Striking out of the term ‘gender’ from the much-talked-of law should have been the fist wake-up call. However, it would be unserious to reduce the recent events to the Russia-EU confrontation in an attempt to draw Armenia into their orbit. After all, gaining influence on Armenia promises little benefits. It’s a far cry from Azerbaijan with its hydrocarbons or a strictly pro-Western Georgia with a transit route.
As for hysterics stirred by Armenian media after the country announced intention to join the Customs Union, the majority of those either are or pretend to be unaware that the whole of Armenia’s industry, including communications and energy sector are controlled by Moscow, which left little choice to the Armenian President. Not that he needed to have choice, as the whole thing hinges on the CSTO.
So what is a Customs Union? According to an official definition, it’s a form of trade and economic integration of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, stipulating for a unified customs territory where the CU members are exempt from customs taxes or economic limitations, except special protective, antidumping, and compensatory measures. At the same time, the CU member states use the unified customs tariff and other unified measures in dealing with the third countries.
The CU unified customs territory integrates Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia as well as other facilities situated beyond the countries’ territories, over which the states have jurisdiction. Russia’s benefit from the CU creation may total $400 billion, while that of Byelorussia and Kazakhstan may amount to $16 billion in 2015. The full use of the CU potential may cut the cargo transportation time from China to Europe by four. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences forecast, creation of the CU will boost economic development, increasing the member states’ GDP by 15% by 2015.
The text above has an Armenia-related line: ‘facilities of the CU member states situated in other countries.’ With Belarus and Kazakhstan it’s clear enough: no facilities in Armenia. Russia, however, has a military base, enterprises given away to settle debts and a lot of other things, including the Moscow House. The only facility owned by the EU in Armenia is a Yerevan-located European Institute. The only thing not fitting into the scheme is the absence of a common border. EU and Armenia, however, don’t have a common border – Turkey we don’t count.
Most probably, Yerevan won’t initial the Association agreement in Vilnius. However, everything is possible: it’s not for nothing that President Sargysyan traveled to Croatia in August.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described Armenia’s intention as a U-turn in relations with the European Union. “Seems as if Armenia will break talks on free trade agreement with EU and integrate with Russia instead,” he said on his Twitter account.
The other European leaders are remaining silent. Busy with Syria crisis, they care nothing about the small Armenia, which offers no value to Europe, no matter how much Armenian politicians would wish it.