Armenia on Eurasian Union: Better the "Russian Yoke" You Know
Armenia has sealed its Russia-deal, cinching its choice of the Russian-led EU over the EU proper, but is not entirely happy about it.
By a 103-7 vote, the National Assembly on December 4 endorsed Armenia’s long-expected accession to the Eurasian Union, but even some of the lawmakers who pressed the yes-button think that it was Armenia’s unfortunate fate that brought the Caucasus country to this junction.
“It is better to be under the Russian yoke,” reasoned MP Mher Sadrakian of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, echoing other lawmakers’ views that alliance with Russia is a necessary evil. “Our people always have been under a foreign yoke,” Sadrakian went on saying, RFE/RL reported. “We are used to someone standing above us… the Persians, the Turks, the Russians… “
Without Russia, Armenia would not have “conquered” predominantly ethnic-Armenian Nagorno Karabakh, claimed by Azerbaijan, he continued. “Without them [the Russians], they will devour us,” Sadrakian said in reference to Azerbaijan and its longtime ally, Turkey.
Another Republican, Seryan Saroian, offered more transcendental reasoning, though getting somewhat confused in the process.
“Why are you lamenting us joining the European Union… the Euronews… I don’t know, Eurasia…Let’s say you eat two more kilos of sausage, will it change anything?” Saroian was quoted by RFE/RL's Armenian service as saying.
Arguing that the deal undercut Armenian sovereignty, protesters had made their presence known outside parliament, but not imposing enough to sway the vote. The country’s two largest opposition forces, the Prosperous Armenia Party and the Armenian National Congress, earlier had stated that they would not try to derail the Eurasian-Union plans.
The Armenian government says that accession to the Union will ease access to the Russian market, the main outlet for Armenian goods.
Many observers agree that membership in the Eurasian Union makes economic sense for Armenia, but they also see potential issues. The weakening of the Russian economy, now under siege by Western sanctions over Ukraine, will ripple through Armenia, one observer Karen Kocharian told Kavkazsky Uzel website. That threat, though, would exist whether or not Armenia signed on with Russia’s Eurasian Union, he noted.
Other observers spoke of potential pitfalls associated with what could happen when the South Caucasus becomes a bit of a game of Twister, with countries’ economic interests going across and around each other. Neighboring Georgia is going full-speed toward integration with the European Union, while Azerbaijan remains an economic and political maverick.
For now, though, Armenia reckons it can contort itself sufficiently to stay up.