Lenin's monument at Independence Square is seen in front of the government building of Belarus in Minsk November 7, 2008

Armenia Recalls Ambassador from Belarus

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YEREVAN (azatutyun.am) — Armenia recalled its ambassador from Belarus on Thursday, June 13, as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan deplored Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s recent pro-Azerbaijani statements.

Visiting Azerbaijan about a month ago, Lukashenko declared that he had not only been aware of Baku’s plans to try to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh by force but also approved them during his meetings with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held before the 2020 war. Official Yerevan did not react to that admission until now.

Pashinyan pointed to it in the context of his continuing criticism of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

“I declare that I will never visit Belarus as long as Alexander Lukashenko is its president,” he told the Armenian parliament. “And in general, no official representative of Armenia will visit Belarus at this point.”

Shortly afterwards, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced the recall of Armenia’s ambassador in Minsk “for consultations.” The ministry gave no reason for the move.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry summoned another Armenian diplomat in Minsk to demand explanations regarding Pashinyan’s comments. The ministry spokesman, Anatoly Glaz, announced afterwards that Minsk will likewise recall its ambassador to Armenia “in view of the developments.”

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Glaz suggested that Pashinyan is trying to deflect public attention from Armenia’s “internal problems” and, in particular, the ongoing antigovernment protests in Yerevan.

“We all see what a difficult internal political situation is developing in Armenia today, how rapidly the confrontation within the country is escalating,” he said. “And different people, of course, have different resistance to serious emotional stress. We can understand this. But what we don’t understand is what Belarus has to do with it.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan greets Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko during a CSTO summit, Yerevan, November 23, 2022

A senior diplomat at the Belarusian Embassy in Russia, Alexander Shpakovsky, said his government is untroubled by Pashinyan’s “impulsive statements” and continues to respect “the brotherly Armenian people.”

“At the same time, the choice of partners and allies is a sovereign affair of official Minsk, and in this case the ‘either-or’ approach is unacceptable for us,” he wrote on Telegram. “We have interacted and will continue to interact with brotherly Azerbaijan in all areas, including the military-technical one.”

Shpakovsky also rebuked unnamed Armenian leaders for maintaining contacts with “leaders of Belarusian political extremists.”

In March this year, Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian met in Brussels with Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader who challenged Lukashenko in a 2020 presidential election. Pashinyan and Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan also made a point of speaking with Tsikhanouskaya during a European Union summit in Spain last October.

Lukashenko has long raised eyebrows in Armenia with his pro-Azerbaijani comments on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and arms sales to Baku.

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