Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has bewildered his political opponents by declaring that he is not aware of key details of a memorandum which he signed with the head of the Russian-led customs union’s executive body in Yerevan last week.
Sarkisian and Viktor Khristenko signed the joint memorandum nearly two weeks after it was approved by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan at a summit in Minsk. The document allows Armenian officials to attend meetings of the Eurasian Economic Commission and other Customs Union bodies. Yerevan will also have access to decisions discussed and made by those bodies before completing its accession to the trade bloc.
More importantly, the memorandum also stipulates that the Armenian authorities shall “refrain from actions or statements directed against the interests of the Customs Union.” Naira Zohrabian, a senior lawmaker from the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), asked Sarkisian to clarify this clause during the government’s question-and-answer session in the National Assembly late on Wednesday. In particular, she wondered who will decide whether or not Armenia acts against the union’s interests.
“I will familiarize myself with the document cited by you and make additional clarifications to you,” replied the prime minister.
Zohrabian, whose party was represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet until June 2012, hit out at the Armenian premier on Thursday. She announced with sarcasm that she has sent him a copy of the memorandum so that he can find out its details.
“In case of having a very rich imagination, the prime minister may have said that he was not aware of what [President] Serzh Sarkisian approved in Minsk,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But if the prime minister doesn’t know what he signed with Viktor Khristenko on November 6, I just don’t how to describe it. I think this once again characterizes the form and essence of governance I Armenia.”
Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), also seized upon the prime minister’s remark. He said it shows that the authorities were not guided by Armenia’s national interests when they unexpectedly decided to join the Russian-led bloc. “This means that they didn’t work on and look into the content of agreements and took that step just because they had to,” claimed Zurabian.
Tigran Sarkisian repeatedly spoke out against Armenian membership of the customs union before President Sarkisian unexpectedly announced his dramatic foreign policy change on September 3. Both men have attributed the U-turn to economic and national security considerations.