Did Sarkisian Skip the Customs Union Summit Because of Kazakhstan?

From right: Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk, Belarus. Oct. 25, 2013. (Photo: ITAR-TASS)

YEREVAN—President Serzh Sarkisian’s absence from a summit of leaders from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan taking place in the Belarus capital of Minsk where he was expected to complete Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union has raised questions, with various government agencies merely reaffirming Armenia’s commitment to join the Russia-led union.

While presidential spokesperson Armand Saghatelyan made a vague statement confirming that Sarkisian was in Yerevan, the Moscow-based Regnum news agency, citing sources at the Armenian presidential office, reported that Sarkisian did not attend the summit because of Kazakhstan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh.

In December, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev raised questions about Armenia’s membership in the Custom Union calling into question the definition of its border and whether the envisioned membership also included the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

“The ‘road map’ on Armenia has generally been agreed. I think we can adopt it. However, the question of the border of the Customs Union and where it will cross in Armenia in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains open. Therefore, we will sign the ‘road map’ together with colleagues, but with the dissenting opinion, which will be reported on,” Nazarbayev said at the time, saying that Azerbaijan should have a say in Armenia’s membership.

This unresolved issue, as well as what sources identified to Regnum as unresolved issues between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan could be prompting Armenia to not attend the summit.

Last week, Armenia’s outgoing economy minister Vahram Avanesyan, signaled that Armenia may wait until the three countries sign a Eurasian Union trade agreement, at which time Armenia will join that bloc rather than the Customs Union.

Asked about the reason for the no-show, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan said only that the leaders of the Customs Union’s three member states will be briefed by the head of the trade bloc’s executive body on the implementation of a “roadmap” to Armenia’s membership. Balayan did not comment further, reported RFE/RL.


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  1. Hratch said:

    And to think, we alienated the EU to partner up with these third rate characters. We should get our heads examined if we think we can work with the likes of Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev.

  2. Arsen said:

    This is good news. Armenia doesn’t need it. European integration coupled with strong strategic relations with Russia is what armenia needs. A lot depends on Georgia’s outcome. Will they sign the AA along with Moldova? Live and see…

  3. Armenian said:

    I hope Armenia steers away from this completely and follows Georgia’s EU path. It is so obvious that Armenia’s “alliance”– sorry, I can’t even call it that, slave:master relationship with Russia will be the final nail in the coffin for the annihilation of Armenia as a place for Armenians to live and prosper, and will just serve as another backward and undeveloped place for Russia to park its tanks.

    While Georgia gradually (albeit painfully slowly) begins to loosen various facets of its Soviet mindset, and is slowly becoming more democratic and prosperous, Armenia and the government there (which actively encourages out-migration for its own personal profit), is now toying with embarking on fascist policies against social minorities, and using censorship to reduce any discussion of its toxic decision-making. Under Russia and this disastrous Customs Union, Armenia will turn into an even more “mafiyoz” state and plunge itself even further backwards in time.

    Russia is not and should not be the solution for anything other than the defense. The prosperity of the EU in terms of peoples’ development, ability to move up and down the economic latter, and political development are all what Armenia needs to help it strengthen itself. With the CU, we’re only making sure that destructive Armenian habits never die and we’re only prolonging our problems. Obviously the EU has its share of problems, but it is much preferable to have Armenia be allied with them than with Putin’s Russia, one that is toying with fascism and a “religious” uprising. There’s obviously a trade-off with anything coming from the West, but if you ask me, I prefer allowing gays in Armenia more rights and freedoms than to oppress them and have people like the ones in the current ruling regime be in charge of the show.

    The Customs Union represents a tremendous leap backwards for Armenia in terms of social, political, and economic development.

  4. Gexam said:

    There is one GIGANTIC thing this news and every other Armenian news company conveniently forgets to mention why Serj dropped out of this Customs Union. There was a clause written in the union that specified one of the nonnegotiable conditions on which Armenia could join, is to surrender Artsakh. How come no one talks about this? How come no one says that Serj knowing this info went along and played this game? This is theater, a show. Serj might have been lied to by Putin on Sep.3, to drop out of EU, or knew and put on a charade. There are things happening we do not see, and plans for the future we might never know. Armenia’s politics, however horrible or stupid it may seem, so far has been saving itself and Artsakh. However bad it looks, it could have been worse either with the CU with Russia, or with the debt-system of the EU and the blatant anti-religion gay propaganda it’s spreading across Europe. Take you pick.