Armenia may fail to complete its accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) by the end of this year, the head of a Russian think-tank close to the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
Vladimir Lepyokhin, the director of the Moscow-based YevrAzES Institute specializing in the former Soviet Union, claimed that the accession process has hit snags lately because the Armenian government “has driven a very hard bargain on many issues.” He singled out statements by Armenian leaders saying that Nagorno-Karabakh must be a de facto part of the EEU’s precursor -- the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- along with Armenia.
“Unfortunately, not all Customs Union heads of state have backed this stance,” Lepyokhin told a news conference in Yerevan. He pointed to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s May 29 warning that Armenia’s accession treaty with the EEU must make a special reference to its internationally recognized border that do not encompass Karabakh.
“This looks like the main reason why the process has stalled,” said Lepyokhin, whose think-tank is overseen by Sergey Glazyev, a hardline adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin who openly advocates the restoration of Russia’s dominance over other ex-Soviet states.
President Serzh Sarkisian hoped that the treaty will be signed in June. However, the signing has been postponed at least until this fall. Armenian officials have downplayed this delay, with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian saying last week that Armenia will join the ex-Soviet bloc before the end of this year.
Lepyokhin was less certain about that, however. “Everything is possible,” he said when asked whether the accession treaty may not be signed this year.
The pundit added that Russia is now reluctant to speed up Armenia’s membership in the EEU because it fears fresh objections from Belarus and especially Kazakhstan. He dismissed growing speculation in Yerevan that that Moscow has put the process on hold simply because it hopes to also lure Azerbaijan into the EEU.