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Hrant Gadarigian

Analyst Richard Giragosian: “Customs Union has little new to offer Armenia”

Lambasting President Serzh Sargsyan’s recent last minute announcement that Armenia is planning to join the Russian led Customs Union as “closing the door to Europe, Yerevan-based political analyst Richard Giragosian said there was still time for Yerevan to make sure the door isn’t “locked”.

Giragosian, who heads the Regional Studies Center, argued at a press conference today that the Customs Union had little new to offer Armenia and that the country had much to lose instead.

The analyst stressed that the decision-making process itself (the lack of prior public discourse) leading to Sargsyan’s last minute bombshell announcement reveals more about the weakness of Armenia’s internal foreign policy strategy than anything else.

He faulted the Armenian government for not being as ambitious as it needs to be in the foreign policy sphere.

Giragosian said that the European Union and the West in general will regard Armenia as less than sincere and competent and that, by entering the Customs Union, the country’s strategic importance will weaken.

It was never a decision of choosing between the West and Russia in terms of Armenia’s security interests, noted Giragosian, pointing out that neither the Putin’s Customs Union nor the EU’s DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) had anything to do with security matters in the first place.

“I have always argued that Armenia needs to maintain its security treaties with Russia, but the issue at hand deals with economic orientation as well as Armenia’s long-term reform process,” Giragosian said, claiming that the possibility for future democratic reforms in Armenia has now been endangered.

The analyst, answering his own question as to who will benefit from Armenia’s entry in the Customs Union, pointed to the country’s oligarchs and the system of corruption. “By denying competition from Europe, these are the sectors that will reap benefits, not the population at large,” Giragosian said.

He derided the claims by some that Russia was the sole guarantor of the safety of Armenia, and thus, by extension, Yerevan couldn’t risk upsetting Moscow. Giragosian said issues of Armenia’s security and that of Artsakh, as an argument for entering the Customs Union, were basically a red-herring.

“Armenian soldiers on the Artsakh front line are being killed by Azerbaijani soldiers using weapons sold by Russia. What security guarantees are we talking about? What leverage does Russia have over Karabakh? It can’t even threaten to rescind its recognition of the NKR, because it has yet to recognize it,” Giragosian noted.

He concluded his talk on a slightly upbeat note.

“To be fair, President Sargsyan signed nothing in Moscow. Hopefully, he can maneuver his way out of this mess.”

Comments (2)

A perfect chess game going on between EU and West, and Russia's Putin. I hope Mr. Sargsyan learnt his chess game during his presidency and won't get trapped. Armenia's geopolitical location in volatile Caucasus region have always been political battleground, between East and West, since the beginning of Roman Empire. This is one the reasons, why we have lost our historical lands and glory of the past!
The Man-Wh$%e of Babylon speaks!

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