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Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Meet In Moscow, Praise State Of Relations

RFE/RL's Armenian Service September 08, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian praised the current level of relations between the two countries as they met for talks in Moscow.

The Kremlin said the negotiations between the two leaders focused on "key questions of developing allied Russian-Armenian relations as well as cooperation in Eurasian territory, in particular within the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)."

The quickly arranged meeting came after reported tension in Armenian-Russian relations over a Pashinian government investigation into events surrounding the deadly postelection demonstrations in 2008, including criminal charges being brought against former Armenian President Robert Kocharian and current CSTO Chairman Yuri Khatchaturov, actions that the Kremlin has criticized.

In his remarks before the meeting, Putin said relations between Moscow and Yerevan "develop steadily in all directions."

"This concerns the sphere of political relations, the military sphere, and issues of security and economic cooperation," he said.

Putin singled out Russian energy supplies to Armenia, stressing that Yerevan receives Russian natural gas "at the lowest prices Gazprom sells gas in the world -- $150 per 1,000 cubic meters."

Pashinian, for his part, stressed the fact that he was having his third meeting with Putin within the space of just four months.

"I think that such frequency emphasizes the special nature of relations between our countries, let me say also the special nature of our personal relations," he said.

"Despite certain pessimism that is present both in the Armenian and Russian press and in social media, I think that our relations are developing in a fairly dynamic way, very naturally," Pashinian said. "And I think our top objective is to try to use the whole potential in developing our relations."

Still, Pashinian acknowledged the existence of "some questions" that need to be discussed by the two countries.

"God save us from a situation where we would have no questions in our relations, because that would mean we have no relations at all. I can say with certainty that we have no issues in our relations that can't be solved and today, of course, we are going to discuss a wide range of issues," he said.

"I am sure that these issues will be solved and we will be guided by respect of interests in our allied relations, respect for the interests of our countries, respect for the sovereignty of our countries. and the principle of noninterference in each other's internal affairs," Pashinian underscored.

Both Kocharian and Khachaturov are accused of breaching the constitutional order during a deadly postelection crackdown in 2008. After charging Khachaturov, Armenia also initiated a procedure to recall him from the top CSTO post.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov twice publicly denounced the prosecutions of former officials in Yerevan, arguing that they ran counter to the new Armenian leadership's earlier pledges not to "persecute its predecessors for political reasons."

And on August 31, the Kremlin reported a phone conversation between Putin and Kocharian during which the Russian leader congratulated the former Armenian president on his birthday -- a rare event in state diplomacy that some analysts took as a sign of Moscow's backing for Kocharian, who recently announced he will return to politics.

In his public statements, Pashinian downplayed the significance of the political implications behind Putin's congratulations to Kocharian, something he reportedly had not done since Kocharian left office in 2008.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-armenian-prime-minister-meet -in-moscow-praise-state-of-relations/29478947.html

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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