Kazakhstan cannot block Armenia’s upcoming accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with preconditions relating to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to an influential pundit close to the Kremlin.
Andranik Migranyan indicated late on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has convinced his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev to drop his apparent misgivings about Yerevan’s membership bid.
Nazarbayev exposed them during the EEU’s founding summit in Astana last May. Citing a letter from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Nazarbayev said the EEU’s accession treaty with Armenia must contain a special reference to Armenia’s internationally recognized borders that do not encompass Nagorno-Karabakh. The demand appeared to have taken President Serzh Sarkisian off guard.
“Aliyev sent a letter to Nazarbayev and the latter made it public,” Migranyan told reporters in Yerevan. “But the thing is that it was not Armenia’s and Serzh Sarkisian’s problem. It was Putin’s problem and he has solved it.”
“Nazarbayev’s opinion is certainly interesting but not decisive. Other people have decisive opinions and they have solved the matter,” said the Armenian-born political scientist who heads the New York office of a Russian think-tank close to the Kremlin.
Therefore, continued Migranian, Armenia may well sign the accession treaty, formally approved by Putin on Monday, at the Russian-led bloc’s next summit scheduled for October 10. “At least, there is such a timetable,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether the Armenian membership bid will be complicated by what some observers see as friction between Moscow and Astana stemming from Nazarbayev’s failure to endorse the Russian actions in Ukraine. On August 25, Nazarbayev told a Kazakh TV channel that he will not hesitate to pull his country out of the EEU if it poses a “threat to our independence.” Putin said four days later that the Kazakhs “had never had statehood” before the Soviet collapse and that most of them favor closer ties with Russia.
A staunch backer of Putin’s foreign policy resented by the West, Migranyan has repeatedly praised Sarkisian’s unexpected decision last year to seek membership of the ex-Soviet bloc. In a May interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), he said that Yerevan’s refusal to join it would have jeopardized Armenian control over Nagorno-Karabakh.