Armenia’s Membership in the EEU Raises More Questions than it Answers

President Sarkisian leaving the meeting with President Putin to announce Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, September 3rd, 2013. (Photo: RFE/RL)


In response to Harut Sassounian’s article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia

BY BABKEN DERGRIGORIAN

Upon reading Harut Sassounian’s latest article “The West Must Offer Armenia Incentives Rather than Decry its Ties with Russia,” I have been compelled to write a response addressing its shortcomings and inaccuracies, increasingly common also within the broader narratives regarding Armenia’s accession into the EEU in the Armenian community.

On September 3rd, 2013, after Armenia completed nearly three years of negotiations with the European Union on an Association Agreement, which included years of European-funded legislative reforms, President Serzh Sarkisian was summoned to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. After just an hour, Sarkisian emerged to announce a U-turn in Armenia’s policy, stating his intentions to pull out of the EU Association Agreement process, join the Russian-led Customs Union, and become a member of the eventual Eurasian Economic Union. This decision was made against the backdrop of Russian pressure on all Eastern Partnership countries engaged in the Association Agreement negotiation process, including Georgia and Moldova, and most notably Ukraine. It is important to note that from the onset, the EU had made it clear that that its Association Agreement, and specifically its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) component, was incompatible with membership in the Customs Union. As membership in the Customs Union results in loss of the ability to sign bi-lateral trade agreements, this was a technical incompatibility not a political one.

Regional integration is an extremely important decision for Armenia. As a small state, Armenia needs to expand its access to markets and lower the cost of imports. Furthermore, regional integration can help Armenia develop and modernize its various political and economic institutions. Not all regional integration projects are created equal, however. The type of regional integration Armenia adopts will determine its long-term growth and sustainability as a state. Harut Sassounian’s article glosses over many important factors in Armenia’s choosing the EEU over the EU’s Association Agreement, and in so doing, paints an inaccurate description of the Russian-Armenian relationship.

Firstly, there were never any “lengthy heated debates” on the merits of joining the EEU vs. the EU – not in Parliament, and not in the mainstream Armenian or Diasporan press. Even as late as the morning of September 3rd, 2013 – the day Sarkisian announced the U-turn — Galust Sahakyan, then head of the Republican Party faction in Parliament, was quoted in an interview with Azatutyun Radio saying that Armenia was on track to initial the Association Agreement in Vlinius in November. President Sarkisian’s announcement a few hours later caught many by surprise — even those in his inner circle. For more than three years, all statements by Armenian government officials, from Sarkisian himself, to then Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, as well as numerous statements by the Foreign Ministry, pointed towards Armenia’s initialing of the EU Association Agreement. Moreover, for over three years Armenian legislators had drafted and passed reforms aimed at increasing compliance with the EU’s Association Agreement requirements — reforms that were already being undertaken. On September 3rd, this was all undone during a brief meeting with Putin.

Mr. Sassounian’s article also states self-evident facts with regards to a long history of Russian influence in Armenia. What he fails to mention is Russian presence in the region has from its onset been imperialistic and colonial in nature. Armenia did not voluntarily join the Soviet Union. Instead, on December 2nd 1920, the first Republic of Armenia, under Simon Vratsian, was forced to Sovietize against the wishes of the country’s leadership. While the merits of Sovietization of Armenia can be argued, it still remains a fact that for 70 years Armenia was governed by policies developed in Moscow. More importantly, in doing so, Armenians lost the opportunity to build an independent state that would be governed in its own interests. Imagine what sort of country Armenia would have been, had it remained independent in 1920. As benevolent as Moscow may have been during the 70 years of Soviet rule, Armenian governance was not primarily in the interests of the Armenian people.

Mr. Sassounian raises three essential questions surrounding Armenia’s membership in the EEU. I would like to address them in turn, and also pose questions of my own.

1) Mr. Sassounian insists that Armenia’s membership in the EEU is crucial for continued sales of advanced weapons to mitigate the growing threat from Baku, stating that it is Russia, not the United States, Great Britain or France, that can provide this. This claim fails to take into account exactly where this threat is coming from. In fact, it is Russia, Armenia’s “strategic military partner” that has been selling billions of dollars of advanced weaponry to Baku, as recently as this past summer. It is Russia that is fueling the arms race in the region and profiting from increased tensions, both financially, through the sales of weapons, and politically, by maintaining a leverage on both Armenia and Azerbaijan. I am not suggesting that the US or Europe would be more willing to come to Armenia’s aid in the event of a renewal of conflict. However, any state that sells weapons to a state with whom Armenia is at war surely does not deserve the title of “strategic military partner.” If Russia’s sale of weapons to Azerbaijan was to increase pressure on Yerevan to commit to the Eurasian Union, as many in Armenia quietly concede, that is called blackmail, not partnership.

