Armenia Rules Out Tariffs on Karabakh

Chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, Artak Zakarian, says Armenia will not impose tariffs on Artsakh as a result of joining Russian's Customs Union. (Photo: Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia will not start levying any duties from goods imported from Nagorno-Karabakh after joining Russia’s Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, a senior Armenian official reiterated on Wednesday.

“One thing is clear: there can be no customs border between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh under any circumstances,” Artak Zakarian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, told reporters in Yerevan.

Zakarian spoke after a public video conference with officials in Moscow, Minsk and Astana that discussed Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led union. Anton Azarov, a senior official from the union’s executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, made clear that the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) will not be part of the trade bloc.

This presumably means that Armenia will have to set up customs posts on its border with the NKR and collect import duties from products made in Karabakh. Armenian leaders have repeatedly ruled out such a possibility. Some of them have hinted that Moscow tacitly supports Yerevan on the issue.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev cited the uncertain legal status of that border when he voiced reservations about the Armenian membership bid at a Customs Union summit in December. Three days later, a senior Azerbaijani official said that Baku strongly objects to that membership because of the continuing “Armenian occupation” of Azerbaijani lands.

It is not clear whether this is one of the reasons why the signing of Armenia’s accession treaty with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, initially slated for last month, was delayed. Meeting in Minsk on April 29, the presidents of the three member states instructed the Eurasian Economic Commission to draft the treaty by June 1.

Both Zakarian and Azarov confirmed that the date of its signing has not been determined yet.


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  1. Hratch said:

    Of course this was the reason why the signing was delayed last month. I only hope the Armenian authorities thought about this sticky point before dropping the EU deal in favor of Russia’s Customs Union. Now Russia has another hand in getting further concessions from Armenia.

    In any case, to accomplish anything in that part of the world sometimes brute force and outright violations of international norms must be made, as in the case of Crimea. If Russia wants the relation between Armenia and Artsakh to be a certain way, Mr. Nazarbayev will have to go along with it whether he or his ilk like it or not.

  2. Areg said:

    Armenia and Artsakh are one. Bravo to you, AFERIM to you, Mr. Artak Zakarian.

  3. Leo said:

    Hratch you have very little idea about the inner workings of Armenia. For Armenia it became a decision between “brute force” (CU and CSTO) or “EU deal” (a promise). The EU wanted the exclusion of Artsakh from the “deal”, exclusion of Russia (the largest investor in Armenia) and no mention of any concrete security arrangements to counter the behavior of a NATO member. I guess the Europeans think we are in love with them or something. But the real world calls for security first. Especially nowadays. Russia has great influence on Armenia but one of the things it cannot dictate is the division of Armenia and Artsakh. In the maps and news media Hratch and his ilk see and read of different virtual realities. On the ground there is one reality. Armenia and Artsakh are one. No one can dictate otherwise.