Armenia Attempts a Eurasian Tango in Argentina
Taking its Eurasian-Union dreams into the Western Hemisphere, Armenia has offered itself to Argentina as a conduit for trade with the Russia-led economic club, even though Yerevan is still knocking on the Union’s door for entry.
At a July 7 lunch-reception in Buenos Aires, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan raised a glass to the Argentine city, “the world capital of tango, [a city] filled with the melody and spirit of that dance,” and thanked Argentina, home to one of the world’s largest Armenian Diasporas, for supporting the pan-Armenian cause of international recognition of Ottoman Turkey’s World-War-I-era massacre of ethnic Armenians as genocide. A day later, he attended the opening of an Armenian Genocide Museum in Buenos Aires.
Sargsyan, though, had more than 1915 and tangos on his mind. In a pointed nod to Argentina’s status as Armenia’s fifth-largest foreign direct investor, Armenia encouraged this “football superpower” to pass some trade via Armenia into the Eurasian-Union-market of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Argentina’s official response could not be found.
But President Sargsyan could be getting ahead of himself here. Armenia’s own entrance into the Eurasian Union has been repeatedly delayed, with the latest prospective join-date now “by the end of the year,” according to Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.
The repeated postponements have been fraying nerves in Yerevan — some argue that Karabakh could be the cause — and encouraging critics’ objections to the membership bid.
Some Armenian analysts point out that Moscow has a fish bigger to fry than Armenia — namely, hydrocarbon-rich Azerbaijan, the South Caucasus' biggest economy (citing World Bank data, the pro-government APA compares it to the combined economic muscle of Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova) and, unlike Armenia, shares a border with Russia.
So far, however, Moscow has failed to tempt Baku away from its no-trade-blocs policy. Nonetheless, the thinking is that the Kremlin will try to keep its options open by treading carefully on the subject of Karabakh.
With all these complexities, Argentina, even if interested, might have a long time to wait for Armenia to execute its proposed barrida to the Eurasian Union.