Uncertainty over Armenia’s membership in the emerging Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has a negative effect on the country’s economy, the head of a leading Armenian business association said on Monday.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed to establish the EEU on January 1, 2015 based on the customs union that the three countries have had since 2011. President Serzh Sarkisian had hoped that Armenia could join the Russian-led trade bloc by the time its transformation into the EEU was announced at a May 29 summit in Astana, but the presidents of the three member states only committed themselves to having the accession treaty with Yerevan drafted by July 1.
No specific date has yet been announced for the signing of Armenia’s accession treaty amid speculation that there are certain differences on the matter among the three members of the customs union. Still, Armenian government officials are positive that the treaty will be signed by the end of this year.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Arsen Ghazarian, head of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen (Employers) of Armenia (UMB(E)A), said that the uncertain situation over Armenia’s membership in the EEU also affects the investment climate in the country today.
“Today’s lack of investment activity, both in terms of domestic and foreign investors, is also connected with the lack of specifics regarding our economic and political course. Everyone is in a waiting mode to see if this treaty is signed so that in developing our business plans we could take corresponding steps for benefiting from this new regime,” Ghazarian explained.
According to the UMB(E)A head, the reason for the delay in Armenia’s joining the EEU is the differences that exist among Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and the business communities in these countries over the issue of Yerevan’s membership.
Last week the Armenian parliament speaker, Galust Sahakian, also attributed the delay to differences among the EEU’s three member states. “This is not connected to us or the Karabakh issue,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Ghazarian said that still at a conference of business communities held in Moscow last September, several weeks after Armenia expressed its intention to move towards membership in the customs union, he saw ‘quite a serious clash of interests’ among business leaders from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Yet, the UMB(E)A head spoke of the assurance that the Armenian business community has that the accession treaty will be signed by the end of September.
“I am absolutely convinced that all our contractual and technical regulations are prepared, there is nothing left to discuss, but you have to allow for the stage of approval that this treaty has to go through at the ministries in each member state,” he said. “It is my believe that in mid-September or at the end of September the latest the treaty will be signed at another summit of the three presidents plus one.”
Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov said early this month that the treaty on Armenia’s accession to the EEU may be signed at another meeting of the heads of the EEU member states scheduled to be held in the Belarus capital of Minsk in October. Remarkably, neither the Armenian president’s administration nor the Foreign Ministry of Armenia has so far reacted to Idrisov’s statement.