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Pashinyan: No Armenian Official Will Visit Belarus While Lukashenko Is in Power

Pashinyan & Lukashenko in Minsk | July 2020
Pashinyan & Lukashenko in Minsk | July 2020

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced a bold shift in Armenia's foreign policy concerning Belarus. In a speech delivered during debates on Armenia's 2023 state budget in the National Assembly today, Pashinyan declared that he would no longer visit Belarus as long as President Alexander Lukashenko remains in power. This decision stems from Lukashenko's controversial remarks about the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Pashinyan criticized Lukashenko for his statement indicating support for Azerbaijan during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Lukashenko's comments suggested that he participated in preparations for the war and wished for Azerbaijan's victory. This, according to Pashinyan, makes any future discussions with Lukashenko impossible within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). 

The Armenian PM stated emphatically that no Armenian official would visit Belarus under Lukashenko's presidency. He did, however, leave a theoretical door open for future relations. If Belarus were to leave the CSTO or if Lukashenko offered an acceptable apology to the Armenian people, Pashinyan might reconsider.

Following Pashinyan's declaration, Armenia recalled its ambassador to Belarus, Razmik Khumaryan, for consultations. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this move, indicating a serious review of diplomatic ties.

In response, Belarusian officials expressed a measured reaction. Alexander Shpakovsky, minister counselor of the Belarusian embassy in Russia, downplayed Pashinyan's statements, emphasizing Belarus's respect for the Armenian people and their long-standing historical ties. Shpakovsky noted that Belarus does not interfere in Armenia's internal politics and expects the same non-interference from Yerevan.

Belarusian Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Krutoi, suggested that Pashinyan should clarify his statements, pointing out the ongoing protests in Yerevan as a factor potentially influencing Pashinyan's rhetoric. 

Belarus also summoned the Armenian embassy representative in Minsk to explain Pashinyan's comments. Anatoly Glaz, spokesperson of the Belarusian MFA, announced that Belarus would recall its ambassador to Armenia for consultations. Glaz expressed confusion over why Belarus was being implicated in Armenia's internal issues and criticized any attempt to portray Belarus as an external enemy.

The rift between Armenia and Belarus shows deeper tensions within the CSTO, a military alliance that includes several post-Soviet states. Pashinyan's statements reflect growing dissatisfaction with the organization's dynamics, particularly in light of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. 

Belarus's close ties with Azerbaijan further complicate matters. Lukashenko's recent visit to Azerbaijan and his comments about collaborating on the post-war reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabakh have not gone unnoticed in Yerevan. Pashinyan's refusal to engage with Belarus under Lukashenko's leadership shows the level of deceit felt by Armenians.


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