YEREVAN—President Serzh Sarkisian said a pro-Azerbaijani statement made by his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev will not create any obstacles for Armenia joining the Eurasaian Economic Union.
The Kazakh President, following last Wednesday’s signing of the Eurasian Union agreement, said the Armenia can enter the Union based on borders recognized by the United Nations, echoing a letter sent to him and the leaders of Russia and Belarus by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
Sarkisian told a gathering of the Republican Party of Armenia youth gathering Saturday that discussion of borders was wrong by Nazarbayev.
“What borders are we talking about?,” asked Sarkisian. “The Karabakh issue is not to be solved in the Customs Union. Who said we were going to enter the Customs Union together with Karabakh? This has never been on the agenda, and it’s impossible because at least under our laws, Karabakh does is not part of Armenia today.”
“Of course, what Nazarbayev said is unpleasant, but it can do us no harm,” said Sarkisian, adding, however, that entering the Eurasian Union would facilitate the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Opposition forces in Yerevan were quick to criticize Sarkisian for not responding to Nazarbayev at the Astana meeting.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary faction secretary Aghvan Vardanyan told Hetq.am that Sarkisian should have responded to the “repugnant” statement by Nazarbayev in Astana not waited three days before reacting to it.
“He should have responded [to Nazarbayev’s statement] in Astana and asked him what connection does Azerbaijan have with this economic union and why was this issue raised there. Nazarbayev should have been made to realize how offensive his statement was,” said Vartanian.
The ARF legislator also questioned Sarkisian’s notion that joining the Eurasian Union might benefit the Karabakh peace process. Vartanian told Hetq.am that Sarkisian needs to explain exactly how Armenia’s entry into the Custom’s Union would facilitate the Karabakh peace process.
He added that Sarkisian must categorically state that there will be no customs checkpoint between Armenia and Karabakh.
On Monday, Armenia’s Economy Minister Karen Jshmarityan told reporters that Armenia has not joined any international organization together with Nagorno Karabakh, adding that he did not believe a customs checkpoint would be established with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
The Minister said nothing will change after Armenia joins the Eurasian Economic Union. “The products made in Nagorno Karabakh will freely move to WTO and EU markets. This has never been a problem. Why are we now worried about statements by a President of a third or fourth country?” said the minister.