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Opposition Party Objects To New Russian-Led Union


Armenia - Alexander Arzumanian (L) and Khachatur Kokobelian, leaders of the opposition Free Democrats party, at a party congress in Yerevan, 16Mar2012.

Armenia - Alexander Arzumanian (L) and Khachatur Kokobelian, leaders of the opposition Free Democrats party, at a party congress in Yerevan, 16Mar2012.

An Armenian opposition party represented in parliament on Tuesday spoke out against Armenia’s accession to a Russian-led “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics increasingly promoted by Moscow.

The Free Democrats party said membership of the union could prove an “insurmountable obstacle” to the country’s independence, democratization and European integration. It also stressed that Armenia’s relations with Russia must not develop “within the framework of an artificial and imperialist system imposed on us.”

“An independent, liberal and democratic Armenia is a key prerequisite for the region’s sustainable development,” the party said in a statement. “In that context, we are convinced that Armenia’s further political and economic development is possible only if it becomes a full-fledged member of the European family.”

The statement came on the heels of a July 24-25 visit to Yerevan by Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma. Naryshkin promoted Moscow’s “Eurasian project” during the trip.

“The leadership of the Republic of Armenia is attentively monitoring the development of that Eurasian project and is seeking to determine its place in this project,” he said after talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian leaders.

Official Yerevan has implicitly ruled out Armenian membership of the union so far. Armenian officials argue their country has no common border with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The three nations are part of a customs union which Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes will be the backbone of the future Eurasian Union.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the country’s second most important parliamentary force, backed Putin’s ambitious idea in principle ahead of Naryshkin’s visit. The BHK was represented in Sarkisian’s coalition government until last month.

The Free Democrats entered the current Armenian parliament, elected on May 6, in an alliance with another opposition party, Zharangutyun (Heritage). The two parties hold five seats in the 131-member National Assembly.
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