2) Next, Mr. Sassounian turns to the issue of energy dependency. Here, I must agree, we are overly dependent on Russia for our energy needs, and if membership in the EEU leads to lower rates for natural gas, then that is a clear benefit. The broader issue here is why exactly is Armenia overly dependent on Russia for its energy needs, especially with an oil rich neighbor to its south. Firstly, over the past 15 years Armenia has sold practically its entire energy infrastructure to Russia in a deal where assets were traded for debt. The fact of the matter is that Armenia is capable of diversifying its energy supply. This year, Iran stated that it is ready to offer gas and oil to Armenia for a lower price than it currently pays for Russian gas. Furthermore, with the questionable quality of Russian gas, Iranian gas can be incredibly beneficial and is an option that deserves greater attention.

3) Mr. Sassounian’s claim that Russia is Armenia’s largest trading partner is patently false. Armenia’s largest trading partner is in fact the EU. In light of this reality, it would make more economic sense for Armenia to sign the EU Association Agreement, simultaneously giving Armenia open access to its number one trading partner and largest economy in the world, while lowering the cost of imports. Furthermore, it would facilitate the modernization of Armenia’s institutions and regulations, easing the way toward trade deals with the US and beyond.

Political Considerations

Mr. Sassounian states “The intended objective of forming EEU is to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor across member states.” This is only half accurate. While the Customs Union, which was founded in 2010, was primarily an economic project, the Eurasian Union is a political one. By ignoring this fact, Mr. Sassounian fails to discuss the political implications of joining the EEU, such as national security, constitutionality, and path dependency of state institutions.

The first point to consider is the structural differences between the EEU and the EU Association Agreement. The EEU is a formal union, whereas the Association Agreement is a bilateral framework for cooperation between two parties. To date, the EU has signed Association Agreements with countries as far away as Chile and South Africa, as well as with Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. This does not imply membership in the European Union, nor does it sacrifice a state’s sovereignty.

By contrast, membership in the EEU means handing over crucial parts of economic policy making, such as customs regulation and trade policy, over to a body called The Eurasian Economic Commission, based in Moscow. Decisions of the Commission are binding for all member states. Member states have voting rights in the Commission, two per state. Essentially, what this means is that Kazakhstan, an ally of Azerbaijan, will have equal say in key areas of Armenia’s economic policies as Armenia. As Artur Ghazinyan, head of the European Studies Department at Yerevan State University eloquently put it, “The difference between the EEU and the Association Agreement is that in the case of the Association Agreement, Armenia holds the pen when writing economic policy, whereas with the EEU, Armenia gives the pen to someone else to write”.

The broader issue here however, is that under the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia it is unconstitutional to formally hand over any portion of policy making to another entity, as this, strictly speaking, undermines de jure sovereignty. Essentially, by joining the EEU, Armenia is losing the sovereignty it gained 23 years ago, after generations of its absence. Is sovereignty of our State a value we wish to uphold, or are we comfortable with being relegated to a vassal state?

The next political consideration is based on the development of Armenia’s institutions. For over 23 years, Armenia has made significant progress in many of its political institutions, from the establishment of an administrative (misdemeanor) court and human rights defender’s office to its various ministries. To be fair, there is still a great deal of work to be done in this realm, especially in elections, and increasing judicial independence. Armenia’s choice of regional integration will affect the development of its state institutions and the values they uphold. The graph below plots the level of corruption against governmental effectiveness among EU states and EEU states. Where do we wish to see Armenia on this graph?

Figure 1.

The political component of the EU Association Agreement would help Armenia’s institution reforms processes with programs for increasing the independence of its judiciary, decreasing institutional corruption, improving health and safety regulations, increasing transparency of elections, and ensuring fundamental human rights. These of course represent values that are not only European, but I would argue, are intrinsically Armenian and as such, are enshrined in the Armenian Constitution and personified within our Armenian communities throughout the world.

