The opposition Yelk alliance forced the Armenian parliament on Tuesday to debate its calls for Armenia to leave the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which are opposed by the three other political groups represented in the National Assembly.
The 90-minute debate came just days after the parliament committee on foreign relations rejected a Yelk proposal to set up an ad hoc commission that would look into consequences of the country’s membership in the Russian-led bloc. The pro-Western bloc responded by taking the matter to the parliament floor.
Earlier in September Yelk drafted a parliamentary declaration saying that the Armenian authorities must embark on a “process” of invalidating their accession treaty with the EEU. It said that EEU membership, effective from January 2015, has hurt the country’s economy and security. Yelk’s leaders decided to postpone parliamentary discussions on the document for now and focus instead on the idea of the special commission.
One of them, Nikol Pashinian, said during Tuesday’s debate that the proposed parliamentary inquiry is aimed at “protecting Armenia’s sovereignty” which has been dealt “very serious blows” by the EEU. Armenia must not only leave the EEU but also seek an Association Agreement with the European Union, he said.
Parliamentary leaders of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) again dismissed the initiative. One of them, deputy speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, insisted that most Armenian parties and ordinary citizens oppose an exit from the EEU.
“This is one of the few issues on which both the authorities and the majority of the opposition agree,” Sharmazanov told fellow lawmakers. “Secondly … what we should discuss first is not the question of what the EEU has given us but the damage that would occur in case of our exit.”
Another senior HHK figure, Armen Ashotian, said that it is the Armenian government, rather than the EEU, that is primarily responsible for the country’s economic woes. “Why aren’t you demanding the government’s resignation and are seeking an exit from the EEU instead?” he said.
Representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the HHK’s junior coalition partner, and businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s bloc, which claims to be in opposition to the government, also made clear that they will vote against the Yelk motion.
Yelk holds 9 seats in the 105-member parliament.