“Zhamanak” notes that in his reaction to President Serzh Sarkisian’s foreign policy U-turn opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian avoided clarifying whether or not he supports Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led customs union. The paper complains that virtually all other political groups and their leaders have been just as evasive on the subject.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries an interview on the issue with Poland’s ambassador to Armenia, Zdzislaw Raczynski. “Let’s wait and see what happens in the Armenian economy in the next few years,” he says. “We know what the European Union is but do not know what the customs union involves. Foreign investments in Armenia have drastically fallen this year. They were down by 60 percent in the first half. I don’t think that Armenia’s entry into the customs union will attract foreign investors.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Mher Shahgeldian, a leader of the pro-government Orinats Yerkir party, as claiming the opposite. “By joining the customs union, we get an opportunity to attract large-scale investments in our economy,” says Shahgeldian. He says that membership in the customs union will enable Armenia to lower the cost of imported goods and increase its exports. He says joining the union is also important for Armenia’ national security, given its membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
“Aravot” reports that Aram Sarkisian, the leader of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, has begun “consultations” with other opposition forces and figures on launching street protests against Armenia’s accession to the union. Sarkisian says that his party last year eased its “fierce opposition” to the ruling regime because of the prospect of an Association Agreement between Armenia and the European Union. He says Yerevan’s decision to halt European integration poses a “serious threat” to Armenia’s independence. “We are inclined to forcefully fight against that,” adds the oppositionist.