By contrast, membership in the EEU Armenia’s institutions can be expected to build path dependency towards a different set of values, where corruption is rampant, elections are blatantly falsified, and fundamental human rights and freedoms are continuously violated, as is the case in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus today. Do we want to see an Armenia that becomes increasingly authoritarian and restricts the rights of its citizens, or one that upholds the values of democracy, human rights, and justice, as outlined in the Armenian Constitution? As the graph below illustrates, EEU member states are extremely deficient in providing political rights and civil liberties to their citizens. Does the Armenian citizen today not deserve to live in an open society that respects the rule of law, the electoral process, and the freedom of expression? These are, after all, the same rights and liberties we exercise as a community through our various lobbying efforts in Washington and Brussels, and throughout our local political and social outreach activities.

Figure 2.

Finally, an issue that has not yet been resolved is whether Armenia will be forced to establish customs check points at its border with Nagorno-Karabakh. Kazakhstan, having relayed concerns from its ally Azerbaijan, stated in May of this year that Armenia could only join the Eurasian Union through its internationally recognized border; in other words, without Karabakh. By contrast, the EU Association Agreement held no such pre-condition. Do we want to see a border check point between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabkh, manned not by Armenian and Karabakh soldiers but customs officials from the EEU? How will this impact the national security of Karabakh and Armenia? Moreover, why does the prerequisite of “internationally recognized borders” apply to Armenia with regards to Karabakh, but not to Russia with regards to Crimea? Even before Armenia’s membership takes effect, we are seeing the lack of fairness and equality in this union.

Economic Considerations

Many, including Mr. Sassounian, have touted the economic benefits of membership in the Eurasian Union. Here too, however, the facts do not add up. Economic opportunities would have been much greater with the Association Agreement than in the Eurasian Union. For example, the combined GDP of the Eurasian Union member states stands at nearly 1/6th the GDP of the EU. This means that the Association Agreement would have given Armenia access to a much larger market, first of all to sell its own goods and services, but also to import greater goods at lower rates.

Next, we look at GDP per capita, where Eurasian Union member states are also dismally low compared to their EU counterparts. This translates into, on average, less money in people’s pockets to purchase the Armenian goods and services in the Eurasian Union.

Figure 3.

We next turn to the issue of customs control. While it is true that Armenia will now be able to sell its goods in the Russian, Kazakh, and Belarussian markets, membership in the Eurasian Union will also impose higher customs taxes on goods from outside the EEU. Since the EU is Armenia’s largest trading partner, many of the goods Armenia now imports from Europe – from cars to building materials, will have an additional customs tax, making many of these goods either unattainable for the Armenian population, or making their import economically unsustainable. Indeed, there is precedence here: since its membership in the Customs Union, Kazakhstan has seen prices for goods skyrocket.

Finally, there is the issue of economic freedom, a problem that has been plaguing Armenia since independence. As the chart below demonstrates, economic freedom in the EU is much higher, meaning there is more opportunity for new businesses to establish themselves and operate. With the signing of the EU’s Association Agreement, Armenia would have gradually come into compliance with regulations that could curb economic monopolies and create an even playing field for businesses. It would reform state institutions, increasing judicial independence to combat economic corruption. By contrast, the economic conditions within the Eurasian Union, especially in Russia and Belarus, can be expected to reinforce and consolidate the oligarchic tendencies in Armenia, making it less attractive for new investments and start-ups than it otherwise could be.

Figure 4.

Conclusion

While Armenia has already signed the Treaty on accession into the Eurasian Economic Union, its membership is pending ratification by the three member states as well as by the Armenian Parliament. Initially, the changes will be modest, but membership into the EEU sets Armenia on a trajectory that puts into question its sovereignty, its national security, its economic development, and its overall sustainability. It may well be that Armenia simply had no choice, given the geopolitical realities of the region and those imposed by Moscow. Nevertheless, it would behoove the proponents of the Eurasian Union within the Armenian Diaspora to speak with more clarity on the matter, rather than tout a project that is far from beneficial and may potentially be disastrous in the long run. Let us be frank. Armenia did not join the Eurasian Union because of a lack of proper incentives by the West, as Mr. Sassounian suggests. Armenia did not join the Eurasian Union because of a clear political or economic benefit to the country. Armenia joined the Eurasian Union because it had no other choice. Armenia joined the Eurasian Union because Moscow left Armenia with no choice. This is merely a continuation of the colonial relationship between Russia and Armenia. Let us admit that fact bluntly, and work towards increasing Armenia’s agency on matters of existential importance. To do otherwise would be tantamount to shuffling the deck chairs of the Titanic.

