The ‘Yelk’ opposition parliamentary faction claims that integration into this structure was a great mistake and that the country better divert its course towards the EU
Representatives of the ‘Yelk’ bloc. Photo: Aniarc.am
“Armenia should start the process of withdrawing from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU),” said Edmon Marukyan, an individual leader of the opposition bloc ‘Yelk’ (translated as ‘the way out’).
Armenia joined the EAEU in 2015. Other members of the organization are: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Marukyan’s statement triggered active domestic political debates, since none of the forces represented in the Armenian National Assembly had ever raised this issue before. Some MPs had spoken out for Armenia’s European future and voted against Armenia’s accession to the EAEU. But, for the first time, this issue was raised at the parliamentary faction level.
In this regard, some political figures demanded a clear-cut answer: does Edmon Marukyan’s statement reflect the official position of the ‘Yelk’ movement or is it the MP’s personal opinion?
Mane Tandilyan, an MP representing the ‘Yelk’ faction, confirmed that the bloc didn’t just support the launch of withdrawal from the EAEU, but also declared its position in its campaign program. As it pointed out, the country’s accession to the EAEC was a great political mistake and that it is now necessary to start the process of signing an Association Agreement, as well as form a deep and comprehensive free trade area with the European Union.
Tandilyan emphasized that Armenia’s membership in the EAEU posed a risk to Armenia’s sovereignty, while the appeal of her colleague, Edmon Marukyan, was addressed to the Armenian authorities: “let’s wake up and initiate the process of withdrawal from the EAEU, so as to defend Armenian’s interests.”
Tandilyan pointed out a number of reasons why Armenia should withdraw from the EAEU:
- The Armenian economy hasn’t benefited from being a member of the EAEU;
- Russia, which is Armenia’s strategic partner, hasn’t stopped selling weapons to Azerbaijan;
- Accession to the EAEU destroyed Armenia’s image as a free and independent state.
In this regard, the Armenian mass media have noted Russia’s recent proposal to grant Russian language as an official language, which caused a rather negative reaction both in public and in political circles. The proposal was made under the pretext that, in this case, Armenian citizens would be able to use their national driving licenses in Russia.
JAMnews covered the issue in depth yesterday:
The MP from the ‘Yelk’ faction insists on the need for withdrawal from the EAEU: “Armenia already has a reasoned justification for such a decision. Economic forecasts haven’t come true,and investments, as well as money transfers, have sharply dropped. The Armenian citizens’ interests have continuously been infringed in Russia…”
Eduard Sharmazanov, the National Assembly Vice-Speaker, voiced the ruling Republican Party’s opinion in this regard. In his words, Armenia’s integration into the EAEU isn’t just a political decision, but it’s based on specific economic estimates.
“When deciding on joining the EAEU, we made some clear-cut estimates and they were in favor of Armenia. We joined a 170-million worth market. It’s the perfect club for attracting investors, because it’s one thing when an investor is offered a 3-million worth market, and it’s quite another when he is offered a 170-million worth market,” said Sharmazanashvili.
The National Assembly Vice-Speaker admitted that there were certain problems in the EAEU. Yet, he stressed that EU and NATO were also facing problems. Sharmazanov emphasized that Armenia’s accession to the EAEU was supported not only by the Republican Party, but also by the National Assembly of the previous convocation, which approved the decision on the country’s accession with 103 votes in favor with just 7 votes against.
“It was one of those rare issues that was supported not only by the parliamentary majority, but also by the opposition MPs. Have those who called for withdrawal from the EAEU asked the population in the villages and cities what the losses inflicted to them will be?” said the ruling party member.
Four political parties are represented in the present-day Armenian Parliament: one of them is the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), with another being the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) ‘Dashnaktsutyun’, the RPA’s coalition partner. This party also voted for Armenia’s accession to the EAEU. The ‘Tsaruyan’ bloc, the second largest political force which was represented in the former parliament by the ‘Prosperous Armenia’ party, also supported Armenia’s membership to the EAEU. So, it turns out that the ‘Yelk’ opposition faction, the fourth political party represented in the new Parliament, is the only force that stands against the country’s membership in the EAEU.