Sargsyan Congratulates Trump on Election Win

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sargsyan on November 9 congratulated Donald Trump on his victory in the US presidential election, expressing confidence that US-Armenian relations “will continue to develop dynamically” during his tenure.

“The American people have enthusiastically voted in support of your outstanding leadership qualities, your experience and vision, thus entrusting you with the honorable responsibility to lead the nation,” Sargsyan said in a telegram made public by his office. “I have no doubt that under your able leadership the United States will achieve further progress and advancement in the years to come.”

“I am confident that during your presidency the close US-Armenia partnership will continue to develop dynamically – expanding and reaching new heights in different areas,” he wrote.

Throughout his rule, Sargsyan has sought closer ties with the United States despite Armenia’s political and military alliance with Russia. He has repeatedly said in recent years that US-Armenian relations have reached the “highest level in their history.”

“We will continue to work together to help Armenia realize its full potential,” President Barack Obama said in a September 21 letter to Sargsyan.

As Americans went to the polls on November 8 the US Ambassador in Yerevan Richard Mills said US foreign policy is unlikely to undergo fundamental changes regardless of the outcome of the presidential election. “The US government will remain committed to our friends around the world and certainly to our friend Armenia,” he said.

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Citing Trump’s conciliatory rhetoric on Russia, some analysts in Armenia suggested, however, that the election outcome heralds major changes in that policy.

Richard Giragosian of the Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center said Washington could become less engaged in the ex-Soviet space — and the South Caucasus in particular — and acquiesce greater Russian presence there. “If we look at this region, clearly we should expect a significant shift in US policy in one key regard: US-Russian relations,” he said.

Giragosian said the Trump administration could specifically allow Moscow to take on an even greater role in international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “In this context, it is dangerous for the region, but also concerning Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

In his congratulatory message to Trump, Sargsyan praised the “important role” played by the US in the Karabakh peace process. He also said the influential Armenian-American community should continue to serve as a “strong bridge between our nations.”

In contrast to past US presidential races, neither Trump nor his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton have pledged to officially recognize the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey if elected president. A formal US recognition of the genocide has for decades been a key goal of Armenian-American advocacy groups.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said on Thursday added that he thought the United States is unlikely to change its policy towards the South Caucasus after Trump takes over as its new president,

“We are dealing with a stable [US government] system with a stable field of experts and stable programs drawn up in advance,” Kocharian told reporters. “And we will see the foreign policy that will be adopted by the new White House leadership.”

“I don’t think that there is cause for serious concern. But there is always room for work,” he said.

Kocharian dismissed suggestions that Trump may have little knowledge of key regional issues such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “An election candidate does not have to have full information about events in all parts of the world,” he said. “But when he gets to deal with such issues [after taking office] he will have that full information.”