YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian appeared to have acknowledged on Thursday a delay in Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“Better late than never,” Abrahamian told reporters when asked about the Russian bloc’s anticipated failure to draft an accession treaty with Armenia by July 1.
The deadline was set by the presidents of the three EEU member states at a summit held in the Kazakh capital Astana on May 29.
“There were some issues or directions that had to be discussed. They are being discussed. Things will be clear after the July 3 meeting,” said Abrahamian.
“At any rate, I think that the process will progress. In terms of the time frame, there could be changes,” he added.
Abrahamian did not specify who will take part in that meeting. He similarly cited July 3 in comments to the press made late last week.
The Armenian government and President Serzh Sarkisian in particular had gone to great lengths to have the accession process completed by the end of April. Speaking at the subsequent Astana summit, Sarkisian asked his Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts ensure that the treaty is signed by June 15.
At least two of them, Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarus’s Aleksandr Lukashenko are clearly not enthusiastic about Armenia’s membership in the bloc. Nazarbayev made clear at Astana that the treaty with Yerevan must have a special provision about Armenia’s internationally recognized borders that do not encompass Nagorno-Karabakh.
In what could prove to be another obstacle to the success of Sarkisian’s membership bid, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Monday that Armenia will have to renegotiate the terms of its decade-long membership in the World Trade Organization and even “compensate” WTO member states after joining the EEU. The remarks were construed by some Armenian pundits as a sign that Moscow is also keen to delay the Armenian entry for now.