Bako Sahakian, the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), welcomed at the weekend Armenia’s controversial decision to join the a Russian-led customs union.
Sahakian said he was not surprised by the decision announced by President Serzh Sarkisian last month.
“Armenia’s decision to join the customs union was yet another step to strengthen cooperation with Russia,” he told Russian journalists visiting Stepanakert. “Nothing surprising occurred. I think that both Armenia and Russia will benefit from that. So we welcome that.”
The planned Armenian entry into the Russian-led bloc has fuelled speculation that Armenia may be forced to set up customs checkpoints to tax goods entering the country from Karabakh. Officials in Yerevan have implicitly ruled out such possibility, however.
Trade between Karabakh and Armenia is currently not subject to any taxes or restrictions. The Armenian-populated disputed territory has grown economically and militarily integrated with Armenia ever since its de facto secession from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s.
Sahakian said that the NKR cannot even consider joining the customs union because it has not been recognized by any state, including Armenia. “It will be a different matter if we are invited to join in,” he said. “We would hold meetings and discussions before deciding whether or not to join.”