EU vows €270m package for Armenia as ties with Russia collapse


The European Union on Friday pledged a €270 million financial package for Armenia as Brussels and Washington push to boost ties with Yerevan while its relations with Russia crumble.

The announcement came after talks between Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken aimed at ramping up cooperation.

Caucasus nation Armenia is looking to solidify economic support from the West as it edges away from traditional ally Russia after anger with Moscow for failing to stop neighbouring Azerbaijan from recapturing territory in recent years.

Von der Leyen said the four-year "resilience and growth" package of financial grants for Armenia showed the EU stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Yerevan.

"Europe and Armenia share a long and common history and the time has come to write now a new chapter," she said.

'Shared vision'

Pashinyan said Friday's meeting in Brussels was proof of his ex-Soviet country's "expanding partnership" with the EU and US.

"I believe that our shared vision of a democratic, peaceful and prosperous future will continue to serve as the backbone and the guiding star of our mutually trusted relations," he said.

Blinken said the US was also bolstering its economic support for Yerevan to $65 million this year to aid efforts to make Armenia "a strong, independent nation at peace with its neighbours".

"We have to harness this moment of choice for the Armenian people and for its leaders," he said.

Armenia has drawn Russia's ire by criticising its role as a regional security guarantor and even floating the idea of applying to join the EU.

Yerevan has a longstanding alliance with Moscow but was infuriated when the Kremlin – consumed by the Ukraine war and annoyed by Pashinyan's overtures to the West – failed to stop Azerbaijan's seizure of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenian separatists last year.

Since then, Pashinyan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev have voiced hope for a comprehensive peace agreement between their countries.

Karabakh tensions

But the two sides on Tuesday traded accusations of opening fire across their border, renewing fears of conflict.

Ahead of the talks in Brussels, Blinken called Aliyev on Wednesday to try to ease the tensions.

Pashinyan said at the Brussels meeting that he remained "committed to the normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan".

But Turkey, Azerbaijan's main backer, warned that Armenia's talks with the US and EU "undermine the neutral approach that should be the basis for the solution of the complex problems of the region".

"This initiative, which excludes Azerbaijan, will pave the way for the South Caucasus to become an area of geopolitical confrontation, rather than serving peace," Turkey's foreign ministry said.