Armenian PM calls on citizens to discuss EU membership

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday called for broad public dialogue on the prospect of applying for EU membership, as the ex-Soviet country’s ties with Russia fray.

Moscow’s war in Ukraine has reinvigorated the EU’s drive to enlarge, with Brussels putting EU-aspirants Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia on a formal membership path after years of reluctance.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our dedicated page.

Armenia’s shift from Moscow highlights discontent over what the Caucasus nation’s government has said was Russia’s failure to protect it in the face of security threats from arch-foe neighbour Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan on Thursday said that the possibility of joining the European Union “must become a widely discussed topic in society”.

His comments came after the European Parliament this week passed a resolution “on closer ties between the EU and Armenia”, saying that Yerevan’s eventual membership application “could set the stage for a transformative phase in EU-Armenia relations”.

“This is yet another opportunity to discuss our vision of Armenia’s future,” Pashinyan told a government meeting in Yerevan.

His cabinet, he added, “has the political will to continue working towards a maximum deepening of Armenia’s ties with the EU.”

The idea of joining the EU was being actively discussed within Pashinyan’s political team over the last months, with Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan publicly speaking about Armenia’s European aspirations.

A rift has widened between Yerevan and Moscow since last year when Armenia accused Russia of failing to stop Azerbaijan from capturing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian separatists.

Pashinyan has repeatedly said that Armenia could quit the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led security alliance of several ex-Soviet republics.

On Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, warned against the move which would cause “irreparable damage” to the countries’ ties.

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