PM Sargsyan: Armenia will seek cooperation with ex-Soviet partners without joining Customs Union

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan says Armenia will be seeking ways of cooperation with former Soviet countries without joining the emerging Customs Union.

In an interview with the Russian Kommersant newspaper this week the head of the Armenian government said: “There are no examples in international practice when a country becomes a member of a Customs Union without having common borders [with its members]. It would be senseless. The essence of the Customs Union is that the exchange of goods is carried out without customs inspection. This is impossible in our case, as we have to pass through the territory of the neighboring country and we will only face problems connected with the increase of customs duties and taxes. In terms of economy, it is inexpedient.”

“Our Russian colleagues understand this situation. We are looking for frameworks of cooperation without the Customs Union. It seems they need to think about a new platform or a special status for Armenia,” Sargsyan added.

Last month Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan attended a Moscow summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), a Russia-led economic reintegration project for former Soviet countries in which Armenia has an observer status.

In his remarks at the meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged the “observer” countries, including Ukraine and Moldova, to reconsider their status in the organization and commit themselves to participating in the emerging Customs Union that currently includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

In what observers said amounted to a warning, Medvedev said then: “If you participate in some international organization, you get a certain set of privileges. If you are not part of this union, you may have difficulties, accordingly. We considered it necessary to bring this to the attention of some of our observer states.”

Ukraine and Moldova, which along with Armenia are also beneficiaries of the European Union’s current Eastern Neighborhood Program, earlier indicated their reluctance to join the Customs Union as well.