Putin, Sarkisian Meet

Presidents Putin and Sarkisian confer in Turkmenistan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of a summit of former Soviet republics in Turkmenistan on Wednesday as their governments continued to discuss Armenia’s possible involvement in a Russian-led customs union.

Official Armenian and Russian sources gave no details of the meeting. Sarkisian’s press office said only that the two presidents discussed “a number of issues on the agenda of Russian-Armenian strategic relations.”

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying that the Russian leader spoke about “integration processes” in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at his separate meetings with Sarkisian as well as the presidents of Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Putin referred to “our integration efforts” in a speech delivered at the CIS summit held in Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat. “I mean the Customs Union, the Common Economic Space in the first instance,” he was reported to say.” “We will welcome all those states that will express a desire and be prepared to join these integration structures. I repeat, will both express a desire and be prepared.”

The Customs Union currently consists of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moscow makes no secret of its desire to expand this structure and eventually turn it into a closely-knit Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states.

Armenia has until now been reluctant to join the Customs Union, citing the absence of a common border with any of its three member states. Putin and Sarkisian discussed the matter when they met in Moscow in August. Putin said after those talks that the Russian and Armenian governments will form a work group to explore ways of Yerevan’s possible involvement in the bloc.

Top Russian officials actively promoted the Eurasian Union during visits to Yerevan this summer, fuelling media speculation that the Armenian government is under growing pressure to embrace the idea.

In a related development, Viktor Khristenko, the Russian head of the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Customs Union’s governing body, visited Yerevan and met with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian on Wednesday. An Armenian government statement said he briefed Sarkisian on “processes taking place within the framework of the Customs Union.”

The Armenian premier, for his part, told Khristenko that his government is holding successful negotiations with the European Union on a far-reaching free trade deal and plans to complete them next year, said the statement. “The prime minister pointed out that Armenia is interested in integration processes and regards them as complementary,” it added.

Tigran Sargsyian said Armenia must “deepen and expand ties with the Eurasian Union” when he addressed the Armenian parliament later in the day. Yerevan will therefore increasingly “cooperate” with the Customs Union, he said.

The premier stopped short of explicitly calling for Armenia’s accession to the Russian-lead union, however. He has repeatedly spoken out against this possibility before.

President Sarkisian held talks with Putin less than a week after hosting a summit in Yerevan of the leaders of Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. The summit, which was also attended by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, focused on efforts by the three ex-Soviet states to integrate more closely with the EU through “association agreements” currently negotiated with Brussels.

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8 Comments

  1. Ari said:

    Both Russia and Armenia should start to think about unity with the Western World as both countries share very similar cultures with their Western friends. Old Soviet mentality has no place in today’s world where the very essence of Western Civilization is under threat from newly formed and potentially dangerous enemies which includes the so called “secular Turkey”.

  2. Avetis said:

    Culturally, genetically, geographically and politically, Armenia is a Eurasian nation. Therefore, Armenia’s natural/rightful place is within the Moscow led Eurasian Union.

    • hayrenaser said:

      neither armenia nor russia are eurasian, they are both european, the fact that maps/countries and their locations are determined with politic de jour, doesn’t change fundamental truths,
      who decided that europe ends at the urals mountains and not at the pacific ocean, and who grouped ARMENIAN HIGHLANDS (wrongly named anatolia) with asia instead of the south eastern edge and birth place of Europe?????????
      and why forget about iran… persians are eruopean as well except for the iranized arabs/jews, and turks and turkified aterbatakans (wrongly named azerbaijanis)
      armenians are the parent nation of all europeans, russians (slavs are her descendents) as are the greeks, latins (italians, spanish, portuguese) , celtics (germans, irish and the anglos) the francs, and the nordsmen, in other words every ethnic groups living in europe except, the gypsies, and the semites

      • Armanen said:

        hayrenaser you either misunderstood Avetis or you have an inferiority complex. The Armenian Highlands are the cradle of civilization as well as the home of the Proto-Indo Europeans. It does not matter whether one calls it part of Asia or Europe. In fact, geographically speaking, Europe and Asia are one continental landmass, hence the term Eurasia.

  3. AraK said:

    Armenia should tell to double crosser shameless Russia: enough is enough. We are being blackmailed over and over. Unfortunately Armenia is run by oligarchs who are not politicians and do not have a clue about diplomacy and for years their only interest has been their pockets. Presently we are cornered and we depend on idiots like Tzarukian who can’t even tie his tie properly!
    God save Armenia!

  4. GB said:

    Russia’s Putin should look into his country’s mounted corrupted businesses, before asking Armenia to get involved with another CIS corrupted union!! Armenia and Georgia should get involved with EU businesses rather than Eurasian economic Union!!

  5. Lusik said:

    Read the top article “Turkey pushes genocide denial”.
    Recall Putin’s latest visit to Turkey that are deflecting political will of Turkey from EU toward Eurasian union. Basically, Putin “explains” to Sarkisian that lack of direct border is replaced by driving trade via Turkey, if Turkey joins.
    Also notice that this article is on the bottom of today’s news. One single package: “Forget Armenian Genocide because Turkey has important offer to us, Russia”.
    Remember now Ataturk’s deal with bolshevik Russia, when Turkey quickly became closest friend of Russia and Armenians were forgotten once more.

  6. Armanen said:

    From the commentary here I can see that Armenian-Americans are deeply lacking in any sort of critical analysis of geopolitics. Those calling Russia a ‘double-crosser’ need to remember that it is the political West which has caused more harm to Armenia. Moreover, it is the political West that has sponsored and supported turkey for 90 years, and azerbaijan for the past 21 years. But we have many short-sighted and ignorant members in the Armenian community.

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