Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has backed Armenia’s accession to his country’s controversial customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan and expressed readiness to accelerate the process.
Lukashenko discussed the issue with President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday during talks held on the sidelines of a summit in Sochi, Russia of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
“I want to make clear that if Armenia decides wholeheartedly to join our organization Belarus will never impede that and will only support your aspirations and help to rapidly complete all the [membership] procedures so that you can join us,” Lukashenko was quoted by his press service on Tuesday as saying at the meeting.
Sarkisian already announced on September 3 that Armenia has decided to join a trade bloc which Moscow regards as the bedrock of a future Eurasian Economic Union of ex-Soviet states. “We have not changed our mind because we ourselves arrived at that decision,” he was reported to tell Lukashenko.
A separate statement by the Armenian presidential press service said the two leaders discussed Belarusian support for Armenia’s membership in the customs union and implications of that development for bilateral economic ties.
The Armenian government announced last week the official start of preparations for accession talks with the union’s member states. Officials in Yerevan say the process will take months and require changes in dozens of Armenian laws and regulations.