Sarkisian Opts For Russian-Led Economic Unions

Presidents Sarkisian and Putin meet Tuesday in Russia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—In a dramatic about-face that will almost certainly scuttle Armenia’s Association Agreement with the European Union, President Serzh Sarkisian announced on Tuesday his decision to join a Russian-led union of ex-Soviet states after a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

A joint statement issued after the talks held near Moscow said Sarkisian informed Putin about “the decision of the Republic of Armenia to join the Customs Union” of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and “take necessary practical steps for that purpose.” The statement added that Yerevan will also “participate in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union,” which Putin hopes will bring together a larger number of former Soviet republics loyal Moscow.

Sarkisian confirmed the unexpected U-turn at a joint news conference. “I confirmed Armenia’s desire to join the Customs Union and get involved in the process of the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said.

Explaining the “rational decision,” Sarkisian pointed to Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military alliance. “I have repeatedly said before that when you are part of one system of military security it is impossible and ineffective to isolate yourself from a corresponding economic space,” he said in remarks posted on his website.

“This decision is not an abandonment of our dialogue with European structures,” added the Armenian leader. He said his government remains committed to “institutional reforms” sought by those structures but made no mention of the planned Association Agreement with the EU.

EU officials have repeatedly made clear that the agreement is “not compatible” with possible Armenian membership of the Russian-led trade bloc. The authorities in Yerevan seem to have accepted this precondition, speeding up the association talks with Brussels this year.

The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, announced “substantive completion” of the talks in late July.” It said the Association Agreement will be initialed at an EU summit in Vilnius in November.

The prospect of such a deal has triggered growing Russian pressure on Yerevan over the past year. A host of Russian pundits  close to the Kremlin have warned in recent months that its signing would cause irreparable damage to Russian-Armenian ties and military cooperation in particular. One of them, Konstantin Zatulin, was quoted by the Moscow daily “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” as saying ahead of Putin’s latest talks with Sarkisian that Armenia risks the kind of “negative consequences” that are currently facing Ukraine, another ex-Soviet state planning to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.

Russia briefly banned imports of most Ukrainian goods last month in what was widely seen as a warning to Ukraine.


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  1. Art said:

    Back to the Russian orbit. Putin’s exertion of pressure on the Armenian government proves once more that our leaders are nothing more than Russian puppets. I hope the planned Association Agreement with the EU is not derailed as a result of the bad decision makings of the Sarkisian administration.

  2. arziv said:

    Good development. It could not have been otherwise. We ought to contine the strengthening of the bilateral relations between Russia and Armenia.

  3. Hratch said:

    Russia blackmailed Armenia. It was obvious something was cooking when Russia began announcing military deals with Azerbaijan. So it now seems that every time we go on our own, Russia knows which hand to play. Slaves we are and slaves we shall remain!

  4. Pingback: Armenia chooses Russia over EU – European Voice - Members of the European Union

  5. Lus said:

    I am enormously content with the news! Let’s hope russian-armenian relationship will continue to flourish and the Armenian leadership keeps making wise decisions with President Sarkisian’s dynamic team…

  6. Avetis said:

    Thank you for your courage, wisdom and foresight Mr. President. I can sleep a little better now.

    May God help preserve the centuries old Russo-Armenian alliance from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

