YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—One month after President Serzh Sarkisian’s official visit to Qatar, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has travelled to Doha and discussed with his Qatari counterpart the Gulf state’s bitter dispute with other Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia.
Official statements on Nalbandian’s weekend talks with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani suggested that he reaffirmed Armenia’s intention to continue deepening ties with Qatar.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian handed to Al-Thani a message from Sarkisian to Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. A ministry statement said the two ministers discussed “the course of the implementation of agreements” that were reached by their leaders last month.
Sarkisian and Emir Tamim reportedly agreed to give “new impetus” to bilateral cooperation when they met during the Armenian president’s May 15 visit to Doha. Sarkisian used the trip to call for Qatari investments in the Armenian economy.
The Armenian government lifted visa requirements for Qatari nationals on June 1, four days before Saudi Arabia and its allies cut diplomatic and other ties with the hydrocarbon-rich emirate, accusing it of sponsoring extremist militant groups active in the region. Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian indicated on June 8 that Yerevan will continue to seek closer links with Qatar despite the sanctions.
In a short statement, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Al-Thani and Nalbandian discussed “ways of enhancing” bilateral ties as well as “the latest developments of the Gulf crisis.” It said Nalbandian was briefed on “the siege imposed on the State of Qatar” by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Nalbandian was quoted by his ministry’s press office as saying in that context that “all issues should be solved through dialogue.” He also said that Armenia closely monitors “events in the Arab world” because of its “traditionally warm relations with Arab countries.” No other details were reported.
Armenia has maintained cordial relationships with some of the other Gulf monarchies, notably the United Arab Emirates, which has an embassy in Yerevan. Saudi Arabia, by contrast, has refused to not only establish diplomatic relations with Armenia but also formally recognize its independence due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Armenia also has a friendly rapport with neighboring Iran, Saudi’s Arabia’s arch-foe that has denounced the sanctions against Qatar. Kocharian, Nalbandian’s deputy, suggested that the sanctions primarily result from Qatar’s continuing relationship with Iran, rather than its alleged support for Islamist terrorism.