Membership in the customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus will not limit Armenia’s national independence and sovereignty, a senior Russian government official insisted on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t even discuss that because the Customs Union is based on principles that primarily have to do with the economy and are not connected to sovereignty,” Russia’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Georgi Kalamanov told journalists in Yerevan.
Kalamanov sought to dispel concerns regarding the union’s executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, currently headed by Viktor Khristenko, a former Russian deputy prime minister. He argued that all three member states are equally represented in this Moscow-based body.
The commission states on its website that it is a supranational body whose decisions are mandatory for the member states.
Kalamanov dismissed suggestions that the Russian-led trade bloc, which Moscow plans to expand into the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015, is an attempt to recreate much of the Soviet Union. He said the Eurasian project is only aimed at speeding up economic development of ex-Soviet states through their closer integration.
President Serzh Sarkisian made similar assurances after unexpectedly deciding last month to make Armenia part of the customs union. “We live in a free country and can make anything a subject of discussion. But there is one thing that cannot change in any situation: the sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia,” Sarkisian said on September 21.