  7. Harry B. said:

    Welcome back to USSR! If there was any doubt that the so called free and independent Republic of Armenia was more like an un- free provence, politically, economically, militarily and otherwise completely dependent on Russia, this does it! Just like that, the President of the Republic, after years of negotiating with the EU for a free trade agreement and only a couple of months away from signing it, on a visit to the “center of the universe” decides to reverse course and join Mr. Putin’s Custom’s Union, the precursor of the planned resurrection of the old Russian/Soviet Empire. No need to have a debate in the Armenian Parliament , no need to involve the civic society in decision making process and God forbid, no need to find out what the Armenian people think about a decision that will have long lasting impact on their lives. Just like in the old days, that we thought were forever gone, the leader of a “republic” gets called to Moscow and is ordered to toe the line , or else…
    Now, some might say that after inviting the Russian Army to set up shop in Armenia, thus trusting the security of it’s people to a foreign military, selling most of the country’s infrastructure and strategic resources to Russian interests, this is the next and perhaps the final step in surrendering the sovereignty of our homeland to the Russian Empire for a very long time and they would be correct! But , if present day Armenia’s leaders are not honest in their dealings with Europeans, they should at least be up- front with their own people, by simply telling them that they really don’t have an independent Armenia, that they’re living on a piece of land on the periphery of Russia,inhabited by other Armenians, and under control of Russia. May be then all those thousands of Armenians going to work and live in Mother Russia will not feel so bad for leaving their homeland. After all, they would be moving from one part of the same country to a slightly colder one.
    One final note for the Diaspora Armenians: Starting with the infamous “Protocols” and ending with this unfortunate decision by the President of Armenia, and everything in between, some of which I mentioned earlier, it should be abundantly clear to Diaspora Armenians that most of the major decisions taken by the leaders of Armenia, affecting the country’s direction, its place in the world, its alliances, etc. are taken either after consulting the Russian authorities or under their direct orders/threats. In short, Armenia continues to tie its future to that of Russia. And since Russia moves at its own glacial pace and is not known for particularly caring for democratic traditions, it would therefore be naive for us to expect Western style democracy and the rule of law to take hold in Armenia any time soon , no matter how much we wish for it, no matter how much money we send in or how many idealistic young men and women move there to help “change the system”. Perhaps it’s time for the Diaspora Armenians to think more about creating a place of their own under the Sun, where they can live in peace and security, maintain their unique identity, be masters of their own fate, prosper and multiply and, who knows, one day help our brothers and sisters in Armenia out of their predicament. Just a thought!

    Harry B.

  8. Vachagan said:

    It’s a verdict to the last 20+ years of inDEPENDENCE – where not only the corrupt government (each nation deserves the rulers they have) but also the indifferent and chronically lacking any dignity people, and the self-absorbed diaspora who spends 90% of their attention to the Genocide recognition, completely overlooking the reality in rapidly emptying ‘homeland’ – ALL share the blame! As well as castrated EU structures who were “surprised” by the Russian bullies openly aggressive behavior and Armenia’s exposure to it. As well as the Russian short-sighted if not idiotic policy which is guaranteed to scare away anybody who has even slight chance of alternative. One step closer to the ultimate disaster…

  9. An Armenian said:

    I have some questions:

    Why did the Armenian authorities spend so much time and effort negotiating an agreement with the European Union when they had no intention of signing it?
    What happened to Mr. Edward Nalbandian’s principles of complementarity in Armenia’s foreign relations?
    Why is the government of Armenia all of a sudden wooing members of the ARFD for ambassadorships and other positions within the government?
    Does the decision to join the Russian led union prove that Serge Sargisyan is the only person responsible for what happens in and to Armenia since the Armenian public was not involved in the decision making process?
    Even if the Armenian public was involved in the decision making process and voted against the Russian union would it make any difference? After all the majority of the Armenian public was against the signing of the Protocols yet Serge Sargisyan signed it.
    Were there any provisions related to security guarantees for Armenia in the European document for customs union with the EU?
    Is Armenia an independent state or a vassal piece of real estate?
    Is Armenia’s fate sealed with this decision of Serge Sargisyan?


  10. Parsik said:

    I don’t understand our government’s tactics, if they wanted to stick to the old pal at the first place, then why they have benn monkeying around with EU in last two years to upset the bear, maybe if were clear in our path gas price wouldn’t have been rised and we would have gotten more modern military hardware from Russians in discount prices to outweigh their arms sales to Baku

  11. Robert said:

    This is nothing but blackmail by russia. We’ve been betrayed by russia at various points in history and even this surrender will not prevent them from tossing armenia away when it’s no longer needed. But what russia doesn’t realize is by treating it’s allies bad, it’s also alienating other possible allies. they should give their allies incentives and win them over instead of blackmail. That’s why the west is more powerful and the ussr is no more. unless russia changes course and policy it will seal it’s future also.