SOCHI, Russia (RFE/RL)—Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his visiting Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian announced no dates for Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) after talks held in Sochi on Friday.
Abrahamian said earlier this week that the meeting with Medvedev could end the current uncertainty over the signing of Yerevan’s accession treaty with the bloc comprising Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
A statement by the Armenian government indicated that the issue was high on the agenda of the Sochi talks. It said Abrahamian and Medvedev welcomed growing trade between Armenia and Russia and agreed that “it will gain new momentum after Armenia joins the Eurasian Economic Union.”
“The sides expressed confidence that the signing of the EEU accession treaty will take place soon,” added the statement. It did not specify any concrete dates.
Medvedev’s press office said nothing about their discussion on the EEU. It released instead the two men’s opening remarks at the meeting. “It does not even make sense to repeat that our countries are very close allies,” said Medvedev.
Neither premier spoke to reporters in Sochi. Abrahamian was due to return to Yerevan later in the day.
President Serzh Sarkisian hoped that Armenia will join Russia’s customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan in time for its transformation into the EEU that was announced at a May 29 summit in Astana. But the presidents of the three member states only committed themselves to having the accession treaty with Yerevan prepared by July 1. The EEU’s executive body said late last month that a draft treaty has already been submitted to the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh governments for approval.
Abrahamian acknowledged a delay in the membership process early this month, saying that the reasons for it are not fully clear to the Armenian side. But he predicted that the treaty in question will be signed before the end of this year. A Russian pundit close to the Kremlin cast doubt on that claim this week, however.
The Armenian parliament speaker, Galust Sahakian, on Friday attributed the delay to differences among the EEU’s three member states. “This is not connected to us or the Karabakh issue,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Belarus and especially Kazakhstan do not seem to be enthusiastic about Armenia’s entry into their union with Russia. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev publicly demanded at the Astana summit that the treaty in question make clear that Armenia is joining the EEU with its internationally recognized borders that do not include Nagorno-Karabakh. This presumably means that the Armenian government might have to start taxing goods imported from Karabakh.
Like other Armenian leaders, Sahakian ruled out such a possibility. “We will take no steps that would hurt Karabakh,” he said.