President Serzh Sargsyan’s early September announcement that Armenia is ready to join the Moscow-led Customs Union is stirring uneasiness in Yerevan. Some analysts contend the move would do more to bolster the incumbent government’s authority than benefit the country as a whole.
Sargsyan dropped the Customs Union bombshell announcement on September 3 during a visit to Moscow. On September 10, he held talks in Astana with Kazakhstani officials on technical aspects of the Customs Union accession process, Armenian news outlets reported.
“I confirmed Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union and participate in the processes of formation of the Eurasian economic union,” Sargsyan said in his September 3 statement, relating to his Moscow visit. “It’s a rational decision and it is in the interests of Armenia.
That statement generated an immediate backlash at home: several hundred people gathered outside the presidential residence on September 4 to protest the possibility, chanting slogans including “No return to the Soviet Union,” and “Russia, Go Away.”
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.