Babken DerGrigorian is a researcher in political economy at the London School of Economics. His research focuses on economic development in Armenia.

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33 Comments

  1. dvo said:

    Karabakah (Artsakh) above all decisions, we will never bargain about Artsakh is Armenian lands, Rather see Armenia start from 0 again with Artsakh than beginning at 100 without Artsakh.

    There is no one than can decide the future of Artsakh except Armenians.

    • Armenian said:

      You may not bargain with it, but Russia will. I don’t see why not– they have total influence over us, and Baku knows that all issues related to Karabagh and Armenia are to be bargained with Russia. I don’t see anything stopping Moscow from trading Karabagh for Azerbaijan’s entry into the EEU. Ultimately, it is not a loss for Russia since, you know, it’s not something they fought for and it’s not something they have a cultural, historical or emotional attachment to. Armenia and Artsakh’s well-being are just bargaining chips for Russia to get Azerbaijan to cooperate with its frantic desire to resurrect a broken and hopeless system.

      • Armenian Christian said:

        If Russia had as much power as you say they do over Armenia… Artsakh would’ve already been lost… Armenians are very smart and cunning people… Our problem is not Russia or China but the fact that Armenians from Armenia have a contempt for their diaspora… Instead of utilizing us and giving us some say in the future of our homeland we are ostreasized and riddiculed… If armenians were likes jews… This entire globe would be ours instead right now… Dont sell yourself short buddy… If you really are armenian…

  2. Armenian said:

    Brilliant outline and argument and one that is much closer to the truth and reality. I essentially had posted a response very similar to this piece on the other article, so naturally, I agree with you 150%. This is the most balanced and fact-based assessment on this matter and given the type of country Armenia is and will be in the future, it’s normal that important matters are not even shared with the people and made by a few uneducated oligarchs.

    The first death trap for Armenia was the debt forgiveness for acquisition of infrastructure. No other ex-USSR country had done that to the extent Armenia had, and a lot of that is responsible for our current misery.

    Thank you for your hard work and brilliant analysis. Now watch the Russophiles start screaming and accusing you of being a “Western agent”, and suggest that “you should be silenced and your right to express yourself should be revoked” as they do the very same things here in the US and especially on this website.

    • Lusik said:

      1) The main motivation that EU has for negotiations with Armenia is for weakening Russia. This is a copy of Europe’s driving policies that acted 100 years ago. Russia was becoming a powerful agricultural, industrial country with great, strong scientific brain and having lasting cultural renaissance and there was a tractable promise of great future. As everyone agrees, bolshevism was implanted by west in order to brake and destroy the dynamics. And it happened. We should give more importance to the fact that the most recent escalation happened right after BRICS (union of Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was sealed on July 15, 2014. BRICS unites 40% of world population!

      2) EU is honest with us – it values only money. Very recently, with no trace of shame EU (and NATO) displayed an equal approach to Armenia and Azerbaijan even when an Azery axed an Armenian. Recently, one of very respected French TV channels aired news about Armenia-France football match. Immediately after was material about Azerbaijan paying for an archeological research done by group of French scientists. Coincidence? May be yes, may be not. I have seen too many of “symmetrical” approaches of this kind to believe that there is no will there. Indifference – this is what EU has toward Armenia.
 WHAT EU TODAY DOES TO ARMENIA IS UNFORGIVABLE! IT HAS NO COMPARISON WITH WHAT RUSSIANS (BOLSHEVICS) WERE DOING 100 YEARS AGO TO ARMENIANS. JUST RECALL (AND DON’T FORGET) THE SWIIS-MEDIATED PROTOCOL. This indifference (at best) isn’t new trend! 100 years ago European leaders (including and especially Churchill) had no intention to humanize their politics toward poor Armenian nation.

      3) The main problem we have is that Diaspora looks through Western windows on the Armenian landscape in East.

  3. Gurgen said:

    Mr Babken DerGrigorian writes:
    “.. Imagine what sort of country Armenia would have been, had it remained independent in 1920…”
    Does Northern Cypress ring any bells Mr. DerGrigorian.

