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Seda Ghukasyan

Kocharyan Ridicules Armenian Government for Overreacting to Lukashenko's Remarks

Former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, at a Yerevan press conference today, said the Armenian government overreacted to recent remarks made by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko that Armenia has no choice but to join a Minsk-Moscow initiated union state.

When journalists asked Kocharyan whether the matter was discussed during his tenure as president he said it hadn’t, adding that such integration processes shouldn’t be dismissed in advance.

Lukashenko, during a February 4 interview, said the union state initiated by Moscow and Minsk will include most of the former Soviet republics - Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states – in the next fifteen years.

"Armenia can't escape it. You think anyone needs them? They have already seen it," Lukashenko said.

Kocharyan, who heads the opposition Hayastan alliance, said any discussion of Armenia’s possible membership in such a union must be based on pragmatic, specific calculations.

The former president said he know Lukashenko personally and that the Belarus leader is known for speaking his mind.

"I know Lukashenko well. You can accept him, or not, respect him or disrespect him. But one thing is clear. He says what he thinks. A head of state doesn’t always have to say what they think,” Pashinyan said, adding that Lukashenko’s remarks about Armenia can’t be compared to those made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Kocharyan chided the Pashinyan government for not responding to Aliyev’s disparaging remarks about Armenia. "They're silent on Aliyev and start crowing about Lukashenko," Pashinyan joked.

He said the government is doing nothing to change the negative, patronizing perception that world leaders have of Armenia.

The former president called for strengthening relations with Russia, arguing that there’s no other country interested in seeing Armenia remain a "regional player".

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