Foreign Policy: Moscow appears unhappy with Armenia-Belarus relations

By Aris Ghazinyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

Three months prior to the presidential elections in Belarus, the relations between Moscow and Minks have deteriorated. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that the leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko's election campaign is based on anti-Russia rhetoric mindless of the $4 billion worth preferential delivery of oil and gas every year.

He also stressed that Lukashenko broke his publicly made promise to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, demonstrating "dishonest" behavior. A strong emphasis was put on Moscow's intentions to communicate with all the political forces of Belarus.

The conflict between the two strategic partners, which signed an agreement in April of 1997 on founding "Belarus and Russia Union", to some extent, concerns Armenia's interests as well. Not only both countries are members of the same military-strategic block with Armenia (CSTO), but are also considered to be Yerevan's most reliable partners in that alliance.

On the other hand, Turkic CSTO member-states - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan - have always supported Azerbaijan's initiatives against Armenia, and by that violated the charter of the organization - a fact openly recognized by Moscow. For example, in 2004, within the framework of the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan supported Azerbaijan's initiative of including on the agenda of discussions an issue on "The Situation in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan".

Consequently, Armenia has only Russia and Belarus to rely on as loyal strategic partners in this alliance.

The President of Belarus, and leader of Prosperous Armenia, Armenia's second most powerful coalition party leader, tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan, have become close friends; Tsarukyan recently built an Armenian-Belarusian trade house in Yerevan.

When visiting Yerevan this August to participate in the unofficial summit of CSTO member country leaders, president Lukashenko qualified Tsarukyan as a "man of principle" and proposed building an Armenian Brandy company in Belarus.

Immediately after the Yerevan meetings Russian press started circulating reports on 'Moscow's utter discontent' with the warm reception shown to Belarus President Lukashenko by the leader of one of Armenia's ruling parties.

A subtle warning against cozy relations, had an impact not only Tsarukyan, but on his companions-in-arms as well, who hope that the Kremlin's support against the will of Armenian authorities could help Prosperous Armenia to secure sizeable mandates during the parliamentary elections, reports Irates De-Facto.

The Ambassador of Belarus in Armenia Stepan Sukharenko stated, on October 6, that Minsk is not for any of the parties in the Nagorno Karabakh issue and will support any solution that would satisfy both sides. In response to the question whether Belarus would support Armenia in case of military aggression by Azerbaijan, considering the fact that Azerbaijan is a member of CSTO too, the ambassador said that such cases are controlled by CSTO regulations, according to which CSTO calls the board of presidents to make an appropriate decision.


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