The opposition Yelk alliance called on Thursday for a parliamentary inquiry into consequences of Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
Representatives of the pro-Western bloc proposed the creation of the ad hoc parliament commission after the pro-government majority in the National Assembly rejected its demands for the country’s exit from the trade bloc.
Yelk put forward last week a draft parliamentary statement saying that the Armenian authorities must embark on a “process” of invalidating their accession treaty with the EEU. The statement says that EEU membership, effective from January, 2015, has hurt the country’s economy and security.
Mane Tandilian, one of Yelk’s nine deputies in the 105-member parliament, said the parliament commission would scrutinize costs and benefits of EEU membership and present them to the public.
“Public support is very important on this issue,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The public was apathetic when we jointed the EEU. The reason for that was that the public was not aware of what we missed out on.”
Tandilian referred to the Association Agreement with the European Union which Yerevan negotiated shortly before President Serzh Sarkisian opted in 2013 to join the Russian-led bloc instead.
“I don’t think that economic growth in Armenia would have been faster had we signed the Association Agreement,” said Gagik Melikian, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Still, Melikian said that the HHK’s parliamentary faction will consider the idea of setting up the parliamentary commission. He expressed confidence that such an inquiry would only prove that Armenia needs to be part of the EEU.
The HHK’s junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), is also strongly opposed to Armenia’s exit from the bloc comprising Russia and four other former Soviet republics. A Dashnaktsutyun leader, Armen Rustamian, claimed that the Yelk initiative could actually jeopardize the upcoming signing of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a less ambitious alternative to the Association Agreement.
Rustamian made clear at the same time that his party supports a public debate on the issue. “And that debate will happen,” he said.