Russian President Vladimir Putin has given another indication that the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will almost certainly sign an accession treaty with Armenia at its summit in Minsk next week.
“The process of Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union is now drawing to a close,” Putin said in a speech at a business forum in Moscow on Thursday evening.
Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov confirmed on Friday that the treaty, drafted by the EEU’s executive body earlier this year, will be on the agenda of the summit slated for October 10. But he stopped short of saying that its signing is a forgone conclusion.
“If the treaty is signed in Minsk the Republic of Armenia will become a member of this union from January 1,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Shuvalov as saying during Putin’s meeting with members of his government.
The Armenia-related outcome of the Minsk summit will depend on the positions of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the two other EEU member states. Both countries are thought to have delayed Armenia’s accession for various economic and geopolitical reasons.
Visiting Yerevan in mid-September, a deputy speaker of the Belarusian parliament, Viktor Guminsky, said that “some issues” related to Armenia’s membership in the EEU have yet to be agreed upon. But he expressed confidence that they will be worked out in time for the upcoming summit.
Sergey Rumas, a Belarusian member of the EEU’s executive body, likewise sounded optimistic on that score on Thursday. “All issues related to the Belarusian side will be settled before the Minsk summit. Belarus will be prepared to sign the treaty [with Armenia,]” Rumas told reporters, according to RIA Novosti.
In an August 7 phone call with Putin, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said that the terms of Armenian entry into the union must not be negotiated “to the detriment” of his country’s interests. He might have referred to sweeping trade preferences sought by the Armenian government.
Lukashenko’s Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, underscored his misgivings about Yerevan’s membership at the EEU’s founding summit held in May. Citing a letter from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Nazarbayev said the accession treaty 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.
Andranik Migranyan, an Armenian-born Russian pundit close to the Kremlin, claimed last month that Putin has convinced the Kazakh leader to drop his objections. “Nazarbayev’s opinion is certainly interesting but not decisive,” said Migranyan.