Membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will accelerate Armenia’s economic development and not hinder closer cooperation with the European Union, President Serzh Sarkisian claimed on Sunday.
“We made that decision to give new impetus to economic progress in our country,” he said two days after signing an accession treaty with fellow heads of state from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan at an EEU summit in Minsk.
Sarkisian cited no macroeconomic forecasts in support of this statement. He had similarly said before that the Armenian economy will benefit from being part of the EEU and closer ties with Russia in particular.
Economic growth in Armenia is slowing down and will likely fall short of the Sarkisian administration’s projections for this and the next few years. A looming recession in Russia, caused in large measure by Western economic sanctions, is thought to be instrumental in this downward trend.
Speaking after talks with Serbia’s visiting President Tomislav Nikolic, Sarkisian reaffirmed his government’s stated commitment to bolstering ties with the EU while being part of the Russian-led bloc. “Dialogue with the EU is continuing and will continue because we have many converging interests and common heritage, which we are using to continue the reform process in our country,” he said.
According to Armenian government data, the EU remained Armenia’s leading trading partner in the first half of this year, generating 28 percent of its overall foreign trade. By comparison, Russia and the two other EEU member states accounted for around 23 percent of it.