    Mr DerGrigorian also writes:
    “This year, Iran stated that it is ready to offer gas and oil to Armenia for a lower price than it currently pays for Russian gas. Furthermore, with the questionable quality of Russian gas, Iranian gas can be incredibly beneficial and is an option that deserves greater attention….”
    Iran can say anything it wants to however if Armenia didn’t have Russian gas, you could be sure that Iran would have charged what they charge Turkey for Iranian gas – nearly twice the price Armenia gets Russian gas for. Iran is trying to compete with Russia for influence over the region and what they have already been charging Armenia for gas doesn’t agree with their words. Furthermore, the same “questionable quality” of Russian gas seems to be good for the entire European continent but somehow not good enough for Armenia?

    Mr DerGrigorian also writes:
    “…Mr. Sassounian’s claim that Russia is Armenia’s largest trading partner is patently false. Armenia’s largest trading partner is in fact the EU…”
    Typical spin from an economist. Most of European trade with Armenia is in the form of purchasing raw materials from Armenia’s mining industry. Armenia is a tiny country which is poisoning its future with such a high concentration of mines so that the Europeans can get their mineral cheap. If you call that good trade the I would rather Europe doesn’t trade with Armenia. Truth is that Armenian agricultural goods and manufactured goods are being sold to Russia on an increasingly large scale because Europe would never purchase any of that stuff produced in Armenia in order to protect their own producers.

    I can go on because this article is so full of holes, but will just say that Europe may have been negotiating with Armenia superficially for the last 4 years, but Russia and Armenia have been negotiating strategically for the last 23 years. There is no way that Sarkissian’s decision was a last minute turn around. It was in the planning for a long time. The stupid meaningless graphs provided here are just the same economics spin which has gotten most of Europe and the US into so much debt and austerity for decades to come.

    • Random Armenian said:

      “I can go on because this article is so full of holes, but will just say that Europe may have been negotiating with Armenia superficially for the last 4 years”

      What does that mean “superficially”? Both Armenia and the EU were seriously negotiating on this treaty. And what does this mean in terms of Armenia’s intentions with this EU treaty if it was moving towards Russia all these years? Why seriously go through with negotiations with EU?

      • Gurgen said:

        What I mean by “superficially” is that Armenia was negotiating with Europe to buy time and to extract maximum political political benefits regarding both Karabagh and Armenia’s internal political stability (ie control over the foreign funded opposition groups and NGOs). Whether you like to admit it or not, President Sarkissian is a brilliant chess player, and has played his pieces well which has benefited both internal political stability and that of the country’s regional geopolitical position. Armenia can now look forward to a great future 25 years from now because of what he has created these last few years. Unfortunately there may still be a war with Azerbaijan but due to the correct strategic decisions, that will only serve to secure what Armenia has gained over the last 23 years.

        • Random Armenian said:

          You know, that thought had crossed my mind in the past when following the EU and Customs Union negotionas. Negotiating with EU to get some concessions out of Russia. That’s a dangerous game to play with Putin.

        • Random Armenian said:

          Regardless of all this bickering, Armenia is in the EEU with Russia dominating. I sincerely hope that this turns out well for Armenia. But a very corrupt Russia leading an economic coalition does not fill me with optimism.

          The EU appears to still want to be involved with Armenia and I hope Armenia gets some beneficial deals with it that are still compatible with the EEU.

        • Lusik said:

          I don’t think you are wrong – the only reason that EU negotiates with Armenia is for weakening of Russia. It is a copy of what happened 100 years ago. Russia was becoming powerful both agricultural, industrial country with great strong scientific brain and therefore, great future. As everyone agrees, bolshevism was implanted by west in order to destroy the dynamics. And it happened. We should give more importance to the fact that the most recent escalation happened right after BRICS (union of Brasil, Russia, India, South Africa) was sealed. EU is honest with us – it shows equal approach to Armenia and Azerbaijan even when an azery axes an Armenian. recently, one of very respected French TV channels aired news about Armenia-France football match. Next material was about Azerbaijan paying for some archeological research done by group of French scientists. Coincidence? may be yes, may be no. I have seen to many of “symmetry” approaches of this kind to keep thinking that there is no will there. Indifference – this is what EU has toward Armenia.
          WHAT EU TODAY DOES TO ARMENIA HAS NO COMPARISON WITH WHAT RUSSIANS WERE DOING 100 YEARS AGO TO ARMENIANS. I MEAN THE SWIIS-MEDIATED PROTOCOL. This indifference is not a new trend! 100 years ago European leaders (including and especially Churchill) had no intention to humanize their politics toward poor Armenian nation.

