Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian praised the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as he chaired a summit of the Russian-led trade bloc in Yerevan on Tuesday.
Pashinian, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the other EEU member states -- Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan -- met in closed session before being joined by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Moldova’s President Igor Dodon and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“Our organization, which is already five years old, is getting stronger year after year,” Pashinian said in his opening remarks. “It has already proved its viability and attractiveness as an international integration grouping.”
“I am happy to note that Armenia is making its contribution to this process,” added the prime minister who criticized Armenian membership in the EEU when he was opposition to his country’s former government.
Putin likewise declared that the establishment of the EEU has sped up economic growth and boosted living standards in its member states. “The EEU is developing steadily,” he said at the summit. “A vast common market has been created and it is functioning with success.”
Putin went on to announce that Russia and its ex-Soviet allies making up the bloc will create a “common electricity space” by 2025. He said they are also planning a common oil and gas market. That requires the “harmonization of member states’ legislations on gas supplies and transport,” added the Russian president.
Pashinian touched upon this issue in his speech. He said the prices of Russian natural gas traded within the EEU should eventually be set in the national currencies of member states, rather than the U.S. dollar. Moscow is believed to have objected to this idea until now.
The session ended with the signing of a free-trade agreement between the EEU and Singapore. Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan signed a similar deal with Iran last year. Rouhani’s presence at the summit underscored the deal’s importance to the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian president also used the summit to denounce the “inhuman” U.S. sanctions against his country. “We believe that the international community must counter the U.S.’s hostile and unilateral approach and take serious decisions and effective actions against it,” he said.
Rouhani also complained that some of Iran’s partners, notably Russia, have been “following the U.S.’s example” and ignoring international law and breaching bilateral agreements. He did not elaborate.