World Economy

Armenia Joins Eurasian Union

Armenia Joins Eurasian UnionArmenia Joins Eurasian Union

After months of delay, Armenia formally joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Friday, drawing praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Serzh Sarkisian signed a corresponding accession treaty with Putin and Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus at a summit of the Russian-led bloc held in Minsk.

The signing of the document, originally expected in May, was held up by the Kazakh and Belarusian leaders for apparently economic and geopolitical considerations. It was still not a foregone conclusion in the days leading up to the Minsk summit.

Speaking at the gathering, both Putin and Sarkisian expressed hope that the treaty will be ratified by the parliaments of the EEU’s three member states by the end of this year. The Armenian president said his country should be able to “start working from January 1” as a full-fledged member of an alliance which critics fear will restore Russian hegemony over much of the former Soviet Union.

Putin stressed the importance of Armenia’s accession to the EEU in his opening remarks at the summit posted on the Kremlin’s website. “In our view, Armenia is ready to operate in the Eurasian Economic Union on an equal footing with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” he said. “Within a relatively short period of time, since the autumn of 2013, our Armenian friends have … brought their national legislation into conformity with the norms of our integration structure.”

“We hope to see positive macroeconomic effects as early as one or two years after Armenia’s accession,” continued Putin. He said membership in the EEU will give a further boost to Armenia’s trade with Russia and the two other ex-Soviet states. “The other key indicators — Gross Domestic Product, consumer demand, real incomes of the population and employment — should also improve,” he added.