Armenia has effectively stopped seeking membership in a new alliance of ex-Soviet states dominated by Russia, a prominent Russian pundit reputedly close to the Kremlin claimed on Friday.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Modest Kolerov, the editor of the REX news agency, blamed the Armenian government for the latest snags in its membership talks with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Kolerov referred to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s efforts to ensure that Nagorno-Karabakh is de jure and explicitly excluded from their Eurasian Economic Union in the event of Armenia’s accession to the bloc. He said this is an inevitable reaction to Armenian leaders’ recent statements that Armenia and Karabakh will remain “a single economic territory” in that case.
According to Kolerov, Russian officials had assured their Armenian colleagues that Karabakh would be “de facto” part of the union if Yerevan avoids commenting on the issue in public. They had also persuaded Nazarbayev not to publicly assert Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, he said, adding that the recent statements by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and other Armenian officials breached that confidential understanding.
“Armenia is again trying to pursue a multi-vector policy but that does not instill trust in Russia and the West,” claimed Kolerov, who held a senior position in President Vladimir Putin’s administration in 2005-2007.
President Serzh Sarkisian and members of his administration have repeatedly stated in recent months that they are keen to make Armenia part of the Russian-led Customs Union currently transformed into the Eurasian Union as early as possible. Speaking at a summit in Astana on Thursday, Sarkisian urged his Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh counterparts to sign an accession treaty with Yerevan by June 15.
The Sarkisian administration had no plans to join the bloc until last August. The Armenian president unexpectedly changed course under what appeared to be strong Russian pressure.