Armenia To Ratify International Court Treaty Amid Tensions With Russia

Armenia To Ratify International Court Treaty Amid Tensions With Russia

Despite stern warnings from Russia, Armenia will unconditionally accept jurisdiction of an international court that issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin early this year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday.

Pashinyan made this clear amid unprecedented tensions between Moscow and Yerevan. They rose further after he declared early this month that Armenia’s reliance on Russia for defense and security has proved a “strategic mistake.” Russian officials condemned Pashinyan’s remarks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry listed them among “a series of unfriendly steps” taken by Yerevan, in a note of protest handed to the Armenian ambassador on September 8. Those steps also include the Armenian parliament’s plans to ratify the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Moscow demanded last week “clarifications” over the Pashinyan government’s decision to send the treaty, known as the Rome Statute, to the parliament for ratification. The decision was announced on September 1.

“The Rome Statute will be fully ratified in accordance with my position and with the backing of our parliamentary allies,” Pashinyan told the National Assembly controlled by his Civil Contract party. “It has nothing to do with Russian-Armenian relations. It has to do with Armenia’s security issues.”

Pashinyan’s political allies said earlier that Yerevan wants to submit to the ICC’s jurisdiction in order to bring Azerbaijan to justice for its “war crimes” and to prevent more Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia. Russian officials were unconvinced by these assurances, warning of serious damage to bilateral ties.

Independent legal experts believe that the ratification of the Rome Statute would commit the Armenian authorities to arrest Putin and extradite him to The Hague tribunal if he visits the South Caucasus country. Pashinyan did not comment on such a possibility on Wednesday.