The ruling Republican Party (HHK) insisted on Monday that it did not pledge support for Armenia’s eventual membership in a Russian-led Eurasian Union of former Soviet republics during a conference in Saint Petersburg last week.
The conference was organized by President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party and attended by senior representatives of the governing parties of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. They discussed “Eurasian integration” of their countries actively promoted by Moscow.
The Saint Petersburg conference resulted in a joint memorandum adopted by all participating parties, including the HHK. According to a senior Russian parliamentarian, the unpublicized document envisages that they will shoulder “responsibility for integration processes geared towards the creation of the Eurasian Union.”
However, Hovannes Sahakian, a senior Armenian lawmaker affiliated with the HHK, downplayed the document, saying that it places no obligations on Yerevan and only notes his party’s participation in the forum. “We are only trying to understand the aims of that new emerging structure,” he said of the would-be Eurasian Union.
Asked whether Moscow is pressuring the Armenian government to join that union, Sahakian said, “We are an established state and our authorities are now able to cope with various pressures.”
Echoing statements by Armenian government officials, Sahakian also insisted that there is no contradiction between Armenia’s participation in “integration processes” unfolding in the former Soviet Union and Europe. “If there is something useful in it for our people and state, then we can negotiate and talk,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “And we don’t compare that with our activities with the European Union related to the association agreement.”
Stepan Safarian, the foreign policy spokesman for the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, disagreed, saying that closer integration with the EU is incompatible with any involvement in Moscow’s efforts to cobble together a tightly-knit bloc of friendly ex-Soviet states.
Safarian also asserted that Yerevan is facing strong Russian pressure over the Eurasian Union. “The ruling party lacks the courage to admit that,” he said.