YEREVAN, July 21. /ARKA/. The uncertainty over Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that will replace next year the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is caused by the demand of EEU founding members to install customs checkpoints at Armenia’s border with Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s first post-Soviet president Levon Ter-Petrosian said in a an interview with ilur.am published on Monday.
Ter-Petrosian, who was Armenia’s president in 1991-1998, and now is the head of the opposition Armenian National Congress party, said there are neither technical nor economic reasons behind Armenia’s postponed membership because ‘according to Armenian officials, all the technical issues were resolved and as for economic reasons, the small Armenian-Karabakh trade (about $25 million a year) can not have either positive or negative impact on EEU’s huge trade.” According to him, the reason is political.
At the May 29 summit of the Customs Union in Astana, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev publicly demanded that the treaty on Armenia’s accession make clear that Armenia is joining the EEU with its internationally recognized borders that do not include Nagorno-Karabakh. He said this demand was conveyed by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev in a letter sent to him and presidents of Russia and Belarus. The demand presumably means that the Armenian government will have to start taxing goods imported from Karabakh. Armenian authorities have ruled out such a possibility.
“The dilemma faced now by the Armenian government is whether to meet this demand or not… If it fails to meet the demand, Armenia, which has already spoiled its relations with the West, will find itself in a complete political and economic vacuum. And if it meets the demand, it will create a panicky situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is fraught with serious tensions in the relations between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
After a meeting with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Russian Sochi earlier this month Armenian prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan told reporters in Yerevan that the treaty on Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be signed in late October. -0-