Armenia is making confident strides towards the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) while the other members of the bloc are looking for ways to separate from Russia, says a former parliament member.
“The Customs Union and the Eurasian Union can be considered a single political bloc built on economic foundations,” Hovhannes Igityan, the former head of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, told a debate in Yerevan, commenting on the advantages and disadvantages of Armenia’s Eurasian integration.
Addressing the western powers’ sanctions against Russia, the former parliamentarian said he believes that the country seeks to foster cooperation with allies – Belarus and Kazakhstan – in an attempt to demonstrate that it isn’t alone in the current battle. He described Kazakh President Norsultan Nazarbaev’s recent statement (saying that the country will leave the bloc should the membership turn out to fly in the face of its interests) as a good proof that the country will not interfere in the developments in Russia and Ukraine, being more concerned of the sanctions’ impact on its own economy.
Commenting on possible impacts on Armenia, Igityan said he finds that the authorities themselves have to seek an answer to that question given the country’s dependence on Russia in energy and investment projects, and natural gas services.
Asked how the EEU membership will influence Armenia’s future cooperation with the World Bank or European states (with which there are agreements), Igityan said he sees that the country has already made considerable concessions, with the unsettled Nagorno-Karabakh conflict still standing high on the political agenda. “Did Serzh Sargsyan resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh security issue with his September 3  decision or did the issue switch over to another sphere from the [OSCE] Minsk Group to become a concern for Russia?” he asked.
Speaking further, the Civil Society Institute’s board chairman, Artak Kirakosyan, said he doesn’t think the EEU membership is an economic process for an idea-centered country like Russia.
“Our judiciary suffers from the same ailments as does Russia’s, with convictions targeting the phenomenon rather than the human being,” he noted.
Kirakosyan said he is concerned that decisions in Armenia are often made without wide debates. “Economically, Armenia is of no interest to either Russia nor Europe,” he said.