  4. Avetis said:

    Forgot to add: Had Armenia remained independent in 1920 (i.e. Bolsheviks did not bother to come to the region) Armenia would have been part of eastern Turkey today, and if Turks had allowed Babken’s grandparent to live “Babken” today would be herding goats with his Kurdish neighbors. The reason why Babken is alive is Russia. The reason why we have an Armenia is Russia. God bless Mother Russia and God bless the greatest leader of our time, the great Vladimir Putin.

    • GeorgeMardig said:

      I agree, the same countries that betrayed Armenians are trying to destroy the good relations with Russia

    • GB said:

      Avetis, I wonder, where were Russians when Armenians fought in Sardarabad war against invading Ossmani Turks, when Russians were so busy with Lenin’s October 1917 BS, who gave up Armenians lands such as, Kars, Ardhan……..Artsakh, Nakhichevan to Turkic herds!

      • Avetis said:

        GB, keep wondering. In early 1917, Russo-Armenian forces had liberated historic Armenia as far west as Van and Bitlis. By early 1918, the Russian nation had totally collapsed as a result of the Western-funded Bolshevik revolution. Our historic lands in Western Armenia were first abandoned by the ARF, then by the Bolsheviks – never by the Russians. If Western Armenia is to ever be liberated again, it will be by Russo-Armenian forces marching west again. Anything else is a silly dream.

      • Gurgen said:

        Actually Russia was completely collapsing. Their centuries old empire was completely crumbling and their state was non-existent and in the process of being raped and pillaged by the foreign funded NGOs of the day (the Bolsheviks). And don’t forget WW1. Under such circumstances how do you expect any country to send an organized army to expand the southern territories. If your parents or youth organization had educated you properly, you wouldn’t be saying such things.

  5. GeorgeMardig said:

    1….that is called blackmail, not partnership…. Spain was not admited into EU until they accepted to become a member of NATO, 2.Money talks B Sht walks, 3.Add to this the remitance sent from Russia over $1+ Billion a year., Finally: You can’t be so innocent, EU is not a Non Profit organization, they do not give any free meal. they feed you until you are ready to start confronting your bills.

  6. Joe said:

    Thank you Mr. DerGrigorian for a well researched and thoughtful discussion that explores all the dimensions of the issue. Not the same warmed over pablum.

  7. jake said:

    Long winded and tortous intellectual tour from the prism of western orientation. Historically the West sold and let Armenia down in 19818-1920. Armenia has no choice, nor option. .It belongs to the Russian spehere of influence, and it will stay like that. The opposite to that would be a vassalage under the turks, a reversion to the status under the Ottomans., in other words annhilation and obliteration, culturally and physicallly.

  8. Zareh said:

    Banker jan,
    Armenia was forced to sovietize because the British Navy could not climb Mount Ararat and the Kemalist Turkey was intent to annihilate the 600 thousand starving Armenians in present day Armenia. Mr. Vratsian had the right vision handing over the power to the soviets to save his people from total destruction.
    Second President Sarkissian did not want another Georgian type adventure in the streets of Yerevan. And he was right agreeing and making the U-turn to prevent such a scenario. Did the west ever come to Georgia’s help?
    Third, as long as Turkey with its allies have not recognized the Armenian Genocide how can Armenians trust the west. A good will from the West would have been a good incentive for Armenia to join the European Union.
    I have said many, many times on this forum. If the West is able to have a final resolution of the Armenian Question by recognition of the Genocide and force Turkey(their ally) to compensate financially and territorially and recreate the Wilsonian Armenia, then there would be no reason for Armenia to stay in the Russian sphere of influence.
    I congratulate Mr. Sassounian for his article. He has obviously has a lot of courage writing that article from the heart of Western Imperialism. Whereas you Babken, I would assume that your finances are directly connected to the British Government. I suggest you return to your homeland and be part of the homeland’s progress.

  9. A said:

    Well I guess history does repeat itself. Either be debt slaves to the EU, or be a vassal to Russia & make Armenia a safe haven for oligarchs and commie retards.

  10. Sokimag said:

    A very good and balanced article by Babken DerGrigorian! The only legitimate reason for Armenia to join Eurasian union is to not upset Russia. Economically speaking, Armenia would have been better by joining the EU Association Agreement. Russia has blackmailed Armenia in to the Eurasian Union. There is no doubt about that. The truth is Armenia has not much in common with the Eurasian Union countries except Russia. Belarus and Kazakhstan are not pro-Armenian countries, especially Kazakhstan.

