Armenia perceived in Russia as allied, brotherly country: Interview with Ambassador Sergei Kopyrkin
YEREVAN, APRIL 11, ARMENPRESS. Over the past 30 years the relations between Armenia and Russia have taken on the character of relations between two independent, sovereign states, but as they are based on firm grounds, rich historical contacts, the Armenian-Russian relations have remained brotherly and allied, strengthening and adapting to new realities, Ambassador of Russia to Armenia Sergei Kopyrkin said in an interview to ARMENPRESS, talking about the past, the present and the future of the Armenian-Russian relations on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Ambassador says the Armenian-Russian relations have very deep traditions. The Armenian and Russian peoples have passed a great path together, he says, adding that this historical commonality, the joint achievements and trials have created a very significant and valuable architecture of mutual relations between the two countries, relating both to political, economic and security fields.
The diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation were established on April 3, 1992. On April 3, 2022 – on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Russia exchanged congratulatory letters. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between Armenia and Russia, which was signed on August 29, 1997.
Armenia and Russia are strategic allies. The two countries have close allied relations marked by frequent bilateral visits at the high and the highest levels. Over 200 agreements, including the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of August 29, 1997, have been signed between the two countries.
Russia is Armenia’s largest trading partner. According to the data of the Statistical Committee of Armenia, the trade turnover between Armenia and Russia in 2021 comprised 2 billion 841 million 153.568 thousand dollars. Moreover, the export comprised over 847 million 251 thousand dollars, and the import (according to exporting country) – 1 billion 993 million 902 thousand dollars.
- Mr. Ambassador, this year Armenia and Russia celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. On April 3 the Armenian and Russian Foreign Ministers exchanged congratulatory letters on this occasion. The two sides state very often that Armenia and Russia have unique relations. I would like to ask you what makes the Armenian-Russian relations unique, and how would you assess this 30-year-old path that the two countries have passed in independence period, after the collapse of the Soviet Union?
- I think that the values, the traditions which have been formed between the Russian and Armenian peoples over decades make our relations unique, and I am convinced that what has been done in the past 30 years, is inseparably connected with the whole historic period during which our nations have communicated and cooperated. And this commonality of our history, the joint achievements and experiments have created a very significant and valuable architecture of mutual relations between our countries, which relates not only to politics, economy, security field, but first of all the spiritual commonality, to a considerable extent – the civilizational, intellectual commonality, and to the heritage that our countries have today in culture, state-building, public-political, economic culture spheres, and it is a result of mutual cooperation of our nations to a considerable extent.
If we talk about the post-Soviet period, of course, our relations have gained a new character over the past 30 years – a character of relations between two independent, sovereign states. But as they are based on very firm grounds, these relations have remained brotherly and allied, and what unites our peoples, in my view, has not only been maintained over these 30 years, but also strengthened and adapted to new realities.
As for the famous facts how we depend on one another economically, in security, political fields, in our numerous cultural, inter-personal ties, I think there is no need to talk about this as we all know it quite well.
- The basis of not only the inter-state relations between Armenia and Russia, but also the relations between the Armenian and Russian peoples are interesting. Ethnically, of course, we are different, although the faith is the same. In any case, we get along with each other very well and understand each other also very well. Many Armenians live in Russia, there are also many Russians in Armenia, a large number of Russian tourists are visiting Armenia especially in recent years. In your opinion, which factors, which spiritual and cultural values bring the Armenian and Russian peoples closer?
- Exactly what I was talking about. Truly, our relations have very deep traditions. We really have passed a very big path together, and the spiritual values and culture make us closer. The culture of our peoples has really developed in a very close intertwining. I think that these are the multiple elements of commonality in our consciousness.
- Is it probably mainly about the Soviet or post-Soviet heritage?
- You know, I would not take it to the Soviet or post-Soviet events. We have really lived and cooperated together for centuries, in different historical periods and had a great impact on one another – culturally, intellectually, spiritually, and today all these, of course, is having its reflection.
- And what perception does Armenia have in Russia?
- Armenia is perceived in Russia as an allied, brotherly country. You have just mentioned that many Russian tourists visit Armenia. I think this is not accidental. In addition to the visa regime which is very facilitated, the fact that Russians feel very well here, just as, I am sure, Armenians feel very well in Russia, also plays a big role.
- What are Russia’s priorities in the relations with Armenia? How do you see the future of the Armenian-Russian relations? In your view, in which directions will they develop, given the new challenges of Russia and Armenia?
- As for the priorities, our common interest, of course, is to maintain and multiply the wealth accumulated in the relations of our countries and peoples, the merit that we have today and adapt our relations in all spheres, be it security, economy or culture, adapt them to the new realities and challenges that our countries have faced.
Here I would like to note that our common participation to integration unions – the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), are of key significance, and the recent round-table organized in Yerevan on April 6, entitled “EAEU development opportunities and prospects after the collective West’s announcement of an economic war to Russia”, shows that it is really a very important part of our mutual relations. In the era of the development of integration processes, the deepening of the world’s interdependence, the aforementioned aspect of the relations is very important, and both sides fully understand that importance.
- In this context, recently some vague prospects are observed from time to time, hints are made about the expansion of the union state of Russia and Belarus, in other words, the deepening of ongoing integration processes under the leadership of Russia together with its close allies and partners. Such a hint was recently made, for example, by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during his interview with Vladimir Solovyov. What is your comment on this issue? Is there such a real prospect that the integration processes in the Eurasian space could be developed in that direction?
- As I have already said, the approach of both Russia, Armenia and all our allies is that the integration processes, of course, are very important, and we are ready to go that way as long as it is in the interests of our countries. But I want to highlight a very principled fact that these integration processes are a result of the sovereign choice of each participating state. Therefore, I think that the mutual cooperation, integration formats which could emerge or develop, depend, first of all, on the real situation and the demands of our countries, as well as on the sovereign decision of each state.
Now we are attaching great importance to what is happening within the existing integration unions, such as the EAEU and the CSTO, and this is the result of the political, sovereign and conscious choice of each participating state. This is how we will treat it.
Interview by Aram Sargsyan