Russian Ambassador Ivan Volynkin expects the current internal political developments in Armenia to have no major impact on the country’s foreign policy, including its decision to join the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) beginning next year.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) the diplomat substantiated his view by the absence of any strong opposition to the move even on the opposition side of the political fence in Armenia.
“Judging from the speeches of opposition leaders at the Friday rally practically no force in the country, except one, is against Armenia’s membership in the EEU,” Volynkin said.
Some speakers at the October 24 rally of the opposition trio, including the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) led by first president Levon Ter-Petrosian, and Heritage led by United States-born former foreign minister of Armenia Raffi Hovannisian, did not bypass in their speeches Armenia’s signing a treaty earlier this month to become a member of the EEU that currently consists of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and is likely to have Kyrgyzstan as a member in the near future.
“[President] Serzh Sarkisian, as an illegitimate official, with his invalid signature is leading Armenia in a wrong direction,” Heritage leader Hovannisian stated at the rally, reaffirming his party’s strong opposition to the move.
The HAK’s Ter-Petrosian, meanwhile, further stood by his view that Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is “irreversible.” Armenia will remain part of the EEU “in the foreseeable future” and its citizens must come to terms with that, he said. Ter-Petrosian insisted that the country will not lose its sovereignty as a result.
Tsarukian did not address the issue of EEU membership in his speech, but neither he nor other members of the BHK are known to be critical of the policy.
In a recent interview with The New York Times President Serzh Sarkisian also addressed Armenia’s decision to join the EEU, stressing that it meets the South Caucasus nation’s economic and geopolitical interests. He further emphasized that the decision had not been made at the expense of relations with the West and that Armenia could serve as a bridge between Russia and the West.
The Russian ambassador to Armenia also described Yerevan’s choice as a “correct strategic decision”, adding that it did not mean that opportunities for cooperation with other states, including European Union members, would be closed for the country.
“Russia has its own relations with the EU, and it is absolutely normal when countries try to develop multilateral relations. It is important, however, that these relations are not developed at the expense of the EEU,” Volynkin concluded.