Suren Sargsyan

Meetings in Brussels Leave Armenia in More Difficult Situation


My recent articles, including those published by the Armenian Mirror Spectator, have focused on whether Armenia is shifting towards the West and if the West is willing to embrace Armenia. Prior to the NATO Secretary General’s visit, I noted that Armenia lacks a clear agenda for NATO membership and may only participate in individual programs. The same applies to the European Union. Armenia desires closer ties but appears hesitant to break away from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in favor of joining the EU and NATO. It seems that both the EU and NATO are reluctant to welcome Armenia into their fold, or at least they refrain from openly stating so to avoid jeopardizing Armenia’s security.

Lately, the primary topic of discussion in Armenia has been the country’s relations with the EU and the potential integration with the European bloc. This discussion intensified following news of a meeting between President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Initially, pro-Western factions in Armenia held high hopes for the meeting, but as it became clear that public expectations would not be met, a shift occurred to downplay the significance of the West as a security guarantor for Armenia. While the EU may offer certain types of non-lethal military support, it cannot ensure Armenia’s security. As I have previously mentioned, the West is unable to provide security guarantees to Armenia and can only offer assistance. The reasons vary, including Armenia’s membership in CSTO, Russian-Armenian strategic relations (at least legally), as well as logistical support to provide such assistance.

After the meeting in Brussels, it became evident that those who believed having high expectations was unwarranted were more accurate in their assessment. Serious political agreements and achievements were absent. There was a lack of statements indicating Armenia’s progress in European integration. Instead, the USA offered 65 million dollars in financial support to Armenia, while the European Union pledged a grant of 270 million euros. It was apparent that the West lacks a clear strategy concerning Armenia. The main message conveyed was that while the West is willing to assist Armenia, it cannot guarantee Armenia’s security. Therefore, Armenia must work on improving relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan to prevent future attacks.

In fact, after this meeting, Armenia found itself in a more difficult situation. The West clarified its position towards Armenia and clearly presented the arrangement of things. Emphasizing this reality significantly complicates the internal political and security situation of Armenia. If the West could be a certain straitjacket for Azerbaijan before this meeting, now those restraint mechanisms are weaker and more fragile. The recent attacks on Armenian borders by Azerbaijani armed forces following the Brussels meeting further prove this point. Of course, this does not mean that Armenia should not continue its work in terms of developing and deepening relations with Western partners, but Armenia should clearly understand where the West can be useful and where it cannot provide support. In other words, Armenia should not form high expectations and then be disappointed because of those expectations. As I have mentioned many times, Armenia needs a pragmatic rather than emotional foreign policy. Armenia lacks this, especially after the 2020 war.

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