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Armenia ‘Welcomed’ To Customs Union


Belarus - Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R, facing the camera) and other participants attend a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the Palace of Independence in Minsk, October 24, 2013.

Belarus - Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R, facing the camera) and other participants attend a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the Palace of Independence in Minsk, October 24, 2013.

The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan shed no light on possible dates for Armenia’s accession to their customs union, while welcoming Yerevan’s decision to join it after talks held in Minsk on Thursday.

The Kremlin reported that they signed two documents on Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led union at the summit that was also attended by President Serzh Sarkisian and the leaders of three other ex-Soviet states.

According to Sarkisian’s press office, Presidents Vladimir Putin, Aleksandr Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev also approved a separate memorandum on “deepening cooperation” between the Armenian government and the union’s executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission. None of three documents was immediately made public.

“We backed Armenia’s and Kyrgyzstan’s intention to join our integration project,” Putin told a joint news conference in the Belarusian capital. “We agreed to set up a working group that will be tasked with preparing a corresponding ‘roadmap’ within a very short period of time.”

Nazarbayev sounded less enthusiastic about the union’s enlargement. “We are very cautious about admitting new members,” he said. “The working group should first look into the level of the economy of that country, the extent of reforms and whether our economies fit each other for integration.”

Lukashenko cautioned earlier this week that the accession process will take months, if not years, because Armenian laws and regulations need to be brought into conformity with those existing in the customs union. “Armenia cannot join the customs union tomorrow or the day after or this year or maybe even next year,” he said.
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