The National Assembly debated Armenia’s accession treaty with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, with several opposition deputies denouncing it as a grave threat to national independence.
Emphatic speeches delivered by them were unlikely to influence lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and virtually all opposition groups represented in the Armenian parliament. The latter are expected to vote for the ratification of the treaty signed by the presidents of Armenia, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in Minsk in October.
Alexander Arzumanian, a former foreign minister not affiliated with any of the parliamentary parties, described the EEU as a Russian “attempt to reincarnate the Soviet Union.” “All those statements about our economic and energy security are nonsense,” he said. “How can we have energy security after handing our energy sector to another country?”
Arzumanian also argued that Armenia is joining the Russian-led bloc at a time when Russia’s economy is plunging into recession facing uncertain future not least because of economic sanctions imposed by the West.
“By joining the EEU Armenia is losing its strategic prospects and motivation and becoming a miserable tenant in the Eurasian economic space,” Nikol Pashinian, another non-partisan oppositionist.
“This treaty has been imposed on us,” said Tevan Poghosian, a deputy representing the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party. Poghosian said he still hopes that the document will not be ratified by some EEU member states.
Zharangutyun is the only parliamentary force which is openly opposed to Armenia’s accession to the EEU. It holds only 3 seats in the 131-member assembly. Zharangutyun’s two opposition allies, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), have made clear that they will vote for the treaty’s ratification. Armenia’s membership in the EEU is also supported by the two other opposition parties holding parliament seats: Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun.
The harsh criticism voiced by the handful of opposition deputies prompted strong rebuttals from some of their colleagues representing the ruling HHK. One of them, Khosrov Harutiunian, claimed that staying away from the EEU now would mean helping unnamed foreign powers “break up” Russia. Another HHK deputy, Artashes Geghamian likewise portrayed EEU membership as an expression of loyalty to Russia. “Are huge countries like China, India and Brazil so stupid as to enter into economic alliances with Russia at these challenging times?” he said.