    So the thing is, Armenia is sacrificing it’s economy for Russia. Is it worth it? I’m not the one to judge whether it’s the right choice or not. Armenia is in a difficult situation right know, because of Turkey and Azerbaijan. And if Armenia gets too close to the West, Russia will become another enemy of Armenia.

  11. Shahe Mazbanian said:

    well put…your conculsion that Armenia had no choice based on its continuation of the colonial relationship between Armenia and Russia. Unfortunately the EU and the West did not provide any security guarantees with the economic package they presented. Ultimately the security of Armenia and karabagh take precedent. Seems like 1920 when the West didnt come to our aid.

    • Armenian said:

      Don’t forget who was responsible for Nakhichevan and Karabagh being drawn into Azerbaijan for the sake of establishing constant tensions.

      Hint: It wasn’t the West.

  12. Avetis said:

    This article was typical, Western style gobbeldy gook meant to impress the self-destructive peasantry so eager to burn down their village to save it from imaginary monsters.

    The following is the geopolitical formula the author of the article utterly fails to understand: No Russia in Armenia = no Armenia in the South Caucasus.

    Moreover, EU integration will prove fatal for Armenia economically (Armenian products are not wanted in Europe), politically (Europeans are comfortably in bed with Turks) and culturally (Armenians can do without “Western values”: interracialism, multiculturalism, homosexuality, anglo-american worship, jew worship, sex tourism)… That is if Russians themselves do not kill Armenia for attempting to join Western powers.

    I guess the author here, in line with Western powers and their Islamo-Turkic friends in the region, wants Armenians to make the same suicidal mistake Georgians and Ukrainians did. Therefore, I ask: Is the author politically ignorant or is he working to advance of Western interests in Armenia?

    Genetically, geographically and culturally, Armenia is a Eurasian nation. The brand name Armenia is best recognized and Armenian products are best appreciated in former Soviet territory. Tiny, remote, poor, landlocked and blockaded by a NATO member in one of the most hostile environments on earth, Armenia desperately needs Russian military protection and free access to Russia’s large and emerging consumer market. Without its Russian lifeline Armenia will surly die.

    Armenia is too small, too weak and too vulnerable to go it alone in the Caucasus. For Armenia, “independence” from Russia means dependence on the political West and their Turkic/Islamic friends in the region. Armenia’s rightful place, its natural place is with the Russian-led Eurasian Union. Anyone that is against Armenia joining the Eurasian Union is anti-Armenian. Anyone that does not understand any of this is either an imbecile or an agent of the political West.

    After what we have seen what Western powers have done in places like Serbia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine I can’t believe we still have people promoting Western agendas for Armenia…

    • Arius said:

      Well said, Avetis. It was wise of Armenia to look to the East which is coalescing into an entity that will be able to draw a line that the West will dare not cross.

  13. Lus said:

    Mr Sassounian is one of the few remaining sane voices in the western diaspora who is not diluted… this article by Mr Dergrigorian raises more questions than it answers…

  14. lusik said:

    A. Let us stay constructive. Both articles contribute to the Armenian formula. The quantities in the formula are economics, science, politics, geography, history, culture, defense. The fundamental principle that glues these quantities into formula is “God created Armenians.” Armenians are descendants of Noah and Armenia is on the land of Noah despite …. That land has seen flood not only of water. And Armenians are still there. So, “Let us … work towards increasing Armenia’s agency on matters of existential importance”, as Mr. DerGrigorian puts. “Increasing” is the right word – Armenia has the agencies and the facilities.

    B. Since there is no present, but only future, let us admit that West and East are relicts, dinosaurs. That is the reason they fight savagely for putting more mass. But as any sandpile they will collapse and where will be the grains then?

    C. Think fresh. Where are you sitting right now as you read these lines? The map covers the entire planet. We are everywhere and we succeed – this is a kind of power that only one-two nations have. Passionate comments put here say that at least one of 60 beats per second of your heart is for Armenia. Yes, Armenia is poor and small and landlocked. But, Armenia has Artsakh. Great achievement. And it is a clear proof that Armenia is strong and able state. So, let us combine our efforts towards increasing Armenia’s agency on matters of existential importance.

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