March 1, 2024 - 14:17 AMT
Armenian Parliament speakers suggests EU membership bid

Parliament speaker Alen Simonyan on Thursday, February 29 accused Russia of not honoring its security commitments to Armenia and said Yerevan should consider seeking membership of the European Union.

“Our actions show that … we have much better democracy indicators than many of our partners that are already members of the EU,” Simonyan told reporters, according to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I think that we should think about [seeking an EU candidate status.]”

“But I don’t want us to take hasty steps because in the case of states drastic movements are not a good thing,” he said.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government has so far announced no plans to apply for Armenia’s eventual accession to the EU, saying instead that it wants to move closer to the 27-nation bloc “as much as the EU finds it possible.” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier this month that the two sides have agreed to draw up an “ambitious new partnership agenda.” He did not elaborate.

Yerevan is seeking closer ties with the EU and the United States amid a further deterioration of Russian-Armenian relations. Pashinyan on Wednesday signaled his readiness to pull Armenia out of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Armenian opposition leaders say he is intent on not only leaving the Russian-led alliance but also seeking the withdrawal of Russian troops from Armenia. They say that the resulting security vacuum would have severe consequences for the country facing the threat of an Azerbaijani invasion.

Simonyan insisted that Pashinyan’s political team, of which he is a key member, is not yet considering demanding the closure of the Russian military base in Armenia. He also dismissed opposition concerns about Russian retaliation against Yerevan’s possible exit from the CSTO.

“I don’t know what new problems [Russia] could create. Attack us? Impose sanctions on us? What else could they do?” he said, adding that the Russians have already failed to stop Azerbaijan from recapturing Nagorno-Karabakh and occupying Armenian border areas.

“On more than a dozen occasions, it became obvious that our ally is not helping us and not even saying that it will help,” added Simonyan.