After participating in the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the European People’s Party in Luxembourg on May 30, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan the next day went to Astana, Kazakhstan, where a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) took place.
Neither in Luxembourg nor in Kazakhstan Sargsyan had formal bilateral meetings, though in Astana the Armenian leader had been expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has not met after the April war in Karabakh.
At the EEU gathering Sargsyan made a statement on Azerbaijan’s aggression, declaring this country a threat to the security and investments in the Russian-led economic union. “The escalation by Azerbaijan at the beginning of April of the situation along the line of contact of Nagorno Karabakh and at the border with Armenia has become a serious challenge to the security of the EEU space. The risk is obvious: either the space of the Eurasian Economic Union will be treated by our international partners as a zone of economic development, stability and security where it is possible to invest, where it is possible to build long-term plans, or all will get used to everything and will proceed from the fact that there are permanent hotbeds of tension and discord. I don’t think that the second scenario is based on the interests of our countries,” President Sargsyan stated.
None of the EEU leaders reacted to Sargsyan’s remarks, and the issue regarding Azerbaijan was not dealt with at the meeting that apparently failed to produce agreement among the presidents of the member states on any major issue. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged his EEU counterparts to seek ways to improve the effectiveness of the EEU in conditions when during the two years of the Union’s existence its trade has fallen sharply.
Meanwhile, in Armenia heated debate is going on regarding the effectiveness of the EEU. It was fueled by the admission made by Deputy Chairman of the State Revenues Committee Armen Alaverdyan, who said during recent discussions in the Armenian Parliament that after the entry into EEU Armenia’s tax revenues have declined significantly. The official stopped short of casting doubt over the effectiveness of the EEU, but emphatically stated that Armenia suffered considerable losses from its entry into the Union.
Meanwhile, in Luxembourg, Sargsyan stressed the importance of the membership of Armenian parties, including the ruling Republican Party headed by him, in the European People’s Party. He spoke about the commonality of democratic European values, which are based on the Christian heritage, and signaled Armenia’s intentions to sign a political document with the EU.
Sargsyan’s visits on May 30 and 31, apparently, had been designed to emphasize the so-called complementarity of the Armenian foreign policy, however, analysts say, the impression has been quite different. Sargsyan’s foreign policy comes down to reassuring Europe about shared values and intentions to deepen relations with simultaneous participation in an economic union whose inefficiency is not being disputed by virtually anyone today. For the opposition and some experts this raises questions about the adequacy of Armenia’s foreign policy and its conformity to national interests.