The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday reaffirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and recognized as illegal the referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia.
Armenia voted against the anti-Russian resolution among 11 other nations most of which are classed by the West as ‘rogue regimes’. Among them are Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
A hundred nations voted in favor of the resolution, while 58 countries, including Brazil, South Africa, China, India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Vietnam, Egypt, Uzbekistan and others, abstained from the vote. Several traditional allies of Russia decided to opt out of the vote at all. Among them are Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Israel, Serbia and others.
Many observers have described yesterday’s vote at the UN as ‘political segregation’ as countries must decide who they side with – Russia, which is being subjected to increasingly stringent sanctions, or the West. Armenia has apparently chosen Russia and got itself in the list of countries that the Western community considers to be ‘rogue states’ and periodically subjects them to various sanctions.
The day before the vote RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, quoting a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published a report according to which Armenia had decided to abstain during the UN vote on Ukraine. This caused a sigh of relief in Armenia as many considered such a position to be optimal. However, later Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan in an interview with the Russian news agency Regnum said that Armenia is not in the habit of declaring in advance about how it will vote. It became clear that Armenia would vote against the anti-Russian resolution.
In an explanatory note before the vote Armenia’s Representative to the UN Karen Nazaryan said: “Armenia has consistently and over years taken a principled position on the promotion of democracy, freedoms and rights, including and in particular the equal rights and self-determination of peoples as universal values and principles, embraced by this Assembly, based on the UN Charter.”
Some Armenian experts also pointed out that Armenia could not vote “for” the UN resolution, because having the problem of a self-determined, but unrecognized Karabakh, it could not support the priority of the principle of territorial integrity over the right of peoples to self-determination. However, a vote “against”, according to some observers, may result in the West extending its sanctions also to Armenia.
It is even more so alarming considering that such votes are also planned at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) session in Strasbourg on April 7. The Assembly will consider depriving Russia of its right to vote or suspending its membership. Deputy head of the Russian delegation to the PACE Leonid Slutsky said that Russia itself may move to withdraw from the PACE so that it is not “expelled under enthusiastic hooting”. Armenia will also need to clarify its position in this upcoming vote.
Armenia is connected with Russia with very binding treaties, moreover, the Armenian authorities evince a sort of personal loyalty to the Russian leadership. Each vote at the UN was very important to Moscow. After the vote representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin noted with satisfaction that Russia was not in isolation.
However, everyone seems to understand that too close ties with Russia will inevitably lead to the worsening of the situation in Armenia. Armenian Economy Minister Vahram Avanesyan said that if the sanctions against Russia continue, Armenia will have to revise some of its economic indicators.