Customs Union or Eurasian Union? Armenia Can’t Decide

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev meets with his Belarusian and Kazakh counterparts in Moscow. April 15, 2014. (Photo: ITAR-TASS)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia does not expect to sign on April 29 an agreement formalizing its accession to the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Economy Minister Vahram Avanesian said on Friday, correcting his own statement made the day before.

“I answered journalists’ questions in haste and did not address the subject in full,” Avanesian said of his announcement on Thursday that the accession treaty will be signed at a summit of the union’s three member states slated for April 29.

Avanesian said a working group of officials from the Armenian government and the Russian-led trade alliance will meet on April 25 to take stock of membership talks held so far and submit relevant recommendations to the summit. The Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh presidents will then “decide what kind of an agreement should be prepared and possibly set a date for its signing,” he told a news conference.

Avanesian’s first deputy, Karine Minasian, clarified that the document could be signed after the three ex-Soviet states formally agree to turn their Russian-led trade bloc into a Eurasian Economic Union. They are expected to sign a corresponding treaty in late May.

Minasian said Armenia may thus join the Eurasian Union without getting to be a member of the Customs Union. “That depends on when that [May] agreement will be scheduled to take effect. It is very important for us not to find ourselves in a [legal] vacuum,” she told journalists.

The uncertainty over the signing date appears to reflect Yerevan’s failure so far to secure vital concessions for Armenia’s membership in the union. The Armenian side wants to exempt hundreds of imported goods, including foodstuffs, drugs, cars and construction materials, from considerably higher uniform customs duties enforced by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Analysts believe the cost of living in Armenia would rise significantly without these trade preferences.

Avanesian expressed hope that a list of such goods will be agreed upon by the working group on April 25. “I can say that we are very happy with the course of our negotiations,” he said. “Our partners are showing understanding, even though there are certainly conflicts of interest.”


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  1. Hannibal said:

    shpotvats yerkir e dardzel Haiastane.Menk misht el espes shpotvats azg enk yeghel u hima avel shat.Shutov tukere kmtnen ners yev menk der knats enk linelu u mortelu en mez knats teghe.

    • Arsen said:

      Speak for yourself. Your viewpoints are a clear reflection of yourself. Next time, don’t you dare speak on behalf of my nation; get your own house in order first

    • Arsen said:

      Armenia must not let go of Russia’s tail regardless of whether it joins or not. I hope it doesn’t and the Turks open the border. Our economy will improve at the same time it’s a diplomatic slap on Azerbaijanis face

  2. Armenian said:

    For a small country like Armenia that has serious problems with corruption, lack of a strong judiciary and thriving oligarchy, the Customs Union will give all of these things a blank check to continue to destroy everything in that country from within. The things that make smaller countries like Armenia stronger are not authoritarian rulers and fascist policies against anyone who maintains a different point of view on what is acceptable, and what isn’t; it is a strong and robust judiciary independent from the executive branch, a democratic society that allows for and refrains from targeting any particular group (gays, women’s rights activists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.), and allows all segments of life in Armenia to be out in the open and have a say in public matters. What has been killing Armenia this whole time is corruption and weak civil society, and courts that have been controlled by our beloved oligarchs. Now with Russia’s “protection”, the oligarch’s power will continue to go unchecked, and certain vermin in the Armenian government will now find it acceptable to literally muzzle opposition and make anything criticizing this psuedo-fascist “economic union” a crime.

    Armenia cannot be compared to Belarus, Kazakstan and Russia, all of which have large resources and can afford to live under authoritarian/corrupt figures. We have very specific problems that are eating away at us, that, due to economic resources, do not exist in those countries. By making Armenia less and less welcoming to those who may share fanatic, romantic and unrealistic episodes of Russomania, our gradual self-destruction via mass emigration is going to be accelerated within the first 10 years of this ridiculous “union”. The Customs Union is the pill of death for Armenia, and it wouldn’t surprise me if so few Armenians remained there that Russia ended up annexing it officially and making it an oblast. I’m sure some people would be shedding tears of joy if that day ever comes to pass…

    • Sarkis said:

      -“and it wouldn’t surprise me if so few Armenians remained there that Russia ended up annexing it officially and making it an oblast.”

      The whole “Armenia without Armenians” lie again? What a baseless attempt at fear-mongering.

      I want to destroy this dangerous myth forever before the west and the west’s NATO allies the turks, the azeris and the georgians can further exploit it as a psychological weapon to further harm Armenia. Let’s be rational and clear, there are absolutely no logical grounds to base the false claim that “Russia wants Armenia without Armenians”. Firstly, the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world in terms of land mass. The total area of the Russian Federation is about 6,592,800 square miles, while the total area for the Republic of Armenia is about 11,484 square miles; meaning Russia in total is more than 573 times larger than Armenia, and Russia actually has bodies of water larger than Armenia. Russia’s land area is huge, Russia is rich in all types of natural resources, and Russia’s population density is very low which means Russia is not suffering from “overpopulation” or overly crowded cities that Russians would need more living space. In fact Russians in relatively recent history sold off Alaska because they simply could not handle additional territory. Therefore, it is silly to think that the Russians have a deep down desire to somehow depopulate and colonize a small, landlocked and generally inhospitable region like Armenia.

      Furthermore, despite what the fear-mongers and western propaganda “artists” keep repeating to us gullible Armenians, Russia and the Islamic-Turkic people are natural enemies, they have been throughout history and will remain so for centuries to come. Russia has valiantly fought and defeated Turkey in about fourteen major wars since the initial rise of Russia in the 1600s. This fact is the main reason why independent Armenia exists today after suffering 800 years of Turkish and Persian occupation since the collapse of the last Armenian Kingdom within historic Armenia in 1064; in fact the main reason Armenians were able to defeat the Turkish Army in 1918 at Sartarapat, Vanadzor (Karakilise) and Abaran (Bash-Abaran) was because four years earlier the Russians and Armenians absolutely slaughtered the Turkish Third Army (ie Turkey’s Eastern Army based in Western Armenia) during the glorious battle of Sarikamish (more than 90,000 Turkish soldiers killed out of 120,000), otherwise the Turks would have succeeded in destroying Armenia. So how can any Armenian with even one iota of logic claim that the Russians want “Armenia without Armenians” when the Russians know that if Armenians are ever removed, Turks would move right into Armenian territory and create a solid Turkic/Islamic front stretching from Istanbul through the Black Sea to the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea to Central Asia and into China. That would be a nightmare for Russia, only the US-EU-NATO-Georgia axis of evil and hatred have dreams of creating such a pawn to use against Russia. Historically a western desire for a strong Turkey to use against Russia is why “Christian”, “democratic” countries like Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy and others supported the Turks at the expense of the Armenians all in an immoral attempt at harming Russia (see 1853-1856 Crimean War, 1878 Treaty of Berlin, 1914-1918 World War One and the Armenian Genocide and Turkish invasion of Eastern Armenia, 1920 Turkish “War of Independence”, 1952-today NATO). By contrast, Russia saved the Armenians from a Turkish invasion and total extermination on several occasions, most notably in 1920 and again recently in 1993 up to present day.

      Keeping all the history of western treachery and turkophillia in mind, next time you hear somebody claim that “Russia wants Armenia without Armenians”, ask yourselves “what agenda is this person/entity working for and why are they pushing an illogical, anti-Russian, anti-Armenian, pro-NATO, pro-Turkish and pro-Azeri lie onto the Armenian community.