The Armenian government has finally made public a “roadmap” to Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led Customs Union which it plans to complete in the next few months.
The 249-page document was posted on the government’s website over the weekend more than a month after being agreed with the union’s three member states -- Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- at a summit in Moscow. It lists 262 administrative and legislative actions concerning 20 areas of government policy.
At least 150 of those measures are due to be unilaterally taken by the Armenian side. Most of them are amendments that will bring Armenian laws and regulations into conformity with Customs Union legislation.
The government already approved late last month a timetable of concrete actions designed to implement the “roadmap.”
Artak Zakarian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign affairs, suggested on Monday that the first government bills related to membership of the union will be submitted to the National Assembly by the end of March. The Armenian legislative framework should be ready for that membership by June, Zakarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Russian officials say that they are pleasantly surprised by the speed with which Yerevan is carrying out the accession process. “We are struggling to keep up with our Armenian partners,” President Vladimir Putin said in December.
According to Zakarian, the Armenian authorities are taking “accelerated actions” because they want to join the Russian-led trade bloc in time for its transformation into a Eurasian Economic Union expected in January 2015.
Opposition politicians say the authorities are hastily pressing ahead with Customs Union membership without proper consideration of Armenia’s interests. “We are simply going to copy and paste Customs Union legislation,” said Hrant Bagratian, a parliament deputy and former prime minister.
Bagratian singled out significant increases in the prices of many imported products that are expected to follow Armenia’s entry into the union. He said trade concessions sought by Yerevan in the ongoing accession talks are not serious enough.
Zakarian claimed in that regard that the price hikes will be offset by the decreased cost of other goods and Armenian exporters’ easier access to the Russian market.