The Treaty on Armenia’s Accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be discussed at a special session of the Armenian parliament that is likely to be convened on November 17-18.
Vahram Baghdasarian, the head of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said the issue will be on the agenda of the special session if before that the country’s Constitutional Court provides its conclusion on the treaty.
The document was signed on October 10 and implies Armenia’s membership in the trade bloc of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan beginning in January. Kyrgyzstan has also made a bid to become a member of the emerging union by the end of the year.
Almost all parliamentary factions, except for the opposition Heritage party, generally support Armenia’s membership in the EEU. The opposition party is concerned about the possibility of customs posts being installed on the border between Armenia and the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ruben Hakobian, the head of the four-member Heritage faction, said the treaty had no wording that would exclude such a possibility, while assurances by Armenian authorities referring to promises made in conversations with Russian officials, according to him, are not serious.
“Karabakh today is de jure part of Azerbaijan, but de facto it is with us. This document is based on de jure borders and treaties. If tomorrow one of the parties wants to establish a customs post at the border between Armenia and Karabakh, you cannot refuse to do that,” Hakobian said.
The opposition lawmaker stressed that while Heritage is against Armenia’s membership in the EEU in principle, the faction still considers it possible to discuss this issue if concerns regarding Karabakh are removed.
Another opposition faction, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), deems that membership in the EEU meets Armenia’s vital interests.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am), head of the Dashnaktsutyun faction Armen Rustamian, however, stressed that it is important that Armenia should have equal rights with the other members of the Union. He reminded that during the first year of its membership Armenia will have only one vote in the Eurasian Economic Commission, while the other three countries will have three votes each.
“This is one of those aspects that will be a serious issue for us,” Rustamian said, adding that the party will express its view if the lack of equality among the EEU members is stipulated legally. He said they will seek changes to such provisions during the discussions.
Rustamian said that concerns of Dashnaktsutyun in connection with the possible installation of customs posts at the Armenia-Karabakh border had not been dispelled. “There are still concerns. But I don’t think that this process will lead to Karabakh’s being completely ousted or that it will be treated the way that Kazakhstan tries to treat it under the dictation of Azerbaijan,” he added.
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) does not oppose Armenia’s entry into the EEU either. At a recent opposition rally in Yerevan HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian stressed that membership in the Russian-led union would not lead to the loss of Armenia’s sovereignty. “In the Eurasian Union Armenia will be as sovereign as its other members Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus or Kyrgyzstan,” he said, implying that benefits and losses from membership in the union will depend on how the political leadership of the country acts under such circumstances.
Orinats Yerkir, which quit the governing coalition with the HHK last spring, has also pronounced in favor of ratifying the EEU Accession Treaty. And the second largest parliamentary faction, Prosperous Armenia, led by tycoon Gagik Tsarukian has never spoken out against membership in the union.
Thus, local experts estimate that the ratification of the treaty will meet no major obstacles at the 131-member National Assembly of Armenia.
According to HHK faction leader Baghdasarian, the political decision has already been made and in the parliament the treaty will be subject to ‘cosmetic’ changes only.
“If there is any problem regarding Karabakh, a problem that would cause concerns about the future, be sure that in that case we will not take the vote,” he concluded.