Foreign relations

Russia

Armenia’s foreign relations are dominated by the Karabakh conflict. In exchange for Russian military support, Armenia cooperates with Russia in the southern Caucasus.

Armenia joined the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization in1992.  Russia and Armenia signed a bilateral alliance treaty in 1997 and a Declaration on Allied Cooperation in 2006.  The two states also agreed to extend Russian basing rights in Armenia until 2044.  Armenia and Karabakh are integrated into the Russian air defense system, and Russian troops are stationed on Armenia’s border with Turkey.

Russia has a significant economic presence in Armenia.  Gazprom is majority shareholder of Armenia’s pipeline system and its sole gas supplier; the Inter-RAO Unified Electricity System owns almost in full Armenia’s hydro- and thermal power generating capacities; Rosatom is working to prolong the service life of Armenia’s Medzamor nuclear power plant to 2026; and Russian Railways operates Armenia’s railway system. Russia's investment in Armenia currently exceeds $3 billion.

President Putin receiving President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan (Russian presidential press and information office)

President Putin receiving President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan (Russian presidential press and information office)

President Sargsyan signed a joint statement with President Putin during a visit to Moscow in September 2013 announcing that Armenia would join the Russian-led Customs Union, take the necessary practical steps to achieve this, and subsequently participate in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union. Armenia's priority consideration was likely locking in Russian security support(including for Yerevan's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh), at the cost of the almost concluded association and trade agreements with the EU and  economic loss.  Armenia will not, by the way, have a contiguous border with any of the countries of the Customs Union.

The West

Armenia receives substantial U. S. aid, including Millennium Challenge Accountassistance. It also participates in NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and has an Individual Partnership Action Plan. Armenia deployed a 46-man unit to Iraq in 2005, which remained until2008.

Armenia's decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union marked a reversal of Yerevan's years of negotiation with the EU on concluding association, free trade and visa liberalization agreements.

Armenia and Turkey 2009 Accord not yet implemented

Armenia and Turkey signed an Accord in 2009 to establish diplomatic relations, initiating a major change in their long poisoned relationship. Still, Turkey has made clear that it will not implement the Accord unless Armenia shows more flexibility in its negotiations with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey backs Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict.

Armenian-Turkish relations have long been influenced by the legacy of the 1915 genocide, the occurrence of which Turkey refuses to acknowledge. Ter-Petrosyan refrained from raising the issue, but Kocharyan insisted on doing so. In addition, Turkey has been concerned at the ecological risk posed by the resumed operation of the Medzamor nuclear power station in an earthquake zone not far from its borders.

Armenia and Iran

Armenia has another friend in the region—Iran. While officially neutral with respect to the Karabakh conflict, Iran’s ruling Islamist regime sides with Armenia. This stems mainly from Iranian fear of Azerbaijani aspirations to unite northern with southern (Iranian) Azerbaijan. Economic relations with Iran are also very important for blockaded Armenia. Besides cross-border trade, the two countries plan to harness hydroelectric power on the stretch of the River Aras that forms their border. Iran completed construction of a gas pipeline to Armenia in 2007 that is to provide Armenia natural gas in exchange for electric power.

Armenia and Georgia

Armenia’s relations with its other neighbor in the southern Caucasus, Georgia, have traditionally been ambiguous. The Armenian government seeks to protect the interests of the ethnic Armenians in Javakheti but is sensitive to Georgian concern of Armenian government over-involvement.

OSCE

An OSCE office was established in Yerevan in 2000 to promote implementation of OSCE principles and commitments, and maintains contact with local authorities and groups to contribute to the development of democratic institutions in the country. The OSCE office works independently from the Minsk Group seeking to mediate a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

L-r: Oliver Mc Coy, Democratization Programme Manager of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Liana Sayadyan, Vice-President of Investigative Journalists NGO and Lusine Hakobyan, President of Europe in Law Association, at the presentation of a publication on violence against journalists in Armenia, Yerevan, 20 February 2012. (OSCE/ Gayane Ter-Stepanyan)

L-r: Oliver Mc Coy, Democratization Programme Manager of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Liana Sayadyan, Vice-President of Investigative Journalists NGO and Lusine Hakobyan, President of Europe in Law Association, at the presentation of a publication on violence against journalists in Armenia, Yerevan, 20 February 2012. (OSCE/ Gayane Ter-Stepanyan)

OSCE Office in Yerevan. 

COE

Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe.