The Armenian parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly refused to debate on a pro-Western opposition alliance’s calls for Armenia’s withdrawal from the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
A parliamentary declaration drafted by the Yelk alliance says that membership in the EEU, effective from January 2015, has hurt the country’s economy and security. Deputies representing the pro-government majority in the National Assembly spoke out against the document when it was first circulated in September.
Nevertheless, Yelk continued to press for a full-fledged parliamentary debate on the issue. The parliament committee on foreign relations discussed and gave a negative assessment of the Yelk motion on November 29.
Only six deputies, all of them from Yelk, voted for the issue’s inclusion on the parliament agenda. Seventy-six others voted against. The latter represent not only the ruling Republican Party (HHK) but also its junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance.
Just before the vote, the HHK’s Samvel Farmanian addressed fellow lawmakers and defended the Armenian leadership’s foreign policy which aims to complement Armenia’s alliance with Russia with closer ties with the West. He implicitly referred to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed by Armenia and the European Union on November 24.
“An artificial juxtaposition of the EEU and the EU is not in the interests of Armenia, and I am sure that the faction sitting on our left [Yelk] is utterly conscious of that,” said Farmanian.
Yelk’s Edmon Marukian rebutted that claim. He insisted that the EEU is to blame for rising consumer prices and other economic problems facing Armenia.
According to official Armenian statistics, Russia and other EEU member states accounted for about 28 percent of Armenia’s foreign trade in January-October 2017. The EU’s share in the total stood at just over 24 percent.
Immediately after refusing to discuss the Yelk initiative, the parliament began debating a new uniform Customs Code which is due to be adopted by the EEU member states. The draft code calls, among other things, for solely electronic filings of customs declarations and other documents starting from 2020.A deputy head of Armenia’s State Revenue Committee, Vakhtang Mirumian, said this would make it easier for Armenian companies to engage in import and export operations.