The opposition Yelk alliance on Friday officially called for an end to Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), saying that it has hurt the country’s economy and security.
Yelk’s parliamentary faction approved a draft statement by the National Assembly demanding that the Armenian authorities must embark on a “process” of invalidating Armenia’s accession treaty with the EEU.
The draft statement blames the EEU for the fact that the country’s Gross Domestic Product has shrunk in U.S. dollar terms while public debt increased since 2015. EEU membership also limits Armenia’s trade with neighboring Georgia and Iran, it claims.
The proposed declaration further says that other EEU member states are not supporting Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh. It points to Russia’s continued arms sales to Azerbaijan.
Yelk’s decision came two months after one of its leaders, Edmon Marukian, said that Armenia should leave the EEU because of Moscow’s controversial decision to stop recognizing the validity of Armenian driving licenses used by migrant workers in Russia. Several other senior members of the opposition bloc backed the idea.
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and the spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), rejected those calls last month. He insisted that the trade bloc with Russia and two other ex-Soviet states is good for the Armenian economy.
Sharmazanov, whose party has a comfortable majority in the National Assembly, again ruled out Armenia’s exit from the EEU when he met with a group of university students in Yerevan on Friday.
Yelk was set up by three opposition parties late last year and won 9 of the 105 seats in Armenia’s current parliament elected in April. Two of those parties, Aram Sarkisian’s Republic and Marukian’s Bright Armenia, have a pro-Western orientation, while the third one, Civil Contract, advocates a more neutral foreign policy.
The Civil Contract leader, Nikol Pashinian, opposed Armenia’s accession to the EEU in January 2015. But he repeatedly objected last year to the country’s immediate exit from the union demanded by pro-Western opposition figures.