The Constitutional Court upheld on Friday a recently signed treaty on Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, paving the way for its ratification by the Armenian parliament.
In a widely anticipated decision, the panel of nine judges ruled that the treaty does not run counter to the Armenian constitution.
The more than 40-page ruling read out by the court chairman, Gagik Harutiunian, also argued that economic integration among various states is becoming the norm in the modern world. “Even developed countries are engaged in these processes and have no alternatives in the new millennium,” it said.
The court stressed at the same time that “Armenia can initiate a process of terminating its [EEU] membership at any moment.”
The National Assembly is expected to debate and approve the treaty later this month. Only a handful of its deputies openly oppose Armenia’s membership in the EEU.
President Serzh Sarkisian and his counterparts from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the treaty at a summit held in Minsk on October 10. Sarkisian expressed hope on Monday that the parliaments of the EEU’s three member states will ratify it soon and allow Armenia to formally join the union in January.
The Constitutional Court was jeered by several vocal opponents of Armenia’s accession to the EEU present in the courtroom after Harutiunian announced its decision. “Long live Soviet Union!” one of them shouted with sarcasm.
Dozens of other civic activists demonstrated outside the court building in Yerevan. They regard membership in the EEU as a serious threat to Armenia’s independence, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cobbled together the trade bloc with the ultimate aim of reestablishing much of the former Soviet Union.
The small crowd also protested against the fact that the Constitution Court hearing on the issue took place in closed session and followed a so-called “written procedure” that did not require oral presentations by government representatives and opponents of EEU membership. “Justice cannot be secret,” said Paruyr Hayrikian, a prominent Soviet-era dissident.
The protesters scuffled with riot police at one point as they were pushed away from the court building.