In his interview to German Deutsche Welle agency, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian has addressed Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union (and later the Eurasian Economic Union) in 2013. This decision caused failure of the Association Agreement with the EU. Answering to the comment by Deutsche Welle, according to which the failure of signing the agreement coincided with Armenian President’s visit to Russia, the Foreign Minister noted that it is not quite true.
“We are currently conducting talks and are actually in the final stage of (negotiations over) the association cooperation with the EU. At the same time, we have always stated that Armenia would like to be in the Customs Union …” According to the minister, Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union and in the Eurasian Economic Union was not possible because of not having a common border. However, according to him, the issue was solved with the help of experts.
Nevertheless, Edward Nalbalndian’s statement is a clear distortion of reality and facts.
Thus, in March 18, 2013, RA President Serzh Sargsyan noted that “The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement is almost complete, and God help us to finish and sign it this year”. Then, Sargsyan added, “Head of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board is coming to Armenia, and, most probably, the Armenian Government will sign a memorandum of cooperation with the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission”.
In fact, in March 2013, Serzh Sargsyan indicated that at that moment Armenia had only one desire, namely association with the EU. In terms of the EAEU, only memorandum of cooperation was mentioned.
At the end of August, 2013, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan gave an interview to “Armnews”, during which he brought a number of arguments about the undesirability of Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union. He also clearly indicated in his interview that Armenia realizes that in case of membership in the Customs Union, it will not be able to join any other free trade area. He added that association with the European Union is a more appealing option for Armenia in terms of attracting investments. The Deputy Minister even stated that “When you join the Customs Union, you are no longer sovereign”.
The aforementioned statements of Serzh Sargsyan and Shavarsh Kocharyan clearly show that before September 2013, official Yerevan did not have any intention to join the Customs Union. Hence, Edward Nalbandyan’s statement does not reflect the reality, to say the least.