During the April 2-5 armed clashes with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh that left scores of Armenian soldiers dead and wounded politicians and civil society representative in Armenia leveled criticism at a number of formal allies, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and others, over their marked neutrality or even pro-Azerbaijani positions in the conflict.

Hundreds of citizens marched towards the Russian embassy in Yerevan on April 13 protesting against Russia’s sales of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

A report by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service suggested on Monday that people in the village of Harich, in Armenia’s northwestern Shirak province, that has a street named after Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev have decided to change its name. The decision reportedly reflects the community’s frustration over Kazakhstan’s position and the recent pro-Azerbaijani rhetoric of its longtime leader.